Shopping in Sri Lanka
Shops are typically open during core business hours of 9AM - 5PM. Some shops, in tourist areas, open later and stay open till around 7:00PM.
Most shops 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 of service. So don't be offended by their presence. Obviously they are also keen to make a sale. Always be courteous.
Sri Lanka is renowned for its precious and semi-precious gems. There are numerous jewelery shops selling these. Some, especially in Galle, have been operating as family businesses for generations.
If you are keen on a piece of jewelery do your homework and shop around before you buy. There are great prices to be had.
Bargaining is acceptable in the jewelery trade. While most are 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.
REMEMBER: There is no such thing as a fantastic bargain!
This is the single most common mistake visitors make. Buy jewelery only from a reputable shop. (They usually display Tourist Board approval, etc).
Sri Lankan legislation prohibits the export of any item older than 50 years without a government permit. 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.
Con-artists & Bamboozlers
You may be accosted by a motley collection of street vendors, con-artists and bamboozlers trying to sell you a product or service. This unfortunately is a consequence on modern tourism. While they may be a nuisance, they will not harm you physically in any way. Ignore these people or politely but firmly say "No Thank You" eventually they will leave you alone.
Never-ever be conned by sob stories or offers of fantastic prices on precious gems. These are always fake.
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