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|Travel & Resources: SRI LANKA
Please help us keep our Sri Lanka listings up-to-date. Special thanks to HappyDane, BrizBoy, Justinwilson, ulysse, satapanakMarty1, anton888, ghekko62, btonboz, kvw, jamescanada, jamesto, yakka01, ChrisUKEssex, chompi27, lovetotravel, Kurt, btonboz, J, Eric and Sebastian, Ronald, Daniel, Miles, John S., Alain, Graham, Peter, Frank, Tom M., Steven M., Stathis, Dimuthu, Mike, Anton and Sahran for updates!
Advisory: Although homosexual activity between consenting adult males remains technically illegal in Sri Lanka (vestiges of antiquated 1883 colonial anti-sodomy laws), gays are more visible than ever in culture, politics and local sidewalk cafés. With India now re-assessing the anti-gay strictures of their former colonial masters, signs are hopeful that peaceful Sri Lanka will follow. Lesbianism was not mentioned in law until 1995 when a bunch of men in government criminalized sex between women as "sadism." Local activists are working to decriminalize private homosexual activities enjoyed by more than one million Utopians in Sri Lanka.|
Click here for pictures and a special report from
Sri Lanka's First Gay Pride Celebration.
- Companions on a Journey
46/50 Robert E Gunawardena Mawatha, Colombo 6, (94-11) 485-1535, email. An exclusively LGBT organization founded in 1995 and focusing their work in three main areas: advocacy for protection of rights of LGBT people and decriminalisation of consenting adult homosexuality; networking; and providing peer based outreach services. They operate two drop-in centers in Colombo and Kandy. In addition, they conduct film screenings, host reading room facilities and social get-togethers. They also provide peer counseling, STI/HIV testing and treatment and provide free condoms and information on STIs/HIV through peer outreach workers.
- EQUAL GROUND
Colombo, +94-11-567-9766, 251-2977, email. Focusing on the human rights of Sri Lanka's LGBTIQ communities. They fight for the equitable status of all sexual orientations and gender identities and to eliminate the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse stemming from strict interpretations of gender and sexuality. They also offer a phone counseling service as well, on either phone line, and regularly hold activities for LB women and travelers are welcome to call about activities for the LGBTIQ community and LB women. They host an annual event called Women On Top to celebrate International Women's Day. They hosted and facilitated the first South Asian LB women's Conference in Sri Lanka. They also have women-only extracurricular activities such as open house, dancing, etc. EQUAL GROUND is the convening organisation PRIDE in Sri Lanka and is generally in June each year with dates posted on their website a few months in advance.
Holiday Houseboys UTOPIA VERIFIED SEP 2015|
Email. Select a personal city tour guide to show you around the cities of Sri Lanka - Colombo, Kandy, Negombo, Sigiriya. Speaking the local language, your guide will look after your safety and welfare, as well as ensure that you get the best deals and local flavor. He does the bargaining for you, carries your shopping, and makes sure you won't get ripped off. He will schedule each day based on your personal interests. Holiday Houseboys is all about getting the most out of your holiday with a friendly local guy. Utopia Member Discount
Kulansa UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAY 2015
Email, +94-7-1869-7942. Countrywide tour and travel arrangements from understanding and capable staff. Gay-friendly. Utopia Member Discount
Comments from Utopians:
"Steven was a courteous and friendly driver who was great company driving my partner and I around the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. His car is comfortable, air conditioned and roomy and his knowledge of Sri Lankan culture is always full of great information.
Steven was always able to help us with any questions or suggestions about gay places or gay friendly places to visit. He has had experience living in Singapore and Dubai, so is used to dealing with people from many different cultures. I would recommend Kulansa to anyone wishing to tour Sri Lanka." -- Gary C., May 6, 2015
"Although we emailed Kulansa for months planning our trip to Sri Lanka, we did not know what to expect once we got there. We were not only pleasantly surprised at how wonderful our trip turned out to be, but, because of Steven, we saw Sri Lanka like no tourists do. We told him we wanted a 'local' experience and he provided it, taking us, of course, to the must-see sights, but also having us stay in small local guest houses, meet local people, and even having a dinner with his family and a party with his friends! We also ate at local restaurants, not seeing any other tourists, with great food and interesting characters. With Steven's positive outlook, and vibrant personality, we also had fun driving those long distances, with the radio playing, and us singing, laughing and talking as we had 'a party in the car.' Steven is truly committed to making sure that all our needs and requests were met. He was there for us 24/7. He is a very careful driver and we always knew we were in good hands.
