Sri Lanka has always been a known stop for most cruises thanks to some of the most unique and exquisite quality items available on this island. So when you are here, you need to keep an entire day dedicated for shopping. Scout the local markets, or roam tirelessly in the high-end showrooms but be sure to take back the unique varieties this island nation has to offer. Below is a list of what to buy in Sri Lanka so that you can carry home lovely souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones.
1. Gems and Jewelery
Affectionately known as “Ratna-Dweepa” meaning ‘Gem island’, how could one come to Srilanka and not buy these colorful little pretty things in various cuts, shapes, and sizes? Well, one can come across some best quality Sapphires, Moonstones, Topazes, and many other gems here. The mines in the south-western Srilankan city Ratnapura has a constant supply of precious gems which are mined, sorted, cut, polished, and most times fitted into metal to lay out beautiful pieces of jewelry. While buying these gems, however, one needs to act with caution. Buy from dealers certified with either Sri Lanka Gem Traders’ Association or the International Coloured Gemstone Association to avoid being duped.
National Gem and Jewelry Authority
Address: 25, 3 Galle Face Terrace, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Contact: +94 112 390 645
Website: National Gem and Jewelry Authority
The most commonly worn saree styles in Sri Lanka are the Osaria or Kandyan and the Indian-style. The Kandyan style (Osaria in Sinhalese) is more popular in the hill country region of Kandy from which the style gets its name. You will find a saree shop almost everywhere in Sri Lanka. Right from the street shops of Pettah market to the upscale shops in Kandy and Colombo. You can choose as per your budgets and bargain hard to get the utmost value for your choices. The fun part would be to ask a local to teach you to wear the Kandyan style saree.
Saree Mandir Private Limited
Address: 65, W.A. Silva Mawatha, Colombo 06, Sri Lanka
Contact: +94 112 559 090 / +94 112 592 500
Working Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm, Sunday: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Website: Saree Mandir
3. Buddha figurines
Buddhism is the religion of the majority of the people in Sri Lanka. All around the island, you will come across classic souvenir shops which sell Buddha figurines in different forms and sizes. Not just that, you will also find beautiful wood figurines of elephants, peacocks, leopards, and a whole lot of carefully crafted handicraft items to take back as souvenirs for loved ones back home. Laksala is one such place where you will find Buddha figurines in abundance made from all sorts of materials and hand painted to perfection. It’s a government emporium with branches all over the country and can be found at almost every tourist location.
Address: Multiple locations all over Sri Lanka
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4. Ceylon Tea
Owing to a large number of tea plantations in central Sri Lanka, the island is home to some of the finest tea produce. Ceylon tea gets the name as that’s what Sri Lanka was known before it got Independence in 1947. You can visit the tea gardens, tea factories, and shop for the different tea flavors to carry back home. The traditional tea of Sri Lanka is Black tea. However, you can now find different varieties like English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Chocolate Mint, Peach & Mint, Broken Peko, Orange Broken Peko, and many other exotic varieties. The most famous brands are Dilmah, Macwoods, and Teaeli.
Dilmah Ceylon Tea
Address: Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company PLC, 111 Negombo Road, Peliyagoda, Sri Lanka
Contact: + 94 11 482 2000
Website: Dilmah Ceylon Tea
5. Beauty products
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Visitors are flocking to Sri Lanka more and more these days for its well-known wellness properties where people come to get rejuvenated with spa and beauty treatments. Ayurvedic beauty products, too, are exceptional out here as this country has kept the culture of natural medicines through Ayurveda still alive. You can shop for this nature’s bounty in the form of body oils, hair care packs, body washes, shampoos, fuller’s earth face packs & masks, and a whole bunch of natural beauty products. Spa Ceylon, Siddhalepa, and Iris Garden should be your go-to brands for all things beauty.
Address: Dehiwala, Sri Lanka 0094
Contact: +94 77 754 4521
Website: Iris Garden
6. Batik garments
Originated in the Indonesian culture and brought to Sri Lanka by the Dutch, the art of Batik designs on clothes and pictures is quite famous here. There are numerous factories and many small-scale workshops where this unique style of dye-induced designing is achieved on clothes. Best places to shop these garments are Dudley Silva Batik store and Jez-look Batiks.
Address: No 12, St Yehiya Mawatha, Matara. Sri Lanka
Website: Jez-look Batiks
7. Raksha masks
Unique to the Sri Lankan culture, Raksha masks are available in almost every souvenir shop in the form of masks, magnets, keychains, etc. They are believed to ward off the evil and protect the one who possesses them. The masks are worn while performing the traditional Kolam ritual and depict the ancient race of Rakshasas. The most commonly used masks are Naga Raksha (cobra mask), Gurulu Raksha (Mask of the Bird) and Maru Raksha (Mask of the Demon of Death).
Lakpahana Handcraft (Pvt) Ltd
Address: 14 Philip Gunawardena Mawatha, Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka
Website: Lakpahana Handcraft (Pvt) Ltd
8. Porcelain tableware
Sri Lanka is blessed with excellent quality raw materials like quartz, feldspar, dolomite, and China clay, owing to which the island delivers best quality porcelain and ceramic cutlery to the world. This attracted the world-famous Japanese brand Noritake to invest in this industry in 1972. You can get these exquisite porcelain beauties at a very reasonable price at their factory outlets and showrooms here on the island.
Noritake Sri Lanka
Address: 580, Negombo Road, Mabole, Wattala
Contact: 94-11-2946142 / 5737007
9. Dumbara mats
If you are a fan of the handwoven stuff, you must pick up Dumbara mats and cane handicrafts from the local shops. The villages around Kandy produce a lot of coarse fabric called Dumbara which is then woven into mats, bags, boxes, and baskets, typically in a geometric fashion. These can make for excellent gifts.
Art of Living store
Address: 183 - 2/2, Galle Road, Dehiwela
Website: Art of Living store
10. Cinnamon sticks
Spices are a staple in Sri Lanka and they use it in everything, right from food to sweets and tea. The most famous of all the spices here is Cinnamon. The island produces great quality cinnamon and hence is also the largest exporter of this spice. While buying your supply, make sure to pick the tender, well-rolled bark as opposed to the mature and darker bark as the former lasts longer.
Kandy Municipal Central Market
Address: Market Street, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Open hours: 7 am to 9 pm on all days.
Tips for shopping in Sri Lanka
- When shopping in local markets, do bargain hard as the prices are usually bumped up twice or thrice fold.
- Go to certified and known shops to buy souvenirs to avoid being duped and to take back authentic things. Shops like Laksala which is government run or Barefoot are quite the safe bets.
- There is a souvenir shop at the airport too for last minute shopping, but the prices here are much higher and bargaining there wouldn't be possible so plan accordingly.
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