Shopping in Sri Lanka

Shopping in Sri Lanka

Shopping in Sri Lanka (about Sri Lanka) will be a very interesting thing to do and included in most Sri Lankan road trips because there are many interesting things that one can be bought on the island. Gems and jewellery, readymade garments, silk and batiks, tea, handicrafts, ayurvedic products, lacquerware, souvenir, brass object and furniture are some of the products with high demand.

One important thing that travellers can’t miss during shopping in Sri Lanka is Gems and Jewelry. Sri Lanka is one of the leading Gems and Jewelry exporters in the world and produces some of the most exquisite Jewellery. Gems and jewellery is the 4th highest foreign exchange earner for the island and a large number of people of Sri Lanka’s workforce are depending on the gem industry. Ratnapura and the suburb is the main source of gems in the country and it is the best-known city for Gems, while Kandy and Colombo are the most popular cities for shopping in Sri Lanka gems and Jewellery.

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Kandy is one of the most popular cities for shopping in Sri Lanka and it is particularly good for buying souvenirs, clothes, gems and jewellery. Kandy is the 4th largest city on the island and there are 1000’s of shops in the city. There are specialized shops for various products such as souvenir, clothes etc making it easier for the shoppers to find the most suitable product. Near Kandy, the village called Kundasale was developed as a craftsman village. Visitors to the village can see the work of the artisans and even it allows buying products directly from the artisans.

Shopping in sri lanka, buy batik in sri lanka

Important tips for Shopping in Sri Lanka

There are many well-established governments and private shops in all major cities in the island providing convenience for shopping in Sri Lanka. All the products are labelled with prices and other particulars. It is normal to bargain in Sri Lanka while you are shopping in Sri Lanka. You expected to bargain for products such as Souvenir, garments, gems and jewellery and tourist resorts are abundant with shops that sell such products. In some places, the prices are inflated for foreigners, therefore, foreigners need to pay extra attention to the prices.

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In a situation where the prices are inflated, one needs to be friendly and convince the seller that one knows the correct price, and then one can get the correct price. When buying Gems and jewellery one should be buying only from reputable shops with an international certificate on the products. There are many incidents reported pertaining to the synthetic stones been sold in the country. National gems and jewellery ministry provides free service for the foreigners, where one can check for the quality of products.

Village Fairs and Bazaars

Village market is the most suitable place for buying fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, herbs, direct from the farmers. Farmers from the village sell their products in the market and, they usually not use chemicals to produce agricultural products. One can buy garments, household items, flowers, plants, porcelain, tea and other essential items need at home.

Reaching outward from the cities, large conglomerates are spreading their supermarkets, while small entrepreneurs are sprouting, groceries stores all over. Yet, the village pola a weekly market bazaar – still holds its own all over the island. These pola are always held on specific days, at a specific place. These village fairs are the means by which farmers sell their excess produce and buy what they need.

Pola has a wide variety of goods on sale such as cell phones and radios, aluminium utensils and colourful plastic ware, clothes and shoes, condiments and grain, incenses sticks and handicrafts, as well as fish and dry fish. Immerse your senses in this riot of colour and variety.

The traditional boutique or Kade is the traditional shop of the villages in Sri Lanka. It was once known as a boutique, a word that derived from the Portuguese word butica or boteca.  Kade is the meeting place for the people in the village and they were once available even in Colombo. Today they are almost disappeared from the leading cities and examples are available in remote areas. Most simple Kade is a simple structure that made of woods. It has a comparatively big window for the small box-shaped structure, through which the transaction take place between the seller and the buyer. Kade has a wooden boarding and can be moved to another place at any time. Basically, Kade needs very small space, and they are constructed mostly near the crowded places such as Bus stand, railway station, religious buildings, office areas etc. Normally the owners of Kade conduct the businesses. Products that are sold in Kade normally are food and drinks such as small restaurants. But the products are prepared elsewhere and shop owner uses Kade to sell his products. Other than food and drinks some shopkeepers are selling some grocery products too.

The owner of Kade is known as Mudalali and a popular figure in the area. Mudalali supposes to be a rich person in the village and He is being respected by the customers. Most of the people in the village need to buy goods on credit from Mudalali because of the economic hardships.  Mudalali keeps the record of transactions and collects the money at the end of the month. Kade is the most basic transaction method available today. Instead of money, some customers pay off the debt with their agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables.

