The island of Sri Lanka is known for its large tea plantations, whose main variety once gave the name of Ceylon to the island. Although there are plantations throughout the country, most of them are concentrated in the interior, in the highlands. Sri Lanka is also known for its production of cardamom and cinnamon, which can be found in many of the markets of some cities such as Colombo and Kandy. Other popular products include precious stones, which are one of the most common purchases in the country. Handmade crafts are also widely available in Sri Lanka, the face of Ambalangoda being the most famous, as well as wooden figures. In terms of clothing, the most sought after is batik clothing, which is considered an art form. Some of the best places to go shopping in Sri Lanka are: Colombo, in the neighborhood of Pettah, where you can find a great variety; Hikkaduwa, where there are several souvenir shops; Kandy, with its markets and shopping centers; or Batugadara, where you can find precious stones at a great price. Remember that you are often welcome to negotiate on prices.
The craftsmanship of Sri Lanka is evident in the different markets and traditional stores of the country. The most iconic items are the typical wooden masks. These can be easily found in Ambalangoda, where there is also a museum of ancient masks. Its surroundings are full of small stalls where they carve and sell intricate masks. Other very precious products of the country are the carved wooden figures, puppets, and accessories made of esparto or wicker. These can be found in many of the shops on the island, especially in the neighbourhood of Pettah, one of the best known commercial areas of Colombo.
Many of Sri Lanka's most precious fabric designs are made with the batik technique, which involves applying layers of wax on the surface to create a negative space, free of dye. In the Central Market of Kandy, you can find a great variety, one of the stores. The Jayamali Batik Studio sells t-shirts and accessories in a plethora of Batik designs. Sari’s are also widely available, one of the typical garments still worn by Sinhalese women. If what you want is clothing from international brands, shoe or bags, the best options are the Kandy City Center; or the shopping centres of Colombo such as Crescat Boulevard or Majestic City, both located on Galle Road, where there are a large number of establishments. The district of Pettah, also in the capital, is popular and the ideal place to go shopping.
Many of the travellers to Sri Lanka, hope to bring home precious stones, which are another of the typical products of the country. It is easy to find rubies, marine waters, topazes, bright, emeralds and tiger eyes in Sri Lanka. They can be purchased loose or boxed. There are many stores dedicated to the sale of precious stones. To ensure authenticity it is recommended to request a certificate. Some of the best places to buy a variety of precious stones are Colombo, in Galle Road, where there are several quality jewellers like Premasada & Co, or in Kandy, which is close to the mineral mines.
Tea has been the most highly famed product of Sri Lanka for around 150 years when a fungus destroyed its coffee plantations and the settlers decided to plant tea instead. The Highlands is where the great majority of the plantations are, between Kandy and Lipton’s Seat. The most famous tea is Ceylon Tea, a black tea that is roasted with charcoal. The best place to buy it is in the plantation factories themselves, or in the Highland markets such as those in Kandy. There are also stores that sell local spices where you can buy cinnamon, paprika and cardamom, which are grown on the island.