Both Mbabane and Manzini boast large modern shopping malls, complete with the furniture stores, clothing boutiques, pharmacies, electrical retailers, stationery and book suppliers that come as standard. The Gables shopping centre in Ezulwini is similarly endowed and there are smaller shopping complexes at Big Bend, Matsapha, Nhlangano, Piggs Peak, Simunye and Siteki. All large towns have well stocked supermarkets, for all basic food needs and in the rural areas, even the smallest settlement will have a simple ‘general store’. All towns have vegetable markets and roadside stalls across the country also sell fresh fruit and vegetables.
But Swaziland’s best shopping experiences come from the traditional handicrafts on offer. Swaziland has a remarkably impressive range of traditional arts and crafts with many of its products now found in trendy ethnic boutiques around world. Throughout the country men and women are at work creating the finest handicrafts that are so popular with visitors. Creative basket ware in vibrant colours, wood and stone carvings, glassware, exquisite candles, batik items, jewellery – all uniquely Swazi. In many places that they are on sale, there is also chance to see the craftspeople at work and marvel at their intricate skills. Many are socially responsible outlets which provide both income and empowerment for their craftspeople from poor rural communities.
Handicraft stalls are everywhere in Swaziland. Roadside stalls and the markets of Manzini or Mbabane offer the best bargains, but more tourist-friendly shopping is offered at the following centres:
African Queen: Boutique at the Lugogo Sun Hotel
Shopping and craft outlets in Swaziland are usually open from 08:30 to 17:00 everyday, though some smaller outlets may shut Sundays.