Anyone been to Sri Lanka? Recommend some sights / accom please!

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  • Anyone been to Sri Lanka? Recommend some sights / accom please!
  • Premier Icon giantonagiant
    Subscriber

    Evening all.

    Heading to Sri Lanka for 10 days or so and have a rough plan, but would love to hear of any ‘must see’ places or really cool places to stay.

    Looking like me and Mrs Giant will be heading down the west coast, round the bottom, up the east coast and back across the middle (or something like that).

    Any experiences or transport? Self drive? Buses? Trains?

    I need to book a hotel in Colombo for first and last nights there too, so any recommendations, will be mega helpful.

    Not on a budget and hoping to avoid back packers hostels (we’ve not had a holiday for a while, so happy to spoil ourselves a bit).

    Cheers all.

    seba560
    Member

    Hotel Mt Lavinia was where we stayed a geed few years ago, nice views over the ocean from room.
    Kandy is well worth a visit.
    See if you can get anywhere near this 2 mins 40.
    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Uxc9eFcZyM[/video]

    Can’t remember much else as it’s a few years ago.

    Rockape63
    Member

    I went a loooooong time ago and loved it! Stayed in a Hotel, but had a taxi for a few days took us to kandy via Tea Plantations, Elephant sanctury, saw some great sights. Kandy is lovely but was wet and the ‘must do’ temple ceremony is, (shall we say) different!

    Very friendly people and lots to see. Our Taxi driver took us back to his place for tea afterwards.

    lazybike
    Member

    Sigarya is worth a look, Kandy was nice, botanical gdns well worth a look, there’s a turtle sanctury on the west coast, can’t remember where, but was worth a look, I spent 6 weeks in Sri Lanka travelling around, loads of places to stay guest houses etc, just wing it 🙂

    Not on a budget and hoping to avoid back packers hostels (we’ve not had a holiday for a while, so happy to spoil ourselves a bit).

    😳 in that case there’s plenty of nice hotels… 🙂

    Mrs Mitch and I went about twelve years ago – in fact, we got engaged there. At the time, it was pretty unsettled politically, there was increasing trouble with the Tamil’s etc, and we were constantly warned about no go areas and stuff. Having said that, it was a beautiful place, and most of the people we met were friendly. We stayed at an all inclusive resort, which is something I wouldn’t normally consider, but we booked as a last minute thing and it was really cheap. As I recall, we were pestered by touts wanting to sell us excursions on an all too regular basis, but if you can manage to avoid them, you should be fine. As somebody else suggested, the elephant orphanage is worth visiting, and dependant on the time of year you visit, the beaches are beautiful.

    We went in 2011 for my mums wedding, stayed at the fortress outside galle I think. 5 star absolutely beautiful. When we went it took 6/7 hours to get there hut they have built a motorway now so takes about 2 hours

    nicko74
    Member

    I went a couple of years ago on a Teletext package actually. All inclusive accommodation in Bentota (south of Colombo, on the beach), plus flights with Qatar, and it was excellent. We had a great mixture of pottering around the local villages with our tuktuk guy, sitting in the sun relaxing, walking along the beach; and then took a couple of days in Kandy.

    Kandy itself I wouldn’t recommend staying in – as noted above it’s wet and muddy – but it’s worth a visit and from there you can stop in at Pinawalla elephant sanctuary. I wanted to go to Galle, but we didn’t make it.

    Bear in mind that it takes AGES to get anywhere on ground transport. Our hotel was 30miles from Colombo, but took 2.5hrs to get there by car; the train was no better.

    But really, we loved it all, even the adventure of schlepping about the island. The food’s amazing – very fiery, even compared to Indian food. And if you can make it to a cricket match, bonus!

    Premier Icon curiousyellow
    Subscriber

    Colombo hotels – Stay at the Cinnamon Grand or the Taj. Pretty chilled out atmosphere and great restaurants at both of them. You could even stay at each one at either end of your stay. Try and have a few cocktails on the beachfront at the Galle Face Hotel, but avoid staying there. It’s time is past. Mount Lavinia is ok, but it’s just a colonial hotel that’s more about the setting than the food, or the luxury.

    Wouldn’t advise driving if you’re not used to somewhere like London or if you’ve not driven in Asia before. The Highway Code is treated as a suggestion, not law. If you get in an accident then you’re a bit ****. Renting a van and driver is fairly cheap and hassle free. The hotel may even be able to sort you out with one. If you do rent, then get a 4×4 because the roads are crap.

    West coast, Hikkaduwa and onwards is pretty good. Bentota is very resort-ey, but still ok. Even Hikka is a bit touristy these days, but the beaches are still lovely and the further away from Hikka and towards the South you head the more unspoilt the beaches are. Hotels are still cheap. Try and avoid the beachside cafes for food because they’re shit. The street food, and smaller restaurants away from the beach serve better food.

    South, well, not that much experience of it, but I hear they’ve spent a ton of money on infra there because that’s where the president is from. Probably worth a trip.

    East coast is a jewel. Trincomalee is a must to visit. The seafood there is incredible. Book a little boat trip to the little islands during the day. Few things are more fun than being on your own little island with a vast blue expanse of sea in front of you as the sun beats down on you.

