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Colombo (Sinhala: කොළඹ, Tamil: கொழும்பு) is the largest city and the financial and commercial capital of Sri Lanka.


Colombo Sea front
Colombo skyline
Srilanka Tourism map
Srilanka travel map
Srilanka Railway Network

Colombo remains both the commercial and financial capital of Sri Lanka even after the administrative capital has been moved to Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, a suburb east of the city.

Colombo is a huge, sprawling city, which can be visited any time of year due to its tropical climate. The heat is often excruciating, and traffic and pollution intense. These combined and without careful planning Colombo can easily become a nightmarish experience for an average traveler. To avoid this, do not carry heavy luggage, do not plan to walk any significant distances and take measures to deal with the heat and/or rain, such as bringing ice water, sunglasses, plastic slippers, sunblock, umbrella etc.

Get in[edit]

Electronic Visa (ETA) can be obtained prior to arrival Electronic Travel Authorisation System, Costs USD30, SAARC countries pay USD15. For VOA at the airport most OECD nationalities will have to pay for a USD35 visitor's visa prior to going through passport control at the airport. You can pay this using a credit card. Visa is valid for two entries within a 30 day period. If you are transiting, you may leave the airport for up to 24 hours without a visa but the immigration officials would try to persuade you to get one, unless you have a hotel voucher supplied by Sri Lankan Airlines.

By plane[edit]

There are currency exchanges in the arrivals hall with an ATM. Another ATM available outside the airport in the drop-off / pick-up area; leave the building and turn left.

There is air service to and from Colombo provided by the national airline, Sri Lankan Airlines. Flights are available from origins throughout Europe, United States, Southeast Asia, Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Other airlines include Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Emirates with transits typically in middle-eastern countries. British Airways have direct flights from Gatwick Airport to Colombo.

Sri Lanka's prime international airport, Bandaranaike International, is at Katunayake, close to Negombo, on the coast north of Colombo. The journey to Colombo will take about an hour by taxi with heavy traffic and just half an hour otherwise. Note: There is a charge of 300 rupees to get into the arrivals hall (no matter what your skin colour) from outside. If you plan to meet a friend, bear this in mind. Foreigners can get away with claiming they're re-entering (but you will need to know a recent flight that has arrived and perhaps an excuse such as foreign exchange).

Trains operate from nearby Katunayaka South Railway to Fort, Colombo. A single one way trip costs LKR500 per person. Trains run only once a day and at different schedules on each day of the week. Train timetable info is also available on a Government site. For foreigners, online booking is available

A secondary international airport "Rajapaksa International" is located in the southernmost city of Hambantota a 5 hour drive to Colombo.

Katunayake airport to Colombo[edit]

The international airport is closer to Negombo than to Colombo, so if you're arriving late, it might be a better option to head to Negombo for the night instead. Star class hotels and budget guest houses are available. Ceylon tourist board (administered by the Government) has a chain of hotels.

By taxi[edit]

Airport Taxi There are some taxi counters, some belonging to 4 / 5 star hotels, providing air conditioned taxis on a fixed price basis depending on the destination. It is highly recommended to agree on the fare beforehand to avoid being overcharged. As of March 2015, the fare was between LKR 2,500 & 3,000 to Colombo so do shop around for the best rate.

Kangaroo Cabs [1] is a very reputable taxi company in Colombo that has special deals starting at LKR 1750 from the airport to Colombo in new air-conditioned taxis.

There is also a mini van taxi service counter in the arrivals hall providing transport services. The rates are not cheaper than air conditioned taxis but a mini van will seat more than four passengers. The services are primarily for the locals so if you do not hold a Sri Lankan passport, they may refuse to offer you one.

By bus This is the cheapest way to get into Colombo. The air-conditioned public bus (number 187-E3), is operated by Sri Lankan Transport Board (SLTB), to Colombo central bus station from the airport. Come out of the airport, turn left and walk all the way to the end of the building, cross the road and you will see a big bus in the car park. You will not find any signs, so do ask official airport personnel if in doubt. The cost is LKR110 (as of May 2016) and it takes less than an hour along to in year 2013 opened highway to Colombo. The buses do have luggage storage space at the rear but be warned that someone pretending to be associated with the bus company may help you load your luggage. If this happens, they would expect you to tip them or the conductor will tell you that there is a LKR 100 charge for the luggage, even though there isn't one for it. It is a scam and do not fall for it! The last SLTB-operated bus from Colombo is 6pm. After 6pm, your only bet is the privately-operated ones (still labled 187-E3), which start from the Private Bus Stand just opposite the SLTB Bus stand and next to the Colombo Fort Train Station. These cost LKR165 (January 2016) and are very comfortable, with a seating capacity of about 40, and when full, will not take extra passengers as there is no room for standing. The first bus from Colombo central bus station to the airport leaves around 5.30pm. There is no fixed timetable, but there is probably a bus every half an hour (or when there are no free places left). There are many other buses destination "Airport" but it only refers to the bus terminal in Katunayake.

Once you reach the bus depot, you can get a tuk-tuk (a three-wheeler) or a Nano taxi to get to your destination. The Nanos will have a meter and the tuk-tuks are required to have one now but most waiting within the bus station won't have it. Tuk-tuks without a meter and touts are best avoided. The ones with a meter will have a 'Metered Taxi' sign on the roof and you may have to walk out of the bus depot and on to the main road to find one. It would cost about LKR150 to go to hotels near Galle Face (e.g. Cinnamon Grand, Taj or Galle Face Hotel). There is no need to tip the driver but rounding up to the nearest 10 would make things easy. Before leaving the airport, ensure you have some LKR 100 notes as most taxi drivers won't have a lot of change.

