Colombo Travel Blog: Table of Contents
Colombo on C&C
Best Time To Visit Colombo
Where to Sleep
Let’s Go For a Drink
What to See and Do
Tipping in Colombo
Common Scams & What To Avoid
C&C’s Google Map of the City
Colombo Travel Blog: Where, How?
Colombo, Western Province (Sri Lanka, Asia)
Population: 7,971,826 (2011)
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
The Bandaranaike International Airport is the main airport serving Sri Lanka. The airport is located approximately 22 miles from the center of the city. It is considered the hub of Sri Lanka. There are 30 airlines currently serving the airport, including Air Arabia, Air China, Air India, Cathay Pacific, Enter Air, Sri Lankan Airlines, and Cinnamon Air.
The Bandaranaike International Airport is the largest airport in Sri Lankan. There are three terminals in the airport. Terminal 1 serves international flights. Terminal 2 is under construction and will be completed by 2019. Terminal 3 serves the domestic flights.
Transportation to-and-from the Airport:
Buses and taxis are readily available at the airport for your travel needs. There is also an airport car service desk. It provides private cars services from the airport to hotels and other destinations.
Public transportation options include a bus stand located near the taxi stand. Buses generally run at intervals of 15 minutes. If you miss one, another is likely to arrive after a short wait. Paid private car services including Ola and Uber (Use invite code 9nyahp to get a free ride!) are also available at the airport. Cinnamon Air provides small aircrafts, including seaplanes, from the airport to several scenic spots and destinations throughout the city.
Remember that Colombo is a walkable city. It’s not that large, and it’s a beautiful place to take a walk!
Colombo has a broad public transportation system that features both private and government-run bus services. The Sri Lanka Transport Board oversees the operations of the government bus services. Colombo has three primary bus terminals, the Bastian Mawatha Bus Terminal, the Central Bus Station, and the Gunasinghapura Bus Terminal.
Taxis are recommended around the city. They are safer and regularly available. Auto rickshaws, or “Tuk Tuks,” are the most commonly used form of transportation in Colombo. They are also easily available and generally inexpensive. Paid private car services including Ola, Uber, and Kangaroo Cabs are always a preferred option.
Fort Railway Station is the primary hub of railway transportation in Colombo. It is not recommended for travel within the city as options are less frequent.
A Note on Taxis:
When hiring a taxi or auto rickshaw, it is recommended to negotiate the wage or fare in advance.
Travel with a map. Try researching the best route ahead of time when traveling around Colombo. If you have a smartphone, Google Maps will assist nicely with this task. Always opt for pre-paid car services such as Ola and Uber. Consult with your hotel concierge prior to booking or reserving any travel accommodations.
Just like anywhere, Uber is cheaper and safer. If you don’t already have an account, use this link and get 15 dollars off your first ride!
It’s easy: the Laccadive Sea is west!
Colombo Travel Blog – Neighborhoods
Colombo is a vast city that can be visited any time of the year. There are several interesting museums, galleries, and gardens to be enjoyed while visiting.
Top-rated attraction points are the Galle Face Green, the Gangaramaya Temple, Viharamahadevi Park (formerly Victoria Park), the National Museum of Colombo, and Colombo’s Town Hall.
Additional points of interest include the Independence Memorial Hall Square, the Pettah Floating Market, and the Old Dutch Hospital.
More About Colombo on C&C:
Best Time To Visit Colombo
Average Monthly Minimum And Maximum Temperatures
Average Monthly Hours Of Sunshine
Average Monthly Rainfall Or Snowfall
Colombo Travel Blog: Personal Notes
What’s This Place About?
Colombo is a beautiful, modern city. It’s also the capital of Sri Lanka. It’s the largest city, commercial hub, main center of intellectual activity and where you’ll find anything remotely international in the whole country. The rest of the country is 100% Sri-Lankan and nothing else!
What’s Great and Fun?
Colombo is a beautiful introduction to the country of Sri Lanka. People are kind and gentle. For comparison: there’s more chaos in Colombo than anywhere else in Sri Lanka, but much less than anywhere in India’s big cities.
