Friday, 6 October 2017

SRI LANKA: Colombo,Do Not Kiss Or Hug It Is Culturally Unacceptable,Public Nudity Is Illegal,Traffic And Pollution Intense

Colombo City
Colombo is the largest city and the financial and commercial capital of Sri Lanka.

Colombo remains both the commercial and financial capital of Sri Lanka even after the administrative capital has been moved to Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, a suburb east of the city.

Colombo is a huge, sprawling city, which can be visited any time of year due to its tropical climate. The heat is often excruciating, and traffic and pollution intense. These combined and without careful planning Colombo can easily become a nightmarish experience for an average traveler.

To avoid this, do not carry heavy luggage, do not plan to walk any significant distances and take measures to deal with the heat and/or rain, such as bringing ice water, sunglasses, plastic slippers, sunblock, umbrella etc.

Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka and it is also categorised as Gamma+ city amongst other world city rankings.

According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a popular tourist destination.

It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia.

Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a suburb of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of Western Province, Sri Lanka and the district capital of Colombo District.

Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins.It was the legislative capital of Sri Lanka until 1982.

Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago.

It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948.

In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.

Like many cities, Colombo's urban area extends well beyond the boundaries of a single local authority, encompassing other municipal and urban councils such as Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Municipal Council, Dehiwala Mount Lavinia Municipal Council, Kolonnawa Urban Council, Kaduwela Municipal Council and Kotikawatte Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha.

The main city is home to a majority of Sri Lanka's corporate offices, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Famous landmarks in Colombo include Galle Face Green, Viharamahadevi Park, Beira Lake, Colombo Racecourse, Planetarium, University of Colombo, Mount Lavinia beach, Nelum Pokuna Theatre, Colombo Lotus Tower as well as the National Museum.

The name "Colombo", first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name Kolon thota, meaning port on the river Kelani.

Another belief is that the name is derived from the Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means Harbour with leafy mango trees.

The author of the oldest Sinhalese grammar, Sidatsangarava, written in the 13th century wrote about a category of words that exclusively belonged to early Sinhalese. It lists naramba to see and kolamba ford or harbour as belonging to an indigenous source.

Kolamba may also be the source of the name of the commercial capital Colombo.[

As Colombo possesses a natural harbour, it was known to Indian, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Arabs, and Chinese traders over 2,000 years ago.

Traveller Ibn Batuta who visited the island in the 14th century, referred to it as Kalanpu.

Arabs, whose prime interests were trade, began to settle in Colombo around the 8th century AD mostly because the port helped their business by the way of controlling much of the trade between the Sinhalese kingdoms and the outside world.

Their descendants now make the local Sri Lankan Moor community.

Colombo's geography is a mix of land and water. The city has many canals and, in the heart of the city, the 65-hectare (160-acre) Beira Lake.

The lake is one of the most distinctive landmarks of Colombo, and was used for centuries by colonists to defend the city. It remains a popular attraction, hosting regattas, and theatrical events on its shores.

The Northern and North-Eastern border of the city of Colombo is formed by the Kelani River, which meets the sea in a part of the city known as the Modera or modara in Sinhala which means river delta.

Colombo features a tropical monsoon climate under the Köppen climate classification, falling just short of a tropical rainforest climate.

Colombo's climate is fairly temperate all throughout the year. From March to April the average high temperature is around 31 °C (87.8 °F).

The only major change in the Colombo weather occurs during the monsoon seasons from May to August and October to January. This is the time of year where heavy rains can be expected.

Colombo sees little relative diurnal range of temperature, although this is more marked in the drier winter months, where minimum temperatures average 22 °C (71.6 °F). Rainfall in the city averages around 2,500 millimetres (98 in) a year.

Galle Face Green is located in the heart of the city along the Indian Ocean coast, and is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. The Galle Face Hotel is a historic landmark on the southern edge of this promenade.

Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo. The temple's architecture demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture.
Gangaramaya Temple
The Viharamahadevi Park formerly Victoria Park is an urban park located next to the National Museum of Colombo and the Town Hall. It is the oldest and largest park in Colombo and features a large Buddha statue.

As part of the Urban Regeneration Program of the Government of Sri Lanka, many old sites and buildings were revamped to modern public recreational spaces and shopping precincts.

These include Independence Memorial Hall Square, Pettah Floating Market and Old Dutch Hospital among others.

Colombo is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city. The population of Colombo is a mix of numerous ethnic groups, mainly Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, and Sri Lankan Moor.

There are also small communities of people with Chinese, Portuguese Burgher, Dutch Burgher, Malay, and Indian origins living in the city, as well as numerous European expatriates.

Colombo is the most populous city in Sri Lanka, with 642,163 people living within the city limits.In 1866 the city had a population of around 80,000. According to the census of 2001 the demographics of urban Colombo by ethnicity is as follows:

No Ethnicity Population
1 Sinhalese 265,657
2 Sri Lankan Tamils 185,672
3 Sri Lankan Moors 153,299
4 Indian Tamils 13,968
5 Sri Lankan Malays 11,149
6 Burghers 5,273
7 Sri Lankan Chetty 740
8 Bharatha 471
9 Other 5,934
10 Total 642,163

The great majority of Sri Lankan corporations have their head offices in Colombo including Aitken Spence, Ceylinco Corporation, Stassen group of companies, John Keells Holdings, Cargills, Hemas Holdings, and Akbar Brothers.

Some of the industries include chemicals, textiles, glass, cement, leather goods, furniture, and jewellery. In the city centre is the World Trade Centre.

The 40 story Twin Tower complex is the centre of important commercial establishments, in the Fort district, the city's nerve center. Right outside the Fort area is Pettah which is derived from the Sinhalese word pita which means out or outside.

The Colombo Metropolitan area has a GDP of $48 billion or 40% of the GDP, making it the most important aspect of the Sri Lankan economy.

The per capita income of Colombo Metro area stood at US$8623 and purchasing power per capita of $25,117, making it one of the most prosperous regions in South Asia considering Western Province contribute for 50% of GDP in Sri Lanka .

The Colombo Metropolitan (CM) area is the most important industrial, commercial and administrative centre in Sri Lanka. A major share of the country's export-oriented manufacturing takes place in the CM area which is the engine of growth for Sri Lanka.

The Western province contributes less than 40% to the GDP and about 80% of industrial value additions although it accounts for only 5.7% of the country's geographic area and 25% of the national population.

Given its importance as the primary international gateway for Sri Lanka and as the main economic driver of the country, the government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has launched an ambitious program to transform Colombo and its area into a metropolis of international standards.

Bottlenecks are preventing the Colombo metropolitan area from realizing its full economic potential. To facilitate the transformation of Colombo, the government has to address these bottlenecks which have for long been obstructing economic and physical urban regeneration.

Pettah is more crowded than the Fort area. Pettah's roads are always packed and pavements are full of small stalls selling items from delicious sharbat to shirts.

Main Street consists mostly of clothes shops and the cross roads, which are known as Cross Streets where each of the five streets specializes in a specific business. For example, the First Cross Street is mostly electronic goods shops, the Second cellular phones and fancy goods.

Most of these businesses are dominated by Muslim traders. At the end of the Main Street further away from Fort is the Sea Street — Sri Lanka's gold market — dominated by Tamil interests.

This mile-long street is full of jewellery shops, including the former head office of SriLankan Airlines.

The two World Trade Centre towers used to be the most recognized landmarks of the city. Before they were completed in 1997, the adjacent Bank of Ceylon tower was the tallest structure and the most prominent city landmark.

Before the skyscrapers were built it was the Old Parliament Building that stood majestically in the Fort district with the Old Colombo Lighthouse close to it. Another important landmark is the Independence Hall at Independence Square in Cinnamon Gardens.

Even before the parliament was built some claim that the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque was recognized as the landmark of Colombo by sailors approaching the port. The mosque is still one of the most visited tourist sites in Colombo.