After arriving back at the end of our tour to Negombo, we also learned from people we spoke to of Steven's good reputation in the tourist industry, and his many years experience in various tourist venues. We heartily recommend Steven as your guide. It was a fabulous experience! Sri Lanka is a truly beautiful and magical country, but it was really Steven that made our trip truly memorable. He loves his country and helped us to see it through his eyes. We made a true friend in Steven and look forward to traveling with him again." -- Charles and Chuck (New York City), Mar 16, 2015
"We spent our 3 week holiday in Sri Lanka last month. Already in advance we had a good feeling with the advice of Kulansa. Steven helped us in every question we had concerning the tour, accommodation and anything else we wanted to know. During the two weeks journey with Steven, we learnt much about the country, met good friends of his, and had a very nice evening with a BBQ in the rice paddies. He is a very careful and safe driver and always very helpful in every situation. We found a good friend and will come back again." -- Tom and Gery (Switzerland), Feb 25, 2015
"Last month, I booked a 10-day tour with Steven from Kulansa. All the good comments about him were true. From the first moment we met, I found him friendly and easy to get along with. He was very committed and obliging, from arranging sighting-seeing to searching accommodation within my budget. I totally enjoyed my holiday." -- Eric, Dec 25, 2014
Mai Globe Travels UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2014
65 International Buddhist Center Rd, +94 77-254-5623, email. Gay and lesbian-friendly travel services with international staff. They offer customized tours from adventure to culture, with extensive knowledge of the country. They are passionate about trekking, horse riding, and love to find new places to introduce. Large list of boutique hotels to offer and we plenty of activities to provide the best experience of Sri Lanka. They can speak English, French, German, and Japanese. Utopia Member Discount
The Ocean Pearl UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2014
North Pallansena, +94 77-338-3141, email. Private transportation with a comfortable and spacious aircon car. Your safety and comfort is important to their driver. He will show you Sri Lanka through the eyes of the locals. He is fluent in english. Like most Sri Lankan people, his extroverted and caring personality will make you feel like you are hanging out with a friend. Bidget prices on tours and one day excursions, and airport transfers. Private car by day or hour. Utopia Member Discount
Range Travels UTOPIA VERIFIED DEC 2014
+94 77-338-3141, +94 71-147-9436, email. Gay and lesbian-friendly, custom made travel plans to suit your requirements and budget. Services include hotel-airport transfers, hotel bookings, transportation and arranging holiday activities that suit your preferences. Fully aircon comfortable cars for your travel purposes. Drivers are friendly, experienced and fluent in English. They will help you make the best of your stay and make your trip a truly memorable experience.
Sanda Lotus Tours UTOPIAN VERIFIED FEB 2015|
Hôtel Junction, Sigiriya, +94 66-205-6467, email. Based in the heart of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka in Sigiriya city. Solo travelers, couples, friends and family are welcome to tap their expertise for unique and tailor-made holidays. Their drivers and multilingual guides (English, French, Italian and Russian) will accompany you in aircon comfort. Whether your interests are cultural, seaside leisure, hiking in the highlands, diving and water sports on pristine beaches or the fabulous temples in Kandy, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, or Polonnaruwa - they will organize your custom holiday to suit you. From tea plantations to wildlife safaris, from archaeological discoveries to traditional medicine and meditation, contact these experienced professionals for your next holiday.
