As a large and diverse country bursting with color and flavor, India is famous for its incredible food. It's also known for its spices, wares, clothing, and handmade goods that make wonderful gifts for family and friends.
Planning a visit to India soon and wondering what you should bring back? Keep your eyes on this comprehensive list of the best gifts and souvenirs to buy from India.
What to Buy From India
Purchasing goods in India is usually done in a market or street shop where the goods are on display. It's customary for shoppers to haggle with the shopkeeper for the best price before settling on a purchase.
Knowing what you want to buy can give you a leg up in the haggling process.
Here are some great souvenirs to bring back from India.
- Ayurvedic medicine
- Pashminas and scarves
- Incense sticks
- Buddhist items
Spices are by far one of the best things to bring back from India. They're way more affordable in India than in America or Europe. Spice markets are abundant, so you must know what to look for before entering.
Some great spices to buy in India are saffron, cardamom, cumin, and turmeric.
India is known for many things, but its flavorful food is top of the list. The spice, masala, is usually what brings them to life.
A masala is a blend of spices ground together. You can ask many spice sellers to help you create your own special masala to use in cooking at home!
Where to Buy Spices
Besides beautiful beaches, Goa is a great place to find spices in India. Some of the best spices will come from southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Jammu and Kashmir are also famous for their saffron.
Textiles and clothing help give India the color they are famous for. Unique holidays like Diwali can cause a clothing frenzy with people shopping for new clothes, but markets are often busy with shoppers daily.
There are many special kinds of clothes you can buy to bring back that make beautiful gifts from India. Kurtas, sarees, lehengas, and salwar suits are all as practical as they are stunning.
Wear these bright, elaborate outfits for special events to stand out from the crowd or just around the house.
Don't stress if you missed an item on your India packing list. You can easily find a replacement a the local market.
Where to Buy Clothing
Clothes are readily available all over India, but states like Rajasthan, Kashmir, Goa, and Maharashtra offer some of the most beautiful and affordable clothes in the market.
6. Buddhist Items
Buddhism is a prominent religion in India, especially in the northern states. Many beautiful handmade religious items make sentimental souvenirs from India. Make sure you take the time to learn how to use and care for them.
Singing bowls are metal bowls that vibrate and create a deep tone when played. Other items like prayer beads, wheels, and flags can add peace and tranquility to your home as decorations.
Statues of Buddha are typical souvenirs, but it's important to respect them as religious items and ensure they are well cared for.
Where to Buy Buddhist Items
It's common to find Buddhist items in markets like India, especially in the northern states. Around Buddhist temples, you'll commonly find vendors selling items along the streets, so be sure to shop around to get the best deal.
Chai is one of the best drinks to enjoy while traveling in India. You'll find "chai wallahs" throughout the streets of major cities, all selling cups of chai. A package of traditional Indian tea makes an excellent take-home souvenir. Add a little of your homemade masala to give it a unique kick!
Where to Buy Tea
Tea is grown in the southern states of India, like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. You'll find the freshest tea there if you hop on a quick Air India flight from Mumbai or Delhi.
If you don't have time to check out the south, you can purchase already-picked and packed tea anywhere in the country.
4. Incense Sticks
Incense sticks are commonly burned for religious worship, aromatherapy, and meditation. Still, they can also be used for aesthetics in homes throughout India.
They come in all different kinds of scents, so take time to pick out your favorites when shopping. Remember to grab an incense burner along with your purchase!
Where to Buy Incense Sticks
Incense can be found in all markets in India, but you will get the best selection of scents in bigger cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
It's said that Indian women own 11% of the world's total gold reserves. Needless to say, jewelry is abundant in India. Whether you are looking for gold, silver, or costume jewelry, it's guaranteed that you can find it in shops across all major cities.
Where to Buy Jewelry in India
Costume jewelry can be purchased in almost any market nationwide, but big cities like Mumbai and Delhi will have competitive prices. I recommend a shopping tour of Delhi if it's your first time in the markets. Gold prices and jewelry tend to be the cheapest in Kerela.
2. Pashminas and Scarves
Pashminas are scarves made of cashmere goat wool. They can be found in markets all over India, next to other colorful scarves.
When buying a pashmina, it's important to know what they feel like to avoid purchasing a fake. A pashmina is a lovely gift to bring home or give to friends and family.
Where to Buy Pashminas and Scarves in India
Due to their popularity, you can find pashminas and scarves in every market across the country. The best places to buy authentic pashminas are Jammu, Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh.
1. Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurveda is an alternative medicine with deep historical roots in India. Ayurveda uses herbs and other natural products to aid in healing. This medicine is popular in pharmacies and stores all over India, but Kerala is famed for having authentic products.
Where to Buy Ayurvedic Medicine in India
The best place to find ayurvedic medicine in India is Kerala and other southern states like Goa and Tamil Nadu.
Haggling Tips for India
Haggling in India is the norm for every market. From food to fashion, it's expected that everyone bargains for the best price.
This type of shopping is rare in western society, so travelers to India might feel awkward about bargaining for their purchases. Here are some haggling tips to get you shopping in no time!
- Haggle to achieve a win-win situation. Rupees mean more to the seller than they do to you, so achieving a fair price is important.
- Be confident and patient. Examine the item you're buying to show interest and ask questions if needed.
- Start asking at half the price. If the item is 1000 rupees, ask for 500 rupees. Bargain your way back up to your ideal price.
- Don't be afraid to walk away. You'll likely find a similar item in a shop down the road, so leaving will get the merchant to reconsider your price.
Plan Your Next Trip to India With Pilot
Now that you have an idea of what to buy on your trip to India, let Pilot help you plan the rest!