Another landmark is St.Paul's Church Milagiriya, one of the oldest churches in Sri Lanka, first built by the Portuguese and re-built by the British in 1848.

The Fort district has Cargills & Millers complex that is protected by a special government law from demolition. This is done mainly to preserve the historic beauty of the Fort area.

The Galle Face Green is the city's largest and most elegant promenade. Lined with palm trees and adjacent to the coast, this mile-long stretch in the heart of the city is a constant beehive of activity. The green is especially busy on Fridays and Saturdays.

In the evenings it plays host to families and children playing sports and flying kites, lovers embracing under umbrellas and health enthusiasts taking their evening walks. There are numerous small food stalls and a small stretch of beach.

The green was recently given a makeover and since then has been even more popular with the local community. The Green frequently hosts international and local concerts and performances, such as the recently concluded World Drum Festival.

Cannons that were once mounted on the rampart of the old fort of Colombo laid out for observance and prestige at the Green, giving a colonial touch to the city.

The famous colonial styled Galle Face Hotel, known as Asia's Emerald on the Green since 1864, is adjacent to Galle Face Green.

The hotel has played host to distinguished guests including the British Royal Family and other royal guests and celebrities. After a stay at the hotel, Princess Alexandra of Denmark commented that the peacefulness and generosity encountered at the Galle Face Hotel cannot be matched.

Also facing Galle Face Green is the Ceylon Inter-Continental Hotel, Sri Lanka's first five-star hotel. Around the corner from Galle Face are prominent coffee bars, chic bars and boutiques.

Colombo's most beautiful festival is the celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death all falling on the same day.In Sinhala this is known as Vesak. During this festival, much of the city is decorated with lanterns, lights and special displays of light known as thoran.

The festival falls in mid May and lasts a week. Many Sri Lankans visit the city to see the lantern competitions and decorations. During this week people distribute, rice, drinks and other food items for free in dunsal which means charity place.

These dunsal are popular amongst visitors from the suburbs.

Since there is a large number of Muslims in Colombo. Eid Ul Fitr and Eid Ul Adha are two Islamic festivals that are celebrated in Colombo.

Many businesses flourish during the eventual countdown for Eid Ul Fitr which is a major Islamic festival celebrated by Muslims after a month-long fasting.

Colombo is generally very busy during the eve of the festivals as people do their last minute shopping.

Christmas is another major festival. Although Sri Lanka's Christians make up only just over 7% of the population, Christmas is one of the island's biggest festivals.

Most streets and commercial buildings light up from the beginning of December and festive sales begin at all shopping centres and department stores. Caroling and nativity plays are frequent sights during the season.

The Sinhala and Hindu Aluth Awurudda' is a cultural event that takes place on 13 and 14 April. This is the celebration of the Sinhala and Hindu new year. The festivities include many events and traditions that display a great deal of Sri Lankan culture.

Several old clubs of the city give a glimpse of the British equestrian life style; these include the Colombo Club, Orient Club, the 80 Club, the Colombo Cricket Club.

Colombo has several performing arts centers which are popular for their musical and theatrical performances.

The most famous performing arts centers are the Lionel Wendt Theatre, the Elphinstone, and Tower Hall, all of which have a very rich history and made for western style productions.

The Navarangahala found in the city is the country's first national theatre designed and build for Asian and local style musical and theatrical productions.

The Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre is a world-class theatre that opened in December 2011.Designed in the form of the Lotus Pond in Polonnaruwa, the theatre is a major theatre destination.

The National Museum of Colombo, established on 1 January 1877 during the tenure of the British Colonial Governor Sir William Henry Gregory, is in the Cinnamon Gardens area. The museum houses the crown jewels and throne of the last king of the kingdom of Kandy, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.

There is also the Colombo Dutch Museum detailing the Dutch colonial history of the country. Colombo does not boast a very big art gallery. There is a small collection of random Sri Lankan paintings at the Art Gallery in Green Path; next to it is the Natural History Museum.

One of the most popular sports in Sri Lanka is cricket. The country emerged as champions of the 1996 Cricket World Cup and became runners up in 2007 and 2011. In the ICC World Twenty20 they became runners up in 2009 and 2012 and winners in 2014.

The sport is played in parks, playgrounds, beaches and even in the streets. Colombo is the home for two of the country's most popular international cricket stadiums, Sinhalese Sports Club's cricket stadium and R. Premadasa Stadium,named after late president Premadasa.

Colombo has the distinction of being the only city in the world to have four cricket test venues in the past: Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Stadium, Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo Cricket Club Ground and Ranasinghe Premadasa Stadium.

The Sugathadasa Stadium is an international standard stadium for athletics, swimming and football, also held the South Asian Games in 1991 and 2006. Situated in Colombo the Royal Colombo Golf Club is one of the oldest in Asia.

Other sporting clubs in Colombo include Colombo Swimming Club, Colombo Rowing Club and the Yachting Association of Sri Lanka.

Rugby is also a popular sport at the club and school level. Colombo has its own local football team Colombo FC and the sport is being developed as a part of the FIFA Goal program.

The Colombo Port City is to include a new Formula One track, constructed in the vicinity of the Colombo Harbour. According to Dr. Priyath Wickrama, the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, an eight lane F1 track will definitely be a part of the New Port City.

This would host The Sri Lankan Grand Prix.

Colombo Marathon is an internationally recognised marathon established in 1998.

Almost all major media businesses in Sri Lanka operate from Colombo. The state media has its offices in Bullers Road and does carry out regional transmission from there.

This includes the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), formerly known as Radio Ceylon and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. The SLBC is the oldest radio station in South Asia and the second oldest in the world.

Many of the private broadcasting companies have their offices and transmission stations in or around Colombo. As with most metro areas, radio bands are highly utilised for radio communications.

Some of the prominent radio stations broadcasting in the Colombo area are Sirasa FM, FM Derana, Hiru FM, Shakthi FM, Vettri FM, Sooriyan FM, Kiss FM, Lite FM, Yes FM, Gold FM, Sith FM, Y FM and many more.

Television networks operating in the Colombo metro area include the state-owned television broadcasting networks which are broadcast from the Rupavahini Corporation of Sri Lanka, broadcasting television in the official languages Sinhala and Tamil.

English language television is also broadcast, more targeted to the demographics of the English speaking Sri Lankans, expatriate communities and tourists.

There are as well several private operators. Many of the privately run television stations networks were often based upon operational expansions of pre-existing commercial radio networks and broadcast infrastructure.

Colombo has most of the amenities that a modern city has. Compared to other parts of the country, Colombo has the highest degree of infrastructure. Electricity, water and transport to street lamps, phone booths, etc. have a considerably good standard.

The majority of the major shopping malls in Sri Lanka are in the city, of which all are wi-fi enabled. Apart from that, many luxurious hotels, clubs and restaurants are in the city.

In recent times there's been an outpour of high rise condominiums, mainly due to the very high land prices.

Electronic Visa (ETA) Electronic Travel Authorisation System can be obtained prior to arrival at a cost of USD30.

SAARC country nationals pay USD20. For VOA at the airport most OECD nationals will have to pay for a USD35 visitor's visa prior to going through passport control at the airport. You can pay this using a credit card. Visa is valid for two entries within a 30 day period.

If you are transiting, you may leave the airport for up to 24 hours,the transit time allowed is 48 hours without a visa but the immigration officials would try to persuade you to get one.

Unless you have a hotel voucher supplied by Sri Lankan Airlines or ask for a bribe which will often be half the cost of the visa.

In case of the latter, say you will get a visa paying with a credit card, of course, leave the Immigration counter and head back towards the VOA desk and speak with the head of Immigration on duty in the office adjacent to the VOA desk.

Ratmalana Airport is the city's airport, located 15 km (9.3 mi) south of the city centre. It commenced operating in 1935 and was the country's first international airport until it was replaced by Bandaranaike Airport in 1967.

