Souvenirs from Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Here’s our guide to shop some of the best souvenirs from Sri Lanka that you can bring back home.

As soon as I come back from any trip, the first thing I do is unpack my suitcase. It’s more of unpacking memories for me.

As I unfurl the layers of clothes, the smile on my face grows. Boarding passes, travel brochures, entry tickets to numerous attractions I visited, toiletries and notepads from different hotels we stayed in (Hell yeah! I’ve got this weird habit of bringing back toiletries from hotels as memorabilia), souvenirs or keepsakes I bought, postcards, and whatever I collect or shop during my trip lie between the different layers of packed clothes.

With each keepsake I touch, I remember the complete experience – the food, the people, the places and the aura.

It’s the little things always 馃檪

Sri Lanka – First Impressions

Teardrop of India or Pearl of Indian Ocean or Ceylon or The nation of smiling people or Sri LankaWhat’s in a name?

The beauty and quietness of this itsy-bitsy island absolutely hypnotized me. I named it Voodoo island. But, then again; what’s in a name?

Sri Lanka’s recent popularity as a tourist destination is major because of its quaint and reticent beaches and stunning wintry highlands that grow country’s illustrious tea, Ceylon tea.

Sri Lanka took my heart away for many reasons; mostly because of its striking resemblance to one of my favorite places in my home country, Kerala. There were things I absolutely loved about Sri Lanka and there were things I actually hated.

I’ll write about them in another post because this one is about the memories and collectibles I brought back from the little island.

What Souvenirs did I bring back from Sri Lanka?

A Piece of Sri Lanka 馃檪

Shopping in Sri Lanka is bliss because it’s competitive and bargainable. Plus, the handcrafted articles to famous Ceylon tea to demon masks to authentic cinnamon; there’s a lot to take back

Best Souvenirs From Sri Lanka

1. Ceylon Tea from the Tea Gardens of Nuwara Eliya

A visit to the hill country in Sri Lanka is incomplete without visiting a tea factory and if you set foot in the tea factory, you are bound to buy Ceylon tea (loads of it.)

World-famous Ceylon tea is certainly one of the best souvenirs from Sri Lanka you can take back home. I was baffled to see a good deal of varieties and flavors to choose from.

A young lady gracefully wearing Osariya (National attire of Sri Lankan women) guided us through the tea factory and made us taste all types of tea in their lovely cafe.

Being a tea lover, I bought different varieties of tea.

Tea gardens- Ceylon tea as souvenirs from Sri Lanka
Lush Tea Plantations of Nuwara Eliya. Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Sri Lankan Batiks

Batik work mesmerized me to an extent that I absolutely had to have at least one piece of ARTicle with Batik work on it.

Mostly embellished with colorful and vivacious prints of flowers, elephants, festivals like Esala Perahera; Batik indeed portrays the island’s rich culture and heritage.

Batik motifs are largely influenced by Sri Lanka’s religion and culture. Batik factory visit gives a chance to see the dying process first hand.

A lady with a sweet smile welcomed us and showed as well as explained the way the Batik artwork is done. Unique and brightly hued designs are sure to capture anyone’s attention.

They are a bit expensive but totally worth it. We bought a beautiful Peacock Batik wall art. We preferred it without the frame so that we could just fold it and put it in the suitcase with ease.

I guess, with the frame, there would be chances of damage during air travel. It adorns my living room wall and I’m loving it. Batiks also can make great gifts for friends and family back home.

Batik as souvenirs from Sri Lanka
Artisans in a Batik workshop.

3. Devil Masks

Sri Lankans use traditional wooden demon masks (Vesmuhunu) as a ritual to avert evil spirits. Ambalangoda in the southwestern Sri Lankan region is well known for its mask making industry.

I found the devil masks quite attractive and surreal because of different shapes, and intense colors.

There are perplexing varieties of masks and each type has distinct significance. They are majorly used in rituals, dramatic variations, devil dance performances and also to cure illness.

