Monday, January 9, 2017

Sri Lanka: Colombo Day Tour



We arrived in Colombo not knowing what to do and where to go which is typical for us as we don’t like to have a hardcore itinerary. It was our first stop on our two-week jaunt in Sri Lanka and our driver from our rented car brought us to some interesting places in the commercial and financial capital of the country.

Halfway through our two-month Beach Hop Asia 2016 backpacking trip, me and my buddy headed to Sri Lanka after exploring Malaysia and Thailand for a month, and Colombo was our first stop. For Philippine passport holders, a visa is needed to get in. We secured ours online and shelled out $35 each for the Electronic Travel Authorization which allowed us a double entry to Sri Lanka for 30 days (you may apply here).

A photo posted by blissfulguro (@blissfulguro) on

We had three days of transit time in Colombo on the onset and finale of our Sri Lanka trip. Going around the city was easy as you can walk around or ride a metered trishaw, yes metered. But we had a rented car from JNW Lanka Tours which made everything hassle-free.

Colombo Sri Lanka
Train tracks nearby Indian Ocean
Colombo Sri Lanka
They asked if they could take a snap with me. Such  a cute gesture :)
The moment we approached the arrival hall of Bandaranaike International Airport, we were greeted by a representative from JNW Lanka Tours and assisted us on our rented car. I was about to collapse on my car seat (due to exhaustion) when I saw the pastoral scene outside. It felt like I was on the rural side of the Philippines. After an hour, we arrived at Colombo.

Colombo Sri Lanka

Colombo Sri Lanka
Main Street
Colombo had this old city feel but not as quaint as Kathmandu in Nepal. Trishaws (three-wheeled vehicle similar to tuktuks of Thailand) and buses dominated the streets as our car shoved the narrow alleys. We were then brought to our home in Colombo for a night, Clock Inn Colombo.

After two hours of deep slumber, we were collected by our driver, Mr. Karu, for a half day exploration around key spots in Colombo.

Colombo Sri Lanka
Galle Face Beach

Independence Memorial Hall
No.7, Independence Avenue, Colombo

The sun was at its best as we got off the car. The place was almost empty if not for the two guys who were having some lull time between the huge pillars. It was quiet and serene.

It was only after I read the inscription from a marker that I learned about Sri Lanka’s Independence Memorial Hall. Intricate carvings adorned the numerous columns on the open aired hall. A statue of Rt. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake, Sri Lanka’s Father of Nation, stood tall in front of the hall. Me and my buddy would’ve checked out the lush garden around if not for the intense heat.

Colombo Sri Lanka Independence Hall

Colombo Sri Lanka Independence Hall
Independence Memorial Hall

Dewatagaha Mosque and Shrine
C.W.W. Kannangara Mawatha Road, Colombo

Next stop was at ODEL Mall in which we did some errands. We found a nice deal on a money changer ($100 = LKR14,400) and bought a local sim card (LKR400). The guys from the telecom shop gladly assisted us on registering it with our passports and enjoyed the fairly fast data connection. We used this for our social media needs, priorities, haha.

We weren’t really interested much on shopping so we went outside and saw this white mosque across the street. It was our first taste of the busy Colombo urban life.

We were looking for street food, no luck, and found ourselves in front of the Dewatagaha Jumma Masjid and Shrine wherein hundreds of pigeons rested on the pillars and cornices of the mosque. Pilgrims and worshippers went in and out of the gate of this two hundred-year old structure.

Colombo Sri Lanka

Colombo Sri Lanka Dewatagaha Mosque
Dewatagaha Mosque and Shrine

Victoria Memorial Building
Ward PL Road, Colombo

We sauntered around the roundabout where we noticed an old building of red and yellow bricks. Old trees surrounding it made it more charming.

The striking structure is believed to have been built in 1906 (but there was a 1903 inscription at the edifice) as a tribute for Queen Victoria of Britain’s diamond Jubilee. We took some snaps, walked a bit and then people-watched.

Colombo Sri Lanka
Clock towers are such a common sight in Sri Lanka as it was used
as a source of time before the advent of watches
Colombo Sri Lanka Victoria Memorial Building
Victoria Memorial Building

Colombo Town Hall
F.R. Senanayake Mawatha Road, Colombo

Mr. Karu brought us to Colombo’s Town Hall. Built in 1928, this is where the seat of the mayor is located as well as the municipal council. The manicured lawn provided a refreshing frontage to it. We wanted to chill for a while on a park in front of it but we had limited time so we had to go, too bad.

Colombo Sri Lanka Town Hall
Colombo Town Hall

Gangaramaya Temple
61 Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo

Karu, our cheery driver, also brought us to a Buddhist Temple complex. There was an entrance fee of LKR100 to the Gangaramaya Temple and we left our slippers on the designated area and went on with our exploration.

The temple complex had different areas; there’s a museum, some prayer rooms, a white pagoda and more holy spots. We had to be discreet as there were worshippers around but some guys who took care of the complex happily guided us, and they asked no fee or whatsoever.

Colombo Sri Lanka Gangaramaya Temple

Colombo Sri Lanka Gangaramaya Temple

Colombo Sri Lanka Gangaramaya Temple

Colombo Sri Lanka Gangaramaya Temple
Gangaramaya Temple

Red Mosque
No.228, Second Cross Street, Colombo

Hours before we fly out of Sri Lanka we stopped by another mosque. We saw this unique red mosque on the way to Sigiraya weeks before and we asked Mr. Karu if we could pass by before we head to the airport.

We went to a busy street, much more like a shopping area in Colombo, and were dropped at the back entrance of Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque along Main Street. It is believed to have been built in 1908 in red and white bricks making it stand out from the rest of the shopping malls around the area.

Colombo Sri Lanka Red Mosque
Red Mosque

It’s such a shame for us to stay for only two nights in Colombo. We wanted to stroll along the busy highways and narrow alleys and search for some local eats but we didn’t have enough time. Next time, I know there will be next, we'll do that for sure.


JNW Lanka Tours
*JNW Building, 67 Maligakanda Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka
*Arrival Hall, Travel Service Counter No.6,
Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, Sri Lanka
Contact Number: (+94) 777.396983 | (+94) 11.2698334
Email Address: jnwtours@eureka.lk





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