Negombo: beaches, canals and lots of Ceylon color
Talking about Negombo, a resort town in Sri Lanka. Our review and tips. Beach, attractions, prices, tuk-tuks. Find out if you should go here on vacation.
What the resort looks like
Negombo is a comfortable spot to rest after a long flight, acclimatize and smoothly immerse yourself in a new environment. Many people start and end their Sri Lanka circuitous itinerary there because:
- close to the airport
- well-developed infrastructure
- there is a beach.
Is it worth going for a long vacation in Negombo? No. Use it as a stopping point to rest for a day or two.
Negombo is conventionally divided into two parts – a bustling center with attractions, stores, cheap cafes and tourist area with a beach, restaurants, beautiful villas and hotels. It is a typical Asian city with lots of noise, advertising, garbage, smells of sewage, clingy tuk-tuks and cafe callers.
A non-tourist street in Negombo.
When is the best time to go
The high season when there is almost no rainfall is from December to March. Most tourists come at this time. We vacationed in Negombo in March: hot and humid during the day, a pleasant chill in the evening.
From April to November is low season. It rains a lot and is too humid at this time.
How to get to Negombo from the airport
The cheapest way is to call a tuk-tuk using the Pick Me app. The trip to the city costs at least 500 rupees. To do this, buy a Dialog SIM card at the arrivals area and install the Pick Me app. Next, exit the airport and walk on – tuk-tuks are not allowed to enter the airport area. Call and wait. The driver’s number and the moving tuk-tuk figure will pop up on the screen – just like in Uber.
Or you don’t have to think about it. Find a tuk-tuk driver and haggle down to 550 rupees – that’s what we did. A strong bargaining argument is the cost of the ride in the Pick Me app. The driver will not resist! However, buy a SIM card anyway – more than once will come in handy to call a tuk-tuk and save a lot of money.
The most expensive cab is at the airport. It is cheaper to put Uber and call a cab outside the airport.
Catch a tuk-tuk outside the airport and go to Negombo.
Note! The app doesn’t work everywhere. In Sigiria, Nuwara Eliya, Ella and Mirissa it doesn’t. We only used it in Colombo and Negombo.
Where to withdraw money without commission at Negombo airport. At the ATM of Bank of Ceylon. It is located in the arrival hall on the left side near the toilets and the food court.
Where to buy a SIM card at the airport. The operator’s desk in the arrivals hall is bright and eye-catching; it is located to the left diagonally to the green corridor. Dialog has a basic rate of 1,300 rupees for 4GB. On top of that, you can buy extra gigabytes – 9GB costs 2,600 rupees. If you run out of traffic, buy more at supermarkets or shops marked Dialog.
Enjoying the view from the terrace of our hotel. Negombo tour area is pretty quiet and peaceful. Mostly hotels, guest houses and cafes.
The beach in Negombo
There is only one beach here, very wide and long. There is no natural shade. The beach in Negombo is so-so – a lot of garbage in the sand, and the ocean water is turbid because of the waves and silt. Tourists hardly ever swim.
At sunset, when it gets cooler, the locals come to relax. Adults enjoy the sunset and eat fast food, and children flounder in the surf.
Disembarkation of Lankan schoolchildren on the beach of Negombo. The beach in Negombo is not so good: the sand is coarse and yellow, with garbage. The water is muddy. There are a lot of people, but you can go further from the center – it will be quiet there.
Hotel prices in Negombo
Very modest guesthouses with a shared bathroom and a fan in the room cost $5-8.
Simple guesthouses with air conditioning and private bathroom are $13-$20. This price almost always includes breakfast.
On Rumguru during high season, 3* hotels cost from $17, 4* from $30, and 5* from $50.
Look for discounted hotels on Rumguru. Here are the ground rules for finding hotels.
We stayed in the touristy part of town at the small Negombo Fortress gesthouse for $17 a night. The price to quality ratio is excellent! Very hearty breakfasts are already included. There is both air conditioning and a ceiling fan. The host is very hospitable.
Every morning our host brought a hearty and delicious breakfast to the terrace. The only downside is that you can’t drink coffee.
Prices in Negombo for food
The choice of establishments and the range is wide. If the national cuisine is too spicy for you, choose a menu of European dishes or establishments with other cuisines. See Italian, Japanese, German and Greek.