By train This is probably the most unknown way to get into Colombo, but completely possible. Take either the free Airport to the bus station and then follow the road (Canada Friendship) to the Katunayaka South station (around 1km, if you don't have luggage) or, if you've luggage, best just to take a Tuk Tuk right from the airport to the train station. Should be LKR100, if you're good at haggling you might get them down even a bit more. Then, at the train station, get a ticket to Colombo Fort, you'll be arriving right next to where the buses drop people off. Price is LKR30. Trains are sometimes delayed, but driving relatively frequently, around 1 per hour, more during rush hour. It will take around 1 hour to get to Fort station, so definitely quicker than by travelling by bus, if you manage to just catch a train without much waiting. Check for Katunayake (not Katunayake Airport station) to Colombo train online timetable on one of the free computers in the terminal when arriving about the next train, if it suits you, it's an easy way into the city for very little money.

Note that trains run only 11 times/day to Colombo (March 2015) so ensure that there is a train for you before leaving the airport.

Tri-shaw (Three wheeler, tuk-tuk) The cost of a tuk-tuk to Colombo will not be that much cheaper than an air conditioned taxi.

By bus[edit]

The Sri Lanka Transport Board is the nationalized bus service. Buses are the principal mode of transport in the country. Even if you cannot speak or understand Sinhalese, you should be able to cope up with basic English with locals and its entirely feasible than train travel since the frequency is more (every 5 minutes during daytime and half an hour during night). Prepare for over-crowding at peak times (mostly office hours) and make sure to confirm your destination with the driver and conductor of the bus.

Route No 187 connects the Katunayake Airport to the city of Colombo, and buses are available throughout the day.

By boat[edit]

Though there were some Indian cruise liners operated to Colombo since recent past, currently there are no boat services to Sri Lanka.

However a Navy ship turned into a cruise liner operates in and around Colombo seas from the harbour area.

Get around[edit]

A Tourist Development Authority operated 'tuk tuk' or tri-shaw
Colombo Traffic


Getting around by Tri-shaw (Three wheeler, tuk-tuk) is most convenient. Nowadays more three-wheelers are fitted with meters and it is always better to catch one with meter. These will have a Metered Taxi sign on the roof. In March 2015, the meter starts at LKR50, 4-5km should be around LKR200 and 6km should be around LKR250. If you can't find a metered tuk-tuk, do not settle for first one you get, they will fleece you that way. Most tuk-tuks parked outside the hotels are unlikely to have a meter so avoid them and flag a passing tuk-tuk or take a bus. Also, be prepared to be hassled by tuk-tuk drivers every time you leave your hotel or are walking around the city - best just to politely ignore them.

The Sri Lankan Tourist Development Authority also operates its own fleet of 'tuk-tuks' around Colombo which are tourist friendly and metered to ensure that travellers are aware of the price being paid. Tourist board tuk tuks are distinguishable by their unique liveries. These three-wheelers can be booked 24 hours a day by calling +94 712 500 800 or +94 772 299 299.


There are 'TATA Nano' cars in service nowadays and the charges start from LKR40/km with air-conditioning and it is also a safe and convenient way to travel. Taxis are much safer than a three-wheeler.

Try Budget Taxi ☎ +94 11 729-9299. Quote of LKR2,800 (March 2015) from Galle Road to the airport.

Local Buses[edit]

There is a good, cheap public bus service but you need to know the route number of the bus that you would have to take to your destination. There does not appear to be a website providing any bus route or timetable information.

Long Distance Buses[edit]

There are two bus depots in Pettah on either side of the road, near Fort train station. Sri Lankan Transport Board public (non air conditioned) buses operate from one and mini, air conditioned ones from the other. These buses go to all of the main cities but do not provide any luggage space.

Air conditioned buses with luggage space to Jaffna go from Wellawatta. These run over night and there are no advertised departure points. If you would like to catch one, go to Wellawatta and ask a few people on Galle Road a day or two before departure to establish where exactly these buses depart from.


Train services are available to some of the main cities from Colombo but they are infrequent. Some 1st and 2nd class tickets may be booked up to 45 days in advance but these go quickly, especially for popular destinations such as Jaffna. Schedules and fares are listed at

See[edit][add listing]


Buddha Statues at Seema Malakaya, Colombo
  • The National Museum of Colombo, Cinnamon Gardens. ☎ +94 11 269-4767. Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 09:00-17:00. Also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum, it is the largest museum in Colombo. Among its exhibits, it contains regalia of the 17th century Kandyan Kings. LKR500 entrance fee and LKR250 for photography pass.
  • The Natural History Museum- Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Cinnamon Gardens ☎ +94 11 269-1399. Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 09:00-17:00. This museum features Sri Lanka's floral and fauna in dioramas.
  • The Dutch Period Museum- 95 Prince Street, Pettah. ☎ +94 11 244-8466. Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 09:00-17:00. Historical museum documenting Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka. Houses Dutch-inspired artifacts.


