42 Places In A City In Sinhala… And How To Ask For Directions

Places in a city - Lazy But Smart Sinhala


There is something not true about the title above.

It’s the “in Sinhala” part.

Let me explain…

You see, when I started this blog post, I simply wanted to give you the Sinhala names and words of typical places you’d find in a city.

Sounds straight-forward, right?

Not quite…. I was in for a frustrating surprise.


Now, almost all of you by now know that I am someone who thinks himself practical, in my own life, as well as on this blog. I will never teach you a single Sinhala word that is not used in normal conversation.

So imagine my frustration when I realized that dammiiiiit, most of the words in this post are those “Singlisized” words that we’ve borrowed from English.

(And yeah, I just made that up – copyright Lazy But Smart Internet Mega-Empire)


“Singlisized Words”

English words that have been borrowed into the Sinhala language. Typically the word “é∙kȧ” (which means “one”) is added after the English word.

Examples: “The bus” in Sinhala is usually called “bus é∙kȧ”.
“The car” in Sinhala is usually called “car é∙kȧ”.


Not that there’s anything wrong with them but am I not here to teach Sinhala to you lovely folks?

So while this Sinhala headache was throbbing in my head, I spoke to my dad (or as most of you know him by, “Awesome Father”) about it.

He seemed quite “un-surprised” by this..

He pointed out that most of these places I’ve mentioned are typically found in a city, for example like Colombo, where many words have increasingly become quite “Singlisized”

So I had a choice to make:


  • Option #1: Teach you the “proper” Sinhala words, which are the most correct but which are very rarely used when speaking and which may cause people to giggle at you (not with you) when you use it.


  • Option #2: Teach you the “Singlish” words that are actually used often today but which will also annoy the crap out of the Sinhala language purists out there.


I’m practical. And I love annoying people too. So Option #2 it is. No brainer.

However, in the notes, I did mention some of the more authentic Sinhala word too. Think about using them once in a way on your friends just to give them a mini-heart attack.


Now Here’s How Are We Going To Do This


In 3 steps, dear grasshopper…


  • Step 1: Learning the word for “hotel” in Sinhala
  • Step 2: Learning to ask directions to the “hotel” in the Sinhala
  • Step 3: Replacing “hotel” with 42 Other Places In The City


Let’s begin.

Step 1 resized

1. Learning The Word For “Hotel” In Sinhala

hotel hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ       

arrow with stroke

Step 2 resized

2. Learning To Ask Directions To The “Hotel” In Sinhala

Where is the hotel? hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ   thi∙yén∙né   ko∙hé∙dhȧ?       
Where is the closest hotel? laňgȧ∙mȧ   hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ   thi∙yén∙né   ko∙hé∙dhȧ?       
How do I go to the hotel from here? mé∙thæ∙nin   ma∙mȧ   hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ   yan∙né   ko∙ho∙mȧ∙dhȧ?       
Will you show me how to go to the hotel? hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ   ya∙nȧ   hæ∙ti   ma∙tȧ   pén∙nȧ∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?       


arrow with stroke

Step 3 resized

Step 3: Replacing “Hotel” With 42 Other Places In The City

(Replace ‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ’ with any of the following)


1. Transport Related (6):

bus stop “bus halt”   é∙kȧ1       
train station kōch∙chi   stḗ∙shȧ∙mȧ       
tuk-tuk/rickshaw stand “three-wheeler stand”   é∙kȧ       
taxi stand “taxi stand”   é∙kȧ       
airport “airport”   é∙kȧ2       
parking area “parking”   é∙kȧ3       


1 “bus”  næ∙vȧ∙thum∙po∙lȧ

2 gu∙wan  tho∙tu∙po∙lȧ

3 ‘vaa∙hȧ∙nȧ  na∙vath∙thȧ∙nȧ  thæ∙nȧ’   or   ‘ra∙thȧ  gaa∙lȧ’


2. Recreation & Entertainment Related (8):

museum “museum”   é∙kȧ4       
zoo sath∙thu   vath∙thȧ       
cinema “cinema”   é∙kȧ5       
library pus∙thȧ∙kaa∙lȧ∙yȧ       
beach “beach”   é∙kȧ6       
swimming pool “pool”   é∙kȧ7       
gym “gym”   é∙kȧ       
park (public garden) “park”   é∙kȧ8       


4 ‘ka∙tu  gé∙yȧ’   or   ‘kauw∙thu∙kaa∙gaa∙rȧ∙yȧ’

5 “cinema”  shaa∙laa∙vȧ

6 ‘væl∙lȧ’

7 ‘pi∙hi∙num  tha∙taa∙kȧ∙yȧ’

