Shopping Handicrafts in Cusco
There are markets behind avenue de Sol all over Cusco. These markets are much cheaper than Lima, and will be worth the money to tote your souvenirs. Pisac Market is also great but not much cheaper than Cusco. This market is only a short Bus Ride from Cusco, and the villagers from other areas arrive on certain days to shop and barter. If you want to make a whole day of shopping this is a worthwhile venture, and it offers the local variety of the Central Market. It is best to buy your souvenirs here so not to be tempted in Aguas Calientes, Lima, and Lake Titicaca where they are twice as much.
Everything is negotiable, and if you are looking for a certain item it will be helpful to ask at each stall for the price. This will give you the base price to start negotiations. If you are shopping with friends and want similar items buy together as discounts are given for multiple purchases. However, when negotiating negotiate the price as far down for only one item. That way you can negotiate even further for multiple items.
Tips:1. Check all seams on hand made goods. My fiend Greg bought a duffel bag to help carry his loot which ripped within two days. If you find a defect that is small that you can fix or don't mind use that as bargaining leverage.
2. Sizes run much smaller in Peru than the US. When in doubt by at least one size bigger if not two. Especially, in children's clothing. We bought 2T clothing for our children that are 12 months and it fit already. If possible try it on. Often knit wear will fit odd with small shoulders etc..
3. Know some Spanish. At least the basics:
Cuanta Cuesta - How much?
Muy Caro - Too Expensive.
Por dos - For two.
And you have to know your numbers. If not haggling will be very ineffective.
4. Have small bills and change. A good technique is to say that you only have ten soles, but if you need change you don't have that advantage.
5. Haggle Haggle Haggle. They expect it, and it makes shopping so much more fun.
6. Trade. I have often traded things that I no longer had use for like a portable Cd player, and some kids clothes. This is a good idea if you have things from home you might think will work well. My Cd player was well received and I was going to give it to goodwill, so it worked out great for me.