Demon masks as souvenirs from Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Devil Masks. Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Gems and Jewelry

If budget isn’t a concern for you then there’s nothing as beautiful as Sri Lankan gems as souvenirs. We visited the gem museum in Kandy and Meetiyagoda moonstone mine near Hikkaduwa. It was a great experience.

Sri Lanka is famous for its high-quality gemstones. In fact, they are some of the best in the world. I too picked up the blue moonstone jewelry from a gem museum shop.

Sri Lanka produces about 70 varieties of gemstones but is famed for the finest sapphires and blue moonstones.

Put your bargain skills to use while buying gems and jewelry.

Ratnapura, Meetiyagoda (Galle), and Kandy are some of the best places to buy gemstones. Most of the gem shops in Kandy are government authorized that provide a certificate of authenticity with your purchase.

5. Fridge Magnets

Because you can’t have too many fridge magnets right?

Fridge Magnet as souvenirs from Sri Lanka
The elephant is an integral element of Sri Lankan artwork.

6. Pure Ceylon Cinnamon

Sri Lanka is the birthplace of the age-old spice trade. Europeans, Portuguese, Dutch, and British came to Sri Lanka in search of rare and exclusive cinnamon.

A young boy explained to us the processing of Ceylon cinnamon in an interesting way. He skillfully peeled the brown colored outer bark of cinnamon tree revealing the light cream color inner bark.

The inner bark is peeled off and then the soft layers of bark are packed one inside the other and dried to make Ceylon cinnamon.

The Ceylon cinnamon is softer and sweeter as compared to the one we have in India. He informed that in India, they only peel the first layer to produce cinnamon so it’s harder as compared to the Sri Lankan cinnamon.

It was an experience in itself to listen to his stories while sipping aromatic cinnamon tea.

Cinnamon as souvenirs from Sri Lanka
Young boy peels the bark of the Cinnamon tree with utter precision.

 7. Sarongs

You would have or you will witness people (mostly men) wearing sarongs all over Sri Lanka.

Albeit it is largely worn by men but it looks cool on women too, so I would say that it is a kind of unisex apparel. With so many patterns and Batik prints you absolutely have to have some in your wardrobe.

They’re pretty cheap and then they don’t even take much space in your suitcase. I bought in batches with different prints and patterns; one of them has already been stitched into a beautiful dress.

They can be used as a wraparound too. Buy as many as you like because they’ll come handy sooner or later, that’s what I think.

Local shop to buy souvenirs from Sri Lanka
Colorful sarongs at a local shop. Image Credit: Pixabay

8. Stones and Seashells

Some of the secluded and small beaches near Tangalle conceal amazing sea life. We enjoyed walking along the beach while hunting for unusual stones, seashells, and corals.

The assortment of rocks and seashells became one of the best souvenirs we have ever brought back from our travels.

But make sure not to disturb the reef and collect only and only dead sea life which is washed off to the seashore.

Seashells as souvenirs from Sri Lanka
Because every Seashell has a Story.

 9. Sri Lankan Jaggery

Jaggery ( Hakuru in Sinhala ) is used as a natural sweetener in Sri Lanka. They collect flowers from coconut trees and extract their nectar which is then air-dried to form brown crystalline natural sugar, also called palm sugar or kithul jaggery.

The taste of Hakuru is quite different from the one we have here in North India.

We were served Sri Lankan jaggery with tea as a welcome drink and I preferred to eat it raw than putting it in my tea 馃檪 That’s when I decided that I need to take Sri Lankan jaggery back home.

sri lankan jaggery kithul hakuru
Picture Credits: Pearl Ocean Foods

10. Osariya or Kandyan Sari

National attire of Sri Lankan women, Osariya is a beautiful mix of tradition and style. I loved the way women in Sri Lanka wear their sari with utmost grace.

Intrigued by the attire and its intricate draping style, I learned the way it’s worn.

It’s draped in quite a unique way. The Kandyan sari consists of the wrap-around with a frill that comes at the waist, another piece to be draped over the shoulder, a blouse piece stitched more often with puffed sleeves and an underskirt.

