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Shopping in Nairobi

Shopping in Nairobi is an art form. Supermarkets and upmarket mall stores charge fixed prices but you'll have to haggle everywhere else. As the world over, sellers start high and buyers low, but with a bit of give and take you'll eventually reach a price that both sides find acceptable. The upper end of Moi Avenue is Nairobi's prime shopping strip, with plenty of mainstream stores, but handicrafts are better purchased in the city's bustling markets.

Key areas

Markets and street vendors are found all over Nairobi, but more upmarket shopping opportunities are clustered around Moi and Koinange Avenues in the centre. The big city malls are also worth a visit, although don't expect too much from the fashion boutiques – some are great, others sell cheap knock-off versions of Western high street brands.

Gallery Watatu on Standard Street sells artworks by big African names, and the local clothiers that offer bespoke tailoring are often reliable, cheap and able to complete a safari suit commission in 24 hours.

If you're looking for a more serene shopping experience then The Hub Karen is a way out from central Nairobi, providing what you need without the bustle.


The City Market on Muindi Mbingu Road is jam-packed with vegetable stalls and souvenir vendors, but you'll find a more exciting selection of items on sale at the Westland Curio Market on Parkland Road or the roaming Masai Market. Good-value crafts can also be located at Embakasi Village Crafts Market, on the Mombasa Road.

Shopping centres

The best shopping centres are out in the suburbs, catering to wealthy locals and expats. All have cafés, restaurants and upscale stores selling African and imported goods. Westlands has the posh Sarit Centre on Parklands Road and the Mall Shopping Centre on Waiyaki Way, while Karen Shopping Centre on Ngong Road is also worth a visit.

Opening hours

Opening hours are from 0800 to 1700 / 1800.


Elaborate beaded jewellery, paintings and hand-carved wooden crafts are all worth taking home and can be picked up for next to nothing in street markets. Gorgeous handmade leather sandals are also worth buying, although quality varies from place to place. Other highlights include colourful woven baskets, Masai beads and soapstone bowls and pots.

Tax information

Goods bought outside of markets are subject to a 16 percent VAT.

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Featured Hotels


Upper Hill Campsite

Part campsite for overland groups, part backpacker hostel, this expansive place is a hike from the centre of Nairobi, but it makes up for this with excellent facilities. Staff can organise all sorts of safaris and excursions, and the spacious, secure compound has its own bar, restaurant and games room.

Terminal Hotel

A good-value alternative to the backpacker crash pads, the Terminal Hotel in Nairobi is simple but well located. You get what you pay for in terms of luxuries, but the rooms have bathrooms and you can walk to everything in the centre. Ask for a room at the back, away from the street noise.

Giraffe Manor

Where else in the world can you be woken in the morning by a giraffe peering into your bedroom window? Attached to the AFEW Giraffe Centre, this grand Edwardian manor is decked out with Karen Blixen's old furniture, and staying here feels like staying in a posh country home. Factor in fine food and wine and a personal chauffeur and it's easy to see the appeal.

Kenya Comfort Hotel

Well looked after, central and friendly, the Kenya Comfort Hotel offers decent facilities at a reasonable price. It's a secure hotel in Nairobi, and the rooftop lounge offers beautiful views over the city. The rooms are tiled, modern and clean, and there's a restaurant and bar if you don't feel like braving the city streets after dark.

Hotel Ambassadeur Nairobi

Standards have slipped slightly since the days when this tall tower hosted politicians and presidents, but it's still a cut above the competition. The comfortable rooms are well appointed, and there's a good bar and restaurant. It's a popular venue in Nairobi for weddings and conferences, so book ahead.

Sarova Stanley

One of the most historic hotels in Nairobi, the Sarova Stanley first opened its doors in 1902, and boasts a rich history of famous former guests, among them Ernest Hemingway. Rooms are well appointed and soundproof, and there's a gym, sauna, rooftop pool and bar. Don't miss out on the legendary Thorn Tree Cafe either, a travellers' haunt since British times.