8 ‘udh∙yaa∙nȧ∙yȧ’   or   ‘u∙yȧ∙nȧ’



3. Government Offices (4):

parliament paar∙li∙mḗn∙thu∙wȧ       
police station po∙lis∙si∙yȧ       
passport office “passport office”   é∙kȧ       
post office “post office”   é∙kȧ9       


9 thæ∙pæl  kan∙thō∙ru∙wȧ


4. Medical Related (2):

hospital is∙pi∙ri∙thaa∙lȧ∙yȧ       
pharmacy “pharmacy”   é∙kȧ10       


10 ‘bé∙héth  ha∙lȧ’   or   ‘bé∙héth  shaa∙laa∙vȧ’


5. Money Related (5):

bank bæn∙ku∙wȧ       
ATM (cash machine) “ATM”   é∙kȧ       
currency exchanger sal∙li   maa∙ru   kȧ∙rȧ∙nȧ   thæ∙nȧ       


6. Religious Places (4):

Buddhist temple pan∙sȧ∙lȧ       
church pal∙li∙yȧ       
Hindu temple kō∙vi∙lȧ       
Islamic mosque “Muslim”   pal∙li∙yȧ       


7. Road Related (5):

intersection han∙dhi∙yȧ       
main road ma∙ha   paa∙rȧ       
by-lane po∙di   paa∙rȧ11       
highway “highway”   é∙kȧ       


11 ‘pa∙tu∙ma∙gȧ’


8. Food Related (2):

restaurant “restaurant”   é∙kȧ12       
bakery bḗ∙kȧ∙ri∙yȧ       


12 ‘a∙van  ha∙lȧ’


9. Accomodation (2):

hotel hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ       
guest house “guest house”   é∙kȧ       


10. Shopping Related (4):

shopping center “shopping center”   é∙kȧ       
supermarket “supermarket”   é∙kȧ13       
market po∙lȧ       
bookshop poth   saap∙pu∙wȧ       


13 ‘su∙pi∙ri  vé∙lȧň∙dhȧ∙sæ∙lȧ’


11. Various Other Landmarks (3):

statue pi∙li∙mi∙yȧ       
statue of Lord Buddha bu∙dhu   pi∙li∙mi∙yȧ       
Bo tree bō   ga∙ha       



What I want from you!

  1. Serious part: Leave your questions and comments in the section below. Also suggest any city places I’ve forgotten.
  2. Fun part: Tell me about your nicest, or strangest, or funniest, or crappiest experience when exploring a city alone
  3. Being a good “Tribester” part: Use one of the social media buttons to share this post with your friends who’ll appreciate it.

Ok, go!


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44 Responses to 42 Places In A City In Sinhala… And How To Ask For Directions

  1. helena May 11, 2016 at 12:20 #

    hi dilshan, it is very very nice, can you please add how to say in sinhala turn to the right, turn to the left..atc…it would be very helpful, thank you
    dilshan, i have one question…where can i get or buy your book with these sinhala verbs?????? thanks

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 11, 2016 at 12:38 #

      Hi Helena, how are you? Been a long time. “Turn to the right/left” is mentioned in the free ebook you may have got when you first subscribed but anyway, here it is again:


      “Turn right” = dha∙ku∙nȧ∙tȧ hæ∙rén∙nȧ
      “Turn left” = va∙mȧ∙tȧ hæ∙rén∙nȧ
      “Turn back” = aa∙pa∙hu hæ∙rén∙nȧ


      Regarding my super duper Sinhala verb book, you can find it here:


    • jilska June 23, 2018 at 20:48 #

      I checked this out on how to give directions to the airport.

      Let’s say, Drive out to the main road, make a right, drive 3 miles until you come to the intersection, then make a right into airport road, keep on your right-hand side until you come to your terminal.

  2. S. Savva May 11, 2016 at 13:53 #

    Love it!!!!! Precise, clear and so very practical. Keep up the good work Dilshan!!!

  3. Pinar May 11, 2016 at 21:55 #

    Ok most of the time I need to ask the tuk drivers where the nearest liquor shop is (usually at 20.45 :) )
    How do you say liquor shop cause I usually start with liquor if they don’t get it I say alcohol if they don’t get it I say arrack and if they still don’t get it I say wine if they still don’t get it I start name dropping some of the shops I know
    But I wanna make it easier on my level of stress and find out how to ask this.
    Thanks in advance for the help… and nobody really ever is alone in colombo

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 12, 2016 at 10:05 #

      Great practical question, Pinar! I understand your pain…

      Ok, in a place like Colombo liquor stores are usually referred to as “wine stores”. So this is how I would instruct the tuk tuk guy:

      – “Where is the closest wine store?” = laňgȧmȧ “wine store” é∙kȧ thi∙yén∙né ko∙hé∙dhȧ?

