Budget Travel Tips: Shopping in Chennai: Malls, Markets and Things to Buy


Chennai, with its famous malls, shops and market districts, offers tourists some legendary shopping. You can get anything you want in this city, and there are some things you absolutely mustn’t go home without.

Navigate the labyrinthine corridors of Spencer Plaza; pick up gifts for the folks back home at curio shop Cane & Bamboo; find bargains in George Town and Ranganathan Street; browse through unique local artworks at Poompuhar. Whatever you do though, don’t leave the city without examining the Kanchipuram silks at Nalli — they’re the best money can buy.

Located opposite Taj Connemara, Spencer Plaza is Chennai’s oldest mall; with around 400 shops, it’s billed as the largest mall in Southern India. Here you can get a good price on cotton goods, linens, kurtas and home furnishings at Fabindia. You can also buy quality leather goods, designed by Italian designers and crafted by Indian artisans, at Hidesign.

If you’re looking for a smaller, less chaotic and more posh mall, try the Ispahani Center in Nungambakkam High Road. Visit the shop Casablanca to purchase quality clothing for men and women.

Proprietress Mrs. Thangam Philip can tell you anything you want to know about the various curios and gifts she sells in her Marshalls Road shop, Cane & Bamboo. Here you’ll find spoons, bowls, trays, lamps and other handmade wooden items.

If you’re looking for some local artwork, pop into Poompuhar, the government emporium of Tamil Nadu, in Anna Salai. Here you’ll find all sorts of local art pieces — whether you’re in the market for paintings, bronze figures or wood carvings. The Victoria Technical Institute, on the same street, also sells carvings and paintings. The posh Khazana Shop at Taj Coromandel on Mahathma Gandhi Road offers a high-end selection of sarees, silks and objets d’art.

If you fancy some street shopping, Chennai is the place to do it. When planning your Chennai holiday, find Chennai hotels close to its famous market districts to make your stay more enjoyable.

The famous Ranganathan Street may be the busiest of the city’s many market districts, where you can buy anything from vegetables to lingerie. Keep your wallet safe as you make your way through the crowds. Keep in mind some of the designer goods found at some of the stalls are imitations.

For colourful cotton garments, don’t miss Cotton Street in Pantheon Road. From brilliant florals to drab pastels, you’ll find every pattern and colour you could want in the 60 or so market stalls on Cotton Street. Purchase a pre-matched outfit or mix and match for yourself. Bargaining is expected here.

Chennai grew up around the British Fort St. George beginning in the late 17th century; the part of town surrounding the old fort is still known as George Town. Today, George Town is a wholesale market where you can find bargains on everything from electronics to medicinal herbs, sarees, sewing tools and stationery. Each narrow street in George Town sells a different product.

Moore Market in Park Town was once a second-hand bookshop, but after a 1985 fire, a more eclectic market took its place. Here you can buy pet supplies, meat, poultry and electronics — as well as loads of books in its many small bookshops. Take your time rifling through the shelves to find masterpieces hidden among common works of pulp fiction.

You can buy Kanchipuram silk sarees anywhere in Chennai, but the locals only go to one place: Nalli, on Nageswaran Road T. Nagar. Since 1928, Nalli Chinnasamy Chetti and his descendants have woven and sold the best Kanchipuram silks here. Buying one has become a tradition for Chennai residents and visitors alike.

No other Kanchipuram silk saree can measure up to the quality of the fabric and handiwork of a Nalli saree. If you buy nothing else on your Chennai holiday, visit Nalli and buy a Kanchipuram silk saree or another silk item made by these master craftsmen.

Chennai’s celebrated malls and market districts have some of the best shopping in India. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, colourful cotton clothing, artworks or knickknacks, Chennai has something for everyone.

Joanna Owens/ author of the article
Hello, everyone! My name is Joanna Owens, and I'm a tourist guide. One of the things that sets me apart as a tourist guide is my enthusiasm and passion for what I do. I believe that travel should be about more than just checking off items on a bucket list; it should be about experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, and discovering the world in all its beauty and complexity. I strive to create tours and experiences that are not only informative but also engaging and interactive, so that my clients can truly immerse themselves in the places they visit.
Budget Travel Tips