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A Weekend Guide to the Hidden Gems in Colombo, Sri Lanka

written by Morgan Sands

If you’re visiting anywhere in Sri Lanka you’re most likely going to travel through Colombo, the capital city, since the main international airport is located there. This city wins first place for negative reviews online. Before visiting, almost everyone mentioned, or rather insisted, that I skip Colombo and head straight to my first destination on the Southern coast. Little did they know, I’m addicted to doing what everyone recommends against, and luckily for me, I was traveling with my boyfriend who thinks the same way! We decided to spend the last 3 days of our 3.5 week trip in the country in this interesting, bustling city of Colombo, and boy did we love it! Colombo is a seriously hectic place, but if you search hard enough you can find some really unique spots. Take advantage of our research for your next visit! Enjoy!

Where to stay

SriLax Boutique Hotel

A creative, peaceful, and stylish oasis conceptualized and executed by the husband and wife duo Isuru and Shana Dandeniya. These five rooms are designed in a modern, minimalist, and Sri Lankan style with an emphasis on locally sourced items. Each room is unique and equipped with everything you could ever need during a short stay here. And if they don’t have it, they can get it – the staff will seriously go completely out of their way to ensure guest satisfaction. They even helped my boyfriend plan surprise flowers and wine for me on arrival! 

Where to play

The Design Collective and The PR Concept Store

Who knew that Colombo was full of fashionable concept shops loaded with independent brands. Shopping in Colombo is such a treat because everything is really unique and different from what you typically find in the west. The PR Concept Store features a wide variety of Sri Lankan independent brands, with a nice mix of modern and traditional styles along with everything in between. The shoe section is particularly creative and cool, offering custom designs for clients. On the other side of town is The Design Collective, boasting showrooms of more than 50 independent designers. This shop houses Asian designed clothing, shoes, swimsuits, and accessories. The diversity in designs here is incredible and you’re bound to leave with something you love.

Nail Craft

I was in dire need of a pedicure and was recommended this place by Shana from SriLax. She seriously kills the recommendation game. This salon is spotless and they do a great job for an awesome price. Not only is this spot the cutest, family run nail salon, it also doubles as a coffee shop with authentic Vietnamese offerings like egg and condensed milk coffee. Every service was fantastic and my man enjoyed hanging out in the lobby sipping on his first ever egg coffee. Safe to say he’s now addicted.

Ask for Fern

An unassuming plant shop just happens to be the coolest place in town to have a cocktail and get your groove on. You journey up some stairs and through a club to get to the cool, dark patio. The drinks are really unique and delicious and the music and vibes are unmatched. The DJ mostly played hip hop, R&B, and rap music so you know the dance floor is poppin’. We went on a weekday so it wasn’t too busy but it’s definitely the spot to be on the weekends.

Where to eat


This place is pure insanity! To say we were in Colombo for a weekend but spent three meals here is no exaggeration, it’s just that good. They do fusion food right, creating a unique gem in an unassuming location. The second you walk up the stairs and step through the door you feel as if you’ve been transported to a cool cafe in Japan. This was my favorite place we ate in Sri Lanka, that’s a favorite restaurant in an ENTIRE COUNTRY. If you take a glance at the menu you’ll know exactly why this place is so special. The Topaga Bagel and Wafu Pasta were just two of our many favorites from this perfectly constructed menu. Do not miss this place if you visit the wonderful country of Sri Lanka. 

Cafe Kumbuk

Another masterpiece from those behind SriLax. Located right below SriLax, is this hip, healthy, naturally lit cafe and hangout. The menu is mostly Western food with Sri Lankan influence. There’s a beautiful front AND back garden and ample indoor seating ranging from communicable tables to couches. Serving up delicious and fresh food daily!

Meet Morgan!

Name: Morgan Sands
Pao username: @morgui
About: Morgan is a digital nomad, foreign culture enthusiast, and self-declared foodie from Southern California. After graduating from USC, Morgan worked as a Digital Content Creator and Marketing Manager at Pao while backpacking the globe. You can typically find her in Spain, Asia, and almost everywhere in between. She spends her free time doing yoga and trying any vegetarian street food she can get her hands on. 

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Anna Zervos


Anna graduated from UCLA in 2017 where she studied psychology and cognitive science. Her passion for travel, design, and psychology fuel her passion for Pao. On the Pao team she is in charge of feature development, business strategy, UI/UX, and big picture marketing strategies. Anna has been to over 40 countries and plans to keep that number growing. She hopes to inspire people to get outside their comfort zones and eventually give back to people who aren’t able to.

Favorite food

Tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas

Favorite band

The 1975

Favorite movie genre

Psychological horror/thriller

Favorite hobby

Singing and playing guitar

Favorite place in the world

Antipaxos, Greece

Sara Zervos


Sara is has a PhD in Economics and spent 22 years in the finance industry managing teams and over $20bn in assets. She is Pao’s CFO and CTO, and also spearheads business development and AI initiatives. She has traveled to over 57 countries, adores animals and the outdoors. Sara loves to connect with people and help them learn and strive to be their best selves.

Favorite food

Peanut Butter

Favorite band


Favorite movie genre

Sci Fi

Favorite hobby

Salsa Dancing

Favorite place in the world

Kauai & New Zealand are tied