Comments from Utopians:
"We had an unforgettable stay in Sri Lanka and Sanda Lotus Tours greatly contributed to it. Alain and Tharindu understood our visit requirements, hotels and ways of traveling. They made sure we had a truly gay-friendly driver, who turned out to just be perfect all along, suggesting the best stops to enjoy the sites, to taste Sri Lankan food, and to have expert and friendly massages. A special mention to Kumbura Eco lodge, a little paradise where we stayed near Sigiriya! We definitely want to go back to Sri Lanka and will for sure be in touch again with Sanda Lotus Tours." -- Stephane & Stephan (Paris), Feb 23, 2015
"We used Sanda Lotus Tours from Colombo to Trincomalee with a few stops in interesting places like Anuradhupra, Kandy, and Sigiriya. We were very happy. Our driver was very smiley and friendly all the time. He spoke English and French. Trincomalee was like a paradise beach with the new, high standing Anilani Hotel. Very beautiful! Next time, we want to discover Galle and Yala Safari with our new friends." -- Allard, Oct 22, 2014
Sri Lanka Trekking Nature Holidays
Email. A small, gay and lesbian-friendly, family-managed tour organization run by an experienced trekking guide and holiday organizer. See real Sri Lanka. Experience panoramic mountain views, natural rain forests, grasslands, tea plantations, paddy fields, scrub jungles, village life, flora and fauna - all in a one day walk. Get to know locals and to take in all that Mother Nature has to offer. The trekking grade is gentle/moderate. They organize the ground arrangements. They try to steer away from the places visited by everyday tourists. Utopia Member Discount
Email. Hotel bookings, tour and vacation planning, plus all types of tourism related activities in Sri Lanka. Gay and lesbian-friendly. Utopia Member Discount
Click here for Alankuda hotels and accommodations.
Located on the coast, about halfway between Colombo and the spectacular heritage city of Galle, are two of the island's do-not-miss wonders: the garden estates of two of Sri Lanka's most famous gay luminaries, the Bawa brothers. Geoffrey Bawa is perhaps the nation's most famous modern architect, whose many projects combine both Ceylonese and colonial traditions with an environment-sensitive modernist flare (his former Colombo offices are open to the public in their current incarnation as The Gallery Café, see under Shops in Colombo).
Brief UTOPIA VERIFIED JUL 2012|
+94 34-428-7056. While overshadowed by his brother Geoffrey's grand estate, Lunuganga, Bevis Bawa's private pleasure gardens, dubbed Brief, are less sterile, more sensual, and filled with wonder and gay in-jokes at nearly every turn. These gardens are the inspiration and model for the tropical landscaping craze visible everywhere now around Southeast Asia. Assisted by his live-in guest, gay Australian artist Donald Friend, Bevis filled his Eden with naughty and provocative sculptures and a huge collection of drawing, painting, sculpture and photography, including many male nudes, still on display (though sadly decaying), by some of Asia's most renowned artists. Enter through gates whose priapic bulges are, simultaneously, the noses of bearded masks (see drawing below). Turn a corner on your garden walk and a leering goat wearing a tri-cornered hat emerges from the flowering foliage. Through the moon gate is a plunge pool being filled in an endless arc from the healthy spout of an athletic youth. Well-placed moss cleverly mimics pubic hair on other well-hung torsos. An ornate full-length mirror is perfectly positioned to reflect the more intimate landscape of the open air showers. Sit on the lap of a sleeping, naked young man etched into a concrete bench by Friend. Fertile imagination is at play everywhere: from walls of translucent glass bottles, monstera leaves pressed into ceiling plaster, handmade tiles, furniture, fabrics, glorious murals, life-size nude male lamps, on and on. Before Friend left for fame in Bali in the late 60s, the modern Asian house and garden had been invented here.
"The many sight-seeing heads
who examined his floral beds
tried to peek in his bedrooms too
for more singular sights to view.
One lady was heard to remark:
‘With such a luxuriant park
you’d think he'd turn a new leaf,
this unnatural Bawa of Brief!’
-- from The Bawa of Brief by James Broughton
+94 34-428-7056. Geoffrey Bawa's vast estate, gardens and lagoon are open for lunch (Sri Lankan cuisine), tea and guided tours by appointment.
COLOMBO / KOLAMBA -- area code (94-1)
Population is over 650,000 (that's about 26,000 Utopians).
- Lush (mixed)
Gays frequent this happening night spot.
