The Mercato is the largest outdoor market in Africa and Addis' most colourful sight. There are tinkers, tailors, spice merchants, camel traders, and purveyors of just about every possible commodity under the sun - including, of course, wonderful Ethiopian coffee. Needless to say, it is a great place to pick up souvenirs. Mercato really is an exhilarating place to visit although it is probably not for the faint hearted. With animals wandering the streets, vendors hollering, the pungent aromas of local dishes and a riot of colour and sensations, you will find a visit here to be a memorable experience. The spice market is particularly interesting with its exotic colours and smells.
This is a pick-pocketing hotspot though, so be careful with your valuables. Wear a money belt under your clothes rather than keeping cash in an accessible place. Bargain hard as prices are enormously flexible and foreigners are routinely charged three to four times the going rate. Often you can bargain your way down to as little as 20 percent of the original asking price. Be careful of purchasing antiques and historical artefacts as without a certificate they may not be genuine and even if they are they could be confiscated at the airport.