You have visited the heavenly temples and stupas, snapped your fingers to the melody of Nepali folk songs, sipped the sweet hot tea or "chiya" and devoured a full plate of dal-
bhat-tarkari. The vibrant culture of this landlocked country has left you in awe, and now you want to grab these colours of Nepal and take them to your home. Well, thanks to the amazing act of shopping, it's possible!
The markets in Kathmandu and Pokhara sell a variety of interesting, colourful products at very cheap rates, which makes shopping way more fun. Not to mention, Indian Rupee notes of 50 and 100 are easily accepted in Nepal. Almost all the markets are opened all days 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Here's a list of things you should buy and where to buy them, so that you can pick your favourite souvenirs easily and take them with you as your tangible Nepal memories. So, here we go:
What to buy in Nepal?
1. Pashmina shawls
Pashmina shawls happen to be one of the most sought after products in Nepal. From water Pashmina to silk or cotton blends to 100% Pashmina, you'll find a large variety of such shawls in the markets of Nepal. These are extremely warm and soft, and perfect for gifting purpose. However, the prevalence of counterfeit goods and the rarity of fixed prices make it a challenge to find authentic items, so you need to have a sharp eye here.
Where: Shop from stores that only sell Pashmina or visit a factory in Thamel. Cost: Pashmina/silk blends can be found for NPR 2000 and can go on till NPR 5500, depending upon the quality.
2. Singing Bowls
Be it handmade or machine-made, engraved or plain, made of brass or some other metal, you can find different types of these singing bowls in Nepal at different prices. The sound and vibrations produced by these bowls, when the small wooden stick is rubbed on their rim in a circular motion, create an entrancing atmosphere which is great for meditation and is believed to have healing powers.
Where: Thamel or Durbar Marg Cost: The price range of Singing Bowls varies from NPR 300 to NPR 2500
3. Khukuri (The Gurkha knife)
Known for its unique slashing edge and style, this traditional knife of Nepal is used as both - a weapon as well as a tool. For tourists, it's an excellent souvenir! Just don't forget to keep it in your check-in luggage when flying back. Also, make sure the size of knife you buy is allowed to be transported to your country.
Where: You'll find these displayed on the walls in the street markets. A popular place to buy Khukuri is Gorkha Zone Khukuri House in Thamel. Cost: The prices of Khukuri range from NPR 300 to NPR 4000, depending upon the size and quality.
4. Rice Paper Products
The 'rice paper' is a handmade paper made of lokta bark found in the remote areas of Nepal. You can buy a variety of interesting products made from this paper like writing pads, bound journals, calendars and lampshades, etc.
Where: Many shops in the public markets of Kathmandu and Pokhara sell these products. Cost: Cards can be bought for around NPR 160, lanterns for NPR 400 and diaries/notebooks cost NPR 350 onwards.
5. Beads and jewellery
Markets of Nepal sell a variety of locally made or Indian jewellery. You cannot miss buying the Nepalese Ethnic Jewellery - a centuries-old art which has passed on from generation to generation and is still preserved by the Newar people, the indigenous group of Nepal. Yak bone jewellery, with its unique engravings and designs, is also a hit among tourists. You can even buy beads from the market and make your own necklace.
Where: Shops and stores in Thamel, Asan market in Kathmandu or Baidam lakeside market in Pokhara. Cost: The cost of jewellery is NPR 500 onwards.
Nepal is famous for its rich variety of handicrafts, be it intricately carved wooden sculptures, pottery items, brass wares and what not! The prices are very affordable so shop away and bring these works of art home and beautify your abode.
Where: Shops in Bhaktapur offer a wide range of handicrafts. The Traditional Craftsman's Colony in Patan is also a famous centre for Nepalese handicraft Cost: NPR 1000 to NPR 10,000
7. Thangka Paintings
These Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton/silk applique are one of the best souvenirs you can get in Nepal. These paintings, mounted with textile and covered with silk, usually depict a Buddhist deity or scene and are often used by practitioners in meditation for forging a link between themselves and the deity.
Where: Boudha and Bhaktapur market. Cost: A3 size paintings can be bought for around NPR 5500 while bigger ones with the best-embroidered frames are sold for approx. NPR 32,500.
Thamel is a centre of the tourist industry. Despite being called a "ghetto" because of its busy narrow streets and chaos, it's a shopper's paradise because of the variety of products it offers at such low prices. Be it food, souvenirs, currency exchange or mountaineering gear, you'll find all that you need here.
What to buy: Shawls, caps, rice paper products, jewellery
2. New Road, Kathmandu
The new road is another marketplace in Kathmandu that caters to the budget travellers. Here you will find almost anything you can think of! It is popular among locals for clothes and accessories and has a number of good eating joints.
What to buy: Ethnic wear, Footwear, personalized gifts.
The campus encircling the Boudha Stupa has developed into a market hub for tourists and is famous for Buddhist souvenirs like Thangka paintings, singing bowls and prayer flags among other things.
What to buy: Thangka paintings and singing bowls
5. Mahendrapul Bazar, Pokhara
Although there are many shops located in the town area of Lakeside, the best shopping area in Pokhara is a short bus ride away from the Lake. Head to Mahendrapul, which is the main market area of Pokhara. Here, you can experience pure Nepali urban life, mix up with locals and shop from the various street shops and some well-maintained malls.
What to buy: Clothes and handcrafted items
6. Pottery Square and Durbar Square, Bhaktapur
After Kathmandu and Pokhara, Bhaktapur is the largest city and also the cultural capital of Nepal. Famous for handicrafts and pottery, this heritage town is a shopping hub for tourists. Pottery square and Durbar square are the two most popular marketplaces here, the other two - Dattatreya and Taumadi square are also filled with amazing ceramics and handicrafts that'll blow your mind.
What to buy: Ceramics, wooden and brass handicrafts, gems and jewellery
Popular Malls in Nepal
Cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara are fast developing with new malls and supermarkets springing up every now and then. City Centre, Civil mall, CTC mall in Kathmandu, Lalitpur Mall in Patan and Pokhara Trade Mall are just a few examples. From branded clothes to electronics, you can find a range of brands and products here, along with relaxation spots, entertainment zones and food courts. You can shop for items like branded garments, electronic appliances, kitchen-wares, jewellery, perfumes, watches, toys, fitness equipment, etc.
So, get ready to (bargain and) spend some cash on things that will remind you of your amazing time in Nepal. Also, October and November are the two best months to visit Nepal, and also months nearing festivals like Diwali and Christmas, so buy some affordable and super interesting gifts for your loved ones from these Nepali markets that they will cherish forever. Happy shopping!