Colombo is Sri Lanka’s commercial capital. Usually, tourists do not spend a lot of time here but immediately head for one of the beach towns in the area. This is a pity, however since Colombo has a lot of interesting stuff to do and see. From luxury shopping malls to hole-in-the wall, little shops. From modern 3D-movie theatres, to calm, cool museums about the countries national history. From high-rise steel and glass office buildings to mesmerising colonial architecture.
Size does matter!
A number of major airlines land at Bandaranaike International Airport, which is about 35 kilometres away from Colombo. With around 800.000 inhabitants, Colombo is Sri Lanka’s biggest city. Traffic is busy always, but especially during school times: from 6-8am and 12 noon-3pm. On the streets, size does matter! Buses and lorry come first, cars are next and trishaw's -or tuk-tuks - are tolerated and cyclists simply have to save themselves.
Book a tuk-tuk
The best way to move around is on foot. But when temperatures rise and if one needs to cover a considerable distance, it is advisable to take a trishaw or -a lot cheaper- the bus. One of the advantages of being in Colombo is that most trishaw's have meters. This is, as yet, highly unusual in other cities. Another option to avoid hassling about the fair price is using the PickMe, the app that allows you to book a tuk-tuk, car or van on the spot and know the price in advance.
Highlights depend on one’s taste. Those who like shopping should visit one of Colombo’s malls, such as Crescat, Majestic City or Liberty Plaza. Odell, one of Sri Lanka’s most famous fashion outlets, has branches all over town, but its biggest store is located in Hospital Square. Experience the buzz in the market area Pettah. It is congested and loud but also colourful and goods go at bargain prices. Take a stroll and have a look at the colonial architecture in Colombo Fort or visit Gangarama temple, one of Colombo’s most important Buddhist temples.
Fly a kite
At the end of the day, head out for Galle Face Green. This strip of grass, bordering the ocean, was the location for horse races during the colonial days of the British. Now -especially on weekends- Sri Lankan friends, families and lovers meet here to have a dinner, fly a kite or enjoy an ice cream. Galle Face is lined with luxury hotels where you can enjoy the sunset while having a cool beer or a nice cocktail on the rooftop.