There are so many Cheap Things to Buy in Colombia, that we will try to focus on the most important things that are easy to find here. Of course, this definition can vary wildly from one person to another, so please leave a comment about YOUR favorite cheap thing!
For a quick and easy conversion of prices named here, calculate 3,000 Colombian pesos (COP) for every US dollar ($1).
Our List of Cheap Things to Buy in Colombia
The biggest hazard that accompanies this topic is authenticity versus fakes. In a sense, everything here is a bit fake. The quality is lower, the variety is less, and you might even be purchasing bootleg! But, I have discovered that part of the battle is knowing WHERE to go, and HOW to find the right thing.
Yes, this is obvious, but a worthy topic for thunder bean enthusiasts everywhere! In Colombia, you can buy a decent cup of coffee in the pueblos for 1,000 – 2,500 pesos. If you are a Folgers swilling 2nd generation drinker, then go for 1,000 pesos per cup at cafeterias and panaderias, or the guy on the corner.
But, if your tastes run more to the specialty coffee feel and taste, then you need to find an independent cafe which buys from local/regional growers, and who sourced their coffee from bean to cup. In the pueblo you may pay 1,500 – 2,500+ for quality coffee.
In cities like Pereira, Manizales, Armenia and Cartago, you can expect to pay 2,500 – 4,000 for a cup of the premium beans, and other cheap things to buy in Colombia.
Heres a story about unique ways to drink coffee in Manizales: https://coffeeaxistravel.com/unique-ways-drink-coffee-manizales/
Organic Fruits and Vegetables
With a massive biodiversity and agricultural production scene, the Colombian Coffee Region, and much of the country is cheap for fresh produce. Especially if you are comparing to N. American/European prices, Colombia is paradise for tree hugging, vitamin taking, healthy food yuppies!
Ask for “Mercado Agroecologico,” or “Mercado Campesino,” to learn how to buy directly from the actual producers. Both the Pereira and Manizales Alcaldes (mayor) offices host virtual or present markets. They usually put out their notices via Facebook. This is the Colombian equivalent of a “farmers market.”
Large shopping malls like Mall Plaza in Manizales, or Pereira Plaza in Pereira, usually offer one such market on a monthly basis.
If dirty streets and competitive environments aren’t a problem for you, then you can also save tons of money each month by shopping at the market plazas, “plazas de mercado,” or “galeria’s” where the food comes in off the truck.
Each day starting at 4:00 am, the local restaurants, food processing shops and local kitchens are at the La Galeria of Manizales buying meat, fruits, grains, and vegetables fresh and in bulk!
Insider Tip: Prices rise as the morning progresses and local residents come out to shop. Use caution always in these areas and don’t carry more cash than necessary. Create loyalty with one or two sellers who you feel are honest and later you can ask them to find you certain things at reasonable prices.
For more tips and info about shopping at the market plazas or “plaza’s de mercado” also called “mayoristas,” or bulk distribution centers: https://coffeeaxistravel.com/buying-food-at-la-galeria-in-manizales-expat-lifestyle/
With the exception of meats like mutton/lamb, rabbit, deer and turkey – you will find the standard gamut of pork, beef, chicken and fish (tilapia, trout, mojarra). Halal and Kosher can be found, but mostly in places like Medellin and Bogota.
In the Coffee Axis, beef is not usually aged – but, over the last few years local artisan beef butchers have begun to delve into the concept. Currently the best aged beef comes from Santa Rosa or Cartago. Check with local high end restaurants, or butcher shops, to find out more information. #eatlocal
Did you know that Colombia actually has its own textile and fashion industry? Most of the material is imported from China, but for artisan uses and specific niche’s you can still find Colombian sourced cloth.
The two most common types of nationally produced cloth are linen, and wool. They aren’t quite as fine quality as something you might find in Europe/N.America, but alternately could be thicker and better depending on the use and intention. You must judge each option you encounter on an individual basis.
In Marulanda, Caldas, you can find cheap, but nice quality, colorful, wool ponchos. These are great during cold snaps in Manizales, or for traveling if you are one of those who always needs an extra blanket.
Cartago, is the capital of Bordado/Calado shirts for men and women. These are exclusive embroidered cotton, and are usually worn by the mega-wealthy. They are sold in boutique shops in places like Pereira or Cartagena. The prices at these fancy shops can start between 200 – 300,000+ COP. In Cartago, they start around 70,000+ COP. #buylocal
Read more about Cartago HERE: https://www.pereiracityguide.com/cartago-travel-guide/
You don’t hear it talked about much, but believe it or not, you can find some incredibly beautiful artwork. This is one of the Cheap things to buy in Colombia that most people probably don’t even really think of until they are in the moment.
From photography to painting and even indigenous handiwork, you will find an enormous value in decorating your home while supporting local artists who need the extra support now more than ever. With such a favorable exchange rate, it has never been a better time to invest.
