23rd April 2024

10 Best Things to Buy in Bhutan: Ultimate Shopping Guide (2023)

Are you ready to embark on a shopping adventure in the mesmerizing kingdom of Bhutan? If so, we’ve got you covered in this blog post, where we’ll uncover the best things to buy in Bhutan.

From our past experience of leading group trips here, we learned that Bhutan offers a treasure trove of unique souvenirs and authentic handicrafts that will leave you awestruck.

In this post, we’ll guide you through the bustling markets, vibrant bazaars, and hidden boutiques, unveiling the must-have items that will bring the essence of Bhutan back home with you.

Without further adieu, let’s get started;

Best Things to Buy in Bhutan

1. Hand-woven Textiles

Royal Textile Academy

Step into the world of Bhutanese hand-woven textiles, where threads come to life, telling stories of tradition and artistry. In the valleys of Thimphu and Bumthang, skilled weavers bring forth exquisite fabrics adorned with intricate patterns.

From the renowned kiras and ghos to the intricate mathra and the striking pangtshos, the weaving tradition of Bhutan is a reflection of its cultural identity.

Visit the Royal Textile Academy in Thimphu to witness master weavers at work, skillfully combining colors and textures to create mesmerizing designs. Don’t miss the opportunity to bring home a piece of Bhutan’s textile heritage, as these remarkable creations make for cherished souvenirs.

  • Where to Buy: Visit the Thimphu and Bumthang regions for a remarkable selection of hand-woven textiles.
  • Cost: Prices for hand-woven textiles range from INR 500 to INR 10,000, depending on the complexity of the design and the quality of the materials.

2. Cane and Bamboo Handicrafts

Cane and Bamboo Handicrafts

The art of cane and bamboo handicrafts in Bhutan is an ancient tradition that has withstood the test of time. Skilled artisans transform these natural materials into exquisite items of utility and beauty.

From intricately woven baskets to finely crafted furniture, each piece reflects the craftsmanship and creativity of the Bhutanese people. To witness this art form firsthand, head to the villages of Khoma and Radhi in eastern Bhutan, where the women are known for their exceptional weaving skills.

Take a stroll through local markets and find yourself captivated by the variety of cane and bamboo products available. Whether it’s a handwoven basket or a bamboo lampshade, these unique creations will add a touch of Bhutanese charm to your home.

  • Where to Buy: Explore markets in Paro and Punakha for a diverse range of cane and bamboo handicrafts.
  • Cost: Cane and bamboo products vary in price, with smaller items like baskets starting from INR 200, while larger furniture pieces can range from INR 2,000 to INR 15,000.

3. Dzi Beads – Himalayan Beads

Dzi Beads - Himalayan Beads

Embark on a mystical journey as we explore the fascinating world of Dzi beads, sacred gems cherished in the Himalayan region. These ancient beads are believed to possess powerful spiritual properties and are highly sought after by collectors and believers.

Discover the myriad of designs and symbols etched on these precious stones, each carrying its own unique energy. To find authentic Dzi beads, venture into the bustling markets of Paro and Thimphu, where expert gem dealers offer a wide selection of these treasured artifacts.

Whether you seek protection, abundance, or spiritual enlightenment, allow the allure of Dzi beads to captivate your senses and unravel their mysteries.

  • Where to Buy: Seek out reputable bead shops in Thimphu and Paro to find authentic Dzi beads.
  • Cost: Dzi beads can vary widely in price, depending on their rarity, quality, and symbolism, ranging from INR 1,000 to several lakhs.

4. Gold and Silver Jewelry

Gold and Silver Jewelry

Indulge in the opulence of Bhutanese gold and silver jewelry, where age-old craftsmanship and intricate designs merge to create adornments fit for royalty. From delicate necklaces and earrings to ornate bracelets and rings, these exquisite pieces are crafted with meticulous precision.

Explore the jewelry shops of Thimphu and Punakha to discover the intricate filigree work and gemstone embellishments that adorn these precious metals.

The motifs often draw inspiration from Bhutanese mythology and nature, showcasing the kingdom’s rich cultural heritage.

Treat yourself to a piece of Bhutanese elegance or find the perfect gift for a loved one, as these timeless treasures will forever hold the essence of Bhutan close to your heart.

  • Where to Buy: Explore jewelry stores in Thimphu and Paro for a remarkable selection of gold and silver jewelry.
  • Cost: Prices for gold and silver jewelry vary depending on the intricacy of the design and weight of the precious metals. Earrings can range from INR 5,000 to INR 30,000, while necklaces may start from INR 15,000 and go up to INR 1,00,000.

