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Shopping Guide


Gems and Jewellery

Sri Lanka is famous for its precious and semi-precious gemstones including Blue Sapphires, Red Rubies, Cat’s Eyes, Alexandrites, Tourmalines, Zircons, Garnets, Amethysts and Topaz. This industry is monitored by the National Gem and Jewellery Authority which has outlets located in Colombo to check the authenticity of gems that you have purchased.  You can purchase exquisite gem studded jewellery set in gold, white gold or platinum in jewellery shops in Colombo, Galle and Kandy.  Colombo & Kandy have the best choice of reputed jewellery shops.   When you are shopping for gems across the country, make sure you purchase stones from shops that are licensed with the National Gem and Jewellery Authority

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Traditional Craft

Traditional arts & crafts are produced in different parts of the island as home based cottage industries where intricate skills are passed down in generations.

These crafts are best purchased from the villages where you can observe how they are produced. You can also purchase these crafts from the government run Laksala outlets in Colombo and Kandy or Lakmadure in Colombo

Villages producing traditional arts & crafts

  • Jewellery crafting – Kandy & Galle
  • Traditional mask carving – Ambalangoda (West Coast)
  • Cane and reed wear – Wevaldeniya (on the way to Kandy)
  • Brass wear including oil lamps and wall hangings – Gadaladeniya( Kandy)
  • Kandyan drums – Kurugala (Kandy)
  • Wall hangings and mats woven with intricate designs – Dumbara( Kandy)
  • Hand woven Beeralu (pillow) lace – Dickwella (South Coast)
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Contemporary Crafts

Several local artisans and entrepreneurs have developed exquisite arts and crafts blending Sri Lankan heritage with contemporary design.  These products are made of indigenous materials such as recycled paper, elephant dung, terracotta and scented woods and oils, and handloom fabricsElephant dung stationery, scented candles, relaxing massage oils, handloom toys and linen, Sri Lanka T-shirts and souveniours as well as beautiful hand crafted object d’art are available for your home or for gifts.

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Handloom & Clothing

Handloom Products: Clothing, table linen, cushions, curtaining and upholstery fabrics in handspun cotton fabric made in the villages are popular for homes in the towns as well as for holiday homes on the beach.

Clothing: The Sari with its six yards of colourful fabric in silk or cotton is a must have for a woman heading home after a journey of discovery on this tropical island.  Drape it on you, your bed or hang it on the windows and let it catch the sun as it sways in the wind.  Saris vary from cotton ones for daily wear to exquisite handworked ones for special occasions including weddings.  Saris are available across the country.  Shops in Colombo & Kandy have the best selection.  The versatile sarong which is ideal to laze about in whether at home or on the beach is another popular local dress for men and women. Sri Lanka is also well known for its export quality western clothing with many of the international companies having their manufacturing factories on the island

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Another souvenir of southern Sri Lanka is a batik garment or wall-hanging. The art of batik-making was imported from Indonesia by the Dutch in the 16th century. Since then, the craft has developed a distinctive Sri Lankan flavour, a charming character of its own. Batik is made using pure, natural fibers such as cotton, linen or silk. The fabric is waxed and dyed to create intricate patterns or scenes, some from the Jataka - a volume of folklore concerning the previous lives of the Buddha. A dazzling 20m-long batik is used to decorate the elephant carrying the casket of the Sacred Tooth Relic during the annual Kandy Esala Perahara.

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Take home a packet of world famous Ceylon Tea.  You have the choice of savoring different blends of tea in a hill country tea factory and purchasing directly from estates such as Labookelle Tea Estate close to Nuwara Eliya, Bogawantalawa Tea Estates in Dickoya and Dambatanne Tea estate in Haputale,  These teas are also marketed in specialist tea centres and grocery stores such as Cargills Food City and Keells Super in the main towns across the island.

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Sri Lanka’s rich heritage with a blend of Asian and European influences extends to furniture and object d’art.  There are several antique shops where antique Colonial period furniture to ornaments, Moorish porcelain, brass lamps and pottery can be purchased.  Ambalangoda and Galle Fort are the most famous for antiques.  There are several shops in Colombo as well.

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Sri Lanka is the world’s second largest cinnamon exporter.   This precious crop is grown in estates along the south coast.  You can purchase fresh cinnamon from plantations in Mirissa as well as in Koggala where villagers process cinnamon on an island on the Koggala Lake.  Various aromatic spices and condiments such as mixed curry powder, chili powder, saffron, turmeric, cloves and cinnamon can be purchased from the main grocery stores.

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Sri Lanka produces fine porcelain for internationally renowned companies such as Noritake in Japan and exports to European and Asian markets. Exquisite Dinner wear, tea and coffee service in stylish designs, hand painted or with etchings, and some even embossed in 24K gold or platinum, is available for purchase in outlets in Colombo.

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There are Shops for books on Sri Lanka’s ancient heritage, wildlife and nature, and it’s beautiful landscapes which give you a good overview of the country’s culture and its people.  These titles as well as literary works of contemporary Sri Lankan authors are also available at all leading bookshops in Colombo, Kandy, and Galle.  Books on Buddhism are available for purchase at Buddhist centers in Colombo. For a low-key literary shopping experience, try the second-hand bookstores in the Fort area. You can delve into stacks of books, from ancient leather-bound volumes of natural history to detective novels, sci-fi, murder mysteries -everything your literary heart desires.

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Art & Music

From temple paintings to contemporary design, the creative arts are vibrant and readily available for purchase in Sri Lanka.  Just stroll down Colombo seven’s leafy Green Path where art works are displayed right along on the road.  These are created by young students and other local artists.  Purchasing directly from them ensures a much needed income which supplements their studies or full-time jobs.  Once a year, Green Path becomes a hive of activity with the 'Kala Pola' – an art fair where artists from the regional towns also bring in their creations to sell. 

Works of well known local artists including George Keyt, Ivan Peries, Richard Gabriel, Lionel Wendt, Senaka Senanayake, Jagath Weerasinghe, Druvinka, and Muhanned Cader are exhibited in galleries such as the National Art Gallery, Sapumal Foundation, the Lionel Wendt, Barefoot Art Gallery and Paradise Road Gallery Café.  Classical to contemporary fusion local music in Sinhala, Tamil and English are available on CD at various outlets in Colombo, Hikkaduwa, and Kandy.  Take home a CD of the   Hikka drummers and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see them performing live in Hikkaduwa whilst on your travels Back To Top

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