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The Dean Apr 9th 2014 4:27 am

Sri Lanka
 
Anyone been recently?

I have a free week towards the end of this month, and Deanetta and I have taken the plunge and decided to go there (I am actually a bit embarrassed that, considering it is so close to this region, I have never once been there in about two decades out here).

What should I (a) look out for? (b) avoid? (c) must do/see?

Thanks.

the_red_sheep Apr 9th 2014 6:37 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 
I was in Unawatuna last October. It’s in the south near Galle. Nice enough little beach town, decent beaches - although suffering from quite serious erosion. Stayed in the CoCo Bay hotel, it was nice, clean, peaceful, relatively small, good food, small secluded beach, pool and cheap. It was a 5 min Tuktuk ride from ‘downtown’ but that cost 300LKR/AED8.

If you’re happy to chill and spend a few days kicking about on the beach and having a few beers, then one destination for a week should be ok, if not might be worth considering a couple of stops. Things to do (other than day drink)…tea plantation tour is nice, Galle town and fort, snorkelling can be ok (depending on where you are the season), various nature sanctities/forests that are nice. If you hire a Tuktuk for a day the driver will take you round the local attractions/markets etc. At least some of these will be places that his family work at or own and they try and sell you ‘stuff’. They’re not pushy though and the ‘stuff’ can be ok, and worthy a haggle to pick up some souvenirs.

Take bug spray and use it a lot. If the Mrs is into jewellery then local precious and semi-precious stones can be bought for decent prices.

NorthernLad Apr 9th 2014 7:17 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 

Originally Posted by The Dean (Post 11210888)
Anyone been recently?

I have a free week towards the end of this month, and Deanetta and I have taken the plunge and decided to go there (I am actually a bit embarrassed that, considering it is so close to this region, I have never once been there in about two decades out here).

What should I (a) look out for? (b) avoid? (c) must do/see?

Thanks.

Was there three years ago, stayed in The Fortress hotel in Galle, very nice.

People are all friendly and worth getting a tuk tuk to some of the beach bars/restaurtants on an evening. They don't look up to much at first glance but food was very good and great atmosphere.

The fort (old town) also an interesting place.

csdf Apr 9th 2014 7:45 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 
Do the Adam's Peak hike. Go to Delawella rather than Unawatuna (beach is a zillion times better). Don't spend too much time in Galle itself. Don't spend any time in Colombo unless you have to. Don't bother with Yala National Park.

benzonar Apr 9th 2014 8:57 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 
I did it a few years ago. I avoided the beaches and headed inland.

The Heritance Hotel at Kandalama is a great place and from here you can get to Dambulla Cave temple and the Sigirya fortress.

I basically hired a driver for a week and travelled around to different areas. Kandy is another good place to head to with the Temple of the Tooth.

Plenty of opportunites for Safari as well with lots of wildlife reserves, there is also the Pinniwala Elephant Orphanage which is great to visit.

Meow Apr 9th 2014 11:34 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 
I love Sri Lanka. Lots to see, friendly people, lush scenery, delicious food.

Unawatuna is a bit 'backpacker' for you Dean, but the Galle area is nice, especially now the new fast roads make it much quicker to get there. There are some nice boutique hotels in Thalpe, which is a few miles along the coast. We've stayed at Apa Villas and would go back in a heartbeat.

Galle Fort is a UNESCO Heritage Site and you can spend a couple of days/evening wandering round there and stopping for a G&T in some colonial type hotels.

You can eat very cheaply if you like rice and curry and the Sri Lankan curries are fabulous. An order of rice and curry usually gets you three or four different curries, mostly vegetable and they go perfectly with a Lion beer.

Don't be overly ambitious about travelling around as much of the infrastructure is quite poor and it can take an awful long time to get from place to place. It may look like a couple of hours on a map, but it'll take double that.

MAV_DXB Apr 9th 2014 12:46 pm

Re: Sri Lanka
 

Originally Posted by Meow (Post 11211203)
...Don't be overly ambitious about travelling around as much of the infrastructure is quite poor and it can take an awful long time to get from place to place. It may look like a couple of hours on a map, but it'll take double that.

I went to Arugum Bay (spelling) 2 years ago, about 7 to 8 hours drive from the airport.

Arugum Bay was nice and peaceful, the other half wanted to try surf boarding, that's why we went. There's a wild life park not too far away, did a a few hours there - spotted some crocs, elephants and some other animals, didn't see a leopard though.

