Colombo Tourism, Sri Lanka: Places, Best Time & Travel Guides 2020
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Think of Sri Lanka and what springs to mind? Beaches and Buddha, temples and tree clad hills. Heady metropolitan sophistication? Not so much, right? But after 5 years of the civil war between government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil eelam, Colombo has transformed itself. From a shabby sprawl, to be skirted enroute the beaches of south, Colombo has become a confident Cosmopolitan. Largest city and former capital of Sri Lanka, originally Kalantotta(“Kelani ferry”) was corrupted to Kolumbu by Arab traders and was changed to Colombo by Portuguese. Colombo is a burgeoning must see tourist place in Sri Lanka today. It is no longer that boring city that you simply had to get away with it when on your way to the Southern Beach but is rather a worthy holiday destination in its own very right that demands a definite visit when in the country.

City’s major sections are the old area of narrow streets and colorful market stalls; modern commercial and government area and a wealthy residential and recreational area. Along with the shady paths, the legacies of the colonial Colombo’s garden roots are indeed unmarred with its garden roots. While Pettah brims with boisterous commerce and shopping hubs, Fort restores its historic colonial architecture. Even the congested Galle Rd is getting swanky with its gleaming hotels, resorts and stays. On the other hand, the seafront gains massively from the new roads which are stimulating hotel construction. The urbane side of Colombo supports further more stylish galleries, eateries and museums. Marvels are plentiful in the old quarters where one can avail succulent local food and tiny convivial cafes or characterful shops..

Adding to this charm, the tourist places in Colombo include some of the historic Buddhist temples, monuments and places that showcase the socio-cultural richness of the place. Being famous for its Nightlife, Colombo has numerous trendy bars, pubs and lounges. Hotels are well-equipped with modern amenities, therefore making them well-placed in the hospitality sector. There are all kinds of restaurants here, serving scrumptious Sri Lankan meals that have gained global popularity with their blend of fiery spices, rich flavours and unique textures. With everything it has to offer, this city is indeed an interesting start or even end to your Sri Lankan ventures and adventures

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It was quite a long trip, I was actually very interesting with the itinerary as the listed was very fulfilling... The tour operator was very responsive and helpful... the trip was for 7-days and 6-night but still since day one till the last day of our trip we do not face any kind of a problem at all, as the person who guided us was very informative, professional and detail about each step we talked and even shared nice stories of the place... by the way, Stays, foods, and activity was truly amazing...Go for it this tour won't disappoint you.
Amazingly organized by Thrillophilia, this tour is very satisfying as in one package we get all that we are looking for, The arrangement and all were nice and comfortable, talking about the place it is truly a paradise on earth, Each place we visited wow us with its beauty, We get transfers from one place to the other in a very comfortable, clean and spacious vehicle along with a very skillful driver plus very friendly and knowledgable about the place shared with us the history, culture and even the experienced, We covered all the places which had been decided and per planned by the expert which we miss nothing from it, We all really enjoyed during the visit to the elephant orphanage, National Park jeep safari, waterfall, temples, plantation, shopping, etc ... The whole trip was exciting, fun, and unforgettable. I would really suggest this package to all my loved once...
The trip was absolutely great, full of excitment and happiness throughout. This tour is a complete package which you'll experience never like before, We visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which we interact with the cute baby elephant, feeding, bathing, and watching at them we forget all the stress. The gardens, the lake, strawberry plantation, national park, shopping, and all were truly enjoyable...We visited Bentota there we spend our leisure time on the beach and participated in thrilling adventure watersport activity. Lastly, we explore Colombo like anything... Overall it was really a great tour that will be remembered for a lifetime.
The entire journey on this tour was super AWESOME!!! the management was very supportive and helpful at any time we need any kinds of a helps, I and my partner really appreciate with the overall arrangement from the comfortable and standard stayed we had, the transfers were very comfortable and safe with good drivers which we had great sightseeing of the place, we had an amazing time on watersport activities, great walked on the beach, nice foods we had. Places we covered were simply great like a botanical garden, temple, church, great shopping with fair price...Overall the trip was memorable...
It was a very comfortable ride from Colombo to Negombo as the driver was very professional. Got the deal at the best price.
The environment and surroundings of the places are awesome and worth visiting. We loved the whole itinerary and its execution and the team was also friendly enough.
I use to book with this trustworthy company ( Thrillophilia ) for my short tours but this was my first booking for the long tour ( International package ) I knew about the company policy and service which is why I'm comfortable...The agent helps me with many options packages which I choose with this one...The representative already waited for us at the airport before the time gave...The picked-up transport was good, spacious and comfortable, the hotel they provided was very good, We start the trip as per itinerary which is well planned and we follow according to it, the entire places we visited was lovely, the place has its amazing scenic beauty for sure will give you a good photograph... it was hard to describe each place in details as words were less to describe the beauty of it...A nice tour guide who was detailed about each place...Now I'm ready for the next tour...
Amazing holiday package by Thrillophilia, My family and I had a great experience and we really enjoyed a lot the whole trip, the arrangement was totally excellent, the hotels were very comfortable and the transport too, the meals there was truly delicious especially seafood. To be honest from the beginning till the end we didn't face any difficulty at all...and one thing we really like about was the service we get from this company when we had any questions we just called the support number and the agent instantly took actions on it, the places in Sri Lanka was truly paradise, the scenic beauty of the place worth recommending lots of pictures we took, We were very glad that we didn't miss anything on this tour...The most fun which my kids like it so much was the visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which they had a great time feeding and bathing the innocent creatures. the Sacred Tooth Relic is well-maintained and the art was just lovely... At Bentota, we enjoyed the sightseeing of the place, beach, and many watersport activities...and lots more...the place really amazed us with its beauty... we learn a lot about the place and its culture...Worthwhile tour
The tour was truly awesome. Our tour operator was very cooperative and friendly, the selection of hotels at each place was absolutely superb with a warm welcome at each, the visit at each place was really great and so beautiful with special experience and nice pics we get from each...All-over this tour & itinerary was well-executed and we really enjoyed all our tour to the fullest...Will surely recommend Thrillophilia to all families, friends, and colleagues for the amazing holiday's trip
It was my first trip outside the country, the itinerary is rich and so well-planned that we had no complaint at all... My family was very happy with this trip... the operator made sure that we had all the requirements and any update was informed us with detail and on-time... Our driver was very informative and accommodating... The whole 7 days and 6 nights were just a super great and unforgettable experience for us... This trip worth all the investment...

