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5 must visit shopping paradises in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka has been a popular holiday attraction for long, inviting throngs of people to flock to its beaches and immerse themselves in the warm sun, refreshingly cool water, and rich and vibrant indigenous traditions. Tourist shopping sites in and around Colombo – the country’s capital – offer multifarious shopping options to visitors with traditional artefacts attracting the most clamour and bustle. Sri Lanka’s rich history adorns these wildly popular destinations, making them a must stop for people seeking a dose of cultural immersion. Whether it is Odel with its fabulous choices and diversity, or boutique places like Paradise Road and Barefoot, Colombo is the foremost shopping destination. But there’s much more beyond them.

So here are five of Sri Lanka’s finest shopping stops, handpicked for their cultural variety, uniqueness, and of course, beauty.


Pettah Floating Market, Colombo

Nestling over Beira Lake under pavilions and on boats, Pettah Floating Market is an aesthetic marvel. Minimal decorations and grey floors reflect and enhance the calm serenity cast by the lake over the market. Water gently laps against the numerous boats dotting the lake from where vendors sell local produce such as fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Among the 92 stalls of the pavilion are those dedicated to traditional handicrafts, beautifully crafted and enticing shoppers. Respite from the long but thoroughly enjoyable shopping spree can be found in the restaurants tucked away amidst the Floating Market which makes the experience more enjoyable and less tiring!

Timings: 8 am to 10.30 pm.

Tip: Go early to beat the heat and get the best selection of fresh produce.

Laksala, Colombo

Laksala is Sri Lanka’s only state-owned gift and souvenir boutique, and the perfect showcase for everything that the island nation is known for. A state-endorsed store for handicrafts, the storefront is aesthetically designed and visually pleasing, thus providing a tranquil shopping experience. The products are also extremely affordable, placing Laksala high on the list of aspiring shopping destinations in the country. From tea and spices to jewellery and handicrafts, the boutique’s seemingly endless options makes it a must visit stop.

Timings: 9 am to 7 pm.

Tip: Look for colourful masks and sets of wooden elephant statuettes that make for lovely souvenirs and giveaways.

Jayamali Batiks Studio, Kandy

Batik fabric, made from wax resistant dyes, is native to Java in Indonesia. But the art form effortlessly moved to Sri Lanka where the local craftsmen introduced their their creativity and made it their own. So much so that Sri Lankan batik has gained prominence and is firmly cemented in the nation’s economy. Of the many shops dotting Sri Lanka’s Batik landscape, the Jayamali Batiks Studio is widely regarded as one of the best destinations for Batik shopping in the country. The store boasts of Batik products ranging from clothing to home décor that is sure to mesmerise visitors with its bright colours and intricate designs.

Timings: 10 am to 6 pm.

Tip: While shirts and blouses are a good buy, look for tiny change purses and clutches which are ideal giveaways.

Dutch Gallery, Galle

Antiques are a commentary on a nation’s history, culture and longstanding traditions. For enthusiasts antiques that are tied into Sri Lankan history, there’s no better place than Dutch Gallery, a must visit stores. Located in Galle’s storied Church Street, surrounded by beautiful heritage buildings, the Gallery is decked with a vast collection of antiques – from heavily carved furniture and household trinkets to ancient coins and vintage jewellery. Considering the amount of history that can be found here, it is a lovely place to just browse.

Timings: 10 am to 7 pm.


Ratnapura

Sri Lankan shopping experience would be incomplete without a tour of the famed Ratnapura – the town of gems. Located about 95 km east of Colombo, the town’s market is arguably the most popular destination to purchase gems and other precious stones in Sri Lanka, with all of the nation’s gem traders gathering here to vend their shiny wares. A shopping expedition dedicated to gems will certainly make for a unique experience.

Tip: For more information on gem mining, visit Ratnapura’s National Museum.

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