THE SPA Colombo UTOPIA VERIFIED OCT 2013|
32A Horton Place, Colombo 7, 077-038-9895, email. THE SPA has opened this oasis in Cinnamon Gardens, in the heart of Colombo. Stone, water and bamboo create a cool and refreshing place in which to escape, rejuvenate and enjoy treatments from their professional and friendly male staff. Facilities include a jacuzzi, Swedish sauna, and private therapy rooms with bathrooms. They offer full-body relaxation massage as well as reflexology, hypnotherapy, and psychotherapy treatments. They also have Pamper Packages for couples and weight loss therapies. Their sister venue, THE SPA Ahangama (see listing in Galle section) is located in the south and offers similar treatments in a private garden setting with pool and cabana. Both spas offer snacks and nutritious energy drinks. Utopia Member Discount
Middle class, educated gays meet online, especially on GayRomeo, LankaLove, and Grindr. UTOPIA VERIFIED JUL 2012
Facilities in the CTB government bus stand and underground. Underground facilities in the Fort area on York St. If you are coming up York St from the Hilton it is across from the first corner of the Cargill's building (the old red brick building). Look for a stairway going down from the side walk with men's symbol. Plenty of guys just standing around looking for fun.
Colombo Municipal Council Public Library
Both facilities. Wait for an invitation. Best times: 9:30-10:30am, 1:30-3pm and 5-6:30pm.
Hanging around outside the British Council where young Sri Lankan gays go to study English.
Foot path next to the Isipatana grounds. You may need a friend to show you this location. After 6:30pm. This is a narrow path leading from one road to another but hardly used at that time because it's dark. You can see people walking and most of them are gay fun seekers.
Majestic City Shopping Mall
Galle Rd. Main lounge and facilities. Majestic City super market lobby area, 2/F and 3/F. Wait for an invitation. 10:30-11:30am, 2:30-3:30pm, and 6-7:15pm are busiest.
Mount Lavinia Beach
Very good location with several hot spots. Gays will signal. Best times are 6:30-9:30pm.
Barefoot (contemporary international) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2011
See listing under Shops. Excellent food and service in a beautiful oasis.
The Gallery Café (contemporary international) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2011
2 Alfred House Rd, 011-258-2162. Housed in the former offices of famous gay Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, this popular venue is a must-see, both for the tropical modern architecture and the for the rare chance to see a nude male photo by another famous gay Sri Lankan, Lionel Wendt, on display (sadly enough) in the men's room. Wendt, who died in 1944, was (among his many talents and interests) a pioneer of the modern male nude, celebrating his Sri Lankan subjects rather than focusing on western ideals of masculine beauty. Good food, though expensive by Sri Lankan standards. Excellent service.
Barefoot UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2011
706 Galle Rd, Colombo 3, 011-258-9305. All the best local arts, crafts, books, and colorful hand woven fabrics and fashions collected together in a charming heritage setting, in a compound including gallery and excellent restaurant.
Galle (pronounced "Gaul"), in the southern part of the island, is one of Asia's fantastic heritage destinations, yet is largely off the tourist path so you can still feel like you've made the discovery on your own.
The Old Town and 16th century Fort are full of atmosphere and romance -- especially beautiful to walk around in the cool of the late afternoon -- filled with heritage colonial buildings and incredible art deco villas.
The atmosphere is very relaxed and the people are friendly. There are plenty of shops and cafés in the Fort catering for a variety of tastes. Unsurprisingly, a number of longtime gay expats have chosen to retire in Galle. The beach of Unawatuna is also close by.
THE SPA Ahangama UTOPIA VERIFIED DEC 2012|
Sri Visudharama Rd, 077-038-9895, 091-228-2884, email. Located in the lovely seaside village of Ahangama, 20 minutes south of Galle between Unawatuna and Mirissa. Gay-friendly spa set in a private tropical garden. The Spa offers a variety of massage and beauty treatments including aromatherapy, ayurveda and Swedish relaxation. Young and well-trained male therapists. Their reasonable rate includes use of the tropical swimming pool. Poolside snacks and drinks are available. Please phone for an appointment. Utopia Member Discount
- Take a stroll along the Fort wall at sunset to add to your collection of warm, tropical smiles.
- Ramparts Hotel
Dining room on 1/F overlooking the ocean is perfect for a cheap meal and a beer, for lunch or dinner.
41 Pedlar St, +94 91-222-6299. Sister branch of the fantastic Colombo shopper's paradise. Pick up a colorful sarong for your evening promenade along the fort walls.
Former royal city high in the verdant hills of central Sri Lanka.
The population of Kandy is over 100,000 (that's more than 4,000 Utopians).
- Kandy is a great place to see spectacularly attired male dancers and musicians performing a variety of Sri Lankan dance traditions.
- Temple of the Tooth
Dress appropriately (long pants or skirts) for this sacred spot and UNESCO world heritage site, unless you want to rent an overpriced sarong.
