Shopping in Sri Lanka is a unique experience primarily for the rare and exotic items that are sold only in this fascinating island nation. The top items that should make it to anyone’s shopping list are ready-to-wear clothes, jewelry, tea, Batik items, handicrafts and an array of souvenir items. Other bestsellers are lacquer ware, furniture, silver products and brass items,
The best and most modern department stores are found in the capital city of Colombo. The shops offer quality products, including international brand names, at bargain prices. The three largest malls in Sri Lanka are found in Colombo. They are Crescat Boulevard, a fashionable upscale mall with a food court and grocery on Galle Road; Majestic City, a three-storey shopping center with a movie theater, restaurants and supermarket also on Galle; and Liberty Plaza, a large shopping center with restaurants and a supermarket on the RA de Mel Mawatha and Ananda Kumaraswamy Mawatha intersection. Other frequently visited shopping centers in Colombo are Romafour on Galle Road, Beverly Street on RA del Mawatha, House of Fashions on Duplication Road, upscale Odel on Alexandra Place and upscale Paradise Road boutique on Dharmapala Mawatha street. Taking photos inside the malls are not allowed. For those who wish to really go cheap but risking quality, there are rows of local street shops and open markets across the Forth Railway Station and within the Pettah area.
For gem lovers, the most popular jewelry store in the capital city is Zam Gems on Galle Road. There are also well known jewelry stores in Ratnapura City, which is known as the main source of Sri Lankan gems through the centuries. Leading gem cutters and gem dealers are found here.
Another important city in the island is Kandy, which is known as the spiritual center of Sri Lanka. (Kandy is said to possess a tooth of Buddha.) The best handicrafts produced in Sri Lanka are found in several local shops all over Kandy. A village has been put up recently for the specific purpose of housing local craftsmen and their families, so that they can focus on their products. Visitors to this village in Kundasale may watch the artisans at work and directly buy their works of art.
Another leading Sri Lankan product is the world-famous Ceylon tea. (Sri Lanka’s old name is Ceylon). The country is the fourth largest tea producer in the world. Its tea industry earns around $700 million every year. Shopping for tea while in Colombo is buying one of the best teas in the world where they are actually produced. Ceylon tea is sold in shopping centers and tea stores at most tourist destinations.
To enjoy shopping in Sri Lanka, foreigners must always be on guard when shopping inside crowded malls and markets. Typically, scammers approach seemingly ignorant tourists to offer unsolicited help or directions. It is better to go shopping with a friend; if you have to be alone, inform your hotel about your itinerary plans and what time you expect to be back. In most cases, your hotel attendants are your most important friends when vacationing in a foreign land.