I never have enough money to stay at hotels like the Galle Face Hotel. But spending an afternoon at the Galle Face Beach park, with the locals and a few tourists from neighboring countries, then going to the hotel, in the courtyard, to have a cocktail and chat with other travellers, watching the sunset, is just a stunning experience. Everything about this place is stunning to the senses: in the park, you can see local kids playing cricket; the ocean and sunset is a strong reminder of where you are in the world; a few visitors from arab countries walk around the park, snapping pictures; then in the hotel, the whole old-world feel is unique and reminds you that this used to be a colony of England. Spectacular.
Colombo Travel Blog: Colombo to Galle
You gotta visit the Galle Face Hotel.
Colombo features many options for hotels accommodations. You will find boutiques, luxury hotels, guest houses, and more available throughout the city. There are many inexpensive options for those traveling on a budget.
This is perhaps the best answer to the question of Colombo to Galle.
Recommended hotel options include Casa Heliconia, Cantaloupe Aqua, The Ocean Front, and the Lake Lodge.
Moss Colombo and Bunkyard Hostels are comfortable, clean and cheap hostels if you’re on a budget.
If you are in a hurry and don’t want to waste much time on searching Colombo to Galle, go here straight.
Shangri-La Hotel Colombo and Hilton Colombo Hotel are two of the major chain hotels available in Colombo.
And if you’re looking for the best of the best in Colombo, then you need to visit Cinnamon Grand. It’s so very comfy!
There are far too many options on Colombo to Galle. All you have to do is keep eyes and ears open.
Just like everywhere, Airbnb is a very interesting option. If you’re not already a member, you can use this Airbnb link to get $40 off your first reservation.
Colombo Travel Blog: Let’s Eat!
Famous Foods and Specialities:
Sri Lankan cuisine is often spicy. It features many vegetarian and seafood options. Various spices and rice flour are ingredients common throughout many recipes. Restaurants in Colombo range from top-notch fine dining establishments to authentic budget eats. Travelers of all kinds will surely find something to suit their tastes.
- Rice and Curry – the most common dish in Sri Lanka. A heaping of rice is piled high and topped with curry and daily vegetables. Fish and various seafood options are typically offered as add-ons.
- Hoppers – a thin bowl-shaped pancake dish that can be served plain or with toppings. The most popular topping is an egg. Some establishments will add extras such as vegetables or curd to their recipes.
- Puttu – a breakfast favorite in Colombo. Puttu is a steamed cylinder of ground rice layered with coconut.
- Biryani – an Indian import popular throughout Sri Lanka. It is a one pot dish consisting of South Asian spices, marinated meats, yogurt, and rice as the main ingredients.
- Kiribath – a traditional rice dish made with coconut milk. The finished product is similar to rice pudding.
- Thembili – a variety of coconut native to the island of Sri Lanka. It has a sweeter taste.
Lamprais, Roti, Dosa, and Samber are some other popular Sri Lankan dishes commonly found at restaurants throughout Colombo.
The Best Drunk Food
Kottu – a popular street food dish in Colombo. The main ingredient is shredded Godamba Roti, which is a flat, crisp Sri Lankan bread. It is served stir-fry style with various spices and oils. You will find many recipes that add vegetables, cheese, or egg for extra flavor.
Vadai – another common Sri Lankan snack sold by many street vendors in Colombo. The main ingredient is Dal (or Dhal), which is dried split pea or lentil. The mixture also consists of onions, chilis, and various spices. It is formed into a croquette and deep fried before serving.
Colombo Travel Blog: Our Suggestions – Dishes and Restaurants
The Gallery Café, Zaza, Chutneys, and the Beach Wadiya are some of the best dining establishments in the city.
Street food is also very good and popular in Colombo. Don’t be afraid to try some authentic cuisine sold by street vendors throughout the city.
Once again, in this very city, I spent most of my time trying street food. Go take a walk in both Colombo 01 and Colombo 11, as they’re marked by the government, get lost in the middle of the maze of the different markets and businesses and buildings… and you’ll find something great to eat!
That’s also the reason why I’m not offering restaurant addresses. I feel like the best food is in the streets and that, in most sit-down, “classier” restaurants I’ve visited in the capital, the food simply wasn’t as good.
