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Colombo Tourism And Travel Guide
23° C / 73.4° F
December to February
2 to 4 Days
Bandaranaike International Airport (30 kms)
Fort Railway Station
Colombo is often referred to as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and it is very evident from the well planned city layouts, its remarkable architecture and the sheer number of commercial centres. The city lies on the western coast of the island country of Sri Lanka and is usually the first stop for anyone visiting Sri Lanka. Since almost all other cities in the country are well connected to Colombo, it makes for a very good place to start the trip. This Colombo travel guide will help you decide whether you should spend the whole of your trip enjoying tourism in Colombo or only stop by while on transit.
How To Reach
Being such a popular travel destination, Colombo is well connected to all the major cities of Asia, Europe and Australia. The best way to reach Colombo from outside Sri Lanka would be via air. Most flights fly directly to Colombo, but some may make a stop at an Indian city.
By Air: The most used Airport of the two in Colombo is the Bandaranaike International Airport. It is noteworthy that the Sri Lankan Airlines now connects Colombo with over 100 international destinations, ensuring frequent flights to Colombo. The Airport is approximately 30 km away from the city and one can take taxis, buses or tuk-tuks from here to the city.
By Rail: If you are in Sri Lanka already, one of the most effective and comfortable ways to travel around would be via rail. The main station at Colombo is the Fort Railway Station and has services to and from popular cities like Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and so on.
By Road: Colombo is also connected to other cities by many expressways. Travelling by road can turn out to be fun as you get to experience the country side and other landscapes of the tropical island. There are a number of taxi and bus services you can avail to get around. Travelling within the city is also no hassle as there are well established government bus services, tuk-tuks and taxis available throughout the day.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Colombo experiences one major seasonal change, arrival of the monsoon winds. These winds create four seasons, so to speak. Of the four, the north-eastern monsoon season, also sometimes referred to as ‘the winter’ is the most popular time for tourist activities.
The North-Eastern Monsoon Season (December to February): These months are characterised by scarce rainfall, a non humid atmosphere and temperatures that vary from 22° to 31°C. This is the best time for sight-seeing, scuba diving and other outdoor activities.
The First Intermittent Monsoon Season (March and April): Though there is not much precipitation during these months, the hot winds and the humid atmosphere is not very popular among tourists. The temperature ranges from 25° to 31°C.
The South-Western Monsoon Season (May to September): In Colombo and most other south and western coastal cities, this is the season that brings with it most of the rain. The rain is almost continuous and is also avoided by tourists. But for those who love to catch some tropical rains and experience a quieter Colombo, this would be the time. The temperature ranges from 25° to 31°C during these months.
The Second Intermittent Monsoon Season (October and November): This could have been a viable tourist season, except for the unpredictable torrential rains that occur during these months. Whether your trip can come out successful is a subject to chance and to the accuracy of weather forecast. The temperature during these months can be anything from 22° to 31°C.
Things To Do
Colombo is a place with a multitude of things to do starting from touring the city and its many parks, hiking through tea estates, indulging in Sri Lankan food, gambling at casinos, and taking part in the incredible night life. Here is a list of the most popular things to do in Colombo.
Open Deck City Tour: These open deck buses take tourists around the city of Colombo showing them important buildings and places of historic interest, such as the Viharamahadevi Park, Beira Lake, Independence Memorial Hall, Colombo Light house and many more such destinations. They occasionally stop at places and offer snacks and drinks.
Sight-Seeing: Colombo’s National Museum is almost always the first in any list and for good reason. The museum is home to artefacts, both natural and cultural, that date back from ancient times and all the way up to its recent colonial era. The Dutch Period Museum is also worth visiting for their specific collections of the said period. The Gangaramaya Temple with its hundreds of Buddha statues is one of the most famous religious sites in Colombo. The Independence Memorial Hall and the Arcade Independence Square in Cinnamon Gardens is known for their architecture and for the peaceful surroundings. Parks like Galle Face Green and Viharamahadevi Park are perfect spots for picnicking and taking casual strolls.
Scuba Diving: Colombo has some of the most interesting scuba diving sites. Exploring the remains of shipwrecks, that have over the years become one with the sea, can make for a spectacular experience. Some of the popular wreck-sites are cargo wreck, tug wreck and car wreck. Sometimes these vessels may be covered with corals, making them even more interesting. There are many diving institutes that you can sign up with for training and equipment.
Tea Estate Tours :The Bogawantalawa Estates have some of the best tea tours on the island. The tour includes a detailed guide to the tea-making processes, long hikes through aromatic tea estates and often ends with a tea tasting at the end. They have many varieties of tea leaves including black tea, green tea, norwood emerald, silver tips and golden tips.
Colombo is a city that has all kinds of eateries from the very tempting street food to the fine dining restaurants. Some of the best street food can be found at the sea side, like at Galle Face Green. The Old Dutch Hospital is now restored and has a nice café, serving great food. The Arcade Independence Square has some fine eateries and fast food franchises.
Some of the favourite local cuisines include shredded bread with meat and vegetables kottu roti, rice and curry and the milky delight Kiribaath. The orange coconut is a Sri Lankan speciality and drinking its water can refresh you from the hot atmosphere of Colombo.
Colombo has a number of places well known for their handicrafts. Laksala at York Street is one such place. Run by the government, the products are of good quality and include things made of silver, wood and natural fibres. The Barefoot Gallery is known for their handloom goods that include clothes, toys, linen and so on. Sometimes there is an art exhibition at Viharamahadevi park, known as Kala Pola Art Market where you can purchase some fascinating art work.
The main local market is the Pettah Market. There you can find anything you would hope to find. Granted it is quite overcrowded and often you will need to bargain for the items you want to buy, but the sheer variety of available goods make up for these inconveniences.