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Why visit Colombo, Sri Lanka

There is a lot to see and do in the largest city in Sri Lanka. Colombo is known for its colonial architecture, having a diverse mix of shopping, and some great museums.

Many people fly into Colombo because it is the hopping-off point for some beautiful beaches in the south of the island name of Sri Lanka.

Things to do in Colombo

On a visit to Colombo you should spend some time shopping for unique, hand-woven fabrics, including household linens and other textiles. As well, don’t miss a trip to Pettah, where you’ll find one of the oldest and most lively bazaars in Asia. If you’re interested in architecture and history, then you can also check out the heritage buildings in the 16th century Colombo Fort, or wander through the Colombo National Museum. The city is also very popular in mid-May, when people from all around the country head there to celebrate the birth of the Buddha.

Best time to visit Colombo

Colombo is close to the Equator and as such has consistent temperatures throughout the year, with hot, humid and tropical weather. However, the city does experience monsoons, so the best time to visit is typically between February and April.

Expect to pay

The currency in Colombo is the Sri Lankan rupee.

You can expect to pay approximately AUD$3.36 for a regular coffee in the city.

Arriving in Colombo by plane

The international airport servicing Colombo (and the main airport for Sri Lanka) is Bandaranaike International Airport. It is located approximately 33km north of the city.

Some of the airlines operating flights from Australia to Colombo are Air Asia, Scoot, Virgin Australia, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas.

Visa requirements

Australians planning a visit to Sri Lanka should apply online for Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA).

Transportation to city centre

On average, a taxi from the airport into the CBD starts at around $25.

You can also arrange car hire or airport transfers online through Skyscanner.

Where to stay in Colombo

In Colombo you might want to stay in districts such as Colombo 04 (Bambalapitiya), for close proximity to one of the largest shopping malls in Sri Lanka; Mount Lavinia, a mostly residential area, 20-minutes drive south from the city centre, and popular for its beaches; Colombo 07 (Cinnamon Gardens), a plush area; or Colombo 06 (Wellawatte), a busy spot that’s home to many textile and jewellery shops.

You can book a hotel online for cheap rates.

Useful tips before you go

Visitors to Colombo should take note to remove their shoes before entering a home, and cover their shoulders and legs when entering a temple. In Sri Lanka it is also customary for someone to mean “yes” when they are shaking their head from side to side with a slight wiggle.

For more information please visit Smart Traveller as a trusted source of updated information.

Please note: all information is correct as of June 2016.

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