This article provides information on one day in Colombo: what to do in Colombo, where to stay in Colombo, and how to get around Colombo.
But, first, how we got to Colombo…
We arrived in Colombo at midnight after an excellent flight on Sri Lanka Airlines. We originally planned to be there in Transit – which is the visa we applied for on arrival – and had five hours to wait before our flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh.
J had mentioned wanting to extend the layover by twelve days to visit the country since we were going to be there. I, maybe due to my lack of flexibility once travel plans are made or maybe due to fatigue, was less enthusiastic about the change.
We/J decided to give it a try…. and I love and support his optimistic spirits even at midnight, in the dark, at an international airport….with no WiFi.
After a long debate with the airlines at the departure terminal, we extended our stay in Sri Lanka by 12 days BUT had to go to the Department of Immigration and Emigration the next day to request an extension on our visa (which costs time and money, USD $62 per person and an entire morning, to be exact, vs USD $30 had we requested an Electronic Travel Authorisation ahead of time, which provides a 30-day visa, or $35 at the airport).
We were at Colombo International Airport, at 1 am, with no hotel names, no WiFi, no information. The best way to find a hotel was to ask the people at the Departure Terminal. We decided to look for backpackers who might have a suggestion or two for us.
Thankfully, it didn’t take long. We met the happiest couple who provided us with ample information for our entire Sri Lankan trip and introduced us to their local friend, H.
H was the perfect person to know. He took us around Colombo to find a decent hotel. The search went on until 3 in the morning.
Our Sri Lankan adventure had begun.
Colombo is a big city but a day should be enough to visit.
How to Get from Colombo Airport to Colombo
There is a public bus from Colombo Airport. It will take you to the Colombo bus station in the city. Cost is LKR 110 (USD $0.85).
From Colombo airport to Colombo center by taxi, expect to pay between 2,300-2,700LKR (USD $ 16-20)
How to Get Around In Colombo – Local Transportation/Local Bus
We found tuk-tuks to be the easiest way to travel around Colombo. Best is to always ask the price before hopping in and compare with different drivers. Expect to pay LKR 400-600 for short distances (USD $3-5).
Where to Stay in Colombo: Colombo Hotels and Accommodations
There weren’t many options at 3 in the morning. Thanks to H, we visited a couple of hotels with dingy rooms who wanted to charge over LKR 2,000 (USD $15) for a double room – knowing we were in dire need of a bed.
We ended up paying USD $15 for a sad, old double room with private bath – and no sheets on the bed at the Classic Inn – not recommended, at all.
Had we done research ahead of time, we would probably pick from the following:
Bed Hostels Colombo: dormitory beds, ranging from USD $10-$12, free WiFi, clean, helpful staff, free bike rentals
Sai Sea City Hotel: double rooms with private baths, ranging from USD $26-40, clean, good location with view of the railway line and ocean, free WiFi.
Ashan’s Cozy Apartment: small apartments fitting 2 to 4 people, ranging from USD $22- 24, air-conditioning, nice hosts.
What to do in Colombo – Activities in Colombo
Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple – beautiful temple with many Buddha statues.
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara – a place of worship, 7 miles outside of Colombo.
Viharamahadevi Park – Colombo’s biggest park, a peaceful area in the middle of the city.
National Museum of Colombo – one of the two museums in Colombo, a good place to go to learn about the history of the country.
Federation of Self Employees Market – visit this market in Pettah, Colombo where locals trade fruits and vegetables.
How To Get Away – Local Transportation
It is extremely easy to get around Sri Lanka by bus and/or train. From the Colombo bus station, we took a bus to Jaffna – north of the island, 9hrs away by bus at LKR 750 per person or USD $5.35.
There are buses going to all destinations on the island.
More than one day in Colombo? Find out 10 Things To Do in Colombo.
What did you do in Colombo? Anything else that could be added to the list of must-dos? Share your travel experience with us! We love to hear from you.
Happy Travels !!xx
View more travel tips to visit Sri Lanka.