12 things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Memorable Colombo

The capital Colombo is a city whose impressive territory is simply teeming with tourist attractions. A vacation trip to Colombo should take at least 3 days. This will give you the opportunity to experience the pleasant prices for various kinds of entertainment and see most of the sights of the city.

How and when to go?

Choosing the time and way to go to the capital of Sri Lanka, it is worth taking into account that the temperature here is quite stable. All year round the thermometer column demonstrates 25-27 degrees.

However, the determining factor for choosing the best time to vacation in Colombo is precipitation. It is the rains that form the concept of high and low season. The first and best is from December to March, when the rains are unlikely. It is also not a bad option to go here in the second half of summer, when there is little rainfall.

It is most rainy in the city in April-June and autumn.

To get to Colombo International Airport from Moscow is possible only with a connection. The most frequent connections are Qatar, Istanbul and Abu Dhabi. Flight prices depend on the chosen airline, the number of connections and the month of the flight. For example, the flight in November 2022 on the route Moscow-Katar-Colombo will cost 440 euros round trip.

From the airport to the city center can be reached by a variety of options, the cheapest of which is a bus. There is a bus stop 10 minutes walk from the airport arrivals area, where route 187 goes to Colombo Fort. The price of the trip – 100 LKR, the trip takes no more than 40 minutes. By the way, you can get to the stop at the airport not only on foot, there is a free shuttle bus. Take a hotel cab or a minivan cab to get downtown, in addition to the bus.

City Transport

The most popular and inexpensive way to explore Colombo is to take a tuk-tuk.

There are two varieties of this mode of transport:

  1. Official tuk-tuks, distinguished by a brightly colored car – a guarantee that the driver will help the tourist to navigate the area and take to any point of interest. The tuk-tuks can be booked twenty-four hours a day on 0712500800 or 0772299299.
  2. There are many private tuk-tuks around the city. You can charge by the kilometer or by agreement with the driver before driving. If the destination is not more than 3 km, the trip will cost an average of 50 LKR, but a longer trip will cost up to 300 LKR.
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A more comfortable and safer alternative to a tuk-tuk is a cab. Most cars are equipped with a meter. The cost of boarding – 40 LKR, 1 km – 65 LKR.

A good way to explore the city is a tour by double-decker bus, which you can take by the hotel “Gold Face”. The departure time is 8-30.

Colombo on the map:

Where to Stay

Colombo has a huge number of different hotels. Among the most budget options are those where a double room will cost 10 – 14 euros. These include:

  • Udara’s Colombo Residences, located 8 km from the city center;
  • 34/1/1 Sumanarama, 9 km from the heart of the capital;
  • Orchid House – 5 km from the center and a number of other options.

The above and equivalent options tend to have very compact rooms and often the bathroom is on the floor. Therefore, when booking, it is important to carefully examine the amenities in the hotel.

If price to comfort ratio is a priority, then the list of numerous options includes:

  • Gower House, where a deluxe room will cost 37 euros;
  • Dolce Casa, where a room costs 39 euros;
  • “27” Spathodea- Oasis in the City – for 45 euros, guests have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful view of the garden;
  • Urban Bliss Studio – breakfast included in the price and a great view from the window costs 61 euros for two people;
  • Silvikris Residence is an apartment complex, where for 63 euros four people can live in an apartment of more than 90 square meters.

This is a tiny fraction of all the options offered by the capital of Sri Lanka. Our tips for booking vacation packages will help you make the right hotel choice and save money.

Where and what to eat

Lankan cuisine resembles Indian cuisine in many ways in terms of features and ingredients used.

The main elements of Sri Lankan cuisine are seafood, colorful spices, spices, fruits.

Many people associate Indian and thus Lankan cuisine with curry. It is indeed so. This spice together with rice is the mainstay of the daily diet of the locals.

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Moreover, curry can be found in almost any main dish, be it fish, meat or a vegetarian option.

In addition to the fairly traditional staple dishes, those who like to try new dishes are worth a try:

  • String hoppers – vermicelli, which is made from rice flour. To prepare it, they are rolled into rolls and then steamed;
  • Umbalakada is a powdered mixture made from dried small fish;
  • Hoppers are pancakes based on rice flour and coconut milk;
  • Bittara arrah – a dish great for breakfast, it is a pancake with an egg inside;
  • Hakuru arrah – this is a sweeter version of the previous one, where they add coconut chips;
  • And of course, roti, the classic rice cakes with curry, as well as dishes based on them, such as kottu roti – chopped flatbread with vegetables and meat added.

Speaking of drinks, it is important to remember not to drink tap water. Also do not buy local milk – it’s quite expensive, but the quality can be disappointing, it spoils very quickly.

In Colombo, it is worth trying Tambili – coconut fraiche, it can be cooked in front of the buyer or sell it in bottles.

Tambili is the most popular drink in Sri Lanka.

Among the local alcoholic beverages we can highlight Arak, the price depends on the brand, the cheapest options – from $4 a bottle. However, we recommend not taking drinks cheaper than $7. Not a bad option is sold under the brand Old Reserve.

It is worth noting that eating in Colombo is not expensive. The price depends on the class of the restaurant. As a rule, you can dine even for 1 dollar, and the maximum possible cost limit is 10 dollars.

What to see?

The city is territorially divided into districts, each of which has a number of interesting objects.

The Fort District

The name of the area is a consequence of the fortifications erected here in the 16th century – a fortress with surrounding buildings, surrounded by a perimeter wall. If you travel through the Fort District in 2022, you can see only a small part of the ancient structures – several buildings of colonial architecture, including the former lighthouse – the tower decorated with a clock. In addition to the heritage of antiquity, the area is interesting because today it has the largest concentration of government and commercial buildings, leading hotels. Even the president’s residence is located here.

