Pettah Market - Colombo, Sri Lanka

A little market hidden within the wholesale complex of Colombo

Pettah Market Snapshot


The Pettah Market is located in the Pettah neighborhood of Colombo, along Keyzer Street. It’s nestled among a ton of other markets in the area – so there’s plenty of bargaining to do around this chaotic commerce area!


.While individual shops and stalls may vary, typically you’ll find shops are open around 5 AM – 5 PM daily

What You'll Find

You’ll find a bunch of knockoffs here! Especially Polo brand. A lot of RL Polo is produced here so a lot of the materials make it’s way out of the factory. 

Market Video 

Sri Lanka Knockoff Market Spree!

In this video we deep in the markets of Colombo, Sri Lanka where they are HARD bargainers! We’re on the hunt for some clothing and accessories such as Gucci, Chanel, Jordan, North Face, and much more!

 Everything to Know About the Pettah Market in Sri Lanka

How to Get to the Pettah Market in Colombo?

Tuk-tuks are the easiest and cheapest way to get around Colombo. They have both open air and covered tuk-tuks that feel quite safe to be honest.

colombo sri lanka tuk tuks getting around town

Getting to the Pettah Market

To get to the Pettah Market, take a bus to either the Pettah Bus Station or Bastian Mawatha Bus Station. Numerous busses are stopping here due to the central location of the market. Tourists often choose to take a tuk-tuk, as it’s a faster and affordable means of transport.

The main entrance is located on the west side of the market, but you can also find an entrance on the east end.

Shopping at the Pettah Market

At this busy open-air market, you can explore stalls selling everything under the sun, from fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, seafood and meats to textiles, fashion accessories, toys, electronics, souvenirs, gold, jewelry, and much more. Make sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds.

clothes for sale in colombo pettah market sri lanka

You’ll find a ton of clothes here, especially big brands like Polo, because the factories are also located here. So there are some good deals to be scored with good quality, if you know what you are looking for.

Keep in mind, Sri Lankans are hard bargainers! So be prepared.

Where to Stay in Colombo, Sri Lanka?

A lot of people who visit Sri Lanka head out to sights around the island and explore the countryside. However, there are some things to do in Colombo – such as the markets!

Colombo is a big city, so where you stay depends on what you plan to do. If you plan on mostly just bargaining at the markets like I did, then you may want to stay nearby for convenience.

In Colombo, you’ll find a number of affordable hotels and even some hostels. Overall, Colombo accommodations are a bit higher than in Southeast Asia, but it’s still relatively affordable compared for a decent place to stay.

You can also find some nice Airbnb options in Colombo too for pretty good prices. However, a lot of them are a little more on the outside of town which would make transportation less convenient and more expensive to get into the market areas of town.

Places to Visit in Colombo & Around Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s capital city combines the culture and history of the country with modern attractions and amenities. Colombo is also filled with museums and art galleries to visit that illustrate the rich history of Sri Lanka.

the giant lotus tower in colombo sri lanka on a sunny day

Some of the popular spots inside the city to visit include:

  • Lotus Tower – Measuring 1,168 feet, this is South Asia’s tallest freestanding structure. The tower has a telecom museum, a fine dining restaurant, a hotel, a shopping mall, and observation areas.
  • National Museum of Colombo. The official museum of Sri Lanka takes you on a cultural journey through time. It has multiple types of media and displays all sorts of items such as coins, jewelry, and craftwork.
  • National Museum of Natural History. Another museum you definitely want to check out. It showcases the incredible natural history of the country; you can see creatures that are endemic to the country, including skeletons and fossils of ancient animals.
  • Sri Lanka Planetarium. Located in a peculiar-looking building that’s worthy of an Instagram post, the country’s first and only planetarium is a must-see for anyone fascinated by the stars and planets.
  • Viharamahadevi Park. The park is home to the largest cast brass Buddha statue in the country. It’s a great place to relax and take in the sunshine.

Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Outside of Colombo

sri lanka scenic train ride with greenery and sunshine

Sri Lanka is a small but charming island and offers a number of other sights to see outside of Colombo. Hop on a scenic train or bus and explore outside the city. Here are some of the top sights you may want to visit:

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Built atop a rock, this ancient fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
  • Yala National Park. Wildlife lovers should not miss this famous national park where you can observe animals such as leopards, elephants, buffalos, monkeys, crocodiles, as well as a variety of species of birds and other creatures.
  • Arugam Bay. If you’re into watersports, here you’ll find some epic waves to surf. This beautiful bay offers lovely beaches and a relaxed atmosphere that’s so different from the crowded south-west coast.
  • Nuwara Eliya. Also known as the Little England of Sri Lanka, the town can be reached via the renowned Sri Lankan train route. The area holds many natural wonders such as tea plantations, waterfalls, and Pidurutalagala, the country’s tallest mountain.

