Colombo Itinerary and Travel Guide: Best Places To See On A Budget

2-Day Colombo Itinerary and Travel Guide: Best Places To See On A Budget

By DAN FORTEZA

Deciding what to do and what to see in Colombo, Sri Lanka depends on how much time you have (and your budget as well.) If you only have 2 days in Colombo (like me…) but surely don’t want to miss those must-see places in this beautiful city, this is for you. In this blog, I’ve put together the perfect 2-day Colombo itinerary, specifically for budget travelers, which includes Colombo’s top attractions.

Hi there! First of all, I am Daniel – a solo backpacker from the Philippines. If you don’t know my story yet, feel free to read this article where I talked about how I quit my job in order to travel. This article was also featured on TripZilla Philippines.

DO YOU NEED A VISA?

Depending on your nationality, you might or might not need a visa. Check out my Sri Lankan visa guide to check if you’re legible for an e-visa or visa on arrival or no visa at all.

WHERE IS COLOMBO?

Colombo is a city located on the western coast of the island country of Sri Lanka. It is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka. It is a 3 ½-hour flight away from either Bangkok or Delhi, about 4 hours away from Singapore and, 4 ½ hours away from Dubai.

Language: Sinhala, Tamil
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Airport: Bandaranaike International (CMB) 
Preferred mode of transportation: Tuktuk or Uber Tuktuk, Bus
Time Zone: GMT +4 ½ 

HOW I GOT THERE:

Finding a cheap flight ticket to Colombo, Sri Lanka from Southeast and South Asia is relatively easy (and cheap, too!) I booked mine coming from Bangkok, Thailand.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

HOW TO GET AROUND?

    • Tuktuk – Also known as a tri-shaw, Tuktuk is a three-wheeled vehicle which I think is the best way to get around Colombo.  But as I mentioned in my budget travel tips blog – “walk as much as you can!“.

Many three-wheelers have meters and some can be booked through Uber App. Some drivers, however, will try to not use the meter or won’t have one. Avoid meter-free three-wheelers or agree to a firm price before setting out. I even got victimized by just agreeing with meter-free Tuktuk (haha!) and I paid 3 to 4 times its normal price.

      • Uber Tuktuk – Ensure you have an Uber mobile app to book your ride.
      • Private Tuktuk – There are so many Tuktuk drivers in the city who will ask you for a private tuk-tuk tour. I think it’s okay, I got mine for only 200 LKR (1.10 USD) and the driver took me to 3-4 different famous places in Colombo. Beware though, it is quite normal for these drivers to take you to a jewelry shop haha. From my understanding is that they get a voucher or commission for every tourist they bring to the jewelry shop. Don’t worry, they won’t force you to buy it.
    • City Buses – The best way to find out which bus to take is just to ask people at the nearest stop. Although it’s not advisable for short-term travelers you’ll be surprised how cheap they are (way cheaper than Tuktuk).

HOW I GOT TO THE CITY:

I arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) at around 9:30 AM from a 3 ½-hour flight from Bangkok. The first thing I looked for at the airport was the ATM to withdraw some Rupees. Then you can also purchase a sim card with mobile internet data to help you navigate the city. I did not buy one though.

First, a little heads up, when stepping out of the arrival hall at the airport, you will probably be “attacked” by drivers looking for new customers. They can be quite pushy, so keep calm.

Next, I looked for the bus going to downtown Colombo. I found a minibus parked on the road just a short walk from the airport’s arrival exit.

    • Bus fare from the airport to downtown Colombo: 300 LKR (1.65 USD)
    • Travel time: 1-2 hours (depending on traffic)
Minibus from Airport to Colombo City
Minibus from Airport to Colombo City | Dantravels.org

WHERE DID I STAY?

The hostel I booked is located in the city center. From the bus terminal, I just walk about 20 minutes to reach my hostel. It is close to the Lakehouse building.

  • Colombo Downtown Monkey Backpacker’s Hostel: (click here to book)
    • Hostel room type: Bunk Bed in Mixed Dormitory Room
    • Hostel rate: 6 USD per night

You can book a room at any hotel in Colombo through Agoda or Booking.com. I usually book my room accommodations through booking.com. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

If Colombo hotel isn’t to your liking, try AirBnb. Airbnbs are immersed in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes. There is a feeling you get when you stay in an Airbnb that makes you feel like you belong in that city or town. Since it is someone’s home, there is a certain amount of pride you feel while staying there. I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to 42 USD free travel credit by signing up via this link.

MY 2-DAY COLOMBO ITINERARY

DAY 1:

1st Stop: Murugan Hindu Temple

Formally known as the Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil, the Murugan Hindu Temple is easily accessible by tuk-tuk or just by walking since it is just behind the Fort Railway Station. This is the oldest and largest Hindu temple in Colombo and is dedicated to the Gods Shiva and Ganesh. A visit is a must and is included in most Colombo tours. Its monumental towers, with hundreds of colorful ornaments, will delight your eyes and memories.

