as a place to shop, but anyone looking
for some good produce will strike pay dirt there.
Located in central Ubud in Bali, Indonesia, it's a great place for
fruit lovers to to grab some great mangosteen or salak fruit.
At around 6:30 a.m. today, I found myself in the midst of the market,
with hordes of Balinese people shoving and hurrying and haggling in
overwhelming numbers around me.
In the air was the scent of fish mixed with the strong odor of spices.
A musty jack fruit smell emanated from one table, where an old woman
was cutting away the sticky latex-like goo of the fruit and handing it
out to people in bags. One group of women were selling the bamboo,
flowers, and incense that allow the Balinese people to make their daily
Merchants stood behind tables, scooping out portions of cooked
gooey-looking dishes, but so too did they have fruit - lots of it.
At this early hour few of the shoppers at the Ubud Market were
tourists, so I was mainly
competing with locals for giant bins of mangoes, jackfruit, bananas,
and vegetables, some I could not
If you're not familiar with the produce bounty that is
you're in for a treat. Bali has plenty of good fruit if you know where
to look for it, and you should be able to find a lot of it in Ubud
Ubud Market: When To Go
For much of the day, Ubud market features art,
crafts, clothes, and other items designed to appeal to tourists, but if
you want produce, you'll have to come in the morning.
The vendors set up quite early (They'll be there by 6 a.m.) every day
of the week and wrap up by noon. Many of the produce vendors are
packing up by 11 a.m.
What's the best time to go? Interesting
question. If you're there for
the sheer experience of it, the Ubud market before 7 a.m. is
something to behold, with every available space overflowing with
bartering Balinese buyers and merchants. Smells both pleasant and
repugnant fill the air, and the Ubud Market has a sense of really being
alive, some anachronism from a different century
But in terms of getting good deals, the merchants seem more willing to
bargain later on in the morning, say around 9 a.m., after the crowds
have thinned a bit.
Although most of the fruit vendors have packed up by noon, there will
still be a few sellers left later in the day, but unless they're trying
to unload overripe fruit, you'll probably pay more.
By around 2 p.m. tourists are usually being disgorged by a succession
of buses out front, so it's probably best to avoid it at this point.
Ubud Market: Why You'll Probably Get Ripped Off
market is a regular stop of tourists, and the merchants know it. They
know the tourists are unused to bargaining using the Rupiah, and many
from western countries have never bargained at all.
The real problem for a newbie heading into this situation is they have
no baseline knowledge of what fruit should cost in Bali, so the
merchants can really take advantage of them.
How can you know if Mangoes should be 6,000 Rp or 25,000 rp / kilo? If
a merchant starts the bargaining off at 30,000 rp/ kilo, you might try
to shave 5,000 rp off the price through bargaining, which would be
reasonable if the merchant had started off with a reasonable offer.
First, be aware that there are some merchants who are genuinely
interested in ripping you off. They will refuse to sell you something
for a reasonable price even if you know they're offering a wildly
Others will do the old bait-and switch, calling out to you as you pass
with an offer of 10,000 rp (just over $1) for something, but then after
you've checked it out and agreed, they suddenly want triple their
Finally, although I have no way of confirming it, I think some of them
have rigged scales. I once bought a kilo of mangoes that was much
smaller than any previous kilo I'd purchased.
However, most merchants are genuinely willing to offer you a fair price
So what is a fair price? From my own experience and through talking to
some locals and raw food travelers, here are a few prices that are
accurate as of December 2010, at least in the Ubud Market. They
represent the best prices I was able to get after more than a week of
going there dailyand figuring
out how to negotiate.
Ubud Market Prices
Mangoes: 7,000 to 10,000 rp/kilo (I
was told the end of mango season was inflating prices, but they still
tasted very good). Papaya: 9,000
to 10,000 rp for one very large papaya. Bananas: 3,000
depending on ripeness, type, etc. Mangosteen:
25,000 rp/kilo (I really had to bargain for this price). Jackfruit: 20,000
can probably be had for less. Watermelon20,000
watermelon was worse than American watermelon) Salak Fruit:
15,000 rp/kilo Pineapple:
10,000 Rp for a very small pineapple. They were not sweet.
The exchange rate at this time was 8,900 to $1. For those used to
pounds, remember that there are 2.2 pounds in a kilo.
Keep in mind that different ripeness levels can change the price. If
it's the beginning or end of the season, the limited supply can
increase the price dramatically.
For further prices, I suggest you seek out an English-speaking local
who does not work at the market, but who shops there, to tell you what
they would pay for the types of fruit you're interested in.
Ubud Market: How To Bargain
My first attempts at bargaining were kind of lame. I just sort of
assumed that if I cut a few thousand rps off the price I would do ok,
but I was getting jipped. In the US no one would offer their used car
for sale with an ad asking for four times the real value. Here they
just might, so you have to be prepared to make a dramatically lower
I've been told by other travelers that the Balanise are much more
interested in bargaining than other fruit-happy people of Asia, such as
the Thais, and they're really into the give and take.
If you want to succeed, I suggest you employ some theatrics. Another
huge respect gainer is being able to employ a few choice words of
Indonesian or Balinese during the bargaining.
Do you need to speak the local language? Usually not. Most of the
merchants understand enough English to get the gist of a bargain. You
point at something and say, "how much?", or merely point and name a
They will respond with their price, and you can then respond with
You'll do better if you can employ a few words of Indonesia, though. I
was able to learn everything I needed out of a phrasebook I picked up
back in the US.
You inquire over the price of mangoes and are quoted 40,000 rp per
kilo, or about four times what is reasonable.
You throw up your arms in disgust at their suggestion. "Mahal Skali,
Pak." you say, which means too expensive ("Pak" is for men, "Bu" is for
You turn to go and they say, "no no", and offer 30,000 rp.
"Tidak," (no thank you, more or less) you say, feigning disinterest.
At this point they come down to 10,000 rp.
You counter offer with 5,000 rp, and maybe they come down a bit from
10,000 or maybe the price stays there.
When you've reached your price you give them a big smile and tell them
"selamat siang," which translates into have a nice day.
Ubud Market: Getting There
Ubud market is located
across from the old imperial palace on Jalan Raya Ubud, in the Town of
Ubud. Ubud a bit north of the southern coast of the Island of Bali,
which is part
of Indonesia. It's about an hour and a half taxi ride from the airport
in Denpasar to Ubud
The market is easily accessible by foot from any point in central Ubud.
There are spaces for mopeds in front of the the market on Jalan Raya
Ubud, and spots for a few cars too. Any of the local taxis can get you
There are two stories to the building, with the second partially under
construction. The fruit vendors are on the first floor.