- Around Kandy lake. Pass the boat house and walk towards Hotel Suisse. Gays hang out here and try to act discreetly.
- Railway tracks close to the public bus stand. 6:45pm-9:30pm. Be careful.
Negombo / Migamuwa -- area code (94-31)
Negombo, the only city in Sri Lanka with relaxed, everyday gay life, is a peaceful oceanside resort just 15 minutes drive north from Colombo's international airport. Budget airlines like Air Asia offer unbelievably low priced flights from hubs like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, making this an easy-breezy beach get-away. With tropical island pace of life, seaside dining and bars, extraordinarily friendly locals and gay-only resorts, its become a favorite holiday destination for jet-setting regional gays looking for a weekend retreat or long-stay holiday.
The population of Negombo is about 130,000 (that's over 5,000 Utopians).
Dickman Resort & Tours UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2015, UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
26/7 Poruthata Rd - Sea Ave, Utopia Map, 777-660-120, email. Guide service, friendly local guides and luxury aircon vehicles available from one of Asia's great retreats. Explore Sri Lanka's tropical colors, cool sea breezes, verdant gardens and romantic vistas. Stay in their private garden retreat and dip in their gorgeous pool, or head to the beach for a sunset dip.
Discover Negombo UTOPIA VERIFIED JAN 2015|
Email. Discover Negombo, Sri Lanka's gay-friendly beachside resort town, through its international food, friendly people, specialized tours and other activities such as a talk on the culture and history of Sri Lanka. A unique way to get to know Negombo and the local region. Sort out your holiday by booking in advance. Email Alan.
- Rodeo Bar (mixed) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
- Serendip (mixed) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
Beach disco bar with a DJ on Fri and Sat nights is the current hot spot (2011).
- Along the main street between Lords and King Coconut at night. UTOPIA VERIFIED AUG 2013
- The beach from in front of La Dolce Vita up to the Jetwing hotels, especially Sunday afternoons and after dark. UTOPIA VERIFIED AUG 2013
- Middle class, educated gays in Negombo meet online, especially on GayRomeo, LankaLove, and ManJam UTOPIA VERIFIED AUG 2013.
- Negombo Bus Terminal, after 7:30pm until late.
Aria (international) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
St Lachlan Hotel, 25 St Anthony's Lane (in the alley leading to Gomez Place and Dickman Resort), 750-0770. The dining room at this tropical modern boutique hotel offers reasonably good dining in a relaxed, casual atmosphere (although the antlers are rather disconcerting and out of place with the rest of the breezy decor). Service works hard to meet your special requests. Prices are reasonable. Try the traditional watalappan, a nearly black pudding made from coconut cream, cardamom, and jaggery (palm sugar).
Bijou (Swiss cuisine) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
Great food and service. Very friendly owner and good prices.
Dolce Vita (Italian Coffee shop) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
Portuhota Rd, Ettukala. Enter through the driveway beside the Sea-Sands Guesthouse. Gay-friendly. Good tiramusu, baked goods and gelato. Breezy terrace with a fantastic view right beside the beach. A perfect place to watch the sunset. Their crispy pizza is good. The cole slaw was, as the waiter warned, inedible.
Jetwing Blue (Sri Lankan breakfast) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
Ethukale, 227-9000. If you want to try a large selection of traditional Sri Lankan food, splurge on the breakfast buffet at this gorgeous, Asian modern 4-star boutique hotel. Sit at your table with an unspoiled view of the best stretch of beach in Negombo, watching the colorful sails of the catamarans as fishermen set sail for the morning catch. Try the bowl-shaped "hoppers," a crispy fried pancake made from rice flour, add an egg, shaved coconut, spicy chutney or fragrant sambal to taste. Noodle-shaped hoppers make perfect nests for a variety of curries, lentils or dahls. Fresh tropical fruit and vegetable juices are chilling on ice. Crusty breads, Wood Apple jam, buffalo curd with a drizzle of treacle, banana and butter cake all make a perfect compliment for strong Ceylon breakfast tea.
Lords (western and Sri Lankan) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
Portuhota Rd, Ettukala. Funky, arty open air restaurant with gallery. Western and Sri Lankan food served with popular Australian wines. Gay-owned.
Kings and queens at Phuket Pride 2015.
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