The island country has amazing variety for your shopping pleasure. It has always been an important stop on shipping routes and a trading post for the world since ancient times. Many merchant ships still stop by on their way from Europe to Southeast Asia so there is always a wealth of things available to the keen shopper even if it is not always of Sri Lankan origin.
Some amount of scouting in the local market will turn up many a pleasant surprise although it is best to go with a local guide to avoid being ripped off. Tea is a big draw for tourists. Besides that there are many other interesting knick-knacks available here. Below is a list of some of the things that you can carry home as souvenirs from your trip to Sri Lanka.
Naturally the most famous of its exports is Ceylon Tea. The name Ceylon is the old name of the island. Sri Lanka was called Ceylon till it was renamed after independence from the British Empire in 1947. The locally grown brew made British Colonists a vast fortune in the 18th and parts of the 19th century.
Nowadays the well-packed tea makes for excellent gifts for the folks back home. Broken peko, broken orange peko and other more exotic varieties abound. The colourful packs come in convenient sizes as well.
Fragranced spices are also a big draw with tourists. Just make sure that you buy good quality ones and seal them well or the fragrance will have long gone by the time you get home. The one to buy is cinnamon. The bark of the cinnamon trees that grow on the island has the most amazing flavor.
Very popular with the ancient shipping community, it is still a popular take-home item for tourists. Look for the well-rolled, more tender bark as opposed to the darker more mature bark. This is better and will keep longer as well.
There are many places where you can pick up cheap cotton clothes. Just make sure that they have no defects as these are usually export rejects that find themselves in the local market. Colombo has a couple of good places to pick these up so ask your local guide to show you where. If you are hiring a taxi with a driver, he’ll be able to take you to the right shops. If you have a self-drive car, then get directions to the city’s best picks.
There is a healthy trade in gem stones in Sri Lanka but you need to know a bit about stones if you don’t want to get taken for a ride. Semi-precious stone sets are available at varying costs. Make sure that you check the stones for faults and bargain to get the best prices.
If possible go to a reputed shop so that you don’t end up getting cheated over the price. The usual sets include earrings, rings, and necklaces set in a single type of gemstone.