Food prices in Negombo are different: high in the tourist area and low – in the city center. If in Vietnam and Thailand, we stacked in $10 per day for two, then in the tourist area so costs only lunch or dinner for two (from 1500 rupees). And that’s the minimum – it’s impossible to leave less. Plus they usually add a 10% service charge.
But in the center of Negombo food prices are 2-3 times lower! It seems more profitable to take a tuk-tuk to the center and eat there. For comparison, rice with curry by the beach costs at least 500 rupees, and in the cafe in front of the Negombo Plaza – from 180 rupees.
Inexpensive cafes and restaurants we recommend. They are in the tour area, except for the last one:
- Jude. Went all the time – it’s the cheapest food in the tourzone, and tasty at that. Only 4 tables, so no seats after 7:30pm – come early. The staff are very friendly and once set a table for us in their guesthouse room so we did not have to wait. The minimum check is 1,600 rupees. The address is no 100/11B beach road Palagature west.
- Greek Grill. A Greek restaurant with low prices. Minimum bill: 1,600 rupees. Address: 63 Porutota Rd.
- Ruwini Restaurant. More expensive and not as tasty, but an incredible Mix Lassi for 300 rupees. Address: 57/A Cemetery Road Kudapaduwa.
- Tastees in the center of town. Low prices and delicious! We recommend the almond shake with dates. Located across from Negombo Plaza.
The veggie curry at Cafe Jude is delicious!
Bank of Ceylon gives out money without a fee – only saw it in the city center. HNB takes a fee of 300 rupees.
Tuk-tuks. The city is convenient to move around by tuk-tuks – a kind of three-wheeled moped. You can get them through the Pick Me app, it’s much cheaper. Locals use it, too. You need a local SIM card.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Drivers are either slow-witted or don’t know the city very well. Sometimes they drive on the principle of “Can you show me the way?” or answer a Pick Me call and go the other way! May call and ask where you are waiting.
- Pay in-app cash. Have petty cash because drivers don’t always have change.
- If you have a tuk-tuk without an app, bargain, because they triple the price.
Buses. The tourist doesn’t need city buses – tuk-tuks are more convenient. But it is useful to know about intercity buses.
There are some without air conditioning (Non AC) – they are large and go slowly, often stopping. It’s colorful, but uncomfortable to sit there, Sri Lankan pop rumbles and it blows from the open windows.
Mini-vans with air conditioning is much more comfortable. Tickets cost pennies: for example, a two-hour trip to Kurinigala in a mini-van is 230 rupees ($1.50), on a regular Non AC bus from Kurinigala to Damballa is 100 rupees.
It’s a slow bus without air conditioning. Cheap and hearty!
The city is boring, there is almost nothing to do, there are few sights in Negombo.
Large colorful market – it makes for interesting photos. You can see how the catch is unloaded and dried on the sand. Arrive in the morning. We were almost at noon – even at this time is very busy, although the traders slowly disperse. The market is not open on Sunday.
Fresh catch at the fish market. The fish market is buzzing with life even at noon.
The canals and the lagoon.
The canals are picturesque. Along them stretch houses and fishing boats stand. It is interesting to watch the life of the locals, some playing, some washing, some just sitting. You can take a tour or walk by yourself. Be warned: the smell is peculiar, there is a lot of garbage floating around.
A picturesque canal. Tourists go boating on the canals.
Remarkable for its unusual entrance in the form of the mouth of a predatory beast. Inside is a colorful (perhaps even too colorful) depiction of the life of the Buddha. The visit is free, but the monk asked us to buy a brochure explaining the paintings in the temple for 1000 rupees. We politely declined.
The temple is a riot of color.
Negombo travel guide
Not all travelers have the opportunity to travel several times to the same country, and therefore increases the role of thoughtfulness of the upcoming itinerary and type of vacation. This is true for Sri Lanka or more familiar to the Russian ear – Ceylon. It is clear that the most attractive is the closest city to the airport, which also has the status of a seaside resort – Negombo.
The very name of the city unwittingly reminds one of something from adventure literature, like the novel “Children of Captain Grant. And the trip here can really be an adventure, especially if you go “wild”. And this, I must say, a fairly common type of tourism, because the tours can be combined – throughout the country, and even in transit, for example, from neighboring India. Everyone chooses what is called by himself, but it is still worth being psychologically prepared for the fact that the organized sightseeing and hotel tour is different from an independent. This applies, perhaps, first of all, the question of cleanliness. First of all, life is a comparison, and if you compare it with India, which you have just left, Negombo will seem very neat and orderly, but if you are still “one foot in the door” in Moscow (or any European), the impression will be somewhat different. Secondly, consider the complicated history of the country – a recent history, because the fighting here ended just a few years ago, and rolling through the whole island-state.
