Shopping in Ciudad del este

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Shopping in Ciudad del Este is nothing if not colorful. The city’s location on the border with Argentina and Brazil makes it a hotspot with bargain hunters from both nations, and the city’s streets are awash with makeshift stalls hawking cheap electrical goods and imitation designer goods. Be warned, the ‘bargain’ clothes, shades or fragrances you have your eye on may turn out to be a false economy – most are badly-made imitations that will fall apart within weeks, if not days, of purchase.

Crossing the Border
If you’ve crossed the border with the intention of doing a spot of shopping before heading back, familiarize yourself with the Paraguayan currency first. The Guarani comes in very high denominations, so what appear to be sky high prices are very often next to nothing. Most vendors accept US dollars as well as Brazilian reais and Argentinean pesos, but the exchange rate they offer means you’ll end up paying more in real terms. There are cashpoints in the city but most charge an extra fee (on top of that imposed by your bank) for withdrawals. If you’re not planning on any further travel in Paraguay, don’t leave with any substantial amounts of currency as it’s virtually worthless outside the country as few exchange services will change it.

Shopping Central

Ciudad del Este has been described as 'the largest shopping center in South America', and there’s no questioning that the majority of people who visit here do so with shopping in mind. The main hub for shopping in the city is Avenida San Blas, where you’ll find the odd mall selling original items among the mass of stalls selling counterfeit goods. If you know what you are  looking for there can be some decent deals to be had on electronics, but don’t spend any big money unless you can really be sure you know what you are buying (or can afford to take a gamble). Be aware that, where goods are genuine, they may be stolen. Real bargains can be had on leather goods, which are inexpensive here thanks to the abundant cattle ranches, but shop around to get the best prices.

Safety First
The streets of Ciudad del Este are packed, making pickpocketing unhappily common. Keep valuables well hidden (or, where possible, don’t bring any), and don’t keep cash or cards in your back pockets. Female shoppers should be aware that revealing clothes, even in hot weather, will call male attention that may well be unwanted.

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