15 Unique Souvenirs to Buy on Your Solo Trip to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has a lot of places where you can shop. Be it fancy malls or shopping markets- you have a lot of options to choose from. If you think that precious gemstones are the only thing you can take back home, you’re totally mistaken. There is a lot more to purchase than just gemstones and jewellery in a beautiful country like Sri Lanka.
I always buy at least a few souvenirs whenever I go on solo trips. This way, I take home a memory from wherever I travel to, other than some pictures. I mean, is your trip really complete if you don’t buy souvenirs? I don’t think so! And I always keep in mind that I should not be scammed and asked to pay an exorbitant amount of money for something that isn’t worth it. I agree that some of the handicrafts take a great deal of time to make, and they are worth a lot more than the price. But that is when you should be generous enough to pay a little extra. It brings a smile to people’s faces and gives them a reason to continue what they do.
You can buy a ton of souvenirs in Sri Lanka. Sometimes, you will be confused and might end up making the wrong decision. So, to make your shopping task easier, I have compiled a list of the 15 most unique souvenirs that you can buy on your solo trip to Sri Lanka. If you are travelling solo to Sri Lanka for the first time, look up these tips to make your journey easier.
1. Ceylon Tea
Sri Lankan tea needs no introduction. The world-famous Ceylon Tea got its name from the country’s former name, and you need not go to a specific place to purchase it. Instead, you can pick it up from any local supermarket, that’s how easy it is!
However, if you have the time, you should visit a tea plantation or two in Kandy or Nuwara Eliya and buy fresh tea from the site. There might not be a massive difference in the quality, but definitely in the price. Also, you get to view the scenic location of the tea plantation while you are at it. Even if you are not a tea person, I would recommend that you pick up a pack or two as it might change your mind!
2. Porcelain products
Porcelain products are pretty expensive and very famous in China and Japan. However, many of these are made in Sri Lanka, and you can purchase some at a low price. The quality is unquestionable. You can buy teacups, plates, cutlery, or whatever you want to. There are a lot of designs to choose from, too – minimalistic or heavily designed. There is something for everybody here.
You can choose to renovate your kitchen entirely or buy a couple of pieces only, whatever you wish. You can also buy it for your friends and family, and they will totally love it! Odel in Colombo is the best place to purchase some porcelain products, but you can find these at many other places.
3. Gemstones and jewellery
Any Sri Lankan souvenir list is incomplete without gemstones and jewellery. I know that you would have heard this a thousand times. But there’s a reason behind it. There are many mines here, and you can find some of the best and cheapest jewels in the world. I know these are expensive, but you will only pay for what they are worth, not anything extra.
Rubies, moonstones, topazes, emeralds, aquamarine, and amethysts are some of the many gems you can find here. Due to the popularity of these gems, you can easily be duped. So, I recommend that you purchase these from an authorised store only. You can find a lot of stores in Colombo, Kandy, Ratnapura, and Galle.
4. Sri Lankan spices
Sri Lanka is well known for its spice gardens. A lot of meals that you eat here include spices that are locally grown in the country. While many herbs are used, cinnamon is the top pick of the tourists who decide to take something back home. And I do not disagree one bit. You can purchase cinnamon powder or sticks, whichever you prefer.
Along with this, you can buy other spices like turmeric, pepper, cardamom, paprika, and curry leaves. Make an effort to buy them only from authentic stores and not fall for any traps that sell sub-standard products. These are fake spices of low quality, have no use, and are usually sold to tourists who do not know about spices.
5. Batik fabrics
Batik is a technique of dying, originated in Indonesia. It soon spread to Sri Lanka, and it is now a small-scale industry in the country. It is a wax-resistant technique wherein wax and ink are used to make prints on a piece of clothing. The entire process is a time-consuming one, and it can take hours to complete a small piece of clothing. Not only will you find items of clothing, but also home décor items with this print.
Authentic Batik fabrics are not available in a lot of places. So, plan your trip accordingly if you are looking to buy it. Some of the areas that sell these are Jayamali Batik Studio in Kandy, Laksala in Colombo, Kandy City Centre, Crescat Boulevard, and Majestic City on Galle Road.
6. Raksha masks
Sri Lanka is also known for its handicraft industry. You will find a whole host of handicraft items, and one of those is Raksha (defence) masks. They are usually carved out of wood and hand-painted. I must say, making each mask requires a substantial amount of time, skill, and patience. They have been used to oppose evil and bad omens. But these days, they are used in a lot of functions and ceremonies too. You will also find them outside people’s houses which protects them from all the wrong things.
While you might not believe in such things, you should definitely get a mask like this. They are readily available in any souvenir shop in a variety of designs, colours, and sizes. Each colour has its own meaning so you can buy one according to your needs. While there aren’t any ‘fake’ masks as such, I would recommend that you buy a good quality mask that would last a few years from Laksala or any other souvenir shop.
7. Dumbara products
Dumbara is a rough fabric that is hand-woven in and around the villages of Kandy. These are usually woven in geometrical patterns, and the colours white, black and red are commonly used. It is used to create durable products like rugs, mats, bags, baskets, and even wallets.