  • The Sapumal Foundation- 32/4 Barnes Place. ☎ +94 11 269-5731. The Sapumal Foundation was once home to the late Harry Pieris. Visitors are able to see his studio and art materials that have been left undisturbed over the years. This gallery also contains 200 paintings that follow the development of Sri Lankan art. Special art classes are also available at the gallery.
  • The Lionel Wendt Memorial Art Centre- 18 Guilford Crescent. M-F 09:00-13:00 & 14:00-16:00. ☎ +94 11 269-5794. The Art Center provides a multi-functional creative experience with exhibitions, art shows and stage events. Visitors to the art center are also able to purchase various antiques as well as paintings and crafts by contemporary Sri Lankan artists.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Visit Galle Face Green Promenade at sundown for a spectacular view. The promenade stretches 13 acres between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean; it tends to attract children, teenagers, vendors, and families. Usually on Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is filled with day-trippers, food vendors, and people picnicking. The Galle Face Green Promenade was reopened to the public in May of 2001.
  • Colombo Zoological Gardens- Colombo's zoo has a wide variety of animals, birds, and reptiles from all over the world. One of the most popular attractions to the zoo is the elephant show, which is held daily at 17:15. The zoo also offers elephant and pony rides. Currently, the zoo is being renovated, and plans to have an open area for the elephants.
  • Casa Serena Art Gallery, 122 Havelock Rd, Colombo 5, +94 11 2587440, [2]. Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00, M 13:00-18:00. The Gallery is a purpose built space, designed to exhibit a diverse array of art, photography, sculpture, video installations and craft. It focuses on contemporary and traditional arts and features the work of local and international artists.  edit
  • Turtle Conservation Villa (Our Turtle Conservation Project), No. 73/23 St Rita Road Mount Lavinia Colombo Sri Lanka (Drive south from Colombo city centre along Galle Road and turn right into St. Rita's Road. Drive all the way to the end of the road, cross over the train tracks and onto the beach. Turn left and 20m ahead - you have arrived!), +94 11 427 7195, [3]. 08:00-18:00. A non-profit centre for the conservation of turtles along the coast just past Mount Lavinia Hotel. Since 2003 OTCP (Our Turtle Conservation Project) has been ensuring the hatching, release, preserving and protecting of Sri Lanka's endangered turtles. It is a local initiative that aims to educate both locals and tourists about the importance of protecting these incredible sea dwellers, in a fun and interactive environment. LKR500.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Barefoot handicraft store, 706 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Kollupitiya. [4]. Has a wide range of good quality souvenirs and handmade items: clothes, bags, and children toys, from some of the most beautifully-colored fabric you've ever seen.
  • Crescat Boulevard, 89 Galle Rd, Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. An up-market shopping mall. Though it is fairly small, it contains a food court on the basement floor.
  • Lakmedura, 113 Dharmapala Road, Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens.
  • Lakpahana [5], 14 Reid Avenue, Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens. A non-profit organization run by the craftsman association of Sri Lanka with assistance from the government. Offers all handicrafts and gemstone jewellery. Unique metalware, wood carvings,silver jewellery,batik ,textile products and other crafts. Only member in Sri Lanka of the World Craft Council and winner of several international awards therefore all our products come with an international guarantee.The only place where quality exceeds price.
  • Liberty Plaza RA de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. Another shopping mall similar to Majestic City however it is smaller in size. You can find various items such as clothing, CDs and DVDs.
  • Majestic City in Kollupitiya on Galle Road has a wide variety of clothing outlets - including a sub-branch of Odel - at very good prices, as well as various electrical goods and toy shops. It's pleasantly air-conditioned and includes a food court on the ground floor.
  • Odel [6] No 5, Alexandra Place, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens. A stylish department store, with its very own Delifrance outlet, clothing, houseware, sporting goods, books and movies, as well as Delight – for sweet indulgences from chocolates to exotic nuts.
  • Paradise Road – 213, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens. Tel: 268 6043. Open 9AM-7PM. A shop with a small café in a British colonial style building where antiques, home décor items and art can be viewed or purchased.
  • The Pettah Market, this is the place to go for shopping for all kinds of things from fruits to clothes to electronics if you want to buy at wholesale prices. You have to bargain extensively and it is recommended that you take a local you trust along with you. Even if you don't buy anything, Pettah, or Colombo 11 is an experience in itself being a very typical, loud and crowded oriental market place full of all sorts of odds, ends and junk. Each street in the market has its own specialty, for example, in 1st Cross Street you can find electrical items, 2nd Cross Street has jewellery and so on. In the Pettah Market area, some street vendors actively ask passers-by, foreigners and locals to view products they are selling though polite refusal is generally accepted.
  • Casa Serena boutique, 122 Havelock Road, Colombo 5, +94 (0)11 2587440, [7]. Tue-Sat 10AM-6PM and M-1PM to 6PM. The boutique showcases a wide range of traditional and modern creations to enhance the art of living. Some are practical, some are useful, and some are just beautiful souvenirs  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]


Buy a "lunch packet" from street stands practically anywhere in the city. Typically, it will be a filling meal of rice and vegetables for about LKR120.

Also available everywhere are small bakeries selling rotis (either flat or folded into triangles filled with egg, vegetable or fish), hoppers (bowl shaped pancakes made with coconut milk), and other "short eats" (bread based snacks or fried foods). The price of individual items range from LKR10-50.

