~ Bapu Bazaar, Jaipur
There’s no doubt about it, India is a shopper’s paradise. From handmade textiles to jewellery to art you can pick up a range of amazing souvenirs and presents for an absolute bargain – depending on your haggling skills of course! I could easily take a trip to India just to shop. Here I share 7 of the best shopping spots in India and a few purchases from each destination.
What to buy: bangles and textiles including clothes, bed sheets and cushions
~ Bangle and textiles shop, Jaipur
Jaipur is the place to pick up bangles, especially traditional Rajasthani Lac bangles, which are believed to bring good luck and are worn by newly married women.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, hippy pants, ali Baba trousers, harem pants, or whatever you want to call them, are a damn good investment for travelling India (and everywhere else). They cover you up, they’re comfortable for trekking around sights and they double up as pj bottoms on those long sleeper journeys.
Jaipur’s a great place to pick up a couple of pairs in beautiful fabrics for next to nothing.
~ Jaipur purchases – trousers, scarf and bangles
What to buy: silver, gemstones, handicrafts and fabrics
Ah, Pushkar. Back in 2009 my friend and I practically raided the town of silver and gemstone jewellery. The main streets are lined with silver shops, some varying in quality so it’s good to shop around. I don’t know what happened to my anklets over the years but I do remember losing a very nice toe ring in the sea as soon as we reached Goa. So, second time round I was excited to stock up again.
Suffice to say I’m clearly forever cursed with toe rings as I lost another one in the sea in Goa, even after putting it on my finger for safe keeping. Sigh, I’ll just have to go back again one day.
~ Competitive business – wearing this ring around other shops they all wanted to take a picture and steal the design
What to buy: more textiles, clothes and jewellery!
Udaipur is well known for its shopping but I don’t think I rate it as high as Pushkar. Perhaps it’s due to the fact I had just come from there and already bought my weight in goodies, or because of the extra effort required to sift through the hectic Bada Bazaar in Udaipur. If you have the energy I’m sure there are lots of gems to be snapped up!
I purchased this Labradorite pendant for a decent 200rs and a couple of presents for friends and family.
What to buy: touristy knick knacks
There’s no escaping the vendors on the beaches of Goa and on the main street in Palolem. It’s a great place to pick up those touristy knick knacks and useful garments for the beach you might have forgotten to pack, or just want to add to your wardrobe (if you have any room…).
I went a little overboard on the popular Ganesh and Lakshmi prints – it’s hard to choose when they come in a variety of colours and items! Plus, I definitely needed a sarong, dress AND a tunic.
What to buy: arty souvenirs and Tibetan jewellery
Kochi’s arty scene and French influence offer some interesting shops and it’s nice to spend a day wandering around them.
If you catch a traditional Kathalaki performance at Kerala Kathalaki Centre, you get to browse the little stall on your way out which offers some lovely and unique prints, postcards, bags and bracelets.
You get so used to things being dirt cheap in India. It’s funny to think I was contemplating this purchase for so long, thinking it was too extravagant at a fixed price of 400rs, around £4. Luckily for budget traveller me it came down to 300rs.
The above was my most expensive purchase at 2000rs from a Tibetan jewellery shop. I fell in love but couldn’t justify the price (and the lady just wasn’t budging). I walked away then came back because I couldn’t live without it and it was fate, because it’s Jade!
What to buy: Tibetan jewellery and leather bags
There are a number of Tibetan jewellery and leather bag shops along the main promenade in Varkala. The quality also varies here and there are more extravagant pieces with the shop owners quoting some of the highest prices I’ve heard for jewellery in India. When you remember how much it might cost at home you realise it’s still is a good deal just maybe over a backpacker’s budget!
~ Opal ring
I thought this was probably the last chance I’d find another nice, reasonably priced silver ring on this trip so was happy to settle at 700rs.
What to buy: arty goods, antiques and homeware
Pondicherry is a real change of scene from the rest of India. You can easily spend an afternoon wandering the leafy boulevards of the French quarter popping into explore the numerous shops. Top picks include Play Clan selling modern Indian designs and Cafe des Arts’ two adjoining shops offering a selection of traditional and antique items.
When you fancy a coffee break, the shopping doesn’t end with the café/shop combinations, always a favourite.
Whoever came up with the idea of combining drinking and eating with shopping is a genius.
~ I never thought I could love a deck of playing cards so much. Lets see how long they can be kept out of use for drinking games
It’s a wonder I have any money left, let alone manage to fit everything in my backpack. Before I left the UK I thought I’d packed sensibly but it turns out that’s not the case when you come across so much good shopping!