Hitchhikers Guide to What to Buy in Sri Lanka: 16 Things to Bring Back from the Island Nation in 2019

Hitchhikers Guide to What to Buy in Sri Lanka: 16 Things to Bring Back from the Island Nation in 2019

A land of numerous beaches, temples, markets and artefacts, Sri-Lanka is a traveler's paradise. While it may offer fun and exciting opportunities to have fun, it is also a place of cultural vibrancy. This is reflected best in the unique artefacts it has to offer. So for your trip to Sri-Lanka, BP-Guide presents a must shopping list for every traveler to this heavenly country.

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Sri Lanka: The South Asian Beauty

Planning to visit Sri Lanka? If yes, then this is your guide to have one of the best times of your lives. From lush green forests, rich in cultural heritage, the serenity and peace of its temples and religious spots, the golden beaches, the old preserved markets and shops, the finest and freshest produce giving your taste buds a treat and the wonderful welcoming natives will surely give you an experience of a lifetime. So, join us as we take you through a short guide that will provide you with a taste of what you are about to experience. We have also listed below, top ten things to buy from Sri Lanka and bring them back as souvenirs, for your friends and family.

What Makes Sri Lanka Special?

Sri Lanka is a land rich with history and culture, and its history dates back to almost 500,000 years. The native inhabitants now are a mix of many different people, mainly the Sinhalese, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims. Sri Lanka lies on the Indian plate and is situated very near to the Indian subcontinent. The climate here is warm and humid, so you better pack some shorts, sun creams, and your swimsuits as this country has a lot of beaches to enjoy.

Numerous Attractive Tourist destinations

There are many places to visit in Sri Lanka, some sites include- Vihara Mahadevi Park, which is a lush green park in front of the Independence Memorial Hall, to hang out and have a small excursion. You can visit the Pettah Floating market, which is one of the unique markets around the world, where you can buy from shops on boats floating on water. The nightlife, for all those people who love partying, is the best in Colombo. You can also find superb restaurants and bars to chill and relax for the day. You can visit the Madu river with many water sports for those who are waiting for an adventure. There is much more to experience, such as the Temples of Seetha Amman or the temple of tooth relic where the tooth of Buddha is kept. Visit the Glen falls for a refreshing dip, or go to Mirissa to spot dolphins and whales.

Specialities of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is known for many things such as its wholesale production of garments such as T-Shirts, suits, gloves, mufflers, spices, bags, precious stones, stone works, recycling of rubber and tires, Ceylon tea, shipbuilding, Diamond mining, Coconut and its related products, out of which we have curated down the top 10 items for you to bring back home with you.

Top 10 Things to Buy from Sri Lanka

Artistic Clothing

#1. Three Piece Sri Lankan Sarees

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Sri Lankan sarees are different from the ones worn in the Indian subcontinent. They consist of 3 pieces and come primarily in white colour. They are elegant pieces of artworks on fabric. This is one of the most traditional and iconic souvenirs to buy from Sri Lanka. Sarees can cost anywhere between INR 500 to well above INR 40,000. They are sold in many places, and one can easily find and buy these works of art.

#2. Clothes Featuring Batik Prints

Batik clothing/art was introduced in Sri Lanka by the Dutch travelling from Indonesia. Batik artwork involves using hot wax when dying, to make beautiful patterns. The designs obtained are often very bright and colorful, and this art technique goes back thousands of years to the times of the pyramids. A lot of Batik shops can be found in the Hikkaduwa’s Galle Road section. Many batik factories allow tours of their facilities where you can go and experience the art of batik and even involve yourself in the process.

Elegant Handicrafts

#1. Local Stone Art

Stone art is one of the prominent and unique artworks done by the artisans of Sri Lanka. It is an artwork which is beautiful and a perfect souvenir you can keep at your fireplace. Most designs include the Cultural depictions of Gods and Goddesses, Elephants and Musicians. The rock painting Culture dates back to the times when cave paintings were prevalent, the artistic techniques have been handed down and have been perfected to what we can see today. You can find stores and small shops selling these along the streets and markets in Sri Lanka.