Around Fort Railway Station there are several local restaurants with the sign "Hotel", these actually are restaurants and not hotels, this usage of the word "Hotel" seems to be unique to Sri Lanka. These places have some hot dishes as well as various local baked items. The prices are very cheap, though if you are picky about hygiene you might want to avoid these.

Colombo has a McDonalds on Galle Road, which actually has some unique local offerings, as well as several KFCs, and a Pizza Hut in the Fort area near the Hilton that serves some combo meals for around 500-600 LKR. Though these are certainly not an authentic experience, they are one of the few air conditioned places you will find, and can be a life saver if you are about to die from heat stroke.

  • New Banana Leaf, 720 Galle Road, Colombo 03, 011 2 553 233 / 075 5 500 001. I remember it was a nice Sri Lankan restaurant, don't really know the prices anymore but it was very affordable. Food is served on banana leafs.  edit


  • Cafe on the 5th, 108 5th Lane, Colombo-03. Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. Very nice, friendly service and an outside eating area. They do a different special every day (self-service) for LKR300 (Mar 2014). Fresh juice LKR170. Also has a nice, tasty range of English desserts at around LKR80. Three course set dinner menu for LKR1000 + 10% service..  edit
  • The Cricket Club Cafe, 34 Queens Rd, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03. This cafe is a must for any cricket lover. The walls are covered in autographed memorabilia and photos with sports (usually cricket) being screened on all the TVs scattered throughout the rooms. They serve authentic Aussie cuisine and a wide variety of drinks. The Bar is named after Donald Bradman. Prices - around LKR1,300-1,800 for food (Mar 2014). Ask for the 625mL bottle of cold Lion lager or the draught (about LKR 700 incl service and taxes - March 2015).
  • The Gallery Cafe, 2 Alfred House Road, Off Alfred House Gardens, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Wonderful atmosphere in beautiful building - designed by famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Large food menu featuring many international dishes, decadent desserts and extensive cocktail menu.
  • The Lagoon, The Cinnamon Grand Hotel, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03, +94 11 243-7437. 12-2:30PM, 7PM-12:30AM. This restaurant focuses primarily on seafood with colorful Sri Lankan flavors. The friendly, professional staff are able to create an enjoyable dining experience. Full meal: LKR4000 per person.  edit
  • Mango Tree, 82 Dharmapala Mawatha, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03, +94 11 537-9790, 11 537-9791 (). Daily 12:00-15:00 & 19:00-23:00. One of the finest restaurants in the city. North Indian Cuisine, full of innovative dishes. Portions are on the small side. Full meal: LKR2000 per person.  edit
  • The Palmyrah Restaurant, 328 Galle Rd, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Sri Lankan dishes as well as having an "international" menu.
  • Raja Bojun, 90 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03, +94 11 471-6171. 12-2:30PM, 7PM-11PM. This restaurant features a buffet with Sri Lankan foods as its only dinner offering. The professional staff provides exceptionally prompt service in a pleasant, if somewhat crowded, environment. Dinner Buffet: LKR1800 per person, beverages extra.  edit
  • Roadhouse Cafe, 335 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves Sri Lankan and Western food. Meals range LKR180-380. The food is excellent, but the service is a little slow. Try the mango milkshakes or one of their specialty coffees.
  • 168 Seafood Palace, just off Galle Road, near Hotel Renuka, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Chinese food and seafood dishes. Prices start at LKR250 but some prices depend on weight (e.g. crabs). The service is very good.
  • UK Urban Kitchen, Arpico Super Center, 69 Hyde Park Corner, Union Place, Colombo 2. Serves Western, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines at relatively reasonable prices. Also specializes in wood-fired pizzas and coffee. Next to Arpico supermarket. Open M-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Su 10AM-11PM. Telephone 94 11 7219169.


  • Nihonbashi Main Restaurant, 11 Galle Face Terrace, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. There are three Nihonbashi outlets in Colombo. A Sushi Bar at ODEL and a outlet at the Hilton Colombo Residence are the other two. The main restaurant is an airy and spacious restaurant with a blend of modern and traditional in design consisting of 8 private dining rooms also a dine-in wine room. Nihonbashi is owned and run by Tokyo-born Dharshan Munidasa, a self-taught chef.
  • Spoons, Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. Spoons is the flagship restaurant of the Hilton Hotel. It has a show kitchen, and an impressive collection of wine and chocolates.
  • Ginza Hohsen, Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. This is one of the Japanese restaurants in Colombo. They have a sushi bar, the tatami rooms and ever teppanyaki.
  • Chesa Swiss, 3 Deal Place, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Representing the best of Swiss cuisine, this restaurant has all your favourites from fresh garden snails to Chateaubriand for two to steak Café de Paris style! The wine list is exclusively Swiss.
  • The London Grill, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Galle Face, Colombo 3. As the name suggests this restaurant is very British. It probably has the best ambiance of all, and the food is just great.
  • California Grill, Galadari Hotel, Fort, Colombo 01. This is a fine dining restaurant on the rooftop level of the hotel. It offers panoramic views of the Galle Face marina. The food, mostly US-style grills and premium seafood, is excellent too.
  • Royal Thai, 115 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha, Slave Island, Colombo 02. Located at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel (refurbished and re-branded September 2009), is an authentic Thai restaurant hosting the usual favourites, such as Tom Yam and Chicken Pandan leaves.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Thembili තැබිලි (Orange Coconut juice) is the safest, since they cut it open in front of you (uncontaminated).
  • Spring water with SLS certification are safe to drink.