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Attractions of Fort Colombo
  1. Old Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in the late 19th century, but due to the lack of lighting as a lighthouse was used briefly, in 1952, due to the active construction of the city, it stopped working for its intended purpose. The clock on the lighthouse appeared 4 years after its construction, in 1860. Interestingly, the first clock to remain on the tower until 1914 was created by the same master as the clock on the iconic Big Ben. Today, all you can see of the lighthouse is the exterior; you can’t get inside.
  2. A new lighthouse, rebuilt to replace its predecessor. The structure is more like a fortress, which contributes, for example, the installation of seven cannons at its foot.
  3. Buddhist Stupa Sambodhi Chaitiya. Inside the structure you can see images of the Buddha’s life path and after climbing up, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the port. Important: No photos can be taken from the top due to the large concentration of government buildings in the area.
  4. Maritime Museum, not so capacious, but curious, the exhibition which includes a variety of artifacts found on the bottom of the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka. Admission is free, photography is prohibited in the halls.
  5. St. Peter’s Church, located in one of the old houses of the city. You can see the inside in the morning or evening hours, during the service.
  6. The Dutch Hospital, which dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. The hospital’s five buildings are now used as cafes, restaurants, and even spas.

When visiting the area of the Fort, it is worth a walk along the waterfront Halle Face, a length of more than 1 km. Here there is no entertainment, but with the advent of darkness here flock vendors street food, trinkets and ordinary locals. It’s a great way to get in touch with the Lankan capital.

Pettah District

The shopping district is a huge marketplace and very difficult to navigate. But the rows of shops aren’t the only thing that characterizes these neighborhoods. Old mosques, Hindu temples, Catholic churches, and museums are the things that interest tourists here.

The main sights of Pettah
  1. Katiresan temples that stand against each other and, in general, differ little in exterior and interior decoration. To explore the premises of the temples, you should come here in the morning or after 17:00.
  2. The Museum of the Dutch Period, which holds various household items and other exhibits of the Dutch conquerors who dominated the island from 1658 to 1796. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets cost Rs. 500 per adult, which visitors think is a bit excessive given the collection available.
  3. The Jami ul Alfar Mosque, built in the early 20th century, is one of the most beautiful and sought-after tourist sites in the city.
  4. The old town hall, built in 1865 under English rule, has impressive architecture. You can see it for free, but the workers will not let you go without paying them a tip.
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Cotahan District

Walking through the streets of this district, it is worth a visit:

  • Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Hindu Temple, the exterior of which is notable for its unique architectural designs and unusual carvings.
  • Church of St. Anthony, which was completed in the 30s of the 19th century. Today it is a very popular place for Lankans. It is believed that St. Anthony is able to give people back their lost possessions.

  • St. Lucia Church is among the largest in the entire island.

Slave Island District

This urban area will delight tourists with sites such as:

  1. Hindu temples including Sri Keilavasanatham Swami Devasthanam, Sri Shiva Subramania Swami;
  2. Buddhist temple – Gangaramaya, which is the richest on the island;
  3. Seema Malakaya meditation pavilions or Temple on the water.

Cinnamon Garden District

Visiting a place with such a poetic name, it is worth stopping by:

  1. Colombo National Museum, the largest on the island. A must-see for those who want to learn more about the history of the island and the city. See the collections daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for 250 rupees per adult.
  2. The city’s largest park, Viharamadevi, a walk through which is not only a pleasure to enjoy the shady alleys and flower beds. On the park grounds are the buildings of the New City Hall, the Public Library, as well as the Natural History Museum and the National Museum, mentioned above.

What else you should know about holidays in Colombo

Communications and Internet

If the hotel does not offer its customers free Wi-fi, and thus depriving them of the possibility of making calls through popular messengers, it will be better to use public phones. This option will be more economical than contacting your family from your room.

To make calls through a payphone you need to buy a card. Plastic with a face value of Rs. 100 or more is sold in supermarkets, shops and post offices.

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To call the Russian Federation, you need to dial the code 007, then the city code and the number you want to call.

Cellular communication is possible here only in roaming mode.

As for Internet access, there are internet cafes everywhere within the city.

Safety

The tips for visiting Colombo are not much different from what you should consider when traveling to any Lankan city:

  • Beware of pickpockets and petty thieves;
  • Women should not wander alone at night;
  • Respect local traditions, don’t offend Lankans by showing up in religious places wearing inappropriate, overly revealing clothing.

Shopping

The peculiarity of local shopping is that the active haggling is not welcomed here. You can bring the price down, and then only slightly, if you can make the seller happy.

Take note: Do not buy the things you like at once, compare the prices in the neighboring stores. Often the price may be twice as much.

What to buy
  1. Local handicrafts, it can be clay and pottery, dishes, wooden crafts and figurines, paintings made in the technique of “batik”;
  2. Paintings by Lankan painters;
  3. Decorations;
  4. Textile products: bed linen, clothes, etc.;
  5. Spices – curry, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon and much more can be bought in the shops in Colombo, because Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of spices;
  6. Tea – in Sri Lanka you can buy even the sorts of tea that are not in every Russian city or the price is “biting. One of the best brands is Mlesna.

Colombo is a city that can be more than just a place on the way to the coast. It is worth lingering here. In addition to the city neighborhoods covered in the article, other metropolitan areas are worth checking out when traveling on vacation to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Borella, Bambalapitiya, Havelock, Maradan – each area offers different entertainment and attractions. A trip to Colombo is an opportunity to experience the atmosphere of non beach Sri Lanka.

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