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Shopping Experience in Tibet

Travel becomes inevitably associated with shopping always. People usually want always to take a memento back with them from the various places in this world they have visited. Besides the memories themselves, these small mementos also become important in keeping the memories of the foreign land alive and fresh. There are even people who solely visit the various different places in this world just to assess the markets properly. Each and every location on this earth has some unique items that cannot be found in any other region in the world. Even if they are found, their authenticity is questionable.

Tibet ignites the spark of shopping spree in a visiting individual.Tibet ignites the spark of shopping spree in a visiting individual.

Tibet, the enigmatic land of charm, culture and scenic splendor, too ignites the spark of shopping spree in a visiting individual. The land that hordes the age-old charm of quizzical Buddhist practices produces unique souvenirs that can keep the charm alive in any place on this earth.

Moreover the unique Tibetan climate namely the extreme cold and the alpine atmospheres in some places results in the breeding of the famous Tibetan yaks from which numerous clothing material, especially exclusive winter garments are made, which are also quite famous amongst the tourists.

Exclusive Clothes and HandicraftExclusive Clothes and Handicraft

Moreover the Sherpas or the Tibetan village folks indulge in a plenty of handicraft materials that indeed contribute to the economy of the country as they sell them in the markets extensively. Thus when you visit Tibet, you are bound to get your shopping experience in Tibet attain utmost charisma as Tibet provides a number of unique materials from Tibetan incense to the handicrafts including dagger and rugs that are hard to find in any other part of the world.

Where to Shop In Tibet

Your shopping experience in Tibet will not reach the heights of perfection and fulfillment unless you shop from Barkhor Street. Barkhor street is often claimed to be the mini Tibet as it holds the all the souvenirs that are enough to describe Tibet and keep its memories alive. The street surrounding the Jokhang temple in Lhasa is very important not only as the kora route but also as the mirror of the entire Tibet. There are innumerable shops in Barkhor street that hold the different souvenirs you want to take back home with you from your visit to Tibet.

Barkhor StreetBarkhor Street

You can find anything and everything in this particular place. Owing to its popularity, the shops here sell the items at a moderate price but provide the best quality in such a price. You are bound to get some fascinating handicrafts and souvenirs in this place of Tibet. People and shopkeepers are quite friendly and polite. Even amidst the negative aspects, Barkhor Street is an important aspect for you shopping experience in Tibet.

Shopping in Tibet Barkhor StreetShopping in Tibet Barkhor Street

Tourists usually keep one whole day to two days to investigate each and every shop that holds wonder for the tourists. There are innumerable restaurants also that make some of the best delicacies of Tibet. So you can relentlessly tire yourself out by shopping extensively in Barkhor Street as there are plenty of restaurants to rest and enjoy your time in the shopping.

What to Shop

Tibet is a place where the word variety holds the true meaning. As it is inculcated with numerous different types of sceneries and atmosphere, even amongst the people, their culture and in their crafts, this multiplicity gets shadowed. There are some wonderful souvenirs of completely different types that should definitely be taken back home to make your shopping experience in Tibet memorable.

There are some wonderful souvenirs make your shopping experience in Tibet memorable.There are some wonderful souvenirs make your shopping experience in Tibet memorable.

These souvenirs are very unique and remarkably outstanding creation, variable in their own way that cannot really be manufactured in any other place in this world. Thus in this article, we are going to give you the hints of certain shopping items that you can take back home as the embodiments of Tibetan culture.

Religious Objects

As has already been said, Tibet follows the unique Gelugpa sect of Buddhism that dictates its advent some hundred of centuries ago. To the utmost surprise of most of the people, Tibetans have been able to hold the traditions of the age-old Buddhist practice intact. They use materials that not only show their present religious culture, but actually are examples of the very ancient civilization, probably one of the oldest of this world.

Religious ObjectsReligious Objects

Though new cultures and traditions have been introduced in some places, they have been quite successful in maintaining the parity between the old and the new. Thus taking back some witnesses of Tibetan religion is a very appealing idea for all the tourists. Amongst the best known religious souvenirs which you can carry back to your land from Tibet are the Tibetan Incense sticks, the Tibetan Thangka, the Tibetan prayer wheels, Tibetan Buddhas and the prayer flags.

Tibetan incense sticks - the most popular and most ancient of the Tibetan religious souvenirs is the incense stick. The incense sticks dates their origin some 1300 years back, showing the wonders of the Tibetan minds. These sticks are made completely from herbs like nutmeg, saffron, clove and other natural flowers and herbs. They are made manually being hand-rolled without the use of bamboo sticks. These herbal incense sticks are not only used for religious purposes, but keeping them in the rooms drives insects away and even illnesses are said to be partly mended by these sticks. Even though these are herbal, they do not compromise with longevity and fragrance. So taking them home will be a good idea.

