Which foods are only available in Sri Lanka
Colombo - a completely different world!
After we had just come fresh from Dubai, we were suddenly thrown into a completely different world. A moment ago luxury, pomp, glitter and superlatives - now noise, chaos, poverty, stench and simplicity. In our opinion, the area around Colombo is more for backpackers than package holidaymakers. Sri Lanka, the "Tear of India”, Is an island nation about 30 km from the city of Kanyakumari, which is located on the southeastern tip of India.
Here in Sri Lanka, around 21 million people live in an area of around 65,610 km². It's just under 450 kilometers from north to south and only 22 from east to west5 Kilometre. So the island is not as big as we thought it would be. By the way, until 1972 the island was called "Ceylon" because of the export and cultivation of Ceylon tea. But rubber, coffee and coconuts are also among the most important products.
70.2 percent of the population of Sri Lanka are Buddhists, 12.6 percent Hindus, 9.7 percent Muslim and 7.4 percent Christian. TheSri Lanka's climate is tropical with different precipitation conditions, due to theMonsoons. The traffic is chaotic and is dominated by tuk tuks, cars and buses. In the meantime there is also a rail network that connects the most important cities in Sri Lanka with each other. The total length of the route network is 11,000 kilometers (Sri Lanka State Railway Company).
1. No idea about the exchange rate?
We landed in Colombo with not a cent in our pockets and went to the nearest ATM (cash machine) at the airport to withdraw some money. Wedid not know however once in the beginning,what the exchange rate was. So what do you pick up then? 1000 LKR, 5000 LKR or would you prefer 10,000 LKR?
Would you like to withdraw money for free in Sri Lanka? We recommend the Santander Bank credit card. With this free card there are no fees for you.
»Secure credit card«
The currency in Sri Lanka is called the rupee - there are notes for 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 rupees and coins for 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees. At some point we found a kind of exchange office and were able to use the table to inquire what one would get for one euro. In the end it wasthen 152 LKR for one euro. So we first exchanged € 50.
2. Tuk Tuk's in Sri Lanka
Everyone knows them - the little onesthree-wheelers, tuk tuks or auto rickshaws called. You are onewidely used type of taxi in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand or Sri Lanka, Laos and other Asian countries. Loud horns, jostling and rattling engines can be heard everywhere. The streets stink and everyone drives as they want - always where there is just a few centimeters of space. Between cars, buses and bicycles you squeeze in between, making your waythrough the traffic jungle (Warning: left-hand traffic!).
In comparison, tuk tuks are a super cheap way of getting around here in Sri Lanka. The prices fell sharply in 2015 because the instead made gasoline around 30% cheaper. In Colombo, prices are set by the state. Thefirst kilometer costs 50 LKR Basic charge. Each additional kilometer costs 30 LKR. You get these prices in so-called "meter taxis". At the airport, for example, we paid almost LKR 500 for 1 kilometer, and only LKR 200 on the way back. You muston act in any case. The drivers also want to tell you that your hotel is 6-8 kilometers away, and it's just around the corner.
3. Transfer bus from the airport to Colombo
The airport "Bandaranaike International Airport“Is located about 32 kilometers from Colombo city center. It is only 10 kilometers from here to Negombo. The cheapest way to get from the airport to Colombo city center is by bus 187 (do not take the city bus 187, but the coach). This starts directly in front of the exit terminal at the airport.
Otherwise there are still many, many taxis, cars and tuk tuks buzzing around, which would like to take you with them ^^. They then easily charge 1000-2000 LKR (rupee). The bus, on the other hand, only takes about 1 hour (if it drives on the highway, otherwise 2 hours with the city bus 187 - super annoying!) And costs about 100 to 120 LKR per person (not even 1 €). The other drivers also try to make you know that the bus would start 1-2 kilometers away (they want to drive you in circles a few more times to earn money).
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»Our photo equipment«
Bullshit! The bus (old, rickety coach) starts right in front of the terminal. If you ask policemen or airport employees, they usually show you the way and don't hesitate. Everyone else is trying to rip you off (at least that's how it was with us) - so be careful! You can buy tickets directly on the bus. At some point a man on the bus starts collecting money from all passengers. So, simplyget in and jet off first(the bus ends at the "central train station" in Colombo).
