This small market is on Hospital Road, Hospital Street. It is a neighbourhood market, while the central market is in front of the bus station. I liked it because people are not so used to seeing tourists in the central market. They try to invent a great price for their fruit, but eventually quit because they do not speak enough English to negotiate and end up charging everyone the exact same price! You have to try a fruit called rambutan which is something like a lychee, but has red hairs. They cost nothing, and you can tell the quality if the flesh comes away from the seed inside. Later there are coconuts which you can open to drink the milk, and there are many fruits I didn't even know, like bananas pink which were more sugary than normal.
The Anuradhapura night market is near the train station and close to the old bus station. It is a completely different environment from the daily markets. It is no longer so hot and it is very pleasant to stroll through the stalls with fewer people and it is more calm. It is a place where tourists do not normally go and I did not see many women. I knew that the woman travelling or walking alone in Sri Lanka are exposed to a lot of attention from men. But at the same time they give up their seats on the bus and are quite attentive to the needs of women. The market is very cheap and I do not think they charged "tourist" prices. They do not speak much English but they are curious, especially if they see that you have not ever eaten a fruit common in their country. They'll even let you sample some before you buy it.
THe Kudurawela market is organised around the main street, and is rather hectic like the neighbouring bus station. It is very cheap to eat in the markets and there is always a place that prepares meals you can grab to eat on the bus. The market comes alive mostly in the morning, with shops open between 6am and 7am. Then about 2pm they start closing to let the heat pass. It not is a country where everything stays open late either, when the sun goes down, around 7 pm, the shops close. The reason for this is that few of the stalls and vendors have any electricity. It's easier to find prepared meals in the mornings as people eat at home at night. The fruit is excellent and they have some excellent varieties of roasted nuts available.
Negombo is a fishing village and its market is organized around the colonial part of the city, around Sea Street. When you are in the tourist area, you have to go down the coast towards the south and the fort. The market is very informal, there are several booths set up every day, and others that are installed on the floor, in the street. You can find good fish if you come early in the morning and also many varieties of exotic fruits. It's a good place to impregnate yourself in the atmosphere of the village and see the preparation of some dishes. In general, people buy them to take and eat it at home or at work, but some places have tables and chairs. Then there are a lot of objects, most of them are of poor quality and come from India or China, but some are nice and cheap souvenirs to buy and take home. I recommend taking the time and visiting this place for the atmosphere and the things that are on offer for you. You will enjoy your visit definitely. I did.
The bus station market in Matara is inside the huge station with a roof to protect small businesses from the rain, and there is also a more casual part behind the station. In the back, the stalls are full every day, but generally, the stall owners tend to leave their goods there, which isn't dangerous. The informal market has no roof, only umbrellas, depending on the weather. At the station, there are stalls with electricity, with cold drinks and ice cream. Always check that the ice is in a normal shape and that it hasn't been melted and refrozen, which is not good. There are many fruits, which isn't dangerous if it's in a shell, like rambutan, bananas of all colours, and Kiwi.
This is the central market of the city of Kandy. There are some stalls outside, but the most interesting things are inside in the covered part. It is market, located next to the bus station. The market has everything, household items, fruit, vegetables .. There are exotic fruits you've never seen in life, you may ask do you try before you buy,and the prices are very low. The rambutans, and lychees are typical of the region, and a dozen cost 50Rs, which are 30 cents. I do not recommend the food at the hotel because it is so cheap to eat rice with curry that is not worth wasting time. But going to the market gives you a chance to see the spices and flavors and to try a little bit of everything.
The Galle market is a bit far away from the colonial center, about a fifteen minutes walk. I like markets because they are real places. Few tourists go usually, or spend very little time in them, leaving room for everyday life to happen. In this market, they also sell "lunch packet", which are small cardboard boxes where they serve fried rice, or rice with curry and vegetables, sometimes a bit of meat. They are very cheap and make for a full meal. The workers use it and children who eat at school too. The market has a large assortment of exotic fruits and vegetables, most of them I cannot even name. I suggest you try some, but it is so cheap to buy a cooked food that it would only be for a snack, some fruit and ready to go. They raise prices, you have to lower if by half ...
