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Shopping, for me, is one of the most exciting parts of any place I visit. I love to explore the local market because that is the place where we can interact with the local people of that particular place. We get to know about their lifestyle, the way of living and can communicate a lot. Communication is what I like the most, especially when I travelling with a tour guide or travelling as a typical tourist. Fixed places to visit, fixed sightseeing, so where is the space for interaction/ communication? The local market is the best thing that comes into play when you are looking for some local interaction. In Thimpu, the handicraft market was more of a sightseeing rather than shopping for me. You will get to know the reasons very soon.
We just had a day in our hand to explore all around Thimpu as our itinerary was very short, just four days. Our driver cum guide was quite confident and asked us to remain cool as a day is enough to explore around Thimpu. After visiting the Buddha Statue, The National Memorial Chhorten, and the Royal Takin Reserve it was almost lunchtime and I was hungry like anything.
So the driver took us to the place where The Thimpu Handicraft market is situated. We had lunch in a restaurant on the back side of the market, meanwhile our driver cum guide went to get our passes for the next day’s visit to Haa valley and Chele la Pass. So rather than spending our time in the Tourism office since our driver was helpful, he asked us to explore the market. We had 2-3 hours in our hand because the next stop was the Heritage Museum and The Tashichho Dzong which opens for visitors at 5.30pm.
For exploring such a huge market we need fuel, so we charged ourselves with some Bhutanese peach wine Zumzin and some good food. It was a long market, a market arranged in an array of beautiful small shops with various kinds of handmade/handcrafted items.
The shops sold almost similar kinds of stuff. In some of the shops, there were ladies or men who were busy stitching or weaving the items like a mat, wristbands, bags, etc. But they became very conscious when I went nearby to take a click, maybe they were not tourist friendly. Some shops asked me not to take photographs. So please take prior permission before clicking any pictures.
We started in the middle. There were beautiful sling bags, handbags, laptop sleeves, pencil bags, purses, clutches, etc. Some were made of yak fur and some machine made. The ones made of yak fur will catch your fancy first and they are set at sky-rocket prices. A small sling bag cost Nu 700. Which was way too much. The handbags cost Nu 2000 which was again too much seeing the size of the handbag.
I think they should have kept the prices little bit reasonable for Indian tourists. The bad thing they did not entertain bargaining, all items set at fixed prices. After exploring the whole market, I finally found a shop with some reasonable price and bought some purses, pen bags, key chains, magnets, postcards, etc. as a token from Bhutan. There were beautiful masks which I wanted to buy but the prices were so high, later I bought a small one from the market in Paro.
After exploring just, the half of the market, we were so tired and hungry yet again. There is a small tea shop in between the market where we had some Capsicum fritters and a cup of hot tea. Then the shopping began with full fervour. The experience was enthralling for a shopaholic like me. Thanks to my husband for keeping so much patience during the whole shopping time. Well, I gifted him a wallet as a token of love for bringing to this beautiful country.
Since we had to visit the Dzong our driver cum guide said we can do some more shopping in the local market in Paro. I thought it’s a good idea, I can get to explore the market and keep a little bit of remaining for next day. In Paro, what I found was shocking indeed. The market was very expensive, a clutch that cost me Nu 250 in Thimpu was priced at Nu 350, it was a sharp increase by Nu 100, which I found quite shocking!
Due to the Paro International Airport, all international tourists hang out more in Paro and thus I think the prices of food and other stuff are very high comparative to Thimpu. So if you are intending on buying chunky pieces of jewellery, buy all that from the street shops on the base camp of The Tiger’sNest Monastery. They are almost same stuff if you are not that bothered with quality. It is up to you how much you want to invest. They don’t give any discounts and also no bargaining. The handmade incense sticks, soaps, essential oils are little bit reasonably priced, so you can buy a few.
Here are some tips you need to keep in mind while shopping in Thimpu Handicrafts Market
- If you intend to do a little bit of shopping and you are a handicraft fan, then carry a lot of cash, they don’t accept cards.
- For gifts, if you are searching for reasonable items key chains, waistbands, purses, wallets, magnets, clutches, pen-bags will be the best deal. They will come under Nu 50- 400. Bhutanese currency rate is similar to Indian Rupees.
- They don’t entertain bargaining but what’s the harm in trying? You may end up with a good deal.
- Carry a bag, water bottle, some dry food, wear comfortable shoes as the market is quite big and we may need to walk a lot. Also, carry an umbrella or raincoat as you may not know when it would start to rain.
- Do not take photographs without their permission. Some may not like it.
- If you have a day or two in Thimpu in your itinerary, which I am sure you have tried to do the shopping stuff in the Thimpu market as the market in Paro is very expensive.
- Same kinds of stuff available in Paro market is half the price in Thimpu. As I have visited both I did a small comparison. Why pay more when you are getting something in a less price?
That was all, hope you had read my other two posts on Bhutan. If you haven’t yet, then I am providing the links in the middle of this post. Go get a look. Plan your trip and let me know how it was? Take care.