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Colombo

Sri Lanka's former capital (the modern capital is Sri Jayawardenpura Kotte nearby) sits in a prime position, stretching 14 kilometres along the island's western shore, and has a buzzy atmosphere.

Colombo’s sheltered harbour attracted Indian Ocean traders long before the Portuguese arrived in 1505 and despite being home to over 600,000 people, 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 to be found throughout the modern, busy city. Numerous lakes, tree-lined boulevards, temples, churches and colonial buildings are scattered around - many of the which 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 and in the south near Beira Lake lies the tiny, delightful Buddhist temple, Gangaramaya.

The city has 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). The beautiful home of Sri Lanka’s most acclaimed architect, Geoffrey Bawa, sits on Bagatelle Lane and is well-worth a visit if you are an admirer of his iconic ‘tropical modernist’ work.

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. We also recommend exploring the Dutch Hospital area, where the Ministry of Crab restaurant and stylish rooftop bars are located, as well as buzzy Park Street, which offers other fine dining spots.

While many visitors transfer straight from the airport to the quieter coastal city of Negombo upon their arrival, we believe staying a night in the city is underrated as it works well as an introduction to Sri Lanka. Settle in at the iconic Galle Face Hotel or the lovely Maniumpathy boutique hotel before continuing on to the tranquil locations that you will no doubt be covering on your luxury tour of this wonderful country.

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When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
Susan Heller

Client Testimonials

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
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North 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
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
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
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
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
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

From our Instagram

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A team of Ampersander's have officially landed in #Rajasthan. First stop, the Capital - #Jaipur 💗
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Also known as the Pink City because of its trademark colour throughout, its hard to miss a picture perfect moment in front of one of Jaipur's landmark doorways.
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For more inspiration and to follow the teams journey through the Golden Triangle, keep an eye over on our Instagram stories and get in touch if you want to begin your trip!
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As the year begins to draw in, here at Ampersand HQ we've been thinking about where our adventures in 2020 will be, but where will be yours? 🌍
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Will it be on the soft white sand beaches of #Cambodia @songsaaprivateisland, indulging in the colourful cuisine of #Vietnam, rejuvenating at @vanajourney, #India, hiding away beneath the #okavangodelta or exploring the endless shrines and Temples found in #Japan...
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It's never too early to start planning! For inspiration, get in touch with one of our experts today to start your 2020 adventure.
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Glide down #ThePerfumeRiver to experience #Hue’s scenery, passing mausoleums as you go 🍃🌿
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📸 Beautifully captured by @soaipham
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As you travel through #Cambodia’s countryside you’re bound to come across some friendly faces like these! 🧡
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If you’d like to go off the beaten track in this wonderful country and meet some lovely locals along the way, then please get in touch!
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One of our #Cambodia specialists, Simon, has just returned from the wonderful #ShintaManiWild & couldn’t recommend it more! 🇰🇭
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Overlooking a crashing waterfall & immersed in rugged jungle, this luxury camp genuinely lives up to its name 🍃
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Swipe to peek inside the tents, designed by one of our favourite designers #BillBensley & get a striking bird’s eye view of the camp...
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✨Beautiful Udaipur✨
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A pleasure palace built in the 1700s, the location for Octopussy and many a love story, @tajlakepalace is so magical, you can’t quite believe your eyes
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📸 @the_adventuresofus during their whirlwind tour of India 🧡🇮🇳
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Today marks #InternationalTigerDay & we couldn’t be happier that #India’s wild tiger population now touches almost 3,000! 🐅🐅🐅
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If you’d like to catch glimpses of these magnificent creatures during a tailor-made tour with us, then please get in touch!
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As the Rugby World Cup kicks off in #Tokyo this weekend,  and #Japan will soon begin to bloom into its world renowned Autumn season, we want to be there more than ever! 🇯🇵🍂
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Attracting three million tourists every year, the #tokyotower has quickly become Tokyo's international symbol since its opening in 1958. 🗼
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If you'd like to see this Eiffel Tower-inspired structure for yourself, speak to one of our specialists today!
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