Shopping in Bhutan is a different experience. While Bhutan does not have any mega malls or shopping centres that you often get in many of the developed countries, it has some authentic local products that you definitely want to bring home as souvenirs.
Below are some popular local products you can buy in Bhutan
1) Lemongrass spray
Mainly found growing wild in the Mongar and Trashigang districts of eastern Bhutan, the Bhutanese version of lemongrass oil has a distinctively relaxing sweet scent which lingers.
Lemongrass oil contains the active chemical constituents of geraniol and citronellol that repel insects such as mosquitoes and houseflies. The oil can also be used as an antiseptic or balm. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the oil is used for relieving stomach pain, headaches, cold and rheumatism while for Ayurvedic medicine, it is used as a remedy for fever and for relaxation. Lemongrass oil can also be combined with a few drops of lavender oil to ease insomnia and to soothe indigestion. This multi-functional spray can also be used for its relaxing aroma. Those who have visited Bhutan will definitely remember the lemongrass smell once they’ve encountered it.
Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungi that attaches itself on insects and other arthropods as hosts. The most renowned Cordyceps species is cordyceps sinensis (currently officially known as ophiocordyceps sinensis) which infects the caterpillar of Hepialus moth.
Cordyceps have been widely used in traditional chinese medicine (TCM) and some branches of herbalism for centuries. A lot of research has been conducted to study the powerful benefits of cordyceps. Some of the health benefits that have been claimed to be associated with cordyceps such as combating fatigue, anti-tumour effect, managing of tybe 2 diabetes, improve heart condition, anti-inflammatory properties, anti-aging, and improve fertility and libido.
For more information about Cordyceps Sinensis, click here.
3) Bhutan honey
Bhutanese beekeepers do not use harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. They are only relying on Stingless Bee to pollinate their crops and nature manure to increase their yields. This amicable relationship with nature ensures the quality of the honey and sustainable ecosystem.
Bhutan honey is a natural productive cough remedy that contains anti-inflammatory effects, balancing of blood pressure, liver problems, blood sugar, and bad cholesterol.
It is definitely a popular souvenir to bring home.
4) Bhutanese handwoven textiles
Textiles play a very important role in Bhutan. You can find colourful Bhutanese textiles in every corner of the country. Weaving is part of the 13 traditional crafts in Bhutan. The textile traditions while distinctively Bhutanese in character reflect influences shaped by weaving techniques. Bhutanese weavers use fibers and dyes, all locally produced, to create a variety of fabrics. Each textile tells a story that corresponds to a specific time period in the weaver’s life.
Handicraft products are part of Bhutan’s cultural identity. There is a wide range of handmade products that depicts the traditional creation and the Bhutanese cultural heritage. In Bhutan, you can find many items made from tree barks, bamboos, canes, silk, etc. Some popular craft items include wall paintings, Buddhist statues, decorative vases, as well as bamboo and paper products.
Do not buy any antique handicraft as you are not allowed to take antique items out of the country.
These exquisite bags and pouches are uniquely handwoven by Bhutanese women. They can be found in The Craft Gallery in Thimphu town. A social cause initiated by the Gyalyum Charitable Trust to support the marginalized segment in society.
6) Prayer flags
Bhutanese prayer flags are commonly found hanging on every mountain pass, bridge, stupa, temple and roof of Bhutanese’s home. It is only found in five colours - red, green, blue, white and yellow.
Bhutanese believe that keeping these five elements in good harmony is good for the body and mind. It is believed that putting up the prayer flags is considered as accumulating merit and spreading of blessings, good luck, happiness and long life from the prayers carried by the wind
More about the significance of the Bhutanese’s prayers flags here.
7) Wooden products
Another item that is popular among tourists is dapa (wooden products). Dapa is a wooden bowl carved out of wood. Trashiyangtze, a district in eastern Bhutan sells the most remarkable Dapas. Other wooden products include tablewares, jewellery boxes, sculptures and wooden masks that make incredible decorations for your house. The Bhutanese wooden products come in a variety of shapes and sizes with intricate carvings.
8) Colourful carved wooden masks
Festivals are one of the most important events in Bhutan that seek to promote peace and spirituality. A major feature in the festival celebrations involve wooden masks depicting various characters from local legends and myths. The annual mask dance (tsechu festival) is a huge tourist attraction in Bhutan. The masks are usually worn by monks during the festival. They can be found in bright colours and come in different shapes and sizes. These masks make for a very nice rustic decor.
9) Bhutan red rice
You must have tasted the yummy red rice if you have been to Bhutan. Bhutan red rice is a whole grain that is rich in fibre. Fibre is essential for digestion, and it can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels. Since fibre helps you to keep you full for longer, and red rice is also fat-free - reducing the risk of obesity. The red rice contains powerful antioxidant properties that helps to reduce the spread of cancer cells and even inhibit the formation of tumours as well as delay the sign of aging. Research has also shown that a diet rich in anthocyanin can help to protect against skin cancer and other skin diseases. Bhutan red rice is full of essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, manganese, selenium, protein and potassium. It contains more zinc and iron than its white, black and brown rice
10) Thangkas (Buddhist paintings and arts)
Thangka (Buddhist paintings) is a traditional and most popular artwork in Bhutan. They are considered sacred amongst the Bhutanese community. You can find many scroll paintings depicting Buddhist deities, saints and Buddhist doctrines. The paintings are made with different background colours and usually block printed or embroidered. They are usually drawn on cloth or silk applique. The paintings are created using natural colours and are perfect for people who appreciate fine arts. They serve as a beautiful decoration for one’s home.
If you would like to purchase some of the Bhutanese products online, check out www.bhutannatural.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org