Murugan Hindu Temple in Colombo
Murugan Hindu Temple | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

2nd Stop: Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple

This temple is huge and takes about 45 minutes – 1 hour to look around and is easily accessible by tuk-tuk. There are Buddha statues all around the temple and the various rooms. The temples themselves have sitting, standing, reclining buddhas, colorful, gold, bronze, stone, wood, white buddhas, small and large buddhas. At times it felt as though you were walking through some surreal bric-a-brac market with the cases full of old glasses and jewelry. My favorite of all was the Tiny Buddha encased by a miniature glass dome whose face can be seen very clearly through the magnifying disc. I was told it was the world’s smallest Buddha statue.

Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple in Colombo
Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • Cost: 300 LKR (1.65 USD) per tourist

3rd Stop: Seema Malakaya Temple

Also known as Lakeside Buddhist temple, Seema Malakaya is situated at the center of Baira lake. This is one of the most photographed landmarks in Colombo. The area is very photogenic and so you can spend some time looking to make some nice pictures.

NOTE: The 300-LKR-ticket for Gangaramaya also covers the ticket fee for Seema Malaka Temple if you visit them on the same day.

Lakeside Buddhist Temple in Colombo
Lakeside Buddhist Temple | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • Cost: See note above.

4th Stop: Independence Square

The Independence Square is where independence from the British colonization of about 200 years was celebrated in 1948. Now this place stands as a recreation area for the public to go and spend the day to take pics, a slow walk and relax. There’s also the famous Independence Memorial Hall, so make sure you check it out.

Independence Square in my Colombo itinerary
Independence Square | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours

DAY 2:

5th Stop: Lotus Tower

Lotus Tower is the latest iconic landmark of Sri Lanka. So make sure you take some close-up photos or even selfies with this tower.

It includes a rotating restaurant, wedding reception halls, hotel, VVIP rooms, TV/Radio broadcasting stations and much more. If you are a visitor, don’t forget to add this iconic location to your wish list.

Lotus Tower in Colombo
Lotus Tower | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

6th Stop: Galle Face GREEN

Galle Face Green is a famous landmark and tourist attraction in the city of Colombo. It is situated on the shore of the ocean. Galle Face is an urban park on the ocean side and the area is about 5 hectares. Locals call it Colombo’s front lawn and it comes to life late afternoon. Kids are flying kites, lovers are sitting on benches overlooking the ocean and stall after stall is selling all sorts of seafood and fried snacks. 

Galle Face
Galle Face | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours

7th Stop: Colombo Municipal Council Hall

The Colombo Municipal Council is the local council for Colombo and the office of the Mayor of Colombo, which is located in front of the Viharamahadevi Park. The main building stands out outstandingly and illustrates in an artistic manner the most striking and beautiful design. It’s a major landmark clearly visible from the street in the center of Colombo and a nice place to roam around. Most tourists also call it “the White House” due to its resemblance to the US building of the same name.

Colombo Municipal Council Hall in my Colombo Itinerary
Colombo Municipal Council Hall | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

8th Stop: ViharamaDevi Park  & Buddha Statue

Formerly known as “Victoria Park”, this was renamed into “Viharamadevi Park” in the 1950s. This is said to be the biggest park in the city of Colombo situated right opposite to the Municipal Council Hall. It has well-landscaped gardens with a variety of trees, flowers, lotus ponds, fountains, golden image of Buddha, large Statue of Queen Viharamahadevi, and Queen Victoria. It’s a perfect place for leisure activities for both adults and children.

Viharama Devi Park Buddha Statue.
Viharama Devi Park Buddha Statue | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours 

What do you think of this 2-day COLOMBO itinerary?

I hope that you find this 2-DAY COLOMBO ITINERARY and GUIDE useful!

If you have more days to spend in Colombo or in Sri Lanka, you might consider these cool package tours:

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

BOOKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hotel / Hostel
    • Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it as well for your Colombo Itinerary.  Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

    • Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms for your Colombo itinerary! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 42 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.

  • Flights
    • KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

  •  Colombo Package tours
    • Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide. Perfect for your Colombo itinerary!

Click here to find the best Viator deals in Colombo!

  • Travel Insurance
    • World Nomads. If you don’t have travel insurance when times get tough, basically you are screwed. Traveling always comes with inherent risks attached. Whether you are trekking in the Himalayan mountains or wandering the streets of Colombo, unforeseen events can suddenly upend your world. Generally speaking, travel insurance covers you for the following: Medical Costs – hospital visits, emergencies, evacuations; Property Loss – luggage and their contents; Travel Issues – accommodation and transportation expenses. Thus, I highly recommend you guys getting a travel insurance. I bought one from the World Nomads (available in 130+ countries) where most travelers get their travel insurances.

Go to this link to get to your World Nomads travel insurance.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Close Menu
13 Shares
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap