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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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The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
G. K. Chesterton

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
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
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
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.
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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
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
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From our Instagram

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Sunsets at the @gallefacehotel are the best welcome to #Colombo, especially when watching their flag ceremony from the iconic checkerboard terrace with a G&T in hand 🌅
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We also love the wonderful @maniumpathy_boutique_hotel, which is truly an oasis of tranquility within this city 🌿
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Cascading rice terraces greet you in #Ubud 🍃🍃🍃
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