I have been to Sri Lanka on two occasions and just love the shopping there!
The high-end boutiques like Barefoot and Paradise Road offer traditional Sri Lankan and contemporary western products. You can find anything here from flamboyant coloured tablecloths to multi couloured sarongs.
'Odel' and 'House of Fashion' are department store-like shopping spaces which hold a range of designer wear (mostly seconds) and other quality products. Look carefully and you might find some hidden treasures among the rows of clothes or homewares.
'A-World' is a huge department store close to the Bandaranayake International Airport and is known to be the biggest shopping space in Sri Lanka. The clothes are slightly more expensive than places like Odel or House of Fashion because they offer original designer-wear.
All these places are well known among the locals, so all you have to do is ask your taxi driver to take you there. However it is best not to go with the regular taxi service as the drivers do not speak English and are not very safe to travel in. The same goes with trishaw's (tuk tuks), you will be lucky to find a tuk tuk driver who speaks english and doesnt rip you off!
Try a tour company like 'Abans tours' (www.abanstours.lk) which has a tour desk in Colombo at the Galadari Hotel as well as the Bandaranayake International Airport. Their rates are slightly more expensive than others, but all their drivers are friendly and speak good Engish. But most importantly they offer a safe and comfortable service.
On the face of it there is not much to draw tourists into Bulatsinhala, I've been there dozens of times and not once seen another white face, for me that is the main attraction, it's just regular small town Sri Lanka with friendly locals and no touts.
Market day is Sunday and the town gets busy but during the week it can be an almost sleepy place, excellent for tout free shopping. Local shops and small cafes have most things you'll want, there is also a pharmacy, clinic, post office and bank (no ATM). The bustling city of Horana, less than an hour away by local bus, has everything else you might need.
Near Bulatsinhala is the impressive rock temple and Buddhist seminary at Pahiyangala. Famous in Sri Lanka, Pahiyangala draws Buddhists by the bus load on Poya Day but is over looked by the guide books so you will have it largely to yourself the rest of the time. There is no fixed entry charge but your donation will be appreciated
Pick up the Horana bus at Panadura which is easily reached by bus and train from Colombo or take the bus via Matugama if you're coming from Bentota or Beruwala. At Horana or Matugama you can get direct and frequent buses to Bulatsinhala.
Barefoot is a shop selling beautiful linen, clothes, bags, handicrafts, with a rather overpriced cafe (but nice cakes) set in a lovely courtyard with a gallery. It's a fantastic escape from the horrible Galle Road.
706 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka; tel +94 11 2580114; www.barefoot.lk; nearest station Bambalapitiya
A nice escape from Galle Road and not too far from Odel, this cafe-cum-shopping emporium is a good find. Gorgeous fabrics, furniture and trinkets combined with a cafe serving a range of light snacks make this converted house a must during your trip to Colombo.
61, Ward Place, Colombo 7;
tel: 269 056
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org