Sikkim, enveloped by the Himalayas, is a destination for all kinds of people. Nature lovers, adventure buffs and spiritualists have come here to satisfy their longing to be with the most promising aesthetics of life and nature. The heaving touching mountain range, serene lakes, crystal clear azure sky, pure hilly weather, ethnic population and some of the best monasteries are what keep travelers drawn to Sikkim.
Also, this is the destination for shopaholics. Right from local gastronomic delicacies to indigenous clothing to some of the finest souvenirs are available across Sikkim. We all know that shopping covers a major part of any travel or tour plan. But when it comes to shopping in Sikkim, then you are spoiled for choice. The region will not disappoint you if you are a street shopper who has an eye for cheap yet unique products and loves collecting knick-knacks.
Why shopping in Sikkim is fun: Sikkim is like a small happy paradise with only a small population. Therefore, here the market places are not so elaborate like we see in other metropolitan cities. Here there are regular markets that cater to local people and travelers every day, except weekends. Besides, there are some special weekly or weekend shopping hubs that especially meet the tourists’ needs with their broad range of local products and produces.
Gangtok, the ultimate shopping hub: Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim. Not only it is the administrative headquarters of the Himalayan state, but it is the zone for all the primary civic activities, including shopping. It is a major reservoir of marketing for travelers. The place has witnessed thriving of various new shopping joints alongside the old ones. Right from the famous religious scroll paintings, locally known as Thangkas, by the Buddhists from Tibet to Sikkimese cups, figurines of Lord Buddha, high-quality tea, praying flags, local ethnic clothes, various souvenirs bearing the local culture and art and crafts are available in this Sikkim capital.
Eating paradise: You name an item, and Gangtok has them all. According to locals, more than 50 big and small shopping hubs are spread across Sikkim. If you are a fine eater, then this is the place to be and also collect some incredible food items back to your hometown. You can collect the chhurpi, which is basically fine cheese made of yak’s milk, a trademark item in Sikkim. Besides, local beer, dried fish and handmade noodles are some most relishing items to go for here in this hill state.
Now let’s talk about the best shopping hubs in Sikkim that can keep you coming back again and again.
Mahatma Gandhi Marg: MG Marg is the main market area in Sikkim. The entire stretch of the road is lined with big, small and medium shops on both its sides. A part of this MG Marg shopping center is also known as New Market. The shops at the MG Marg area open usually around 8 am and close by 7 in the evening. The entire hub is closed on Tuesdays. Here you can find a large number of stalls that sell local fabric and dress material for both men and women. Also, you can find shops selling shoes, gifts, trinkets, and unique souvenirs.
Sikkimese cups: There is a huge craze to buy these ethnic art pieces of Sikkim. Travelers from across the globe collect them as souvenirs. These cups, made of porcelain, carry the traditional designs of Sikkim and are available in different colors and sizes. These are something you can gift anybody and everybody.
Books and jewellery: If you are a bibliophile, then MG Marg can be your own favorite corner. Here shops like Kandoika sells books on Buddhist ideas about life and living, Buddhist ideologies and literature. A lot of books Sikkim culture and tourism are also available here. Jewelry items such as earrings, dragon pendants, finger rings, and metal crafts are sold at almost all the shops at the MG Marg markets.
When it comes exclusively to books, the development area in Gangtok is the best place. If you are wondering which way to go, then it is just a few minutes walking from the MG Marg market. You can also board a taxi to reach the destination. Several bookstalls are located in this area. Besides, this is a thriving place for cultural exchange among tourists. Old and young people flock here to have a good time in the evening. You can witness a live jazz band performing or be an audience at a film screening in this place. Also, poetry recitation and art and craft and photography exhibitions also take place in the development area. This is a very famous tourist hotspot. The book stores here sell books on Sikkimese history, philosophy, travel, culture, heritage, literature, art and music, and last but not the least children’s books.
Lal Bazar or Kanchenjunga shopping complex: If you happen to shop at the MG Marg, then there is no reason you miss the chance of visiting the Lal Bazar. This market is located just below the MG Marg market line. This is a buzzing shopping center and located just a few minutes from the MG Marg stop. This is one of the oldest markets of Sikkim too. The place is the heritage and tradition of the state. The Lal Bazar was established in 1956. You will get a cosmopolitan atmosphere across the market as people with their varied backgrounds come here to shop and sell.
What to buy at Lal Bazar: You will get all sorts of diverse items here including electronic gadgets to incense sticks. The time to visit this market is on a Sunday. It is the haat day at the market. So, you get more shops and more vendors to buy your favorite items. If you want to know more about the ethnic culture of Sikkim, then come visit this market. You will see villagers in traditional Bhutia or Nepali attire managing their shops. Just soak in the atmosphere here. Buy organic vegetables, dried fish and cheese. Sikkim dairy products are extremely popular among the local people.
