It is a very strange thing that generally speaking I hate shopping and yet I love markets, specifically those in Asia. My virtual Tourist pages are full of tips on them. I am not sure if it is the sights, smells (particularly delightful on this continent), sounds or just the general hubbub and sense of life about them but I never pass up the chance to visit.
Actually, when I got the bus in from the airport on my arrival I was deposited right in the middle of the Pettah as the area is called. I believe Pettah simply means market in Sinhala (the local language and one of three official languages in Sri Lanka). After 26 hours without sleep and a long journey, it was something of an assault on the senses but I thoroughly enjoyed it especially when the hawkers were shouting out friendly greetings to me.
The Pettah is about half traditional stalls and half small shop premises and is split up into areas. one area will sell, fish, another jewellery, another fancy goods and so on. I suspect you can buy just about anything here if you know where to look.
If you are coming into the Centre on a bus just ask the conductor to let you off at the Pettah as everything goes past it. If you arrive at Fort Station by train, just cross the road outside and dive down any of the side streets. Don't worry about getting disorientated as it is big enough to be interesting but not that large you will become totally lost. If you do, just ask anyone for Olcott and they will direct you back to the main road where you can re-orientate yourself.
No visit to an Asian city is complete for me without a market trip and this one is a beauty.
This one is for the Gals, OK ! So you guys can take a peek as well. You find some of the best clothes in Sri Lanka at very reasonable prices and of very good quality. Clothes, Bags, Shoes, Travelling bags and many more. You will find the branded and the unbranded stuff.
Among the best outlets are House of Fashion, Odel ( My Favs) , Beverly Street, Parade, Mondy's Arpico Super Centres to name a few. There are many other smaller stores that also offer high quality stuff. If you happen to miss out on your Shopping in the city, on your way home set off to the airport a few hours early and visit A- World which is in Welisara ( 20km away from the airport.) next to the big M of Mcdonalds. ( You can't miss that ) You will find some of the best of Office ware, Casual ware & Sports ware for ladies & gents alike. As for winter clothes the collection is limited. But at that price, why not ? Go a bit crazy. Take your chance when you do get it. You will find your dollor going a long way, trust me. My wife would have written a book on this tip but I'll leave it at that. Will give details of the individual places in detail in due course.
A quaint Tea shop high in the mountains enroute to Nuwara Eliya from Colombo. Do have a cup of tea and a slice of their chocolate cake while enjoying the view of the mountains and the St Clair waterfall.
Udayshanth Fernando's Paradise Road.
One of the finest shops for home decor & crockery. Prices are a bit on the high side, but quality merchandise. The food in their Gallery Café is awesome. Also check out the architecture of the building, by SL's leading architect Geoffery Bawa.
A must visit if you are in Colombo.
The suburb of Havelock Town is one of Colombo's quietest, with an almost village feel to it at times. While it has the same intense heat and often the same traffic problems as the rest of the city I think it has quite a distinct feel, unlike anywhere else in the city. It's a fashionable and increasingly wealthy area with a lot of 'arts and craft' style shops and displays. It's a good place to pick up souvenirs on your way home.
Colombo 5 is dominated by two main streets: Havelock Road and Thimbirigisaya Road. It can be a nice place to go in the early evening, with some good outdoor restaurants such as Frangipani and the Havelock Bungalow (also a small hotel). Sat out in their gardens under a starry sky the noise and chaos of the city just outside can feel a million miles away.