When in the Maldives, delight yourself with an array of interesting and unique souvenirs at very affordable prices in a shopping mall they call “Singapore Bazaar in the Maldives.” Its real name is Chaandanee Magu, but people fondly call it Singapore Bazaar because most of the goods on sale are from Singapore.
Chaandane Magu is the best place to buy souvenir items that you can show off to friends or as gifts to family back home, proving that you’ve just been to the Maldives. Although they are known for their products from Singapore, the shops in Chaandane Magu sell three important items that are uniquely from the archipelago. The first one is the miniature dhoni boat.
The dhoni is a traditional wooden boat that serves as sea taxi. The archipelago has more water than land, and so the dhoni plays a very important role in commerce and transportation.
There are 1,192 coral islands in the Maldives and about a hundred of them are resort islands reserved for tourists. Although there are also seaplanes and speedboats to transport vacationers from the capital city of Male to their final resort destinations, the dhoni is the most interesting way to go, although not the fastest or most convenient. A few years back, the Maldivian people built dhonis using coconut wood. Now, the country imports hardwood. Miniature dhonis are so cute, unique and seemingly small enough to fit in your luggage.
Another popular souvenir item is the Thudu Kuna, a traditional mat made from indigenous fibers and materials and hand-woven by local women in Gadhdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. This reed mat typically has interesting abstract or geometrical designs.
The third souvenir item is a lacquer wooden box from Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll. Lacquer ware is very popular in the Maldives. Shell handicrafts are also very popular but you should be careful not to buy turtle shells, pearl oyster shells, black corals, or red corals. The selling and buying of these items are illegal.
Meanwhile, there are other interesting shopping areas in the Maldives, all located in the capital city of Male. Chaandane Magu is one of the only two shopping malls in the archipelago, and the other one is Majeedhee Magu. Inside are rows of shops that sell everything you need from designer clothes, perfumes to cosmetics. There are also electronic gadgets and jewelry. For your shopping pleasure, this mall is open until 11:00 PM. It closes a few times during the day for a 15-minute prayer time.
Also nearby is the famous fish market. The market is mostly empty throughout the day but as fishermen arrive in the afternoon, it comes to life as people crowd to buy the freshest catch of tuna, bonito and swordfish. While people come to buy fish, some come just to watch the fishermen skillfully cut and clean the fishes. The fish market is very clean and well-maintained, unlike the typical fish markets in South Asia. Beyond the fish market is the local market where fresh vegetables and fruits are sold.
The city of Male is not big that it is not difficult to locate these shopping areas, especially the Singapore Bazaar. Just ask any local to point you to the most popular shopping center in the country and most likely the Singapore Bazaar is within your sight.