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Visiting Colombo - Safety

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Visiting Colombo - Safety

My boyfriend and I are visiting Sri Lanka in 4 weeks time and we're keen to visit the capital but we've heard that there have been a high number of terrorist attacks in the capital since the start of the year.

Is it safe to visit Colombo? If we visit what should we do to avoid getting into problem areas? Are there certain bits of Colombo that are more prone to attack? Are trains more dangerous to travel in than cabs etc? What do people advise?

Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
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for Sri Lanka, Kalutara, Ahungalla
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1. Re: Visiting Colombo - Safety

Hi again

Yes, Colombo is more prone to attacks than any tourist coastal resort, mainly of course because this is where the government is based along with lots of army and police buildings too.

It can be safe to go there for shopping for example, but as i wrote in another of your posts there are things to avoid, like government, army and police buildings, and large gatherings too.

Transport?? well it is better that do not use public transport (bus or train) as these have become a target recently, so much better and safer to use a car and driver for a trip there.

Regards

Dave

Colombo
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2. Re: Visiting Colombo - Safety

Hi,

In addition, when you are shopping in Colombo try to avoid rush hours. Ex: You can do on weekdays during office hours because people tend to do shopping on weekend & evenings.

Nishantha

Basel, Switzerland
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3. Re: Visiting Colombo - Safety

We had 24 hours in Colombo last weekend on the way back from Singapore. Security had increased significantly, it seemed, since the previous transit, but possibly because of the bomb attack on Friday. We'd planned to do a day trip to Kandy, but it didn't feel right, so stuck around the hotel (Galle Face - very nice). However, we still managed to get totally fleeced by a very nice, friendly man who nobbled us on the street. We got to see the fantastic Gangaramaya temple, but totally fell for his bulls**t to the tune of 10,000 rupees (about £50). Basically, we were naive, and targets, and despite the heavy military presence everywhere, got done. Entirely our fault, but luckily all it cost us was money. Watch out for a nice friendly man who offers to show you the way, he's safe, but expensive - one of the reasons we fell for it was that all the Sri Lankans we met in Negombo on the way out were just lovely. Recommendation would be, only use hotel taxis if you're going on any trips. But like I said, we were only there in transit, so would be interested to see what others say.

UK
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4. Re: Visiting Colombo - Safety

Hi,

I don't agree with only using hotel transport/cars etc. The ordinary taxi'z are fine as are tuk tuk,s but with all transport , check and confirm the price very clerly before getting into the vehicle.

Never use a taxi or tuk tuk without fixing the price first.

regarding the street scammers,, yes, ther are many of them around, in Negombo, Colombo, Kandy. Galle, in fact all the bigger towns and cities and to a lesser extent, in the less populated areas as well.

My reaction, when approached in the street, is to friendly and welcoming but when it appears that the local guy is tagging along, I make it very plain that I'm happy to chat with him as we wander but there is no chance whatsoever of any money changing hands .

The genuine ones are happy with that and the scammers decide that they really need to go in a different direction.

Usually, these guys aim a lot lower than the £50 mentioned and some are quite ingenious in their methods.

Acting as a guide is normal , some even carry official looking ID from the Ceylon Tourist Board. Most will show you around and either help you to make a purchase or make the purchase for you, making sure that they gain from the transaction.

Some will spin a yarn about their sick baby and ask you to buy a tin of baby milk powder , which of course you can't refuse as it's helping a sick baby. Then as soon as you're around the corner, the tin is returned to the shop and the money shared between him and the shop keeper.

Then there's the deaf, blind, dumb, etc who have a long list of tourists who have made donations to their particular blind/deaf etc. school , all with good ID, as they solicit donations.

We even met up with two lovely , smiling , middle aged, well dressed ladies on the streets of Negombo, who started a conversation with us, then showed us the contents of their briefcase. A photo album of downs syndrome and other disabled kids , plus the usual list of tourists who'd donated.

When we actually offered to chat to the school head teacher to see how we could help, they, of course , realised they were late for an appointment and left quickly.

It all goes on, down to the women who share each others babies for the day to aid their begging.

So, when you're approached, be friendly but also be suspicious. Most Sri Lankans are lovely people but as with anywhere in the world , relatively rich tourists wandering around in a third world country, where many are struggling just to survive, attract the wrong types as well.

Rod.

5. Re: Visiting Colombo - Safety

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