Shopping is an indispensable thing for tourists when traveling, especially when coming to the Tibetan plateau, it is extremely interesting to buy yourself a souvenir with a unique identity. You definitely can’t miss it. You may want to buy your friends or family interesting souvenirs before leaving Tibet. You may also want to take home a valuable piece of art or other works to keep as a souvenir of your trip after visiting Tibet. So, what is famous in Tibet and what to buy in Tibet? Let’s check out our Tibet shopping guide with the suggested of the list of 9+ top Tibet gifts, Tibet souvenirs and best things to buy in Tibet as well as best places to buy and where to buy them in Tibet as follows!
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There are many special and rare Tibet souvenirs, gifts or items that are worth buying for tourists in Tibet. Some of them are the art of Tibetan culture such as Tibetan Thangka paintings (Sacred pictures), Tibetan jewelry, Tibetan rugs, Tibetan daggers, Tibetan masks… Some Tibetan specialties, such as Butter Tea, Saffron Crocus, Yak jerky… are also gifts for friends and relatives that are purchased by tourists when coming to Tibet.
With vibrant Barkhor street filled with colorful shops and bustling vendors selling Tibetan ornaments, costumes, Buddha statues, Tibetan rugs, Thangkas, agricultural products, spices and perfumes from Nepal and India… Tibet offers you a truly unique shopping experience beyond your expectations.
Coming to Tibet, you are not only amazed at the monumental works of religion but also burst into new things about a unique civilization preserved behind the massive snow mountains. Therefore, the souvenirs that you will buy when you come to Tibet will also be very unique.
Thangka paintings (#what to buy in tibet)
Thangka is a typical type of Tibetan scroll painting, Thangka is mainly painted or embroidered to hang in monasteries or family places of worship. Tibetan Thangka focuses on Tibetan Buddhism as depicting Buddhist deities or depicting historical events of Buddhism. Thangkas can be made of fabric, embroidery, paper, brocade, silk rugs. Sometimes, jewelry and pearls are decorated on Tibetan Thangka which makes them look more beautiful and impressive. You can buy Thangka as a souvenir or hang it at your family’s Buddhist shrine!
This is a type of Tibetan scroll painting, mainly embroidered or painted of Buddhas, Buddhist stories or Dalai Lamas in Tibetan Buddhism. These paintings are often hung in sacred places such as monasteries or places of worship.
Thangka has a close connection with Buddhism and has a special ethnic character. They have been popular in Tibet for centuries. Some Thangkas are portraits of a Buddha, some are colorful representations of Tibetan customs, and some are portraits of Tibet’s history. Thangka paintings can be made using a variety of techniques: silk tapestries cut, hand painted, color printed, embroidered, brocade, and inlaid with pearls.
If you want to buy Thangka paintings, give preference to redrawings instead of printing or copying. Although you have to invest a rather high cost, the value received is completely commensurate with the impressive level of sophistication. Accompanying the paintings, business establishments also give customers a picture box that preserves meticulous and elaborate design, increasing the luxury when used as a gift.
Ritual items of Tibetan Buddhism (# tibet gifts)
Shopping in Tibet will not be too difficult if visitors have the method and apply it. Specifically, visitors need to go to the markets. That will be the place where many ritual items will be sold such as singing bowls, prayer wheel, Buddhist prayer flag (lungta)… In addition, these items will be items with strong local values. And visitors will not need to worry about the price.
Tibetan masks (# tibet shopping guide)
Tibetan masks are a type of handmade souvenir derived from Tibetan religious art and opera. The masks are famous for their unique style, variety of shapes, rustic beauty, simple but very characteristic. There are 3 types of Tibetan masks – religious masks, Tibetan opera masks and folk dance masks. You can buy masks to decorate your family as a souvenir!
Tibet is full of traditional customs. Tibetan mask is mainly used in Tibetan opera and traditional folk dances as well as religious customs. Tibetan masks are traditionally called ‘Ba’ in the local language. These masks are unique to each other in shape, style and beauty. Tibetan masks are broadly classified into three types:
- Tibetan folk dance masks are used in folk dances.
- Tibetan opera masks for performances.
- Religious masks for religious customs and gatherings.
Tibetan Jewelry (# tibet souvenirs)
Tibetan jewelry is usually made from metals such as silver, gold and copper and stones such as turquoise, agate, wood and bamboo, as well as from pearls, coral and the bones of dead animals, especially from yak bones. Most visitors like to buy Tibetan ornaments especially jewelry because they are not only unique and aesthetic with vivid carvings of animals or Sanskrit but also represent blessings and stay away from bad things.
