Colombo , Sri Lanka | How to spend one night only

Ministry of Crab Restaurant, Colombo
Local transport on the bus

Having just one night in Colombo, Sri Lanka before continuing our travels throughout the country and spending Christmas and New Year on the beach meant that there was only 1 thing on our agenda and that was food. So here’s a little insight to probably one of the most interesting restaurants we’ve been to on our travels.

But first let me share with you the journey from Colombo airport into the city centre.

See below for:
  • How did we get to Sri Lanka?

  • What to expect when you arrive in Colombo?

  • Our story of one night in Colombo.

  • What hotel we chose and why?

  • Restaurant and bar recommendations

  • Tip of the Trip

  • What’s next on our Sri Lankan Adventure 

How did we get to Sri Lanka?

We travelled from Manchester, UK to Colombo on Emirates via Dubai.   The flight was good even though Emirates changed their aircraft spec the day before and for the first leg of our journey we didn’t have the seats we chose but that was minor, an adventure awaited.   For flight details and prices check them out here. 

You’ve arrived in Colombo, now what?

When we travel we like to make use of public transport as much as possible. The approx distance between Bandaranaike Airport and the city centre is approx 20 miles and ta variety of transport options to choose from costing anywhere between £0.50p and £25.00.

  • LOCAL BUS – approx £0.50p and depending on traffic 45 mins – 1 hr
  • EXPRESS BUS – approx £0.50p and a little quicker as it uses the expressway
  • PRIVATE TAXI – anything up to £25 and journey time approx 25 – 30 mins

There will be many independent minibus, taxi, private car operators outside the main terminal building and they can charge what they like so beware if you’ve not booked a private taxi before hand.

Our story

We chose he local bus. We had intended on getting the Express bus which many travellers choose but we ended up piling on a local bus which was one of the best experiences ever.

It had Colombo Airport – Fort on it so since that’s where we were going we were confident that this would be the one we needed and we weren’t wrong. Right outside the terminal building, what could have been easier !

The bus was jam packed and we had to leave our bags at the front of the bus in a space next to the driver and find a seat. It was absolutely boiling with a few fans dotted around the ceiling trying their best to ventilate the bus. I was pretty lucky as the seat I’d chosen had the fastest fan above it and whilst I was grateful it still was incredibly warm.

The sights, sounds and smells on the bus were so incredible and as it was just getting dark there was a small glow from the lights down the centre of the bus when we were travelling and then the bright lights came on when we stopped. We were definitely the attraction of the day for these locals and many smiled and nodded and it was a beautiful introduction to a new country.

Once we’d arrived at the Fort train station. The most central stop to where we needed to be, we took a tuk-tuk to our hotel and dropped our bags.

Where did we stay in Colombo?

We stayed at C1 Colombo Fort which was a hostel/hotel and pretty new however it was perfect for one night. Even more if we had the time as it was clean and comfortable and was in a great location.

Hotel Facilities
  • Good clean and comfortable room with en suite bathroom and a great shower
  • Breakfast was available but we left too early in the morning to sample that
  • The staff were great and really accommodating even when we asked for a wake up call at 3am and a Tuk-tuk at 4am to take us to the train station.   I think they thought we were slightly mad!!!

Would recommend this hotel and definitely stay there again.

C1 Hotel Colombo
C1 Hotel Colombo
C1 Hotel Colombo
C1 Hotel Colombo front entrance

What did we do in Colombo?

So only having only 1 night in Colombo, and arriving in the later afternoon, Chris had previously booked a table at a restaurant called Ministry of Crab as this was rated one of the top restaurants in Colombo and we wanted a celebratory meal to start our adventure but first we had a wander through the streets in the Hospital District and stopped at a couple of bars before we headed to the restaurant for our meal

The bars 

The bars we chose were Taphouse RnR, a typical pub type atmosphere and great beer and Gin. Secondly we ventured to The Dutch Pub and managed to grab a couple of high chairs outside and were serenaded by a band playing Christmas tunes. There were loads of people out and about and it was a lovely happy, vibrant atmosphere.

The Restaurant

The Ministry of Crab, oh boy did they know their crab. You ordered your crab by size and then selected how you wanted it cooked, there were several sauces to choose from and it all looked and smelled delicious.  

The restaurant provided you with a bib and all the tools you needed to attack your crab. It was delicious. I had the curry sauce and Chris had the chilli sauce and both were outstanding. As our reservation was quite late in the evening they had run out of much of the smaller crabs so we were left with something a bit bigger than we would have normally chosen. It was excellent though and a fantastic first impression of Sri Lanka.

Ministry of Crab Colombo
Ministry of Crab Colombo
Taphouse R n R Bar, Colombo
Taphouse R n R Bar, Colombo


This trips tip is try and use public transport whenever you can. Sri Lankans are the most helpful people and their bus, train and Tuk-tuk offering is brilliant. If you are using a Tuk Tuk its usually best to agree the cost to destination beforehand which saves any surprises but all in all we found the charges to be really inexpensive.

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