Gifts that Bring a Destination Home

‘Souvenir’ means memory—can a plastic Eiffel Tower or a flattened coin truly transport you back to a great trip? Find the perfect token of your visit, one that sparks delightful memories, with a charming souvenir from one of these local shops.

Jalan WR. Supratman No. 306, Kesiman Kertalangu, Denpasar Tim., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80237, Indonesia
Batik textiles are one of Indonesia’s most distinctive crafts. Using hot wax to block out intricate patterns before dyeing (a technique called resist dyeing), craftspeople create fabrics of an astounding range of designs and colors. A number of places in Bali teach the technique and allow you to spend a few hours creating your own batik, but Batik Popiler in Denpasar is recommended. Visitors can take part in a class or watch experts painstakingly create batik work. In an adjoining shop, you can browse and buy batik artwork and beautiful handmade sarongs, and see how these traditional fabrics have been used in modern fashion.
612 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
New Orleans is noted for two kinds of voodoo: the historic kind and the trashy, touristy kind. The latter variety isn’t hard to find; look for kitschy dolls imported from China. But the historic voodoo—an expression of the city’s longtime links to Haiti—is more elusive and interesting. That kind gets some respect at Voodoo Authentica, which is owned by a practicing spiritualist. The shop has displays and examples of shrines, and also stocks a variety of goods, including locally handmade voodoo dolls, gris-gris bags, and essential oils. While it’s clear the staff doesn’t object to selling souvenirs to those with a more casual interest, the religion of voodoo is taken seriously here—and it is a religion, not just some spooky form of witchcraft, as you’ll learn.
Harbiye Mahallesi, Teşvikiye Cd. 47/A, 34365 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
Pick up any glass in Turkey and chances are there’s a letter P on the bottom of it, standing for Paşabahçe, Turkey’s top manufacturer of glassware and housewares. Blue-glass eye amulets (nazar in Turkish) that ward off the evil eye are sold everywhere in Turkey, but the items here are actually locally made. They range from simple, silver-dollar-size keychains to hefty, gilded wall hangings. Other souvenirs include the tulip-shaped glasses seen in every teahouse in town and ornate Ottoman-inspired vases that look like they could have been lifted from Topkapı Palace. Another contender for your collection: a piece of twisted blue-striped çeşm-i bülbül (nightingale’s eye) glass, a Venetian glassblowing technique made distinctively Turkish.
Via S. Giuseppe, 5R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
This leather workshop is hidden away in a former Franciscan monastery next to Santa Croce. The Scuola del Cuoio was originally founded to provide skills and work for some of the city’s orphans after World War II; masters and apprentices still produce wallets, purses, journals, and jackets. Take a quick tour of the beautiful cloisters, frescoed corridors, and workspace, or sign up for a full workshop and try your hand at making something of your own. Everything is crafted on-site using traditional methods. Be sure to get your purchases personalized with a gold-stamped monogram.
Nalješkovićeva ul. 3, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
This shop is more coral sanctuary than ordinary jewelry store. In addition to selling mind-blowing designer pieces, this is the place to learn all about the Adriatic coral: where it lives, and how it is sourced, harvested, and treated to become that deep-red stone used in jewelry. You can watch this magic will happen right before your eyes if you drop in here for a chat with a member of the impressively knowledgeable staff, who will tell you everything you want to know in the time you have available. Get inspired, and then check out the pieces, some of which feature typical Dubrovnik filigree work. Like unique works of art, each item comes with a certificate of authenticity.
6 Maliandao Road
If you’re keen on buying moderately priced tea sets and a variety of Chinese teas, this massive indoor market is the place to come. Charming it’s not—it can be crowded and the stalls are fluorescent-lit—but hundreds of teas from across China are sold here. Sip malty pu’er tea from southern Yunnan Province, vegetal longjing green tea from the fields of Hangzhou, and floral jasmine from Fujian Province. Most shops sell teas in quantities of 100 grams, though you’ll get a better price if you buy half a kilo. Although Beijing is easy enough to navigate on your own, this is one place where, if you don’t speak Mandarin, a guide is extremely helpful.
1717 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056, USA
Houston may be an international, cosmopolitan city, but it’s also in Texas—which means no visit is complete without browsing some cowboy boots. For a true taste of Texas fashion, head to Pinto Ranch, one of the city’s most popular spots for Western lifestyle apparel. Visitors can pick up true Texas staples like handmade cowboy hats and belt buckles, or shop the wide selection of fashion-forward womens and mens apparel. In an ideal world, time a visit to Pinto Ranch with the Houston Rodeo, another Houston bucket-list item—it’s the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world.
Via Cristoforo Colombo, 137, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
For the best selection of the region’s handpainted and colorful pottery, head to the Ceramica Assunta shop at number 97 on the Via Cristofero Colombo. There you can shop for tableware, serving bowls and platters, and pitchers. Buy an entire dinner service or just pick up souvenirs such as tiny olive dishes and limoncello cups, all whimsically painted with birds, pigs, and sheep. The store will expertly wrap and ship your purchases, so you don’t have to transport breakables in your luggage.
1234 Fenton St, Cbd, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand
Known to New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people as pounamu, jade or greenstone is treasured throughout the country, and in the North Island city of Rotorua, Rakai Jade provides travelers with the opportunity to craft a special memento of their visit. Working with local Maori artisans, a one-day Carve Your Own experience takes you through the full process from initial design to final product. Popular traditional varieties include pendants and stylized fishhooks, but if you can’t spare the time for a custom bauble, many excellent already-carved pieces are also available. (Reserving at least one day ahead is recommended for a design-and-carving session.)
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