Shopping in Sri Lanka can take many forms: haggling with a handicraft–seller while sunbathing on the beach; choosing fruit from the traditional village store, the kade, while side–stepping sacks of rice or checking out the bargain–priced latest international fashions (Sri Lanka is a major garment exporter) while enjoying the ambience of a luxurious shopping centre in Colombo.
And there’s much in–between. Visit a handicraft shop and familiarize yourself with traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus which are most evident in brass work (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewelry, tea–sets) that make excellent souvenirs. In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.
Last but certainly not least, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world’s gem producing countries – blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat’s eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines and topazes being just a dazzling handful. What’s more, Sri Lanka naturally has a tradition in jewelry–making, so you can bring your gems to life.