During our travel from Kandy to Bentota, we were taken to the Spice Garden by Oak Ray Isaria Village near Hingula. Our driver did mention that we are under no obligation to buy anything.
The garden visit was nice. There were many guys in black trousers and white shirts. One of them accompanied us. He explained about many herbs, spices, and its healing properties. We were welcomed with an herbal tea.
He took us through their garden letting us know about medical plants that can cure a number of diseases and conditions. The guide who came with us had taken training from Kerala, India and he came to know that we were Keralites and he was aware that we had better ayurvedic products in our state and couldn’t force us to buy anything.
I saw many foreign tourists visiting this garden and many of them were lured into buying their products at exorbitant prices. They were offered massages as well.
After the tour, they gave us a list and a pencil to mark whatever products interest you. We politely denied and told we will visit the shop straight away and pick products that we genuinely like. The prices are a little expensive but they claim that the products are 100% natural.
I purchased only two SriLankan special products – one Red Coconut Hair Oil priced at LNR 2000 and one Curry Powder priced at LNR 300. We were given an invoice and told that we can reorder online as they ship worldwide. The products that we purchased were fine and smelled good. It reached intact and didn’t leak during return travel journey.
All products had a basic packaging and were unlabeled, just wrapped in plastic bags with name tags on top. The guides might push you to buy large bottles instead of smaller ones.
We did learn a lot of things, ended up buying a few things but be careful with the quantity you buy. It can get really expensive without your knowledge. Maybe the ingredients used are expensive – For e.g. Sandalwood and the size of the bottle are huge. They have an expiry period of 2-3 years. The currency rate conversion leaves an impression of products being cheap but it actually is costly. Honestly, I was confused by the pricing and couldn’t decide whether to skip. I ended up buying two products. Though I am happy with those two products I was wondering if it is some sort of fraud.
Please feel free to go for this small spice garden tour but beware that the products are super expensive. Make sure it is not likely a scam whatsoever.
We also visited a tea plantation cum factory. Kadugannawa Tea Factory
Garden Center. We were shown around the tea plantation/tea factory by an informative guide, served tea and cookies at the basement which was a bit relaxing, and finally taken to the gift shop at the end where you could buy all sorts of teas. The whole thing was free but they have a donation box at the end and tips are shared between all the guides. We enjoyed it but didn’t purchase their tea because it was lighter in taste, flavor, and aroma. We prefer strong black tea.