Negombo is a small beach town located around 8 km from the international airport enroute to the capital city of Colombo. Negombo is an excellent place to set up base either while on your first day or last day in Sri Lanka. The town serves as a perfect gateway to the airport. Here are a few must-do things while in Negombo.
At every nook and corner, you’ll find plenty of small stalls selling packaged food in white paper sheets. Might not seem like the best thing to do. But trust us the egg rice, tuna fish, papad and pickle will surely fill your stomach and leave you craving for more.
Dutch fort and a Catholic church
A mark of the Dutch rule is a small run-down pillar of what once used to a sea fort to overlook the entrance to the fishing village. The fort is honestly nothing much to look at and the Catholic church located adjacent to the fort gives you an incredible view of the Indian Ocean. An interesting thing is that behind the fort in ruins is the entrance to the Negombo men’s prison.
The fish market is one such place that you can’t miss while in Negombo. Here it’s divided into two parts. The fresh fish market which starts at 03:00 HRS and winds up by 07:00 HRS. If you’re someone who likes waking up in the morning even while on holiday, then this is a must-visit, just to get a first-hand experience of what life along the ocean is like. If you can’t wake up that early then a visit to the seashore where the dried fish is kept on sacks along the beach to dry with the direct sunlight is a place worth visiting. If you hate the smell of fish, then skip this part.
The Angurukaramulla Buddhist Temple is located 2.8km from Negombo town centre. The temple is currently under renovation and a mandatory donation of LKR 1000 (USD 7) is required for one to enter the main temple complex. If you don’t wish to pay the same, then the temple library and stupa are the only options for you. The temple is best known for its giant 25 feet statue of the Buddha, and its dragon-like entrance, inside which you will find detailed murals that date back centuries. There is also a 300+-year-old ruin of a historic library which is now covered in moss.
Hog on some Mangosteen
While exploring the areas around Negombo you’ll find plenty of fruit stalls selling a lot of unique fruits one such must have fruit is Mangosteen. They don’t look very impressive but when you crack the hard outer shell you’ll find the taste a lot similar to Litchi. It’s a definite must-have while in Negombo.
Explore in a tuk-tuk
This is the best and the fastest way to explore the place around. You can hire a cycle or bike but then that’s gonna be a battle against the scorching heat. Taxis are available but again the cost is a bit too steep for the average backpacker. Tuktuks are easily available at every nook and corner and is the preferred way to explore the tiny beach down. Hiring a tuk-tuk for half a day is more than enough to explore the area around. The average cost is anywhere between 1500-2000 LKR based on the season.
A visit to the local spice garden is something really different and educational. The garden is a government-run setup which is managed by an ayurvedic medicine college professor whose main job is to give people an in-depth insight into the various fruits, flowers and spices that are grown in this garden and their medicinal properties. Various kind of medicinal oils and tablets can be purchased from the spice garden medical shop.
Lagoon boat ride
The Dutch built the canals back in the day which connects the town to a beautiful backwater lagoon. It’s an epic journey from start to end and you’ll actually be surprised by the beauty of the lagoon. The more you wander around in the water, the more you’ll discover. From eating fruits on an island to playing cricket with the locals, the lagoon is a hidden paradise for experience gatherers.
Definitely worth trying because there is no luck involved out there. You’ll surely end up catching enough first to eat for the rest of your stay in this island country. That’s the number of fish even a rookie can catch. The perfect place to start your journey as a fishing expert.
St. Sebastian’s church
Located 1.6 km from the town centre this Gothic-style Roman Catholic Church has been built on the lines of the Reims cathedral in France. The structure was completed in 1946 AD and is a great place to find some peace either at the start or end of your journey around Sri Lanka.
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