Shopping in Tibet is so much fun that most visitors spend a large amount of time on their Tibet tour wandering around the Tibet Shops.. It is hard to drag yourself away from all the exciting stuff on offer, particularly the Tibet handicrafts and all the unique religious articles. It is no suprise that a good portion of Tibet’s income from tourism comes from the sale of indigenous goods and crafts. Even in Tibet, shopping can take up energy. Get refueled by eating at one of the wonderful restaurants in Tibet.
To have the most authentic Tibet shopping experience, buy goods from the desitnation they are known for. It's the best way to get a quality souvenir and help local artisans.
Some of the favoured items include Tibetan rugs and hand-woven carpets; Tibetan hats, wooden bowls, metal crafts meticulously done in copper, silver and gold; superb jewellery in turquoise (watch out for fakes), jade, agate, pearls, gold and silver; and clothing including sheepskin lined cloaks and traditional Tibetan women’s wear. Products related to Tibetan Buddhism are also hot selling items. Available at monasteries and tourist sites, they include hand held prayer wheels and beads, Tibetan joss sticks and brass butter lamps. Thangkas (religious scrolls) are very popular too and make excellent gifts. The better quality ones usually have hand-painted images with beautiful backgrounds.
Tibet Shopping Guide
The best shopping is found in Lhasa, the capital, where most visitors start their Tibetan tour anyway. Products from all over Tibet and even from bordering nations of Nepal and India are kept for sale in shopping centres and markets of Lhasa. This is also the place to stock up on essential everyday items before venturing into the outskirts and remote towns. Barkhor Street is the most bustling shopping area in Lhasa with over 200 shops many selling handicrafts alone. Duosenge Lu, the new commercial street, also offers good shopping in Tibet.
Silver and other handicrafts
Tibet’s second city, Shigatse is popular for exquisitely crafted silver handled Tibetan knives and other handicrafts. Gyantse has the best choice of Tibet carpets while the small village of Jiaxijiecai is known for its pottery, Buddha figurines, swords and jewellery. Nyingchi is a good place to buy woollen blankets, herbs and quality green tea. Other cities have their specialties too and it is always ideal to buy articles where they are produced to get the best prices and authentic items. Fakes and cheap replicas of most goods are common, and even though these too can make good souvenirs, try to buy genuine products. Remember that whenever you buy factory made fakes, local artisans are being cheated out of their earnings.
Bargaining is common in market places and prices of most products are usually inflated. Offering half the quoted price is normal practice. Stay away from items made from skin and furs of endangered animals and antiques without certificates. Shopping hours are 10 am to 8 pm at most places. To find other souvenirs, try browsing the China Shopping Guide.