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Top 8 sights and sounds of Colombo

Colombo is now a must visit city in your travel itinerary to Sri Lanka where many make a pit stop to shop, buy mementos to take home or to sample the varied restaurants and roof top bars that the capital has to offer. There are also many sites to visit that showcase history of Sri Lanka architecture, the culture, and people. Pettah Beat the heat and start your day in Pettah. This manic port-side region of the Capital is the heartbeat of the city. Best accessed by tuk-tuk, Pettah is a chaotic hub where locals head to find a bargain whether its spices, fabrics, electronics and all manner of curiosities. Be ready to haggle. Dotted among the shops are a number of historic sites also worth visiting: the Dutch Colonia Wolfendhal Church, Colombo Dutch Museum – Princes Lane, Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque (Red Mosque) and Old Kathiresan Kovil. Colombo Fort On the edge of Pettah, demarcated by the historic Colombo Fort Railway Station is the CBD region of Colombo Fort, a blend of Dutch & British colonial architecture juxtaposed against towering skyscrapers. Take in the history of the area with a stroll through the corridors of the heritage Cargills building and pop-up to the rooftop restaurant of the Grand Oriental Hotel for an afternoon G&T or ice tea and view over the busy Port. Head down Chatham Street, passing the Pagoda Tea Rooms famed for its feature in the Duran Duran- “Hungry like the wolf” music video, then take a left at Hospital Lane and head into the Dutch Hospital. Dutch Hospital As the name suggests this is the site of a Dutch Era hospital said to have existed since 1681 converted into a shopping and dining precinct developed around two open courtyards. The Dutch Hospital is popular with tourists and the after-work crowds as it offers a wide variety of watering holes and restaurants including one of the world’s top 50 restaurants – Ministry of Crab. If you prefer to unwind pay a visit to Spa Ceylon for an invigorating massage or treatment using local spices and techniques. Galle Face Green Galle Face Green is a bustling, ocean-side park located in the heart of the City along Galle Road, surrounded by landmark buildings such as the former parliament, the iconic Galle Face Hotel and an ever-changing skyline of new high-rises. Originally cleared by the Dutch for strategically placed cannons which still feature along the walkway, this green is a favourite for early morning walkers but really comes alive at dusk as a rendezvous spot for young couples taking in the sunset, kite flyers, walkers and street food vendors. An ideal stretch for an evening stroll with plenty of photo opportunities. Step back in time with a visit to the Galle Face Hotel for an indulgent afternoon tea or stronger sundowner. Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple This 120-year-old temple is located across two sites – one floating and the other nearby the central Biera Lake. The serene floating temple displays beautiful Buddhist statues positioned around a central atrium and sacred Bo tree, while the larger temple offers a vast prayer and meditation sanctuary as well as an intriguing museum of religious statues, cars, antiques and trinkets from around the world. Independence Square & Arcade Independence Square is an architecturally and nationally significant monument built for commemoration of the independence of Ceylon from the British rule on February 4, 1948. It’s internal museum documents the history of Ceylon’s independence. This prominent monument is located in the wealthy suburb of Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7, formally the sight of expansive cinnamon plantations. Neighbouring the square is Independence Arcade one the City’s newest shopping and entertainment developments within the original façade of the original Auditor General’s building. The complex houses a number of local restaurants, fashion outlets and a multiplex cinema. Wellawatte This vibrant, majority Tamil suburb located south of the city is made up of hundreds of colourful shop fronts selling sarees, haberdashery, brac-a-brac and gold, delicious vegetarian street-side restaurants serving piping hot dosais and samosas and intricately carved Hindu kovils. Detour off the main Galle Road down to Wellawatte beach for a taste of the locals enjoying their city by the sea. Take in the sunset with your feet in the sand at the rustic beachside bar and restaurant, The Station or looking over the skyline from the ON14 rooftop bar located at the top of the Ozo Hotel on Marine Drive. Mount Lavinia Head further south along Galle Road by vehicle or avoid the traffic and hop on a train to this coastal suburb. Mount Lavinia is famed for its ‘Golden Mile’ of beaches dotted with beachside bars and restaurants. The area is most renowned for the colonial Mount Lavinia Hotel, an elegant, converted 200-year-old former home of the Governor General located at the end of the strip, with a large terrace and views down the coast to Colombo. Getting around Tuk tuks Always use only metered tuk tuks to ensure you receive accurate pricing for your journey. It’s worthwhile checking that the meter is turned on as you start your journey. These three wheeled mobiles are great at getting through traffic and provide an exhilarating ride. Drivers tend to love a good chat and can provide useful insight to the city. Air-conditioned taxis Slightly more expensive than a tuk tuk, taxi’s must be called in advance to your location and charge by the kilometer. Some drivers will be willing to wait for you and drive you from one location to the next for the whole day. Uber The most convenient way to get around the city particularly by night. Use the Uber app to request a vehicle to your location and track it en-route. All payments are made online via the app and no cash need be exchanged. Pick me The local version of Uber from which you can choose a car or tuk tuk to collect you. All rides are GPS tracked but payment is made via cash. App is downloadable from your App Store. Harshi Hewage is the Marketing Manager at Manor House Concepts. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. Greetings from Sri Lanka, really appreciate the effort you have put to promote our motherland. Definitely, this blog will help anyone who is trying to get the journey started from Colombo. Great blog post with useful tips to get around in Colombo. Keep promoting and writing blog posts about Sri Lanka, the Wonder of Asia.

  2. Sri Lanka has never been on my list before, it’s great to learn about these places – I love to visit destinations that nobody I have known has been before! Pettah sounds like a great, bustling city to visit, I’d love to see all of the authentic clothing being sold there. I would definitely have to visit the buddhist temple, I’ve never seen one before, I love the peacefulness of them

  3. Very interesting read Colombo sounds like a great place to visit. I’d definitely check out the markets at Pettah that looks fun. Mount Lavinia looks like a great location to chill out at the beach, it looks lovely in the photos. The Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple also looks very interesting. Some great suggestions here.

  4. the gateway colombo-necombo was my first impression of Sri Lanka – really a presious, cosy and most relaxing place after a long flight from Europe. A very tasty and most great and delicious selection I ever find for a very good breakfast. The patio such quiet and well furnitured to feel sit in the garden for the best breakfast. I enjoy my stay very much and will stay the Gateway gardens every time I come to Sri Lanka for my first nights.
    thanks to all the friendly service and team there – hope see soon.

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