Shopping in Sri Lanka – 15 Best Souvenirs

Sri Lanka has always been a consumer's paradise. It is a major textile and garment exporter. Sri Lanka has also been known for textile shopping among us Indians. The name of Odel Bazaar has always been included in the Sri Lanka travel itinerary especially for shopping of textiles and garments.

Sri Lankan Gifts & Souvenirs During my two trips to Sri Lanka, I saw many items other than clothing that are particularly symbolic of Sri Lankan culture and heritage. You can buy these as souvenirs during your trip to Sri Lanka. These symbolic souvenirs in Sri Lanka are available in various price ranges to suit every type of customer. As per my findings, apart from clothing, there are 15 other main items that you can buy as souvenirs:

gems and jewellery

Let us begin this list of souvenirs with the most fascinating and most valuable item. There are many gemstone mines in Sri Lanka. The Chandrakanta mine is prominent among them. I too had the good fortune of visiting one of the Chandrakanta mines here. Here I got the opportunity to see firsthand the process of excavation, sorting and polishing of gemstones. Jewelleries were also being made by setting these shiny gemstones in various metals. My heart too was fascinated by these gemstones and I too purchased some Chandrakanta gemstones.

Priceless gems of Sri LankaPriceless gems of Sri Lanka
Priceless gems of Sri Lanka

You can buy these gems anywhere in Sri Lanka. There are many small and big gem shops in Unawatuna and Kandy which are famous for tourism. What did you say? You doubt your gemstone-spotting skills! You can visit many museums located here where they are taught through literature and short films. After seeing them, you can fearlessly buy various gems.

Yes, let me warn you! Do not forget to bargain while buying these gems in every small and big shop.

Famous Sri Lankan Tea

Sri Lankan tea has always been famous. This can prove to be the best gift brought from Sri Lanka for tea lovers. You can visit the tea plantations, see their factories and bring your favorite tea from there. As far as I am concerned, whenever I visit the tea plantations of any region, I bring enough fresh tea from there that my tea supply of a few months is satisfied.

Sri Lanka's famous tea Sri Lanka's famous tea
Sri Lanka's famous tea

Apart from the tea plantations in Sri Lanka, you can also buy tea leaves packed in beautiful boxes from the markets and souvenir shops.

Sri Lanka's most famous tea is sold as Dilma Tea.

Chinese pottery

Very few of you would know that the most famous ceramics available in Japan called Noritake are made in Sri Lanka. If you want to buy your favorite pottery at reasonable prices, you can buy it from the factory's sales center. Apart from this, you can also buy it from the huge exhibition hall in Colombo. Their products are also available in other markets like Odel in Sri Lanka.

Porcelain made in Sri Lanka Porcelain made in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan ceramics

The porcelain utensils purchased during my visit to Sri Lanka 12 years ago are still adorning my kitchen. Some people here told that when Mrs. Ambani was decorating her new house in Mumbai, she went to Sri Lanka to buy porcelain utensils for her kitchen.

Sri Lankan Cinnamon

cinnamon sticks cinnamon sticks
cinnamon sticks

Almost all the spices grown in South India are also grown in Sri Lanka. The main reason for this is the similarity of air and water. Cinnamon is prominent among them. Do you know, Sri Lanka is the largest exporter of cinnamon in the world? So it is obvious which spice I must have bought! I bought cinnamon pieces wrapped like a delicate note. It looked different from the cinnamon usually sold in India.

Cinnamon is available in powdered form as well as in pieces. You can also buy beautiful sachets filled with cinnamon and many other spices. Apart from being a must-have in your kitchen, this can also be a useful gift.

Attractive wooden masks

unique wooden masksunique wooden masks
unique wooden masks

Wood carving is a handicraft practiced throughout Sri Lanka. The carvings done in many Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka will mesmerize you. Beautifully carved wooden masks are the hallmark of Sri Lankan artisans. These colorful masks can be a part of your home decor. It is believed that red masks bring protection, yellow masks bring prosperity and blue masks help in your business.

Read more – Anuradhapura – Places to visit in the ancient capital of Sri Lanka

I wanted a pure wood carving without any additional paint. So I chose a fisherman sitting on a wooden pole with a flute in his hand. I also bought a Ravana mask. I thought it was a symbol of the ancient relationship between India and Sri Lanka. It is still a major part of my collection.

Dumbara mats and cane items

articles made of cane articles made of cane
articles made of cane

Dumbara weave is a rough weave made on a handloom. It is called Dumbara weave after the name of its origin near Kandy. This weave is made in geometric shapes and mostly uses white, black and red colours. In Sri Lanka, I saw beautiful wall decorations, tablecloths, baskets and bags made using this weave. These items are also available in souvenir shops. Available in many shapes and sizes, these items give you ample choice.

Read more – Polonnaruwa- The finest ancient city of Sri Lanka

Similarly, you can also buy beautiful baskets and boxes made from cane.

