Tag Archive for: Colombo

At the beginning of our journey through Sri Lanka we agreed on a short list of places to visit, which got longer and longer as our increasing curiosity made us want to see more of the natural wonders of the country. One of the main attraction points, the famous Adam’s Peak, brought us to Hatton, in the green but also rainy and cold mountains at the time of our visit.

We reached Hatton late in the evening, after taking an early bus from Galle to Colombo, from where we continue for another 5 hours in the probably  most crowded bus we ever traveled with. There was also a bus going only once a day from Galle directly to Hutton, early in the morning, which was earlier than the time when we planned to start the day.

Taking local buses is probably one of the most authentic experiences travelers can have in Sri Lanka. There is no limit of colors and motifs in the design of the buses and the journey itself is not the only experience. Any bus we took felt like the scene of a spectacle where tourists and locals come together, where music is played loudly for the entertainment of whoever doesn’t feel disturbed by it, and where vendors of different snacks and drinks board the bus at almost every station, squeezing their baskets filled with fresh pastry, vegetables and junk food through the already crowded corridor, turning the bus into a mobile market. The same experience would repeat itself during our trip in India, only with stronger flavors and smells.



We were welcomed by a cold and strong rain that continued during the whole night after our arrival, which made us understand already that the climb to Adam’s Peak might feel very unpleasant. Climbing seven km through cold rain and strong winds was not what we imagined, so we gave up on our plans to climb the mountain. But apart from the hike to Adam’s Peak, a trip to Hatton offers also other experiences. We negotiated with our host, which was also a tuk-tuk driver, the price for a tour around the town, which included visiting the waterfalls, the tea plantations and tea tasting at one of the tea factories in the area.


It has been the only three days in which we felt the rainy season which brought less rain in the other places that we visited, but apart from stopping us to venture out to the most spectacular spots in the mountains, it made the surrounding landscapes look even more beautiful than probably in the absence of the grey and rainy sky.


Hatton was “flooded” with restaurants and coffee shops, where we could always enjoy a cheap and delicious meal and a hot coffee at the end of our walks through the infinite green tea plantations.

During our return trip to Colombo, we found more comfort in taking a minibus, that arrived in the capital city later in the afternoon, giving us time to catch a bus to Negombo, where we spent our last days in the country.

At every bus station in Sri Lanka, “friendly” people will try to help you find a bus and guide you to private minivans that are more expensive than regular buses (although more comfort is offered in return for the extra money paid). But if the price is the main argument for you when choosing transportation methods, then always look for the big buses that are considerably cheaper.

Our travels continued towards one of the more adventurous of our destinations, India.

Like many other islands in the world, Sri Lanka is well known for its beautiful coastline and access to beautiful beach experiences. And with so many options it is not easy to choose where to go. Deciding which beach is better than others is a matter of personal taste, but we will tell you about the ones we visited during our trip in the country.


Negombo Beach

Negombo beach is probably the easiest to access when coming from the Bandaranaike  International Airport of Sri Lanka which is located between Negombo and the capital city Colombo.

We had quite a nice time in Negombo, where we enjoyed the city part, but we cannot say it has a beautiful beach. The road along the beach offers access to several expensive restaurants (more expensive than what we found in other places) and a lot of shops. Hotels in the area look lovely and, of course, you also can find some luxury resorts and fancy restaurants. The city of Negombo does not offer much to see but it is a great place to relax after or before a long flight. It is also considered an all-year destination.

Galle Face Beach (Colombo)

Galle Face Beach is the beach of the capital city Colombo and is located close to an industrial area, which makes it not a beach to enjoy very much (definitely not for swimming), but a walk along the coast can offer a short escape from the busy city.

If you move North from Colombo, you can find some nicer beaches around the area of Jaffna,  but we cannot tell you much about it as we haven’t been there.


Our favorite beach was in Trincomalee, a beach that we think offers something for everyone. “Trinco” is located on the east coast, its coastal area extending to the south, under the name Uppuveli and a bit to the north, under the name Nilaveli.



We stayed in the North area of Uppuveli beach, which is a great spot for tourists and backpackers. Restaurants in the area offer mainly overpriced meals, but if you search a bit you will find cheaper options. We enjoyed very much the stay there as it proved to be a great place to relax after the intense travel in Sri Lanka. The beach is very beautiful and perfect for long beach walks, offering access to fancy beach bars, coffee shops and snorkeling and diving experiences. One of the famous spots for diving and snorkeling is Pigeon Island, but we did not go there as the corals are in danger due to the water sports and intense mass tourism. Depending on the season you can do some boat excursions for whale and dolphin watching.

The Uppuveli beach is located around 3-4 km far from the city, while Nilaveli beach is approximately 14 km far. Away from the beach area, you can visit temples or the local markets. The best season to visit is considered from May to September, but the weather in Sri Lanka is always subject to change.


If you are heading more south towards the center of the east coast of Sri Lanka, you will reach Batticaloa. We stayed in the less touristic area Navaladi, populated by only a few accommodations and even fewer restaurants. It was a nice place as we were the only ones at the beach, but has also limited access to facilities. To reach the city it takes around 15-20 min by tuk-tuk. Pasikudah is considered more touristic with better options.


Similar to Trincomalee, the travel time to the east coast is considered best during the month of the European summer.

Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay was on our list of places that we planned to visit, but we found it difficult to reach from Ella due to the poor transportation options, so in the end, we skipped it. Arugam Bay is well known for its surfing activities.