Tibetan Incense SticksTibetan Incense Sticks

Tibetan thangka - Tibetan thangka is one of the most beautiful souvenirs that you can take home to commemorate your shopping experience in Tibet. They are usually paintings on cloth, brocades, embroideries and papers and scrolls and silks. Many times jewels are also used to decorate them. They mainly depict the Buddhist lives and the cycles of his birth.

Tibetan ThangkaTibetan Thangka

Tibetan prayer wheels - the Tibetan prayer wheels hold important place in the religious customs of Tibet. Made usually of wood, they consist of a wooden handle and a cubic box on the top. There is a string attached from the top of the cubic box that makes sound when the wheel is rotated. Inside the box, mantras are being placed by writing them down on a paper or silken cloth. Usually in the early times, these prayer wheels were rotated and the mantras inside them were chanted simultaneously. The prayer wheel helped the lamas to meditate properly. These prayer wheels are also found in Nepal, but the Tibetan prayer wheels are unique in their designs and therefore should definitely be taken home.

Tibetan Prayer WheelsTibetan Prayer Wheels

Tibetan Buddha statues - you can also take back Tibetan Buddha statues that come in many shapes and forms. You can get lying Buddha, seated Buddha, meditating Buddha and lot of other postures. They are made from many different materials like metals like gold and silver even. Taking them with you always is a good option.

Tibetan Buddha StatuesTibetan Buddha Statues

Except for the above materials, you can take some mementos of the colourful Tibetan flags to make your shopping experience in Tibet memorable.


Tibetan handicrafts are very popular in the whole world. The exquisite handicraft materials that the Tibetans produce are unique in their own ways. The handicrafts include Tibetan rugs, masks, daggers and conch shell trumpets and carpets and textiles.

Tibetan rugs - the Tibetan rugs and the carpets are exotic materials that exude sheer excellence in the handicrafts of Tibet. Here the wools from the yaks form the basic ingredient of the rugs and carpets. It requires utmost skill and technique. They are durable and strong and yet remarkably soft and beautiful. They are dyed with a variety of colours that will make any type of room bright. The rugs are sometimes used to make caps, woolen shawls and other winter materials. The designs found in these rugs are quite unique and taking them home is a very good idea. The qualities of these rugs are uncompromising and also the warmth provided by them is utmost.

Tibetan RugsTibetan Rugs

Tibetan masks - Tibetan masks are also known as ‘ba’ in their language. They are the handicraft embodying the culture of Tibetan operas. Different types of Tibetan masks like folk dance masks, religious masks, and opera masks are present. They are uniquely designed, having the base colour of black and some intricate many-coloured designs on the top of it. However other colorful masks are also present. They are the most authentic symbol of Tibet and its culture and traditions.

Tibetan MasksTibetan Masks

Tibetan dagger - the Tibetan daggers known as ‘Phurba’, were mainly created to kill the yaks and other wild animals. The handles of these daggers are exquisitely designed that are very meticulous. The dagger construction needs a lot of hard work and talent. There are even carvings on the silver sheaths of the knives. In the hilts of these daggers, sometimes pearls and other colourful stones are embedded making the deadly weapon beautiful. There are dangers that are made from the bones of the yaks also, that might be slightly expensive. Tibetan daggers are a must have for commemorating your shopping experience in Tibet.

Tibetan DaggerTibetan Dagger


When you are dealing with a cultural place like Tibet, antiques should be the most important part of the shopping experience. Many tourists and travels travel to Tibet from every nook and corner of the world, just to buy the antiques and store them. Amongst the antiques, the Tibetan Thangkas occupy the important place. Except for the Thangkas, the antique Tibetan wooden bowls and the tea carriers made of silver are another two most important antique items.

Tibetan Wooden BowlsTibetan Wooden Bowls

The wooden bowls are quite plain, but the tea carriers are exquisitely designed. They are usually made of silver and studded with beautiful stones. The design is simple but the item appears remarkably beautiful. Except for the tea carriers, you can also take back home the famous Tibetan silver Padmasambhava, which dates back to almost nineteenth century.

The Antique Tibetan VajraThe Antique Tibetan Vajra

The antique Tibetan Vajra is another exotic material to shop from Tibet. Made of bronze, the material is a symbol of strength and durability. Uniquely designed, it is quite heavy and authentic. Its centre hole symbolizes the universe and the lotus symbol on the above are like weapons. Except for that you can also take back the Tibetan bronze double Vajra and the bronze amulet.


Except for handicrafts and the other religious souvenirs, the medicines are also important aspects to test your shopping experience in Tibet. The Tibetan medicines are totally herbal but they work very fast unlike the modern day medicines. Inculcating the Sowa-Rigpa medicinal treatment, they used to combat the diseases and the keep themselves healthy.