Following description is about a Kade written in 1914 by Bella Woolf’s “the native shop- boutique, they are called in Ceylon, a relic of Portuguese days are open to the winds of heaven. Here the seller sits cross-legged or on his haunches on the floor, while all the day and far into the purchasers swarm around. Strange to European eyes are the sacks and baskets full of curry stuff, chillies, Maldive fish, and grains unknown to the west, kurakkan, gingelly, paddy, and gram. The fruits shops brim with plantains, pineapple, rambutans, mangoes, custard apples, papaws, breadfruit, brinjals and pumpkins. ”

Kade is the place to buy beetle mixture which is a mixture of betel leaves and areca nut chewing with lime and tobacco. Beetle chewing considered being a habit of rich people in ancient Sri Lanka, Today it is a habit of poor people who do some tedious work to earn money. Kade is sometimes used by barbers, astrologers even as a tailor shop in some areas. Today with the economic development and the busy lifestyle the people are gathering to shopping malls and supermarkets. Those are proving to be saving time by providing a one-stop shop. Changing lifestyle has been blamed to change the traditional lifestyle of people in the country, in which one can see some advantages as well as disadvantages. But rural areas are still is a venue to see the scenes from the past.

What can I buy in Sri Lanka?

If you’re heading to Sri Lanka on a business trip or on a holiday trip, don’t forget to allocate some time for shopping in Sri Lanka. Because most travellers who visit Sri Lanka never fails to do some shopping in Sri Lanka. One of the very popular question a large number of travellers ask us is “what to buy in Sri Lanka”. Therefore we thought of making some remarks on what to buy in Sri Lanka and below are some of the unique products available in Sri Lanka. Most of these products are affordable and easy to find on the island.

shopping in sri lanka, handicrafts

Arts & Crafts

Shopping in Sri Lanka must be included with the arts and & crafts of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a well-known country for traditional arts & crafts, this industry still exists as a home-based industry. There are special arts and craft villages in the island, which are in the industry for generations. There are many shops selling arts & crafts in resorts and their lot of shops selling arts and craft in cities such as Colombo, Kandy, Galle etc.

Sri Lanka is one of the best places to buy various types of furniture too. There is a huge a demand for antique furniture’s among the foreigners.  Some of the valuable furniture’s are made in the Portuguese, Dutch and English colonial time.

Some of the places to buy arts & crafts during shopping in Sri Lanka

Lakmedura : No 113, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7. Lakpahana : Rajakeeya Mawatha Colombo 7. Medarata Craft Emporium : Gatambe, Peradeniya, Kandy.


Sri Lanka has a rich heritage with a combination of Western and Eastern influence and which is visible even in furniture, architecture, lifestyle, cuisines, languages etc. there are many antique shops around the resorts selling furniture’s, and ornaments from the colonial period of the country. Products such as porcelain, Brass wear, silver items and pottery can be found often in antique shops. Galle the city in Southern Sri Lanka is the most famous city for the antiques in the country. Christina Souvenir and handicraft Show Room: No 730, Galle Road, Colombo 3. Origins: No 38, Ward Place, Colombo 7.


Batik is by far one of the best things to buy in Sri Lanka, you can find a large array of batik items in Sri Lankan shops. They make a terrific souvenir and cloths. Choose from batik skirts, shirts, sarees, dresses, kurtas, lungis, sarons, tablecloths, wall hangings and other fabric items. You get very good Sri Lanka batik as well as imported low-quality batik as well. The prices may vary based on the quality so be cautious about quality when you purchase batik. Batik fabric items are available in most hotel shopping arcades and shopping areas.


The textile industry is the main foreign exchange earner for the island. Sri Lanka boasts to have well-developed textile industry among the South Asia countries. Therefore Sri Lanka has become one of the best places, where one can buy the best quality textiles at very reasonable prices. All major cities such as Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Panadura provides a wide range of Garment products such as kid’s garments, casual clothing, beachwear, men’s wear, ladies garments, shoes, and garment accessories.

