There is plenty to enjoy beneath the uncompromising exterior, though especially if you’re interested in getting behind the tourist clichés and finding out what contemporary Sri Lanka tick. Although specific sights are relatively thin on the ground, Colombo offers a heavy mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern chic. Shiny modern office blocks and air-conditioned boutiques rub shoulders and tumbledown local cafes and shops, while serene Buddhist shrines and colonial churches stand next to the garishly multicolored towers of Hindu temples. All of which offers a rewarding insight into the rich stew of races and religions which have gone into the making of this many faceted city, and even if you are only on a short trip it’s worth spending a day exploring the maze. Most of all, however it’s Colombo’s energy which is likely to make the strongest impression, especially if you have spent time in the island’s quieter backwaters – for sheer adrenaline, a walk through the crowded bazaars of the Pettah or a high speed rickshaw amidst the kamikaze traffic of the Galle Road have no rival anywhere else in the country.
Within the last five years or so, a new trend of restoration of old colonial buildings in the city has given the tourist a new incentive to visit this city and be enthralled by the Old World Charm of the past glorious days. New sites such as the Independence Arcade, The Race Course and the Dutch Hospital have invariably become tourist haunts offering many dining and socializing options.