#2. Bowls Made of Cinnamon Tree Bark

Cinnamon is the most widely used spice in the world. You might be familiar with cinnamon rolls that we all love. Some of the high-quality cinnamon used around the world is produced in Sri Lanka, and it is one of the industries that has not been mechanized in many parts of Sri Lanka.

Ceylon cinnamon costs a lot as it is regarded as the cinnamon produced from the true cinnamon tree which is indigenous to Sri Lanka. This tree’s inner bark is used to make these intricate pieces of bowls which are aesthetic to look at and a great option to gift. The bark is mixed with resins and colors to form it into these bowls which can be used to keep dry ingredients or act as an excellent decorative piece, making it a good option as a souvenir.

#3. Artwork Featuring Elephants

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Elephants are regarded as gods in Sri-Lanka, and it’s a great gifting option. Not the real life elephant, but the intricate carvings of these in wood, marbles, and stones. These can be found all over Sri Lanka. You can find beautiful sculptures out of pure sandalwood too. Some of the best works can be found just anywhere, and that depends on your luck, but a good option is to go to Paradise Road shop as they have a good selection of these.

#4. Paintings by Local Artists

Paintings in Sri Lanka are a thing to look at, they are colorful, depictive, bright, and look great on your walls. Paintings to look out for are the ones that depict scenes from many mythologies, kings’ procession and epics.

#5. All Natural Furniture Made of Wood, Bamboo and Jute

The all-natural furniture is also another thing which can be looked at. Many of the furniture found here are made from locally sourced wood and other substitutes such as bamboos and jute. All-natural fibers are used in making them, and they are quite sturdy too. Find them along the highways, you can even get entire sets of sofas and beds, but we suggest you buying small stools and baskets which are really useful.

#6. Porcelain Glassware

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Porcelain glassware is also found all over Sri Lanka. This art was brought from China many years ago. The Sri Lankans have adapted to their own styles, and their products are shipped all across the world. Companies in Japan outsource their porcelain production from Sri Lanka, such as Noritake and Dankotuwa, which are 2 world famous brands which are based in Japan and are known for their exceptional crockeries and porcelain wares. You can find their outlets and factories in Sri Lanka and buy some amazing world-class cutlery at reasonable prices. They will stay with you forever.

Ceylon Tea

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Ceylon Tea is the foremost thing that makes Sri Lanka special. Tea was brought into Sri Lanka by the British colonists, and since the tropical weather and fertile soils allowed them to grow different varieties of exceptional quality tea, it was mass produced here.

The Ceylon tea is one of the easiest and unique souvenirs one can buy here. Tea lovers rejoice and appreciate the flavor of this unique tea. It’s available in all markets and street vendors across towns. The most popular brand of Tea is Dilmah. Many exotic varieties of tea are also produced and packaged here. Such as the Broken peko, orange broken peko, and many more.

Spices, Especially Cinnamon

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Because of its geographical location, the Sri Lankan soils are prosperous and fertile. The climate is suitable for the growth of many spices such as Cinnamon, pepper, star anise and bay leaf. The Cinnamon is the star spice and is one of the specialties of Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is made from drying the inner bark of the cinnamon tree (C. verum) which is an indigenous tree of Sri Lanka.

Most of the exports from Sri Lanka are its spices and garments. High-Quality cinnamon and pepper can be bought from here for low prices in the markets. You can also find a lot of these trees alongside the roads and throughout the countryside. It is believed that eating the fresh produces of these spice trees is good for your health. So, don’t forget to look these up and bring them back to spice up your lives a little. You can find them in stores such as Laksala and Odel.

Precious and Semi-Precious Gemstones

High quality, genuine Gemstone markets can be found in every market throughout Sri Lanka. They produce one of the most exceptional quality Gemstones found in the markets around the world. A thing to note is that you might get swindled if you don’t know well enough about the stones you are buying. A little background work is suggested before you buy them and don’t forget to bargain with the sellers, as you can get those Gems at reasonably lower prices.

Stones such as Diamonds are also found here as Sri Lanka has some light quarry mines. Semi-precious stones are available at varying costs and a lot of traditional pieces of jewelry are also found here. You can buy them from the local markets for low prices. A thing to note is that these artworks are all handmade, so no two pieces are the same, which makes each gem, special and unique. Sri Lanka is known to be one of the oldest manufacturers of Rubies and Sapphires. It has one of the oldest mines for these precious stones. Don’t forget to look for the shops belonging to Sri Lanka Gem & jewelry association as they assure you of the quality of gems you are buying.


