I started seeing these round, woven rattan bags in the clutches of designers and fashion bloggers in early 2017. After asking around, I found the Instagram accounts selling these 24-cm diameter bags for about ₱3,800 each (75 USD).
I snooped around and found out they were sourced from Bali, Indonesia. I noticed that my fellow Filipinos would travel to Bali and purchase these bags by the bulk to sell back home. As the months went by, online resellers brought down the price to around ₱2,500 (50 USD) for the big one (24 cm diameter). These days you can find them for ₱1,300-1,900 (26-38 USD) at Carousell.
I recently went to Bali, where I found these famous bags for sale in almost every corner. Let me share with you my shopping tips.
1. If you’re buying from Bali, note that the prices vary depending on the location. They’re a bit cheaper in Ubud than in Kuta and Seminyak. They’re priciest in Canggu. Some are made from rattan, while others are made from ata grass or a mix of both. Ask the seller to be sure.
2. Even if you decide to buy in Ubud, prices still vary. They’re expensive in major tourist spots like Monkey Forest Street. During my trip, I found the cheapest in Ubud Traditional Art Market (in front of Ubud Palace). Even there, the prices vary depending on the stall location. The ones by the entrance and easily accessible spots are more expensive than the ones in the hidden stalls.
3. In the major tourist spots, the 24-cm diameter round bag starts at 550,000 IDR (₱2,068 or 41 USD). In markets and lesser-known tourist spots, price starts at 400,000 IDR (₱1500 or 30 USD) per bag. For the smaller bags, they start at around 300,000 IDR (₱1,128 or 22 USD).
4. After haggling, I got several big round bags for 270,000 IDR each (₱1,015 or 20 USD each), one small rectangular sling purse for 150,000 IDR (₱564 or 11 USD), and a macramé sling bag for 100,000 (₱376 or 7 USD) at Ubud Traditional Art Market. When I compared notes with other shoppers, they purchased the big round bag for around 350,000 IDR each (₱1,300 or 24.50 USD each). Personal note: When shopping in Asian countries, it’s not always about getting the ridiculously cheapest price. If you’re already happy with the price, there’s no need to lowball the vendors.
5. It gets cheaper if you buy many. According to my newfound Indonesian friends, prices can go even lower if you have a local friend to haggle for you or if you explore the hidden depths of the market. Sounds like our good ol’ Divisoria and Greenhills, right?
6. There are many designs and sizes aside from the ubiquitous round bag. They come in other colors like black, yellow, green, red, and white.
7. You can get away with purchasing several bags and packing them in your balikbayan box. But if you’re buying in bulk, it’s best to get in touch with a supplier. The price will be relatively cheaper, but of course you’ll have shipping and tax fees to consider.
8. Don’t get too excited by immediately buying the first one you see. Look around, compare prices, and check out several designs before haggling and making your final purchase.
9. If you’re not heading to Indonesia anytime soon, there are many Manila-based Instagram shops and online resellers that peddle these bags—for a higher price, of course.
10. If you’d like to support Philippine-made products, we have our own designs made from the native rattan, abaca, and tikog. Click here for a list compiled by my fellow Spot.ph writers.