Shopping in Andaman – What And Where to Buy
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an archipelago territory of India, is widely famous for a cornucopia of tropical destinations and tourist activities. These islands are known for many things from beach holidays to trekking to marine wildlife and sea adventures. Apart from these, the island houses a small but exotic range of local markets, handicraft emporiums and shopping stops (locally called gift shops) for tourists. Although the islands are not known among the top shopping destinations of the world, when there, keep some time out to shop for something local, organic and memorable!
There are two renowned districts, namely, Port Blair and Havelock for Andaman Nicobar shopping.
Port Blair, which is also the capital city tops the list of places to shop. Port Blair serves as an entry and exit point for the islands, thereby making it a prominent Andaman Nicobar shopping destination. For tourists, it is recommended to spare a few hours on the last day of their trip by exploring the markets for indigenous handicrafts and bagging a few souvenirs to relish their tropical holidays at Andaman.
Havelock, now the most popular tourist spots in Andaman, has a mix of small marketplaces and beach shops to buy jewellery, sarongs, hats and umbrellas. If you don’t find much time in Port Blair, Havelock has enough to offer as souvenirs.
Often, people don’t know what and where to shop when visiting a particular tourist destination. Below is the list of both famous and curated shops or markets for shopping in Andaman, especially for tourists to add to their itinerary.
List of Andaman Shopping Markets For Souvenirs
- Sagarika emporium – The government of Andaman has taken initiative and set up an emporium for local talented people to display their crafts and items and sell them at fixed prices. Spices, souvenirs, handcrafted clothes and wooden items are incessantly available there. Naturally grown, pesticide-free spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are available under the name of “spices of Andaman” in the market for 30 years. Mirrors, jute items, apparels and pearls at several stalls are eye-catching.
Visiting hours – 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mondays closed)
G2A pro tip – For book-lovers, no need to feel left out. Below are the books on Andaman, definitely to vouch for, available in sagarika.
- Islands In Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story and The Last Wave by author Pankaj Sekhsaria
- The Jarawas of the Andamans by Ratan Chandra Kar
- Market 3, Havelock island – One of the most important and known beach markets of Havelock is Market 3. It is aligned with a range of shops and stalls for fancy items, jewellery, swimwear and beach essentials. Seven Heaven at Market 3 is famous for designer garments and apparels.
- Anup Eco Arts – Another government-run emporium known for eco-friendly products at sale. Most artistic exhibition of items, carved and designed with intricate details and beautiful colours by local craftsmen are worth buying. This market is affluent with coconut carved items like lamps and finger bowls. The products exude excellence, innovation and quality when it comes to souvenirs at reasonable rates when you are shopping in Andaman.
- Ratnam market – Located in the heart of Port Blair, Ratnam market is the busiest and famous food and vegetable market with a cluster of small shops and kiosks that sell groceries, spices, seashell products and electronics.
- Sunday market, Junglighat jetty – a famous and crowded market of Junglighat, known for fresh fruits, spices and vegetables, Sunday Market is recommended if you want to see some colour, the chatty market culture and take back some local, organic fruits and veggies. Definitely recommended for street photography.
Opening hours – 5 a.m. to 12 p.m.
What To Shop For In Andaman
Andaman is never short of innovative artisans and craftsmen. Handicraft shops and stalls are scattered across the islands and main Andaman Nicobar shopping markets.
- Bamboo and cane handicrafts – Wooden, bamboo and cane artefacts are the main retail items. Tourists can buy sustainable bags, mats and even utensils beautifully made out of bamboo and cane.
- Shells – Seashell items are particularly famous among tourists while shopping in Andaman. Key chains, lampshades, wall hangers, vases, ornaments and other accessories are best transformation of the beautiful pieces of shells to buy. Raw shells and shell buttons are also available at various handicrafts stores. Sagarika government emporium apart from the beach stalls exhibits the most exclusive collection of shell crafted products for sale.
- Jute – Jute is another raw material artistically used to make artefacts, decorative items, wall hangers, mats and other handicrafts, found easily in Andaman shopping markets.