Tibetan jewelry is very popular with tourists when they come here because they are not only unique in shape and highly aesthetic, meticulously crafted, but also because of many pieces of jewelry with spiritual meanings that brings luck and blessings to the owner.
The streets and markets of Tibet are filled with various kinds of jewelry. The raw materials for making jewelry in Tibet are mainly stones. Among them, the most popular are Turquoise stone, red coral and dzi stone.
These stones are made into bracelets, necklaces or other objects. It has great spiritual significance because Tibetans believe that hidden in each stone is luck, wealth, and peace. The price of fish for these items is not too high, so this is the most sought-after souvenir by tourists when traveling to Tibet.
Usually crafted from raw materials such as gold, silver, copper, wood, bamboo, as well as bone. Tibetan crafts are not only useful but also highly aesthetic. Crafts make great souvenirs from Tibet. Exquisite crafts use precious stones such as onyx, rubies and sapphires. They are usually carved in Sanskrit.
Pulu Tibetan rug
Woven in bright and harmonious colors, Tibetan rugs are durable and beautifully handcrafted. The hand-woven Tibetan Pulu fabric comes in a variety of colors and is used to make clothes, shoes and caps. It’s incredibly warm, as well as beautiful. Tourists need to have some basic understanding about rugs, such as feathers, knots, factory that make them, etc. to avoid buying fake goods.
Hand-woven Tibetan carpets wrapped in pulu with diverse colors, unique patterns, soft and warm, delicate and bold national identity are loved by many tourists when traveling to Tibet.
Tibetan rugs with bright and harmonious colors, soft, delicate, durable, along with visual patterns imbued with national identity. Pulu hand-woven rugs come in many colors and are used to make clothes, shoes and hats. Pulu is durable, warm, and also very beautiful, so it is loved by many tourists.
The traditional costumes in Tibet are extremely unique. It is exquisitely made and designed by the locals from lace or wool, for example… In addition, wearing the people’s traditional clothes is also a way for visitors to learn about the culture and life of this land.
Tibet is a Buddhist country, so of course, it is indispensable that it is incense, and this is a special and popular gift before leaving Tibet. The scent of incense has the effect of repelling bad luck, insects and creating fragrance for the house.
Tibetan incense is a very popular tourist souvenir. Tibetans use them to worship Buddha, ward off evil and use in religious rituals. If kept in a closet, Tibetan incense can not only keep clothes fragrant but also protect them from insects.
These types of incense are usually for religious purposes. They are also used to keep clothes smelling fresh and pleasant. Many types of incense are also used to prevent insects. Tibetan incense is stored in the closet to keep the fragrance. Locals use them while worshiping Buddha. It is also used to ward off evil spirits and in religious activities and religious gatherings.
Tibetan daggers are essential to the lives of Tibetan people. For Tibetans, knives are not only a tool for daily life and a weapon to protect themselves, an ornament to add color to their lives. Tibetan daggers are popular with tourists because of their unique shape and fine carving of the silver sheath. Prices for Tibetan daggers can range from a few RMB to several thousand depending on the quality of the material and the skill level of the machinist. Tibetan knives are not allowed on planes or in consignment, so you can only send them by post.
The Tibetan dagger, daily kitchen or tableware and the weapon of the local Tibetan people, is also an important decoration. This traditional craft is an integral part of Tibetan people’s daily life. This is especially true as local women also carry daggers, who tend to be more decorative and subtle.
Please consider carefully before purchasing Tibetan dagger inlay. Because it is a special item and sophisticated design, but they are not allowed on the plane. You can only send it by post.
The Tibetans have developed a unique system of Tibetan medicine and pharmacology in their struggle against nature and disease. With a history of more than 2,000 years, Tibetan medicine has attracted much curiosity from home and abroad because of its good healing effect on certain diseases and its special making method. Tibetan herbs such as saffron, aweto and snow lotus are popular Tibetan medicines among tourists. Some tourists also like to visit Tibetan doctors for treatment during their trip to this region.
Tibetan medicine, known as Sowa Rigpa in Tibetan, is an ancient form of natural medicine practiced by the Tibetans. It is still practiced today throughout Tibet, the Himalayan regions, India, Mongolia, Siberia and in the Western world, where there were once overseas Tibetans.
