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Sri Lanka

Colombo

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Capital of Sri LankaColombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is the gateway to Sri Lanka. Having served as the Sri Lankan capital for a long time, the place has number of historically important places. Nature has showered scenic beauty on the place and with the modern times new means of entertainment have come in Colombo. All these combined Columbo makes a good place for passing your vacations. So pack your bags for the commercial and political heart of Sri Lanka is waiting for you.

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Tourist Attractions
Colombo has plethora of tourist attractions, both historical and modern. Colombo has been the Lankan capital for centuries and its has several places of interest associated with many rulers, both native and European. One of these is Fort area which was a seemingly impregnable structure in colonial times. However now only a clock tower and some colonial-era structures are left.

Other places of tourist interest in Colombo are:
Gangaramaya Temple: It is a prominent place of Buddhist worship. Traditionally it has also been a centre of learning. The temple has the features of a Vihara (temple), Cetiya (Pagada), Bodhitree, Vihara Mandiraya, Simamalaka and Relic Chamber. The temple premises also have a museum and a library.

Mount Lavinia: Mount Lavinia, located along the southern coastline, has always been loved by the sailors, tourists and the inhabitants of Colombo alike. It is considered to be one of the loveliest beach areas close to any big town in the world. It is just few miles away from the heart of Columbo.

Wolvendaal Church: It is first church made by the Dutch, still in use. Tiles of the floor are made from tombstones from the Dutch church in the Fort. These were brought here in 1813.

Dutch Period Museum: It is an intriguing reminder of colonial times. In past it has served as town hall, a hospital, an orphanage, a police station, a post office, and a residence.

National Museum: It is the biggest museum in Sri Lanka. It has intriguing collection of antique porcelain, manuscripts, royal regalia, antique furniture, masks and other pieces.

Viharamadevi Park: Located close to National Museum, this is the largest park in Colombo. It is renowned for its flowering trees, water channels and fountains.

Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara: This is an important Buddhist place of worship. Legend holds that Buddha preached 2000 years ago. It holds an excellent carving of a reclining Buddha. Annual perahera (religious procession) is taken out in January.

Dehiwala Zoo: Located 10km from Fort, Dehiwal Zoo or the Zoological Garden has good collection of beasts and birds. It has also got a nice impressive aviary and aquarium. Young members of families like it very much.

Excursions
Colombo TravelPinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Located 90km off Colombo on the road to Kandy in the hill country, Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage is home of a herd of about 60 elephants. This is a popular attraction, set up as a sanctuary covering 25 acres of lush jungle by the Sri Lankan Government in 1975. Motive behind its establishment is to nurture young elephants lost or abandoned by their groups. Baby elephants getting fed from giant feeding bottles is an interesting sight. Pachyderms are taken for their daily bath at noon.

Getting Around
The town has considerably good network of public transport. Buses and trains connect the city to the suburbs. Train fares are slightly lower than the bus. However getting a bus is much easier than to catch a train.

Apart from buses and trains, taxis and three-wheelers also can be hired. But you have to shell out more money for these. Before you start the trip it would be better to negotiate the hiring amount.

Dining
Colombo has plenty of places to eat, including all eating options from roadside stalls to sleek upmarket specialty restaurants. Luxury hotels in Colombo have good value-for-money buffets and coffee shops. All type of cuisine can be eaten in the spcciality restaurants of these hotels including indigenous, Indian, Italian, Chinese, French, Thai and American. Long array of stand-alone restaurants dot Colombo, serving good western food, Chinese dishes, and of course, the popular curry-and-rice Sri Lankan cuisine. Even if you are on a budget travel you would have plenty of options. If you are willing to sit out in the open on a wooden bench you would have wonderful experience of dining. In Galle several food stalls sell cheap yet delicious food.

Entertainment
You can pass your nights around the discos, casinos and nightclubs in hotels and other establishments. High-end hotels have regular cultural shows featuring traditional artistes. Several events are organised concerts by well-known groups or other entertainers. You can choose between theatre (Sinhala language) or movies (Sinhala, English or Indian). You can entertain yourself in lot of ways.

Shopping
Don't visit to Colombo for mall style shopping. Colombo offers wide range of handicrafts and other items on sale. Government-run 'Laksala' emporium is one of the best places to buy handicrafts like batik, lacquerware, handloom cloth, painted wooden masks etc. In addition, there are the Handloom Emporium, the Sri Lanka Handloom Emporium and the Sri Lanka Gem & Jewellery Exchange. Daily use chores -including some excellent spices, teas and fruit flavoured teas, spices, ceramics and clothing can be purchased at Liberty Plaza, Colombo's main shopping district. One can purchase plenty of imported goods in Colombo for it is a free trade zone.

How do I get there?
Colombo has Sri Lanka's only international airport Kattunayake. Almost all international tourists to Sri Lanka come via Colombo. From the airport, regular buses are available to Colombo city (every 15 to 30 minutes, not in night). The buses would carry you to one of the main stations of Colombo. For picking a cab, try the'fixed-price' ticket system taxi counter at the airport. That way you would not have to do bargaining.

Distance of Various Cities

Kandy 3 Km
Anuradhapura 4 Km
Dambulla 3 Km
Polonnaruva 4 Km
Sigiriya 4 Km


Tourist offices
Most important tourist office in Colombo is the Sri Lanka Tourist Board, the SLTB located at 78, Stuart Place. Tourist Police have an office near the main Post office in the Fort to assist tourists in distress. Railway Tourist office at the Fort Station also helps out the tourists.

Colombo in Sri LankaWhen to Visit
Colombo enjoys fairly temperate climate throughout the year. The weather has no extreme variations here. However it is better to avoid monsoons while visiting Sri Lanka. Rainy seasons fall in May-August or October-January.

Accommodation
Colombo has no dearth of places when it comes to accommodation. The town has string of hotels, inns, resorts and guest houses. A person with any budget can enjoy happily Colombo. Leading hotel chains have huge, glistening properties offering ultimate luxury accomodation. They would also provide wonderful beach fronts. Middle-end accommodation cater to more modest budgets. Smaller hotels offer comfortable accommodation with affordable rates.

What to Carry/Wear
Lightweight summer wear is the preferred form of clothig here. Women are expected to be decently dressed. Scanitly clad ladies would not be welcome in Sri Lankan society. If you are planning trekking or going up the hills carry few warm clothes for the evenings can be chilled here. During the monsoons you should never forget to take an umbrella or a raincoat. Medicines are readily available. However if you are suffering from any uncommon illness it would be better to bring your own supplies.



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