Shopping in Kathmandu is a top reason why local and international tourists come here. Very popular are the city’s unique and cheap handicrafts, jewelry, clothes, local fabrics, decorative metal, knives, Pashmina shawls, rice paper, tea, pottery, carvings of wood, woolen carpets, and colorful Buddhist paintings called Thangkas. Shopping, as well as all urban and tourist activities, happen in the tourist district of Thamel. Although the capital city lacks the usual modern comforts and facilities found in major Asian destinations, tourists will have a heyday shopping in this beautiful city. Below are a few tips on where to shop in Kathmandu.
Most of the shopping happens in the local market between Asan and Indra Chowk. Available here are an assortment of clothes, textiles, handicrafts, spices, local produce, and so on. The complex is made up of a maze of shops, including up-market stores selling carpets, art pieces, antiques and rare souvenir items specifically sold to tourists. Located in the southeastern side of the city, the market is often (and much more on Saturdays) packed with locals and tourists since it is not far from the Bahar Mahal Revisited Complex, one of the leading tourist attractions that used to be the palace of the Ranas. Also found nearby are the Singh Durbar government offices.
The heart of Kathmandu is Kathmandu Durbar Square. It is an ancient complex of centuries-old buildings, temples, palaces and stupas, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since this is the most important tourist spot in Thamel, rows of shops have been put up around it, specifically on New Road and Khicha Pohrari, to cater to the many needs of tourists. One of the most popular stores here is Durbar Marg, which is the city’s most chic address. Also not far are carpet shops that sell quality yet inexpensive silk and wool carpets. A popular carpet store is Royal Collection.
Kathmandu is not a huge city. It is not difficult locating its main street that is teeming with a number of tourist shops and hotels with shopping arcades inside. Since such stores mainly target foreigners, they offer rare and expensive pieces of jewelry, clothes, pictures and authentic Nepalese craft. The lesser expensive ones are found in smaller villages around the city. These villages sell beautiful Nepalese handicrafts, pottery and antiques (with a merchant’s special permission from the Department of Archaeology). Also popular in several boutiques are Kashmiri handicrafts that include silk carpets, tapestries, soapstone and wooden sandals. In Patan, Kathmandu’s sister city, the most popular handicraft store is called the Traditional Craftsmen Colony. Local Nepali craftsmen are highly skilled artisans that creatively blend traditional motifs and Western influences.
In addition to antiques, intricately designed carpets and crafts, what to buy in Kathmandu are unique textiles that are used to make an assortment of products such as hand-made paper, Maithili-style paintings, dolls, leather goods, scented candles and batik paintings.