Sellers and customers at the Pettah Market, One of the Wonderful Markets in Sri Lanka
Pettah Market, One of the Wonderful Markets in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the tourist paradise of South Asia. It is also a country with a unique culture and history. Further, Sri Lankan people are well known for their hospitality and their warm mannerisms. Thus, your visit to Sri Lanka will be an unforgettable experience for sure. Of course, you may already know about this world-famous tourist destination. Well, this article is about another unique experience that you shouldn’t miss on this island. Yes, that is visiting the markets in Sri Lanka!

Simply, these markets are unique in their nature. In fact, they are full of life and culture. Therefore, you can even get a glimpse into the Sri Lankan lifestyle and culture from these markets from a different perspective. Besides, you will be able to buy so many things from such markets for very reasonable prices. Thus, while you are on this paradise island, don’t forget to pay a visit to a local market.

Excited to know more about these markets in Sri Lanka? Continue reading!

What are the Best Markets to Visit in Sri Lanka?

Well, basically there is a local market in every town in Sri Lanka. However, there is a specific date of the week for these markets, most probably a weekday, and Saturday or Sunday. Further, there are also huge markets in big cities that are open all week.

Anyway, here is a list of the best markets in Sri Lanka that you should consider paying a visit to when you are in the country.

  1. Pettah Market
  2. Pettah Floating Market
  3. Negombo Fishing Market
  4. Kala Pola Art Market
  5. Good Market
  6. Jaffna Market
  7. Galle Fish Market
  8. Kandy Central Market
  9. Galle Face Green Night Market
  10. Manin Market Complex

Scroll down to get to know about these places in detail!

1. Pettah Market

The Pettah Market is probably one of the most popular markets in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the suburbs of Pettah in Colombo city. It is one of the busiest places in Colombo. You can buy basically anything from the Pettah market. From fresh vegetables and fruits to the latest tech devices, there’s a wide range of shops in this market.

However, one of the most surprising facts about the Pettah market is its low prices. If you are ready to bargain, you will be able to secure the deal for a very cheap price. Hence, the shopping area is famous among both local and foreign travelers.

Before visiting the market, make sure to get a rough idea about the streets as there are separate streets for separate goods in the market. Having that knowledge will be easier for you to get what you want within a short period of time.

However, if you are visiting it to get the local market experience, here are some important tips for you.

  • Pettah market is not that crowded in the early morning, like before 10 am.
  • Try to wear comfortable and airy clothes and don’t forget to take your umbrella and sunglasses.
  • Take a list of the things that you are hoping to buy to get a hassle-free shopping experience.

You can easily get a bus, tuk tuk or taxi to the Pettah market from anywhere in Colombo. After all, if you are visiting Colombo, the Pettah market is absolutely worth a visit. 

2. Pettah Floating Market

This is the latest addition to Colombo. It was opened in 2014 and it is located at the Bastian Mawatha on Beira lake right opposite the Pettah private bus station.

Pettah floating market is popular for its aesthetic vibe with its calm ambiance along the peaceful lake. There are about 90 shops and stalls in the market situated between the Pettah bus station and the railway station. It is an amazing experience to shop in these small stalls which are peacefully floating on the lake. Most of the stalls are built with wooden boards, grey floors, and red terracotta tiles. The whole region of the market is just refreshing and relaxing.

Besides, the market is just a sight for sore eyes at night. The bright-colored sky at sunset over the serene waters of Beira lake adds so much beauty to the floating market. So, you will be able to capture some iconic photographs if you are visiting the market at night.

Furthermore, Pettah floating market is an ideal spot for you to hangout with your friends and family amidst the busy Colombo city. Also if you are visiting the market on a weekend, it will be a fun experience to go on a boat ride in Beira lake. Owing to all these reasons, it is simply one of the must visits when you are in Colombo city.

3. Negombo Fishing Market

If you are looking for a place to buy fresh seafood, then you must pay a visit to the Negombo fishing market. Here, you can buy fresh seafood for wholesale and retail prices.