The Sari, which is six yards in length and made of either in silk or cotton is the traditional attire of the Sri Lanka women. Today sari is more or less an only the traditional outfit of women and it is used mostly for special occasions such as weddings, parties etc. The modern young generation prefers to wear fashionable clothing than the traditional clothes. Textile shops in Sri Lanka provide a wide range of choices of clothes for its customers with Western, Eastern and Traditional touch.

In all major cities and the village bazaar, there are hundreds of street textile stalls selling a wide range of textile products. They are selling popular branded items to unbranded local manufactured products, most of the branded items are designer dud knockoffs. Have fun wander through the existing textile collection, but sizing is an important fact because locally manufactured items (for local) a little bit smaller compared to international standard sizes.

If you are very specific about the size, material, a style you can buy custom-made clothing too but at a bargain price throughout the island. Go wild with pre-manufactured clothing selection in Colombo, especially at Majestic city, uptown Kandy is 2 popular places where you get a large number of textile sellers. If you love to buy things in the street stalls heading to Pettah.

Whatever you buy in Sri Lanka, try to bargain in order to avoid the tourist price and avoid getting charged higher. You have to bring your bargain skills when you are heading to Sri Lankan shopping areas. If you have any question regarding your upcoming Sri Lanka trip, please contact us on we are here to help!

Jewellry maker sri lanka

Buy Gems & Jewellery in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a well-known country in the world for precious and semi-precious stones. Stones such as sapphires, Rubies, Cats eye, tourmaline, topaz, zircon, alexandrite, amethyst and garnet are often found in Sri Lankan soil. Rathnapura, Ambalangoda, Galle, Kandy some of the famous cities for buying gems in Sri Lanka While Rathnapura suppose to be the centre of gems and jewellery industry in the country. Ratnapura is the home for most of the gem mines in Sri Lanka and most of the people in the region attached to the gem and jewellery industry. Rathnapura supposes to be the best place for buying Gems in Sri Lanka. One can buy jewellery in gold, silver or platinum studded with gems.

Although Sri Lanka is a small island, it has the greatest concentration of gems on earth and is ranked among the top five gem-bearing nations. “Rathnadeepa” literally means the “island of gems”, is one of the ancient names of the island of Sri Lanka.

This glistening name was derived simply because of the richness of gems in the soil of the island. Sri Lanka is a leading gem nearing nations in the world and blessed with valuable, rare gem varieties. Sri Lanka is one of the top five gem producing countries in the world alone with Myanmar, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand.

Over 40 of the 60 odd varieties on the market are found here, many in the Ratnapura region. Below is a selection of some of the popular gems available on the island.

Gems are discovered in many parts of the country but “Sabaragamuwa” province is the most reputed region for this valuable stone. southern and western slopes of the central mountain range, which expands some 1500 sq km, is supposed have the highest concentration of gems in the world.  Leading gem mining city of Sri Lanka Ratnapura is also located within the borders of Sabaragamuwa province. Ratnapura is the hub of gem industry on the island. Gem mining is the leading income generator for the city of Ratnapura. Due to the large concentration of gem mines, the city is visited by a large number of gem traders from all around the world. All of them are looking for cut and uncut gemstones at a bargain price. The city has a rich historical background and it is the venue for many important religious places.

The rich history of Sri Lankan gem industry is confirmed by the records of the travellers such as Ptolemy and Marco Polo. According to their records, Sri Lanka has the best sapphires in the world. The sapphires of Sri Lanka can be found in many colours such as Green, yellow, pink, violet and blue. Sri Lankan blue sapphires are the finest of its kind found anywhere else in the world. Pale, bright blue colour which is known as “corn blue” is the identical colour of Sri Lankan blue sapphires. This colour is inherited only by the stones of Sri Lanka blue sapphires. Sri Lankan blue sapphires are only second to the diamond in hardness. Sri Lankan blue sapphires are well known around the world due to its superior clarity, colour and brilliant shine with compared to the blue sapphire found in rest of the world. Sri Lanka boasts to have an array of other valuable gems including ruby, amethyst, cat’s eye, alexandrite, moonstones and topaz. All of these gemstones are highly demanded in the international market and help the island to earn foreign exchange.

