While most visitors stop over in Colombo for just a few days before heading out to explore other parts of Sri Lanka, there is something to be said about the culture of this lively and colourful city. The people’s friendly character is balanced by the hectic traffic of this buzzing metropolis. With a well-devised plan to experience the sights efficiently and an open mind you will conquer Colombo and encounter a magical city unlike any other in the world.
#1: Colourful Streets
It is a real adventure full of sound, smells and people watching just to walk around the streets of Colombo. Fun and exciting! Wherever you walk in Colombo, tuk-tuks will stop by you and the driver will ask you if you want a lift, not one time but like all the time! And if you don`t answer (yeah, it is possible to get a bit fed up with this), they will ask you again just louder. I’m a city girl and used to Bangkok chaos, but for others it can eventually become a bit overwhelming, so my advise is to plan for breaks in between to get your head straight from all the chaos.
#2: A Photographer’s paradise
Colombo can also be called as the “City of Joy” for its friendly and loving behavior of its residents making it more lively and enjoyable. On the lines of photography, one can never get tired of this city as it keeps showing you surprises from all the corners. Colombo’s antiquated yet meltingly romantic trains for example, clinging to the side run straight down the coast. It’s a perfect place for travellers to get acquainted with Sri Lankan culture.
#3: Beach & Sea promenade
Galle Face Green is a long stretch of green lawn next to the narrow beach and sea promenade in Colombo. Originally it was cleared by the Dutch to give the canons clear sight, but today it is a nice and peaceful place perfect for walking, running, playing football, kite flying and cricket. The promenade is packed with couples and families taking a stroll in the afternoons and it is a great place to watch the sunset.
#4: Colombo from above
Colombo has no city skyline like Bangkok, but that doesn’t mean roof-topping is impossible. With the help from a friend we found a cool rooftop at the Hilton Colombo Residences to hang out, take photos and enjoy the sunset. There is currently a lot of construction and development going on in the city, such as the Lotus Tower. It is a tower under construction with a proposed height of 350 m. When completed, the tower will be the tallest building in South Asia. The lotus-shaped tower will be used for communication, observation and other leisure facilities, such as a restaurant and shopping mall.
#5: Multi-cultural City
Colombo is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city. The population of Colombo is a mix of numerous ethnic groups, mainly Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Moors, and Tamils. There are also small communities of people with Chinese, Portuguese Burgher, Dutch Burgher, Malay, and Indian origins living in the city, as well as numerous European expatriates. As a visitor you can choose between different cultural highlights. We decided to visit the Kelaniya Temple, just seven miles from Colombo. It is the most sought after Temple for the Buddhists in and around Colombo. Situated on the banks of Kelani River, which is originating from Sri Pada , makes this Temple surroundings attractive for the devotees who come to worship this hallowed land.
Give yourself a minimum of two days to explore Colombo. Many tourists use Colombo as quick stop over without realizing how much they’ve really skipped. The city is small, but is a great way for travelers to get acquainted with Sri Lankan culture. We stayed at the Hilton Colombo, centrally located in Colombo’s business district with stunning views above the city. Absolutely recommended! If you need any advise or recommendation, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.