Negombo is situated just 37 kilometers away from Colombo. There are several tourist destinations in the Negombo area as well. So if you are visiting Negombo, don’t forget to pay a visit to the fishing market. Negombo fish market is always busy and full of life. There’s a whole different culture and lifestyle around this market. And yes, you will be able to study a lot about Sri Lanka’s fishing industry and fishermen from this market.

Negombo has forever been one of the most popular fishing villages in the country. While the fishermen of the area live off of the fishing market, it is getting increasingly popular as a tourist destination now. Many tourists love to get a glimpse into unique Sri Lankan lifestyles and industries and this is one of the best places to do so.

There are basically two sections at the market: the dry fish market and the wet fish market. You can buy literally any type of seafood from this market. If you visit early in the morning, you can also see how the fishing boats carry their harvest to the market.

4. Kala Pola Art Market

Are you a fan of visual art? Then you will love paying a visit to the Kala Pola art market. This is a very different and unique market in comparison with the other local markets in Sri Lanka.

It is in fact an open-air art fair. Further, it provides a valuable stage for the Sri Lankan painters and sculptors to show off their incredible talents. This art market is presented by the George Keyt Foundation. However, this is a temporary art market that is being held on Sundays. It takes place over the avenues of Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha. Even if you have no plans to buy any art, you can still go through the market and enjoy the art.

The Kala Pola art market started in 1993 with the participation of only 35 artists. It has been recognized as a prominent art exhibition in the country over time. At the present, over 300 artists participate in the art market. This is not just a business but a community of talented Sri Lankan artists.

After all, if you visit the Kala Pola art market, you will be able to buy some valuable souvenirs produced by Sri Lanka’s best artists. Thus, this is one of the most unique shopping experiences that you can get in Colombo.

5. Good Market

If you are a foodie, then this is the place for you!

A good Market is a place where you can buy various food items. The options are actually endless. However, the Good Market is known for organic products, natural products, and healthy options food.

In fact, this small market was founded on a great initiative called “good for the planet, good for the country, and good for everyone”. It is held on Saturdays with about 80 vendors. However, the flagship store of the market is usually open every day. Besides, the Good Market in Colombo is somewhat similar to a farmers’ market. Here, you can buy high-quality food products for a reasonable price.

Also, this is considered a great platform for social enterprises and responsible businessmen since the market is more focused on quality and values rather than money. Apart from the food items, you can also buy items like ethical fashion, toys, home and garden supplies, and services like massages, live music, kids programs, etc. from the Good Market.

Occasionally, Kandy and Galle also hold similar markets influenced by the Good Market. However, you have to go to the Philip Gunewardana Mawatha in Colombo to visit this original market. You can easily take a tuk-tuk or a taxi from anywhere from Colombo to the Good Market.

6. Jaffna Market

Jaffna is a must-visit town when you are visiting Sri Lanka. Simply, it is one of the best towns to observe the Hindu cultural shades of the Sri Lankan community.

Besides, the Jaffna market is the place to go to get that typical local market experience. Situated at the northern tip of the country, it is very different yet unique from the rest of the country. This is basically a market for vegetables and fruits. Especially, you will be able to buy food items and spices that are special for the Northern province.

There is also a section in the Jaffna market where you can buy unique souvenirs. These are items that you won’t be able to buy from anywhere else in the country.

As you may know, Jaffna is a very dry and hot area. Still, the market there adds a totally different vibe to the town. It is colorful and lively which makes it one of the best places to visit when you are in Jaffna. Taking the hot weather into consideration, it is better if you can visit the market in the early morning to have a comfortable shopping experience.

7. Galle Fish Market

Galle is the star of southern Sri Lanka. Thus, during your visit to Sri Lanka, you will most probably visit Galle. Apart from its very popular tourist destinations, Galle is also famous for its fishing industry. So why not pay a visit to the Galle fish market while you are there?

On the eastern side of Galle, there is this buzzy fishing market close to the Galle harbor. It receives the freshest seafood from the fishing boats every morning. Besides, this commercial fishing market is a place where you can buy basically any type of seafood that you can think of. Therefore, if you are a seafood lover, a visit to this harbor is a must!

