Colombo is the largest city of the island nation of Sri Lanka and is as busy, crowded and polluted as most important commercial cities are. Being home to the only international airport in the country, chances are if you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, you will at least have a layover in Colombo. Though one of my least favourite cities, Colombo is a necessary evil since it provides easy access to the beautiful beaches and the serene hill country, thanks to its extensive railway and bus networks.
- Did you know?
Colombo, though the largest city and the financial and commercial centre of the country, is actually not the administrative capital of Sri Lanka.
In 1982, the capital of Sri Lanka was shifted from Colombo to its sub-urb, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
- One place you should visit
Plan an evening at Galle Face Green and enjoy the sunset while trying out delicious street food. Take a walk along the shores and experience the Lowering of the Flag ceremony at around 7 pm. It gets really crowded in the evening with locals and tourists alike, but they, along with the cool breezes of the seemingly endless Indian Ocean, are part of the experience.
The area is also dotted with interesting landmarks like its historic Galle Sea Face hotel and the World Trade Towers.
- One dish you should try
Sri Lanka is really famous for its tea (Famously known as Ceylon Tea). During your stay in Colombo, visit any small roadside eatery and try it out along with an array of breads and cakes.
- Where are the cheap accommodations at?
Colombo does not really have a backpacker area per-se but hostel, dorms and cheap guesthouses are spread across the city. Try staying close to Galle Face Green, which has a couple of really modern hostels.
(City Rest Motel, which is actually a hostel, located on Hospital Road is pretty good.)
- How much does beer cost?
Price of beer (alcohol, in general) varies depending upon the fanciness of the place you are ordering it at. In a local bar, a 625 ml bottle of Lion Beer will cost about 200 LKR. This can shoot up to over 550 LKR if you have it at a sea side restaurant.
Colombo is really hot and humid almost throughout the year. Rains, though may provide respite for a few hours, actually increase the humidity levels making you feel sweaty and sticky as you try to explore the city.
Packing a cap, sunglasses, light t-shirts and prickly heat powder is probably a good idea.