Still, I’ll give you one address only. It’s a Western-type place, it’s very hippie-chic, and clearly geared towards tourists, but it’s still such a wonderful patio, that I need to include it. The Barefoot Garden Cafe is a café and a restaurant. I don’t know they still like digital nomads, but I ended up spending a lot of time working there. If you want to make a right choice on Colombo to Galle, be aware of the food and dining options in the city.
Colombo Travel Blog: Let’s go for a Drink
What Do the Locals Drink?
Coconut Arrack is the national liquor of Sri Lanka. Thembili, Laggar, and Toddy are names of some of the preferred alcoholic drinks amongst Sri Lankan locals. Tea and coffee are consumed with many meals. Sinha Stout, Lion Lager, and Lion Stout are three of the most popular beers in Sri Lanka.
Drinking in Public
There are no rules against drinking on the streets, but being rowdy is not well seen, and being rowdy with an open container of alcohol in hand is a surefire way to attract the worst kind of attention.
Colombo Travel Blog: Our Suggestions – Bars and Pubs
Please note that, when I visited both a fancy club and a back-alley tavern in Colombo, my girlfriend at the time was the only woman on the premises. Do with that information what you will.
The nightlife scene in Colombo is very vibrant. Visitors will have no trouble finding fun and excitement. There is an abundance of drinking establishments throughout the city. Many of the most popular bars and lounges are rooftop venues. They can be found atop some of the cities most luxurious hotels. Some recommendations include…
Don’t look for Colombo to Galle far away from a crowd favorite bar.
CÉ LA VI Restaurant and Lounge
As regular readers of this column know, I don’t know anything about clubs. Sorry!
Colombo Travel Blog: What to see and do
Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka. It also the country’s largest city and main port. Colombo lacks in historical and cultural significance when compared to other Sri Lankan cities such as Kandy or Hikkaduwa. It still has a lot of charm and interesting attractions, making it worth the visit.
Colombo’s top museum destinations include the National Museum of Colombo, the Natural History Museum, and the Dutch Period Museum.
The Gangaramaya (Vihara) Buddhist Temple and the historic Fort District of Colombo also make for memorable visits. Remember, it is customary to remove your footwear before entering a Buddhist temple.
For galleries, the Sapumal Foundation and the Lionel Wendt Memorial Art Centre are highly recommended.
The Galle Face Green ocean-side park, the Colombo Zoological Garden, and the Turtle Conservation Villa are some of the city’s top eco-tourism attractions. Beira Lake at Slave Island is also recommended for those who enjoy being outdoors. It is always better to decide on Colombo to Galle after checking the connectivity to the places that you want to visit in the city.
There are many shopping Pettahcts located in Colombo. The Pettah Market, also known as the Manning Market, is an open marketplace where various goods and souvenirs are sold. Vendors will feature items unique to the Sri Lankan culture. Other interesting shopping options include a fabric shop named Barefoot, the Majestic City Mall, and the Paradise Road Design Collection in Tintagel.
Vesak, Eid, Sinhala and Hindu Aluth Awurudda are some of the annual festivals celebrated in Sri Lanka.
Possible day trips outside of Colombo include Bentota. The coastal beach town is located approximately 65 kilometers south of the capital.
The Kegalle District is also within travel distance from Colombo. It features the islands largest and oldest graphite mine. Kegalle is located approximately 78 kilometers inland from Colombo.
Negombo is a relaxing beach town with beautiful architecture and a 300-year-old canal system. It is approximately 35 kilometers north of Colombo. Negombo can be reached by taxi or bus in under two hours.
Tipping in Colombo
Just like in most of Sri Lanka, tipping is normally expected. Generally, 7-10% of the total cost of the bill is a good amount to tip.
Colombo Travel Blog: Common Scams & What to Avoid
Stay alert at all times. I haven’t witnessed any specific scams myself.
How to Stay Safe: Tips and Tricks
Please remember that this is a very conservative country, and just like India, women aren’t treated as equals. Remember to cover up.
I have visited a club in which my girlfriend at the time was the only woman in the whole room. She was happy I was with her. I’ll say it a second time: ladies, remember to cover up. It’s not mandatory, it’s not the law, but it is a good way to stay safe.
It is always a good practice to decide on Colombo to Galle away from these places.
Travel Canada Advisory for Sri Lanka