India is among the most amazing countries in the world. Along with its many landmarks, different religions and customs, one of the things that attract us there is the shopping. Actually, it is a real adventure. The big street markets are a real attraction in the second most populous country – colorful, diverse, rich and temptingly cheap. Typical for them are the many people, the big noise, the different smells. In a couple of words – an absolute chaos. What’s sure is that shopping in India is fun and stress relieving.
The first thing you need to do when you go to such market is to take as much petty cash as possible. You will need it everywhere. In most places the sellers use all kinds of tricks and will often tell you that they can’t give you change back. The rikshaw drivers do the same thing. That’s why you can leave the big bills at the hotel.
Another important thing is to prepare to bargain for each item. The seller may even get offended if you don’t try this ritual. You should however be careful not to buy something of low quality. Keep in mind that there are no price tags on the market in India, the sum will be told by the seller. In many cases it is much higher and that’s exactly why you should bargain it.
You can find everything on the market – souvenirs, herbs, clothes, underwear, fruits, tea, vegetables, meat. There are also gems and jewelries. If you are planning to buy some tough you should be able to recognize them well, because some smart traders can sell counterfeits to the unexperienced tourists. Always be careful even if the seller seems like an honest man. You should be very careful also If you want to buy clothes from the market. You can find some that are very cheap and may attract you to buy. Here you should first look carefully for holes or irregular seams, and make sure that along with the nice shirts they don’t give you also a few with defects.
On the market you can also find an abundance of fresh flowers and garlands, that are used for holiday decoration on houses, temples, rituals, automobiles, rikshaws and pretty much everything that is valued and respected in this country.
If you cannot bargain well, it is better to go to the shopping malls, where the prices are fixed and the items are branded. There are many big shopping centers in the country where you can find most of the world known brands.
For a long time in India there were serious restrictions and many big companies could not enter the local market. In 2013 the Asian country opened its doors for the foreign investors, dealing with retail, in attempt to stimulate its economic growth. In 2016 India introduced a law, according to which foreign companies can open a store in India only if at least 30% of the products it sells are locally produced. In the last 6-7 years permission to enter India received world brands such as H&M, Ѕаmѕung Еlесtrоnісѕ Со., Apple, Ikea and others.
In all supermarkets the only acceptable currency is the Indian Rupee. In many of them you will not be able to pay by credit cards. The ATMs work normally, at least in the bigger cities. Anyway, you must get some local currency in advance. The exchange rate is around 70 Rupees for 1 USD. Most bigger stores work Monday through Saturday from around 9:30 to 17:00, and the working hours at the markets vary.
If it is not urgent and absolutely necessary, it is better not to exchange currency at the airport. It is not at all profitable, and in a number of cases it comes with a lot of formalities. The reliable banks, where you can exchange currency are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Indian Overseas bank, HDFC and ICICI. You can also exchange currency in the post offices. You can find there Western Union offices as well. The bigger hotel chains also have WU. In most resort centers you will see special currency exchange offices. Some of them are departments of the corresponding touristic agency, the rates are usually much higher, and the commission is big.
What’s a visit to India if you don’t come back with valuable souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones? Your choice in the country is huge and everything is “trade mark” of the local people.
One of the most emblematic things, that every woman can buy is the local traditional clothing, called “sari”. It is a long and wide piece of cloth that can be wrapped in different ways around the lady’s body. Today, with the modernization of the textile industry, the sari market is extremely diverse on models and patterns. It is made of cotton or silk, always colorful and fun. The prices vary, starting at $6-7 and the most expensive ones can go over $100.
The Indian scarves are also very beautiful and diverse – made of silk, cotton, wool or other.
The carpets are another Indian pride. They are handmade and sometimes it takes more than 5 months for a craftsman to make one, but the price is also high. It is important to note that the hand crafts in the country are free of taxes and fees, as this stimulates the tradesmen. The Asian country is famous for its high-quality textile. It is a world producer and exporter of wool, silk and cotton. Unique with their quality and style, the Indian fabrics take a big part of the world textile market.
The country is also world famous for its teas, herbs and spices.
A favorite gift for the loved ones are the Indian souvenirs. An emblematic one is a marble elephant, which according to the locals, brings good luck. The craftsmen are so good that they offer even little elephants of wood, carved so skillfully that you can even see a baby elephant in the pregnant mother’s belly.
The jewelries are also a big hit in the country, but as we mentioned before, you should be very careful with their quality.
Other popular items are pickles, perfumes, soap, handmade paper, incense, dolls, aroma sticks and musical instruments.