Tibetan AwetoTibetan Aweto

The Tibetan medicines like saffron, aweto and snow lotus are the popular medicinal herbs that they use for curative purposes. These medicines work real wonders without any side effects. Many tourists also visit Tibet to collect these medicinal herbs and visit their doctors.


When you are shopping in the Barkhor Street, you are bound not only to try some of the best delicacies of Tibet, but also take back home some. Some of the best Tibetan snacks to take back home are the instant packaged noodles that come with a unique and heavenly taste. You can also pack some Lhasa beer for a completely new taste of beers.

Yak MeatYak Meat

However most of the snacks are edibles that should be eaten within one day or two days. For a long journey back home, noodles are the best options. You can also take back dried fried yak sausages, the corned meat made from yak meat and cheese. Als,o the dried canned meats are quite popular. Except for these, you can try the momos with chocolates, yak wraps and Naizha cake which are cheesy and extremely tasty.


Tibetan jewels are mesmerizingly beautiful and at least one accessory should be collected to make your Tibet trip memorable. The bracelets, necklaces and amulets are made from many different metals like copper, gold, bronze and even silver. Exquisite tones are used to beautify the jewelry even more like turquoises, wood, bamboo, bone of yaks and emeralds.

Exotic Tibetan OrnamentsExotic Tibetan Ornaments

You will find some intricate carvings in these jewelries either of the animal or some Sanskrit chants. There are pearl beads even containing a mantra carved in each and every pearl. Thus, these exotic Tibetan ornaments should be shopped to add to your memories of Tibet trip.

>> Join-in the most popular Lhasa Tour to explore the Barkhor Bazaar

Some Tips for Shopping in Tibet

1. Barkhor street is also the good place for shopping. The Barkhor street is around the Jokhang temple, generally, go shopping in the clockwise around. And the goods in the Barkhor street are so full of beautiful things in eyes; the breed is various; you have to polish eyes when you are shopping.

2. There are some guides who usually lead to shops claiming high prices and offering the questionable quality of materials. So in order to avoid such hassles, it is better than you yourself do a little bit of research and go for the popular shops.

3. Always shop with groups. And bargaining is very important if you are buying any material from Barkhor street. If you consider buying any material priced above 10,000 CNY, consider, check and examine the stuff very carefully for its authenticity. It is better if you take expert guidance before considering buying such valuable material.

4. For buying Tibet medicine, it is assured that you can go to the Tibet hospital of the Jokhang square, but its price seems a little expensive. The famous Tibet medicine is the seventy pearl pill. And you feel free to ask the locals for the certified medical stores. Do not buy medicines from street sides.

5. You can go the big supermarket in the local, where you can buy some local specialties, such as the Tibetan tea, the yak dried meat, the chang, the highland barley products, etc., it is suitable to send people as a gift.

6. Generally speaking, the goods in the street stalls is a little bad, also the price is cheap; the goods in the shop must be better quality, but the price also is more expensive. As far as I am concerned, the more worthy choice is to buy some more distinctive goods, for instance, the Tibetan hang drop, the earrings, the rings, the bracelets and so on. The price is cheaper, from 5 yuan to dozens of yuan.

7. While buying jewelry, go for the big certified shops. They offer authentic materials. Do not go for street-side stores that claim more money and give fake jewels. The jewels in the certified stores contain markings by the government regarding authenticity. Buy that. Jade, silver, and the thangka which you don't know what's what quality, you would better care to buy. The boss of the store which along the street is most like to recommend the turquoise and beads, and red coral, densely preserved necklace, bracelet. The turquoise general is sold in grams, the cheap for three to five yuan a gram, the good is offered for fifteen to eighteen yuan a gram. It is said according to the local people, the boss who dare to offer 18 yuan a gram, probably is true.

8. There are a few restaurants in the Barkhor street, the more well-known is Makye Ame. A lot of people go there because they admire its fame. They come and sit in the balcony on the third floor for eating and tea, the top of the head is blue sky and white clouds, below is bustling crowd, it is very comfortable. The another place for eat where is in the next door of Tibet hospital, it is named Jigang restaurant. Also having a balcony on the second floor, you can overlook the Barkhor street and the Jokhang temple, it is a pretty nice place.

Master Kungga Dundruk

About the Author - Master Kungga Dundruk

Kungga Dundruk, often respectfully referred to as “Manager Kunga”, is the most revered and legendary Tibetan guide in our team.

Currently working as a customer service manager in Lhasa, Kunga used to study business overseas and got his Bachelor of Business in Nepal and India before moving back to his homeland. With pure passion for life and unlimited love for Tibet, Kunga started his guide career as early as 1997.

As a legendary Tibetan guide with 22 years of guide experience, Kunga was awarded the Gold Medalist of China’s Best Tour Guide in 2019, marking the pinnacle of his career. Today, Kunga loves sharing his wealth of Tibetan knowledge through travel articles and stands ready to offer prompt support whenever our guests need help in Lhasa.

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