The Dean Apr 9th 2014 2:44 pm

Re: Sri Lanka
 
Blimey - all of this is far more than I expected (I mean, there's 'far more to do', not 'far more responses than I expected'). Deanetta likes up-market destinations, hotels, etc, so let's get planning............

Many thanks to all of you.

Robajob Apr 10th 2014 9:04 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 
Me and the Missus are going at the end of this month too. Mirissa then Arugam Bay.

For what's it worth (guessing you've already booked flights), Etihad was 3 dirhams cheaper on the flights we booked than Fly Dubai, plus we got a weeks free parking.

Boomhauer Apr 10th 2014 9:39 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 

Originally Posted by Robajob (Post 11212693)
Me and the Missus are going at the end of this month too. Mirissa then Arugam Bay.

For what's it worth (guessing you've already booked flights), Etihad was 3 dirhams cheaper on the flights we booked than Fly Dubai, plus we got a weeks free parking.

How do you plan your vacation trips: tour operator? travel agency? buying the airline tickets and choosing the hotels separately?

Robajob Apr 10th 2014 10:17 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 

Originally Posted by Boomhauer (Post 11212731)
How do you plan your vacation trips: tour operator? travel agency? buying the airline tickets and choosing the hotels separately?

Hotels and Flights separately, far more flexibility that way.

By talking to friends and relatives who have been to a place. Getting hold of a decent guidebook Lonely Planet/Rough Guide - researching on the internet, most of the accomodation in Sri Lanka - even the basic ones, have a website. Tripadvisor can be useful - though some of the comments are cretinous. If a place has plenty of reviews, then the overall rating will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

And lots and lots of googling.

Exactly the same as we did for going to the Maldives last year, and that worked out just fine.

archie159 Apr 14th 2014 10:12 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 
We went there at very short notice a few years ago, and (for the only time in my life) booked the entire thing (flights, driver and hotels - normally we arrange everything separately) through Etihad. It possibly helped that the woman we dealt with from Etihad was Sri Lankan, and really knew all the places. It ended up being surprisingly good value (and the hotels were towards the upmarket end of the scale), the driver was great. We focussed on the "cultural triangle", or whatever it was called. Kandy is interesting. I also remember the Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana was nice, and from there we did a wonderful drive into one of the neighbouring elephant reserves (Kaudulla Park) - the memory of coming out of the jungle and suddenly encountering a hundred or so elephants quietly making their way across the open plains towards a huge lake, as the sun set (and with noone else around), will stick with me for ages. We did one final night near the sea (Negombo, I think), but that was the least impressive location - lots of mosquitos, and much more touristy. Sirigiya Rock is very impressive. Agree with the comment about it taking a long time to drive anywhere. We also stayed in the Heritance Kandalama Hotel, Dambulla.

Scamp Apr 14th 2014 10:42 am

Re: Sri Lanka
 

Originally Posted by Robajob (Post 11212779)
Hotels and Flights separately, far more flexibility that way.

By talking to friends and relatives who have been to a place. Getting hold of a decent guidebook Lonely Planet/Rough Guide - researching on the internet, most of the accomodation in Sri Lanka - even the basic ones, have a website. Tripadvisor can be useful - though some of the comments are cretinous. If a place has plenty of reviews, then the overall rating will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

And lots and lots of googling.

Exactly the same as we did for going to the Maldives last year, and that worked out just fine.

:thumbsup:

It's the only way to do it.

Good point re: Tripadvisor. I also look at Booking.com's reviews - I think it shows where people are from which helps with understanding how bad the service was...

Yoohoo Apr 14th 2014 1:32 pm

Re: Sri Lanka
 

Originally Posted by Scamp (Post 11217946)
:thumbsup:

It's the only way to do it.

Good point re: Tripadvisor. I also look at Booking.com's reviews - I think it shows where people are from which helps with understanding how bad the service was...

Not only that - you don't get to review on booking.com unless you've actually, well, booked (and didn't cancel) through them.

Scamp Apr 14th 2014 1:51 pm

Re: Sri Lanka
 

Originally Posted by Yoohoo (Post 11218130)
Not only that - you don't get to review on booking.com unless you've actually, well, booked (and didn't cancel) through them.

Didn't know that. Very smart.


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