Tibet is vast and rich in local craftwork such as Thangka, a unique kind of scroll, silver ornaments, religious articles, Tibetan knittings and local snacks. A lot of precious Chinese medicines can be found in Tibet such as Aweto and snow lotus flower. As a result, shopping in Tibet is a great idea.

Thangka is a kind of Tibetan scroll painting that has strong ties to religion and features distinctive ethnic flavor. It has been in vogue in Tibet for centuries. Some Thangkas are charming portraits of Buddhas, some are colorful representations of Tibetan customs and some retell the history of Tibet. Thangka can be made using a wide variety of techniques: silk tapestry with cut designs, color printing, embroidery, brocade, and pearl inlays.

Tibetan crafts are normally made from metals like gold, silver and copper and stones like turquoise, wood and bamboo as well as from the bones of dead animals. With vivid designs like phoenixes, tigers and lions carved on it, these crafts are not only useful, but aesthetically pleasing as well.

Although Tibetan silver crafts can be found throughout China, they still make great souvenirs from Tibet itself. Tibet silver ornaments make use of precious stones like agate, rubies and sapphires, and are usually carved with Sanskrit.

The popularity of Buddhism in Tibet has provided many unique religious articles that are big attractions to tourists. Two of them are worth special attention, the Dzi bead and Tibetan incense. Also called "god beads", it’s believed that Dzi beads contain precious and rare mineral elements that can help believers wade safely through treacherous waters and gain good luck. Religiously significant Tibetan incense is believed to be capable of driving away evil. Among the many varieties, the most famous is Guolenieaxiang, which can not only help keep clothes smelling good, but also get rid of any insects when used in closets or wardrobes. Others can prevent or cure infections.

Woven with bright and harmonious colors, Tibetan carpets are durable and beautifully represent Tibet. Tibetan-woven woolen Pulu comes in many colors and is used for making clothes, shoes and caps, and is a long-lasting and warm cloth.

The most popular local snacks in Tibet are sour milk and milk scraps. There are two sorts of sour milk, one is made of milk that has been used to extract ghee and the other is made of milk that has not been used to extract ghee. Milk scrap is the substance after the milk has been refined to make Su butter, and it is formed by cooking and evaporating the milk. The milk scrap can be made into milk cake and milk bulk.

Shopping tips

1. Genuine jewelry is seldom found in Tibet, but the unique design and cheap prices of Tibetan jewelry make them nice gifts for friends at home. Tibetan jewelry can be priced anywhere from RMB 1 or over RMB 19.

2. Tibetans call white copper ‘silver’, so copper ornaments are usually mixed with silver ones. In Lhasa, tourists can find real silver jewelry in small shops behind the Jokhang Temple at prices of RMB 25 per gram. Better take an electronic scale yourself.

3. Remember knives are not allowed on planes, so if you buy a Tibetan knife, send it home by post.

4. Tourists can bargain for most merchandise in Tibet.