Ratmalana Airport now primarily services domestic flights, aviation training and international corporate flights.

There are currency exchanges in the arrivals hall with an ATM. Another ATM available outside the airport in the drop-off / pick-up area; leave the building and turn left.

There is air service to and from Colombo provided by the national airline, Sri Lankan Airlines.

Flights are available from origins throughout Europe, United States, Southeast Asia, Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan.

Other airlines include Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Emirates with transits typically in middle-eastern countries. British Airways have direct flights from Gatwick Airport to Colombo.

Sri Lanka's prime international airport, Bandaranaike International, is at Katunayake, close to Negombo, on the coast north of Colombo. The journey to Colombo will take about an hour by taxi with heavy traffic and just half an hour otherwise.

There is a charge of 300 rupees to get into the arrivals hall no matter what your skin colour from outside.

If you plan to meet a friend, bear this in mind. Foreigners can get away with claiming they're re-entering but you will need to know a recent flight that has arrived and perhaps an excuse such as foreign exchange.

Trains operate from nearby Katunayaka South Railway to Fort, Colombo. A single one way trip costs LKR500 per person. Trains run only once a day and at different schedules on each day of the week. Train timetable info is also available on a Government site.

For foreigners, online booking is available.

A secondary international airport Rajapaksa International is located in the southernmost city of Hambantota a 5 hour drive to Colombo.

The international airport is closer to Negombo than to Colombo, so if you're arriving late, it might be a better option to head to Negombo for the night instead.

Star class hotels and budget guest houses are available. Ceylon tourist board administered by the Government has a chain of hotels.

Airport Taxi There are some taxi counters, some belonging to 4 and 5 star hotels, providing air conditioned taxis on a fixed price basis depending on the destination. It is highly recommended to agree on the fare beforehand to avoid being overcharged.

The fare is somewhere between LKR 2,500 & 3,000 to Colombo so do shop around for the best rate.

Kangaroo Cabs is a very reputable taxi company in Colombo that has special deals starting at LKR 1750 from the airport to Colombo in new air-conditioned taxis.

There is also a mini van taxi service counter in the arrivals hall providing transport services. The rates are not cheaper than air conditioned taxis but a mini van will seat more than four passengers.

The services are primarily for the locals so if you do not hold a Sri Lankan passport, they may refuse to offer you one.

This is the cheapest way to get into Colombo. The air-conditioned public bus (number 187-E3), is operated by Sri Lankan Transport Board (SLTB), to Colombo central bus station from the airport.

The bus picks up from the bus stand across the street from the terminal,i.e. come out of the terminal and keep walking straight; the bus stop is within the perimeter of the airport. The fare is 120 LKR, and it takes about 30 minutes as it takes the expressway to Colombo.

The buses do have luggage storage space at the rear but be warned that someone pretending to be associated with the bus company may help you load your luggage.

If this happens, they would expect you to tip them or the conductor will tell you that there is a LKR 100 charge for the luggage, even though there isn't one for it. It is a scam and do not fall for it.

There are smaller overhead compartments in the bus, and in most cases, you can take an extra seat to keep your baggage as the buses leave to a schedule, regardless of the number of people in the bus.

The last SLTB-operated bus from Colombo is 7.30 pm, and last bus from the airport leaves at about 8pm. Note that the schedules are not fixed, but expect a bus at twice an hour.

If you do not see an SLTB-operated bus, don't worry there will be a privately-operated bus all the time, even at the nights. These buses stop at the same spot SLTB buses start from the airport, or the road next to it.

From the arrival hall, exit, and walk all the way to your left until the end of the building. This is about 50 meters. The SLTB bus, or the private bus alternative should be across the road, but if you do not see any bus there, continue to the road at the right side.

You will be at the main road,this is a two-way road, and keep in mind that vehicles travel from the left side. Cross the road, and you will see a bus stopped at about 20-50m to your left. The route number is 187. If the bus takes the expressway, the number would be 187-E3.

From Colombo, after 7-8pm, your only bet is the privately-operated ones (187-E3 or 187), which start from the Private Bus Stand just opposite the SLTB Bus stand and next to the Colombo Fort Train Station.

These cost from LKR 120 and smaller buses, with a seating capacity of about 40, and leaves when full. Bus will take you to the departure area; ask the conductor if you have a problem finding it.

Note that all buses except the SLTB buses usually serve locals who commute to work in the airport, nearby shops, or even at the smaller cities along the way. There can be several stops to drop and pick passengers.

The travel time is roughly 1 hour. Buses that leave from the airport make another 10-15 minute stop at the main road near the departure hall. Buses can be packed, and as a courtesy, offer to hold onto the bags of others if you can.

If your bag is huge, the conductor will charge you for two seats. In that case, it is better to take a seat near the door of the bus. The seats right behind the driver are usually reserved for the clergy. Do give your seat if you see anyone, but you are free to take that seat otherwise.

There are many other buses destination to the Airport, but it only refers to the bus terminal in Katunayake. For example, there is a larger 2-3 seat bus leaving at the opposite of the Fort railway station. Again, many locals use this bus, and travel time can be as much as 90-120 minutes.

Once you reach the bus depot, you can get a tuk-tuk or a three-wheeler or a Nano taxi to get to your destination.

The Nanos will have a meter and the tuk-tuks are required to have one now but most waiting within the bus station won't have it. Tuk-tuks without a meter and touts are best avoided.

The ones with a meter will have a Metered Taxi sign on the roof and you may have to walk out of the bus depot and on to the main road to find one. It would cost about LKR150 to go to hotels near Galle Face e.g. Cinnamon Grand, Taj or Galle Face Hotel.

There is no need to tip the driver but rounding up to the nearest 10 would make things easy. Before leaving the airport, ensure you have some LKR 100 notes as most taxi drivers won't have a lot of change.

This is probably the most unknown way to get into Colombo, but completely possible.

Take either the free Airport to the bus station and then follow the road Canada Friendship to the Katunayaka South station,around 1km, if you don't have luggage or, if you've luggage, best just to take a Tuk Tuk right from the airport to the train station.

Should be LKR100, if you're good at haggling you might get them down even a bit more. Then, at the train station, get a ticket to Colombo Fort, you'll be arriving right next to where the buses drop people off.

Price is LKR30. Trains are sometimes delayed, but driving relatively frequently, around 1 per hour, more during rush hour.

It will take around 1 hour to get to Fort station, so definitely quicker than by travelling by bus, if you manage to just catch a train without much waiting.

Check for Katunayake but not Katunayake Airport station, to Colombo train online timetable on one of the free computers in the terminal when arriving about the next train, if it suits you, it's an easy way into the city for very little money.

Trains run only 11 times/day to Colombo so ensure that there is a train for you before leaving the airport.

The cost of a tuk-tuk to Colombo will not be that much cheaper than an air conditioned taxi.

The Sri Lanka Transport Board is the nationalized bus service. Buses are the principal mode of transport in the country.

Even if you cannot speak or understand Sinhalese, you should be able to cope up with basic English with locals and its entirely feasible than train travel since the frequency is more at least every 5 minutes during daytime and half an hour during night.

Be ready for over-crowding at peak times,mostly office hours and make sure to confirm your destination with the driver and conductor of the bus.

Route No 187 connects the Katunayake Airport to the city of Colombo, and buses are available throughout the day.

Though there were some Indian cruise liners operated to Colombo since recent past, currently there are no boat services to Sri Lanka.

However a Navy ship turned into a cruise liner operates in and around Colombo seas from the harbour area.

A Tourist Development Authority operated 'tuk tuk' or tri-shaw

Getting around by Tuk-Tuk or Three wheeler, Tri-shaw is generally the most convenient option in Colombo.

Arguably, the most authentic way to experience Sri Lanka is by hiring and driving your own Tuk-Tuk. Some travellers report that they have been able to strike a deal directly with local owners for the use of their vehicle.

