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Shopping in Tibet

Time:11-12-2019 This Article is Composed by BudgetTibetTour

In the midst of Tibet’s fantastic sights it may sound mundane to talk about shopping. However, there are many odd, fascinating and beautiful things to buy. Tibet’s culture continues to produce all sorts of objects for religious and other uses.

The best marketplace for curios is on and around the Barkor, in the heart of old Lhasa. Small shops carry colourful items like prayer flags, fur hats, horse bells and bridles, broad leather money-belts and copper teapots. The merchandise in small open street stalls changes from day to day. A curios seeker can find temple bells, conch-shell trumpets, rosaries, prayer wheels, amulets and a variety of jewellery made of turquoise, coral and silver. Most of the prayer wheels, bracelets, necklaces and other small items are made by Tibetans in Nepal and India. A useful item is a wooden tea cup, with or without a lining of beaten silver.

Barkhor Street

Tibetan rugs can be found hanging on display along the Barkor Street. Some of these have more individually and appeal than the rugs produced for export in the Lhasa Carpet Factory. Older house and horse rugs are of wool and usually have soft colour; newer rugs are usually of a wool mix and are brighter. As you amble clockwise around the Jokang Temple you may be approached by Tibetan pilgrim traders eager to sell you their own swords, inlaid knives, jewellery, Buddha figures and who knows what else. In the Barkor’s shops and stalls, and above all with individuals, you must bargain. As a loose guideline, you might get prices in shops down 20-25 per cent, but from stalls and individuals you should get nearer 50 per cent of the stated price. Haggling is a game that every Tibetan enjoys, and it should be played with perseverance, patience and good humour. The failure by tourists to haggle effectively has had a dramatic effect on prices. In addition, many popular items are becoming rare. Remember that too many souvenir “culture objects” may invite confiscation by customs official when you leave the country.

For those who prefer fixed prices, a fair variety of Tibetan handicrafts is on sale at the “Selling Department of Tourist Products” on Beijing Dong Lu. Any visitor to Lhasa notices the decorated tents, canopies and awnings that Tibetan use for numerous outdoor purposes. These are becoming a popular item for travelers to take home. At the Lhasa Tent and Banner Factory skilled artisans can copy and custom-make any design they are shown. They can make one-by-two meter door curtains, awnings, canopies, small family tents for picnics or big ornate marquees for festivals or travelling lamas, with bestiary applique decorations in different colors. Prices vary greatly according to the complexity of the decorations.

For everyday practical items, there are four main department stores in new Lhasa. The General Department Store is a cavernous, L-shaped store at the west and of Yuthok Lu, and the Nong Ken Ting Department Store is a multi-storey building halfway along the south side of the same street. The others are a large pale-green building in a fork in the road 300 meters east of the Holiday Inn, and a pale green building two-thirds of the way to Sera Monastery on the east side of Sera Lu. These stores and several other medium sized shops stock comfortable cotton clothing, canteens, mugs, canned food, writing paper, envelopes, soap, towels and toothpaste. Toilet paper can be found in most shops.

Lhasa’s major bookshop, Xinhua, on Yuthok Lu, is not impressive but it does carry maps of Lhasa, posters, Tibetan primers, Tibetan-Chinese dictionaries, and Chinese and Tibetan paperback books. A bookshop with Tibetan literature is located just north of the Barkor, west of the meat market.

Barkhor Street

Travelers' Questions Might Help

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions please contract us, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

Mr. Ju*** from: 4 Days Lhasa Holy Landmarks Express
January 07, 2020 08:25

Hi, I plan to arrive in Lhasa on the 9th of March in 2020 by train and would like to do a 4 day tour. Unfortunately there are no tours scheduled between January and April, will there be tours added or are there not any planned?

Kind regards

Julian Franz

Answered by Helen
January 07, 2020 07:14

Hello Mr. Ju***,

    Thanks very much for your inquiry. We currently have no group tour in February and March, if you would like to travel Tibet in these months, we are able to arrange a private tour for you. While there are several confirmed departure date for the group tour in January and April, if your time is flexible, you may consider joining a group tour in April. I will send detailed itinerary to your email, please check it. Warm regards.

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