Nicaragua is home to many different, interesting, and very distinct market environments. While some are way too dangerous to venture into on your own, such as “El Oriental”, there are other more tranquil markets that you can make your way around safely, without the need to watch your wallet and count your fingers when you get back on the bus to head back to your hotel room. One such market is the Masaya Artisan Market. While you won't be able to do any staple shopping in this market, you will certainly find it at the least entertaining, and even educational, in terms of the culture of Nicaragua, and the different folkloric practices of the Nicaraguans.
The “Mercado de Artisanias”, Craft Market”, is located inside what used to house the “mercado viejo”, the “old market”. The market is housed in a 19th century structure near the very heart of the city of Masaya, and is only a short couple of blocks away from the main central market of Masaya.
The Masaya Artisan Market has been revamped, and in the last recent years has really been turned into a tourist trap. That is to say, that many of the locals do not, and will not, shop there for anything they are looking for. This market is perfect to go to if you aren't up for the hustle and bustle of a “real” Nicaraguan market, which can be quite daunting your first time out, but you still want to get a taste of what a Nicaraguan market is like, and wish to sample the wares available to you from the Nicaraguan culture.
While you can expect the prices to be slightly higher to outright outrageous when compared to the other markets in Nicaragua, sometimes you can only find those truly unique knick knacks you are searching for in this unique corner of Nicaragua.
For example you can find many different kinds of hats, shoes, sandals, flip flops, hand made hammocks, shirts, and a variety of novelty items, which you may not be able to find in other markets around the country.
Some of the more notable “novelty” items you can find include craftily shaped bottles of national beer, stuffed frogs in various positions of debauchery, various musical instruments, and of course the “hombre sin verguenza” – a little man on a keychain that when you lift the belly out pops his... Littler man...
Not only can you find all the above things and more in the Masaya Artisans Market, but this market is unique from all the other markets in and throughout Nicaragua, in that every Thursday night you can witness some authentic folkloric dances during a “Noche de Verbena” or “Night of Revelry”, where you can witness firsthand some of the unique and amazing culture which Nicaragua has to offer. During these nights, you can sample some of the amazing local cuisine such as Gallo Pinto, Enchiladas, Grilled Meats, Cheeses, and of course the variety of liquors and national beer to be had.