5. Dappa – Handmade Wooden Bowls

Dappa - Handmade Wooden Bowls

Enter the realm of traditional Bhutanese dining with the exquisite Dappa, hand-carved wooden bowls that enhance the culinary experience. Crafted from sturdy wood, these bowls showcase intricate designs and exceptional craftsmanship.

Head to the rural villages of Trongsa and Bumthang, where skilled artisans shape the raw wood into elegant vessels using traditional tools.

Whether you use them for serving rice, soup, or fruits, the Dappa adds an authentic touch to your dining table, elevating your meals to a whole new level of elegance.

  • Where to Buy: Discover the finest collection of Dappa in the markets of Thimphu and Paro.
  • Cost: Handmade wooden bowls, depending on their size and intricacy, can range from INR 500 to INR 5,000.

6. Colored Carved Masks

Colored Carved Masks

Unveil the mystique of Bhutanese-colored carved masks, powerful symbols of spirituality and tradition. These intricately designed masks are integral to religious and cultural ceremonies, bringing ancient stories to life through vibrant colors and meticulous carvings.

To witness their grandeur, attend the colorful mask dances and festivals held throughout Bhutan. The Paro and Thimphu Tsechus are especially renowned for their elaborate mask performances.

Marvel at the skill of the artisans who masterfully create these masterpieces, depicting deities, protectors, and mythical creatures. Take a piece of Bhutanese culture home by acquiring a small replica mask, a cherished reminder of the enchanting land of the Thunder Dragon.

  • Where to Buy: Witness the grandeur of colored carved masks at religious festivals held throughout Bhutan, such as the Paro Tshechu and Thimphu Tshechu.
  • Cost: Colored carved masks, depending on their size and intricacy, can range from INR 3,000 to INR 15,000.

7. Sculptures and Buddhist Paintings

Sculptures and Buddhist Paintings

Immerse yourself in the realm of Bhutanese sculptures and Buddhist paintings, where divine beauty takes form. From sacred statues to vibrant Thangka paintings, these artistic expressions depict the rich spiritual heritage of Bhutan.

Visit art studios and monasteries where skilled craftsmen painstakingly create sculptures using traditional techniques passed down through generations. Delve into the symbolism of these creations, which often depict deities, religious figures, and mythical creatures.

Admire the breathtaking Thangka paintings that adorn monastery walls, each stroke capturing the essence of Bhutanese devotion. Let the spiritual aura of these artistic treasures transport you to a realm of tranquility and enlightenment.

  • Where to Buy: Explore art studios and monasteries across Bhutan, particularly in Punakha and Bumthang, to witness the creation of sculptures and Buddhist paintings.
  • Cost: The cost of sculptures and Buddhist paintings can vary significantly based on size, complexity, and artist reputation. Small sculptures can range from INR 2,000 to INR 15,000, while larger pieces or commissioned artworks may cost INR 50,000 or more.

8. Bhutanese Handmade Paper

Bhutanese Handmade Paper

Uncover the ancient craft of Bhutanese handmade paper, a skillful art form that has persevered through the ages. Made from the bark of the Daphne plant, locally known as Dhekap, Bhutanese handmade paper carries a unique texture and aesthetic.

Visit the Jungshi Paper Factory in Thimphu, where you can witness the meticulous process of papermaking. From boiling and pulping the bark to forming and drying the sheets, every step is a testament to the artisans’ dedication.

Feel the organic fibers beneath your fingertips and marvel at the versatility of this paper, used for calligraphy, bookmaking, and exquisite artwork. Take home a piece of Bhutanese craftsmanship by purchasing beautifully crafted notebooks or delicate stationery, embodying the essence of this traditional craft.

  • Where to Buy: Visit the Jungshi Paper Factory in Thimphu to witness the papermaking process firsthand and purchase authentic Bhutanese handmade paper products.
  • Cost: Bhutanese handmade paper products are reasonably priced, with prayer flags starting from INR 200 and journals ranging from INR 300 to INR 1,500.

9. Swords, Bows, and Arrows

Swords, Bows, and Arrows in Bhutan

Transport yourself to the world of ancient warriors as you explore the realm of traditional weaponry in Bhutan. Swords, bows, and arrows hold a significant place in Bhutanese history and culture.

