Shopping in Amman is definitely a delight for the tourist, but it can get a bit confusing if you do not have a clear itinerary of where to go. While the best way to really experience shopping in the city is still to ask a local friend to help you out and direct you to the best shops for whatever it is you are searching for, it can also help to do your own research ahead of time. To that end, the information provided here should of some aid in this venture.
First, keep in mind that shopping in Amman can basically be divided into two types: traditional and modern. The distinction here refers to the object rather than the method. That is, traditional shopping is considered traditional because it would be more focused on finding traditional handicrafts and souvenirs of the city. Modern shopping in this categorisation, on the other hand, would be modern because it would be more focused on finding less traditional things, brand-name products, or western items, even. That having been clarified, this is now the simple and generally (but not always) applicable rule: those who are interested in traditional shopping should start off in the east of the city; those interested in modern shopping, west.
This is because eastern Amman is known for having more of the smaller, family-run and traditional-handicraft-focused shops on its streets, while the western areas are undoubtedly the more developed and progressive locations, peppered with large malls and establishments of well-known names. You shall not run out of big malls in the latter area, from Kurdi Group’s over-65,000-square-metre Mecca Mall to the over-160,000-square-metre City Mall. For those seeking more expensive things, there is also Al-Wakalat Street in Sweifieh, which has a lot of very recognisable western brands and high-end shops and which is also a pedestrian-exclusive avenue.
Now if you want to haggle, head over to the Balad, also known as Downtown Amman. This is where you find the bazaars and markets where vendors are willing to haggle with you over the prices of their wares, and might do it quite cheerfully too if they deem you agreeable. This can be a fun experience in and of itself, and it does seem to be more expected when you are looking for traditional products and pieces, after all. Some of the best souvenirs to get in Amman are carvings of olive wood, the embroidery of the Palestine, metalwork in the form of trinkets and (even more popularly) the tins and pots used for brewing local coffee, traditional Jordanian costumes (the men’s caps are particularly good sellers and good value), classic-style daggers, and of course, the ubiquitous ceramics of the Jordan.
As a final note, shopping in Amman for ceramics can be very rewarding, as there are superb exemplars of both classical and modern styles to be found here. For classical and local designs, turn to Beit al-Bawadi at Fawzi al-Qawuqji Street and the Al-Alaydi Jordan Craft Centre near Al-Kulliyah Al-Islamiyah Street. More modern examples at bargain pricing can be found at the excellent Silsal Ceramics shop on Innabeh Street.