A lot of tourists like to buy herbs like saffron, aweto and snow lotus. Tibetan doctors and their traditional medicines made by secret methods attract a lot of curiosity, and some tourists also like to visit traditional doctors during their Tibet trips.
There are different types of specialty goods available for shopping in Tibet. These include special foods and delicacies like Butter Tea. Butter is made from Yak Milk. Others include Saffron Crocus, Yak jerky… especially Himalayan Pink Salt, one of the world’s finest salts.
Cordyceps sinensis (Caterpillar fungus)
This is one of the most wonderful gifts that nature has bestowed on the land of Tibet. Where there is a harsh climate with an altitude of over 3,000 m, no tree species can survive, cordyceps are found in abundance here. In Tibet, Cordyceps always grows well and retains its wonderful medicinal properties that are rarely found anywhere else. Cordyceps contains a variety of amino acids, a variety of trace elements, highly medicinal biologically active substances, and a variety of vitamins. However, also because of its rarity and great use, the price is not cheap at all.
As an area with a harsh climate, at an altitude of over 3,000m above the water level, it is difficult for Tibet to sustain life for plant species. However, nature has favored this land when bestowing cordyceps.
As we all know, cordyceps is extremely beneficial for health when it contains a series of different amino acids, high levels of trace elements as well as medicinal bioactive substances, rich source of vitamins. Because of its rarity, the product also has a “heavenly” price. Therefore, only tourists who have strong economic potential will buy cordyceps to use and give as gifts.
Some other natural herbs such as snow lotus, safflower (carthamus tinctorius) are also suggestions for you to buy as souvenirs in Tibet. They are usually sold at large drugstores on the outskirts of Lhasa or Tibetan hospital.
In addition to cordyceps, visitors can also buy some other natural herbs such as snow lotus, safflower (carthamus tinctorius). Visitors can go to the Tibetan hospital or the large drugstores on the outskirts of Lhana to buy these rare products.
Where to shop in Tibet?
Barkhor street (# tibet souvenirs)
The shopping experience in Tibet will not reach the pinnacle of completeness and satisfaction unless you shop at the famous Barkhor Street in Lhasa. Barkhor street is often referred to as mini Tibet as it holds all the souvenirs enough to best represent Tibet and tourists can keep many memories of this mystical land. The path surrounding the Jokhang temple in Lhasa is very important, it is not only a pilgrimage route (kora) but also a reflection of the cultural and spiritual life of the whole of Tibet. There are countless shops on Barkhor street selling various souvenirs that you might want to take home after your visit to Tibet.
It is located in the center of Lhasa. The street surrounds Jokhang Temple and has been an essential pilgrimage route since the temple was built. Buddhist pilgrims can be seen around the clock walking or prostrating clockwise along Barkhor Street praying and chanting. Barkhor Street is much more than just a place for pilgrims to stroll. Barkhor Street, often referred to as the “Window of Tibet”, is famous for its shopping.
You will easily find souvenirs on the Barkhor road that surrounds the Jokhang temple in Lhasa. Here, you can find anything you want about the cultural characteristics, spiritual beliefs of Tibet.
You can find everything here. Because of the popularity of this street, the shops here sell items at a moderate price with the best quality for that price. You are sure to get some pretty handicrafts as souvenirs during your trip to Tibet. The people and shop owners are quite friendly and polite. Barkhor Street is an important destination in your trip to Tibet and it is also the place for you to experience shopping in Tibet.
You will find finely carved items in jewelry stores or there are pearl beads that even contain a spell engraved in each pearl. Therefore, these unique Tibetan decorations are of great interest to many tourists, shopping to add a part of good memories in their trip to Tibet.
Besides shopping and places for pilgrimages, Barkhor Street is full of historical attractions. A small building that used to be the office of Lhasa’s magistrate is located on Barkhor Street. It used to be the office of magistrate Lhasa. A small road going north from Barkhor Street leads to a market that is the oldest street in Lhasa. There is a small three storied temple located in Barkhor Street and it is said that Tibetan characters were created in the temple. There is a unique yellow building located on the southeast corner of Barkhor Street. All the buildings along the street are white.
Yuthok Lu (# tibet gifts)
Most tourists share that if you want to shop, you should go to the capital of Tibet, Lhasa because there are many stores and there is also a shopping paradise of Yuthok Lu.