Some of our top local artists include Jose Alonso Loaiza, Hernando Hoyos Baena & Constanza Chabur, William Cardona, and many more who some of which we wrote about a few years ago in this article: #supportlocalart https://www.pereiracityguide.com/artists-of-pereira/
Shoe factories are in many major cities and even some small towns. They range from small local brands, to nationally distributed mass production. Colombians in general are not extremely hung up on arch support, this is actually a more expensive item that you may consider buying via Amazon and importing.
Cute and colorful sandals can be found in the streets of every major city that start at 20,000+ COP per pair. Cali is a common destination for leather sandals, while Manizales is famous for their leather boots.
Quality of shoes can range wildly, and this is a popular bootleg item as well. When you buy brand-name imported, expect to pay 300,000+ for Nike, Adidas et. al., which in the US you usually find for at least half price of what you pay here.
Bad News: If you are a man with big feet, let’s say 11 and upwards, expect to buy your shoes in your home country, or online. Colombians are typically of smaller stature, and don’t carry larger brands which are harder to sell. In a pinch, you can probably find a dealer in Medellin, or Bogota, who can get them for you.
Insider Tip: Manizales is famous for their leather boots, one shop in particular inside of Centro Comercial Sancancio which came highly recommended a.k.a “local secret,” is called Leather Time. The shop offers a 2 year guarantee on the soles!! This is not a paid ad, we are reporting a good experience that we had!
Hats, or Sombreros
Even a fancy Sombrero Aguadeno won’t run more than $50 to $100 USD, if you know where to go. However, the quality depends on the tightness and saturation of the weave.
To determine if a Sombrero Aguadeno is a fairly cheap – low quality hat, or a fancier high quality one, hold it up to the light. If light filters through the holes it is lower quality (25 – 75,000 COP). A fancy hat will block out the sunlight and have a nicer interior finish (150,000 – 250,000+ COP).
We have had great experiences getting our hats from Don Samuel in Salamina, and Manizales, Caldas. The interior band is made from leather, and the exterior finish is nice, consistent and with good quality fibers.
If you are looking for a simpler cloth sun protecting hat, you might find a cheaper one at a flea market, or walking around in el Centro. At Centro Comercial Fundadores in Manizales, you can find a nice quality, but more expensive one, at the Columbia Sportswear’ shop.
Especially if you buy in a pueblo, houses on lots or joined together can start around $30 – $40,000 USD. You can find a house or even small farm for about $100,000 USD – depending on where you go, and what kind of finish work you want. In the city houses generally start around $50 – 100,000 USD in middle class areas (strata 3 or 4).
It should be noted, that Pereira has some of the highest land prices in Colombia – particularly in Cerritos/Castillo rural sectors. But, especially now with the “pandemic,” that can actually vary wildly as things continue to get crazier.
Insider Tip: If you DO decide to buy property in Colombia, INVEST IN A TITLE SEARCH. If you are not carefully researching exactly what the title says, where it comes from and what it includes, you are setting yourself up for problems with cheap things to buy in Colombia.
Silver, Gold & Emeralds
Colombia is profuse in precious metals, and even has rare earth metals along with refining abilities. One of the must-do experiences is to visit the Exposition de Artesanias at the Feria de Manizales, a yearly event.
The average jewelry shop in Colombia offers 18 karat gold at 10 karat prices making these cheap things to buy in Colombia.
If you go directly to the sources, in a pueblo like Quinchia, or Marmato, you can find nicely worked artisan jewelry at incredibly cheap prices. Look for techniques like “filigree” which is a complex process of silver wire sculpting.
Prior to COVID’s you could buy emeralds in Colombia, and sell them at profit back in your home city. The most rare and beautiful emeralds in the world come from mines in the north of the country, in the department of Boyacá, a land of potatoes and wool ponchos.
Prices of gold, silver and emeralds depends on whether you buy in the city, or go directly to small town artisans. They are cheaper here than in the US, Canada and Europe.
As always, it is extremely important to do your research, examine the cheap things to buy in Colombia, and understand what your are getting. The risk you always run here is bootleg/fakes/low quality workmanship. Learn how to look at the seams and evaluate price to value.
There is a saying in Colombia “Bueno, Bonito, Barato,” which glorifies the concept of pressuring the vender to lower his prices, and buying something “pretty” for cheap.
On the other hand, keep in mind that if it is a handmade item that wasn’t mass produced, that there is a person and a family behind it who need to pay their bills, and feed their children. In that sense, is paying full price really that bad?
Yes you are Gringo, but even paying that “gringo” price, sometimes it is STILL, after all, cheaper than it would have been in your home country. Consider the context, and the cost, then put YOUR value on the item. Living here is a eye opening education as to the ACTUAL costs of resources. Some things are cheaper, others are more expensive.
Cheap things to buy in Colombia are fun to find, and take home – possibly even for re-sale. If you feel like this article was helpful and you would like to contact us for deeper insight or specific questions feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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