Here is our verdict right at the beginning — if you are touring the length and breadth of Bhutan like how we did, say for instance, Paro-Thimpu-Punakha-Bumthang-Gantey, Bumthang is where you should shop from!!!
Why should you shop at Bumthang in Bhutan? Bumthang is 290 kms from Thimpu, 355 kms from Paro. As I said, in my Sight-Seeing blogpost on Bumthang, Bumthang is a small town, almost a village. Owing to the distance, Bumthang sees fewer tourists than Thimpu, Paro or Punakha. And that makes it a cheaper, more reasonable place to buy things from. Everything that you may see in Thimpu or Paro is about 25% less here. Same quality, same stuff. We had toured the shops of Thimpu, and since our last stop was at Paro after Punakha, Bumthang and Gantey, we had decided that if we didn’t get anything good at good rates between Thimpu and Paro, we’d buy from Paro. Good we did that. For, we found Bumthang’s to be the most acceptable rates!
What should you shop for at Bumthang in Bhutan? Pretty much anything that you might want to buy as memorabilia from Bhutan – the masks, traditional brassware, Kiras, Yak wool jackets, Yak-bone jewellery, Thankas etc.
Where should you shop at Bumthang in Bhutan? Well, that’s the most important question, isn’t it? As I have mentioned already, Bumthang is a small town, and hence there are many markets/shopping options. Yet, there are two places where you could go:
Bumthang’s Main Market: There is just one market right in the middle of the town. Stretching for about half a kilometer, the road is rather wide and is flanked by shops and restaurants on either side. A handful of these shops have a good collection of Bhutanese handicrafts. We bought masks from here.
Thokmed Yeshey Handicrafts & Yathra Production Centre: This centre is about 20-30 minutes before you reach Bumthang. We had seen the place on our way to Bumthang and since, it was already 7.30 in the night, we decided to stop by during the return journey. We did that, and found, to our utter surprise, that the place is a treasure trove with everything under the sun! The Bhutanese sun! J The rates are very very good, and I picked up a yak-wool jacket for INR 3000 which, am sure, would have cost me double in the city. Fantastic range, fantastic rates. Buy from here if you are in Bumthang!