By Sulakshna Wadhwa
In the last few years, a noticeable trend in the hospitality industry is that tourists are now evolving into travellers. While they don't mind visiting the recommended tourist spots, they definitely like to go a mile extra to get a first-hand local experience of the place they are visiting. Keeping travellers in mind, we brought back some first-hand experiences from travellers in Colombo, read to find out how one can experience Colombo like a local. If one has little time on their hands but would like to explore Colombo qualitatively, a curated tuk-tuk safari is recommended. When staying at the Movenpick Hotel Colombo, a local and traveller's favourite, the travel desk can facilitate the experience.
Tuk Tuk Safari In Colombo
Tuk Tuks (Much like rickshaws in India) are popular amongst locals when getting around the city, but these curated experiences give an interesting spin to the traditional rides. When opting for it, a chauffeur-driven tuk tuk arrives at your destination, welcoming you with a garland or some flowers, and Sri Lanka's special orange coconut water. As you hop in, you will notice that the tuk tuk is in-built with an icebox containing water bottles and beverages to help you stay hydrated through the day. A mini-tray holds sanitizers, tissues and some munchies for the passengers. The entertainment choice isn't sparse either as the tuk tuks come with an in-built speaker for some music. The tuk tuk
roofs can be unfastened to help one enjoy an open-air safari in the true sense!
What all can one expect on this intriguing safari experience? A visit to some of the iconic places such as Sri Kaileswaram Temple (Oldest and largest Hindu Temple), Independence Memorial Hall, Fort area (The the business district of Colombo.) A closer peek into the local experience is extended through a tasting of the popular Ceylon coffee and tea, followed by a walkthrough of the world-famous locally produced and globally exported spices and concluding it with an authentic Sri Lankan meal at Curry Pot.
Where to stay and eat in Colombo
Before heading to Colombo, we did a little research and Movenpick Hotel seemed to be a popular choice. Situated right in the middle of the city, it is easier for visitors to get around Colombo for business and leisure. On our visit we spotted several business travellers, and why not? The hotel overlooks the ocean, it couldn’t hurt to have an office with a view. The rooms are gigantic and offer breath-taking panoramic views of the city as well as the ocean. In fact, for those don't mind a little train adventure, the Kollupitiya railway station is located right opposite the hotel and has an in-motion oceanic view during the ride! When checking in a luxurious abode like Movenpick, one can also feel like a royal with the complimentary executive lounge access when booking a suite or executive room here. It is difficult to ditch the larger than life and comfortable amenities in the room but upon exploring one would discover that the surprises are endless.
Vistas, the rooftop bar is locals' go-to place and the guests' favourite too offering a surreal view of the sunset at dusk and a New York observatory kind of view later in the evening. The loungers and sofa seats here are the perfect companions for a mesmerising sundowner. An even better idea is to take a dip in the infinity pool here overlooking the view straight from the 24 th floor of the building!
There is no visiting Colombo without having an authentic Sri Lankan breakfast, trust the chefs at AYU, the in-house restaurant here to prepare a delicious spread of String Hoppers, Potato Curry, Dahl, Coconut Roti, Coconut Sambol among other things. If you're in the mood for some authentic Japanese or Pan Asian food, there's no need to step out, trust the team at Robata Grill & Lounge to whip you up the finest of Japanese delicacies.
Some facts about Colombo
– Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka
– Colombo was named the capital of Dutch Ceylon under the control of the Dutch East India Company
– The two World Trade Centre Towers are the most recognised landmarks of Colombo.
(The author is a Mumbai-based travel writer. Views expressed are personal.)