Sri Lanka is a beautiful and charismatic island nation full of life and character, and nowhere is this more profound than in its capital city, Colombo, where local Singhalese culture is infused with its colonial past. The country is also famous for its World Heritage sites, with no fewer than seven declared by Unesco.
Due to tight security in Sri Lanka, arriving and departing passengers at the Bandaranaike International Airport (94 11 225 2861; www.airport.lk), which lies 30 kilometres north of Colombo, can expect to undergo a lengthy screening process. Domestic air links are limited, and the rail network (www.scienceland.lk/railway) is somewhat quaint. The main station is Colombo Fort.
With an average temperature of 27oC, Colombo is distinctly tropical. The Yala monsoon, between May and August, helps nudge the annual rainfall as high as 400 centimetres, while the dry season lasts from December to April.
|Ambulance and Fire||(94) 11 242 2222|
|Accident Service||(94) 11 269 1111|
|Police||(94) 11 242 3333|
|Tourist Information Hotline||(94) 11 243 7055; (94) 11 269 4767; (94) 11 269 4768|
|Hotlines||Ten taxi companies ply Colombo's streets. Two of the best are:
Kangaroo Radio Cabs
(94) 11 2588 588
GNTC Radio Cabs
(94) 11 2688 688)
|Hired cars generally come with chauffeurs. Aitken Spence are the acknowledged veterans.
(94) 11 471 9831
|Bus services in Colombo are really only recommended for those who want to experience the richest tapestry of life; the vehicles are typically crowded and tardy.
Central Transport Board
(94) 11 2581 120
|Deccan Aviation's helicopters are available for scenic flights or domestic transfers.
(94) 11 237 0000
|From R18 per kilometre, depending on the cab company.
||R60,000 per week including petrol.||Fares from R6.||Prices depend on the length of the journey.
|Operating hours||24 hours
||24 hours, though much less frequently at night
|Hotlines||Suburban commuter trains are used by the masses, making them crowded and not the fastest choice.
(94) 11 243 5838
|Three-wheelers, an agile and exciting way to see the city, are an option for the daring.
(94) 11 268 5750
|Fares from R8.
||R50 for a short ride. Be sure to haggle!
||From R200 per day.
|Operating hours||5.55 am – 10.00 pm
||24 hours, although less frequent at night
Note: * Remarks: "R" is local Currency Rupee
Learn more about local language from below.
|Do you speak English?||Oyaa in-ghirisih kata karenawa da?|
|What is your name?||Oyaaghe nama mokka da?|
|Excuse me||Sama venna|
|How much is it?||keeyada?|
|Help!||Aaneh! (or) Aayoh! (or) Amboh!|
|Call the police!||Polisiyata kiyanna!|
|Leave me alone!||Mata maghe paduweh inna arinna!|
|What time is it?||Velava keeyada?|
Business and Finance
Colombo's economy is reasonably healthy. The agriculture industry (principally tea) remains the largest employer, while manufacturing - dominated by the garment trade – is the most dynamic sector. As the country's capital (and only true) city, Colombo is a hub of commerce. The government imposes currency controls, and visitors should have US currency ready for exchange to rupee at the airport.
The above information is for reference only. They may be provided to HSBC by other persons or compiled by HSBC from information and materials provided by other persons. HSBC does not warrant the truth, reliability, accuracy or adequacy of the above information and HSBC assumes no liability for any reliance on them by you or any other persons. Please contact the relevant merchant, company or organisation for further details
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