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Negombo in Sri Lanka

Negombo is the perfect holiday destination if you do not like to travel too far from the airport to your hotel. Perfect for using as a base or the first or last resort of your holiday. It is approximately 15km from Sri Lanka's international airport, about 15 minutes by either car or taxi.

Negombo is traditionally a Sri Lankan fishing village, on the western coast of Sri Lanka and as such is famous for amazing seafood dishes, particularly shellfish and also fresh fruit - it also comes complete with a traditional old fishing village ambiance. Because of Sir Lanka's climate it is perfect for year round holidays.

There are many historical buildings in Negombo. It was used many years ago by the Portuguese, British and Dutch as a main harbour for the export of cinnamon. There are still some ruins visible that used to belong to the Dutch, these were built in 1642 and now actually now form part of the prison and some wonderful Dutch style houses as well as being used in picturesque Portuguese churches. At the north end of the town's lagoon is the daily fish market, held very early in the mornings; it is Sri Lanka's second largest fish market, where there are daily auctions. If you fancy a day's fishing, this is where you can arrange to go on one of the daily fishing excursions with the fishermen in one of their very own wooden oruwas. There are also daily dawn bird-watching excursions along the canals that were originally constructed for the Dutch.

If you would like to engage in water sports, your best choices are around where the main hotels are on the seafront. The best beaches are here and you can hire jet skis, or even arrange a scuba diving lesson or course and see the truly awesome, shipwreck of the Kudapaduwa, which has been at the bottom of the sea for over 40 years and is a massive 75m, about 246ft in length.

The best hotel in Negombo is 'The Beach'. It has the best facilities for families and caters for babies as young as 6 months old, with activities such as face painting, magic sessions, singing lessons and the older children are looked after too, with sailing lessons and daily games on the beach.

Along the road where all the main hotels are, there are places for teenagers to chill out, as well as an internet café where they can get online and email their friends back home or simply play computer games.

Shopping is a delight. There are all manner of traditional Sri Lankan souvenirs on offer, the most popular shopping area being on the Hotel Road and Lewis Road; but if it is a bargain you are after and a little bit of haggling, then head down to the beach. You can buy all sorts of beautiful costumes here, locally made goodies such as jewellery and other ethnic costume pieces, as well as really colourful, bright sarongs. Expect to haggle, but rest assured knowing that all vendors are licensed. On Sundays there is a market at nearby Kochikade, which is approximately 7km south of Negombo. On sale here and with some negotiation, you can buy all manner of carved wooden figurines and batiks, local teas and spices.

The nightlife in Negombo revolves around the all the hotels on the Hotel Road. These all have live entertainment of some sort going on, these range from fire walking, fantastic, manic displays of drumming and acrobatics, along with the traditional Kandyan dancing. Some bars on Hotel Road in Negombo have karaoke machines and these are still popular with the tourists.

There are some fantastic places to eat out in Negombo. If it is a fish feast you are after and something a little different by way of ambience, head for the nearby 'Brown's Beach Hotel', this is on Lewis Place near the historic Dutch fort area and it really does serve marvellous food. The waiters dress in traditional fishermen outfits and the service is very good. If you are feeling a little adventurous, this is a great place to try the traditional Sri Lankan national dish called a hopper. Hoppers are bowl shaped pancakes that are filled with almost anything, a good example would be a fried egg in the middle with a chilli condiment.

If you are travelling to Negombo from the airport, you can either get a taxi at the airport gate or if you are feeling daring, try a tuk tuk, which is basically a motorised rickshaw and usually a fraction of the cost of a taxi. Once in Negombo, getting around is easy. Most of the streets, ruins and the other Dutch or Portuguese ancient buildings can be explored on foot; although you may wish to explore the original Dutch canals by boat and see them from a totally new perspective.