This is not recommended, however, due to licensing and insurance concerns. Since December 2016, Tuk Tuk Rental Sri Lanka has been providing socially responsible, self drive Tuk Tuk hire for tourists and travellers visiting Sri Lanka.

Tuk Tuks can be collected from Mount Lavinia, Colombo, or delivered nationwide.

As Tuk Tuks are hired directly from local owners, the company provides a good and reliable income for some of the poorest Tuk Tuk drivers in Colombo, who would otherwise be working long hours as a driver to support their family.

All Tuk Tuks provided are no more than 5 years old, and rentals include comprehensive insurance, 24 hour support and a number of other extras to make your trip safe and hassle-free.

They even provide you with your own Sri Lankan driver's license! Travel like a local and drive your own Tuk Tuk around Sri Lanka!

Nowadays more three-wheelers are fitted with meters and it is always better to catch one with meter. These will have a Metered Taxi sign on the roof. In March 2015, the meter starts at LKR50, 4-5km should be around LKR200 and 6km should be around LKR250.

If you can't find a metered tuk-tuk, do not settle for first one you get, they will fleece you that way. Most tuk-tuks parked outside the hotels are unlikely to have a meter so avoid them and flag a passing tuk-tuk or take a bus.

Be ready to be confronted by tuk-tuk drivers every time you leave your hotel or are walking around the city,just to politely ignore them.

The Sri Lankan Tourist Development Authority also operates its own fleet of tuk-tuks around Colombo which are tourist friendly and metered to ensure that travellers are aware of the price being paid. Tourist board tuk tuks are distinguishable by their unique liveries.

These three-wheelers can be booked 24 hours a day by calling.

There are TATA Nano cars in service nowadays and the charges start from LKR40/km with air-conditioning and it is also a safe and convenient way to travel. Taxis are much safer than a three-wheeler.

Try Budget Taxi. Quote of LKR2,800 from Galle Road to the airport.

There is a good, cheap public bus service but you need to know the route number of the bus that you would have to take to your destination. There does not appear to be a website providing any timetable information.

There are two bus depots in Pettah on either side of the road, near Fort train station. Sri Lankan Transport Board public that is not air conditioned.

Buses operate from one and mini, air conditioned ones from the other. These buses go to all of the main cities but do not provide any luggage space.

Air conditioned buses with luggage space to Jaffna go from Wellawatta. These run over night and there are no advertised departure points. If you would like to catch one, go to Wellawatta and ask a few people on Galle Road a day or two before departure to establish where exactly these buses depart from.

Train services are available to some of the main cities from Colombo but they are infrequent. Some 1st and 2nd class tickets may be booked up to 45 days in advance but these go quickly, especially for popular destinations such as Jaffna.

UwildHolidays or UwildTours, No. 2/6, Horagolla Wattha, Nittambuwa, 11880, Sri Lanka. Daily 8 a.m to 7 p.m. Reputable licensed tour operator, cars and drivers, expert guides in Colombo. Cultural Triangle tours. Extended circle island tours.

Tour times range from one day to two weeks. Servicing Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, Ella, Yala, Udawalawa, Pinnawala, Sigiriya, Galle, Unawatuna, Mirissa, Kandy and all other points of interest in Sri Lanka.

Offers Cruise Ship Day Tours in Colombo. Pick up and drop off at point of request within Colombo/Negombo area, including Port of Colombo and Bandaranaike International Airport.

Malkey Rent a Car, No 58,Pamankada Road,Colombo 06. A rent a car service in Sri Lanka with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Cars are available for tours around the country, airport transfers with or without a driver.

The National Museum of Colombo, Cinnamon Gardens. Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 09:00-17:00. Also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum, it is the largest museum in Colombo. Among its exhibits, it contains regalia of the 17th century Kandyan Kings.

LKR500 entrance fee and LKR250 for photography pass.

The Natural History Museum- Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Cinnamon Gardens. Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 09:00-17:00. This museum features Sri Lanka's floral and fauna in dioramas.

The Dutch Period Museum- 95 Prince Street, Pettah. Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 09:00-17:00. Historical museum documenting Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka. Houses Dutch-inspired artifacts.

The Sapumal Foundation- 32/4 Barnes Place. The Sapumal Foundation was once home to the late Harry Pieris. Visitors are able to see his studio and art materials that have been left undisturbed over the years.

This gallery also contains 200 paintings that follow the development of Sri Lankan art. Special art classes are also available at the gallery.

The Lionel Wendt Memorial Art Centre- 18 Guilford Crescent. M-F 09:00-13:00 & 14:00-16:00. The Art Center provides a multi-functional creative experience with exhibitions, art shows and stage events.

Visitors to the art center are also able to purchase various antiques as well as paintings and crafts by contemporary Sri Lankan artists.

Visit Galle Face Green Promenade at sundown for a spectacular view. The promenade stretches 13 acres between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean; it tends to attract children, teenagers, vendors, and families.

Usually on Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is filled with day-trippers, food vendors, and people picnicking. The Galle Face Green Promenade was reopened to the public in May of 2001.

Colombo Zoological Gardens- Colombo's zoo has a wide variety of animals, birds, and reptiles from all over the world. One of the most popular attractions to the zoo is the elephant show, which is held daily at 17:15.

The zoo also offers elephant and pony rides. Currently, the zoo is being renovated, and plans to have an open area for the elephants.

Casa Serena Art Gallery, 122 Havelock Rd, Colombo 5. Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00, M 13:00-18:00. The Gallery is a purpose built space, designed to exhibit a diverse array of art, photography, sculpture, video installations and craft.

It focuses on contemporary and traditional arts and features the work of local and international artists.

Turtle Conservation Villa or Our Turtle Conservation Project, No. 73/23 St Rita Road Mount Lavinia Colombo Sri Lanka,Drive south from Colombo city centre along Galle Road and turn right into St. Rita's Road.

Drive all the way to the end of the road, cross over the train tracks and onto the beach. Turn left and 20m ahead - you have arrived. 08:00-18:00. A non-profit centre for the conservation of turtles along the coast just past Mount Lavinia Hotel.

Since 2003 OTCP or Our Turtle Conservation Project has been ensuring the hatching, release, preserving and protecting of Sri Lanka's endangered turtles.

It is a local initiative that aims to educate both locals and tourists about the importance of protecting these incredible sea dwellers, in a fun and interactive environment. LKR500.

Cirque Lanka (cultural show), Viharamahadevi Open Air Theatre,South-East corner of Viharahamadevi Park. 2. More than 15 performers on stage, live music, drummers, traditional masks, acrobats, aerial acrobatics and fire effects.

Cirque Lanka is the unique project which combines traditional Sri Lankan drums and dances with European New Circus. All this in the most beautiful open air theater in Sri Lanka in Viharamahadevi Open Air Theater.

Program of the cultural evening is created under the leadership of European theater directors and is approached by the best Sri Lankan and European artists.

Together they create one hour long show that combines a traditional Sri Lankan dances and music with,High artistry and poetic circus. This causes an unusual symbiosis which will be very attractive for audience and completely original.

The performance also maximally respects the traditions of Sri Lankan culture.

Barefoot handicraft store, 706 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Kollupitiya. Has a wide range of good quality souvenirs and handmade items: clothes, bags, and children toys, from some of the most beautifully-colored fabric you've ever seen.

Crescat Boulevard, 89 Galle Rd, Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. An up-market shopping mall. Though it is fairly small, it contains a food court on the basement floor.

Lakmedura, 113 Dharmapala Road, Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens.

Lakpahana, 14 Reid Avenue, Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens. A non-profit organization run by the craftsman association of Sri Lanka with assistance from the government. Offers all handicrafts and gemstone jewellery.

Unique metalware, wood carvings,silver jewellery,batik ,textile products and other crafts. Only member in Sri Lanka of the World Craft Council and winner of several international awards therefore all our products come with an international guarantee.

The only place where quality exceeds price.