4. The public buses in the city
If you don't feel like a tuk tuk, you can also do it in the city with the many buses cheaply from A to B. come. There are an infinite number of bus numbers that drive up and down the streets all day. As soon as a bus stops somewhere, you can jump in. You can also get off this way.
The doors are never closed and in the evening it can get very tight and cozy, because then the buses are often overcrowded. At some point during the journey the "money collector" comes along - sometimes he wants 10 rupees, sometimes 25. If we didn't take a tuk tuk, then we used the bus because it really doesn't get any cheaper (20 rupees = 13 cents) .
5. Don't leave shoes in front of a temple!
If you look at a temple in Colombo, then you usually have to take off your shoes in front of it and leave them there. Please be careful that you are not wearing the best sneakers that day. Marco's Nikes were stolen without further ado. It was very unpleasant and not the best way to start a day of sightseeing! Especially since he first had to walk barefoot through the city until we could buy flip-flops somewhere for just under € 2. Nobody had touched my flip flops in front of the temple.
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And while we're on the subject: in holy institutions you should cover your shoulders and knees and not wear a hat or the like. out of respect! For "non-locals" they even charge up to 200 rupees for admission! All others are probably temple members and do not have to pay anything.
TheGangaramaya Temple is probably the best-known temple and pretty much the only "highlight" - especially since it looks more like a hodgepodge of frills. Kitschy figures, artificial flowers, kind of weird. But you can look at it. Here on the picture you can see the "Seema Malaka facility", which is located near Gangaramaya.
6. Sri Lanka Visa upon Arrival
When you land in Colombo and head towards the airport exit, a counter for a "Visa on arrival". So that means that on your entry Get a visa on site and stay here for up to 4 weeks (important: your passport must be valid for at least 6 months!).
Before that, you will receive a document on the plane that you have to fill out. You can also hand this in at this counter. All the funwill cost you 35 US dollar (about 31 €) and can be paid with the Santander credit card or other credit cards. Then you go through the control with your passport.
7. Shopping in the supermarket
Here you can actually get all the important things, such as eggs, milk, bread, fruit, drinks and the like. The most common supermarkets that we saw here were Aprico, Keelss Super, Fruit City or Laugfs. Depending on the product, the prices are cheap or sometimes very expensive. Especially if you are in the mood for western products, you have to dig deep into your pocket (Nutelle mini glass € 4, Kellogs cornflakes € 3).
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"Foreign health insurance"
You can get a toast for almost 80 cents, a bottle of water 1.5L for 50 cents, eggs (10 pieces) for 1.30 €, milk for 50 cents or drinks for less than 1 €. So you can start a super cheap purchase, but you can also pay more. In general, however, we found the products to be relatively more expensive.
Our purchase was always between € 3 and sometimes € 15 - depending on what we needed. But if we didn't have to buy anything in particular, we got by with little money a day. Personally, I think it always smells funny in the shops - somehow a mix of chlorine, old fruit and rotten meat. But you get used to it - don't worry!
8. Street food in Colombo
Food is very important to the Sinhalese, they eat warm three times a day - almost always rice and curry. Curry is not the spice mixture we know, but a meat or vegetable sauce based on coconut milk. Whether vegetable curry, fish or chicken curry - there are many variations here.
You will also often find dumplings filled with fish, vegetables or chicken (including egg rolls, chicken rolls). In the evening you can get Milk Hoppers (half-round batter with a fried egg in the middle) with or without curry. Somehow these things taste like nothing, but somehow they also taste good.
You only pay 20 LKR per hopper, with a fried egg in the middle 40 LKR. There are also string hoppers, which are made from rice noodles. You will also find various versions of “Kothu Roti” on almost every corner. Whether Egg Roti, Vegetable Roti or Coconut Roti. The dough looks like a pancake and is filled with vegetables, eggs or any other paste. Oh yes, if you eat without cutlery, then you have to use your right hand!
9. A city map would be ideal
If this is your first time in Colombo then you shouldhave a city map. Google Maps would also be enough, just stupid that you never have WiFi here. We had absolutely no clue where we were, how to walk to the next point, or where certain sights in the city were.
