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Colombo

Sri Lanka's former capital (the modern capital is next-door Sri Jayawardenpura Kotte) has one of the most perfect settings in Asia. Stretching for 14 kilometres along the island's western shore, it has a sheltered harbour that attracted Indian Ocean traders long before the Portuguese arrived in 1505. Even in modern Colombo, a busy city of over 600,000 people, with hectic traffic and soaring residential and office towers, there are still patches of the charming "Garden City of the East", with its abundant foliage and gentle sea breezes. There are lakes, canals, tree-lined boulevards, open-air markets, temples and colonial buildings. Many of the latter can be found in two of the oldest districts, Fort and The Pettah (the old market district), next to the harbour, where all the colonial powers - Portuguese, Dutch and British - have left their mark. The National Museum collections include Polonnaruwa bronzes, demon dance masks, puppets, a Children's Museum and a library containing over 4,000 palm leaf manuscripts, or ola, Sri Lanka's oldest written records. In Pettah, the Dutch Period Museum in the 17th-century governor's house is full of domestic details and fine period furniture. To the south is the tiny, delightful Buddhist temple, Gangaramaya, near Beira Lake. Contemporary Colombo is full of great shops - for upmarket shopping and excellent restaurants try Kollupitiya and Bambalipitiya, near the elegant residential area of Cinnamon Gardens - or York Street in Fort. There is a thriving art scene and the Sapumal Foundation Gallery at Barnes Place sells Sri Lankan paintings dating back to 1920 (open mornings only and closed on Mondays & Tuesdays).

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Key

6.927468,79.848358,5
My favourite thing is to go where I've never been.
Diane Arbus

Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
We have been on expensive and luxurious holidays in the past, but the service and communication Ampersand has provided has far exceeded those offered by other agencies.
- Susan Ford, India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka

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