G2A pro tip – Mansha Regency, near Hotel Haddo, Port Blair houses a small kiosk offering splendid souvenirs and handicrafts.
- Tribal statues – Islands like Andaman and Nicobar are inhabited by indigenous tribes. Tribal statues and masks are a great idea for souvenirs shopping in Andaman.
- Spices – Spices of Andaman are organic, toxin free, armotic and of superior quality. Herbs and ayurvedic medicines made with spices are useful gifts to take back home in order to display your care and affection to your loved ones. For your personal use and add a taste of Andaman to your recipes, you can buy cloves, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon and betel. With these spices, bag authentic flavours of this tropical paradise with you.
G2A recommends – Collecting and taking the shells from beaches is strictly prohibited in Andaman. That’s why seashell stalls and shops can be found at the beaches and supermarkets for tourists. Don’t forget to carry receipt with you for shell products when at the airport due to security purposes.
- Jewellery – Jewellery stalls are the most common thing you’ll find lined at the beach fronts and by-lanes of main markets. Gorgeous and spellbinding pearls, wood, shells are main raw materials used for making jewellery. Shopping in Andaman would be incomplete without spending a few bucks on these curated jewellery items.
- Coconut carved arts – Besides being an important food, coconut serves other applications in the market and is a reason for employment of majority of local craftsmen. Beautifully designed and hand-crafted artefacts, lamps, keychains, display items, utensils are carved out of coconut; thereby, contributing a great share of souvenirs for tourists to take back home and relive their halcyon days at Andaman islands.
G2A pro tip – With each item you buy, you appreciate the skills of local craftsmen of Andaman and contribute a portion of your time, money and effort to their living.
- Coconut oil – Cold-pressed coconut oil in Nicobar is highly recommended. You can find some at Sagarika and most small gift shops.
- Clothes and apparels –
- Garments and apparels are great ideas for souvenirs when shopping in Andaman. You can recollect your memories through these cotton t-shirts – with pictures of islands or cellular jail printed on it. Andaman Karen crafts run by a Burmese tribe is a small cooperative society in middle Andaman. They sell stunning handicrafts, handspun bags, skirts, scarves and towels to name a few. Goenkas and celebrated brands like Raymond, Indya (a new brand) and FabIndia are clothing outlets recently opened in Port Blair for essentials and general modern garments.
- Sarongs and hats – Lightweight cotton sarongs in multitude of colours, sizes and variety of prints are at your display everywhere. To protect yourself from the sun during sunbath and other beach activities, buying sarongs becomes essential. Hats are another beach essential to protect yourself from the scorching heat, available at reasonable rates and a variety of colours and shapes.
- Mubarak supermarket – An idyllic one-stop shopping destination in Port Blair, Mubarak Hypermarket has everything from daily wares to groceries like cosmetics, dairy products, medicines to electronics, home decors and artefacts for both tourists and locals alike. An important reason to choose this market is the availability of parking space and ease of access to public transport.
Hi-land is another famous supermarket in Havelock when shopping in Andaman, do visit if you get time.
G2A pro tip – When it comes to medicines and prescriptions, it is advisable to carry them along. Do not rely on Andaman for the same.
- Aberdeen Bazaar – located in the bustling city of Port Blair, Aberdeen Bazaar is a shoppers paradise. It is an active marketplace with jam-packed with supply shops for umbrellas, footwears, raincoats , hats, stationery and other essentials. When you are done negotiating for products to take back home, take a stroll through the market for parathas at locals stalls and savouries at Lighthouse Restaurant, Hotel J and Hotel Annapurna to name a few. You can also buy Andaman t-shirts with quotes and heritage prints on them.
You can buy spices, foods and vegetables for your kitchen, souvenirs for family or friends and decorative handicrafts to give your home a hint of Andaman heritage. So, when you get there, don’t just wait. Loosen up your wallet a little bit to buy a collection of best souvenirs and handmade products from Andaman. Remember that every time you visit a tropical island, you must take a part of your amazing trip home in the form of these gifts and souvenirs.