Colombo in Sri Lanka is full of wonderful colonial landmarks, beautiful tropical gardens and sandy beaches. The old quarter is easy to explore on foot, and is full of quirky cafes, stylish shops and a growing selection of galleries and museums. Once the city has been explored, heading further afield to Kandy, or the important Buddhist site at Sigiriya, is well worth the effort.
Colombo is a good all-year round destination, with the months of January to March being cooler and dryer. The rainy seasons are October to January and May to July. "Esala Perahera", which takes place in the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple (or Temple of the Tooth), in Kandy during the full moon of July and August, is one of Sri Lanka's oldest festivals. It is celebrated with dancers, musicians, jugglers and fire-eating, and honours a relic of Buddha's tooth, which is carried in procession each year.
British passport holders need a visa to enter Sri Lanka, and a passport validity of at least six months from entry date. Vaccinations are recommended for Hepatitis A, Typhus, Tetanus, Rabies and Diphtheria. Local customs and traditions should be respected, especially around temples and statues of Buddha. It is disrespectful to turn backs on Buddha, even when taking photographs. The cost of living is much lower in Sri Lanka than in Britain, with street food snacks starting at around 100 LKR. Lunches cost around 300 LKR and evening meals in restaurants about 750 LKR. Beer starts at about 200 LKR.
The Intercity bus, number 187, runs from the airport to the city, and takes approximately 40 - 60 minutes. A ticket costs around 110 LKR. From the main station, it is easy to reach other destinations, such as Kandy. Buses are cheaper for getting around than taxis or tuk-tuks, but tuk-tuks are probably the most practical method for tourists. Metered tuk-tuks start at about 50 LKR. A journey of 4 - 5 km costs around 200 LKR, while 6 km costs about 250 LKR. Train tickets to other parts of Sri Lanka need to be booked well in advance.
Hostel dormitory accommodation in low season starts at about 1000 LKR per person. More luxurious rooms cost from around 5000 LKR.