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Colombo (CMB) Stopover Tips

Austman

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From what I can gather UL has two lounges. Serenediva and Serendib

Serendib is by far the better and is limited to pax in business class or higher. Serendiva is in a bit of a far away corner and is for most economy pax. The whole UL lounge access policy is a bit complex:


Curiously, as I found out, if you qualify for Serendib access, they won't let you into Serendiva. The reason I wanted to use Serendiva was that I had booked a room in the Serendiva Transit Hotel which is co-located with the Serendiva lounge. It would have been more convenient, being right next door to the hotel room.
 
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Daver6

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Serendib is by far the better and is limited to pax in business class or higher. Serendiva is in a bit of a far away corner and is for most economy pax. The whole UL lounge access policy is a bit complex:

Wow...no kidding about that complexity!

So I wonder whether the Serendib or Lotus First Class lounge is the better option. In true AFF style, I'll have to lounge hop :)
 

Daver6

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To close the loop. Used to the Serendib lounge. No issues accessing it as a CX J pax. Although they needed to photocopy my boarding pass for some reason. Was very full on arrival with barely any free seats. Its a dark and uninviting place and a little warm. Used the shower. There is one male and one female shower in the main bathroom area. Really tiny. Shower pack is one towel, no floor mat or wash cloth. I wasn't that hungry and the food didn't look appealing. People chatting on their phone/watching videos without headphones in the quiet area. Flight announcements are done by way of someone walking around the lounge and calling it. I'd imagine easy to miss if you aren't careful.

Was expecting slightly more than this from what I presume is the UL flagship lounge.
 

Austman

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Was expecting slightly more than this from what I presume is the UL flagship lounge.
I largely agree with your assessment.

I've been there dozens of times and know about the showers. But there is another larger one that I think is intended for disabled pax. They all could so easily be better.

Other pax can be annoying and the furniture and power point situation could really be improved!

But over many visits, I've actually got to quite like the lounge, in a quirky way. The food is probably the best part. Drinks too can be quite good although you might need to do a bit of DIY. Staff can be very helpful.

There are of course screens for you to check your flight status. But the walk around announcements by the staff seemed to me to be a bit of a personal thing in a bit of an old fashioned way.
 
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1963transtasman

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Nov 4, 2013
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A few more tips:

The arrival hall is a good / safe opportunity to:

1. Exchange USD or AUD to Sri Lankan rupees for a competitive price. After counting my money, I hand back one big note and ask them to change it to small denominations to start me off. (5000Rs will be hard to use in small places. 50Rs or 100Rs is useful for a small tip for someone in a toilet (handing you paper, turning on the tap) or for someone who loads your bag into a car. On that note: Men at the airport will try hard to confuse you into paying 1000Rs or more as a tip for the 10seconds it takes to put your bag in the boot. A simple no thanks, or if you weren't quick enough and your bag has been loaded, 100Rs would be plenty. The minimum daily wage is 400Rs.)

Side story: I once made the mistake of trying to change AUD500 at a street money changer, they literally had to send staff to another branch to fulfil my request, and after 45mins I had this wad of small notes so massive that people were staring in disbelief.

2. Get a pre-paid SIM at one of the booths. The SIM is free, and the attendant will tailor a plan for you. Last time I paid ~$10 for a month with calls and data. It can be topped up on the street if required.

3. Book your transport to the city or elsewhere. On the right hand side wall, there are pre-paid fixed price transport operators (private drivers). I have heard that the booth on the very right has Government Controlled pricing. There is more than one company to check prices with in the same location.

In Colombo:

1. Use a “Meter taxi” (tuk tuk) when in Colombo – just pay the fare on the meter, plus a small tip if the driver is nice. There will be annoying taxi 'pimps' at popular locations trying to 'help' you. You want a 'meter taxi' and nothing else - if the meter is 'broken' or they want to haggle on a price in advance, move on to another driver immediately.

By the way, if you find a nice driver don't hesitate to book him all day. Tell him where you want to go and agree on a rate for 4 hours or whatever. He'll be happy with the premium salary earned, and you'll have someone happily waiting to take you anywhere ... without dealing with hustlers trying to take you on a 'tour' for the day. You might even get some local knowledge. (You may be invited to his home to meet his kids and have a cup of tea, for me 'Unfortunately on this trip I'm just too busy. Thank-you and maybe next time.')

2. Don’t tip if you see ‘service tax’ on your bill, the tip has been included already. Otherwise I always tip when I feel like I’m getting a good price (as opposed to inflated tourist price) and someone has made an effort in their job. A few dollars to us goes a long way in Sri Lanka. And lets face it, if we are 'rich' enough to travel to their country, we can pay a bit more.

3. I liked visiting the shop 'Barefoot' which also has a lovely beer garden out the back. The prices aren't cheap, but the quality and range is an excellent example of the best of Sri Lanka.

Enjoy.
With Tuk Tuks in Colombo they are indeed metered but the Drivers try to change the rate to a higher one when you arent looking The locals use another ride share service' Pick Me' You can order a Tuk Tuk via Uber , one driver told me my fare would be 400 rupees , i showed him the Uber price of 110 , he wasnt thrilled
 

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