Last Updated on May 22, 2019 by Christine Kaaloa
Souvenir Shopping in India
Souvenir shopping in India is inevitable for any traveler.
India has so many wonderfully hand-crafted, intricate to ornate products and clothing at inexpensive prices. Self restraint in this type of condition is hard.
But I didn’t want to do a lot of souvenir shopping in India, because I knew I was going to continue traveling after this country. I did not want to carry too many things. So the main shopping quest to find things what were lightweight and small.
Inevitably I had to a little bit of shopping. Just to fit in with the culture and to have fun! Watch the video above to see what I bought. Some are certain to surprise you!
Tips for Souvenir Shopping in India
Yeah, I hate haggling too. But it’s an essential travel survival tool if you plan to travel to India or other cash-based societies. If you don’t know how to haggle, then read my tips or watch my video on how to do it.
Unless you’re at a shopping mall or a standard commercial store, you will need to haggle. Prices at markets are never fixed.
2. There is an “Indian price” and a “tourist price”.
India is relatively inexpensive for many developed country travelers, so haggle but just know you will almost always get a tourist price. Indian prices are rock low and local Indians are aggressive hagglers, even when it comes to a few ruppees! Just know, an Indian shopper will never stand for a tourist price.
As I mentioned, you will almost never get that price and if you do, you won’t feel good. You’ll likely feel like you just raped the vendor.
3. Ask a local
Taxis, saris, scarves, artwork, etc…. Ask a local person how much you should pay to get a ballpark. Vendors may look at the locals as traitors (in a kind of “Us” against ‘Them” patriotic mentality). I’ve noticed it happen a couple of times, when I’ve traveled with locals and they bartered for me with a local rat. Often the vendor responds in a bit of an Indian mumbled huff~ (paraphrasing) You will make me lose face in front of the foreigner!
As a fellow shopper, locals will be more on your side in getting a fair price. It’s a reverse “Us” against “Them” mentality- shoppers vs. rip off artists (… this sentiment is especially strong against taxi drivers!). I sometimes get locals commanding me– “Do not accept a price any higher than …!”
Perhaps they feel protective because I’m a solo female traveler. But I also think its a subconscious distrust of their marketing system. They know the fair vendors and they know those that aren’t.
Also, if the vendor or taxi driver can get away with charging higher prices, they will eventually do that to locals some day. So try to toe the line between cheap, responsible and generous spending. Not an easy task sometimes.
4. Beware of bright Indian dyes
Wash those new fabrics separately and preferably by hand. Often, those dyes aren’t fixed into the fabrics yet, so they will run and bleed. Anything you wash with it, will be affected by the run-off color.
Tip: I always send it to get washed by one of the local launderers. Most of the wash in India is done by hand and they know how to handle their own fabrics, right? In one rare case, my blouse came back torn from too much scrubbing and I didn’t discover it until later. These fabrics are durable for India wear, but also delicate.
5. Early rise discounts
The best discounts happen early . It’s a bit of a superstition, but first shoppers are like a Lucky Rabbit’s Foot. First come shoppers will be treated by a discount in many shops, to welcome of the flow of sales throughout the day.
Thanks so much Christine! I really love this video. I love Indian culture and have many of the things you bought but it is so exciting to actually see the places you bought them in. India has been on my bucket list for a while, the last trip I was going to make was cancelled so I’m living vicariously through you!