Colombo: An Essential Guide To The city hustle

Local homestays, all the rice and curry you can handle, crammed local transport and enough sightseeing to exhaust your eyes (and your camera battery!); travelling in Sri Lanka will take you right out into the wilderness beyond your comfort zone. Meaning that by the time you get to Colombo, you’ll be gagging for a bit of normality. With great coffee, trendy city hangouts and a little sightseeing thrown in you’ll be able to get all the normality feels with this essential guide to Colombo.

While most travellers choose to stay in nearby beachside town Negombo when transiting in and out of the country, we decided to get stuck in and stay in Colombo and find out what the city has to offer. With trendy hangout spots popping up across the city and a handful of cultural highlights to check out, we’re stoked we decided to opt for a short stay in Colombo.

Whether it’s for one day or three, this easy to navigate guide includes all the essential information you’ll need for your stay in Colombo including a few cultural delights and everything that’ll help you escape into a bit of normality in between.


What’s the weather like?

It’s generally hot and humid in Colombo, and during the monsoon season you’ll definitely need to pack you pac-a-mac or brolly.

  • May – October

Strictly speaking, this is monsoon season. We were in Colombo at times in June and July, and when it rained it only rained for an hour or so then dried up. On one short stay in Colombo, it actually didn’t rain at all. So, don’t let the word Monsoon put you off!

  • November – April

Strictly speaking, this is the dry season, but again I can’t guarantee there will be no rain. You can check out average yearly weather temperatures here at Time and Date which is my go-to for researching weather on destinations before I travel.

Where can I get some healthy food and good coffee?

The King Green Juice at Cafe Kumbuk,, complete with a re-usable steel straw.

There are heaps of cool little cafes and foodie spots to hang out and get your health food fix! Go check my blog on The 9 Best Hipster Hangouts in Colombo which will give you a good indication of the best places to get your health hit.

Any Cool yoga classes?

YES! Go check out:

  • Prana Lounge

Classes are run daily and there’s heaps of times and class styles to choose from on the schedule. You can check the latest timetable on their website here, or pop into Cafe Kumbuk to find out.

  • Om Shambhala

A completely zen space to get your chill on, go check out Om Shambala for the beautiful space and calming vibes. You can find the upcoming events and classes on their Facebook page .

What clothes do I need to pack?

This was actually all I needed to wear for a few days in Colombo! Shot on the rail in our lush room at Black Cat B&B.

Whether you’re a travel newbie or a seasoned explorer, if you’re anything like me this is is going to be an important question; partly because you don’t want to overheat, and partly because you’re just not sure what’s appropriate to wear in an Asian city. You don’t need to worry about offending the locals too much as you’ll notice a lot of women are wearing more modern outfits. But if you walk around in short shorts and a spaghetti strap vest top, you’ll get a few stares especially on local transport. So here’s my essential clothing list…

  • 2 x pairs of loose fitting trousers made of lightweight fabric
  • 1 x dress
  • 1 x loose fitting crop tee
  • 1 x regular tee
  • 1 x yoga outfit (you can wear the same one a couple of times here to save on the packing space!)

That’s really all I needed to wear and felt very comfortable in for our first short stay in Colombo. You’ll also want some undies, bras and maybe a bikini if your planning to take a dip in a pool or the ocean.

The Best Things to do in Colombo

The Red Mosque is the most impressive sight in Colombo (I reckon anyway!).

I’m in love with the patterns and colours we found at Gangaramaya Temple!

There’s actually loads to keep you occupied if you have spare time around the yoga, good coffee and organising your wardrobe; so you’ll probably want to soak up some of the cultural stuff too. My FAVE place was the Red Mosque, so if you have to choose just one then definitely head there. I also loved the patterns and Buddha statues at Gangaramaya Temple so would recommend to go there is your stay is only short. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out my blog 9 Awesome Things To Do In Colombo, Sri Lanka which includes a useful map.

GETTING AROUND

  • UBER

If you want to hop between hangouts, the best way to get around is by far UBER. We’ve tried Kangaroo Cabs and Pick Me (like UBER for tuk tuks but both were not good experiences with the apps not syncing up to the driver’s phone – meaning they had no idea where we wanted to go and ended up driving round in circles and resulting in us having to pay MORE.)

  • TUKTUK

These are easy enough to flag down but listen carefully. Unlike other tuktuks you’ll take in Sri Lanka, these ones are on a meter. The meter should start at 50 Rupees and be 4 rupees for every 100m after that. If your tuktuk driver tries to start at 60 rupees (which is the night rate) then tell him to change it or get out and flag another one down. We’ve really learned our lessons with tuktuks so just prefer to take UBER now as it works out a lot cheaper.

  • LOCAL BUS & TRAINS

If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can attempt to work out the local bus routes and train schedules. We decided to use these methods for travelling in Sri Lanka around the country but Colombo is so small and UBER so cheap that we opted to use the latter… along with the good old fashioned method of walking.

WHERE TO STAY

BUDGET: My Little Island Hostel

MID-RANGE: Black Cat B&B, Ivy Lane, Clock Inn, Fern Colombo

CASH SPLASH: Jetwing Colombo Seven (it’s got a rooftop pool, ok!)

WHERE TO EAT

DAYTIME EATS: Kumbuk Cafe, Black Cat Cafe, Cafe Nuga

DINNER: Taco Cat, Monsoon, Dutch Union of Burgers, Sugar Bistro & Wine Bar

SRI LANKAN: Upali’s


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Comments

  1. Johanna Derksen
    July 28, 2018 / 6:31 am

    Hi Lou,
    I am very much enjoying your blog Tanned Toned &Travelled.
    Your blog is easy to read and the text easy to follow and well structured . The pages are well laid out plus the photos are nice to. The information given in your blog are informative and good. I like the way you write the pros and cons on the subject. The person can make then their own informative decision.

    The video of the Basecamp was a good way to show the future traveller / adventure climber what you are “in for”

    Well done and thank you very much. Looking forward to the next adventure /blog
    Johanna

    • Louise Burton
      July 29, 2018 / 2:26 pm

      Thanks Johanna, So glad you enjoy it and find it helpful! 🙂

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