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Somehow we were often aimlessly heading for it and then often had to ask and fight our way through the jungle. Okay, it worked that way too! But having an overview of the city is highly recommended.
10. Book accommodation!
We booked our accommodations via booking.com or Airbnb. You have one at Booking.comhuge selection of hotels, hostels and guest houses. Here, however, you have to make sure that you have to pay almost 25% fees on site at the booked price. But we can absolutely recommend the Fair View Hotel.
It is located at Colombo 6 and only opened two months ago. Of course, the price for these conditions was € 128 (2 nights, 2 people, breakfast) very expensive, but we wanted to treat ourselves to something for the first few days. We had a view of the sea, a super modern, quiet and nicely furnished room.
You can also find cool accommodations at Airbnb. With our invitation link you even get a € 25 discount on your first booking. Get it now!
»This way to Booking.com«
For the other nights we looked around at Airbnb. Here we found one cute place to stay in Mount Lavinia. I made the booking straight away and a minute later we got confirmation from Benjamin, the landlord. So we made our way with the tuk tuk and reached our apartment without any problems.
Parents and family members live downstairs, we live upstairs. We have a terrace with a kitchenette, a nice and clean room, a modern bathroom with a glass roof over the shower (sky view) and TV, air conditioning, refrigerator and some seating. We paid for 2 nightsa total of 63 € on Airbnb.
Here you will often find voucher codes on the Internet that you can use for your booking. We therefore give you € 23 straight away when you register with Airbnb. Simply follow this link (register and withdraw € 23)! Overall, however, it is much cheaper for accommodation, of course, but we simply didn't dare to go into some corners or we didn't want to spend the night in some ramshackle shack. The standard is just completely different here.
11. Holidays and street parties
Don't be surprised if it gets a little louder on the streets (that can be even louder?). The Sinhalese have many, many holidays and are firmly prescribed in the calendar of the Sri Lankan population, others are based on the moon, others according to religious guidelines.
Due to these different guidelines, there is an incredible abundance and variety of holidays in Sri Lanka. There are also a number of religions in Sri Lanka, such as Hinduism, Christianity or Buddhism, which bring this colorful variety of festivals to the island.
Every year in Sri Lanka all upcoming full moon days or poya days are planned and celebrated in the calendar. As the name suggests, these celebrations are based on the lunar calendar. We have theBinara witnessed the full moon Poya day (supposedly one of the most important holidays).
This day commemorates the Buddha's visit to heaven to preach to his mother and heavenly beings. Hundreds of people cavorted on the streets and brought their offerings to a decorated "moving van". Bright music and female singing resounded from some cars, one saw dancers in brightly colored robes or fire acrobats.
12. Dream beaches? Nothing!
We heard that Mount Lavinia Beach should be very beautiful. In any case, many hotels write something like: “breathtaking beachfront” or “main sea-bathing spot” in their description. Well, we weren't here in Sri Lanka at the best time, but beautiful was definitely something different. Garbage was lying around everywhere and here and there even a dead animal (fish, small animals). The buildings on the beach were totally crumbled and shabby.
We couldn't imagine that people would like to go here. Okay, maybe this beach really dresses up in the season but what we saw there was really not recommendable. Trains pass directly behind the beach and more barracks are waiting for you. At some point here and there suddenly young men came out of some huts, alleys and holes so that we decided to walk back towards the city.
13. The weather in the region around Colombo
TheSeptember isn't exactly the best monthto travel to Sri Lanka. So far it has rained every day, sometimes all day. In spite of the very warm temperatures, it didn't really bother us. It is of course quite humid and stuffy everywhere. Fortunately, all accommodations have been well air-conditioned so far. But one day we even had a brief blue sky and sunshine - WOW!
TheIsland is influenced by two different monsoons, therefore the climate on the west coast can be completely different, as for example on the east coast. For Colombo you should stop by in the months of January to March. Then it is not quite as hot and it rains a lot less. Most of the precipitation falls in the months of September, October, November and December. Despite everything, the temperatures usually stay up to 30 degrees or more.
Are you looking for other travel destinations? How about a trip to Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Africa or Mauritius? Have a look at our country overview of the destinations we have traveled to so far.
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