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Shopping (India, Nepal & Bhutan)

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure and India, Nepal and Bhutan have a vast array of shopping opportunities for those who love to seek out a bargain. From colourful spices to ornate jewellery or delicately woven saris – the variety and choice can seem endless.

In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs. We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty and authenticity. Most establishments will also feature a place where you can buy refreshments and take a break.

Wendy Wu Tours, our staff, National Escorts and Local Guides are not qualified nor permitted to guarantee the quality or value of any goods purchased during your holiday. All passengers who make purchases during their holiday must accept responsibility for their decision regarding the item’s value and authenticity, as well as the risk and process of credit card purchase and/or shipping.

It is recommended that you double check any items purchased before leaving the store (the item and any credit card receipts) and if you are having a large item shipped, make sure you take a photo of your purchase and the contact details of the store.

We encourage all passengers to enjoy their local shopping expeditions but to take care and buy wisely. We cannot assist in returning or refunding goods in any circumstances, including purchases made at shops or factories which you may visit as part of your tour with us.

Regional markets

Each region has its own specialty; a traditional handicraft perfected by the locals over centuries, a climate that encourages rich spices to grow, or a type of wood, stone or precious jewel in abundance nearby. Textiles are a popular souvenir, including silk brocades from Varanasi in the north or Kanchipuram in the south, tie-dyed cottons from all over Rajasthan, saris, hand woven Tibetan carpets from Darjeeling or Dharamshala, or the woollen shawls pashminas of Kashmir and Ladakh. There is also the heavy and elaborate silverwork of Rajasthan, “spring picked” tea from the hill stations, and the spices, wooden carvings or face masks of Kerala.

If you prefer set prices, head to the government-run shops, usually called “cottage industries” or “emporium” which sell quality but reasonably priced goods. The more up market tourist shops will also have fixed prices.

Markets, street stalls and local shops can be noisy, crowded and confronting, but this remains one of the most rewarding experiences of travelling in India. If your itinerary includes some free time and you would like to go shopping, ask either your National Escort/Guide or the hotel staff for advice on how to best get there. They should be able to tell you if you need a taxi or a rickshaw, how much you should pay for the journey and provide you verbal or written directions to give to the driver. Remember to take a hotel business card with you to find your way back!

Haggling or bargaining

India & Nepal: In local shops, markets and street stalls haggling is the accepted way to agree on a selling price. It can be a great way to save money, as well as a wonderful way to interact with the locals. Follow a simple rule: offer half the first price quoted, then bargain to somewhere in between. Always be polite – a smile and some phrases in the local language will get you further than anything else!

When deciding how much to tip for a service or how hard to haggle for a souvenir, please consider that any profit will be sincerely appreciated. Some foreign visitors find it too confronting and prefer to shop in more upmarket tourist shops or department stores, where prices are set.

Bhutan: A fixed price system prevails in most shops and many Bhutanese find bartering offensive so please only barter in a relaxed friendly manner. The best places to consider bartering is at the weekend markets in Thimphu and the many handicraft shops in Thimphu and Paro main streets where it is acceptable