Liberty Plaza RA de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. Another shopping mall similar to Majestic City however it is smaller in size. You can find various items such as clothing, CDs and DVDs.

Majestic City in Kollupitiya on Galle Road has a wide variety of clothing outlets,including a sub-branch of Odel at very good prices, as well as various electrical goods and toy shops. It's pleasantly air-conditioned and includes a food court on the ground floor.

Odel No 5, Alexandra Place, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens. A stylish department store, with its very own Delifrance outlet, clothing, houseware, sporting goods, books and movies, as well as Delight for sweet indulgences from chocolates to exotic nuts.

Paradise Road – 213, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens. Open 9AM-7PM. A shop with a small cafe in a British colonial style building where antiques, home decor items and art can be viewed or purchased.

The Pettah Market, this is the place to go for shopping for all kinds of things from fruits to clothes to electronics if you want to buy at wholesale prices.

You have to bargain extensively and it is recommended that you take a local you trust along with you. Even if you don't buy anything, Pettah, or Colombo 11 is an experience in itself being a very typical, loud and crowded oriental market place full of all sorts of odds, ends and junk.

Each street in the market has its own specialty, for example, in 1st Cross Street you can find electrical items, 2nd Cross Street has jewellery and so on.

In the Pettah Market area, some street vendors actively ask passers-by, foreigners and locals to view products they are selling though polite refusal is generally accepted.

Casa Serena boutique, 122 Havelock Road, Colombo 5. Tue-Sat 10AM-6PM and M-1PM to 6PM. The boutique showcases a wide range of traditional and modern creations to enhance the art of living. Some are practical, some are useful, and some are just beautiful souvenirs

Buy yourself a lunch packet from street stands practically anywhere in the city. Typically, it will be a filling meal of rice and vegetables for about LKR120.

Also available everywhere are small bakeries selling rotis of either flat or folded into triangles filled with egg, vegetable or fish, hoppers or bowl shaped pancakes made with coconut milk, and other short eats like bread based snacks or fried foods. The price of individual items range from LKR10-50.

Around Fort Railway Station there are several local restaurants with the sign "Hotel", these actually are restaurants and not hotels, this usage of the word "Hotel" seems to be unique to Sri Lanka.

These places have some hot dishes as well as various local baked items. The prices are very cheap, though if you are picky about hygiene you might want to avoid these.

Colombo has a McDonalds on Galle Road, which actually has some unique local offerings, as well as several KFCs, and a Pizza Hut in the Fort area near the Hilton that serves some combo meals for around 500-600 LKR.

Though these are certainly not an authentic experience, they are one of the few air conditioned places you will find, and can be a life saver if you are about to die from heat stroke.

New Banana Leaf, 720 Galle Road, Colombo 03. I remember it was a nice Sri Lankan restaurant, don't really know the prices anymore but it was very affordable. Food is served on banana leafs.

Cafe on the 5th, 108 5th Lane, Colombo-03. Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. Very nice, friendly service and an outside eating area. They do a different special every day (self-service) for LKR300.

Fresh juice LKR170. Also has a nice, tasty range of English desserts at around LKR80. Three course set dinner menu for LKR1000 + 10% service.

The Cricket Club Cafe, 34 Queens Rd, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03. This cafe is a must for any cricket lover. The walls are covered in autographed memorabilia and photos with sports ,usually cricket being screened on all the TVs scattered throughout the rooms.

They serve authentic Aussie cuisine and a wide variety of drinks. The Bar is named after Donald Bradman. Prices - around LKR1,300-1,800 for food . Ask for the 625mL bottle of cold Lion lager or the draught,about LKR 700 incl service and taxes.

The Gallery Cafe, 2 Alfred House Road, Off Alfred House Gardens, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Wonderful atmosphere in beautiful building - designed by famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Large food menu featuring many international dishes, decadent desserts and extensive cocktail menu.

The Lagoon, The Cinnamon Grand Hotel, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03. 12-2:30PM, 7PM-12:30AM. This restaurant focuses primarily on seafood with colorful Sri Lankan flavors. The friendly, professional staff are able to create an enjoyable dining experience. Full meal: LKR4000 per person.

Mango Tree, 82 Dharmapala Mawatha, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03. Daily 12:00-15:00 & 19:00-23:00. One of the finest restaurants in the city. North Indian Cuisine, full of innovative dishes. Portions are on the small side. Full meal: LKR2000 per person.

The Palmyrah Restaurant, 328 Galle Rd, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Sri Lankan dishes as well as having an international menu.
Raja Bojun, 90 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03. 12-2:30PM, 7PM-11PM.

This restaurant features a buffet with Sri Lankan foods as its only dinner offering. The professional staff provides exceptionally prompt service in a pleasant, if somewhat crowded, environment. Dinner Buffet: LKR1800 per person, beverages extra.

Roadhouse Cafe, 335 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves Sri Lankan and Western food. Meals range LKR180-380. The food is excellent, but the service is a little slow. Try the mango milkshakes or one of their specialty coffees.

168 Seafood Palace, just off Galle Road, near Hotel Renuka, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Chinese food and seafood dishes. Prices start at LKR250 but some prices depend on weight (e.g. crabs). The service is very good.

UK Urban Kitchen, Arpico Super Center, 69 Hyde Park Corner, Union Place, Colombo 2. Serves Western, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines at relatively reasonable prices. Also specializes in wood-fired pizzas and coffee. Next to Arpico supermarket. Open M-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Su 10AM-11PM.

Nihonbashi Main Restaurant, 11 Galle Face Terrace, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. There are three Nihonbashi outlets in Colombo. A Sushi Bar at ODEL and a outlet at the Hilton Colombo Residence are the other two.

The main restaurant is an airy and spacious restaurant with a blend of modern and traditional in design consisting of 8 private dining rooms also a dine-in wine room. Nihonbashi is owned and run by Tokyo-born Dharshan Munidasa, a self-taught chef.

Spoons, Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. Spoons is the flagship restaurant of the Hilton Hotel. It has a show kitchen, and an impressive collection of wine and chocolates.

Ginza Hohsen, Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. This is one of the Japanese restaurants in Colombo. They have a sushi bar, the tatami rooms and ever teppanyaki.

Chesa Swiss, 3 Deal Place, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Representing the best of Swiss cuisine, this restaurant has all your favourites from fresh garden snails to Chateaubriand for two to steak Café de Paris style! The wine list is exclusively Swiss.

The London Grill, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Galle Face, Colombo 3. As the name suggests this restaurant is very British. It probably has the best ambiance of all, and the food is just great.

California Grill, Galadari Hotel, Fort, Colombo 01. This is a fine dining restaurant on the rooftop level of the hotel. It offers panoramic views of the Galle Face marina. The food, mostly US-style grills and premium seafood, is excellent too.

Royal Thai, 115 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha, Slave Island, Colombo 02. Located at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel (refurbished and re-branded September 2009), is an authentic Thai restaurant hosting the usual favourites, such as Tom Yam and Chicken Pandan leaves.

Thembili,Orange Coconut juice is the safest, since they cut it open in front of you (uncontaminated).

Spring water with SLS certification are safe to drink.

Mount Lavinia is a great place to be. The beach and the friendly people always draw visitors there and keep them for awhile. Unlike the South of the island, Mt.Lavinia is only abut 20 minutes away from the city and entertains a good deal of nightlife.

Along the beach are a variety of restaurants that serve liquor by restaurants along the beach I mean they are literally ON the beach, 50 feet away from the water and tables on the sand have great food catered to suit every budget.

The variety of the the beach spots themselves are interesting, from nice little coves for a quiet chat a and a drink to well lit, busy places with dance floors, music courtesy of a live DJ and well stocked bars.

Try Jo Jo's, a quiet little place where they serve pretty decent food and drink and has a nice homey feel to it.The Owner Mr Jo, Jo, Mr Nihal better know, is a nice person. Buba, on the other side of the Mount Lavinia Hotel which divides the public beach is also a cool hang out.