Every fishing market has its own culture and vibe. So, the Galle fish market is also totally different from any other fish market in the country. In this market, you’ll be able to see how the fishermen engage in the business and how the locals shop for fresh fish. Furthermore, almost all the restaurants and hotels in Galle buy delicious seafood from the Galle fish market. However, you won’t like the place much if you can’t bear the smell of the fish. Anyhow, the Galle fish market is also another iconic market among the markets in Sri Lanka.

8. Kandy Central Market

Kandy is the most sought-after town in Sri Lanka’s hill country mainly because of its soothing climate, and because it houses the significant cultural attraction, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Hence, many tourists don’t forget to visit Kandy when they are in Sri Lanka.

Besides, the Kandy central market is a public municipal market. It is situated at the heart of Kandy city. The central market building is a colonial-style building and is a well-known place among the street shoppers of Kandy. So, many of the locals go to the Kandy central market to buy their necessities. It is also visited by foreign tourists. Indeed, this is the best market from Sri Lanka’s upcountry.

After all, this is a place where you can get an unforgettable shopping experience in Kandy. From all the food items like vegetables, fruits, spices, and sweets that you need, to other items such as textiles, paintings, and ornaments, the Kandy central market has it all.

As a tourist, you will be able to immerse yourself into the Kandy culture and get an inside perspective on the lifestyle of the Kandy people from this market. Take about 3 hours to fully explore the market and buy all your favorites for cheaper prices. Kandy central market is simply an absolute must-visit when you are visiting this scenic city.

9. Galle Face Green Night Market

Here’s another great market situated in a charming spot in Colombo city. It is located at the Galle Face Green, a wonderful beach park that attracts hundreds of visitors each day.

However, the Galle Face Green night market is famous for its street food stalls. There are many street food stalls in the market where you can buy various types of mouth-watering food items. If you are a fan of street food, you should absolutely pay a visit to this market to taste the best Sri Lankan street food that you won’t be able to taste anywhere else in the world. Besides, the market starts to get customers usually after the sun sets. You can enjoy a vibrant sunset from the Galle Face park and then pay a visit to the night market to taste the delicious street food.

Moreover, the Galle Face green night market is also popular as a hangout spot in Colombo. What else could you ask for in a hangout spot other than tasty seafood and scenic surroundings? Yes, because of that, it is getting increasingly popular as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Colombo.

So, while you are in Colombo, visit this night market to enjoy the nightlife of Colombo. Of course, you will be missing out a lot if you don’t pay a visit to the Galle Face Green Night Market when you are here on this island.

10. Manin Market Complex

Manin Market is simply the oldest market in Sri Lanka, and from those days, it was the main hub for wholesale vendors of vegetables and fruits. To be specific, it has a history of more than a century. However, the Manin Market was earlier located at Pettah. Still, considering the hygiene issues and the limitations at that market premises, the Urban Development Authority of Sri Lanka, came up with a project to construct a new building complex for the Manin Market at Peliyagoda, with all the modern facilities in it.

In fact, this new building complex takes the shape of a stadium, facilitating spacious business slots for more than 1200 vendors, with ease of access to storing, parking, and waste management. Besides, Sri Lanka’s main wholesale fish market is also located adjacent to it, so this new Manin Market complex offers more convenience.

Even though this Manin market complex is mainly for wholesale vendors, it is common that the general public also visits there to buy vegetables and fruits as they believe that the prices would be comparatively low, at the Manin Market. So, if you too visit Sri Lanka, make sure you visit this market complex!

The Bottom Line

After all, you will be visiting the popular tourist destinations and towns when you are in Sri Lanka anyway. But it will be such an enriching experience to get to know the local culture and lifestyle. So, here are a few of the best places to shop and experience Sri Lankan culture and lifestyle.

On the other hand, visiting these markets in Sri Lanka will add so many unforgettable memories to your trip. Further, you will also be able to buy many authentic things and taste local food products from these markets. Hence shopping and exploring a Sri Lankan market is a must-have experience when you are visiting Sri Lanka. Find places for your bucket list from the above-mentioned best and most popular markets in Sri Lanka, visit them, and enjoy. Happy and safe traveling!