Nepal is a good place to shop for fine handicrafts including intricate jewelry, traditional hand-woven fabrics, carpets, metal and woodwork items, and of course, the ubiquitous range of quirky kitschy touristy souvenirs peddled at the roadside in tourist destinations the world over. As trekking is a prime activity, at most of the tourist enclaves you will find loads of shops selling outdoor gear ranging from mountaineering boots to river sandals and Swiss knives to ice axes. Side by side with these shops bristling with trekking and mountaineering gear, you find shops run by Kashmiri immigrants from India selling woven shawls inlaid with intricate patterns and Pashmina products to suit every budget. Somewhere between these shops (and around almost every mounument/square) you will encounter the kitsch.
Kathmandu and the neighboring city of Bhaktapur have a long resident population of people of the Newar ethnicity, renowned for their artisan skills in working with metal and wood. Traditionally produced for household and ceremonial use, nowadays these craftsmen turn out metalwork objects such as idols of Hindu and Tibetan gods and goddesses, some contemporary as well as custom order pieces, and lots of household metal ware items for the tourist souvenir consumption.
Famous for their bronze and copper works Patan and Bhaktapur offers items of wonders. You can go for miniature bronze busts and idols. The bronze Buddha idol is a must buy. You can also buy tiny Khukuri, as the real one is not allowed on airlines. Apart from that you can buy Buddhist paraphernalia in Buddhist sites of Kathmandu and Lumbini. Try for the Tibetan one, as they are the most authentic.
Woodcraft as well as woven items are another favorite, and most items of wood, metal or cloth tend to be items that have meticulous craftsmanship work on them. Of course many ‘handicrafts’ are also mass produced for the quick souvenir market and the price is often a good indication of the quality, but if its shopping you want to do here, its items like Tibetan Thankas (intricate and detailed paintings depicting Tibetan Buddhism iconography), Pashmina products, Tibetan carpets, metal and woodwork items, jewelry etc that are usually worth looking at. You can go cheap or splurge, depending on your budget, but if it’s splurging you want to do its advisable to bring along someone who knows their fine stuff from the fake – or at least someone in the purchasing party should have Asian bargaining skills/experience! For trekkers and hikers, Kathmandu and Pokhara have a surplus of shops selling cheerfully fake North face, mountain hardware, etc gear which are not quite the original, (they’re about a tenth of the price of!) but the clothing, bags, Sleeping bags etc – manufactured in Nepal – provide adequate service for most treks one may undertake in Nepal.
Of course, for technical gear required for mountaineering and extreme adventure sports, shops selling original gear exist and you can, if you need, buy original Black Diamond or North Face gear for your expedition requirements in Kathmandu.
In recent years, Kathmandu has been experiencing the advent of the mall culture, and visitors can now choose from a number of well stocked malls selling all manner on international brands from canon showrooms to Levi’s stores.
1. Always do a research about the thing you want to buy
2. Always use the help of locals in finding the right place to buy
3. Bargaining is the best policy
4. While you are shopping always opt for second opinion
5. If you buy antics then validate it with authority before leaving the country
6. Be careful while buying goods from street vendor
7. Try to get genuine bills