Mount Lavinia also serves as the gay district of Colombo. Although not home to any gay bars, it is a very gay friendly town and always plays host to Colombo's Gay Pride week in June. Do not be surprised if some bars have the rainbow flag flying on the beach.

For those night owl's Colombo's nightlife is on par with most other Asian destinations and feature a number of nightlife establishments, that offer decent music and drinks, served in a pleasant atmosphere.

The major hot spots as of July 2011 include Amusuem at the Galle Face Hotel, Kama near the Ramada Hotel, Silk near independence Square and R&B on Duplication Road.

Expect the music to range from 80's retro to modern chart toppers as elegant partygoers dance the night away sipping the poison of their choice. Most clubs shout around 4AM, R&B perhaps a little longer after. Please do not drink and drive, hop a Three wheeler, its easier.

Popular watering holes include Whitehorse - Nawam Mawatha, Inn on the Green - Galle Face Hotel - looks expensive from the outside but very reasonable food and drink prices, Rize Bar - Dharmapala Mawatha, Seven Degrees North - Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel and Cheers - Cinnamon Grand Hotel

Most nightclubs may charge admission and smart/casual dress is encouraged with longs/shoes a must.

After a night out, some people will end with a late night snack, try e.g., Hotel de Pilawoos along the Galle Road in Kollupitiya to enjoy a Chicken Roti - chicken and cheese wrapped in a roti followed by an iced Milo - sweet chocolate and malt flavoured drink.

Colombo Courtyard Boutique Hotel, 32 Alfred House Ave, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka. Colombo Courtyard is a leading Colombo City Hotel that combines sustainable hospitality and contemporary charm, creating spaces that are truly unique.

Colombo Courtyard boutique hotel is just a 15-minute walk from MC Shopping Mall & many other attractions in colombo.

This stylish Boutique hotel consist with a wine cellar, a rooftop café, spa, Pool side dining options, stylish unique air-conditioned rooms with a flat-screen cable TV. Free WiFi and many more. Room rates Starting from USD 117.

Berjaya Hotel Colombo, 36 College Avenue Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka. Tucked in the multicultural land of Sri Lanka, laced with blue waters and abundant greenery, the Berjaya Hotel Colombo is surrounded by mystical ancient cities, natural splendour, cultural diversity and historical heritage that spans over 2,000 years.

The hotel which faces the beachfront on one side and is bordered by lush foliage and tropical vegetation on the other is an ideal setting for business and leisure.

Galle Face Hotel, 2 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. A famous, old fashioned colonial style grand hotel. Most rooms come with a view of the ocean or the Galle Face Green.

The hotel also has a variety of restaurants on site to choose from, including: The 1864 and Verandah. Spa and butler services are also available for guests.

Global Towers Hotel, Marine Drive. At $80/night for a single it offers spacious rooms fitted with all the essentials of home and office, providing both comfort and convenience. All equipped with cable TV, Internet connection, and shower with bathtub.

Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, bar, and spa.

Grand Oriental Hotel, 2 York Street, Colombo 1,near the Colombo Ports Authority/Cargills building in the Fort area. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00.

An old-fashioned colonial style hotel. It has seen its glory days but the staff are very friendly and the food good, particularly the buffet-style breakfast. Free Wi-Fi. Ask to see the small museum with past photos of the hotel and the original English silver service. LKR11,550.

Hotel Clarion, 103, Kandy Road Kiribathgoda. It offers Superior and Deluxe Rooms, all equipped with air-conditioning, TV with cable channels and wheelchair accessible. Some of its facilities and services are 180 restaurant, fitness centre with steam room and business centre.

Hotel Galadari, 4, Lotus Road, Fort, Colombo 1. Hotel Galadari is made up of 446 rooms, including 23 suites. There are special executive level and handicap rooms available.

There are a variety of dining facilities in the hotel to suit different palates. The hotel also offers its guests spa and fitness facilities.

Kamvelta Holiday Resort, Kindelpitiya, Welmilla Junction, Bandaragama. 5 km from Bandaragama, 6 km from Panadura, 8 km from Piliyand. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned rooms with hot water, restaurant, can cater to wedding parties, nearby to Nachchimale meditation center. 24 hr room service.

The Havelock Place Bungalow, 6-8, Havelock Place, Havelock Town, Colombo 5. A boutique hotel, consisting of two restored colonial homes. Tastefully decorated using antique colonial furniture. The hotel provides wireless Internet, pool, jacuzzi, restaurants.

Hotel Janaki, 443, Fife Rd, Havelock Town, Colombo 5. This 3-star hotel offers its guests rooms with air-conditioning, cable/satellite tv, and a room safe. There is a restaurant and bar on site, with 24-hour room service. US$ 80-90.

Park Street Hotel, 20 Park street, Slave Island, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka. checkin: 7-10-13; checkout: 9-10-13. Park Street Hotel is in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s near major shopping centers and business establishments.

Decked with colonial touches, like antique furniture and high ceilings, the rooms bestow ample luxuries – a Jacuzzi, DVD player, refrigerator, and more.

Tintagel, 65 Rosmead Place, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka. Tintagel is situated in Rosmead Place, Colombo’s classy neighbourhood. Once a stately home to the political Bandaranaike family, Tintagel has been transformed into a stylish and sophisticated hotel.

The 10 elegant suites are defined by high ceilings, timber floors, and luxurious décor. They open to a private courtyard, balcony, or separate lounge area.

Each suite also has deluxe king-size mattresses with non-allergenic pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets, and a bathroom with a rain shower and tub.

Casa Colombo, 231, Galle Road, Colombo 4,opposite Holy Family Convent Bambalapitiya, and down a private lane next to Lumala Gift City in Bambalapitiya. Boutique hotel with 12 designer suites.

Ceylon Continental, 48 Janadhipathi Mawatha, Fort, Colombo 1. Ceylon Continental is equipped with 250 all with magnificent views of the city or Indian Ocean. The hotel has many restaurants and cafes on site to choose from.

The guests are also offered 24-hour room service, fitness facilities, and spa services.

Cinnamon Grand Colombo, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Has nightly turn down services with orchids and chocolates, and spa services.

Taj Samudra, 25, Galle Face Center Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Taj Samudra features a variety of rooms depending on your travel habits; they range from standards with views of the sea and pool to presidential suites with separate dining and dressing areas.

The hotel is also equipped with a fitness center, book shop and swimming pool. There are also a variety of restaurants ranging from casual in dress to fine dining.

Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, 115, Sir Chittampalam A.Gardiner Mawatha Colombo 2 Sri Lanka.

Mount Lavinia Hotel is probably the most historic Colonial-style hotel. Before WW2, it was the governor's mansion of the nation.

Colombo is not friendly to budget travelers, if you visit expecting to find a 15-20 USD room that's acceptable, you will be disappointed. There is accommodation at this price range, but the standards of hygiene and cleanliness will be unacceptable to anyone except the most hardcore travelers.

The rooms are filthy and in a state of disrepair, lacking security and sometimes privacy. Expect to pay around 40 USD for a room that is up to international standards of budget accommodation, the same type of room you would get for 10-20 dollars in South East Asia.

It is highly recommended to book accommodation in advance instead of arriving to look for budget accommodation.

Colombo's cheap lodgings in the center of town, apart from the famous YMCA containing a gay bathhouse, are mostly concentrated along the road opposite the Colombo Fort Railway Station. Many rooms are available but with shared bathrooms starting around 900 LKR. Note: The quality of these hotels is extremely poor as described above.

Metro City Hotel, 122,Justice Akbar Mawatha,Colombo-02, Sri Lanka. (A big Blue building on the road opposite to the Church). Clean rooms and nice beds. Getting the wifi-password will Free of Charge.

The toilets are clean but the cold showers are very clean and lack privacy,the doors do not lock. LKR 5000/single and LKR 6500/double, personnel bathroom.