Blue and Yellow Sapphire

The sapphire is considered to be a variation of ruby and the name derives from the Greek, sapphires, for “blue”. Blue is the most popular colour of sapphire Sri Lanka blue sapphires are the finest in the world, ranging in shade from cornflower blue to deep royal blue. The yellow sapphire, with its pollen-like colour, is also popular. Since early times the sapphire has been associated with celestial forces. In Sanskrit, it is revered as sauriratna, “sacred to Saturn”. Buddhist considers the sapphire a symbol of peace and faithfulness in love, making it a popular choice as an engagement ring gem.

Star Ruby Star Sapphire

Some rubies and sapphires have tiny needle-like inclusions so that when cut in a high domed, en cabochon shape, they display a six-rayed star. The star moves across the face of the stone with changes in the light, an effect known as asterism. The star sapphire was prized in ancient times as it was considered a talisman and a guiding star for travellers.

Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye

The Chrysoberyl cat’s eye mimics to perfection the appearance of a cat caught in a pair of headlights at night. Cat’s eye available in 2 varieties mainly based on the colour, apple green or translucent honey brown

It is cut in high-domed, en cabochon fashion. In this way a silvery white sheen glides across the dome whenever the gem is moved, widening and narrowing like the iris of a cat’s eye. This effect is caused by tiny inclusions reflecting the light and is known as chatoyancy. While this characteristic appears in other gems, it never has the clarity and impact of that of the Chrysoberyl cat’s eye.


Alexandrite, the third hardest mineral on earth, is a fascinating freak of Mother Nature. Alexandrite was originally discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains and was named after Tsar Alexander. Other than Russia, Sri Lanka is the other country, where this stone occurs in the world.


The name topaz comes from the Sanskrit word tapas, meaning “fire” a reference to the array of flame-like colours of the gem, including orange-yellow, amber-gold and cherry-red. Topaz also occurs in other colours, such as browns, pink, purple and blue. The most valuable variety is called imperial topaz – a beautiful reddish-gold colour. Topaz also occurs in browns, pinks, purple and blue. While topaz is a hard and durable gem, it can easily be cleaved.


Amethyst is one of the most common crystalline quartz used in jewellery manufacturing. Its stunning crystalline has symbolized celibacy and piety in both Western and Eastern cultures. The name amethyst derived from the Greek word meaning “not drunk” indeed, the ancient Greeks made wine glasses out of amethyst in the belief that it prevented drunkenness.


Garnets have long been associated with warriors simple because of its blood-red colour. Although garnets are associated with the colour red, they found in all colours except blue.


The name aquamarine comes from the Latin for “sea water” as the gem posses a blue or greenish blue colour that is indeed reminiscent of the oceans. Aquamarine has long been considered a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth. It is believed that water in which aquamarine had been immersed was a cure for eye problems, breathing, difficulties and hiccups.


This remarkable gemstone found in the widest range of colours, from black to white and everything in between. Some tourmaline crystals contain luminescent bands of several colours – from red to green to blue – just like a crystallized rainbow. Tourmaline is not only beautiful, for it also has practical qualities because it becomes electrically polarized when heated.


The moonstone is a mysterious gem, as captivating as a full moon shining in the night sky. A mesmerizing interplay of light, known as schiller, causes a silvery-white sheen to glide like veils of mist across the milky surface of the moonstone. Some believe that this moving light is evidence of a living spirit that dwells within the gem. Moonstones, which are found in Sri Lanka only on a small block of land in the southern village of Meetiyagoda, are often made into attractive bracelets and necklaces.

Popular gemstones found in Sri Lanka

Star of India – this star sapphire is 563 Carats and presently exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in New York, America.

The Blue Giant of the Orient – is one of the largest blue sapphires in the world. Today it belongs to one of the gem and art collector in America.

Blue Belle of Asia – This valuable gemstone is 400 Carat and found in the city of Ratnapura.

Logan Blue Sapphire – this 400 Carat gemstone is the second largest blue sapphire in the world. It was gifted to Smithsonian Institution by Mrs. John Logan.

Star of Lanka – Today this 193 Carat blue star sapphire is deposited in the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. This gemstone considered to be the 3rd largest of its kind in the world.

