I arrived in Colombo late at night, and the humidity struck me straight away. AsI drove to the hostel surrounded by honking tuktuks, I realised that I was no longer in Australia and the adventure had truly begun.
Most people I spoke to had written off this industrial capital city, often stating that there was nothing to do or see. Although it can seem rough around the edges, I actually found Colombo to be an intriguing introduction to my Sri Lankan exploration.
When you scratch the surface of Colombo, there is a rich and interesting history to be discovered, as well as a breadth of activities to suit many types of travellers. From relaxed waterfront promenades and hotel cocktail bars, to crazy traffic and a host of temples, Colombo has many things to see and do if given the chance.
What to See
- Galle Face Green is a nice area to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere. It really comes alive at night with many locals coming by to eat some stall food and fly kites as the sun sets.
- Colombo Fort contains many old colonial buildings which are interesting to see and wander around.
- Gangaramaya temple is stunning and contains a plethora of interesting collectable objects. It costs 200Rs to enter but it completely worthwhile as you are transported from the hectic city into a peaceful oasis.
- Viharamahadevi Park is a nice place to stroll and escape the traffic-laden streets.
I stumbled upon many wonderful sites just when strolling around the city. The mixture of architecture and religions makes for many interesting buildings strewn throughout the metropolis. Keep your eye out for temples, as they can sometimes be seen from far away which is good as there is infrequent signage.
What to Eat
Sri Lankan food seems to have a lot of kick, so be prepared for spice in most meals!
My favourite restaurant to visit was Upali’s which is next to Viharamahadevi Park. It is affordable, clean, friendly and had a huge range of Sri Lankan dishes to try.
As well as trying the large array of curries, try Kottu Roti which is an amazing dish of chopped up roti bread fried with vegetables, spices and your choice of meat.
How to Get Around
The buses are frequent although it is not the fastest and direct way to get to a destination, especially when strapped for time. I opted for tuk tuks to buzz around Colombo, and although there are many near-accidents, they are so much fun and a recommendable experience. It can often feel like an odd version of Mario kart, as you dart and weave through the traffic. The colour of the tuk tuk does not seem to matter, but do ensure that you get in one with a meter – if the meter is not on, you are likely to get scammed.
It is also not uncommon for tuk tuk drivers to drink on the job… if you are not comfortable with that, make sure you have a quick glance in the cup holder near the driver’s seat to decide whether you wish to continue. We have seen bottles of wine and whiskey so far, which certainly made for some interesting experiences.
Where to Stay
Clock Inn Hostel on Galle Road was my home for the few days I was in Colombo, and it was amazing! It all started when they picked me up from the airport and delivered me safely to the hostel door. With clean and comfortable dorms, endless tea and coffee and the loveliest staff, this hostel is definitely recommended!
I got to experience lovely breakfasts here to start the day (eggs, noodles, and even Sri Lankan Hoppers!), and had cool and comfortable beds to end the day with. The people who stay here are varied and interesting, and it feels very safe and secure. Being on Galle Road makes it easy to get to the city centre, and it is only a short walk from the waterfront.
I definitely recommend this hostel and thank the staff for the wonderful experience!