What to shop for in Nepal
Nepal is jam-packed full of beautiful treasures that can be bought for ludicrously cheap prices and brought home as souvenirs. Thangkas, religious paintings of Buddha on pieces of fabric, make stunning centrepieces back home and can be found in abundance. Another traditional Nepalese purchase is a singing bowl. This unique item is a bowl that makes a soothing humming noise when the rim is rubbed with a wooden stick and is a great accompaniment to a meditation session. Those looking for wall decorations will find plenty of choice with traditional Bhairab masks, dramatic faces used in dance performances and dramatically coloured.
For the budding writer, notebooks and diaries made with rice paper are an authentic souvenir of Nepal’s rice-orientated culture. These can usually be found hidden among other brightly coloured and fabulously designed handicrafts. Purses, pillow covers and throws with intricate patterns and stitching are staples in Nepalese markets and are easy to transport home. Traditional jewellery, made with gold and silver, is also a favourite with travellers.
Whilst trekking there are traders dotted along the trails selling everything from down jackets, waterproofs, jumpers, hats and socks at very reasonable prices, so there is no need to panic if you haven't packed enough. It is advisable to pack light and simply buy extra clothing en route if needed.
Is bargaining acceptable in Nepal?
Bargaining is a way of life in Nepal and happens on a daily basis between locals. Travellers are usually regarded as ultra-rich (and they are in comparison with the average Nepali) and are therefore usually offered an inflated price when they ask how much an item costs. The vendors are simply trying their luck and will often take down the price considerably if you engage in a bit of light-hearted haggling. Some guesthouses will also occasionally drop their price if you stay for several nights or arrive in a large group.