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Pettah market , Colombo Overview

The Pettah Market or Manning Market is an open market in the suburb of Pettah in the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Being one of Colombo's busiest places, the area may seem a little chaotic at first glance but if you know what to get on which street then you are going to walk out with some cool stuff at surprisingly low prices. One can find a wide range of goods right from electronics to fashion accessories and market vendors selling anything from fresh vegetables, fruits to meat and seafood.

Pettah Market is a popular shopping area of both locals and foreign travellers as they take back a wide range of cheap stuff. We have thus tried to put together a guide to Pettah market here to make sure you take full advantage of this shopping destination.

Muslims dominate most of the businesses in Pettah, they specialize in trading of goods and some are hawkers and small shop owners while the Tamil people who migrated from India specialize in the trade of gold and also own jewellery shops. Many new shops keep popping up every other day. Apart from these, at the end of Pettah, there lies Sea Street, which is Sri Lanka's gold market and attracts buyers of gold jewellery from all around Sri Lanka. It is a long street of jewellery shops with hundreds of shops next to one another.

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Where to Shop in Pettah Market

1. Olcott Mawatha
Clothes and accessories like good jackets, bags, sunglasses at cheap rates (it's next to 2nd cross-street).

2. Front Street (Malwatta Road)
Here you'll find the old Victoria Building of 1929 and can shop for some good quality leather bags and shoes, fabulous watches, luggage, Batik Centre for camera equipment, shiny bangles, etc.

3. Prince Street
Famous for selling Electronics, light fittings, fake wigs, toys, wallets, carrom boards and checkers boards. Fancy Mahal shop sells Eastern cologne and the  Dutch museum - a quiet space with an old and shaky staircase and green garden.

4. 1st Cross Street
Mobile phones, mobile covers, mobile batteries - you name it, other electronics.

5. 2nd Cross Street
Cotton and shiny sarees ranging as low as 150LKR, leggings and other clothing shops. You'll find vendors selling achcharu (pickled veggies) at the junction with Keyzer street.

6. 3rd Cross Street
Here we mostly find retail and wholesale shops along with big textiles shops.

7. 4th Cross Street
A trading street with onions, potatoes and spices everywhere in bulk and a small shop selling paan. The main street in case you need banks or ATMs; has large showrooms; A shop for craft equipment and materials called sequins is quite known in this area. One can also find shops selling coats, suits, umbrellas and raincoats, luggage bags, leather.

8. China Street
Shop for party items like hats, wrap, banners, balloons, candles etc. and chinaware 

9. Maliban Street
Wedding cards, special paper for art and craft, gift wrap and heaters.

10. Bankshall Street
Artificial flowers of all kinds, surgical equipment and chemicals (Spectrolab/ Geekay), official uniforms; Oriental Saloon for an inexpensive haircut, Colorcraft Center for all your art equipment.

11. Khan Clocktower
The clocktower, Expographics bookshop from the 1980s where you get an extensive collection of textbooks.

12. Bodhiraja Mawatha
A small area near main Olcott Mawatha, sells toy cars, kids' bracelets, colourful junk jewellery, phone memory cards and there’s a spooky Old Town Hall with a museum inside. You will also find some beautiful ancient architecture from the Dutch period on the roads.

Where to Eat in Pettah Market.

1. Norris Hotel Bakery on Olcott Malwatta street next to the 2nd cross street is good for some quick short eats.

2. Indramalee hotel cream house on the front street or Malwatta street is also known for serving good food and drinks.

3. For tea and thambili (coconut water) one can go to prince street, here you also find some small restaurants.

4. For famous Bombay falooda and the rambutan fruit, one can go to 1st cross street.

5. For isso vadey and samosa go opposite to red mosque on the 2nd cross street

6. 5th cross street is where you will find Fresh red rambutan ( June-August), the Safni Snack Bar serves biriyani, noodles, paratha, kottu and pineapples, the long vegetables, fruit under a yellow tent in the Golden Fresh Fruits shop you will find mangosteen and the pansal.

7. Hotel Bankshall on bankshall street.

8. Hansagiri Restaurant and Bar near bodhiraja mawatha.

Famous Restaurants near Pettah market

Ramen Kamikaze
Serves the best Japanese ramen in town along with other Japanese delicacies.

The Golden Cafe
Serves South Indian food.

Il Ponte
Sri Lanka's only Italian trattoria offers a homely atmosphere and views of the pool at the Hilton Colombo hotel. The restaurant serves Italian specialities like home-made pasta and pizzas baked in a wood oven.

Curry Leaf
With its romantic and well-decorated ambience, this Colombo restaurant offers a wide selection of local cuisine. The restaurant has landscaped gardens by a Lotus pond and a thatched dining area.

Tips While Visiting Pettah Market

  • Wear comfortable and airy clothes and shoes, carry a bottle of water, stay on the road-sides - you can wear sunglasses if it gets sunny in the afternoon.
  • Streets are closed on Sundays generally
  • Make a list-have a clear idea of the things you want and where you may get them(see our guide) to avoid much chaos and distraction.
  • Learn some basic Tamil translation of few words like 'yes', 'no', 'where', 'this', 'that', 'too costly', 'reduce the price', as it will help up one's bargaining game and get the things at prices you had in mind.
  • You can avoid the crowd if you get there before 10:00 AM.

How To Reach Pettah Market

Since it is a popular area, you will find many buses taking passengers to the Pettah market frequently. Some of the nearest bus stops are Gunasinghepura bus stop, Elphinstone bus stop, Marada Police bus stop and if you are on a nearby street, you may hire a taxi or trishaw. Since it is a crowded area, don't bring four-wheeler inside the road, get there on foot. In case you have your vehicle you can go around the khan Clocktower and park near there.

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