Your ultimate guide to Sri Lanka

Restaurants and bars, museums and galleries, shopping, hotels, travel and more…

'The Square' at Arugambay Roccos
Hotels

'The Square' at Arugambay Roccos

'The Square' entices you to a leisurely dining experience with its scrumptious fusion of flavours by celebrity Chef Koluu from Colombo. Its unique cube style and open ambience makes 'The Square' the centre of attention at the newly opened Arugambay Roccos. 'The Space', the open lounge above, is the ideal chill out spot. It is the place to be and to be seen at.

High Five
Things to do

High Five

June beckons you to the whopping waves and sunny sands of the East Coast. Hang on tight to your surfboards and head on over to Arugambay and Whisky Point. On full moon day of the month, the nation journeys to Mihintale to commemorate the most important poya of Sri Lanka, Poson Poya. The Island has something for everyone, from wildlide to nightlife, delicious food, fashion and a great many places for recreation

Poson and Mihintale
Things to do

Poson and Mihintale

Poson is tied up intricately with the Mihintale mountain. It was here at Mihintale that King Devanampiyatissa, out hunting, met Arhant Mahinda, son of great Emperor Asoka of India and a Buddhist emissary. Since this day in 250 BC, the country would embrace the Dhamma and be moulded by it. The mountain is engulfed by pilgrims on the full moon day of June, also called Poson. The grand staircase that climbs seemingly endlessly, wide enough for almost fifty people, becomes packed with ardent devotees, dressed in white in tandem with the flowering frangipani trees, ascending the 1840 steps to the topmost stage of the rock. This year the National Poson Festival is to be held in Mihintale on June 8, when up to a million pilgrims are expected to mingle. Come night, the ‘Aloka Pooja’ or the offering of lights will illuminate the whole mountain, its various peaks and outcrops glittering or glowing. Poson is marked by all the religious acts that signify Vesak, including lanterns, decorations and dansal or free food stalls. There are however two traditions that can only be seen on this day, in Sri Lanka. Replicas of Mihintale are fashioned, sometimes in cute miniature, sometimes with larger-than-life figures. On a crafted rock the effigies of the king, the Arahant and his retinue, and the deer that was being hunted, are all positioned frozen-on-the-spot. A branch of drooping mango leaves hangs over the whole scene, reminding that the mountain was a mango orchard. The Mihindu perahera

June Getaways 2017
Travel

June Getaways 2017

June Getaways has some exciting stuff for the travellers: 'Visit Thanthrimale where the stupa is lit up for Poya', 'Enjoy a dining experience at Arugambay', 'Enjoy an evening out at the children's park in Jaffna', 'Take a boat to the Island of Nainativu' and 'Hike to Pidururangala'.

Vibrant and exotic Batik
Shopping

Vibrant and exotic Batik

Batik or in its apt literal meaning, ‘writing in wax’ is an ancient art form inherent to Sri Lanka as well as many other Asian countries. Going back in time, one would discover pulsating colour splattered material dancing in beautiful traditional designs stitched into the conventional attire for both men and women.

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The Silver screen calls you
Things to do

The Silver screen calls you

Advice: Check the movie time before going to the cinema.

Time Out theatre guide: what's on this month
Art

Time Out theatre guide: what's on this month

Visiting Sri Lanka this month? Here's our hand-picked selection of this month's best stage plays. Save the date and join in with the fun.

Art and Music
Art

Art and Music

When in Colombo, do not miss to visit the art galleries which feature some of the best exhibition of paintings, jewellery and photographs. 

Somawathiya Chaitya
Attractions

Somawathiya Chaitya

To make the trip to the Somawathiya Chaitya is also to immerse in many legends and mystical stories. Passing through the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa, you enter the remote village of Sungavila. The road to the grand stupa runs through the sanctuary offering views of wild elephants wallowing in the wetlands feeding on greens. The oldest story about Somawathiya is that it was built in the second century BC. While some say it was built by King Kavantissa for his sister princess Somawathie other accounts state it was built by his brother-in-law, the princess’s husband, King Abhaya. The stupa is belived to enclose the right tooth relic of the Shakyamuni Buddha. Restored to its ancient glory, there is an uncovered strip in the stupa where one can see the original brickwork laid in the second century BC as well as those of later renovations. Many miracles are attributed to this stupa. In the 1940s, a group that was newly settling in the area had witnessed rays, similar to those emanating from the Buddha, glow from the a large mound. They had alerted the authorities. After examining, archaeologists recognised it as the Somawathiya Chaitya in 1947, it had been deemed lost for nearly 800 years. Over the years, many devotees have claimed to have seen the rays. Another very intriguing story relates how a group of men tried to obtain the tooth relic. The intention was to take the relic and house it at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. A swarm of bees had made the task impossible and

Where to stay?

