Tibet : Shopping

Shopping in Tibet:

Be sure to buy whatever practical items you need in Lhasa, before you leave for more remote towns. There are department stores, mostly on Yuthok Lu that will supply your everyday needs. Lhasa Department Store, a general department store, is located on the west end of Yuthok Lu. It is the largest and best known department store in Lhasa. It sells such practical items as cotton clothing, mugs, canned food, towels, and toothpaste, plus local handicrafts. There are also supermarkets in Lhasa.

Barkhor is a more traditional Tibetan shopping market. It is a market where shopkeepers with small shops and stalls on the street sell many unusual and fascinating items, for both religious and secular uses. Shopkeepers sell items such as prayer flags, Buddha figures, conch-shell trumpets, rosaries, amulets, fur hats, horse bells, bridles, copper teapots, wooden bowls, inlaid knives, and jewelry inlaid with turquoise and other gems. Tourists should carefully examine jewelry for quality. While much jewelry of excellent quality is available, some is coarsely done and is of poor quality.

Tourists can easily find items that are uniquely Tibetan and that will appeal to them. Exotic Tibetan opera masks and costumes are interesting items. Brightly colored, beautifully homespun Tibetan rugs and khaddar are also popular souvenirs. Tibetan carpet can be bought at the Lhasa Carpet Factory. Tibetan tents can be bought at the Lhasa Tent and Banner Factory.

As in traditional markets throughout much of the world, you can bargain with the local people and buy nice things at lower prices. Just cut their asking prices by 50 percent! Not everyone in Barkhor will be shopping. You may be accompanied by hundreds of prostrating pilgrims. This is a thrilling experience that will certainly remind you that you are in Lhasa.

There are three Xinhua bookstores in Lhasa. One is on Yuthok Lu. Another is on east Barkhor. The third is on Beijing Zhong Lu, west of Tibet Hotel. They sell maps of Lhasa, Tibetan primers, Tibetan-Chinese dictionaries, and Tibetan and Chinese books. There is also a bookshop that carries Tibetan literature on north Barkhor.

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