Shopping in Sri Lanka is an adventure in itself – moving between different shops and markets feels a bit like hopping from one alluring island to another. From tea to sarongs, bringing home a piece of the country’s culture is sure to bring joy into the hands of whoever it’s gifted to – whether that be friends, family, or yourself. Read on to discover where to shop, what to look out for and more tips for shopping in Sri Lanka.

Shopping Advice and Etiquette  

Shops are generally open from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and closed Saturday afternoon and all-day Sunday. Many areas such as Colombo, Habarana, Dambulla, Kandy, Galle and Bentota accept bankcards, but it’s always useful to have some cash on hand for markets and small shops. The currency is the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR), and you can exchange cash in banks and most hotels.

Haggling is somewhat of an art and may take time to perfect, and there’s no better place to practice than when you’re shopping in Sri Lanka. Vendors tend to offer an inflated price, so we recommend halving the original price and then getting ready to negotiate. A smile and some confidence (not to be confused with arrogance) will go a long way, and always remember to stay respectful. 

Where to Shop

Paradise Road

The clue’s in the name – Paradise Road is home to heavenly products, from delicate porcelain to luxury linens. The eclectic Mediterranean interior is a tempting treat for the senses, but do take note that the prices of the items inside reflect their superb quality.

Pettah Market

This is one of the largest and most famous markets in Colombo, comprised of a maze of street blocks busy with traffic and people haggling. We recommend taking a tuk-tuk to the edge of the market and then wandering into the heart of the action by foot.

Good Market

Saturday mornings are the best time to visit Good Market, as this is when vendors open their stalls in the racecourse parking lot. You’ll find plenty of organic produce, natural products and all things health related. It’s a great way to show support for the community and help out the responsible-minded local businesses.

Shopping in Sri Lanka: What to Look For

There are plenty more shops and markets to discover when shopping in Sri Lanka, so here are some things to keep an eye out for among the charmingly chaotic array of items.

Traditional Raksha Masks

Raksha Masks showcase the local’s incredible ability to breathe life into plain wood. Translating to Demon Masks, they are used in Sri Lankan festivals and cultural dances to ward off evil. They are fantastic works of art, painted in vibrant colours with protruding tongues and bulging eyes. You’ll come across these almost everywhere, but one of the best places to find them is in Laksala, a souvenir boutique in Colombo.

Ceylon Tea

The rich flavour and fragrant aroma of this tea is symbolic of the stunning Sri Lankan highlands in which it’s produced. With notes of citrus and honey, this tea will delight the senses while also helping with heart health and weight loss due to its high levels of antioxidants. Tea boutiques are scattered across Sri Lanka, so you’ll have no problem finding this irresistible spice-infused tea.

Batik Wear

Originating in Indonesia, Batik has become an integral part of Sri Lankan culture, adopting its own style over the years. The distinctive designs are hard to miss, with various dyes producing dazzling colours in reds, blues and greens. The process involves wax, salt baths, heat and a whole lot of practice. Purchasing Batik wear is a great way to bring a slice of Sri Lanka’s pride and joy back home.

Sarees and Sarongs

These colourful pieces of clothing work brilliantly as a cover up for exploring Sri Lanka’s beaches and temples; your trip wouldn’t be complete without one. They are easily found and can be purchased in various styles for both men and women. Their prices can vary, ranging from cheaper designs to high-end fabric that comes with a price tag in the hundreds. Whichever you choose, the brilliantly crafted cloth is sure to become a staple item in your bag.

Contact one of our Sri Lanka specialists