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Colombo sits on the west coast of Sri Lanka and has developed from an old seafaring port into a huge urban sprawl bristling with Asian atmosphere. Around the historic centre of Fort are colonial façades of banks, buildings and tumbledown shops and streets teeming with people, trishaws, bicycles, buses - and the occasional cow! Towering above Fort to the east are gleaming skyscrapers reflecting modern Colombo but wherever you go in the city you stumble across history, culture and friendly folk.
It would be difficult not to immerse yourself in the serenity of Buddhism, which is practised by the majority of Sri Lankans. Yet Colombo is home to all religions as evidenced by temples, mosques and churches sprouting amidst a jumble of Dutch and British-built buildings, a legacy of its colonial past.
When travelling to Sri Lanka, one of the joys is the delicious, spice-rich food which is influenced by its geography. No only thanks to the location in the Indian Ocean between Eastern and Western culture, but also due to the immigrants and colonisers, the country now offers mouth-watering blend of Dutch, Portuguese, English, Malay, Arab and Indian flavours. Truly an amazing melting-pot with dishes such as Lamprais (A Dutch Burgher-influenced dish), chicken curry, Dhal curry and Hoppers (Sri Lankan pancake) to name a few.
Coffee shops in Colombo offer a lot more than just coffee. You can choose between a variety of beverages including hot chocolate. As in most parts of the world, a visit to a coffee shop often involves meeting up with friends and catching up on what's been going on.
Bars are a relatively new concept although there are some old favourites patronized by ex-pats and regular visitors. Generally quiet they erupt into life at the weekend with live music, good value food and a reasonable drinks’ list. The best nightlife revolves around the upscale hotels where you’ll find bars, nightclubs and karaoke lounges. Dress is smart casual and entry for hotel guests is free.
Modern air-conditioned malls are found adjacent to top end hotels or in the same vicinity and they’re perfect for souvenirs such as traditional masks, batik, gems and presentation packs of the famous Ceylon tea. For a more authentic shopping experience, come to the Pettah area and immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of a busy Asian city. Anything and everything is on sale here, and haggling is well expected.
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