We spent just a few days in Colombo but we absolutely loved it! Take a read to see why Colombo is a great place to visit, even with a toddler!
It gets a little bit of a bad rep as a tourist destination, but for us it was super exciting! Coming from our little island in the Seychelles and never having been to Asia before, Colombo had a lot to offer us!
Compared to the rest of the places we booked for our Sri Lanka trip, accommodation in Colombo was fairly pricey (but still so cheap compared to the Seychelles).
For this reason we opted to stay in a guest house, self catering.
This ended up being perfect for us, it really made us get out and explore our options and see the real Colombo not just a nice shiny hotel.
We stayed at the Cheritan Residences and it was really very lovely. A recently refurbished colonial house, our room was huge, and very reasonably priced.
We were in a very safe part of town, in walking distance of banks (good reliable places to exchange money!), the lovely Viharamahadevi park, the very pretty town hall, art gallery and national museum.
A couple of recommends for restaurants in Colombo:
Upalis: a Sri Lankan restaurant. I’m almost loathed to recommend this as our service was very poor compared to any we received throughout our whole Sri Lanka trip (our only negative experience with this) but the food was truly delicious. We had the sampler dish where we got to try lots of the different traditional dishes.
The Mango Tree: a North Indian restaurant. We had this as a take away after we had been to the cricket, Arthur was very tired and needed to get home to bed. The food was absolutely amazing. We loved it. Mark picked it up from the restaurant and said that it looked very nice to sit down and eat too.
Barefoot Cafe: This place is awesome, a hotspot for tourists and locals alike! Food was great and the atmosphere was cool and relaxed! Sunday afternoons they have live music, a must visit! The outside eating area was great for Arthur to run around in. The Barefoot shop is amazing too, they sell really lovely stuff!!
Something that pleasantly surprised me every day was just how friendly the Sri Lankan people were. I think Arthur was a big help with this, everyone loved him! We didn’t really notice a lot of tourists, particularly in the area we were staying. I think a lot of westerners tend to avoid Colombo as they feel there’s not much to offer, possibly another reason why people were so friendly to us!?The few tourists that we did see were all there for the Cricket. England were playing Sri Lanka for the last match of a 1 day cricket tour. We had tickets to see that too. I don’t like cricket but after going I TOTALLY get the appeal of going to see it live. We had so much fun!
I’m aware this is such a ‘Mum’ thing to say but being able to easily use a pushchair was fantastic, pavements are 100 x better than we are used to in Seychelles.
Tuk Tuk drivers. Where to start? These guys may be the biggest reason why I loved Colombo so much. The traffic there is definitely crazy, but these guys cut through it like a hot knife through butter!! They find gaps that every time I was sure we would never fit through, there was definitely more than one occasion where I just had to put my hands over my eyes because I was sure we were going to hit someone! Seriously these guys have got balls, there’s no patiently waiting, it’s GO GO GO all the time!!
Arthur absolutely LOVED going in Tuk Tuk’s. We would put him in the Moby wrap whenever we went in one so that he was nice and secure!
I think what I loved best was the drivers trying to push their luck with the prices. Apparently you are supposed to use a meter in Colombo but not all did and we learned very quickly that the prices they set were easily knocked down….we found it quite addictive and found ourselves often haggling over 50 rupees, which is about 25p!! It wasn’t the price that really mattered to us it was the fun in the bargaining!!
There is lots to see and do in Colombo, in the short time we were there as well as what I’ve already mentioned we also squeezed in:
Two Buddhist temples: Gangaramaya a massive temple and Buddhist museum. A rather amazing place with some gorgeous and some rather strange things inside, overall the best description we decided on is ‘Wonderfully Kitsch’
The other temple we went to was the beautiful Seema Malaka, the temple on the water. This place was really peaceful, I loved it. Well I did, until I got pooed on by a Crow, then I liked it less!
In both the temples Arthur stayed in the moby wrap. He definitely wasn’t bored at either one, lots of unusual things to look at!
The Dutch Hospital: a lovely place to eat and do a bit of shopping
The Pettah: a huge outdoor market selling a wide variety of very random things. It’s crazy there, really noisy! In the Moby wrap, Arthur slept through the whole lot!
Of course we did lots of wondering around and just taking in the sites.
After Colombo we headed to Unawatuna near to Galle on the south coast! I’ll write soon about how we got on there!