26 February 2018

The most wanted Sri Lankan Spice Gardens

Sri Lanka

The good and the bad of the Sri Lankan spice gardens

Spice Garden Sri Lanka

Road tripping in the hill cities of Sri Lanka, especially in the neighbourhood of Kandy, gave us an interesting experience: we saw plenty of spice gardens along the main streets. Initially, we thought it was a real one where spices were cultivated, prepared, bottled and sold but later on, we learnt the truth, their real background.

When finally our driver stopped in one of those spice gardens, we got inside for a brief visit. There were no entry tickets and that made us decide easily to enter. Upon entering we saw a Group of guys chatting; one of them guided us through the garden, explaining clearly. We stopped in front of each plant, smelling and trying the benefit of that particular plant. Our guide said he was an Ayurveda medical college student doing a part-time job there in the spice garden to earn something. We didn’t know if it was true, (we very much doubted it.) but certainly he was well informed and knowledgeable. Thanks to him, we learned the medicinal and culinary uses of the spices, the scientific and familiar names of the plants and the way they are processed. We can say that it was actually very interesting to see their role in the life of the Sri Lankans.

After the visit of the spice garden with a so-called guide, we were given a massage: nothing to criticize with this demonstration as well. It was relaxing and the products they used left our skin soft and smooth. After this wonderful massage, we were given a cup of sugar-free tea prepared with vanilla and ginger. It was delicious. They really welcomed us in a friendly and professional manner. It was a great example of Sri Lanka's well known amazing hospitality. The worst part of our visit came only after handing out some tips to the guy who did the massage to us. We were taken to the shop where some Ayurveda medicines were sold.  

At the first glance, prices seemed equivalent to Europe, but after two calculations on the exchange rates, we realized that it was even more than what we would have paid in Europe. Absolutely overpriced!  The shop was disappointing and above all, the products didn’t seem coming from their own garden. They showed us a list of people living abroad reordering their products by post but I strongly doubted it. Some of us ended up buying some medicines anyways but some others left the place extremely confused, doubting about the quality of the products itself because it was slightly seen that it was meant to the Western wish. 

They sold medicines which could make you thinner, depilatory cream, medicines that could purify the entire body, could heal diabetics and other diseases, could keep the skin younger and so on. They didn’t pressure us to buy. Don’t get caught up in the excitement, if you don’t pay attention you come out with a lot of stuff that you will later wonder why you bought for and probably you will never use it.  In my opinion, it was the number one tourist trap I have seen in Sri Lanka. I’m writing here about the one I visited but I know that this place was the same as so many similar spice gardens that I might get in to (visit of the garden, massage, tea, pulse reading, lunch and shop). However, I’m here to suggest you this tour, first of all, because it is free and then because it is well explained. 

I don’t suggest you to purchase in those places, there was obviously something to change with their method as it is not a real spice garden, but a kind of exhibition which has as its main purpose, the sales of products at the highest price. Why don't they apply for an entry free and let the tourist buy at a more honest price? Anyways, if you can't avoid buying I strongly suggest to use cash and not credit cards or POS payments because you don't have enough time to realize the real amount and you end up with spending without even knowing it.  Remember that converting from Sri Lankan Rs to Euro or vice versa is not immediate so the risk to spend much is high. There are plenty of other shops in Sri Lanka where buying spices or Ayurveda medicines in a much more relaxed atmosphere for reasonable prices.

One more important thing that is to be said is that taxi driver who took us to the spice garden earned a percentage on the sales so it was normal that he tried his best to drive us there.  In case you want to visit one of the spice gardens in Sri Lanka, google and select the one you want, not the one where you are taken by the driver.

Join the conversation!

  1. That massage looks very relaxing. Imagine being massaged with nature as your backdrop. Love it!

    I can stay there for a long time without getting bored given the chance that I get the massage for free. Hahaha


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