This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Colombo. To help you make friends with Colombo before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Colombo is a massive city, which sprawls along the west coast of Sri Lanka. Most people will visit Colombo on their trip to Sri Lanka, as it is the main arrival hub for visitors arriving into the country. Colombo is busy, hot, humid, and somewhat polluted, and can be a bit overwhelming when first arriving, however there is definitely some charm (and good people-watching). The main airport is about an hours drive from the city centre (with traffic) and about thirty minutes without traffic, so if you are arriving late, try finding a Colombo hostel near the airport.
The National Museum of Colombo shouldn't be missed. It is the largest museum in Colombo and offers a good introduction into the history and culture of the country. The Galle Face Green Promenade is also the perfect place to watch the sunset in the evening. The promenade stretches about thirteen acres, and on the weekend is filled with market stalls, food vendors, and day trippers -- definitely a good stop to try some local food and for some people watching. Another highlight is a visit to the Turtle Conservation Villa, which is a not-for-profit turtle conservation centre/group located just outside the city -- highly recommended!
Accommodation varies, and there is something for every traveler and budget. From fancy resorts and luxury hotels, to guesthouses and bed and breakfasts to Colombo hostels and budget hotels. Guesthouses and hostels in Colombo are the best places to stay if you want to get a feel for the country and the culture. Most hostels in Colombo are like guesthouses, only they also offer dorm rooms. Hostels are generally quite small (not many rooms) and offer a very friendly, Sri Lankan welcome. Hostes and guesthouses, as well as most of accommodation options, include free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast. Some accommodation options can also arrange airport transfers, which is definitely a bonus if you're arriving on a late or very early flight. Guesthouses usually offer a dinner option, so is a great opportunity to try some local, homemade Sri Lankan food.
Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka, is an elegant little suburb, located in the southern outskirts of Colombo. It's about thirty minutes' to a few hours' ride from the international airport, depending on how you choose to travel. A taxi/tuk-tuk will certainly get you there quicker, but you can travel like a local instead and ride buses to save some money while having a memorable adventure! But be aware, during rush hour, traffic can get really bad and getting here by bus can take hours.
There are a few budget Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka hostels in the beach area, all within a few minutes' walking distance from the beach and each other, but mostly there are expensive hotels and resorts, so especially during high season, booking in advance is advised.
Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka hostels are affordable but basic. They offer comfy communal hangout areas where travelers can meet, socialize, and share meals or some drinks. Making new friends here and sharing experiences is easy and fun. If you don't mind the distance from the airport, the location is great, just minutes away from the well-preserved beach and not too far from the main road. The beach is lovely and has a handful of bars and restaurants to offer with great atmosphere. The beach is also a fantastic place to mingle with locals as well as fellow travelers. Try to catch at least one sunset at the beach while you're here -- the view is stunning.
On the other hand, Galle Street, one of the longest streets in the city, has a lot of local eateries (the local food is cheap, delicious, and usually comes in huge portions), supermarkets, ATMs, and large international food chains, in case you get homesick.
Mount Lavinia is a great place to stay if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, but at the same time, not too far away.
Written by local enthusiast for Colombo hostelsKelly Sheldrick