Sri Lankan Sarees

sri lanka saree sri lanka saree
sri lanka saree

Like the South Indian cities, the traditional women's dress in Sri Lanka is also saree. Like Kerala, sarees in Sri Lanka are also of two types. The first type of saree has two more parts along with the blouse. The first is the dupatta and the second is the undergarment with a fringe on the waist which is wrapped around the waist. The second type of saree is five yards long like the Indian saree but it is worn in a manner different from the Indian tradition. The pleats of this saree, which is worn starting from the pallu, are pulled out instead of inside and are given the form of a fringe on the waist.

Read more – Visiting Ramayana related places in Sri Lanka

The first type of sari is very easy to wear. I also learnt to wear this sari from a woman there. It reminds me of the Mekhala sari of Assam. It is said that it is originally inspired by the Redda-Hatte costume worn in Java region of Indonesia. It can be a beautiful gift as a souvenir of Sri Lanka.


If you are interested in collecting antiques, you can buy these items from many shops located in Galle. A unique coincidence happened with me that it was raining during my visit to Galle. So I spent my entire time in the shops. Many shops of gems and antiques are located here.

There are many things available here like ancient utensils, clocks, musical instruments, items for worship. A lot of patience is required to find the favorite thing among these. This is no less exciting than finding a treasure.

Maps, pictures and paper products

While strolling through the shops in Galle, my sight fell on a group of shops selling paintings and maps of ancient Sri Lanka.

Old maps and posters Old maps and posters
Old maps and posters

He had beautiful pictures of Sri Lanka and Galle. Some of the pictures were many years old. Yet they were kept very carefully. If you are interested in old paintings then your wish will be fulfilled in the streets of Galle.

Read more – Places to visit in the ancient Jaffna city of Northern Sri Lanka

Some artists in Sri Lanka are doing paper recycling work in a very interesting way. I saw colorful baskets made from recycled paper. I wanted to bring these beautiful baskets with me to India and get them replicated here. Buying these paper products directly means our contribution towards protecting the environment.

Colourful paintings on stones

You must have seen pictures painted on smooth stones. But you would have rarely seen beautiful elephants and dancers painted on rough stones.

Stone Painting Stone Painting
Stone Painting

If your mind is fascinated by the stone paintings of Dambulla and Sigiriya, then you can also buy them as a good souvenir of Sri Lanka and add to the beauty of your home. The style of these paintings may have changed over time, but their basic nature remains constant.

Colourful carved wooden accessories

colorful wooden boxes colorful wooden boxes
colorful wooden boxes

There are many workshops in Kandy where fine wooden statues and household items are made. I got a chance to visit one such workshop. All the items made there fascinated me. However, one box particularly attracted me. It was a wonderful painted box.

I was informed that all the workshops here export their artefacts to every corner of the world. So you can easily get your selected items delivered to your home.

Iconic paintings of Sri Lanka

You can also take the classical style paintings made here as a souvenir of Sri Lanka. These are bright and pure paintings made in bright colours. Most of the paintings are based on mythological stories. These depict royal rides and characters from epics.

Seeing these pictures, I remembered the walls of Tambekar Wada.

bowls made from cinnamon tree

bowl made of cinnamon wood bowl made of cinnamon wood
bowl made of cinnamon wood

Although you can buy bowls made of wood, the white and cinnamon colored smooth bowls are extremely beautiful and unique. According to the seller, the bark of the cinnamon tree is first separated from the trunk for the cinnamon spice. These bowls are then painted with the dust from the inside of the trunk.

The bowl painted with cinnamon, Sri Lanka's main spice, is a unique identity of Sri Lanka and a perfect souvenir for you.


Sri Lanka is famous for its clothes. You can buy clothes of your choice from Odel and many such big shops.

elephant crafts

Elephants made from elephant bonesElephants made from elephant bones
Elephants made from elephant bones

Elephants are found in abundance in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans are proud of their elephants. Therefore, elephant paintings, figures, crafts etc. are visible everywhere. Elephant-related souvenirs that you can buy are-

  • Elephants made of yarn and cotton are perfect gifts for babies.
  • Elephant shaped gems for gem connoisseurs.
  • Attractive elephant sculptures and statues made from elephant bones.
  • Statues made by carving on wood.
  • Wooden decorative items bearing images of elephants.
  • Elephant magnets to stick on the fridge.
  • A unique paper made from elephant dung that also protects the environment.

Tips for Buying Souvenirs in Sri Lanka

  • Bargaining is very important for shopping in Sri Lanka. The marked price on the items can be many times higher than the original price. Although we are often unaware of the limits of bargaining, try to bargain as much as possible.
  • Laksala is a retail store established by the Sri Lankan government and its branches are available all over Sri Lanka. The souvenirs available in this store have a fixed price. You can buy the things of your choice from here without any worry.
  • There is a huge shop called “Barefoot” and many similar shops where custom-made items are available. But these items are more expensive.

Most of the above souvenirs are also available at Sri Lanka's airport. Although their prices are high and bargaining is not easy. However, if there is a shortage of time, souvenirs can be purchased from here as well.

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