Shopping in Galle, Sri Lanka Galle Fort Shopping - Reviews and Advise
Galle Fort, because of its compact size, is an ideal place to hunt for local merchandise. A wide variety of jewelery, woodwork, lace-work, textiles, antics and quirky knick-knacks are available. The Galle Fort is rapidly becoming a tourist haven. This means that prices are slowly but surely going up. The quality of the merchandise is usually good. The items in most shops are price-marked and there is little room for bargaining. Jewelers will however allow you to haggle. Shops in the town center, outside the fort, cater for locals and you are unlikely to find anything of much interest there.
Trading Hours Galle Fort Shops
Galle shops are typically open during the core business hours of 9AM-5PM. Some shops such as Barefoot open later and stay open till 7:00PM.
Most shops in the Galle Fort have fixed prices. The price tag is what you pay. You can still haggle in some of the smaller shops. Most jewelers will allow you to haggle with them. See Buying Jewellery below.
It is customary in Sri Lanka for shop assistants to follow you around their store. They do this to be helpful. It is part of the customer service. So don't be offended by their presence. Obviously, they are also keen to make a sale. Always be courteous.
Galle has always had a reputation for its jewelery shops. Some of them have been operating for generations. So if you are keen on a piece of jewelery do your homework. Shop around before you buy anything.
BE WARNED: There is no such thing as a fantastic bargain!
Only buy jewelery from a reputable shop. They usually display Tourist Board approval, etc.
Bargaining is acceptable in the jewelery trade. While reasonably honorable traders; they are out to maximize their profit - gullible tourist are fair game.
Basically offer them 40% less than the asking price and then work your way up. A 20% discount is probably a good outcome.
Always be courteous.
Buying Antiques in Galle
Sri Lankan legislation prohibits the export of any item older than 100 years without a government permit. So if you are offered anything older than that, it's either illegal or fake. Having said that there are still lots of old knick-knacks and reproductions that are really worth purchasing.
What to Wear
Being in the tropics, the weather at Galle is usually hot and humid. Dressing smart will make your experience far more enjoyable.
• Clothing - Loose cotton or breathable fabric clothes.
• Shoes - Good trainers/runners/ sneakers.
• Hat - Broad brimmed hat to keep the sun away.
• Sunscreen - Definitely a good idea in the tropics.
Con-artists & Bamboozlers
While you may be accosted by a motley collection of street vendors, con-artists and bamboozlers you will, in general, not be endangered in any way. Never ever be conned by sob stories and offers of fantastic prices on precious gems. Ignore these people or politely and firmly say "No Thank You" eventually they will leave you alone.
Galle Weather & Climate
Galle has a hot and humid tropical climate. The average temperature is 29°C. The weather is unpredictable. Torrential downpours occur frequently. But these are usually short-lived and tend to be in the mornings and late afternoons. The best months to visit Galle are Dec-Feb and Jul-Sep. Because of the high humidity you will feel hot and sticky.
Barefoot is an upmarket boutique. It was established by the renowned Sri Lankan designer Barbara Sansoni, many of who's designs are sold in the shop. It is well laid out and has a unique ambiance about it. The shop sells colorful textiles, clothing, household items, books and interesting curios. The quality of the merchandise is good and the prices are somewhat high.
This recently restored 17th century Dutch building was once a hospital. It now houses a number of jewelers, shops, cafes and bars. The complex has yet to develop its own character and special ambiance. It seems somewhat sterile.
Jo Eden's Minimango sells beautiful easy-wear designer clothing. Their kaftans, tops, sarongs, scarves and dresses are well-made and unique. The prices are reasonable but definitely not cheap.
Souk 58 offers a distinctive range of handmade home accessories reflecting a mixture of traditional and modern styles and motifs. It has many great gift ideas.
Beautiful handmade handicrafts, including beautiful lace-work, made by local disadvantaged women.
Remember you are supporting a worthy cause when you buy from this shop.
Has a large collection of unusual and unique pieces of jewelery.
Extensive collection of jewelery. Great service and prices.
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