In Yuthok Lu there are many shops, supermarkets and even shopping centers, but you should look to the Lhasa Department Store (located at the western end of Yuthok Lu Street). Here, you will be able to buy a lot of items such as canned food, local crafts, Tibetan specialties, Tibetan books, etc. at cheap prices.
In addition to Yuthok Lu, visitors can also find Hongyan supermarket chains in the center of Lhasa to satisfy their shopping hobbies. If you ask where to shop in Tibet that is delicious, nutritious, cheap and quality, the Yuthok Lu area in the capital Lhasa is the first shopping place that you should visit when you coming to Tibet.
In addition to Yuthok Lu area, visitors can also find Hongyan supermarket chain in the center of Lhasa to satisfy their shopping preferences!
Shopping tips in Tibet
Buy essentials in the center of Lhasa
Be sure to stock up on any practical items you need in Lhasa, before you hit the road to more remote towns. There are department stores, mainly on Yuthok Lu Road that will satisfy your daily needs. Lhasa Department Store, a general department store, is located at the western end of Yuthok Lu. This is the biggest and most famous department store in Lhasa. It sells practical items such as cotton clothing, mugs, canned goods, towels and toothpaste, along with local handicrafts. There are also supermarkets in Lhasa.
Tourists should carefully evaluate the quality of jewelry (# what to buy in tibet)
While there are many pieces of jewelry of excellent quality, some are raw and of poor quality. Tourists can easily find unique Tibetan items and that will appeal to them. The unique Tibetan opera masks and costumes are interesting items. Beautiful, brightly colored Tibetan rugs and khatag (a traditional ceremonial scarf) are also popular souvenirs. You can buy Tibetan rugs at Lhasa Carpet Factory. Tibetan Tent can be purchased at Lhasa Tent and Banner Factory.
There are three Xinhua bookstores in Lhasa
They sell Lhasa maps, Tibetan language books, Tibetan dictionaries and various books. There is also a bookshop selling Tibetan books and newspapers north of Barkhor.
- One is on Yuthok Lu street.
- Another one east of Barkhor.
- The third is on Beijing Zhong Lu Road, west of Tibet Hotel.
You can bargain with the locals and buy nice items at lower prices. Just reduced their asking price by 50%! Not all in Barkhor are like that but it will work.
Note: You can consult how to pay with the guide if you come along.
- Even if visitors want to pay by card, they can still use it with UnionPay card.
- Always keep cash in your pocket is the yuan currency
- In Tibet, the widely circulated currency is the yuan. Therefore, when traveling here, you need to bring this currency.
Tibet shopping guide: Some notes when shopping in Tibet
- When walking around Barkhor Street, always walk clockwise.
- It is not recommended to go to Barkhor Street in the evening. At six o’clock in the evening, Barkhor Street turns into a market for small everyday goods, and the maze of streets that surround it is easy to get lost.
- It is important to bargain on Barkhor Street.
- Traditionally, store keepers in Tibet give discounts to the first and last shopper of the day.
- Don’t be afraid to bargain when shopping for souvenirs in Tibet.
- If you want to buy souvenirs, high-value jewelry, it is best to buy at stores that are certified for jewelry quality.
- Do not buy any items that cost more than 10,000 RMB unless you are good at checking authenticity, such as gold, diamonds, antiques, etc.
- Don’t be afraid to refuse if you are offered to buy by locals but you don’t want to buy.
- Don’t trust any jewelry that sells for high prices on outdoor stalls. They are usually made of imitation materials. If you need to buy jewelry, go to certified stores and carefully check the quality of the jewelry.
- Don’t trust anyone who recommends you buy something while on the tour.
- Dance and singing shows run by private organizations are not usually worth trying.
- Tibetans call white copper as “silver”, so inexpensive silver ornaments are often mixed with copper. If you want to buy real silver jewelry, go to stores or department stores.
- If you are interested in Tibetan medicine and want to buy Cordyceps remedies, you can go to Tibetan hospitals near Jokhang temple to buy.
- If you want to buy Tibetan rugs, go to Carpet Lhasa or Tash Delek factory also near Jokhang temple to buy.
- If you want to buy a map for your trip to Tibet, go to the Xinhua bookstore in Yuthok Lu, Lhasa to buy it.
Above are useful information about shopping in Tibet that we suggest for you. Wish you have a happy and meaningful trip to Tibet! Find out more top things to do in Tibet here.