Colombo, Sri Lanka
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Approximately 4½ Hours
Depart the pier and drive through the commercial district to Pettah Bazaar, with its seemingly endless rows of shops. The pace is more sedate as you proceed past Vihara Mahadevi Park, created by the British as a botanic garden.
Drive by a former cinnamon plantation -- now an upscale residential district known as Cinnamon Gardens.
Then, delve deeper into Colombo's culture at the elegant, colonnaded National Museum. Among the displays are a fascinating mask collection and outstanding Hindu and Buddhist bronzes. The museum also houses a collection of the regalia of the King of Kandy.
Next, drive to Galle Face Green, where Colombo high society once strolled against the backdrop of the neo-Classical façades of the Colombo Club and the historic Galle Face Hotel.
Pause for refreshments at Taj Samudra Hotel or similar.
Finally, proceed to the Gangaramaya Temple -- one of the finest among the city's Buddhist temples. In this small and colorful temple filled with statues, you may observe Sinhalese in their devotions. Your return drive to the pier passes by the Jami-Ul-Akbar Mosque. This red and white shrine resembles a raspberry layer cake with candy minarets -- a visual feast indeed.
Please note: Modest attire is required; knees, shoulders and midriffs must be covered (women) and shoes must be removed before you enter the temple(s). Shorts are not allowed. Bring along a pair of thick socks to protect your feet from the hot pavement. For security reasons, bags must be checked at the National Museum. Camera fees applies for video cameras at the museum (at your own expense). Photographing government buildings and the old parliament building is not allowed. Tour does not operate on holidays.