It may be an idyllic paradise isle, but in Sri Lanka, shopping and cuisine can be exciting adventures too.

The ancient travellers traversing the oceans certainly thought so – stopping here to pick up all kinds of treasures from spices to elephants. Even in the 21st century it is well worth taking time wherever you travel here to check out the local shops – not just the tourist gift shops, but the ordinary, everyday stores by the wayside, or the village bazaars. You will find an extraordinary array of bargains, perfect as gifts or keepsakes to tempt you. From jewellery, handicrafts to clothing and accessories, books, computer goods, spices – all things from the exotic to the mundane can be found. If you are serious about shopping, then the commercial hub of Colombo offers a great variety – glittering shopping malls and old, colonial buildings brought to life as up-scale shopping arcades with food courts where you can sample everything from haute cuisine to village fare. Sri Lankan food is a unique experience all by itself. Apart from the usual rice and curry, there is a world of traditional dishes – sweet, spicy and piquant you can feast on. Breakfast on steaming ‘kiribath’ or hot ‘pol roti’ and fiery ‘katta sambol’, try a cashew nut sprinkled saffron rice with ‘Brinjal moju’, spicy chicken curry, ‘tempered’ potato with crunchy poppadum and deep fried chillies on the side, sweet ‘jaggery hoppers’, ‘lavariya’ or ‘bibikkan’ with your afternoon tea, then ‘stringhoppers’ or ‘pittu’ with black coconut pork, ‘kiri hodi’ and ‘pol sambol’ for dinner. And that, was just a little glimpse of the multitude of dishes you could savour on your holiday here.