The Ubud Art Market is its own special kind of sensory overload, a crowded riot of colors, smells, and people. It's a little surreal, especially if you were envisioning some sort of meditative Eat, Pray, Love situation.
We weren't expecting that. We haven't seen the movie. We were expecting, however, some really interesting shopping. An Australian friend who visits Bali often told us she once had a bikini crocheted to her exact specifications while shopping at the market. And "not a cheesy one, either." So, rather than a bunch of Julia Roberts devotees on meditative, spiritual quests, we were picturing custom crocheted bikinis everywhere.
The crocheted bikinis never turned up, but it's just as well. Because what we did find was pretty great on its own.
what to look for
1. Ikat and Batik
These two types of colorful, patterned fabrics utilize resistance dyeing techniques and are a specialty of Indonesia, so you better snatch up a ton. The diversity of patterns and color combos will make your eyes turn into little hearts. Stop by Manik Bali Ikat Tailor, a small shop located right across from the Ubud market for an awe-inspiring mix of batik fabrics and pieces. The shop associates are super knowledgable and will help you try on anything you want — which will be everything, because the clothing here is super cool and you will want it all. There are belted kimono jackets, boxy caftans, and slouchy dresses in interesting, minimalist cuts. Best of all, if you don't like any of the ready-to-wear pieces on offer, you can just pick a silhouette and a fabric and they'll custom make a garment just for you, and it won't cost more than $50. www.manikbaliikat.com
2. Woven Bags
The woven bag situation is off the charts at the Ubud market. Like, just bring an extra suitcase for all the bags you're going to want to buy — they're everywhere, and they're super affordable: about $10 for a big bag, $5 for a small one. The little structured straw drum purses with leather trim are a particular favorite, but the multi-colored plastic totes are pretty cute — and very useful for the beach, too.
3. Pom Pom Shorts
We saw printed cotton shorts with tiny pompoms dangling from the hems in every color and style imaginable, and they cost just a few dollars each. They're perfect for sleeping and beaching and pretty much anything else you might want to do whilst wearing pompoms, which, let's face it is everything.