New Colonial Hotel, 75 Olcott Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka. A big yellow building on the road opposite to the railway station. Clean rooms and nice beds. Getting the wifi-password will cost you an extra LKR200.

The toilets are clean but the cold showers are a bit dirty and lack privacy the doors do not lock). LKR 1100/single and LKR 1700/double, shared bathroom and van only.

Moving south along Galle Rd., one can find a lot of more reasonable housing. Around Kollupitiya, you will still be dealing with air-conditioned concrete boxes where a sleazy clerk will tell you that they have a budget single room for only 57 dollars.

Further down south, prices and people will get more reasonable. There are quite a few small hotels in the side streets off Galle Rd. in Wellawatte area.

If you continue south and get as far as Mt. Lavinia, there will be hundreds of small guesthouses, some of them very affordable, in a quiet old-fashioned area with a lot of greenery and right by the sea,the only problem being that it's far from the center.

As of May 2014, you should be aiming at LKR1000-2000, depending on the room quality. Buses 100, 101 and perhaps some others go down Galle Rd. from Colombo Fort station (LKR20 to get to Wellawatte).

Clock Inn, 457 Galle Road, Colombo 03,200 meters from the Indian Visa Office; LKR400 tuk-tuk ride from the train station.This modern and ultra clean hostel has all the amenities: free wifi, hot water, AC, a lounge with tv/dvd player, and a free kitchen.

The dorms are spacious with very nice shared bathrooms at the end of the hall. AC Dorm, high/low season: LKR2000/1750 per person.

Cosy Lanka Restaurant and Hotel, 25 Wellawatte Station Road. A small establishment run by friendly people. Rooms are functionally clean, but far from shining. LKR1500-2000.

City Beds The Regent, 20 Regent Building,opposite Lake House Sir Chittampalam A Gardiner Mw Colombo 02. checkin: 13:00hrs; checkout: 12:00hrs. Four out of the five rooms at The Regent have air conditioning units in them.

They also have their own attached bathrooms which come with hot water. The fifth room is a dorm style room that has a common bathroom and no air conditioning in the room, only a fan. One minute walk to the world trade center and old Dutch hospital.

Right next to the train station and bus stop. Free wifi, free tea & coffee.

Hotel Nippon, 123, Kumaran Ratnam Road, Slave Island, Colombo - 2.

Hotel Sunshine, 5A Shrubbery Gardens, Colombo 04. Decent, clean, affordable. Bottle shop around the corner. Night guard. Book via email if you need to secure a place in advance. LKR1,750.

Parisare Homestay, 97/1 Rosemead Place, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo Near Embassy of France. This is a lovely home with a wonderful hostess, but unfortunately they have only 3 rooms which are frequently occupied by long term guests, which makes prior reservation a must.

It is also a bit far from the city centre (Fort) LKR1000/1200.

YMCA, Bristol Street, Colombo 01,5 minute walk from the Fort railway station. This place is quite something, a huge colonial building in utter disrepair full of old junk being run as a hotel.

Shared bath, fan only singles are 2050 LKR, shared bath, fan only doubles 2500, while ensuite private AC room start at 6000.

The fan only rooms are in a state of utter disrepair with washroom facilities barely working, some really dirty, some lacking privacy, and an overall unacceptable state. The rooms have no mosquito nets so bring some type of mosquito repellent.

Hitchhike Backpackers, 50/3A Templers Road - Colonne Place, Mount Lavinia train station or buses 100 and 101 from Pettah market. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11 am. Clean and nice new place but still under construction with 4 and 8 bed fan dorms - but only one bathroom per floor.

Wifi in the common areas. 1300LKR for the 8 person dorm.

Garden Guest House, 7 Karlsruhe Gardens, Borella, Colombo 8. This three-room guest house offers its visitors attached bathrooms, free internet services and laundry facilities. The staff at the guest house can also arrange island tours and airport pick-up.

Palm Village Hotel, 262, Old Colombo Road, Uswetakeiyawa,Hendala. Located close to the airport, this hotel consists of 50 air-conditioned rooms with either a balcony or a terrace. A restaurant and bar are located on the hotel grounds. Jewelry and souvenir shop for guests. US$50.

Hotel Renuka & Renuka City Hotel, 328 Galle Road, Kollupitiya Colombo 3. These sister hotels offer their guests comfortable rooms and friendly service. Each room is equipped with flat screen television with local and cable channels, 24-hour room service, safety deposit lockers, and internet connection.

The hotels themselves house one of the most famous restaurants in Sri Lanka, the Palmyrah, which serves authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. A favorite dish among travelers and locals alike is the Iso Thel Dala, spicy prawns sautéed with onions and tomato.

The hotel also offers its guests two bars on site: the Palmyrah Bar and the Water Hole bar. US$75-88.

Hotel Sansu, 651/31, Sir Oliver Gunathilake Gardens, Havelock Town, Colombo 05,off of Elvitigala Mawatha. Hotel Sansu offers luxury that will not break your budget. The hotel is comprised of 26 rooms and self-service apartments, each of which includes cable television.

It offers its guests 24-hour front desk services, as well as wake-up calls and an on-site juice bar. LKR5050-6600.

Sapphire Hotel, 371, Galle Rd, Wellawatte, Colombo 6. Located 5 minutes away from the ocean, Sapphire Hotel offers its guests an on-site restaurant and bar. Each room includes air-conditioning, 24-hour room service, and satellite television.

The hotel also has two reception halls for those wishing to host a convention or wedding reception. Reservations are required.

Colombo Courtyard Boutique Hotel, 32 Alfred House Ave, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka. Colombo Courtyard is a leading Colombo City Hotel that combines sustainable hospitality and contemporary charm, creating spaces that are truly unique.

Colombo Courtyard boutique hotel is just a 15-minute walk from MC Shopping Mall & many other attractions in colombo.

This stylish Boutique hotel consist with a wine cellar, a rooftop café, spa, Pool side dining options, stylish unique air-conditioned rooms with a flat-screen cable TV. Free WiFi and many more. Starting from USD 117.

Berjaya Hotel Colombo, 36 College Avenue Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka. Tucked in the multicultural land of Sri Lanka, laced with blue waters and abundant greenery, the Berjaya Hotel Colombo is surrounded by mystical ancient cities, natural splendour, cultural diversity and historical heritage that spans over 2,000 years.

The hotel which faces the beachfront on one side and is bordered by lush foliage and tropical vegetation on the other is an ideal setting for business and leisure.

Galle Face Hotel, 2 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. A famous, old fashioned colonial style grand hotel. Most rooms come with a view of the ocean or the Galle Face Green. The hotel also has a variety of restaurants on site to choose from, including: The 1864 and Verandah.

Spa and butler services are also available for guests.

Global Towers Hotel, Marine Drive. At $80/night for a single it offers spacious rooms fitted with all the essentials of home and office, providing both comfort and convenience.

All equipped with cable TV, Internet connection, and shower with bathtub. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, bar, and spa.

Grand Oriental Hotel, 2 York Street, Colombo 1,near the Colombo Ports Authority/Cargills building in the Fort area. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. . An old-fashioned colonial style hotel.

It has seen its glory days but the staff are very friendly and the food good, particularly the buffet-style breakfast. Free Wi-Fi. Ask to see the small museum with past photos of the hotel and the original English silver service. LKR11,550.

Hotel Clarion, 103, Kandy Road Kiribathgoda. It offers Superior and Deluxe Rooms, all equipped with air-conditioning, TV with cable channels and wheelchair accessible. Some of its facilities and services are 180 restaurant, fitness centre with steam room and business centre.

Hotel Galadari, 4, Lotus Road, Fort, Colombo 1. Hotel Galadari is made up of 446 rooms, including 23 suites. There are special executive level and handicap rooms available. There are a variety of dining facilities in the hotel to suit different palates.

The hotel also offers its guests spa and fitness facilities.