Mount Lavinia is a great place to be. The beach and the friendly people always draw visitors there and keep them for awhile. Unlike the South of the island, Mt.Lavinia is only abut 20 minutes away from the city and entertains a good deal of nightlife. Along the beach are a variety of restaurants that serve liquor (by restaurants along the beach I mean they are literally ON the beach, 50 feet away from the water and tables on the sand) have great food catered to suit every budget. The variety of the the beach spots themselves are interesting, from nice little coves for a quiet chat a and a drink to well lit, busy places with dance floors, music courtesy of a live DJ and well stocked bars. Try Jo Jo's, a quiet little place where they serve pretty decent food and drink and has a nice homey feel to it.The Owner Mr Jo, Jo, (Mr Nihal) better know, is a nice person. Buba, on the other side of the Mount Lavinia Hotel which divides the public beach is also a cool hang out.

Mount Lavinia also serves as the gay district of Colombo. Although not home to any gay bars, it is a very gay friendly town and always plays host to Colombo's Gay Pride week in June. Do not be surprised if some bars have the rainbow flag flying on the beach.

For those night owl's Colombo's nightlife is on par with most other Asian destinations and feature a number of nightlife establishments, that offer decent music and drinks, served in a pleasant atmosphere. The major hot spots as of July 2011 include Amusuem at the Galle Face Hotel, Kama (near the Ramada Hotel), Silk (near independence Square) and R&B on Duplication Road.

Expect the music to range from 80's retro to modern chart toppers as elegant partygoers dance the night away sipping the poison of their choice. Most clubs shout around 4AM, R&B perhaps a little longer after. Please do not drink and drive, hop a Three wheeler, its easier....

Popular watering holes include Whitehorse (Nawam Mawatha), Inn on the Green (Galle Face Hotel - looks expensive from the outside but very reasonable food and drink prices), Rize Bar (Dharmapala Mawatha), Seven Degrees North (Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel) and Cheers (Cinnamon Grand Hotel)

Most nightclubs may charge admission and smart/casual dress is encouraged with longs/shoes a must.

After a night out, some people will end with a late night snack, try e.g., Hotel de Pilawoos along the Galle Road in Kollupitiya to enjoy a Chicken Roti (chicken and cheese wrapped in a roti) followed by an iced Milo (sweet chocolate and malt flavoured drink)

Sleep[edit][add listing]


Colombo is not friendly to budget travelers, if you visit expecting to find a 15-20 USD room that's acceptable, you will be disappointed. There is accommodation at this price range, but the standards of hygiene and cleanliness will be unacceptable to anyone except the most hardcore travelers. The rooms are filthy and in a state of disrepair, lacking security and sometimes privacy. Expect to pay around 40 USD for a room that is up to international standards of budget accommodation, the same type of room you would get for 10-20 dollars in South East Asia. It is highly recommended to book accommodation in advance instead of arriving to look for budget accommodation. (as of December, 2015)

Colombo's cheap lodgings in the center of town, apart from the famous YMCA (containing a gay bathhouse), are mostly concentrated along the road opposite the Colombo Fort Railway Station. Many rooms are available but with shared bathrooms starting around 900 LKR. Note: The quality of these hotels is extremely poor as described above.

  • Metro City Hotel, 122,Justice Akbar Mawatha,Colombo-02, Sri Lanka. (A big Blue building on the road opposite to the Church). Clean rooms and nice beds. Getting the wifi-password will Free of Charge. The toilets are clean but the (cold) showers are very clean and lack privacy (the doors wont lock). LKR 5000/single and LKR 6500/double, personnel bathroom.(Nov 2015).  edit
  • New Colonial Hotel, 75 Olcott Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka (A big yellow building on the road opposite to the railway station). Clean rooms and nice beds. Getting the wifi-password will cost you an extra LKR200. The toilets are clean but the (cold) showers are a bit dirty and lack privacy (the doors wont lock). LKR 1100/single and LKR 1700/double, shared bathroom and van only.(Feb 2015).  edit

Moving south along Galle Rd., one can find a lot of more reasonable housing. Around Kollupitiya, you will still be dealing with air-conditioned concrete boxes where a sleazy clerk will tell you that they have a "budget single room for only 57 dollars". Further down south, prices and people will get more reasonable. There are quite a few small hotels in the side streets off Galle Rd. in Wellawatte area. If you continue south and get as far as Mt. Lavinia, there will be hundreds of small guesthouses, some of them very affordable, in a quiet old-fashioned area with a lot of greenery and right by the sea (the only problem being that it's far from the center). As of May 2014, you should be aiming at LKR1000-2000, depending on the room quality. Buses 100, 101 and perhaps some others go down Galle Rd. from Colombo Fort station (LKR20 to get to Wellawatte).

