"Negombo: You can do better than this." Negombo by Maxus
Negombo Travel Guide: 88 reviews and 196 photos
I have to say that I’m not a Negombo fan, it’s not completely unbearable and I’ve stayed there several times but never for more than a day or two. It’s certainly near the airport and mega convenient for a first night/last night stop, on a good day you can be in your hotel and sleeping off the worst effects of a long haul flight within around an hour of landing and there is a myriad of places to stay in every price range but shop around and read reviews on this and other sites before you book anywhere.
It’s far from the best beach in Sri Lanka, the water isn’t clear, the beach in front of the hotels is usually kept clean but elsewhere isn’t, further south you can stroll bare foot along the sand for miles, in Negombo you may need your wellies before long and while there’s some wonderful sunsets I’d get off the beach before it gets dark.
There are some similarities with Goa, for a start the Portuguese were there, it’s a predominantly Christian area, so there’s lots of churches. The Dutch also left their mark on the architecture and there’s a canal. Unfortunately the whole place could do with a bit of a clean and what surprises me is that while much the south coast has developed beyond recognition since the tsunami, very little has happened in Negombo, maybe they vote for the wrong political party.
Negombo is more popular with a slightly older set of tourists including lots of Brits, some of them swear by the place and go back time and again but younger people tend to head south to places like Mirissa and Unawantuna, which are more laid back, have infinitely better beaches and are simply ‘nicer’. If you want a more 'established' tourist resort try Bentota.
These places are quite a hike from the airport and the transfer can be an ordeal after a long flight but I’d seriously consider any of them over Negombo.
So lot’s of people spend a night in Negombo and then move on, others settle in and then take a trip inland in a hire car complete with a driver/guide and if that’s an option I guess it’s as good as base as any. Personally I don’t rate the elephant business at Pinnawala and I find the ‘ancient city’ of Kandy hard work but others rave about both, it’s a matter opinion. If you’re going to travel I’d advise a visit to Sigiriya, a run through the Tea Estates around Hatton and on into the Hill Country.
There is more ‘joined up’ nightlife in Negombo than in some resorts in that there is a series of bars along Lewis Place (which is a little north of the main town, where the hotels are) but for lively think ***-up more than party and if it’s busy (like at weekends when the Colombo crowd arrive) think rowdy more than vibrant. If you are a woman travelling alone the usual precautions apply only maybe more so.
Negombo is a major tourist resort and while it’s relative friendly most people are out to fleece you one way or another. If you know this part of the world you won’t need a lecture from me about tout’s but it really is epidemic in Negombo and whereas touts in some places usually expect to do or trade something for your money, a lot of people here appear to prefer deception, do beware the easy charm and remember that you are a resource. It’s not just that everyone has a younger sister or brother in dire need of expensive surgery; it can be much more sophisticated than that.
For all its faults, it’s a friendly enough place and there’s lot’s going on but other than that I wouldn’t recommend it, I wouldn’t judge Sri Lanka on Negombo any more than I’d judge the UK on Blackpool and I certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to spend their entire holiday there.
This is a fairly negative view of one particular resort in Sri Lanka, there is much more (not always negative) info about the country on my Sri Lanka page, for that and for travellers tips on things to do (and not to do) and some places to see in Sri Lanka please click here
A car and driver is generally the quickest and easiest way to get around in Sri Lanka but for the more adventurous you... more travel advice
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