What To Buy In Nairobi, Kenya - Updated 2021

what to buy in nairobi
Barry Juma
Endorsed by Local Expert
Barry Juma

Nairobi is a beautiful city with a large game reserve inside it. It is near a well-regarded elephant orphanage and is considered as Kenya’s urban core. The city has a blend of multiple-cultured people from different parts of the country who share and work together. There are a number of restaurants for fine dining, public and private transportation and accommodation. You can visit the Giraffe centre and bond as you interact and feed the giraffes, Bomas of Kenya, which was a traditional tribal village, Karen Blixen Museum, or enjoy safaris in the Nairobi National Park. If you want to take a souvenir back home, here’s a list of what to buy in Nairobi, Kenya.

1. Kitengela glass

Visit the Kitengela Hot Class and Anselm Croze and grab yourself one of the beautiful glass artworks. Each unique piece is made from recycled glass, broken and crashed into small pieces, then heated with high-temperature flames until it melts down into a semi-solid state. It is then handcrafted into beautiful glass art and glassware. Before you bay your glassware, you can take a short tour and see how the process is done from the crashing of the glass to the blowing of the glass while it is still glowing red hot until it finally shaped into a beautiful piece of art.

Travel tip by Nairobi Local Expert - Barry
Posted on: Nov 12, 2019

Kitengela Glass has its main workshop in a town called Rongai, about a half an hour from Nairobi CBD. If you're trying to locate this place, be careful not to head to Kitengela town which is a town about 40 minutes outside the capital and found in the opposite direction. Despite the similar name, Kitengela Glass isn't found in Kitengela town. If you remember this, you'll be fine! However, you can also find their products at stores in the Junction Mall and Village Market in Nairobi.

2. Maasai beads

Masai Bracelets
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bukulu Steven used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Maasai beads have for a long time used by the Kenyan tribe called The Maasai to create beautiful jewellery. You can buy the Maasai beads and craft your own colourful jewellery in as many designed as you want. Each colour has a special meaning behind it. White represents health, peace, and purity, Blue represents the sky and energy, Red represents blood, bravery, and unity while Green represents land and health. This is why each Maasai jewellery is crafted with a specific meaning to it and you can craft your own jewellery with your own message embedded in it

Travel tip by Nairobi Local Expert - Barry
Posted on: Nov 12, 2019

The best place to buy the Maasai beads is at the Maasai Market. The market is held at a different location on different days but the one I would recommend is at the High Court parking on Saturdays. Their prices tend to be a bit exorbitant if you're a foreigner so if you can find a local to haggle in Swahili, you might get a good deal. Otherwise, they have great products other than the beads. If you want a great deal, travel to the town of Kitengela, a half-hour drive from the city center. This used to be Maasai country (although it's now a cosmopolitan town) and you'll find lots of native Maasais who make and sell bead ornaments at a very affordable price.

3. Hand-carved wooden sculptures

what to buy in nairobi | hand-carved wooden sculptures
Source: Pixabay

Take pride in having one of the amazing hand-carved wooden sculptures. Each sculpture has been given special attention, with each detail carefully moulded with keen precision. There are a number of beautiful sculptures you can pick from, whether you want a large sculpture to add to your beautiful collection or you want something sizable you can place on your table or better yet you can buy tiny key chain sculptures and take them back to your friends and family as a souvenir.

4. Kikois and Khangas

These are bright and colourful African clothing. You can buy a Kikoi or Khanga and use it as your table or seat clothing to beautify your home with colourful materials or you can design a stunning outfit with it. This is multipurpose clothing that brings fun and joy as you get attention due to the bright and attractive colours used to decorate it. They are sold in most local clothing shops and tend to go like wildfire on a windy day. They are perfect as a warming blanket or you can use it to spread it down when you are enjoying your picnic

Travel tip by Nairobi Local Expert - Barry
Posted on: Nov 12, 2019

If you want the best prices for kikois, avoid the souvenir stores as their products have the 'foreigner's price'. If you have a local guide, let them take you to open-air markets like Ngara Market, Toi Market or Gikomba Market and you'll get these for a bargain. These markets are unpretentious, non-touristy places and the vibe there is quite intense. If you're okay with the very boisterous Nairobi personality then you should have a wonderful experience at these markets. 

5. Kiondos

Kiondo is a traditional handbag made from leather trimmings and sisal. It is common among the Kamba and Kikuyu tribes in Kenya. They come in many colourful designs and sizes, blending perfectly with your wardrobe. This beautiful type of basketry can be either a beautiful collection of home decor or you can personally use it to carry your things as you go by your day. All materials used are organic and long-lasting. They are popularly used to go to the market while others are woven into beautiful and artistic handbags that can be carried for any occasion.

6. Maasai spear

A Maasai spear is a traditional weapon used by the Maasai tribe in Kenya. The African spear is perfectly curved and was commonly used by the Maasai warriors for hunting or fighting against attackers or wild animals since they are live near many game parks. The Maasai spear is not only a weapon but also a piece of beautiful art and décor for your house. It commands respect and acts as a strong symbol of bravery and leadership, it is basically made from strong wood and a sharpened spear tip

7. Soapstone carvings

This beautiful piece of art is popularly made by the Kisii tribe in Kenya. These carvings are particularly alluring due to its unique materials. The soapstone is broken into desired sizes and then perfectly carved into a different and beautiful piece of art. You can buy anything from amazing candle holders to beautiful fruit bowls all depending on what catches your eye. It takes time to seat and skills to perfectly design and craft these beautiful sculptures and is a great addition to your souvenir collection

8. Baobab handbags

Grab yourself a beautiful bag made from the bark of the Baobab tree. The Baobab tree is stripped off its barks which is then dried and beaten to form strings which are then converted into materials used to weave into a beautiful and amazing bag. This bag can be a beautiful collection to your wardrobe when you want to put on something colourful and full of life. They are made into the perfect shape and size to be used as a shoulder bag or just hold it in your hand. It is spacious and can carry most of your stuff that you can’t leave the house without.

9. Shukkas

Suntan the Original Masai Shuka - Quality product
Source: Photo by Flickr user Marcel Oosterwijk used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Shuka is a Swahili word meaning blanket commonly worn by the Maasai tribe in Kenya. They are traditionally red in colour with colourful strips, but these days there are a number of different colours and designs sold. There are perfect for picnics or when you have gone camping and you need something light but warm to cover yourself. You can also choose to use it as a seat cover at home or in your car bringing light life and colour where you choose to have it.

10. Tribal masks

If you are looking for an amazing piece of art to add to your collection back home, the Tribal Masks would be a great choice to make. Each mask has a hidden meaning behind it and was worn during the specific occasion. You can buy the warrior tribal masks that were worn during the war to symbolize bravery in your house or the elder tribal mask to symbolize leadership and respect. Any mask you decide to buy will be an awesome addition to your house decor and will be the first thing to command attention wherever it has been placed.

A piece of African tradition

4812 Africa Revisited: Beadwork dialogue in African Art
Source: Photo by user Ann Porteus used under CC BY 2.0

It is always nice to carry home a souvenir after visiting any country, these things you can buy are the perfect items you can choose to use as your decor or just fashion. Don’t leave the country empty-handed carry something that will always remind you of the fun times you had.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.
This article has been endorsed by Nairobi local expert Barry Juma

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Linda Is a free spirit writer, I do love exploring, visiting new places experience, new things, and most of all learn. Bringing all these experiences together i have managed to acquire a sixth...Read more

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