For some people (aka me), a huge perk of traveling is that it comes with the opportunity to shop. India has amazing food, friendly people, unique culture… and fabulous shopping! This is a peak at what to buy in India and which are the best souvenirs in India based on region. There are uncountable markets to explore and you can even pick out your own fabric and get a dress or shirt made perfect for you at costs you won’t believe.
I haven’t seen all of India, but I’ve been around (haha, over 4 years!). I’m going to share the “it” things to buy in India: each area and/or state of India but admit it isn’t even close to the amount of things that are specific to each area- I couldn’t possibly go into that much detail. If you have a place you want to know about just email me and I might have been to that city and be able to tell you the best souvenirs.
Remember when you shop to HAGGLE! They will quote prices sometimes, I kid you not, 100x more than the value. The rule of thumb is to offer back 1/4 of what they say and go from there. Here is a whole article on how to haggle in India. Do not let your rickshaw driver take you to any shops. He’s just trying to make commission and force sales on you. Be firm. People will call “come look my shop!” Just walk past if you don’t want to or you’ll end up in there for ages while they pull down every pashmina they own from the wall.
Read More: How to Ship Souvenirs Home From India
For more tips on making clothes in Goa, check out my Goa Ebook. Click here to buy it.
What to buy in India based on region
What to buy in Rajasthan
I’m starting with Rajasthan because it’s the EPITOME of shopping in India. I’m not exaggerating when I say you’ll see identical things here that you’d seen in Anthropolgie, Urban Outfitters, Free People, and more. When interior designers get to work, many source from Rajasthan, particularly Jaipur. Giant warehouses will have someone guide you around to see everything- it’s insane.
The main things to buy in Rajasthan are wooden furniture, silver and gemstone jewelry, fabrics, wholesale clothing, leather shoes, jackets, purses, notebooks, and mirror work traditional fabrics, as well as wooden trinkets & Hindu statues. Another big thing to buys is quilted Rajasthani wall hangings, blankets, pillow covers, and cushions. You can get the duvet fillers they sell at Fab India much cheaper here.
this is the wall-hanging I bought
Jaipur is the king of shopping and sourcing. Every designer in Goa, and even Singapore, and Bali goes to Jaipur to collect their supplies for the year. You will get these things elsewhere like Goa but at much higher prices and oftentimes, inauthentic.
Check out these three articles for specific shops to go.
- Little Black Book, A Jaipur Shopping Guide
- Shopping in Jaipur, 8 shops not to miss
- My tips on buying Rajasthani wall hangings
What to buy in Goa
I am not about buying Indian things in Goa. It’s all sourced out from Rajasthan in my opinion it’s not great quality. For example, the wall hangings here clearly come from a factory and are not hand done.
All Goa clothes!
For shopping in Goa, I stick to foreigners who are making a living as up and coming designers here. They make gorgeous stuff and often times source the best silks and cottons from around India. Some of my favorite designers are FARA, La Vie Boheme, TIA, Cheshire Cat, Shoop Doop, Nani Ki, and Alekai.
What to buy in Delhi
Similar to Jaipur, people go here for massive shopping and sourcing trips. Personally, I don’t have luck here because I don’t know where to go. There are famous marketplaces like Chandni Chowk and you can get lucky with wholesale clothing. I’m not sure how it works; I think it’s pieces that didn’t make the cut, or are taken from the factory but you can find Free People, H&M, etc here at super cheap prices if you’re willing to dig.
- Little Back Book Shahpur Jat Hood guide
- 7 best stores in Lajpat Nagar
- 8 Delhi markets for fabulous shopping
What to buy in Karnataka
Mysore is an amazing place to shop. I loved meeting the local artisans and watching them work in the back alleys. It’s known for “Mysore Silk” which is expensive and actually has gold strands going through it. You can tour the factory. It’s also known for Sandalwood, so you might want to buy Sandalwood incense. You can even make it yourself in the famous Devaraja Market. They are famous for wooden inlay here as well.
I bought Khaddi outside Mysore in a rural town, and you may see this around the state. It’s very cheap (think $3 per meter) and is hand-woven. I got clothing made from the fabric I bought. I wrote a guide to shopping in Mysore you might find helpful which goes into more detail.
what I got made in Goa
What to buy in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
Just like Msyore they are famous for their silk sarees. Probably more of a shopping destination for the Indian woman although you could buy the silk and make something else. Make sure to go to an approved shop.
What to buy in Mumbai & Pune
Shoes! Shoes galore! You can buy sandals or “chappels” all over town and Pune is kind of known for it, near the Osho center. I didn’t get a pair myself, but they could be a nice cheap souvenir for people back home. When my parents visited Mumbai, I took them to Chor Bazaar, the “thieves market”. Unless you are buying for a home, you probably will just look- there is amazing antique furniture which is expensive but cheap considering how old and special it is. Of course Mumbai like Delhi has loads of markets and malls, and you could shop for days.
What to buy in Manali or all of Himachal Pradesh
Here you can get cold weather clothes and more specifically, Pashmina, wool, and cashmere. Be careful where you shop because the vast majority is fake. No one would sell a REAL pashmina for 500 Rs. so if they are, it’s not real. FYI: shop owners get really angry when you accuse them of being fake so just walk away rather than argue. You can buy amazing gems. I got great deals on raw rubies, turquoise, and rose quartz. Be careful they aren’t selling fakes or colored glass. I bought my Grandma the most amazing pashmina from a Government shop in Manali.
You’ll aslo find Nepalese stuff here. That would be colorful shawls, yak wool capes, and fuzzy caps and mittens. I bought my fair share of these things while I was there. I even bought my dad a traditional “kullu” cap. I couldn’t help myself! Kullu was a cool little stopover in the area.
What to buy in Punjab
I spend very little time in this region, but see their flower embroidered flower (Phulkari) blankets all over India. I think the ones I see are definitely fake copies. I would love to see the real thing for myself. Sadly I didn’t see these while I was in Amritsar so you’ll want to prepare ahead of time. You can read more about the art here:
What to buy in Darjeeling & Munnar
Tea! Not a hard one. These are hugely popular tourist destinations. Munnar being inland Kerala and Darjeeling up North near Calcutta side. It’s fun to tour a tea plantation and buy tea while you’re there! You can get the tea in markets all over India though, so don’t fret if you don’t make it here.
I haven’t been up this far North yet, but they are famous for shawls and carpets/rugs. One day I’ll shop here!
What to buy in West Bengal
This is the area which holds Calcutta. The big thing people buy here is terracotta dishes. The capitol Calcutta is a shopping destination on it’s own and one that I sadly have not yet discovered. Check out this article for information on where to shop in the city
I just got back from here and didn’t do a crazy amount of shopping but I did buy about $100 worth of fabrics to get clothing made back in Goa. There are government owned “artisan” shops were you can see the fabric being hand-woven and buy it there at amazing rates. I love what I bought and will share photos once I make the clothes! You can also buy fun things made from Bamboo & the famous striped bags that every women in the area carries.
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