Shopping in Ecuador is an interesting and varied experience. From dusty, noisy markets to specialist boutiques and glossy malls, there’s something for everyone. Ecuador offers a wide array of products that make excellent souvenirs and gifts, so be sure to leave room in your suitcase. Read on to learn about some of the best things to shop for. But be warned, once you start it may be hard to stop.

Shopping Advice and Etiquette

Shopping hours for malls are usually Monday-Friday from 10am to 8pm and Saturdays from 8am to 9pm. Local stores may have shorter opening hours and most towns have a special market day at least once a week. Bargaining is a way of life and is totally acceptable in markets and in small shops, but larger stores usually have fixed prices. Note that it is not possible to export animal products – including feathers – out of Ecuador, and antiques can also be difficult to ship home.

Shopping in Ecuador: What to Look for

‘Panama’ Hats

Among the most sought-after souvenirs when shopping in Ecuador, Panama hats are in fact Ecuadorian. Traditional hats are made of toquilla straw, with prices ranging from $30 to over $400. The quality and price reflect the tightness of the fabric (the tighter the fabric the higher the price) and good quality Panama hats can be rolled up and spring back into shape. You’ll find them all over when shopping in Quito, Cuenca and other large cities of Ecuador, especially in the markets. Those searching for something truly special can visit the headquarters of Panama hat production in Ecuador. Montecristi City, in the province of Manabi, is the official birthplace of the Panama hat. Visitors can browse a wide variety of authentic, handmade hats, and even witness their production (it’s not uncommon to see artisans making them on the streets). Modesto Hats is famous for its best-in-class Panamas, so be sure to swing by for high quality headwear straight from the source.


Ecuador is heaven for chocolate lovers. The country is famous for producing world-class, gourmet delicacies made from native cacao varieties. Often aged like a whisky and packaged like a work of art, Ecuadorian chocolate makes an ideal gift. It can be sourced all over the country but those travelling in Quito should consider visiting Mariscal Foch Plaza, home to some of Ecuador’s finest chocolatiers. We highly recommend:

  • Republica del Cacao: These organic chocolates are made with varying degrees of cacao solids — the more cacao, the darker — along with flavours such as chili pepper and banana.
  • Galeria: This gift shop and café on nearby Reina Victoria sells Pacari chocolate, which owns cacao farms across the country. The products are arranged by region, as the climate and soil affect the flavour.
  • The Kallari Café: This brand invests its profits in sustainable farming and fair-trade compensation for the indigenous community that grows the cacao.
  • To’ak: Using barrel aging processes, To’ak creates extremely limited editions of luxury chocolates. Its bars sell for hundreds of dollars.


One of the most popular items to pick up when shopping in Ecuador is fabric. Otavalo is home to Ecuador’s most famous market and it is the place to shop for ponchos, jumpers and other textiles. This highland town has a strong indigenous community who earn a living making and selling their beautiful products. An easy day trip from the capital, it takes around two and a half hours to reach Otavalo from Quito. The market starts around 9am and stays open until the early evening every day of the week. Wondering what fabric to choose? Alpaca wool is a wonderfully soft material, but you’re unlikely to get many genuine alpaca products at Otavalo and other markets. It’s better to head to specialist shops for the real thing, such as El Gran Condor in Otavalo town.

Eternal Roses

Most roses only last for a week or two, but in Ecuador you can find flowers that last forever. Ecuador’s roses bloom at the equator, where the growing season is longer than usual, resulting in extra volume and vivid colours. They’re then treated with a special formula that enables them to last perpetually. After being carefully inspected for perfection, many are presented in ornate protective casings such as glass globes and display boxes. These make the perfect gift for friends or someone special (if you can bear to give them away that is!).

Musical Instruments

Among the most emblematic instruments of Andean music, pan flutes make a wonderful gift when shopping in Ecuador. These wooden pipes are typically made of bamboo, giant cane, or local reeds and each pipe varies in length to achieve a different note. Most markets in Ecuador offer a variety of good quality, handcrafted flutes. You can also pick up guitars and ukuleles in markets across the country, but they tend to be inexpensive and low quality. It’s best to visit specialist shops for fine Ecuadorian handmade guitars.


If you’re interested in next level experiences when shopping in Ecuador, contact our expert team who can arrange tailored tours and exceptional excursions.

Contact one of our Ecuador specialists