Shopping in Bhutan
Bhutan is known for its natural beauty, forest conservation, gross national happiness, great culture & heritage and biodiversity. Bhutan covers 72% forest area of the country which is one of the large biodiversity places in the world. Discover your happiness here by exploring untouched Bhutan, its heritage, flora and fauna, adventure activities, religious festivals, spirituality & wellness, traditional food and of course, experience shopping.
Thimphu, Paro and Phuntsheoling are the major centres of shopping in Bhutan. Tourists can buy Woven Bags, Stoles, Traditional Jewellery, Handmade Kira & Gho, Brassware, Yak-Bone Jewellery, Hand-Woven Bamboo Items, Carpets, Masks, Thangkas, Handmade Paper and finely Crafted Metal products.
How one can forget to buy souvenirs from Bhutan while visiting it? Though the government of Bhutan is conscious about its untouched regions to preserve the culture and tradition, selling of locally produce things is the essential matter to promote the culture and heritage all over the world.
Some of the traditional handicraft items are described below which should be bought from here as souvenirs.
1. Bhutanese Handicrafts
Bhutan has developed a perfect science to make arts and crafts where the skills represent the tradition, culture and history of Bhutan. Local people are manufacturing wonderful crafts such as Wooden Bowls and Cups, Cane and Bamboo Products, Woven Fabrics, Handmade Paper, Jackets, Containers, Rugs, Wall Hangings, Bags, Blankets, Wooden Masks and many more things.
They have developed mainly thirteen categories which are known as ‘Zorig Chusum’, represent the history, culture and tradition of Bhutan. One must buy these things, available in major handicraft shops, as souvenirs while visiting Bhutan.
2. Hand-woven Textiles
Bhutanese textiles are woven from cotton, raw cotton and silk with intricate motifs woven into the cloth. Raw cotton, silk and woven cotton are some handmade textiles famous in Bhutan. Some traditional textiles are bura textiles produce at Rahi and Bidung villages, Kushithara made in Khoma village, Dungsam Kamtham, a cotton fabric made at Pemagatshel. Adang village in Wangdue Phodrang is known for textiles like Adang Rachu, Adang Mathra and Adang Khamar.
Bumthap Mathra and Yathra textiles are woven from sheep wool and Yak hair, famous worldwide and made by Bumthaps people in central Bhutan. Textiles woven out of nettle fibres are the speciality of the people of Nabji and Korphu in Trongsa. Tourists can buy traditional clothes such as Gho and Kira and gift as the souvenirs to their friends and family. Choose from wide varieties of Blankets, Colourful Rugs, Clothing, Sweaters and Warm Minks.
3. Gold & Silver Jewellery
Jewellery is widely worn by Bhutanese women. Mind boggling gold and silver utensils, as well as, jewellery are utilised on daily basis and on ceremonial occasions. Made by using precious stones, silver, bronze and gold, skilled craftsmen create intricate ornaments.
A community of goldsmith makes articulate things like Betel Nut Containers, Mugs, Cups, Vases, Unique Bowls, Lights, Sheaths & Swords and Adornments like Arm Ornaments, Pins, Necklaces, Ear Rings, and so many things that hold up the ladies. These beautifully crafted ornaments can be taken as souvenirs or gift at special events.
4. Himalayan Beads (Dzi Beads)
Dzi beads or Himalayan beads are the types of beads used in making necklace or bracelet. It is believed that it provides positive spiritual benefit. Most expensive beads are from the ancient time and made of natural agate. The beads come in various shapes and composed of ovals, circles, squares, waves, stripes, zig zags, lines, dots, diamonds, and other symbolic patterns. These beads are the most expensive beads found on the earth.
People believed that Dzi beads are created by the gods which bring luck and ward off evil. Though they are expensive, one can find cheaper one from markets of major cities of Bhutan.
5. Handmade Wooden Bowls (Dappa)
Dappa, the handmade wooden bowl, is the most popular souvenir one can take from Bhutan. Trashiyangtse, a district of Bhutan, is famous for buying Dappa. However, it can be bought from anywhere in Bhutan. The two halves of bowl fit together firmly and local people used it to carry cooked food.
Handmade wooden bowls are the practical ethnic souvenirs buy from Bhutan. Bamboo reeds also function as Dappa, woven into small baskets and speciality of the southern Bhutan. They are available in bright colours and wonderful designs.
6. Cane & Bamboo Items
Cane and Bamboo items are most commonly used products in Bhutan for daily use as well as vastly shop by tourists. Interestingly, all cane and bamboo items are made by hand only. Local people better used their time to make those products after harvesting season when they have less farming work. Most popular products one can buy from here are Food Utensils, Bamboo Baskets, Ropes, Carpets, Wooden Baskets, Wall-Hangings, Bows & Arrows, Bamboo Floor Mats, Storage Containers, Plates, Traditional Cane Hats, Tea Strainers and many things.
