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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top 05 Things to See & Do in Colombo – Quintessential City of Wonder
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 05 Things to See & Do in Colombo – Quintessential City of Wonder

Something old, something new, and loads of experiences in between, aptly describes the vintage city of Colombo. A modern metropolis, staunchly holding onto vintage allures, Colombo is a treat to explore.


Discover the Character of Union Place

One of the Commercial Capitals oldest districts, Colombo 2 or Union Place is a marvellous mix of old and new. For loads of local culture and character head over to the narrow lanes of Church Street and Malay Street, lined with ancient shop-houses, and modern two-stories. New and old are crammed together and you can spot the difference from cracked and peeling off paint in some and bright blue, yellow and green walls of the newer buildings. There are washing lines dangling out the windows, throngs of crowds, jostling along the narrow pavements and traffic honking their way along the busy streets. This is Colombo in its true essence and should be savoured by all visitors.


Go for a Ride in a Tuk-Tuk

A tuk-tuk is a three-wheeled miniature monster, plying the streets across the island. Metaphor's apart though, these are in fact taxis, which manage to whizz customers to their destinations in double quick time. The tuk-tuks, or rather their drivers, are sometimes known to "overlook" road rules and irritate the average driver on a daily basis. A ride in one of these, from your Colombo hotel to a nearby destination, is quite the experience though; and don't feel shy to ask the driver to slow down! Make sure to get in one with a meter, or predetermine the fare to your destination, before setting off, in order to avoid getting scammed.


Enjoy the Sunset from Galle Face Green

If you are staying at a Colombo city hotel then heading over to Galle Face Green is a breeze; you could take a quick tuk-tuk ride to the place or even enjoy a leisurely walk to the area from nearby hotels like Mandarina Colombo. Galle Face green is an iconic attraction, which once was part of the Governor's House and lawn, it was later a horse racing track and is now a place of leisure to which many locals and foreigners head for cool sea breezes and relaxing environs. The 'green' is an expansive stretch of land, facing the Indian Ocean, and is well-serviced by a number of food kiosks, kite sellers and walking traders selling pieces of sweet pineapple, dressed with salt and chilli. You can find a spot on the grounds or sit on the ramparts overlooking the beach to take in a spectacular sunset, across the horizon; the views are unhindered and quite amazing.


Try Eating With Your Hands

In Sri Lanka, many eat with their hands, especially rice and curry. Proper etiquette must be practised; only use the right hand, you never eat with both; the other is kept on your lap or neatly on the side of the table. The best place to do so, are at the little food kiosks located along Galle Road; at these, you can order a roti and spicy curry or the standard plate of rice and accompanying curries, which when eaten by hand are tasty and one of the best meals you will enjoy in Colombo.


Head Off in a Swan Paddle Boat

The Beira Lake, located close to the heart of the city centre, is a popular location for evening strolls, especially the young romantics, who enjoy holding hands and hanging around the edge of the lake. Alternatively, you can take a swan paddle board and peddle away to your own private haven somewhere on the waters of Beira. The water is a thick green colour and not the healthiest for bathing, hence the swan boats. Stop over at the little Buddhist shrine located on the lake, for a taste of culture.