Witness the mastery of Bhutanese swordsmiths as they forge blades of exceptional craftsmanship, combining strength and elegance. To experience the art of archery, a revered national sport, head to the archery grounds where skilled marksmen showcase their prowess.

Immerse yourself in the spirited atmosphere as arrows fly through the air, accompanied by cheers and friendly competition. Embrace the heritage of Bhutan by acquiring a symbolic sword or bow, connecting with the bravery and honor of this mountain kingdom.

  • Where to Buy: Visit the National Museum in Paro to witness a collection of historic swords, bows, and arrows. Additionally, consult local weapon makers and antique shops for traditional weaponry.
  • Cost: The cost of swords, bows, and arrows can vary greatly based on their age, craftsmanship, and historical significance. Antique weapons can range from INR 10,000 to INR 2,00,000 or more.

10. Wooden Products

Discover the rustic charm of Bhutanese wooden products, where skilled craftsmen transform timber into functional and artistic pieces.

From intricately carved masks and figurines to durable furniture and household utensils, Bhutanese artisans create objects that blend form and function.

Explore the markets of Thimphu and Paro, where you’ll find an array of wooden treasures, each carrying the essence of Bhutan’s craftsmanship. Admire the attention to detail and the natural beauty of the wood grain in these unique creations.

Whether you choose a hand-carved bowl, a decorative wall hanging, or a finely crafted piece of furniture, these wooden products will bring a touch of Bhutanese authenticity to your home.

  • Where to Buy: Explore the markets of Thimphu and Paro for a diverse selection of high-quality Bhutanese wooden products.
  • Cost: The cost of wooden products varies depending on the complexity of the design and size. Small wooden masks can range from INR 500 to INR 5,000, while larger furniture pieces may range from INR 10,000 to INR 1,00,000.

Conclusion – Best Things to Buy in Bhutan

In conclusion, exploring Bhutan’s rich cultural crafts is a journey of discovery and appreciation. From the intricate hand-woven textiles that breathe life into ancient traditions to the vibrantly colored carved masks that transport you to a world of myth and spirituality, Bhutan’s crafts captivate the senses.

The artistry and skill displayed in the Dzi beads, gold and silver jewelry, wooden bowls, sculptures, and Buddhist paintings are testaments to the country’s cultural wealth.

As you immerse yourself in the vibrant markets and witness artisans at work, you’ll understand why Bhutan’s crafts are cherished treasures, representing the soul of this enchanting Himalayan kingdom.

With every visit, we gain a deeper understanding of Bhutan’s cultural legacy, and we’re left inspired by the passion and dedication of its craftsmen.

So, whether you’re a curious traveler, an art enthusiast, or a spiritual seeker, don’t miss the opportunity to delve into the world of Bhutan’s cultural crafts.

Let these masterpieces weave their stories into your heart, and carry a piece of Bhutan’s artistic heritage with you as a cherished memento of your unforgettable journey.

FAQs – Best Things to Buy in Bhutan

Where can I find the best hand-woven textiles in Bhutan?

Look no further than the Thimphu and Bumthang regions, where you’ll discover a remarkable selection of hand-woven textiles, showcasing intricate designs and vibrant colors.

What makes Dzi beads so special?

Dzi beads, also known as Himalayan beads, possess a mystical allure. These unique treasures, found in reputable bead shops in Thimphu and Paro, are believed to possess protective and auspicious qualities.

Where can I buy authentic gold and silver jewelry in Bhutan?

When it comes to exquisite gold and silver jewelry, explore the jewelry stores in Thimphu and Paro. You’ll find a wide range of stunning pieces, intricately crafted with filigree work and symbolic motifs.

What are the must-visit locations for exploring Bhutan’s wooden products?

The markets of Thimphu and Paro are your go-to destinations for an impressive selection of high-quality Bhutanese wooden products, including intricately carved masks, furniture, and utensils.

Where can I witness the grandeur of colored carved masks?

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Bhutan’s religious festivals, such as the Paro Tshechu and Thimphu Tshechu. These festive occasions offer a magnificent display of colored carved masks.

How can I experience the creation of sculptures and Buddhist paintings?

To witness the artistic process firsthand, visit art studios and monasteries in Punakha and Bumthang. These places offer insights into the intricate craftsmanship behind Bhutan’s sculptures and Buddhist paintings.

Where can I purchase Bhutanese handmade paper products?

Journey to the Jungshi Paper Factory in Thimphu, where you can observe the traditional papermaking process and acquire authentic Bhutanese handmade paper products like vibrant prayer flags and journals.
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