If you are someone who appreciates handicraft items, you are going to love these Dumbara products. The locals also use these products for home décor, and you can pick up some for yourself, your family, and friends. You can find Dumbara products at many places. If you like a lot of variety and choices, you can check out Laksala and Barefoot in Colombo.
Galle is the place to be if you are looking to purchase antiques. No matter what you say, I think every household has a few antiques they love and are even proud of. Suppose you are a collector of ancient items. In that case, Sri Lanka has got it all, from trinkets to gemstones, from ornaments to jewellery, candle stands to wall art, utensils to a clock, you name it, and you can find it. Even though there is a lot of variety, gemstones and jewellery are in plenty here.
Do note that you will be spending a lot of time here finding the best ones. You will want to buy it all, but that’s not possible! So, choose your favourite ones and carry home some for your friends and family. While you can find many shops selling antiques, paying a visit to Galle is a must!
9. Posters and paintings
If you admire the artwork, again, Galle is the best place to be at. You can find shops selling old posters and even some old maps of the country. This way, you can learn how the country has changed over the last few hundred years. These posters are of decent quality, well-maintained, and aren’t damaged as they look pretty good but ancient.
You can also find paper baskets of high quality and made from many layers of recycled paper. Also, you can buy paintings which depict the rich history and culture of the country. Galle and Rangala House Gallery in Kandy are my top picks to buy some posters and paintings from.
10. Elephant figurines
You can find a lot of elephants in Sri Lanka, be it real ones or figurines. Those real-life ones have made their way into the souvenir shop, like literally! It is pretty common to gift someone an elephant figurine in Sri Lanka. People do it on several occasions like anniversaries, weddings and even birthdays. You can find one that best suits your needs and choose from a bunch of options.
Some of them are made of gemstones, wood, stone, ebony, or you can also choose to buy a soft toy or fridge magnets. They have something for everyone. While you can find them all over the country, Laksala and Paradise Store in Colombo have the best collection of figurines across the country.
11. Sri Lankan saris
No Sri Lankan souvenir list is complete without a sari. Some associate a sari with India, but the Sri Lankan people wear slightly different ones from the ones worn in India. Sri Lankan saris come in all colours, and in my opinion, they are much easier to wear. You can visit a store and ask a lady how to wear it.
You might be wondering if you would ever wear a sari back in your home country. Well, probably not. But that shouldn’t stop you from buying the elegant Sri Lankan saris. Lanka Silks in Sigiriya and Odel in Colombo are your best options to buy some saris from. If you like a ton of options to choose from, you can explore the Kandy City Centre for more options.
Jams in Sri Lanka are made from a delicious mix of locally grown fruits. They come in all types of flavours, from single flavours to unique ones. Some of the more famous ones are mango, passion fruit, and strawberry in single flavour and mango & papaya, strawberry flavoured melon, passion fruit, papaya & vanilla in unique flavours. You can find many more flavours in any local supermarket and choose the one you like the most.
Not only can you take a few home, but become a child again and have bread and jam as your delicious evening snack. While you can pick these up from any local supermarket, the Good Market Shop in Colombo has some amazing flavours.
On the one hand, you have Dumbara products that are rough and coarse, while on the other, you have soft, comfortable silk and cotton fabrics made on a handloom. Both of these form a big part of the Sri Lankan garment industry. Even though technology has advanced a lot in the last few decades, weavers choose to use traditional methods to this day.
You can find hand-woven saris, sarongs, wall hangings, tablecloths, bedsheets, and many other home décor items. This will not only be a memory from your Sri Lanka trip but also make your home look much better. You can find some of the best hand-woven items in Barefoot, Kandygs, and Laksala.
A sarong is a large unisex fabric that is wrapped around the waist. It is popular in Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka. While it is primarily worn by men, you can spot a few women wearing it too. I must say, it is one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing that also looks good. It is primarily worn on beaches by both men and women. If you love beaches, you should definitely sport one!
Some men go around the streets getting their errands done in a sarong! So, don’t be surprised when you spot a few. You can find a wide variety of sarongs all over the country and buy some from Barefoot or Odel in Colombo.
15. Ayurvedic products
Ayurvedic products are best for you if you are fed up with all the chemicals and preservatives used in beauty products. Ayurveda focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle without the use of harmful chemicals. It has been widely used in Sri Lanka for centuries now, and there are many Ayurvedic centres in the country.
You can check out the vast line of beauty products like face and body masks, packs, shampoos, hair oils, and creams in one of the many Ayurvedic resorts and spas spread across the country. I would recommend that you try out these products at a spa and then pick up whatever suits you best. Colombo is the best place if you are looking for some good products.
These were some of the unique souvenirs that you can buy from Sri Lanka. Suppose you do not have a lot of time exploring and finding the best places. In that case, I recommend that you visit Laksala as that is the one-stop-shop for the best souvenirs and unique items. Alternatively, you can also plan your trip better to make enough time to explore the whole country. Happy shopping!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.