  • Clock Inn, 457 Galle Road, Colombo 03 (200 meters from the Indian Visa Office; LKR400 tuk-tuk ride from the train station.), +94 112 500 588, [8]. This modern and ultra clean hostel has all the amenities: free wifi, hot water, AC, a lounge with tv/dvd player, and a free kitchen. The dorms are spacious with very nice shared bathrooms at the end of the hall. AC Dorm, high/low season: LKR2000/1750 per person.  edit
  • Cosy Lanka Restaurant and Hotel, 25 Wellawatte Station Road ( (map)), 0112581359, 0112504020 (), [9]. A small establishment run by friendly people. Rooms are functionally clean, but far from shining. LKR1500-2000.  edit
  • City Beds The Regent, 20 Regent Building (opposite Lake House) Sir Chittampalam A Gardiner Mw Colombo 02, +94112393420 (), [10]. checkin: 13:00hrs; checkout: 12:00hrs. Four out of the five rooms at The Regent have air conditioning units in them. They also have their own attached bathrooms which come with hot water. The fifth room is a dorm style room that has a common bathroom and no air conditioning in the room, only a fan. One minute walk to the world trade center and old Dutch hospital. Right next to the train station and bus stop. Free wifi, free tea & coffee.  edit
  • Hotel Nippon, 123, Kumaran Ratnam Road, Slave Island, Colombo - 2.  edit
  • Hotel Sunshine, 5A Shrubbery Gardens, Colombo 04, +94 11 4017676 (, fax: +94 11 2503187). Decent, clean, affordable. Bottle shop around the corner. Night guard. Book via email if you need to secure a place in advance. LKR1,750.  edit
  • Parisare Homestay, 97/1 Rosemead Place, Cinnamon Gardens (col 7) , Colombo (Near Embassy of France), +94 11 2694749. This is a lovely home with a wonderful hostess, but unfortunately they have only 3 rooms which are frequently occupied by long term guests, which makes prior reservation a must. It is also a bit far from the city centre (Fort) LKR1000/1200.  edit
  • YMCA, Bristol Street, Colombo 01 (5 minute walk from the Fort railway station). This place is quite something, a huge colonial building in utter disrepair full of old junk being run as a hotel. As of December, 2015 shared bath, fan only singles are 2050 LKR, shared bath, fan only doubles 2500, while ensuite private AC room start at 6000. The fan only rooms are in a state of utter disrepair with washroom facilities barely working, some really dirty, some lacking privacy, and an overall unacceptable state. The rooms have no mosquito nets so bring some type of mosquito repellent.  edit
  • Hitchhike Backpackers, 50/3A Templers Road (Colonne Place), Mount Lavinia (Mount Lavinia train station or buses 100 and 101 from Pettah market). checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11 am. Clean and nice new place (in fact, still under construction) with 4 and 8 bed fan dorms - but only one bathroom per floor. Wifi in the common areas. 1300LKR for the 8 person dorm.  edit


  • Garden Guest House (, 7 Karlsruhe Gardens, Borella, Colombo 8, +94 11 269-7919. This three-room guest house offers its visitors attached bathrooms, free internet services and laundry facilities. The staff at the guest house can also arrange island tours and airport pick-up.  edit
  • Palm Village Hotel, 262, Old Colombo Road, Uswetakeiyawa (Hendala), +94 11 479-5114 (, fax: +94 11 293-0766), [11]. Located close to the airport, this hotel consists of 50 air-conditioned rooms with either a balcony or a terrace. A restaurant and bar are located on the hotel grounds. There is also a jewelry and souvenir shop for guests. US$50.  edit
  • Hotel Renuka & Renuka City Hotel, 328 Galle Road, Kollupitiya Colombo 3, +94 11 257-3598 (), [12]. These sister hotels offer their guests comfortable rooms and friendly service. Each room is equipped with flat screen television with local and cable channels, 24-hour room service, safety deposit lockers, and internet connection. The hotels themselves house one of the most famous restaurants in Sri Lanka, the Palmyrah, which serves authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. A favorite dish among travelers and locals alike is the Iso Thel Dala, spicy prawns sautéed with onions and tomato. The hotel also offers its guests two bars on site: the Palmyrah Bar and the Water Hole bar. US$75-88.  edit
  • Hotel Sansu, 651/31, Sir Oliver Gunathilake Gardens, Havelock Town, Colombo 05 (off of Elvitigala Mawatha), +94 11 236-8450 (, fax: +94 11 535-4348), [13]. Hotel Sansu offers luxury that will not break your budget. The hotel is comprised of 26 rooms and self-service apartments, each of which includes cable television. It offers its guests 24-hour front desk services, as well as wake-up calls and an on-site juice bar. LKR5050-6600.  edit
  • Sapphire Hotel, 371, Galle Rd, Wellawatte, Colombo 6, +94 11 258-3306 (), [14]. Located 5 minutes away from the ocean, Sapphire Hotel offers its guests an on-site restaurant and bar. Each room includes air-conditioning, 24-hour room service, and satellite television. The hotel also has two reception halls for those wishing to host a convention or wedding reception. Reservations are required.  edit