We planned our stay in Mirissa after deciding to spend some time in the south part of the country. Even if the best time to travel to the south is considered from December to March, we were really lucky with the weather in August and profited from low prices and the low number of people during the offseason.



In Mirissa, you will find plenty of affordable restaurants and bars and a beautiful viewpoint close to the harbor. But we also understood that prices here can vary extremely accordingly to the season. The main beach area is very well organized and clean. Instead, the beachfront at Mihiriwella Road, where the fishing boats are, is covered by nets, garbage and death fish.



Mirissa is a great starting point for day trips to other beaches or to Matara city (including the Ahangama Beach), where you can find the famous stilt fishermen (good to know: it is not a common practice anymore nowadays, they just do it to get some money from the tourists). Click here for more photos from Mirissa.



You can also travel to Galle, which has a small, nice and very touristy city inside its Fort. The whole south coast offers great opportunities and beautiful beaches. From November to April whales can be spotted in the area.



One of the most famous beaches is probably Unawatuna, which we’ve seen only when we passed with the bus from Mirissa to Galle, but it looked very promising. For more pictures from Galle click here.


Sri Lanka offers great beaches for every kind of traveler and during any season. Most areas are easily accessible by bus and train. For those who enjoy train rides, I recommend the coastal train ride from Colombo to Galle, which I found more entertaining than the famous one from Kandy to Ella.


We didn’t plan a return to Colombo very soon, but our travel plans during the journey through Sri Lanka changed already so many times and, since traveling in this country is made so easy by the cheap and convenient transportation options, we’ve been more spontaneous with our decisions.

We spent a full week traveling as a small group, after meeting with Miriam’s cousin and her fiancé in Batticaloa and, due to their limited time in the country, we joined them on the trip back to Colombo, from where they flew back home. We opted for a faster and more comfortable transportation method this time and hired a private driver, that drove us to Colombo straight from the east coast, on a journey which lasted around 10 hours.

The short time that we spent in Colombo was sufficient to explore the city. We started our sightseeing early in the following morning, after breakfast at the accommodation. The first stop on our list was the Gangaramaya Temple, one of the best known in the city and quite different from the many others we’ve seen in the country. It felt more like visiting a museum of antiquities, where thousands of Buddha statues and other artifacts of all sizes populate the temple. Hindu elements were also present, all giving the impression of a collection of cultural and religious essence. It serves as a worship place for Buddhists but also welcomes people of all religions.



Paying the fee of 300 Srilankan rupees gives visitors access also to the smaller Seema Malakaya temple, placed on the side of the Gangaramaya Park’s lake, featuring several statues of Buddha and shrines.



Our walked continued along the seaside, where we visited the old fortification walls of the city and later got lost on the streets of the most popular area in Colombo, the Colombo Fort, which marks also the center of the city and its main connection point for transportation methods.


The easy way to explore Colombo is by booking a tuk-tuk tour, which can be organized and negotiated with most drivers. 10 USD per person is more than enough for a half-day tour, but the same price can be also negotiated for a small group of 2 to 3 people together. Know the prices by checking them with mobile apps like PickMe or Uber, which work very well in Colombo.

On the following day, we returned to Colombo Fort to board the train to a new destination, Galle, on the southern coast, from where we continued the journey by bus, till Mirissa. The train ride along the coast was almost as impressive as the one from Kandy to Ella. Although we managed to buy only standard 2nd class tickets, what we enjoyed the most about the trip was the low number of people traveling in the early morning, which made the experience better than previous rides.

Our first stop in Sri Lanka was Negombo, a city close to the airport and not far from the capital Colombo (40 km far). We arrived very late at night and were happy that our host picked us up and brought us to his beautiful home. Unfortunately, we spent there only a short night, as we were planning already on the following day to go to the office of immigration to extend our visa.


Visa for Sri Lanka

Usually, the e-visa (Sri Lanka ETA) can be required online (www.eta.gov.lk) at a cost of 35$ for a double-entry and will allow you to stay up to 30 days in the country. We wanted to stay longer in order to arrive at a proper time in India after the monsoon would come to an end. Therefore we had to visit the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Battaramulla, Colombo.

For the extension of the visa, we had to pay 26,80 $ (Miriam – Germany) and 31$ (Alex – Romania). The whole process lasted around 2 hours and was very well organized.

Moving around

The best way to move around in Colombo are tuk-tuks, that can be called over the mobile apps PickMe or Uber. Of course, you can also just jump in one tuk-tuk and ask them to use the meter to ensure that in the end, you will pay a fair price. We found it more convenient with the app because we lost less time explaining to the driver where we wanted to go. It also helped us to compare the prices, as sometimes rides in one app were cheaper than in the other. Given the time of the day when you want to move around, you might also realize that sometimes the meter price is more convenient, depending on where you go. In Colombo, there are also many local buses that can be used at very cheap rates.


Accommodation in Colombo

The second night in Sri Lanka we spent in a very nice backpacker hostel in the heart of Colombo, which allowed us to easily reach the train station, from where we would travel to our next destination, Kandy.  We liked the owner of the Hostel so much, that we decided to come back to the same hostel at our future visit to the city. He gave us a lot of good advises for the rest of the journey through his country and informed us about how to take trains, buses and where to find good food.

Our first contact with Sri Lanka was absolutely positive and throughout the whole stay, we felt in love with the country even more. In Colombo, you find very well equipped supermarkets, good transportation options, cheap and great local food and polite people.



The first stop in Colombo was only short as on the 3rd day we took a very early train towards Kandy. During our second time, we really discovered more about this lovely city.