Food in Sri Lanka

Taco Bell! No seriously, I haven’t had much Sri Lankan food outside of curry dishes but they do have a Taco Bell, a rare sight in Asia.

What is Sri Lankan Cuisine?

As a country that was a hub in the ancient silk road, contact with foreign traders has brought many cultural influences. The Sri Lankan cuisine has been shaped by Indian, Indonesian, Dutch, and Southeast Asian cuisines. And although it is a small island, each region has its own distinct cuisine with individual traits.

bowls of curry dishes in sri lanka on a table

Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its spices and herbs. The fiery curry, sour lime pickle, and caramelized onion are all dominant. The dishes have powerful flavors. Rice is a standard component here to most meals. Seafood is also a popular food item.

Best Foods to Try in Sri Lanka

  • Rice and Curry is a staple in Sri Lanka. You’ll find this dish on every corner of the street – from roadside cafes to fancy hotel buffets and everywhere in between.
  • Hoppers, which are thin pancakes with crispy edges shaped like a bowl. They are made with fermented rice flour, coconut milk, and coconut water.
  • String hoppers, an important part of the Sri Lankan breakfast, are bites of food made from rice noodles molded into flat spirals. They are served with sauces.
  • Vegetable Roti is a great street food. These triangles made of dough are filled with spicy vegetables, although you can also find versions with eggs or fish.
  • Coconut Sambol, the perfect side dish that goes with anything. It’s made of grated coconut, red onions, dried whole chilis, and lime juice.
  • Pani Pol. These sweet coconut pancakes are a must-try dessert. They are stuffed with fresh coconut and sugar and bear similarities with Indian sweets.

About Colombo & the Market

Colombo is an ancient city with immense heritage. The mix of rulers and different cultures have left a mark on the city and given it a unique identity that fascinates travelers worldwide. The city has been popular among foreigners since the dawn of recorded history due to the natural harbor that made it a desirable location for traders and seafarers. Strolling through the streets of Colombo, you can’t help but notice the intriguing mix of Portuguese, Dutch, British, and South Asian architectural influences. This rich multiculturalism translates into all aspects of life in the city.

busy street in colombo sri lanka with colorful building

About the Pettah Market

The Pettah Market, also known as the Manning Market, is a popular open market in the neighborhood of Pettah. It’s one of the busiest places in Colombo. It’s hard to believe that the lively Pettah Market was one of the most dangerous areas in Pettah back in the 1990s. This changed after the local council brought in the national Urban Development Authority to tidy up the area. An architect was brought in to transform the space, and his vision led to today’s market.

The entrance to the market is marked by the impressive Khan Clock Tower built in the early 20th century by the Parsi family of Framjee Bhikhajee Khan. Along the walkways are a series of pagodas containing more than 90 stalls occupied by local street vendors. It’s possibly the best place in the capital to immerse yourself into the Sri Lankan hustle and bustle.

Introduction to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is a jewel-shaped island country in the Indian Ocean. It offers everything from ancient temples and ruins to endless beaches, towering mountains, elephants, tea, and flavorful food. Few places in the world have as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites packed into such a small area. And if you’re also interested in doing some shopping, you’ve come to the right place.

Aerial shot of stupa in Sri Lanka surrounded by mountains and greenery

Geologically, Sri Lanka is an extension of peninsular India. Archaeological excavations revealed that the island supported human inhabitants some 125,000 years ago (Balangoda Man). The earliest documents attesting to life on the Island are found in the Pali chronicles like Culavamsa and Dipavamsa. The early occupants were hunters and gatherers of the proto-Australoid group, whose stone tools have been found throughout the country.

1505 marks the arrival of the Portuguese in Colombo and the country went through a series of different administrations over time, having been occupied by the Dutch starting 1658 and Britain from 1796. But the country achieved independence in 1948, and Sri Lankan and Indian social institutions and ideologies began to resonate more closely with each other.

Trade & Producing Goods in Sri Lanka

Situated strategically across the main sea trade route in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has always been part of international commerce. Over time, this helped define the nation’s economy, culture, and society. Although agriculture remained the fuel the drove the economy, the sheer volume of trade undoubtedly had its positive effects too.

International commerce began to play an important role in the history and culture of Sri Lanka since prehistoric times. Archaeological evidence of foreign trade items suggests a prosperous Iron Age civilization. The goods attracted merchants, many of whom chose to settle down here, marrying local women. Trade in ancient times involved mostly luxury goods. The merchants from Sri Lanka exported pearls, gems, iron, and elephants, while the list of imports included perfume from India, silks from China, and wine from the Mediterranean.

Bright tea field in Sri Lanka with workers tending to the crop

Today, the islanders export mostly textiles, garments, tea, gems, spices, rubber, coconut products, and fish. Most of these goods are destined for the United States, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Sri Lanka’s main import partners are China, India, Iran, and Singapore. The nation also signed a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with India in 1998 and is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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