It offers so many things to visitors that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Tibet has vast and rich variations of local arts and crafts. Tibetan carpets, carvings, local snacks, as well as Buddhist items are available for visitors. Thangka paintings, which are a form of Tibetan scroll painting, are Buddhist paintings and have been popular in Tibet for centuries. Many Thangkas feature charming pictures of the Buddha, or the Wheel of Life. They are very detailed, and extremely colorful. Tibetan Carpets are hand woven throughout Tibet. Woven with bright colors and beautiful designs, Tibetan carpets are very durable and are beautifully crafted. Tibet metal-work appeals to every visitor who chances to see it. Crafted from gold or silver, Tibetan metalwork is famous throughout the world for its intricacy and uniquely Tibetan features. Normally crafted with Buddhist designs, these ornaments often make use of precious stone such as agate, rubies and sapphires. The best place to purchase Tibetan arts and crafts is at Barkhor Street located outside of Jokhang Monastery. Over 120 shops and 200 individual booths are there for shoppers to peruse.
Be sure to buy whatever practical items you need in Lhasa, before you leave for more remote towns. There are department stores, mostly on Yuthok Lu that will supply your everyday needs. Lhasa Department Store, a general department store, is located on the west end of Yuthok Lu. It is the largest and best known department store in Lhasa. It sells such practical items as cotton clothing, mugs, canned food, towels, and toothpaste, plus local handicrafts. There are also supermarkets in Lhasa.
As in the rest of China, Renminbi (RMB) is the legal currency in Tibet. Only the Bank of China offers foreign exchange services and facilities in Tibet and certain up market hotels (Lhasa Hotel, the former Holiday Inn, and Tibet Hotel). The Bank of China has a main office (0891-6835078) and several sub-branches in Lhasa, which all cash travelers' checks while only the main office offers cash advances on major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and Amex). Its main office is located on Lingkhor Bei Lu 28, north of the Yak Statue and its hours of operation are 9:30 am -1pm and 3:30 - 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Another convenient sub-branch lies on Beijing Dong Lu, between the Kirey Hotel and the Banak Shol Hotel. Its hours of operation are 9:30am-6:00pm, Monday to Friday, and 11am-3pm, Saturday and Sunday. The Bank of China Shigatse office, near the Shigatse Hotel, can provide travelers' checks exchange services also. Cash advances on credit cards are not available here. Zhangmu has two sub-branches also. Due to a lack of conversion outlets, visitors may have to change their extra RMB on the black market before their exit.