      – “Let’s go to the closest wine store” = laňgȧmȧ “wine store” é∙kȧ∙tȧ ya∙mu

      – “Let’s go quickly, (it) closes at nine!” = ik∙mȧ∙nȧ∙tȧ ya∙mu, na∙m∙yȧ∙tȧ va∙ha∙na∙va!

      How’s that?

  4. wesley May 11, 2016 at 21:57 #

    Very practical and easy to remember, thank you!

    Btw, what’s a “bo tree”?

    PS: For the translated words, you never add “the”. Shouldn’t it be added? Since “bas eke” means “the bus”, not just “bus”?

    I know that “bas ekak” means “a bus”, but is there a simple trick for normal sinhala (not singlish) words too? Like hoteleye, how do you say “a hotel”?


    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 12, 2016 at 10:13 #

      Thanks Wesley, interesting point you raised about “the”. I think you’ll find in most English vocabulary lessons, the word “the” is left out when introducing a word (unlike in French where every word is introduced with the articles le, la, or les”). Just note that in this blog whenever I just present the word, there is the invisible article of “the” before it. Hope that clears it out.

      About Bo Tree, it’s also called Bodhi Tree (a type of a fig tree) that has significance in Buddhism. So in Sri Lanka, you’ll see many of these gigantic trees, usually with a wall surrounding it, and people use it as a landmark.

  5. Juvy May 12, 2016 at 04:54 #

    Hi Sir Dilshan!

    Thanks for these words, learning your language is really challenging, my eyes are rolling hehe literally. I’m exited to speak these words to my friend as one way of practice?.


    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 12, 2016 at 11:08 #

      Hi Juvy, sorry to hear about the eye-rolling. I could suggest some specialist eye doctors in Sri Lanka for that :) Thanks for the nice comment.

  6. camilla May 12, 2016 at 05:00 #

    Hey Dilshan,
    I haven’t written to you before but I’ve been subscribing for a while, I love receiving your funny emails and learning this great language, so thank you!!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 12, 2016 at 11:10 #

      You’re right! My team of Ninjas who work for me tell me that you signed up in January last year! What took you so long?..

      Thanks for the feedback. Glad you like my approach.

  7. Erna May 12, 2016 at 13:15 #

    Hello Dilshan, as a matter of fact I was alone in Colombo. At first I was overwhelmed by its noise and traffic, but I ‘persevered’ and now I really love the city. Its inhabitants are so friendly towards foreigners. When I was there, I was approached 3 times in 1 morning by ‘normal Sri Lankans’ (not touts) if I knew that there was a temple festival going on that I really needed to see. Thanks for all your study material. Could you please do a post on post positions and their cases? Thank you.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 12, 2016 at 14:29 #

      Erna, I would love to do that post! I’ve been looking around for a juicy grammar post to sink my teeth into so the timing of your suggestion is impeccable, so thank you!. Just so we’re on the same page, what you mean by post-positions are basically the prepositions in English (e.g. with, without, on, under, over, etc.) but you called them postposition because they appear in Sinhala AFTER the word, right? (Shows you how much of a teacher I’m not).

      Let me know?

      • Erna May 12, 2016 at 21:17 #


  8. Tim May 15, 2016 at 21:46 #

    Hi Dilshan. I am somewhat confused by the use of “thiyenne” – which I understand as the verb “to have”. So “Where is the hotel?” – “Hotalaya thiyenne kohedha” – its like saying “What place does the hotel have”? Thanks for the super stuff!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 16, 2016 at 10:39 #

      Hi Tim, great question because it’ll force me to split open the word ‘thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va’. So here goes:

      Yes, ‘thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va’ can mean “have” (specifically, to have an inanimate object in possession), but it can also mean “be” (as in “exist”. Specifically, for or an inanimate object to be/exist). Depends on what’s before the word ‘thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va’ in the sentence.

      Example #1: When it means “have” (specifically, to have an inanimate object):

      ‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ dho∙rak thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va’ = “The hotel has a door”

      (‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ’ = “for the hotel”; ‘dho∙rak’ = “a door”; ‘thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va’ = “have” (because we used ‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ’ and not ‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ’)

      Example #2: When it means “be/exist” for an inanimate object:

      ‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ é∙thȧ∙nȧ thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va’ = “The hotel is/exists there” (or put it another way, “The hotel is located there”)

      (‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ’ = “the hotel”; ‘é∙thȧ∙nȧ’ = “there”; ‘thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va’ = be/exist (because we used ‘hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ).

      Clear so far? Let me know your follow up questions. This is an interesting one.