When is better to rest in Negombo?
Almost all travel guides write that recreation in Negombo is good all year round, because the weather is always hot and the thermometer column almost never falls below + 25. A big plus of this place is the fact that the ocean is almost always blowing a light breeze, allowing you to easily tolerate the heat. The information from the books and confirm the numerous travelers who have visited this very interesting place.
Seasonality Holiday in Negombo is, but after the terrible tsunami that occurred in 2004, it is not pronounced, as it was before.
But nevertheless, it is believed that the “top” season starts in early November and ends in April. At this time there is almost no rain, the air temperature can reach 35 degrees, and the sea gets warm up to 28th.
From May to October is considered the low season, but as written above, this definition is very relative, except perhaps September and October. And it’s not even the rain, which can fall at this time. Rains of 5-10 minutes, it’s not that big a deal. The problem is that the ocean during this period is rather choppy and high waves can interfere with a comfortable beach vacation.
What money to take with you?
The national currency in Negombo, as well as all over the island is the Lankan rupee (LNK) which currently equals 130 rupees = 1 dollar. The rupee has generally kept a similar exchange rate to the U.S. currency for a long time, with a slight depreciation of the rupee to the dollar (about 4-5% per year).
When planning a trip to Negombo, it is better to give priority to dollars, and not only because the U.S. currency is accepted by all exchange offices here, and the rate is the most adequate, but also because dollars can be used to pay for services. The Euro is also quite widely used, but according to many comments, and my own observations, it is slightly undervalued. It is worthwhile to say that despite the fact that the euro and dollar are in circulation in Negombo, the rate in case they are used to pay for services and goods, will simply robbery.
But the Russian ruble, the Ukrainian hryvnia and Kazakh tenge, can be attributed to the currencies are very exotic, despite the relatively large flow of tourists from these countries. Perhaps somewhere to exchange rubles for Sri Lankan rupees, but such places in Negombo I have not seen.
You can exchange currency in banks, hotels, private exchange shops, but it is ironic, compared with other countries, the most favorable rate in the exchange offices of the largest island airport Bandaranaike. It is worth noting that when exchanging… read completely
Where to stay in Negombo?
The accommodation options in Negombo are abundant. Even if you manage to arrive in the town late at night, you will easily find a bed, and it may well be a very decent night. Almost all hotels are located right on the coast, in the northern part of town. Some have direct access to the beach, some a little further. Some (like Jasmin Villa Ayurveda Resort) are as much as 1 kilometer from the ocean; some, like Oreeka Village Hotel, are even 3.5 kilometers from the water. On the shore of the lagoon there are far fewer hotels. There are a few options right around the airport (Taj Airport Garden Hotel, Otha Shy Airport Hotel, Hotel Empyrean) – a very decent option! A few hotels are comfortably situated on a narrow long spit separating the lagoon from the ocean (Hotel Lagoon Paradise, Hotel villa Rosita, Chawick Lagoon Hotel etc). Most of all there are guest houses in the city . By the way, it’s often very cool options for housing, besides, are not as expensive as hotels, but with the indispensable comfort and hospitality of the owners (who often welcome guests “as a family”). Hotels in the town of more than 50 – any star, including six five-star. In short, there is something for every taste and wallet. And here are the best options for housing in Negombo, according to many tourists.
Negombo, due to its proximity to the largest airport in Sri Lanka is quite a popular resort, including the Russians. and the flow of tourists from our country every year is increasing. In this regard, it is not superfluous to discuss some of the behavior and features of local life, which will help to make your vacation more comfortable.
– Due to the long British colonization and the proximity to India, where English is the second official language, Sri Lankans speak English more or less fluently. And if you add to this the amazing responsiveness, friendliness and willingness to help, which are peculiar to the Sri Lankans, then it can be said that having a basic vocabulary of English words, no problems in communication with the locals and hotel staff, will not cause problems.
– It is generally believed that the tip in Negombo, and all over the island as a whole, a phenomenon not necessary, but it is worth giving a few rupees a porter, a waiter or someone else from the staff, you will see how the attitude toward you will change, and this change will be striking. So I’m inclined to think that it’s worth leaving a tip. It will cost mere pennies and it will bring a lot of comfort. The tip amount is up to you.