People Also Ask About Colombo

  1. Drinking Laws

    The legal age for drinking in Colombo is 21 years.


  2. Recommended reads for destination (govt. websites, travel forum articles)?

  3. When is the best time to visit Colombo?

    Colombo can be visited at any time of the year except during heavy monsoons, that last between June and September.

    Monthly breakup of Colombo’s climatic conditions, so that you can plan your trip accordingly :

    January to March : Mostly sunny and highly frequented by visitors. Duruthu Perahera Festival held in Jan attracts many tourists.

    April to October : With April comes Monsoon. June to September are the wettest months. Being the slightly off season, it is less crowded and you can get great deals on hotels and flights at this time.

    November to December : November is the a good time to visit since Diwali Celebrations are being held.

  4. How to reach Colombo?

    By air : Bandaranaike International airport is the only international airport in Sri Lanka. Located in Katunayake, it’s an hour’s drive from Colombo.

    By Train : Colombo has good rail network which connects it to other important places of interest including Matara, Badulla, Kankesanturai and Talaimannar. Though crowded, it is the cheapest way to travel in Sri Lanka.

    By Bus : Buses connect Colombo with Airport as well other places of interest in Sri Lanka.

    Tourists also have an option of coming here by a cruise ship or ferry that are frequent from southern states of India.

  5. Do I need a visa for Colombo? How does one get a Colombo visa?

    Yes, you need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can get a short stay visa online at Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).

    Tourist visas are are issued for a maximum of 30 days. Though you can get a visa on arrival, it’s better you get one before you travel. Overstaying your visa will attract fine and possible detention and deportation.

  6. What is the currency of Colombo and where can I get my money exchanged?

    Currency of Colombo is Sri Lankan Rupee.

    You can exchange your money in Exchange Bureaus and ATMs. You can exchange money inside a bank, but their rates are high and it's worse than drawing money from ATMs. Visa and MasterCards are widely accepted. There is a possibility to exchange money in hotels but the rates are really very high.

    REMEMBER - It's forbidden to import Sri Lankan currency into your country, therefore don’t forget to exchange your money back before leaving the country. Foreign banks don’t exchange Sri Lankan currency.

  7. What is the local food of Colombo? Which are the best places to taste this food?

    Colombo’s reputation as a food destination is well deserved. Authentic cuisine consists of generous serving of steamed rice, warm servings of three or four types of curries and crisp poppadoms or dry fish, with traditional island sweetmeats rounding it all.

    Here are some of the dishes you should try at respective places :

    1. String hoppers at Galle Road: Along Galle Road are numerous restaurants serving this local cuisine retreat - string hoppers, an important part of Sri Lankan breakfast. It is one of the most popular dishes in the country. The pancake-like bites, prepared from steamed rice noodles moulded into flat spirals, are served with coconut sambol, dhal and other sauces.

    2. Samosa at Pettah Train Station: Around this central station, are numerous vendors and food stalls selling short eats and other dishes. Though vegetable samosas are a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine and are practically available all over the city, they are particularly popular here.

