In our 5 Shops series, we'll point you in the direction of our favorite independent shops across some of the world's best cities. From food markets and bookshops to vintage and homegrown design stores, we've found a diverse and exciting mix of local retailers where you can pick up one-of-a-kind pieces.

The roads of the Pink City, as Jaipur is known owing to its rose- and rust-colored buildings, are jam-packed with hundreds of shops. This is a city where bazaars serve as landmarks and stores are so niche that if you know exactly what you're looking for, there's at least a handful of stores to find whatever it is. Don't just think "shoes, jewelry, clothes, art" — think jutti (traditional leather shoes), colorful handmade glass bangles, block-printed salwar kameez (traditional dresslike tunic and trouser combination for women), and Rajasthani miniature paintings (among other things).

I'm not much of a shopper, but I love the combination of art, history, and culture on sale in Jaipur. In all my trips to Jaipur (I've been visiting since I was a child), I find I always wish I'd packed a bigger bag – something to fit the absurdly big terracotta salad bowl that won't fit in tiny kitchen cabinets or the bulky brass statuettes I inevitably fall in love with. From its iconic blue pottery and historic textile traditions to specialty sweet shops, there's no end to must-visit shopping spots in the city. Still, I've done what I believe is impossible (if not controversial) and picked 5 must-visit shops in Jaipur in both the Old City and beyond.

A warmly-lit shop selling textiles, linens and ceramics

Best for souvenirs: Ladu

Rajasthan accounts for a large proportion of India's cultural tourism, so if there's one thing Jaipur has no shortage of, it's souvenir shops. For a change from the usual carved elephant and inlaid marble trinket boxes (there's no shortage of shops in and around major tourist landmarks and the bylanes of the Old City selling these), head to Tapri: The Tea House in the Civil Lines part of town. 

A popular local cafe, which derives its name from the tarped chai stalls on Indian street corners, Tapri has a well-curated but uncluttered retail space where Jaipuris shop: Ladu. Warmly lit shelves boast an impressive selection of handmade and responsibly sourced local products, ranging from tea blends and spices to contemporary art and homeware. Essentially, these are the sorts of souvenirs that'll fit a range of tastes — from muted tones to the occasional pop of color. 

Keep an eye out for its home linens, stoneware (a pair of kulhad/chai tumblers is roughly ₹600), and brass work (if you're a tea drinker, a swing-style brass strainer will run you about the same price-wise).

A Jaipur fashion boutique with minimalist dresses and designs

Best for local design: Rāsa

In India, Jaipur is renowned for its textiles — bandhani (tie-dye), which gave rise to bandanas, originated in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and I firmly believe that William Morris is a poor man's Jaipuri block-print.

Rāsa is a clothing and bedding store that brings Rajasthan's textile heritage into the fashion realm. The boutique is an unsuspecting shop on the converted ground floor of an otherwise inconspicuous bungalow in Ashok Nagar. 

You'll still see Jaipuri quilts (but with the color palette toned down and the quality of the fabric ramped up) alongside impossibly stylish contemporary Indian and Indian-inspired clothes. Founded by designers Mandulika and Manish Tibrewal, Rāsa's designs are a little on the pricey side (especially by Indian standards). A block-printed women's top will run you between ₹5000 ($60) and ₹10,000 ($120) — but these are hand-block-printed on silk and linen, and the block-prints are hand-carved into teak.

For a more affordable (and boldly colorful) alternative, also check out Shivani Fabric in Johri Bazaar, which is closer to what most people think of when they think "Jaipuri clothes." There is a little sifting to do with the variety here, but the shop has been handed down over four generations and, according to the current owner, Hitesh Mangtani, it manufactures its own block-printed textiles too. 

Interiors of a thrift store in Jaipur with colorful blouses, knitwear and dresses

Best for vintage/thrift: Thrift. Save. Rave.

What I like about Thrift.Save.Rave. is the sheer variety of clothes that line its racks. My pet peeve as a shopper nowadays is this transition we're seeing to minimalist beiges, blacks, and grays, even in a country as color-loving as India. 

Founders Vinay Choudhary and Karishma Navlani stock preowned vintage and brand-new factory surplus clothes. The duo apparently has an eye for these things; you'll find more stuff you like than dislike and spot everything from Elie Saab evening gowns and Mori Lee cocktail numbers to crocheted crop tops, shoes, and handbags. Plus, they make a conscious effort to carry sizes XS through XXXL.

A dessert store in Jaipur selling desserts like honeycomb and spiced cakes

Best for food: Laxmi Misthan Bhandar

In a country where spices are sold in gigantic mounds in jute sacks, it's unsurprising that there is an abundance of open-air food markets in Jaipur. However, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar — or LMB as people call it — is an institution that has been around since 1727, when the city of Jaipur was founded. The shop has been in the Agarwal family ever since, with the restaurant and hotel coming in much later. There's also a second branch in Vaishali Nagar.

Skip the adjoining restaurant entirely (which is overhyped and geared towards tourists) and head straight to the shop. It's most famous for its ghevar — a decadent, sweet, golden honeycomb disk — with vacuum-packed versions available for ~₹1,000 ($12); ideal if you want to take some home. In addition to Rajasthani and Indian sweets, check out the selections of cakes, biscuits, and namkeens (savories). 

Photos of books on display in a bookstore and the shop sign

Best for books: The Basement Bookstore

For a city that hosts India's most prominent literature festival (the Jaipur Literature Festival, which claims to be the "world's greatest literary show"), there's admittedly a sore lack of English-language bookshops in Jaipur. This was one of the main reasons Jatin Lalwani, an avid reader, opened The Basement Bookstore, which sells both new and preloved books.

Once in the basement of its current address in the bylanes of Nirman Nagar, you'll now find the store on the ground level. It aims to serve a range of tastes, with everything from whodunnits to vintage Lonely Planet guides. Lalwani's most proud of his selection of coffee table books, which he says are exceptionally popular among his loyal customers. What's more, books are also for sale by the kilo (a common practice in India, where people sell old books to individual recycling stores known as Raddiwale) – they ship, too. 

Prices are affordable owing to the shop sourcing from surplus sellers and quality secondhand books. For comparison, Obama's 2017 memoir A Promised Land sells for ₹1500 ($18) online versus ₹400 ($4.80) here.

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