Generally, natural dye like lac and turmeric are used to make all hand-made craftwork, especially cane products.
7. Wooden Products
Wooden carving with bright colours and patterns are the main part of any intricate decorations of Bhutanese. You will find most of the interiors of monasteries, houses, Dzong and buildings made with the most beautiful wooden carving including ceilings, pillars and painted wall.
Local craftsmen use hard, soft and semi-hard wood to make decorative items that are hand carved and brightly painted. Bhutanese Tables, Mirror Frames, Partition Screens, Jewellery Boxes, Low Divans, Cooking Utensils, Wooden Sculptures, Mask and Cabinets are made from wood.
Amongst all products, wood printing blocks for religious text and prayer flags and masks have religious important. Drums and sticks for beating the drums are other examples of wooden crafts Bhutanese have achieved. You will not find such an artistic things to carry from anywhere.
8. Postal Stamps
Bhutan is a dream place for philatelists, hence it is known as the 'Philatelist's Paradise'. A philatelist is a person who studies or collects stamps from everywhere. Bhutan Post Office is well-known for its unique postal stamps available in rectangular, square, round and even in 3D effect. The postal stamps are made with detailed images, bright colours and vibrant pictures.
There is a souvenir shop at the post office which gives facility to print international stamps with personalised images which can be sent with international postcards to your dear ones. They also offer 'First-Day Issues' on sale. The Postal Museum attached to the Post Office is also an interesting place to visit. Bhutanese postal stamps make great souvenir seven for non-stamp collectors.
9. Buddhist Paintings & Sculptures
Sharing a Buddhist heritage, Bhutan follows Buddhism. Naturally, the effect of religion also depicts in their painting sculptures and daily life. Typically known as lhazo, Buddhist paintings are religion centric and made with mineral paints. Most of the Bhutanese houses are decorated with these paintings inside and outside the house.
Making sculptures is unique art in Bhutan and also very popular in Himalayan area. Basically, clay is used to make sculptures. Tourists mostly demand Buddhist Sculpture to buy as a souvenir. This traditional art is taught to students in popular institute so that the skill of making sculptures develops and spread worldwide.
Thangka is the Buddhist painting generally drawn on cotton or silk appliqué. Most commonly used Thangka is painted in colours. Other popular forms of Thangka are made with black background, gold background, red background, block printed and embroidered. One can buy Thangka from the School of Arts and Crafts in Thimphu and other major cities.
11. Colourful Carved Masks
Festivals are an integral part of the spiritual life and culture of Bhutan. Masks play an important role in dance festivals. Mask culture began in the 8th century in Bhutan and popular day by day on various religious festivals in Bhutan. Generally, masks are carved from wood and decorated with colourful fabrics, paints and beads matching with the costumes of the traditional dancers and performers. These beautiful masks are eye catchy and colourful that immediately catches the attention.
Tourists can buy these beautifully made masks from Thimphu, Paro and Phuntsheoling at affordable rates.
Traveling to any place is incomplete if you cannot bring back some of the products with you. If you want to do shopping in the Bhutanese market as well as experience the culture & nature, than Choose itinerary that cover well-known market in bhutan such as thimphu, Paro, Punakha and other place.
12. Handmade Papers
Daysho or Bhutanese handmade paper is highly appreciated all over the world. A quite traditional art of making paper is usually handed over by a father to his son. Having a long range of forest reserves, Bhutan produces 100% natural products from paper using the bark of the Daphne or edge worth is shrubs mainly found in the Himalayan region.
The paper is mainly used for manuscripts, painting of scriptures and formal legal agreements. Nowadays, handmade gift wrapper is highly in demand, however, the collection of the Daphne bark is regulated by the authorities to ensure the sustainability. Decorative Paper, Greeting Cards, Wrapping Paper, Notebooks, Diaries and many other paper products are popular amongst tourists.
13. Yatras or Yethras
Yethras or Yatras are the colourful strips of wool cloth. The cloth is dyed with natural colours and used to make Jackets, Blankets, Carpets and Bags. It is specially produced in Jakar, Bumthang district of Bhutan. Bhutanese woven clothes are popular worldwide and used vastly to make Wall Hangings, Apparels, Tablemats, Sweaters and Rugs.
Making a sword is a difficult art as well as need a special skill and deep attention. This art of making sword is the tradition of ‘garzo’ who also make knives, chains, darts, metal things and so forth. Mostly swords are used for gifting or honouring purpose and given during achievements. Every special occasion is celebrated with the ceremonial swords.
15. Bows and Arrows
Bamboo bows and arrows are made by using specific bamboo and mountain trees are famous among tourists. The experts made it with distinctive skill, shape accurately and select individually. With the growing demand of bows and arrows nationally as well as internationally, the craftsmen of Bhutan are also making it with special demand. The craze of this sport is developing day by day in Bhutanese people.