Shopping in Sikkim
Gangtok, Sikkim's capital city, is where all the shopping action is. Whether you're looking to pick up a few gifts and souvenirs or simply browsing around to soak up local colour, Gangtok's markets have plenty on offer. Prices are inevitably inflated for travellers, so bargaining is par for the course. If you don't enjoy a good haggle, head for the state emporiums where rates are fixed and you can be fairly sure of quality.
The variety of wares in the Lal Bazaar reflects the cheerful chaos all around - local spices, chhurpi or yak's cheese, fish and fresh vegetables sit cheek by jowl with electronic goods and incense sticks.
For tips and advice about what’s on sale in the Sikkim shops and markets look below at our guide for shopping in Gangtok and the great Sikkim. More general information for shopping in India is also available for your convenience. If all that haggling makes you hungry be sure to check out the tasty Sikkim food and cuisine.
Places to visit
The Old Market and New Market are favoured haunts for picking up handicrafts; ditto for M.G. Road (Mahatma Gandhi Road), a street name found in virtually every large Indian city.
Visit Lal Bazaar, the open space in front of the 50-year-old Lal Market, on a Sunday to experience the ambience of a haat. A melange of villagers, dhoti-clad businessmen from the eastern state of Bihar and young Sikkimese sporting trendy western fashions chat, trade and bargain in a babble of languages - Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali and Hindi - apparently oblivious to the blare of popular Western and Hindi music.
Things to buy
Tibetan crafts rule the souvenir markets. Thangkas are hand painted religious scrolls featuring Buddhas and other deities. Choktsees are small, collapsible stools with typically detailed Tibetan designs Sikkimese canvas or fabric paintings are inexpensive souvenirs (easy to pack too!) featuring themes like the typically rugged, facial profiles of tribal members, religious events, dragons and symbols of luck.
Rugs and Carpets
If you're out shopping in Sikkim and inclined to splurge a bit, consider picking up a Tibetan rug, carpet or blanket made of sheep's wool. Their intricate patterns, brought to life with vegetable dyes, will make for a great conversation piece back home.
Sikkim's unique "dragon sets" are quite irresistible. These consist of a variety of ornaments like necklaces, earrings, pendants, rings and bracelets featuring dragons in finely worked silver or gold, embellished with precious stones. Many shops in Sikkim will execute made-to-order designs.
Tea and Spices
Sikkim tea is much sought after for its distinctive flavour. It's a good idea to pick up some, since international prices are far higher than local rates. Black cardamom, a spice that's grown locally, is another good buy.
MG Marg, Gangtok
Development Area, Gangtok
Tel: +91 3592 204336
Super Market, Gangtok
MG Marg, Gangtok