Serrekunda market is a traditional market, where locals from the nearby communities meet to trade goods, in a community-like atmosphere that offer a glimpse into Gambian culture.
Known for being one of the oldest markets in The Gambia, Serrekunda market has become a profound cultural destination that sits proudly at the top of the list of places to visit in The Gambia, making it a memorable stop for travellers.
The market continues to be home to an array of local produce and products such as fruits and vegetables, Gambian spices, nuts, herbs, oils, fisheries, as well as other goods such as clothing, footwear, household supplies, phones and so much more.
Market is more than just a place to shop but also a place for the locals to meet. Women and men are going to the market regularly as they can find there almost everything they need. And it is part of a daily routine for women who are going to the market almost every day to buy fresh ingredients for the daily lunch. If you are in The Gambia before any festive period, you will experience a big crowd on all the markets.
It is also a place where you can enjoy observing the scene happening at the market. Vendors are using different strategies to sale their products and ways to display them. There is music playing in some shops behinds stalls, people passing with megaphones inviting people to buy from them, vendors with wheelbarrows full of products rushing through the narrow streets, some are holding all their products in their hands or on heads trying to earn daily income and you can also find vendors displaying shoes, second-hand clothes or other goods on a piece of fabric on the floor.
Do not hesitate to spark up a conversation with the friendly locals; they are an absolute joy to deal with.
The Gambia has several street markets where you can find anything from food to clothes. If you really want to experience daily life, you should visit some. It can sometimes be an overwhelming experience and if it is crowded at the moment you are there, you need some patient to get out of there.
We recommend taking a local guide or a Gambian friend along with you for an easier experience.
Apart from numerous very small markets there is Albert market in Banjul, Serekunda market, fish market at Bakau, Bakau craft market, Senegambia craft market, Cape Point craft market, Fajara craft market, Kotu craft market, Brikama craft market, livestock market in Brikama, Tanji fish market, Barra market, Farafenni lumo (country market)
Craft markets are places where you can find a good range of local crafts including quality batik clothing, jewellery and beads, handmade leather shoes and bags.
Why should you visit local markets?
- it is a great way to discover daily life of Gambians; you’ll get to really see the locals, including what they eat, how they dress and how they relate to each other;
- buying there means you will directly support vendors and farmers;
- colourful and busy atmosphere;
- to practice your negotiation skills;
- access to fresh fruits and vegetables which you might see for the first time;
- great people watching; anywhere busy is good but at a local food market you have the chance to watch people going about their usual lives, either making their living selling produce, or buying food to cook and feed their family;
- interaction with locals; shopping is one of your best chances to chat, lean about the culture and practice the language;
- amazing photography: whether you’re an aspiring or professional photographer, the local markets are a great place to catch candid portraits but always, always ask permission before taking someone’s photo.
Get ready for bargaining!
Barging is a part of Gambian trading culture. Vendors will not be surprised if you will start the game of barging, but you should always do it with a respect and patient. If you will give the person at the end a little more than he or she finally asked, they will feel happy. You should also keep in mind that many live from hand to mouth, which means that your purchase can make a direct impact on a daily income of families.
Here are some tips for bargaining:
- Do not ever bargain for something you are not ready to buy.
- Check through the market first.
- Do not show your excitement about a product you like because prices may shoot up.
- When you decide for an item, think of a price you are willing to pay (in mind and in your currency).
- Prepare for the bidding battle in a quiet way.
- Be confident and respectful.
- Plan to meet halfway. But if you feel the starting offer is way overpriced offer less.
- Negotiate a price that works the best for the both of you.
- Be ready for reaction. Always. The vendor might over-exaggerate as if you’ve offered a completely unfair price but don’t be taken back, that’s part of the trade.
- You can also over-exaggerate when vendor offers first price. It is part of the trade.
- Think about the value of the product, how much time one spent to make it, which material the item is made from, how much it cost in your currency (and what it means to you).
- If you feel your offer was unfair, consider it and offer a bit more. Don’t forget vendors make living out of it. And competition is tough!
- If the seller gives you price you don’t want, walk away. Some may offer you a lower price when you start taking those steps farther from the shop.
- If you really like an item buy it. Don’t walk away because it was few €/ £ /$ more than you wanted to pay.
- Even if someone else paid a bit less, if it offers significant value for you, then you should be satisfied with your purchase.
- You’re a tourist with an amazing opportunity to explore the country. Some of the vendors on the other hand, might be struggling to make ends meet. Offer a fair pricing and don’t get caught up over a few cents.
Enjoy shopping, experience daily life and take home fabulous product from The Gambia.