Galle Face Hotel

Galle Face Hotel

Established in 1864, Galle Face Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Asia. With rooms over looking the Indian Ocean, the hotel faces the long green sweep of Galle Face Green popular with the city’s residents as the sun sets. The hotel has been spruced up for the modern era and has two wings, where the wooden and earthy tones impart a sense of comfort and luxury. A leisurely alfresco-style evening at the Sea Spray restaurant, The Verandah or at the Poolside Bar and Terrance is a relaxing and reassuring experience in the city. The 1864 Restaurant in the Regency Wing is for formal dining and matches the splendour of the wing’s ornate rooms and suites. The hotel is currently completing its renovation of its original entrance hall and rooms in the Classic Wing.

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Hilton Colombo

Hilton Colombo

Located in the shadow of the twin towers of Colombo’s World Trade Centre, the Hilton Colombo is situated in the centre of the city’s commercial district with rooms recently refurbished to match the demands of today’s business or leisure guests.  With a popular tea lounge off the reception lobby and seven restaurants and bars serving cuisine from different cultures, the hotel is almost a destination in itself, a welcome retreat after a day in the city. Its swimming pool lies across the road, reached by a footbridge.

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The Kingsbury

The Kingsbury

The Kingsbury Hotel began life as the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel in the 1970s but has recently been transformed from top to bottom into a glittery hotel with 229 elegantly furnished rooms with ocean views and an ambience of contemporary charm. The efficiency of accommodation is complemented with versatility afforded by numerous restaurants, bars, lounges, meeting rooms and public areas.  The Sky Lounge on the roof top is the setting for a great night out overlooking the Indian Ocean, except when it rains since the bar really is open to the sky.     

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OZO Colombo

OZO Colombo

Ozo Colombo is a glittering new hotel on Marine Drive overlooking the railway line to the south and the sea beyond, close enough to the city for business visitors and far enough away for holidaymakers. With comfortable rooms bright with light from its western view, the latest in amenities and its pleasant staff, Ozo Colombo is dedicated to affordable hotel living. A morning walk along Marine Drive or a dip in the rooftop pool is a great start to the day. ON14, the rooftop bar lounge is gaining popularity among the city’s trendsetters.

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Sri Lanka shopping guide

Vonel
Shopping

Vonel

Vonel is a brilliant addition to Colombo’s shopping scene. With a reasonably large shopping space, the store is jam packed with various fashionable pieces of clothing.  Upon entering Vonel, you realisethe range is truly quite extensive.  What’s more, they have a decent selection of men’s clothing and also have a few branded items. Prices are quite reasonable for get quality products.  Staff members are extremely helpful and make frequent recommendations having assessed your personal choice. 

Careems Jewellers
Shopping

Careems Jewellers

With more than 100 years of industry expertise, when it comes to jewellery making, Careems knows it all and does it all. Their products are modern, contemporary and are elegantly handcrafted using precious gems and metals. You can get anything from necklaces and bracelets to rings and earrings for both men and women, and what is more, you can even give them an idea of the desired design and get them to make it for you. 

Barefoot
Shopping

Barefoot

A sister store of the beloved Barefoot brand, this shop too, houses a variety of colourful and creative batik and hand made unique products. If you decide to visit the Dutch Hospital, be sure to step into the Barefoot store!

Tea Tang Boutique
Shopping

Tea Tang Boutique

Tea Tang produce tea of uncompromising quality from the best Sri Lankan bushes by using age old methods which have been nurtured through the ages.  The company’s tea collections include green jade, plantation, hillcrest and gift moments. The Liberty Plaza store is a great place to buy gift packets for friends and family members. The company is committed to ethical practices, and has fairtrade, halal and EU certifications.