In Darjeeling, for shopping, the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre has Tibetans selling superb carpets, woodcarvings, woollens, thangkas and an assortment of curios such as wind chimes, brass and bronze statues, leather work and jewellery. Most of the bazaar is lined up with a trove of such treasures! A must-buy, of course, is the Darjeeling Tea, which has an unparalled flavour and a divine fragrance, perhaps surpassing even the most delectable wine, and if possible, to squeeze a quick visit to the Makaibari Tea Estate, to enjoy plucking tea leaves or going for a hike and also purchasing from a direct source.
In Sikkim, stores are stocked with famous hand-carved wood choktse tables, carpets, blankets, shawls and prayer rugs. A vast variety of thangkas, curios and souvenirs, vividly coloured mugs and teacups embraced by dragons and floral patterns, yak-bone ornaments, statuettes made of metal, stones, bronze, copper, brass and those with a silver and gold-polished finish, and yummy local pickles, are an unavoidable indulgence!
Bhutan has the best buys for bamboo boxes, carpets, metal ewers, horse saddles, monastic trumpets, and archery shops selling hot brand bows. Shops are abode with handwoven textiles, cloth and ready made garments as there are places where the tourists can watch the weavers at work. There are outlets displaying souvenir sheets of Bhutanese stamps, and art galleries selling works containing Buddhist themes such as prayer flags and mandala motifs in the form of abstract art as well as contemporary paintings, handicrafts and art supplies. The Bhutanese dress kira and gho is available in a variety of sizes, patterns and quality, along with water bottles, socks and gaiters plus hiking shoes.
Darjeeling has plenty of food parlours and restaurants serving breakfast spreads, cold cuts, vegetarian meals, desserts, momos, thupka and the spicy Tibetan chilli chutney, homemade chocolates, éclairs, cakes, pastries and bread.
You could find typical Sikkimese meals that include dishes made form stinging nettles and Alpine fiddlehead fern, along with the local speciality of the famed cherry brandy. Most restaurants serve regular Indian and Chinese food from chowmein and momos to dishes such as shakbaley or deep-fried meat bread. There are eateries selling Chinese, South Indian and Bengali food, including a blend of Continental, Italian, Tibetan and a variety of Indian cuisine!
For food, there are restaurants serving Bhutanese cuisine in a spacious and warm setting that features a traditional seating and standout kitchens, outlets serving American dining with a Bhutanese flavoured twist, and most of the cooking being adapted to foreign taste, delicious and reliable, to cater to its prestige customers. Cosy cafes are enclosed with every conceivable version, iced or frapped of good espresso, home made cakes, pancakes, grilled sandwiches and wraps, with lunch and dinner specials. There are eateries which serve Bhutanese, Chinese, and Italian menu plus juicy barbecued non-vegetarian fare. There are places where you can sit to shoot out the breeze and have a quick snack as well as cafes offering decent espresso coffee with free wi-fi , sit-down snacks and substantial meals consisting of pizzas and pastas. There are restaurants serving authentic Indian food, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.