Antiques, textiles, arts and handicrafts! Fill up your suitcase with colorful Bhutanese gems.
1. Kelzang Handicrafts – Best Local Fabrics
Yorkay Central. PO Box 685, Thimphu, Bhutan (map)
You spot local Bhutanese wearing beautiful, traditional dresses and robes, now you want to bring something similar back home? Kelzang Wangmo (Jambay) is a designer in Thimphu, and the store Kelzang Handicrafts is perfect for buying Bhutanese skirts, dresses, jackets, fabrics…all that good fashionable stuff! Every pattern comes in different sizes and styles. Beware, they’re all beautiful and you’ll want to take home the whole store!
2. Lungta Handicraft – Best Himalayan Arts & Crafts
Opposite General Post Office Building. Chang Lam, PO Box 1370, Thimphu-11001, Bhutan (map, website)
What you want to watch out for when buying a piece of antique in Bhutan (and you’ll want lots of it once you see them) is the stamp from National Commission. That government stamp indicates your item being safe to go through customs. Lungta Handicraft is perfect for Himalayan jewelries, arts and crafts. We especially fell in love with antique boxes for the home, and jewelries as gifts.
3. Artshop Gallery – Best Local Artists Boutique
Near the Clocktower / Next to Osang video rental store, 0203 Thimphu, Bhutan (website)
Where new meets traditional, ancient style meets street art! A group of Bhutanese artists have assembled themselves to create Artshop Gallery – a place in Thimphu that not only sells work of these artists but inspiring and supporting local artists who attend Bhutanese schools. From paintings, ceramics, street art to photography, this gallery has a beautiful mixture of traditional and modern art work in Thimphu.
4. DSB Books – Best Local Bookstore
There are plenty of bookstores in Thimphu, but DSB Books has a more complete collection of Buddhism and Bhutanese books that you can bring home as coffee table decors. DSB is involved in local festivals as well as having readings by lamas and rinpoches (reincarnated lamas).
5. Centenary Farmer’s Market – Best Local Groceries
The best part about traveling is to venture in the local market scene. Here, you truly see how locals live, their way of life. Centenary Farmer’s Market has two floors. The first floor contains products imported from India, and the second floor sells products from Bhutan. Bhutan does not have much agriculture products on its own, much of their fruits and vegetables are imports from other countries, particularly from India. Look out for lots of chilis, sugar canes, dried fish. This place is as colorful as the patterns on Bhutanese textiles!