COLOMBO City Guide - Sri Lanka
Britney here... Hi!
Let's talk about SRI LANKA'S CAPITAL, COLOMBO. They say it's the unlovable city... We were advised by every traveller we met to avoid Colombo and that it wasn't worth more than a day of our time. Something you may or may not know about Damien and myself is that we like to try and prove people wrong, if we can. So we did our research and dug up all the hidden beauties that we could find and squeezed them into our 2 day itinerary.
I think if you are making the time for Colombo, definitely make it a minimum 2 day stay. There is plenty to see and to our surprise a lot of great cafes and food spots!
We started by making our way to the PETTAH neighbourhood. You will find this east of the City Centre Fort. This district is famously known for the chaotic PETTAH MARKETS, which is a series of open air stalls ranging from fresh food, textiles, electronic gadgets and more. One thing I always make sure we do whenever we travel to a new country is visit the local markets. The Pettah Markets is definitely the best place for you to truly experience the Sri Lankan way and get amongst the hustle and bustle!
While we were in the same area, we decided to make a visit to the JAMI UL-ALFAR MOSQUE, which is also known as the RED MOSQUE. To me it resembles a red and white candy cane and belongs in a christmas film. It is definitely a sight to see and makes for a great photo op! Whilst you're wandering the streets, not only in this area but everywhere in Sri Lanka and if you are female, be prepared to be stared at! Especially if you have legs and shoulders showing. The Sri Lankan eyes will follow you until you are no longer in sight. It was a little confronting, but I never felt unsafe.
Next stop was lunch! Using Instagram's geo tag, I found this amazing little cafe called Cafe Kumbuk - you can find it on Instagram here @cafekumbuk . If you are a foodie (like me) and plan your day around your lunch spots, then you can't miss this one! Super healthy, nutritious and wholesome meals. We ended up eating here both days in Colombo.
Now, I know it's not Sri Lankan food, but when you have been traveling for as long as we have and crave fresh smoothie bowls and salads... Exceptions are made!
Back to the culture trip! Our favourite spot to grab dinner was on the coastal side of Colombo at GALLE FACE GREEN. Here you will find a long strip of local food stalls right on the water. Imagine hundreds of kites flying in the sky, kids running around playing with bubble machines, street food carts and they even had horse rides going up and down the strip. It is a really nice experience to sit amongst the locals, seeing what they order and trying new things out yourself! If you are game enough, try the bright orange shrimp cakes (pictured below). To top the evening off you are blessed with an amazing golden sunset.
For our last day in Colombo, which was also our last day in Sri Lanka, we decided to visit a couple more cultural sites. Your access to tuk-tuks is extremely easy here, so yet again we hailed one down from the street, haggled with the price and jumped in. HOT TIP: The drivers charge you according to the kilometres so always make sure you know how far away your destination is. For example if its 2kms away, try and get the tuk-tuk for around 200LKR (approx $1.80AUD) So 100LKR per kilometre. Cheap right?
We went off the beaten track a bit, so the tuk-tuk drivers actually didn't know where they were going and we had to guide them with our google maps! Our first stop was to the oldest and largest hindu temple in Colombo, situated in Colombo 2 district. It is a very dramatic building nestled into a small back street. Because of its surroundings this royal blue temple lavished with hundreds of colourful, carved ornaments will delight your eyes.
Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil.
Next stop we went further south to another temple. It was quite difficult to find this one which made it even more special. This was the first temple we actually went inside of! To be honest we aren't actually the type of travellers that like to seek out temples and mosques. This was a bit of a one off as we wanted to find the hidden beauties of Colombo to show you guys!
This was a beautifully white shaped temple hiding behind big walls. It demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Indian, Thai and Chinese architecture. Out of respect you must take off your shoes when you enter. You probably aren't supposed to take photos either but there was no one there to tell us not to. Once we were inside, it was jaw dropping-ly beautiful. The colours, the sculptures, the fine details, it was all a work of impeccable art.
Gangaramaya (Vihara) Buddhist Temple
Have we convinced you yet? Let me know what you think in the comments below! Or have you been here? What did you think of Colombo?
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