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You can find everything that is produced in the valley in Kathmandu (Kathmandu Tour 01-05 Days), but you may be able to find a better selection at cheaper price at the place where they are made. If you are purchasing a higher price item, it is a good idea to shop around, as quality and price vary greatly and Nepali and Indian (they run many of the shows) are good at the hard sale. It is best to buy just before leaving. You can expect to pay a price above what the local pay, but it should be a reasonable mark up, say not more than 20%.
In Bhaktapur they make woodcarvings and pottery; in Patan, metal statues; in Jawlakhel, south of Patan, they make Tibetan carpet; and in Thimi, masks and pottery.
Basantapur Square has a good amount of street stalls selling Tibetan goods and other handicrafts. Most of the Tibetan items are not made in Tibet, but are made by the local Tamangs. Many of the items are made to look like antiques, but most are no more than a month or two old. When bargaining this can be taken into consideration.
Amrtia Craft Collection in Thamel has a good selection of handicrafts at fixed prices.
The Babar Mahal shopping center, near the Singh Durbar government offices, contains about ten high-end shops that sell high quality items.
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A good place to find handicrafts is in Kopundol, which is on the road between to Bagmati Bridge and Patan. There are several shops such as Mahaguthi, Women Entrepreneus Association (WEAN) and Dhukuti, who work with underprivileged and minority people. Mahaguthi also has a shop in Lazimpat.
Many antiques from Tibet are sold in Kathmandu. There are several shops on Durbar Marg and some of the items can be expensive. The Potala Art Gallery and the Ritual Art Gallery are worth visiting.
Many items are sold including carpets, thangkas, carvings, clothing, jewelry and religions items.
The main place to find thangkas is near Durbar Square. The Indigo Gallery at Mike’s Breakfast in Naxal has a good selection, as does Tibetan Thangka Treasure, near KC’s Restaurant in Thamel.
Jewelry & Gems
There are many jewelry shops in the Thamel and Durbar Square areas, and on Durbar Marg and New Rd. Most of the gems and jewelry come from India, but some is made locally.
Silver jewelry is usually very cheap compared what you will get at home. You can have silver jewelry custom made at very low prices, sometimes is just a day or two. The labor is extremely cheap for making silver jewelry. You should set the price before the work begins.
Purchasing gems can often be risky. If someone tell you that you can resell the gems and make a profit, don’t even talk to them. If it could be done they would do it themselves. You may be told that a gem is a particular variety, but you often will be often a different gem.
Noor Gems on Durbar Marg is an established shop.
Kathmandu is the best place to find clothes in Nepal.
There are many shops selling and making embroidered T-shirts. Quality can vary greatly, so it pays to shop around. I went to around thirty shop and only about five did a really quality job. You can often have your own custom design made or have then embroider what you want on your own jacket and shirt.
Tara Boutique, with a shop on Durbar Marg and another one on Tridevi Marg near Thamel, makes beautiful hand-printed women’s silk clothing.
Many shops have western fashions, mainly shirts.
There are some good shops on Durbar Marg and on New Rd. Curio Arts on Durbar Marg has a good selection. You should really shop hard, as it is difficult to buy properly.
There are a number of shops selling Rajasthani and Gujarati clothing and embroidered items. The prices are a good deal more expensive then you will find in India.
Because of the problems in Kashmir many Kashmiri have come to Nepal and send Kashmiri handicrafts such as papier mâché, shawls, carpets and tapestry. Prices are fairly reasonable. Of course prices would be cheaper in Kashmir, but it is not a good idea to visit Kashmir at the present time.
Cottage Crafts, on the ground floor of the Sanchaya Kosh Bhawan Shopping Centre, opposite the immigration office, is an established place with standard prices.
In Thamel there are several small supermarkets that sell food such as cheese, nuts, dried fruit and imported items. The Best Shopping Centre, at the end of Tridevi Marg, on a corner where it narrows and reaches Thamel.
The Bluebird supermarkets have several branches a good selection of goods. There is one in Lazimpat, on the right hand side of Kantipath, about 1km from Thamel and another near the Blue Star Hotel, near the bridge over the Bagmati River to Patan.
Nepal is heaven for the shoppers. The product ranges from the locally made handicrafts to the cheap Chinese and Japanese electronic items. Among the handicraft items you can buy clothing such as Kashmiri Shawls and Wrap-around as well as Tibetan Robes and Kurtas. The ladies can go for beautifully embroidered and comfortable to wear Kaftans. These items are downright cheap but you have to learn the art of dickering and bargaining before you venture to Nepal. Kathmandu also offers you handicraft items such as miniature paintings, stone idols, bronze busts and junk jewelry.
Patan and Bhaktapur are famous for their bronze and copper works and has various items on offer. You can go for miniature bronze busts and idols. The bronze Buddha idol is a must buy. You can also buy tiny Khukri, as the real one is not allowed on airlines. At Pokhara, you can buy Gorkha insignias such as banners, flags and medals. Pokhara is also famous for Newari artifacts. These artifacts are very beautiful and reflect the cultural contribution of vibrant but otherwise marginalized Newar race.
In border cities such as Bir Gunj, Biratnagar and Janakpur you can go for cheap electronic items. Most of these electronics items are Chinese, Korean or Japanese make and are cheaper than their German clones. Nevertheless, the German makes are more durable and therefore trustworthier. Apart from that you can buy Buddhist paraphernalia in Buddhist sites of Kathmandu and Lumbini. Try for the Tibetan one, as they are the most authentic.
The normal tipping amount in Nepal, range between 10 to 15 % of the final billed amount. Tip generously in hotels and restaurants. The same stand true for guards at shops and showrooms. These small tips can save bigger problems at times.