  • Berjaya Hotel Colombo, 36 College Avenue Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka, + 94 11 2 73 9610, [15]. Tucked in the multicultural land of Sri Lanka, laced with blue waters and abundant greenery, the Berjaya Hotel Colombo is surrounded by mystical ancient cities, natural splendour, cultural diversity and historical heritage that spans over 2,000 years. The hotel which faces the beachfront on one side and is bordered by lush foliage and tropical vegetation on the other is an ideal setting for business and leisure. Visit hotel website at  edit
  • Galle Face Hotel, 2 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3, +94 11 254-1010 (), [16]. A famous, old fashioned colonial style grand hotel. Most rooms come with a view of the ocean or the Galle Face Green. The hotel also has a variety of restaurants on site to choose from, including: The 1864 and Verandah. Spa and butler services are also available for guests.  edit
  • Global Towers Hotel, Marine Drive, [17]. At $80/night for a single it offers spacious rooms fitted with all the essentials of home and office, providing both comfort and convenience. All equipped with cable TV, Internet connection, and shower with bathtub. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, bar, and spa.  edit
  • Grand Oriental Hotel, 2 York Street, Colombo 1 (near the Colombo Ports Authority/Cargills building in the Fort area), +94 11 232-0320 (), [18]. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. . An old-fashioned colonial style hotel. It has seen its glory days but the staff are very friendly and the food good, particularly the buffet-style breakfast. Free Wi-Fi. Ask to see the small museum with past photos of the hotel and the original English silver service. LKR11,550 (March 2014).  edit
  • Hotel Clarion, 103, Kandy Road Kiribathgoda, +9411 2911579 (fax: +9411 4821068), [19]. It offers Superior and Deluxe Rooms, all equipped with air-conditioning, TV with cable channels and wheelchair accessible. Some of its facilities and services are 180 restaurant, fitness centre with steam room and business centre.  edit
  • Hotel Galadari, 4, Lotus Road, Fort, Colombo 1, +94 11 254-4544 (, fax: +94 11 244-9875), [20]. Hotel Galadari is made up of 446 rooms, including 23 suites. There are special executive level and handicap rooms available. There are a variety of dining facilities in the hotel to suit different palates. The hotel also offers its guests spa and fitness facilities.  edit
  • Kamvelta Holiday Resort, Kindelpitiya, Welmilla Junction, Bandaragama. (5 km from Bandaragama, 6 km from Panadura, 8 km from Piliyand), +94 38 2293306 (), [21]. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned rooms with hot water, restaurant, can cater to wedding parties, nearby to Nachchimale meditation center. 24 hr room service.  edit
  • The Havelock Place Bungalow, 6-8, Havelock Place, Havelock Town, Colombo 5, +94 11 258-5191 (fax: +94 11 258-4655). A boutique hotel, consisting of two restored colonial homes. Tastefully decorated using antique colonial furniture. The hotel provides wireless Internet, pool, jacuzzi, restaurants.  edit
  • Hotel Janaki, 443, Fife Rd, Havelock Town, Colombo 5. This 3-star hotel offers its guests rooms with air-conditioning, cable/satellite tv, and a room safe. There is a restaurant and bar on site, with 24-hour room service. US$ 80-90.  edit
  • Park Street Hotel, 20 Park street, Slave Island, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka, +94 11 2439977, [22]. checkin: 7-10-13; checkout: 9-10-13. Park Street Hotel is in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s near major shopping centers and business establishments. Decked with colonial touches, like antique furniture and high ceilings, the rooms bestow ample luxuries – a Jacuzzi, DVD player, refrigerator, and more.  edit
  • Tintagel, 65 Rosmead Place, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka, (94) 11 4602122 / 060, [23]. Tintagel is situated in Rosmead Place, Colombo’s classy neighbourhood. Once a stately home to the political Bandaranaike family, Tintagel has been transformed into a stylish and sophisticated hotel. The 10 elegant suites are defined by high ceilings, timber floors, and luxurious décor. They open to a private courtyard, balcony, or separate lounge area. Each suite also has deluxe king-size mattresses with non-allergenic pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets, and a bathroom with a rain shower and tub.  edit
  • Casa Colombo, 231, Galle Road, Colombo 4 (opposite Holy Family Convent Bambalapitiya, and down a private lane next to Lumala Gift City in Bambalapitiya), +94 11 452-0130, [24]. Boutique hotel with 12 designer suites.  edit
  • Ceylon Continental, 48 Janadhipathi Mawatha, Fort, Colombo 1, +94 11 242-1221 (), [25]. Ceylon Continental is equipped with 250 all with magnificent views of the city or Indian Ocean. The hotel has many restaurants and cafes on site to choose from. The guests are also offered 24-hour room service, fitness facilities, and spa services.  edit
  • Cinnamon Grand Colombo, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3, +94 11 243-7437, [26]. Has nightly turn down services with orchids and chocolates, and spa services.  edit
  • Taj Samudra, 25, Galle Face Center Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3, +94 11 244-6622, [27]. Taj Samudra features a variety of rooms depending on your travel habits; they range from standards with views of the sea and pool to presidential suites with separate dining and dressing areas. The hotel is also equipped with a fitness center, book shop and swimming pool. There are also a variety of restaurants ranging from casual in dress to fine dining.  edit
  • Mount Lavinia Hotel is probably the most historic "Colonial-style" hotel. Before WW2, it was the governor's mansion of the nation.

Stay safe[edit]

Colombo is like most other South Asian capitals. Although, it is not as dangerous as one would think, tourists should be very vigilant. Many first time travelers to Colombo find themselves falling victim to scams and touts, however, seasoned travelers to Sri Lanka are rarely scammed and it is very simple to avoid being a victim of scammers as long as you take precautions such as:

  • Being on guard for anybody trying to help you by giving you unsolicited directions or travel advice. Take any advice from taxi and auto drivers with a grain of salt, especially if they tell you the place you want to go to is closed, dangerous, non-existent etc. If you are unsure, check a map.
  • Not engaging in business with people who have to actively approach you for business such as Tuk Tuk drivers, street vendors etc. If people have to approach or make overtures to you for business without you seeking them on your own volition, then they shouldn't be considered for business dealings. Because, you will likely be overcharged, as you have been denied the option of shopping around for the best price.
  • If you have been told your hotel is closed or full, give them a call. If you are a first time visitor to Sri Lanka, don't admit it as it will make you a target for the scam artists.

