Chinese (toys) have taken over Galle Face Green.
Christmas is in two days, which means you’re presumably shopping now. I personally don’t buy gifts for anyone that isn’t a child, or that I’m not trying to make a child with. So, this list is for kids stuff only. My top spots are Cool Planet and Sarasavi (Nugegoda) and Galle Face Green and House Of Fashions in Colombo.
Cool Planet is cool. It’s a department store (like ODEL), but for an entirely Sri Lankan crowd. This means you don’t get insane western prices, and you still get decent stuff. Their toy selection is impressive and the science toys especially are wonderful. You can get a do-it-yourself robot, potato powered clock, even a rudimentary hovercraft. Kids, incidentally, prefer crap, but these things cost like Rs. 1000 and they’re worth forcing upon a child.
Cool Planet has branches in Thalawathagoda (near Battaramulla) and Nugegoda (on Hospital Road). I recommend the latter because it’s not in Afghanistan. Near the Nugegoda flyover.
Another gift children don’t really want is books. Sarasavi (also in Nugegoda, other side of the flyover, first right) has limited parking but a wide selection. A classic is their large activity books, something close enough to a toy that kids can tolerate it. They also have comic versions of the lives of Alexander The Great, Michelangelo, etc. For adults, they have a large Sri Lankan section which includes a Kandyan Kingdom cookbook (from that era). The recipes are insane (get fish, cover fish in something, roll it in something else, keep this nearby) and require a retinue of servants, but it’s quite interesting.
Galle Face Green
The street (green) vendors here have amazing toys that, however, only last for about a day. That is about as long as a kid holds interest, so they’re good for volume. The toys include light guns, light spinny things, flying wheels, etc. They also have kites which can last longer if you take care of them.
Galle Face Green is the Galle Face Green (map). Toys cost a maximum of Rs. 500, usually around 200-250
House Of Fashions
You cannot find parking within two blocks of House Of Fashions right now, so I haven’t gone. If you can muscle past the Indians, they have a decent toy selection, especially the wooden stuff for younger tots. They also have flying helicopters and stuff, but those get expensive.
House Of Fashions is on Duplication Road (map), near Vajira Road, before Dickmans.
Then there is always ODEL. ODEL has everything, but I also find it insanely overpriced. Kids have no concept of price and they require volume, something impossible to get at ODEL. Arpico has some decent sporting goods, though you can always get those cheaper at specialty shops. Barefoot has unique stuffed toys that last, especially good for kids that are visiting. That’s all I can think of offa the top of my head. There’s a new place called MILK on Barnes Place that seems to have a curated selection of toys and books, I haven’t been. Please add any places you know.