    3. Kottu Roti at Hotel de New Pilawoos: Apparently, everyone’s favorite Sri Lankan dish, represents novelty and balance of flavours. Made from Godhamba roti, vegetables, eggs and meat if desired, along with creamy textures and diverse seasoning, leaves you wanting for more. Numerous places serve it but the most popular among them is Hotel de New Pilawoos.

    4. Seafood specialities at Mount Lavinia: Colombo being the paradise for seafood lovers offers many seaside restaurants, serving everything from king prawns, butterfish, snapper, lobsters to squid.

    5. Dal Curry at Upali’s: Even though this Sri Lankan-style Dal curry bears strong resemblance to its Indian counterpart, many are convinced it's better. Accompanied by roti or rice it's best served at Upali’s.

    6. Pani Pol around Galle Road: This sweet coconut pancake stuffed with coconut and sugar is one of the most popular meal in the country. Available everywhere from restaurants to vendors, some of the best pani pols are found in Dehiwala and Wellawatte area around Galle Road.
  8. What is the best public transport to commute around Colombo?

    The preferred mode of transport would be a private car or taxi but for those who want public transport, buses, trains and three wheelers called tuk-tuks are available.

    Here’s a comparative study, so that you can choose as per your convenience :

    - Buses : Colombo has an excellent network of intra-city buses. Being the cheapest mode of transport, they are overcrowded and take very long to take you to various attractions. Mostly non-ac, having severely restricted luggage space with people standing in the aisle. However, Super Luxury Coach(charging thrice the normal fare) are ac buses designed for long distance and have provision for luggage.

    - Trains :
    They aren’t just superior to buses in comfort and luggage options but are easily available and drive relatively frequently. The Colombo-Kandy-Nuwara-Eliya-Badulla line contains the most scenic stretches of the country. All this makes Trains the best public transport to commute around Colombo.

    - Auto-Rickshaws :
    Auto-Rickshaws or Tuk-Tuks are most commonly used mode of transport in Colombo. They are easily available at most junctions and are fairly inexpensive.
  9. Do I need to have any vaccinations before the trip to Colombo?

    Yes, some vaccines may be required. These include routine vaccines like Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis vaccine, Varicella(chickenpox) vaccine, Polio vaccine and your yearly flu shot.

    Apart from these, travellers should get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Typhoid because there is a risk of these diseases in Sri Lanka.

  10. What is the local language in Colombo and which are the most commonly used greetings?

    Sinhalese and tamil are the official languages. Some of the common greetings are :

     

    English                            Sinhalese                                          Tamil
          

    Hello!                                  

    Hello!                                                 

    Vankkam!

    Thank you!

    Stuh-tee!

    Nanri

    Good morning/night

    Ayubowen / subha ratriyak

    Kalai vanakkam / iniya iravu

    How much is it?

    Ehekka keeyada?

    Itu evvalavu?

    How far is….?

    Eya Kotaram dura?

    Atu evvalavu turam?

     

  11. Which are the best shopping places in Colombo and what are they famous for?

    A list of some of the best places for shopping in Colombo are :

    1. Odel : The quintessential lifestyle store is like a Sri-Lankan-style mini mall, where you can buy fashionable and relatively good-quality garments, along with books, shoes, beachwear, imported candy and other tempting things.

    Location: Alexandra Place, Colombo 7

    2. Paradise Road :
    It sells stunning minimalist homeware and souvenir. Prices are upscale but reasonable. There’s a small cafe on the premises.

    Location:
     Two outlets, one at 2 Alfred House Road, Colombo 3 and other at 213 Dharmapala Mawtha, Colombo 7.

    3. Barefoot :
    They have eclectic selection of elegant tablecloths, napkins, placemats and other garments. Prices aren’t less but its the best shop for high quality souvenirs. It has a lovely courtyard with charming cafes and restaurants.

    Location: 
    706 Galle Road, Colombo 3.

    4. House of Fashion:
    Here you’ll get good quality inexpensive garments in abundance, since it is the best wholesale retail store in Colombo.

    Location:
    101, D.S. Senanayake Mawatha, Colombo 8.

    5. Spa Ceylon:
    This Luxury Ayurveda Spa has their own line exemplary massage and personal care supplies. For these ‘luxury’ items you’ll obviously have to dish out some cash but it'll be worth it.