How to get there?
Of all the resorts in Lanka, Negombo is the closest to the main “air gate” of the island – the capital airport Bandaranaike. The distance from the airport to Negombo is about 20 kilometers.
After a recent renovation, the airport receives flights from more than 20 international airlines, including those that fly here from Russia. The most favorable fares on flights from Russia to Sri Lanka offer (traditionally) Arab airlines such as Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline and Turkish Turkish Airlines.
True, in all cases, the flight will have one connection (or refueling), but this should not be frightening, because it does not take much time. On average, the flight from Moscow to Colombo takes 10-12 hours (including connections).
From the airport to Negombo you can get there:
– by cab. In this case, the travel time to the city center will be half an hour, and it will cost, in terms of Russian rubles, 350-400 rubles;
– by tuk-tuk. The trip will take 40 minutes to 1 hour. The price is about 200 rubles;
– by bus. From the airport to Negombo there are two local buses № 240 and 240/3. Travel time is 1-1.5 hours. The price is approximately 15 rubles. However, you should take into account that the bus stop is located 1 kilometer from the airport building. It is not difficult to find it. It’s enough to ask the locals the question: “Negombo bass? And you will be shown the direction in which to go. You should take into account that the bus runs only in the… read in full
Food and drinks
Very small, like most cities in Sri Lanka, Negombo is something like a big village, actively developing in an attempt to please the flow of tourists, mostly of German origin. There are many restaurants in Negombo, and most of them have menus in English and German, with almost no menus in Senegalese and Tamil (the local languages). The staff at the establishments also speak English quite well.
For starters, you can eat at the beach in Negombo. For example, you can buy a coconut (for a couple dozen rupees) – the seller immediately at you a nut will cut through and insert a tube to be able to drink the juice. You can buy on the beach and peeled and chopped papaya, mango and pineapple (for less than a hundred rupees). By the way, find out in advance if you are buying sweet or salty mango, because in Ceylon this juicy fruit is often eaten green with salt and pepper. In any case, it is better to be prepared, at least morally, for an unexpected explosion of taste.
What to see in Negombo?
Negombo, a quiet and peaceful town, located on the west coast of Sri Lanka is famous not only for its pristine natural beauty, but also for its man-made attractions, which are mostly of religious nature. The city’s development was greatly influenced by the period of colonization, during which the city passed from the Portuguese to the Dutch, from the Dutch to the British and eventually ended up in the possession of those from whom it was originally taken – the Sinhalese. All this has left a bright mark on the architecture of Negombo. But however, let’s talk about it one by one.
– For some reason, I don’t understand, but the visiting card of the city is a poorly preserved Dutch Fort, built by the first colonists in the region in the second half of the 17th century. Everything would be fine, but here’s just at the beginning of the 19th century the fort was destroyed by the British, who decided to build a prison in its place, acting incidentally to this day. Of the fort at the moment remained only tower, a few walls and gates, which take care of people serving sentences in the local prison.
– Church of Saint Sebastian
A place that is impossible not to visit, if only because it is practically next to the tourist center of the city.
The striking architecture of St. Sebastian Church unwittingly attracts the attention of any tourist, especially since it is located very close to the tourist area. The temple was built in the style of early Gothic, ie.
What can I buy?
Negombo is quite a big tourist city, and shopping is not bad there. Although stores, in a good sense, are not particularly plentiful in Negombo. It’s easier to say that you can buy everything in the city at the market. Many, for example, go there for “brand” T-shirts, polo shirts and others, which are not cheap, but do not smell, and at least a couple of years will not lose their shape and color and wear well.
Well, in general, the center of Negombo – is, in fact, one big shop stall where you can find everything you need and want, from clothespins and ending with the most real sapphires. As for clothes, before trying on clothes, it is worth considering such a nuance as size matching, so at first just look around to see how much smaller and thinner you are than the locals, and convert that value to the size of the clothes. For example, a medium-sized lady might fit a size XXL blouse and nothing else. “Luv SL Negombo, across from the Centre Point Grill & Bar and Jetwing Blue Hotel, is probably the only decent clothing store in town. The interior and service is just like in Europe. There is air conditioning, which is extremely nice on a hot day. And a good range of high-quality clothes – t-shirts, dresses. Of course, collections are not so rich, but you can choose something. Prices there are fixed, but they are sometimes much lower than in small stores with things of dubious quality. After all a little annoying. read completely