Once you are past the scammers, Colombo is a far more welcoming destination than other South Asian cities. Certainly single women, although not advised to explore every nook and cranny of the city on their own late at night, will not find the pestering attentions of leering men. Sri Lankan women are also very "western" in their dress sense, so it is very normal to wear skirts, tank tops, etc. You may get a few whistles and hellos from bored school boys, but they are more friendly and not meant to be threatening, so just ignore it and they will leave you alone.


  • Seemingly innocuous public displays of affection between lovers such as kissing and/or hugging is not culturally acceptable in Sri Lanka as it is considered to be secluded behaviour (this does not apply to private functions or establishments designated for adults such as nightclubs, casinos and beach parties). Much lenience is given to foreigners and holding hands and public affection between parents and their children is not frowned upon.
  • In most buses, it is local etiquette to provide or give up the very front passenger seats to members of the clergy, such as monks or priests if they are present.
  • No photography of sensitive locations (inside and outside), and inside of shopping malls and tea factories (outside is OK). Be especially careful in Fort, Colombo (except on the beach). If soldiers are guarding something, it probably shouldn't be photographed. Don't rely on signs alone, as sometimes they are old or missing. For example, one end of a bridge may have a "No Photography" sign, but not the other.
  • Do not turn your back to (or be alongside) a Buddha statue when within a reasonable distance (observe what others are doing). This includes posing for photos. It's OK to photograph a statue, but all persons should be facing it.
  • Public nudity is illegal in Sri Lanka. Nude or topless sunbathing and skinny dipping should be avoided at beaches, except in the few private beach resorts which allow it.



  • Us-flag.png United States, 210 Galle Rd, Colombo 3, +94 11 249-8500 (fax: +94 11 249-8590), [30].  edit
  • Australia, 21 Gregory's Road, Colombo 7, +94 (0) 11 2463200 (fax: +94 (0) 11 2686453).  edit
  • India, 36-38, Galle Road, Colombo 03, +94 (0)2421605, [31].  edit

Get out[edit]

Fresco at Sigiriya
  • Arugam Bay
  • Sigiriya, located 100 miles northeast of Colombo, is a very important Buddhist site in Sri Lanka. The remains of the ancient fortress and city date back to 477 AD. Legend has it, King Kasyapa built it in order to protect against attacks from his brother, whom he had stolen the throne from. The only way into the city is through the giant lion's jaws. The site is also famous for its 5th century frescoes. Sigiriya is approximately 2-3 hours away from Colombo, and can be reached via train, bus, or car. It is open daily from 8:30AM to 6PM. For Foreign nationals, they charge up to USD30 / LKR3900 to gain entry.
  • Adam's peak is considered a place of worship and pilgrimage by many religions. The 7,297 foot peak, also known as Sri Pada, is home to a foot imprint on a rock at its summit. Depending on the faith, the foot print has been considered that of Buddha, the god Shiva, St. Thomas, and even, Adam after he was expelled from the garden of Eden. The stairway to the top is believed to be one of the longest in the world. After reaching the top, climbers can ring the bell to mark the journey the just made. The panoramic view that one gets makes the journey well-worth the effort. Reaching Delhousie (The town at the foot of Adam's Peak) from Colombo can be an adventure in itself, unless you are lucky enough to find a direct bus. The route is Colombo-Hatton-Maskeliya-Delhousie. The distance is quite short on the map but can take 6-8 hours.
  • Kandy, Located 75 miles (around 4 hours) outside of Colombo, Kandy is a small, tranquil town that holds the sacred tooth of Buddha, a sacred relic of the Buddhist faith. According to the legend, the tooth was taken from the Buddha on his funeral pyre and was smuggled into Sri Lanka hidden in the hair of a princess in the 4th century. The Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, is a main attraction for pilgrimages. Each July and August, the tooth is carried in a procession. Although one cannot see the tooth, the festivities are a sight to see.
  • Anuradhapura is easily accessible by direct busses that leave regularly (every 30 minutes) from the main bus terminal. The journey takes 6 hours and costs LKR236.
  • Jaffna, different culture, different people.
  • Negombo
  • Bolgoda Lake Just over an hour's drive south from Colombo, Bolgoda Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Sri Lanka. The mangrove like environs, birds, crocodiles & fishing make it a unique tropical experience well worth a visit.
  • Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage App. 55 miles from Colombo, off the Colombo – Kandy road is Pinnawela, where an orphanage was started in 1975 to house the abandoned and the wounded elephants. The number of elephants has increased to more than 65 now; including Baby Elephants brought from various parts, as well as the 23 babies born, as a result of the captive breeding program. The best time to visit is the feeding time from 0930-1000 hrs and 1330-1400 hrs and the bathing time from 1000-1030 hrs and 1400-1430 hrs when all the elephants are taken to the river close by.
  • Millenium Elephant Foundation, cheaper than the former but equally less touristic. See about it on the Kandy page.
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