    Location:
    Outlets at Colombo Airport, Crescat Boulevard, Ward Place, Galle Fort and Kandy City Center.
  12. Here are the best tips Thrillophilia has to offer for your trip to Colombo

    Beware of the risks of assault, road accidents, drowning, spiked drinks, credit frauds and dangerous tides here.
    Sri Lanka is a mosquito prone area. So, carry a strong repellant.
    Weather here can be vastly affected by the monsoon rains and cyclones. Check with a local advice before making a visit.
    Do not hire a guide who is not from a trusted or authentic agency.
    Never trust any stranger who gets friendly with you in just a short while.
    Don’t eat food off the street vendors.
    Carry with you a copy of your licenses and passport.
    Don’t let anyone in the city misguide you. Acquire sufficient information before heading to a new place.
    Dress appropriately. Nudity is strictly prohibited here.
    Do not film or do videography without the legal permissions.
    In case the banner or sign says, ‘No Photography’ obey it.
    Avoid traveling alone in the night hours.
    Sri Lanka does have an underlying threat from terrorism so ensure that you do not visit during the times of civil unrest.
    Take comprehensive travel and medical insurance before traveling.
  13. Which are the famous museums in Colombo?

    Colombo has several Museums holding significant artifacts, providing a glimpse in the country’s history. Some of them are :

    1. Colombo National Museum: The main museum in the country exhibiting a plethora of artefacts representing Sri Lanka’s rich history.

    Location: 
    Colombo7

    2. Dutch Period Museum:
    Within a 300 year old governor’s manor, this is a two storey house oozing centuries old Dutch architechture that remains untouched by time.

    Location:
     Colombo 1

    3. Independence Memorial Museum:
    Established with the objective of honouring national heros who were instrumental in gaining independence, it has rows and rows of statues of those who lead the movement.

    Location:
     Colombo 7

    4. National Museum of Natural History:
    Its the only museum in Sri lanka that showcases the natural heritage and diversity of life offered by the island. Species that are endemic to Sri Lanka are displayed through the vast collection of specimens.

    Location:
     Colombo 7

    5. Ape Gama:
    It’s an outstanding recreation of life in a Sri Lankan village.

    Location:
     Jana Kala Kendraya in Battaramulla
  14. Which are the famous beaches in Colombo?

    Famous beaches are :

    1. Mount Lavinia:
    Mount Lavinia is definitely one of the most easy going and lax suburbs of Colombo. It is named after Lovina, the Bohemian dancing girl who had an affair a Sri lankan governor
    2. Bentota: Around 65 km from Colombo, here you can visit Kasgoda Turtle Hatchery.
    3. Hikkaduwa: Situated 100 km south of Colombo, is best for party lovers as there are many clubs and bars nearby. You must try Snorkelling here.
    4. Unawatuna: Not far from Galle, it offers an opportunity to connect beach holidays with cultural sightseeing.
    5. Wellawatte Beach 
    6. Wadiya Beach

  15. Which are the famous destinations for camping in Colombo?

    There aren’t many destinations for camping within Colombo but you can camp at nearby places like:

    1. Sinharja Rainforest : It’s an important eco tourism centre with a status of being a World Heritage site. One of the most popular trekking spots, it lets you enjoy luscious greenery without the fear of wild animals, making it suitable for camping.

    Location: 182-197 km from Colombo

    2. Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks : Having abundant jungles and wetlands, its famous for safaris but you can camp here.

    Location:  around 190 km from Colombo

  16. Which are the famous places for enjoying Nightlife in Colombo?

    Casinos in Colombo are what you should experience after Goa and before Vegas.

    Famous ones are :

    1. Bally’s Casino : Best among all others.

    Location: 34 DR Wijewardena Mawatha, Colombo

    2. Rythm and Blues Nightclub: One of the most popular places to visit in Colombo, its a pretty welcome party place.

    Location:19/1, Daisy Villa Avenue, Colombo 4.
    Timings:  6 PM - 2:30 AM and 6 PM - 5 AM

    3. Loft Lounge Bar: A lofty bar with chic ambiance, is the place you can relax and rejuvenate amidst the quirky and arty interiors.

    Location: Colombo Courtyard, Alfred House Ave, Colombo 3
    Timings:  8PM - 3 AM

    4. ZAZA Bar: It creates an illusion of being outdoor while enjoying the comfort of indoors. The bling of strobing neon lights adds appealing hues.

    Location: Casa Colombo, 231, Galle Rd, Colombo 4
    Timings:  8AM - 12 AM

    5. Sky Lounge: The coolest addition to Colombo’s happening nighlife, it’s one of the hippest Colombian Nightclub, that complements awesom parties with creative food and beverages.

    Location: The Kingsbury, 48, Janadhipathi, Mawatha, Colombo 1
    Timings:  5:30PM - 3 AM

    6. Barefoot Garden Cafe: This late-night cafe is set in an enchanting garden and is a must-visit.

    Location: - 704 Galle Rd, Colombo
    Timings: 10 AM - 11 PM

     7. Molly’s Pub: An Irish bar named after “Sweet Molly Malone” song, serves special Irish delicasies has cozy ambience ang holds live performances.

    Location:  46/38, Nawam Mawatha, Slave Island, Colombo

    Timings:  10AM - 12AM