The Galle fish market is located at the entrance of the walls of the city. Next to them is the beach where fishermen leave their boats. It couldn't be colder! We bought some food at the market and took it back to our hostel to cook it. I made rice and vegetables, simply marinated in lemon. The market is a pretty lively place, especially in the morning. At the end of the day, there is another group of fishermen returning with fresh fish. They had fat tunas and sometimes lobsters.
I love walking through the markets, smelling the smells and trying new things. The Dambulla market is a lively, restless place, where everyone shouts. In the morning there is a very special atmosphere. The market used to be in the streets of the village, but for sanitation reasons, this charmless building was built that 's modern and large enough to accommodate the sellers and buyers. At noon you'll find food stalls serving fried rice, and ladies wearing little packets, called packet lunch, that come with a serving of rice and several spicy vegetable curries. They are delicious and super cheap. With some fresh fruit, you have a quick and healthy lunch. Beware, wash the fruit if you eat the skin!
The Badulla market is on and around King Street and Lower Street, not far from the bus station. The market is quiet as it's a simple town. People speak less English, so generally do not raise prices! Point at what you want, and then give him a ticket, and they will giveyou back what seems fair. The rambutans, which are small round fruits, will cost about 50RS, pineapples are around 50-100RS depending on the size. The pink bananas are a treat. Make sure you wash fruits that have no shell, with bottled water. Badulla is a quiet but lively place, it's nice for a visit.
This market isn'tt he main market of Badulla. I liked it because it's quite colored and well organized. It's not too crazy like in other cities where you've no idea where you're going and there's always people pushing you. The fruit's exposed hanging on the informal convenience stores, and general purchase by piece and not by weight. You can try lots of new things like fruit, of all shapes and colors. It is very inexpensive and a healthy snack. I got sick of eating the same thing after a while, and to vary from the curry rice, fruit is perfect. This market is casual, people selling things sit on the floor, although the hygiene conditions would not happen in Europe, everything is fresh, and locally produced.
Pettah is a neighborhood located east of Colombo Fort near the railway station that’s famous for the Pettah Market, a sprawling and animated bazaar that encompasses practically the entire neighborhood. Like most traditional bazaars, the Pettah Market is divided by trades, with some streets devoted entirely to fabric vendors, others to fruit and vegetables, and countless others dedicated to everything from toys to hardware equipment to shoes.
I’d suggest figuring out what you’re interested in buying first as arriving and then improvising can be a pretty confusing task (trust me on that), especially when many of the streets aren’t named and you’re constantly dodging trucks, motorcycles, and porters unloading goods. It’s a local market so if you’re looking for souvenir-style handicrafts, it’s not the best place. However, it is an excellent place if you’re looking to buy a nice Sri Lankan sari. Saris are kind of colorful dress-wrap hybrid popular among Sri Lankan women and they’re absolutely beautiful. Many of the tourist-oriented places sell cheaply made and over-priced saris with lackluster designs and poor craftsmanship. If you want a good one, here’s what you should do: head down to the fabric street in Pettah and see where the local women are going (if the women look wealthy, that’s a good sign). There, you’ll be able to find high-end and gorgeous sari fabrics at local prices. Afterwards, you can take the fabric to a tailor (get a recommendation at the store) who’ll make you a sari, skirt, and jacket for a good price. That’s what my wife and I did and it came out incredible.
Finally, Pettah is an interesting area as it’s one of the most diverse districts of Colombo, a true melting pot of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus as evidenced by the number of historic mosques, local temples, and colonial churches in the area. It has an especially large Muslim population so it’s a good chance to check out the cuisine of the Sri Lankan Muslim community.