Rosser Reeves Ruby – another valuable star ruby discovered in the island of Sri Lanka. Today it is posses by the Smithsonian museum.

Hope Cat’s Eye – this Chrysoberyl cat’s eye considered to be the largest of its kind in the world. it is exhibited at the British Museum of National History.

Blue Belle – one of the most popular blue sapphires in the country. today it decorates the crown of the British queen.

Buying Tea in Sri Lanka (Ceylon tea)

Sri Lanka being the producer of the finest Tea in the world (Ceylon Tea), one can’t forget to visit a Tea centre during shopping in Sri Lanka. Tea can be bought all around the island but the best tea is available in reputable tea centres in major cities. Sri Lanka being the producer of the finest Tea in the world (Ceylon Tea), one can’t forget to visit a Tea centre during shopping in Sri Lanka. Tea can be bought all around the island but the best tea is available in reputable tea centres in Colombo and other major cities.

Sri Lanka is one of the best places to buy Tea in the world. Tea being the 3rd most foreign exchange earner for the country, it provides employment for more than 1 million people in the country. you can sip a cup of world renown Ceylon tea in a tea centre. Even one can see the whole process of tea production by visiting the tea factories in the mountains. Since the tea is the most favourite beverage in Sri Lanka it can be bought all over the country. But one must be careful to buy trustworthy brands of tea since there are inferior quality teas also being sold in the country. Mlesna (Ceylon) Ltd: tea shop, no 44, ward place, Colombo 7.


Sri Lanka being an agricultural country, spices considered to be one of the most important products for the economy. Sri Lanka earns a large amount of its foreign exchange from the spice trade. One can buy the quality fresh spices during the shopping in Sri Lanka such as cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla etc. spices are widely used in the Sri Lankan kitchen to make a wide range of spicy foods and therefore spices can be bought any part of the country for very reasonable prices. Condiments and various other aromatic spices such as chilli powder, curry powder, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and ginger can be bought in all grocery stores.

Popular shopping destinations in Sri Lanka


Ratnapura is considered to be the best place for buying gems and jewellery in the country with a large collection of well-known gem shops in the city. Most of the shops in Rathnapura are equipped with gem mines and laboratories; thereby buyers are educated on the process of gem production. Sri Lanka is famous for its high-quality gems – from Roman times, through the colonial era, to the present. The gem trade is widespread and blue, yellow or star sapphire, rubies, cats eyes, amethyst, topaz, aquamarines, garnets, zircons, moonstones, and other precious stones are available throughout the island.

Duplication Road, Colombo

Where a vast collection of men’s and women’s clothes are found together with shoes, bags, purses, and even toys are found. There are discounts stores here that sell designer items with its very low prices ever!.

25 Utuwankanda, Mawanella

A perfect place to buy organic remedies and spices that are used for massages. This is a garden shop that sells fresh herbs and oils that are very relaxing ingredients to use for soothing massages. They accept credit cards here making everyone’s shopping very accessible.

Liberty Plaza

Located at Kollupitiya, Colombo where the modern and latest equipment are found. There are also ideal souvenir items found here that will be a perfect gift for your friends and family back home.


Laksala is a network of a Government-owned retail shop selling various types of items such as handloom, souvenir, batik, silk, Gems and jewellery etc.

Store locators Laksala

The Dutch Hospital shopping precinct

The former 17th century Colombo Dutch Hospital has been restored and transformed into Colombo’s finest shopping, entertainment and pedestrian precinct. It was ceremonially inaugurated by the minister of economic development on 2nd December 2011. It was ceremonially inaugurated by the minister of economic development on 2nd December 2011. One can experience an exclusive shopping experience, where one can shop, wine and dine or just stroll along, marvelling at the Colonial Architecture of possibly one of the city’s oldest heritage sites.

House of Fashion

Duty-free shops

The duty-free shops at the transit & Departure Lounge of the Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake has an extensive range in well-known brands of liquor, hi-fi equipment, wristwatches, cameras, films, perfumes, cosmetics, electrical appliances, cigarette lighters and souvenirs.

Payment is accepted only in Foreign Currency. Passengers arriving in Sri Lanka could also buy their requirements of duty-free liquor from the duty-free counter which is situated after immigration checkpoint.

Odel Sri Lanka

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on

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