What to buy in India
In India, you are expected to negotiate the price with street hawkers but not in department stores and the like. If not, you risk overpaying many times, which can be okay if you think that it is cheaper than at home. In most of the big cities and even smaller towns retail chain stores are popping up where the shopping experience is essentially identical to similar stores in the West. There are also some government-run stores like the Cottage Emporium in New Delhi, where you can sample wares from all across the country in air-conditioned comfort. Although you will pay a little more at these stores, you can be sure that what you are getting is not a cheap knockoff. The harder you bargain, the more you save money. A few tries later, you will realize that it is fun.
Often, the more time you spend in a store, the better deals you will get. It is worth spending time getting to know the owner, asking questions, and getting him to show you other products (if you are interested). Once the owner feels that he is making a sufficient profit from you, he will often give you additional goods at a rate close to his cost, rather than the common “foreigner rate”. You will get better prices and service by buying many items in one store than by bargaining in multiple stores individually. If you see local people buying in a store, you can probably get the real Indian prices. Ask someone around you quietly, “How much would you pay for this?”
Also, very often you will meet a “friend” in the street inviting you to visit their family’s shop. That almost always means that you pay twice as much as when you had been in the shop without your newly found friend.
What to look for/buy
Wood Carvings: India produces a striking variety of carved wood products that can be bought at very low prices. Examples include decorative wooden plates, bowls, artwork, furniture and miscellaneous items that will surprise you. Check the regulations of your home country before attempting to import wooden items.
Clothing: It depends on the state/region you are visiting. Many states have their own specialties: for example, silk sarees in Benaras; block prints in Jaipur.
Paintings: Paintings come on a wide variety of media, such as cotton, silk or with frame included. Gemstone paintings incorporate semi-precious stone dust, so they have a glittering appearance to them.
Marble and stone carvings: Common carved items include elephants, Hindu gods/goddesses.
Jewelry: Beautiful necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry, especially gold, can be very inexpensive in India.
Pillow covers, bed sets: Striking and rich designs are common for pillows and bed covers.
Designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Zara, A & F, all are available in upmarket stores.