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Do you like to collect old stuff? For all such antique fanatics, Sri Lanka has excellent collector shops where you can buy these timeless pieces of arts. You can find old gramophones, pieces of jewelry, pots, utensils, lamps, irons, semi-precious stones, decorative items, early typewriters, and a whole plethora of items that will surely bring out your inner collector. Rare finds such as gemstones can also be found if you are lucky enough. They don’t have any specific spots, but there are found in nooks and crannies of all the markets, one just has to look in the right place.

Sri Lankan Masks

A good decorative item to buy is the locally made Sri Lankan mask. These pieces of art are made in many villages, and only a few families exist who carry on this form of art. They look amazing, and you can hang one on the walls of your house. Each mask symbolizes some character from the great epics. Some varieties of masks are sold as a good luck charm too, they are said to ward of any evil spirits that might come near you. Masks are often made from single pieces of wood. They’re intricate pieces of work.

Mostly they depict the face of Ravana the wise, evil king from the epic of Ramayana. The different colors of masks hold different meanings such as the red one protects you from any evil forces, yellow one brings wealth, and blue one helps in your career. Ariyapala & Sons Mask Museum is one of the best places to find quality works of wooden masks and other products made from wood. As a bonus, you can also look into the processes involving in making these, in their workshop.

Leather Works

You can find many products made out of 100% genuine leather such as bags, backpacks, carrying bags, traditional disk-shaped bags, slings, chairs, wallets, hats, etc. These are manufactured by small-scale industries, and all products are handmade. Leather works can be found cheaply in many stores in Colombo, their designs are inspired by traditional practices and old artworks and drawings.

Along with these, another thing to look for is the conventional lace works of Sri Lanka. It was introduced into Sri Lanka by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Galle is the most famous area involving in the production of high-quality lace works. We recommend the Shoba Display Gallery in Galle.

Religious Items

Sri Lanka is a multilingual country with a mix of people from many religions in its society. A lot of its traditions are mixed, giving you this hotspot of economy and culture. You can find many different things, such as local food and staple meals, unusual fruits, and vegetables. A variety of snacks can also be found here, some common and some unique such as Kiribath is a dish made from rice cooked in milk, Kawum is a sweet made from oil cakes.

You can find many religious items like traditional oil lamps that people light up in their homes and other ceremonial lamps. They come in varying sizes, including the small ones and large ones almost the size of a human. You can buy these from metalwork markets in Kandy. Religious items are not only limited to any one particular religion or to any one specific object, but they also include all the native food, the pictures and ways of lifestyle. We can see how Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, and Muslims are all residing under one roof and how their cultures mix.

Handmade Ayurvedic Beauty and Skincare Products

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With its lush green forests and temperate climate, Sri Lanka is home to many different plants with medicinal properties. Ayurveda is a traditional system of healing using natural products available around us. Sri Lanka is also one of the leading exporters of medicinal plants all around the world. It is again an art that has been passed down from generation to generation.

You can find many products such as handmade soaps, shampoos, creams, facial creams, essential oils, beauty products, all made using natural ingredients. You won’t find any sort of famous brands or big manufacturing units. Instead, you will find these small and family-run factories who, for generations, have been making them in their homes. This is a perfect gift you can buy for your friends and family. Find them in Spa Ceylon, Odel, etc.

Parth Kohli
Parth has been writing for BP-Guide India for well over a year. He is a budding entrepreneur and an avid learner, pursuing his education in business management (B.B.A.) from one of the central institutions in India. He is presently working on projects based on e-learning and digital marketing. In his spare time, he likes to read and write on various niches, such as the latest developments in sciences, technologies, cyberspace, among many other domains and topics.
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Visit the Cultural Hotspot, Sri-Lanka and Bring Back Some Exquisite Souvenirs in 2019

The land of many religions and rich history, Sri-Lanka is a cultural paradise. It is here that you find the intermixing of different faiths, and cultural harmony is reflected in every aspect of its life. Visit this vibrant country in 2019 and bring back some of the best souvenirs.