The capital of Sri Lanka is a frenetic city of almost 2 million people, with good hotels, restaurants and shopping. The streets of Colombo are filled with every form of transportation imaginable - buses, cars, trucks, tuk-tuks, ox carts, pedestrians, etc
The capital of Sri Lanka is a frenetic city of almost 2 million people, with good hotels, restaurants and shopping. The streets of Colombo are filled with every form of transportation imaginable - buses, cars, trucks, tuk-tuks, ox carts, pedestrians, etc. - and no one seems to follow any particular traffic rules. The chaos is probably most evident along Galle Road, the main north-south artery in the city. At the north end of the road is the area known as the Fort, once a colonial stronghold but now the site of many government buildings. Just south of the Fort is Galle Face Green, a seaside expanse where the turf is not green but brown. Galle Face Green is a popular place for informal cricket games and weekend strolls. At the south end of the green is the venerable Galle Face Hotel, a beautiful hotel that while not as well-kept as colonial counterparts such as the Raffles in Singapore, the Peninsula in Hong Kong or the Oriental in Bangkok, predates them all. Watching the sunset from the Galle Face veranda with a drink is the most relaxing thing to do in Colombo.
Immediately east of the Fort is the Pettah, the traditional bazaar district. The Pettah is noisy and crowded but fun to stroll. Most streets are dedicated to a particular trade (Sea Street belongs to gold merchants, for instance). There's also a striking Hindu temple.
Among the capital city's other sights are the NationalMuseum (the collection provides an excellent picture of the island's history - plan at least three hours), ViharamahadeviPark (a broad green park very near the NationalMuseum) and the pretty palm-lined beach at MountLavinia in the southern part of town. The Mount Lavinia Hotel is another beautiful old colonial hotel that is worth visiting even if you're not staying there.
Probably the most interesting Buddhist temple in town is Raja Maha Vihara (go in January to see the perahera, or "procession"). While the Dehiwela Zoo has deteriorated over the years, it still has a wide selection of animals (elephants perform in the afternoon)
If you're craving the beach, Bentota, about 65 km south, has beautiful sand and clear water. Sun worshipers could easily spend three days here (deluxe accommodations are available). If you drive there from Colombo, you'll pass picturesque fishing villages, both along the shore and inland along a river