Bhutan is one of the happiest countries in world, where growth is not measured by money but happiness. The city of Golden dragon, Bhutan is bestowed by nature’s scenic beauty, lovely peoples, awesome weather, rich culture, colourful festivals along with enthralling trekking routes and architectural heritage that attracts lots of traveller from all over the world throughout the year.
However, government has put a limit on number of tourists that can enter the country every year and thus it has small handicraft industry, but it offers some of the unique handicrafts and authentic items which are perfect to bring along as a souvenir or gift for your friends and family.
What to Buy?
Bhutan is famous for colourful masks, carpets, jewellery (silver, bronzes) hand-woven bamboo stuffs and Bhutanese wooden products. Handmade wooden bowls or dappa are ethnic souvenirs, two halves of bowls fit together so tightly that they can be used to keep cookies or salad or even carry cooked food. Then comes the most expensive and precious jewellery made by Dzi, a unique Himalayan beads that comes in oblong shape and in brown or cream colours. Bhutan is also known as 'philatelist's paradise', famous for its unique, bright and vibrant stamps. Also, try traditional clothes Gho and Kira. There’s so much to buy, that the list goes on, let’s explore popular markets you can go shopping in Bhutan.
National Handicrafts Emporium
National Handicrafts Emporium is situated in Thimpu, very popular and easily locatable. The emporium is operated by Government with a variety of traditional Bhutanese handicraft items starting from rugs to woven items, traditional clothing, bags etc in fixed, authentic price. The emporium plays an important role in distinctly maintaining the country's unique culture and tradition while providing a platform for the locals to sale their handmade products in a reasonable price. The best part to shop here is, you can use your credit card to pay for the shopping bills.
Norzin Lam Street
The most visited market in search of local arts and craft items. Dominated by creative items including beautiful designs, colourful pieces, intricate artefacts, a treat to your eye and single best place to shop for all type of crafts. The most important thing to add in your bucket list when you are in Bhutan is the street shopping and no other place can be more exciting than enjoying street shopping at Norzin Lam street where Dozens of craft stalls are in line on both sides of the road. The street is situated in the awesome location just opposite Taj Tashi hotel, at about 2km from the main city centre. Just roaming around will give you an amazing feeling, even if you don’t want to go for shopping, you can enjoy the ambience and local peoples around.
Authentic Bhutanese Craft
While enjoying shopping in Norzin lam street, you will find this shop, situated adjusted to the street. Famous for its handmade items such as scarfs, bags, shoes and much more. Only authentic handmade items made by locals are available in the shop, you can easily understand the effort they put in making these items.
Choki handicrafts are a major name in selling paintings, masks, thangkas, painted Bhutanese furniture etc. The maximum products available here comes from Choki Traditional Art School. The modern plaza consists several other craft shops you can shop from, you will also Find a stand of Choki handicraft in Norzin Lam Craft Stalls
Druk Trin Rural Handicrafts Center,
Situated in Traffic Square, Thimphu, its branches are available in the lobbies of some of the most significant hotels of Bhutan. The store situated in on Jangchub Lam offers an excellent collection of woven textiles, embroidered linens and the antique textile display.
Thimphu's main post office in Bhutan is the location from where you can buy the most unique gifts. Bring your favourite pic, on spot photo or even USB stick and they will print you a sheet of personalised stamps with your photos imprinted on them. The process will cost you equivalent to the cost of actual stamps only and take few minutes. Don’t miss it, it will turned out as the most amazing and unique souvenir of your trip.
Sephub Gyeltsen Tsongkhang
Popularly known as Thimpu’s best cloth stores with readymade traditional attires ghos (traditional dress for men) and Kira (traditional dress for women). When in Bhutan don’t forget to try these traditional dresses.
Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre
If you want to buy some hand-woven textiles, this private centre is best available option for you. The best clothing store situated at south end of Thimpu. You can also enjoy the site of weavers at work and capture them in your cameras, but not on Sundays. Other than hand woven cloth, you will also find readymade garments for sale like scarves, belts, jackets etc.
Situated nearby the capital city Thimpu, you can shop lots of things from here like traditionally carved masks, these masks are vital part of Bhutanese culture, you can notice essence of these masks in their festivals. The market is also famous for jewellery, paintings, cane & bamboo items. So, if you are nearby Paro than don’t miss to explore the market.
A perfect place for book lovers in Thimpu, with best collection of magazines, newspapers along with a collection of books on Buddhism, Bhutan, Himalayas and other fiction as well as non-fiction. Founded in 2000, situated on ground floor of Jojo's Shopping Complex, you can enter into the bookstore from the lane behind Chang Lam. It’s a well-organized shop with best of employees, who are ready to help you always. Coffee table is available to make your experience delightful and rememberable and you can enjoy your book with a coffee in your hand.
Shopping is expensive in Bhutan but if you are interested in good quality handicrafts and handlooms, then shopping in Bhutan is a must. But don’t buy antiques, you won’t be allowed to take them outside the country.