How To Find Peacefulness In Colombo Sri Lanka

Looking for things to do in Colombo in Sri Lanka? If you’re looking for a way to escape the hustle & bustle, head over to the beautiful and historic Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.

I must admit, I never really knew what a culture shock it was going to go anywhere after visiting Maldives. I mean seriously, we just spent 17 days island hopping around the most beautiful islands in the world. The peace, quiet and breathtaking scenery was more than a delight and the hospitality and safety on the local islands was out of this world.

Fast track a couple of hours later and we land in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo. As soon as we walked out of the arrivals gate, we were bombarded with so many people asking us if we wanted a driver.

Now we’d met a few people in Maldives that had been to Sri Lanka and told us they had hired a driver to drive them around the country for something like $200 for a week. Doesn’t seem much right? But seeing as we are on a budget and up for the adventure, we wanted to do local buses and trains.

One of the many tuk tuk rides we took in Colombo

After saying no like a thousand times before we even left the airport, the next mission was to find a cab. We only knew that yep, we were probably being ripped off already. We paid 3,000R for a cab to our B&B into the city.

We were staying at ACA B&B, somewhere Steve found through Lonely Planet. The cabbie gave us the story that he had four children to feed and didn’t make enough. When it came to handing over the fare for the ride, he asked for more. I could see this being a common thing.

After trying to find the B&B, because they didn’t even have a sign outside, we managed to get into our room and put the aircon on quickly because the heat was on another level to Maldives.

We found a cafe next door to our B&B which was opposite the Durden Hospital and bought a range of samosas and pastries. Yep, everything I’m eating is not SIBO friendly but what can you do?

After haggling with various tuk tuk drivers, we made it to Colombo Galle train station to book our tickets to Kandy for the next day (go to Kiosk 17 to book). Seemed that every train time we wanted was sold out so we had to go with the later time of 3:30 in our desired 2nd class. I suspect the trains would be similar to India. 1st class is always freezing with aircon maxed up and the lower classes were always the best as that’s when you get to have fun with the local people.Waiting to get a train ticket to Kandy

But the chaos really turned itself on when we had to wait for ages to book the train tickets where locals would just walk in and push in front of us in the line. When we needed a tuk tuk back to find Steve a beer (and I needed one too!) it took us ages not to get so ripped off again. I’d forgotten how draining and really irritating travelling to places like this is.

Galle Face Hotel

So eventually the gods shone and gave us peace from this chaotic city when we found the Galle Face Hotel. I must admit, I hadn’t done a lot of reading about Sri Lanka before we arrived as I was so immersed in Maldives. But when we turned up to this very famous hotel and taken out into the courtyard, it was a huge blessing. Somehow we had found ourselves in a gem of a peaceful hotel grounds.

So we spent the next four hours there, eating chips and drinking $8 cocktails named after the famous people that had stayed there like Harrison Ford and Che Guevara. It was pure heaven until we had to get back to our B&B to be once again hassled by various people.Watching the sunset at The Galle Face Hotel

I wondered to myself, I hope to God, people won’t be like this for the next month to us in this country. Please don’t let me think we’ve made a mistake coming here!

And I just sat back appreciating every single minute we had during our 17 day trip to Maldives, because for a budget traveller, we were absolutely spoilt.

So that was Colombo.

How was your experience there? Let me know in the comments below.

Co-Founder and Editor
  1. We just returned to Sydney from two weeks in Sri Lanka. Our family loved it and found it much easier than travel in India. Kandy is lovely but Ella seemed a bit touristy and catered to hikers. The train ride between Kandy and Ella is long but wonderful in 3rd class. We met locals and other travellers along the way which made the train ride that much more terrific. Our family really enjoyed hanging out of the open train car in addition to the beautiful passing tea plantations. The food was amazing everywhere we went and no one had any gastro issues…quite different from India. We stayed south in Dikwella which was lovely as we splurged on a villa at the beach. We couldn’t get over how everyone smiled and how kindly we were treated. I hope your holiday improves getting out of Colombo and I expect that it will. Ours ended with us staying in Negombo as we had an early morning flight. We all agreed we would’ve had a very different impression of SL had we just stayed there. The beach was dirty, the hotel overpriced and the food at the hotel restaurant was awful. Good luck! Kate

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