Colombo, now has become a pit spot for many travelers. Yet, the bustling Sri Lankan capital still has plenty to offer. From sunset watching in quiet corners to gobbling up delicious Isso Vadai at Galle Face Green and hunting down Sri Lanka’s popular street eats, the city is loaded with fun-filled activities. (Also read: Travel tips and places to see in Colombo)
Recently Zin joined in with Martina and Agatha from Hangover Hostels on their Colombo City Tour. And as a local, I learnt a lot about my own country and my own city. Here’s what we did! (Also read: How to be a tourist in your own city)
We started our tour at 9 in the morning at Hangover Hostels Colombo. We boarded the bus (no: 100) and got off the bus at Galle Face Green, the city’s most popular park and the hub for street eats. We slowly walked our way to The Kingsbury‘s rooftop where you can have an amazing view of Colombo. Martina briefed us about the history of each standout building (The Old Parliament building and Galadari Hotel) and even about the on-going Colombo Port City project. We then walked to Old Dutch Hospital Complex where we got to see King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe’s statute, the last king of Sri Lanka who ruled the country from Senkadagala Kingdom (now Kandy). After a short visit to St. Peter’s Church where Martina told us about its history, we passed by President’s House and visited the Former General Post Office. If you love old, vintage-ish, aesthetic corners, you’ll love the General Post Office building. It’s where the Cinnamon Colomboscope took place last year as well.
And no Colombo City Tour happens without a visit to the majestic Cargills Building. Next to Cargills Building, there are head offices of banks and businesses in one building. While one part of the building is renovated, the other part basks in its old glory. Perfect for the historian inside you!
We then walked to the historic Grand Oriental Hotel. Fun fact: The Grand Oriental Hotel is the first hotel to have hot water in Sri Lanka. Harbour Room, the Colonial hotel’s restaurant situated on fourth floor offers amazing views of Colombo Harbour. A perfect place to enjoy a drink.
Fort is where Colombo’s historic, colonial charm lies in. We proceeded our way through Pettah from Fort. Streets and tiny allies of Pettah host Colombo’s busiest market. It’s bustling. it’s chaotic. Yet, there’s beauty in it. And then there’s Jami-Ul-Alfar, popularly known as The Red Mosque, also boasts to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. It consists of impeccable architecture, a sophisticated design with pop-up red and white details. The next street houses a Hindu Temple as if it was to symbolize Colombo’s multiculturalism. (Also read: Life in Pettah)
We then walked through Pettah’s vegetable and fruit market. The tiny alleys are lined with piles and piles of Rambutan and mangosteen. For Sri Lankans, there’s only one season. And it’s the Rambutan season a.k.a the tropical fruit season. As the season soon comes to an end, locals hunt down for their favorite Rambutan, “also named as Lychee,” says Agatha.
The last leg of our tour is Colombo Floating Market. We finished the tour with a refreshing pineapple drink from the main restaurant at Floating Market. You can also opt for Thambili (King Coconut). King Coconut is native to Sri Lanka, super-refreshing to beat island’s heat, sweeter than regular coconuts and has plenty of health benefits.
Once the tour was over, I took the bus back home while both Martina and Agatha headed to Barefoot. Since Floating Market is super close to the Central Bus Stand (it’s almost the same place) and Colombo Fort Railway Station, you can head to anywhere in the island. Be it your nine hour train journey to Ella or to Hangover’s Airport Hostel before you take the flight back home.