A melting pot of shoppers: Also, you can get a variety of other items such as prayer flags. Traditional curved Nepali knives, known as khukri, are also available here. Handicraft items made of cane or bamboo is another favorite among tourists. Lal market is also famous for selling pottery items. But remember, this market remains closed on Thursdays. So, when you plan to cover both MG Marg and Lal bazaar markets, try to make it on a Sunday.
A hub of furniture and woollens: Sikkim is the place to buy the beautiful and delicately carved choktse furniture. These choktse are the very traditional type of furniture that are available in Sikkim. They are heritage pieces that can be collected as a lifetime signature item of the state which bears rich culture.
A lot of woolen garments are also available here at a very economical rate. You can purchase the fine quality and locally produced woven dress materials, shawls, blankets and also knitted garments. Woven carpets are also very popular in Sikkim. There is a local tribe that has the expertise of making these carpets.
Don’t forget to bargain: Sikkim markets are famous for their diverse products and sellers. It is an amalgamation of varied kinds of shoppers as well. So, if you are a domestic or international tourist buying your favorite items at the market, always make sure that you know the tricks to find your way to the best deal. All the shopkeepers at the Sikkim markets generally quote a higher price for their products. Therefore, it is always advisable that you buy the authentic items at their right price from the government registered shops and emporiums. Also, don’t forget to bargain if you happen to buy random items from the roadside stalls.
Lachen market: Lachen is the sister village in Lachung. This is one of the beautiful and scenic places in Sikkim. Situated at the altitude of 8838ft, this place is around an eight-hour drive from Gangtok. Lachen market located in the heart of the village provides an interesting shopping experience to its visitors. A fabulous range of handicraft and handloom products are available here. All the items are locally manufactured in small scale industrials hubs. So, they carry the very essence of the Sikkimese culture and tradition. If you want to buy anything from this market, it should be either shawls, handbags, blankets made of sheep and yak wool. In many of these articles, you will find designs on Buddhist culture and figures. But again, don’t forget to bargain with the shopkeeper as they usually overcharge from tourists.
Geyzing market: Geyzing located in the western part of Sikkim is a breathtakingly beautiful place surrounded by a lush green valley and snow-capped peaks. The market place of Geyzing was set up by a monk body for the benefit of the local villagers. The geyzing market has all kinds of shops. Since this is a commercial region, a number of shopping delights are awaiting for you in here, right from local handicrafts, handwoven woolens, carpets. Besides, you can find a lot of handmade products that are native to the region in the shops of Geyzing. There is also a farmers’ market here that offers visitors to buy organic fresh vegetables and herbs.
Ravangla market: Ravangla is a small town in Sikkim that lies at the elevation of 7000 ft in the southern part of the region. The town is well connected with the other parts of the state with highways. Ravangla is situated between Gangtok and Pelling. Ravangla has a famous market that sells various types of items starting from stationeries, tailoring items, groceries, food items, and other things. The market is famous for various other utilities such as photocopy services, medicine shops. A lot of popular Chinese restaurants are also located here. The Kheunphelling carpet weaving center is also located in Ravangla. Several Tibetan migrants once came here are set up this carpet weaving hub. You can purchase good quality traditional Sikkim carpets at a very low rate at Ravangla.
The place also has a lot of foreign liquor and local liquor shops. In terms of transportation, Ravangla is a very useful location as you can get a taxi and private vehicles from this point up to anywhere across Sikkim. If you want to straight to the airport or get a customized tour of your favorite place, everything can be managed from Ravangla.
Tea shopping: Sikkim is the place from where you can purchase the finest quality tea for yourself and your near and dear ones. Golden Tips is the famous tea shop in Sikkim where you can find a large array of teas to select from. You can seek discounts for bulk purchase as well. Unusual CTC and orthodox tea everything is available here. You can be sure about their quality.
Conclusion: Sikkim is not just a tourist destination. This is a region where as a visitor and also as a local resident you can lead a content stay with all the basic and primary amenities at your doorstep. The place is the ultimate example of enjoying a blissful life in serenity. It is away from the regular chaos of the city but has all the elements that you need to lead a city life. The Bengal government and also the Indian government are putting a lot of efforts to boost business and trade in this region.
Assistance and support are being provided to the small scale and medium scale business houses. A lot of investors from the plains are also visiting this part of the country with their capital. As a result, Sikkim is developing like never before. The amount of inbound tourists has also increased in this region, making the local residents more able and self-sufficient in terms of their economic and social growth. So, if you plan to visit Sikkim, make it happen because there is no such thing that is not available in this Himalayan terrain for your safe and peaceful stay.