Kamvelta Holiday Resort, Kindelpitiya, Welmilla Junction, Bandaragama. 5 km from Bandaragama, 6 km from Panadura, 8 km from Piliyand. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned rooms with hot water, restaurant, can cater to wedding parties, nearby to Nachchimale meditation center.

24 hr room service.

The Havelock Place Bungalow, 6-8, Havelock Place, Havelock Town, Colombo 5. A boutique hotel, consisting of two restored colonial homes. Tastefully decorated using antique colonial furniture. The hotel provides wireless Internet, pool, jacuzzi, restaurants.

Hotel Janaki, 443, Fife Rd, Havelock Town, Colombo 5. This 3-star hotel offers its guests rooms with air-conditioning, cable/satellite tv, and a room safe. There is a restaurant and bar on site, with 24-hour room service. US$ 80-90.

Park Street Hotel, 20 Park street, Slave Island, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka. checkin: 7-10-13; checkout: 9-10-13. Park Street Hotel is in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s near major shopping centers and business establishments.

Decked with colonial touches, like antique furniture and high ceilings, the rooms bestow ample luxuries – a Jacuzzi, DVD player, refrigerator, and more.

Tintagel, 65 Rosmead Place, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka. Tintagel is situated in Rosmead Place, Colombo’s classy neighbourhood. Once a stately home to the political Bandaranaike family, Tintagel has been transformed into a stylish and sophisticated hotel.

The 10 elegant suites are defined by high ceilings, timber floors, and luxurious décor. They open to a private courtyard, balcony, or separate lounge area.

Each suite also has deluxe king-size mattresses with non-allergenic pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets, and a bathroom with a rain shower and tub.

Casa Colombo, 231, Galle Road, Colombo 4,opposite Holy Family Convent Bambalapitiya, and down a private lane next to Lumala Gift City in Bambalapitiya. Boutique hotel with 12 designer suites.

Ceylon Continental, 48 Janadhipathi Mawatha, Fort, Colombo 1. Ceylon Continental is equipped with 250 all with magnificent views of the city or Indian Ocean. The hotel has many restaurants and cafes on site to choose from.

The guests are also offered 24-hour room service, fitness facilities, and spa services.

Cinnamon Grand Colombo, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Has nightly turn down services with orchids and chocolates, and spa services.

Taj Samudra, 25, Galle Face Center Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Taj Samudra features a variety of rooms depending on your travel habits; they range from standards with views of the sea and pool to presidential suites with separate dining and dressing areas.

The hotel is also equipped with a fitness center, book shop and swimming pool. There are also a variety of restaurants ranging from casual in dress to fine dining.

Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, 115, Sir Chittampalam A.Gardiner Mawatha Colombo 2 Sri Lanka.

Colombo is like most other South Asian capitals. Although, it is not as dangerous as one would think, tourists should be very vigilant.

Many first time travelers to Colombo find themselves falling victim to scams and touts, however, seasoned travelers to Sri Lanka are rarely scammed and it is very simple to avoid being a victim of scammers as long as you take precautions such as:

- Being on guard for anybody trying to help you by giving you unsolicited directions or travel advice. Take any advice from taxi and auto drivers with a grain of salt, especially if they tell you the place you want to go to is closed, dangerous, non-existent etc. If you are unsure, check a map.

- Not engaging in business with people who have to actively approach you for business such as Tuk Tuk drivers, street vendors etc. If people have to approach or make overtures to you for business without you seeking them on your own volition, then they shouldn't be considered for business dealings. Because, you will likely be overcharged, as you have been denied the option of shopping around for the best price.

- If you have been told your hotel is closed or full, give them a call. If you are a first time visitor to Sri Lanka, don't admit it as it will make you a target for the scam artists.

Once you are past the scammers, Colombo is a far more welcoming destination than other South Asian cities. Certainly single women, although not advised to explore every nook and cranny of the city on their own late at night, will not find the pestering attentions of leering men.

Sri Lankan women are also very western in their dress sense, so it is very normal to wear skirts, tank tops, etc. You may get a few whistles and hellos from bored school boys, but they are more friendly and not meant to be threatening, so just ignore it and they will leave you alone.

Seemingly innocuous public displays of affection between lovers such as kissing and/or hugging is not culturally acceptable in Sri Lanka as it is considered to be secluded behaviour,this does not apply to private functions or establishments designated for adults such as nightclubs, casinos and beach parties.

Much lenience is given to foreigners and holding hands and public affection between parents and their children is not frowned upon.

In most buses, it is local etiquette to provide or give up the very front passenger seats to members of the clergy, such as monks or priests if they are present.

No photography of sensitive locations inside and outside, and inside of shopping malls and tea factories,outside is fine.

Be especially careful in Fort, Colombo except on the beach.

If soldiers are guarding something, it probably shouldn't be photographed. Don't rely on signs alone, as sometimes they are old or missing. For example, one end of a bridge may have a No Photography sign, but not the other.

Do not turn your back to or be alongside a Buddha statue when within a reasonable distance,observe what others are doing. This includes posing for photos. It's okay to photograph a statue, but all persons should be facing it.

Public nudity is illegal in Sri Lanka. Nude or topless sunbathing and skinny dipping should be avoided at beaches, except in the few private beach resorts which allow it.

Sigiriya, located 100 miles northeast of Colombo, is a very important Buddhist site in Sri Lanka. The remains of the ancient fortress and city date back to 477 AD. Legend has it, King Kasyapa built it in order to protect against attacks from his brother, whom he had stolen the throne from.

The only way into the city is through the giant lion's jaws. The site is also famous for its 5th century frescoes. Sigiriya is approximately 2-3 hours away from Colombo, and can be reached via train, bus, or car. It is open daily from 8:30AM to 6PM.

For Foreign nationals, they charge up to USD30 / LKR3900 to gain entry.

Adam's peak is considered a place of worship and pilgrimage by many religions. The 7,297 foot peak, also known as Sri Pada, is home to a foot imprint on a rock at its summit.

Depending on the faith, the foot print has been considered that of Buddha, the god Shiva, St. Thomas, and even, Adam after he was expelled from the garden of Eden. The stairway to the top is believed to be one of the longest in the world.

After reaching the top, climbers can ring the bell to mark the journey the just made. The panoramic view that one gets makes the journey well-worth the effort.

Reaching Delhousie,the town at the foot of Adam's Peak from Colombo can be an adventure in itself, unless you are lucky enough to find a direct bus. The route is Colombo-Hatton-Maskeliya-Delhousie. The distance is quite short on the map but can take 6-8 hours.

Kandy, Located 75 miles around 4 hours outside of Colombo, Kandy is a small, tranquil town that holds the sacred tooth of Buddha, a sacred relic of the Buddhist faith.

According to the legend, the tooth was taken from the Buddha on his funeral pyre and was smuggled into Sri Lanka hidden in the hair of a princess in the 4th century. The Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, is a main attraction for pilgrimages.

Each July and August, the tooth is carried in a procession. Although one cannot see the tooth, the festivities are a sight to see.

Anuradhapura is easily accessible by direct busses that leave regularly,every 30 minutes from the main bus terminal. The journey takes 6 hours and costs LKR236.

Bolgoda Lake Just over an hour's drive south from Colombo, Bolgoda Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Sri Lanka. The mangrove like environs, birds, crocodiles & fishing make it a unique tropical experience well worth a visit.

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage App. 55 miles from Colombo, off the Colombo – Kandy road is Pinnawela, where an orphanage was started in 1975 to house the abandoned and the wounded elephants.

The number of elephants has increased to more than 65 now; including Baby Elephants brought from various parts, as well as the 23 babies born, as a result of the captive breeding program.

The best time to visit is the feeding time from 0930-1000 hrs and 1330-1400 hrs and the bathing time from 1000-1030 hrs and 1400-1430 hrs when all the elephants are taken to the river close by.

Millenium Elephant Foundation, cheaper than the former but equally less touristic.



Tourism Observer
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