  9. Michelle May 26, 2016 at 18:43 #

    Hey Dilshan,
    Long time no speak! I was just looking through this wonderful blog post, and would like to give some feedback about the ‘proper’ Sinhala terms you have given. They all are linked to the number 1, so it is very difficult to tell which ‘proper’ word relates to which English word! (Especially airport, which doesn’t even have the 1 next to it, but gu∙wan tho∙tu∙po∙lȧ is included in the list beneath it! I just so happen to know that airport is guwan thotupola, otherwise it is not clear above!)
    Otherwise, another excellent lesson!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 26, 2016 at 19:06 #

      Haha, I am such a dumbo! You’re absolutely right. I don’t know how that got past me. Anyway, I’ve done the corrections now. Sorry for messing with your brain unnecessarily. Thanks again Michelle!

  10. Elizabeth June 8, 2016 at 20:12 #

    Hello Dilshan

    I have been living at Dawson Street, Union Place Colombo 2 alone in a flat since I lost my mom, until I migrated to Canada. I miss Colombo City very much, but have no intention of visiting anytime soon.

    I see you have laid out a ‘tourist guide’ for your online students who are likely to visit Sri Lanka in the future. Happy journey to them.

    Bye for now.
    Elizabeth T.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 15, 2016 at 16:03 #

      Thanks Elizabeth. Union Place is not that far away from where I grew up in (Colombo 3).

  11. wakir July 21, 2016 at 18:24 #

    SIR. No idea who u aa… take a bow from me. since my childhood, i have been in interested in sinhala. BUT i couldn’t find a good teacher. few people taught me sinhala like a subject not like a language. your approach is different and pretty useful

    • Dilshan Jayasinha July 30, 2016 at 13:16 #

      Thanks buddy, I’m bowing as I’m typing this… Always happy to hear from someone so appreciative. It’s very rewarding to me.

  12. Gevin November 16, 2016 at 14:26 #

    Thank you very much Dilshan. This was very informative:-).

  13. Gevin November 16, 2016 at 14:28 #

    I am happy you are taking the effort to help us learn. I am glad to have found out about you. Your teaching methods are both fun and informative.

  14. Riccardo February 18, 2017 at 12:29 #

    Halo dilshan! Hari prayojanavat post eka! Et mata prashnayak tiyenava: kohomada kiyanne “square” ha “street” sinhalen?
    For example: dilshan Street ho Dilshan square? :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha February 20, 2017 at 10:48 #

      Thanks Riccardo.

      “Street” is simply ‘paa∙rȧ’.

      “Square”, well, the equivalent term is ‘cha∙thu∙rash∙rȧ∙yȧ’ but don’t use it that much except for when referring to very famous “Independence Square” in Colombo which in Sinhala is called ‘ni∙dha∙has cha∙thu∙rash∙rȧ∙yȧ’.

  15. Max Gomez February 27, 2017 at 08:17 #

    Dilshan, Thank you for being creative and practical.



  16. Max Gomez March 25, 2017 at 06:52 #

    hello Dilshan, thank you for the above lesson. It is just brilliantly laid out! What is phrase used to refer to a “shopping centre’ in S.L. ?

    Is it ‘velandasala …..

    with best wishes


    • Dilshan Jayasinha March 29, 2017 at 10:28 #

      Hi Max, ‘velandasala’ would be more for a “store”. In spoken Sinhala, you’d say “shopping center”, just like in English. The proper Sinhala word would be ‘velandha sankeernaya’ but you won’t use it when speaking. Does that answer your question?

      • Max Gomez April 4, 2017 at 09:58 #

        yes it does. thank you Dilshan.



  17. Nikhil Raj January 3, 2018 at 23:17 #

    Hello dilshan this is great stuff, I saw there was some influence like kovila in Sinhalese is kovil in tamil and appa is the same. Also there was an odd Spanish influence with mesa meaning table in both Spanish and Sinhalese .

  18. Max Gomez January 6, 2018 at 17:03 #

    thank you Dilshan. it was useful material.

  19. Raahini October 18, 2018 at 13:42 #

    Hi Dilshan,
    This post really helpful.
    I want to learn more about directions.
    Specially in order to direct tuk tuk drivers to a destination.
    Thank you

    • Dilshan Jayasinha October 18, 2018 at 22:06 #

      Uh oh… looks like someone hasn’t gone through the free ebook yet. Take another look at it and tell me if you found anything related to your request.

  20. Max G October 21, 2018 at 16:32 #

    Hello Dilshan, thank you for the tutorial.

    Is the entertaining comedian I see on Australian TV your brother? he is a great performer!


    Max G

    • Dilshan Jayasinha October 23, 2018 at 09:10 #

      Yes, Max. That is indeed my little brother. Shall convey your message to him.

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