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Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, an enchanting island lying off India’s southern tip. These city folk go about their daily business with a cheerfulness born of optimism in this chaotic, noisy and traffic-congested metropolis.
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Do and see
It would be difficult not to immerse yourself in the serenity of Buddhism, which is practised by the majority of Sri Lankans. Yet Colombo is home to all religions as evidenced by temples, mosques and churches sprouting amidst a jumble of Dutch and British-built buildings, a legacy of its colonial past.
Seema Malaka Buddhist Temple
Designed by Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s leading architect, this temple is used for the inauguration of Buddhist monks. The resident monk is happy to explain the principles of Buddhism.
Colombo National Museum
At Colombo National Museum you can browse through a wealth of exhibits from prehistoric times to the colonial era. Look out for traditional fearsome masks said to be linked to magical powers.
City Tour
Enjoy the sights from the comfort of an open-deck, double decker bus with live commentary. Two different tours stop at the mayor sights and they leave from different pick-up points. Pick ups: from Colombo city hotels en-route. (for more information see the website below)
National Art Gallery
The paintings at National Art Gallery reflect local themes and scenes, but this museum also features exhibitions that show contemporary artworks. There is no entrance fee to view this collection of works by Sri Lankan artists.
Viharamahadevi Park
A peaceful interlude can be found here from the cacophony of town with neat paths bordered by tropical vegetation. You can spot slumbering bats in mahogany and eucalyptus trees, bird life and monitor lizards on the lawns. There is also a playground for the kids and a golden Buddha statue.
The Pettah
At this open-air market, visitors can explore scores of shops selling everything under the sun and streets devoted to hardware shops, electrical equipment, watches, gems and spice traders. Arrive early before trishaws and touts clog up the streets.
Dutch Period Museum
This fine colonnaded Dutch building, with creaking floors and staircases, contains exhibits from the Dutch colonial era. The interesting display of the artefacts such as coins, the clothing and the furniture of that era will offer you a unique learning experience of Sri Lankans history.
Galle Face Green
Weekends bring kite-flyers, strolling families and impromptu cricket matches to this wide ocean-fronted promenade. Enjoy a drink at the Galle Face Hotel at the southern end of the promenade or fill up on tasty snacks on the waterfront.
Bandaranaika International Airport
Bandaranaika International Airport (CMB) is located 32km from the CBD. The simplest and quickest way to get into town is to take a taxi. Allow at least 1½ hours for your journey. Bus 187 runs every 30 minutes from 6 am-9 pm to Fort Bus Station. You have to take a free bus shuttle from the airport terminal to the bus stop. Be aware that the driver might try to charge tourists extra for luggage. The train station lies 500m from the airport with departures from 7 am-6 pm and it stops at many stations before reaching the city centre. If you have heavy luggage, the best way to reach the train station is by Trishaw.
Public Transport
Buses run from 5 am-10 pm and are generally crowded and slow. The best way to get around is to walk or flag down a trishaw. Always agree to a price before accepting a ride in a trishaw and pay the exact fare.
Taxi is the easiest and most comfortable way to get around the city. Most of the cars do not have a taxi meter so always decide on a price before the journey starts. Ace Cabs www.acecabs.lk +94 112 818 818 City Cabs www.citycabsbooking.com +94 11 255 2222 Kangaroo Cabs www.2588588.com +94 11 258 0047
You can buy stamps in one of the post offices across town. You find the General Post Office at:
There are several pharmacies in Colombo, and some of them are located within a grocery store. The supermarket chain LAUGFS features pharmacies that are open 24 hours. Rajya Osu Sala is another drugstore chain and you find one of their outlets at:
Country code: +94 Area Code: 011
230-240 Volt, 50 Hz
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