Shopping in Bali & Sending back Home

by Thursday, March 31, 2016

I met Marilyn Forse recently when filming a Getaway story with her in Bali. We share a love of retail therapy and Marilyn is the ultimate artisans conduit in this paradise, to connect you to the most extraordinary artisans. This woman is an absolute ball of shopping knowledge, so I’ve asked her to share with you any tips she may have for shopping in Bali, beginning with the obvious: ‘how on earth do I get that Balinese day bed back to my house?!’ Enjoy…

1. Remember Bali isn’t the cheap island that it used to be!

By the time you add up airfares, accommodation & dining along with all the shopping (which includes pieces of beautiful furniture that you know you can’t buy in Australia) and then sending it all back in a container, this can work out to be an expensive exercise! Mind you, it’s a fun exercise if you have the spare money and time….

2. Before you leave Australia, do your homework!

Work out what pieces of furniture you want to buy in Bali, research various stores in your city – you may be surprised there is already just what you want and the best price, so why waste your time and expense on buying in Bali? Just go and enjoy a holiday.

On the other hand you just may lust after a large daybed or old Dutch colonial pieces where the prices are still pretty good and it has always been your dream to source, buy and send back home – just for the experience!

Also, you need to be aware of your nearest Port to unload your container (ok for a city dweller, but for out-of-owners the Port maybe further away & more costly than it’s worth?)

Also, to find an agent to work on your behalf, to get your product out from the port and to unload the goods through customs can be the costly part, as you may have to pay various taxes etc and then the agent’s fee! This is where the costs lie in bringing back either a full container or part container of ‘stuff’ home.

The real expense is at home, not at the Bali end!

3. How do you go about shopping in Bali and then sending home?

Unless you are experienced you should make contact with a professional personal shopper or sourcing agent that take clients around. A personal shopper will charge a fee per day basis & a follow-up fee for how much time it takes to follow up on all goods and to ensure quality control. A shopping agent usually works on a min. fee per-day basis, plus a percentage of whatever product you buy, plus time following up on goods etc.

You need to be decisive, stick to your budget & have cash in your pocket each day.

Most good furniture companies will recommend a reputable cargo company.

To hold that special piece you will need to pay a 50 percent deposit. If the item is in good condition, great, however the piece may need to be fixed or re-painted so this will need to be checked once finished by the sourcing agent or personal shopper.

Be sure to take the invoice & a business card from all factories and stores that you buy from, and pay them a 50% deposit.

4. After your Shopping Spree

When you have amassed your ‘pile of stuff’ give your agent/shopper all business cards and invoices you have collected, they will then take charge in ensuring quality control of product/s as well as ensure all instructions to suppliers have been followed up and completed.

They will organise final payment (you would have transferred monies owed to suppliers to the sourcing agent’s company bank account) and they will pay the outstanding invoices and organise the cargo company to collect.

You finalise payment with the sourcing agent, then wait for paperwork to be sent via the sourcing agent or cargo carrier for completion, you would have advised the cargo company of your agent in Australia who will make contact with you when the ship has docked at your chosen port.

Remember most cargo companies don’t insure your goods unless requested.

There are some items not allowed into Australia and will need to be inspected separately prior to packing by the cargo company – these items are usually bone, feathers or shells or items containing any of the said. Be honest with the cargo company and if you have some of the said then follow the cargo company rules, otherwise your shipment of such goods may be confiscated.

5. Arrival back Home

All you need to do now is be patient!

Cargo usually takes four to six weeks, depending on the time of year and other outside influences. All Bali containers go via Singapore, then track down to Australia.

Your agent makes contact with you and will advise you of the next steps once your shipment is in or is processed by customs.

Finally your agent will present you with his final invoice for payment, you have probably already given him an up-front deposit.

Once you get your goods home, hopefully they fit the chosen places in your home and you will fall in love with these special pieces all over again – either vowing after this experience one of two things.

‘Never again’


‘Yes! You would do it all over again in a heartbeat!!’

For more details please visit

Some of the incredible Artisans Marilyn introduced us to.