Located on New Bazaar Street in the center of the town, the Central Market of Nuwara Eliya is a wonderful and chaotic place that is full of color and life. Rows of stalls sell winter and warm clothes to visitors for use in the chilly climes there. Vegetable sellers jostle for space alongside fruit sellers. Brightly colored flowers drip onto the sidewalk as flower sellers hawk their wares. Tiny stalls sell local tea or curios for interested buyers. However, the bright and lively aura of the place conceals the serious deals and negotiations that take place here.
Many of the warm clothes on sale were bought second-hand; sold off cheap by foreign nationals who were overloaded with their purchases and needed more space in their luggage. Mixed among these are wonderful knitted wear made by the locals and perfectly new brand name clothing with minor defects, which were rejected by the garment companies that export them and are being sold cheap. The price quoted by the sellers are usually well over the deal price; especially if they identify as foreign visitors. Despite this, if you have a discerning eye, some skill in bargaining and a little extra time; you will be able to find some killer deals on branded winter clothes and colorful soft knit sweaters. The Central Market is also a great place to buy good quality raincoats and rain jackets.
Fruits and Vegetables
The fruit and vegetable shops are full of wholesome local produce; mostly farmed organically. Stacked on makeshift shelves in attractive arrays the fruits are ready to eat with many varieties including apples, mangoes, oranges, melons, pineapples, grapes, woodapples, dragon fruit, mangosteens, strawberries and more. Some are imported and will have the sticker announcing the country they were imported from, along with being overpriced. You may want to avoid these if they wish for organic fresh fruit. The vegetables are usually fresh and homegrown; brought to the market straight from the farm. They are inexpensive and make great purchases if you wish to try cooking with some of the local produce.
Flowers grow very well in the climate of Nuwara Eliya. As a result, they are sold for a song and a dance, when compared to the prices in the rest of the country. The roses sold in the market are especially fine and come in a number of varieties. You can buy a bouquet or a few single flowers as great romantic and personal gifts for partners, family and/or friends who are traveling with you.
Tea and Curios
The most interesting stalls, however, are the tea stalls and the curio stalls. The tea is usually homegrown by the sellers in their own tea fields. They have better quality and taste than the usual factory and store bought tea. However, you will need to have a good understanding of the varieties of tea leaves; and the ability to distinguish the quality of the tea from the fragrance. On the other hand, you can find great deals at these little stalls; and many larger companies do buy the better quality tea here for cheap in bulk and repack it under their name. They then sell it for exorbitant prices. There are also some beautiful curious such as wood carvings done from old tea tree wood some that you may buy as souvenirs.
Overall the Central Market is a great place to visit and shopping there can be a rewarding experience. Do remember to take enough change with you for those impulse purchases when you see something you like. Also, keep in mind that the prices at markets are made to be negotiated; so do not hesitate to drive a fair bargain.