And you know, they make sure to adorn Osariya with a brooch.

woman wearing traditional osariya at kandy batik workshop posed for me with a smile
The lady at the Batik workshop in Kandy posed happily for me with the mannequin, both flaunting Osariya, traditional Sri Lankan sari.
osariya national attire of sri lankan women
Picture Credits: FMLK

11. Postcards

Over the years, I have made it a tradition to buy postcards wherever I travel and send it to my close friends with a handwritten note.

You might say that it’s quirky and postcards are obsolete in the age of twitter, facebook and other social media channels where you can document your travels easily but believe me nothing is as satisfying as compared to the handwritten printed postcards sent to loved ones.

They’ll treasure it. Call me old school but that’s the way I roll. Postcards can be one of the quirkiest souvenirs.

Sometimes I write a short description of what I did on the places I traveled on the back of the postcard and stick the collection on my little wallboard and guess what now my daughter does that for me.

Postcards as souvenirs from Sri Lanka
Postcards as Souvenirs from Sri Lanka – Complete joy!

What’s the Most Precious Souvenir I Brought Back from Sri Lanka?

Ah! It’s the garden of memories 馃檪

The smell of sea, roaring sound of sea waves, feel of the ocean waves on my feet, brown sand in my sandals, aroma of fresh tea from the tea gardens of Nuwara Eliya, the picture of us standing聽at the edge of World’s End cliff and endless pure joy that fills my heart every time I take a stroll in the garden of memories.

Share the unique souvenirs you brought back from your travels 馃檪

Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? Try our 8 days itinerary to explore Sri Lanka with kids and the complete travel guide to Sri Lanka. And don’t forget to earmark some time in your itinerary for shopping and buying local and traditional souvenirs from Sri Lanka.

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shopping sri lanka souvenirs

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32 thoughts on “Souvenirs from Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka Shopping Guide”

  1. I love Sri Lankan food and have a friend who has been dying to get her hands on some of the jaggery and cinnamon for her recipes she believes they are the best in the world and is already planning her trip back to pick up more. I tend to go for the batiks I don’t believe any other country in the world has such beautiful batik prints.

    • Undoubtedly, Kithul jaggery and cinnamon, indigenous to Sri Lanka are the best in the world. I too fell in love with Batik artwork as soon as I entered the Batik factory. It was an amazing and learning experience talking to local women artisans.

    • Yes, Agness! Sri Lanka is full of natural beauty, culture, amazing wildlife and friendly people. That’s what makes it an amazing travel destination. You know, I always prepare a list of local and authentic things to bring back from places I visit based on research. Thank you so much for stopping by 馃檪

  2. Still awaiting to visit the beautiful destination even when it is so close to India.. you have posted attractive photos. Let’s hope I will be able to visit it next year … Fingers crossed

    • Hey, Annemarie, Sri Lankan masks ain’t decorative pieces that can be hung on the wall of the living room but each one serves a different purpose. I bought Raksha Masks (Gini Raksha/Fire Demon and Gurula Raksha/Demon bird) which symbolize protection and good fortune. You know, there are some masks that bring negative energy too so one should be cautious while buying these traditional maks and don’t just go for colours and beauty.

  3. Haha…I can’t end my trip without buying a fridge magnet from there 馃檪 Once I forgot to get one and remembered as I reached the airport. I bought one from the airport though at a much higher cost 馃檨 It’s crazy!

  4. Hey there! I just discovered your blog, and am loving browsing through it. I have always loved travel, and the husband and I have traversed lots within India. After a kid (she’s 3.5 years old now) and her starting school, travel has slowed down a bit, and family responsibilities too have sort of taken over. I’ve been trying to not let travel take the backseat, but it has been quite tough. Your posts give me inspiration. Through my blog, too, I’m trying to do something similar – inspire people to travel with kids, tell them that travelling with young kids is not always impossible.

    I am a complete souvenir person, too, so I absolutely loved reading this post!

    • Hey! It’s so nice and encouraging when people like you take out time to comment and appreciate. Thank you so much 馃檪 We aspire to inspire people to travel more with kids and I’m glad that we are able to inspire you a bit. Keep traveling with your little one and keep writing about it. Thanks again for stopping by.


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