    If you do head into the hill country (your post makes it sound like you’re making your way round the coast) then check out Adam’s Peak. It’s a bit of a climb, but it’s cool to see the sun come up at dawn over the peaks. You can also do the classics like the elephant sanctuary, tea and spice factory tours and the temples if you want, but temples are temples and factories are factories anywhere in the world.

    Other shite:
    – Be prepared to pay “White Man Tax” on tickets for attractions.
    – When people shake their head from side to side then they mean yes.
    – Sri Lankan people are pretty smiley.
    – Tell anyone at temples asking for a donation to **** off.
    – Try some of the Sri Lankan arrack.
    – Try the pub quiz at The Inn On The Green. It’s… interesting.
    – Try a chicken koththu if you like spicy food.
    – You get a better exchange rate changing your £s or $s at a jewellers than at the airport, or buying them from here.
    – Tap water is drinkable, but perhaps best not to chance it.
    – Don’t order anything with sausages or cheese. They’re all processed shit.
    – Shopping is shit. Don’t bother with any of the department stores thinking you’re going to find bargains.
    – If you smoke or are planning on a few cheeky tipples in your hotel room then take advantage of the duty free.
    – Try and fly direct. Stopover in the Emirates is a ballache. Sri Lankan are ok to fly with.
    – Be prepared to see some of the most horrible shit in the middle of the most beautiful places. Beggars with disabilities, starving kids, stray dogs, cows all that sort of thing.

    Premier Icon giantonagiant
    Subscriber

    Awesome stuff folks, I really appreciate the posts. Plenty there to go at.

    CY I take it you lived there?!

    Premier Icon aazlad
    Subscriber

    We went on our honeymoon 4 years ago and had a great time. Travelled around and stayed at some nice hotels. Kandalama was the highlight. Earl Regency in Kandy was very nice. Tea Factory hotel was good for a few nights. Mount Lavinia was very nice in Colombo. Colombo itself was pretty forgettable but everywhere else was fab.

    Highlights were Sigariya, Dambulla, Temple of the Tooth, Botanic Gardens. We also paid to go on a day long elephant safari which was really good. Prepare for eating curry at breakfast. All the food was very good. Look out for egg hopper and mutton curry. Very tasty! Watch out for bones though.

    Premier Icon CHB
    Subscriber

    My inlaws live in Columbo. Stunning country.
    Sigiria Rock is a must see. Kandy is nice too.
    Ther is also a fantastic waterfall thats worth a visit.
    A visit to a temple is great too, and its genuinly nice to take food parcels to the beggars that hang round all the temples. We spent £20 last time we went and fed about 40 people, a small token gesture, but the food they had that day was real and personally I dont take any moral position on feeding 40 hungry bellys. My kids helped hand the parcels out and the gratitude they received left them humbled, especially when they realised each parcel was only 50p. Theres a lot western folk could learn about how 90% of the planet live!
    We had a personal driver when we went and its great, shows you all the great places and no driving hassle..which is a blessing!

    Food is hit and miss, but some of the restaurants are amazing. The fresh crab curry is a must try. The dahl is to die for.

    Lots of great historic sites.

    White person tax is a reality. My brother in law is a USA Sri Lankan, and had many heated arguments with every stall holder in 2010 as they tried to charge him the westerner price.

    Happy to find out more if you want specific info.

    m1kea
    Member

    Been there three time over the years, the last back in 2010.

    Geographically it’s fantastically diverse for such a small area. You have the mountains in the middle which are UK type temps and then an hour down the road you’re back in to either ‘jungle’ or ‘savannah’.

    As per all Asian driving, the roads are err, interesting. A typical road will often consist of people and bikes near the kerb, tuk tuks and similar sized vehicles overtaking them, buses overtaking the tuk tuks and cars overtaking the buses. Repeat the same pattern on the other side of the (two lane) road.

    I took my Garmin with me and the drive from Columbo to Kandy at 10am took 4 hours for the 74 miles. Going back from Habarana to Negombo was 100 miles and took 4:20.

    Sigiyra is a must visit but if at all possible, try to go there privately so that you can get taken to the sister rock, Pidurangala. The ascent of Sigiyra is positively wheel chair friendly compared to the trip to the top of Pidurangala.

    Here’s a selection of snaps I put together for some friends http://www.mikeanton.com/SriLanka2010highlights/index.htm and some more on Panoramio.

    konabunny
    Member

    It’s been ages since I was there and I can’t add anything to the above, except to say that hiring a driver with his car for the duration was well worth it.

    Dorset_Knob
    Member

    Tea Country for a relaxing break from the hussle and bustle.

    Premier Icon davetrave
    Subscriber

    +1 for hire a driver! 1 week on the south west coast, 1 week in the north east hill country for honeymoon in 2005. A day trip to Galle was quite harrowing seeing all the devastation from the monsoon 9 months earlier – the Colombo to Galle train that had been washed wholesale inland still sat in the trees, families living in tents and makeshift wooden shacks after homes washed away but temples on the seafront unscathed – wired…

    Premier Icon coolhandluke
    Subscriber

    I got married in Sri Lanka to Mrs coolhandluke, about 12 years ago.

    Standout memories, (apart from getting married on an elephand and then feeding it our wedding cake)

    Elephant orphanage
    Turtles sanctuary?
    Kandy
    The driving (not a good memory)
    the people
    Having proper nice tea

    Fantastic place.

    Premier Icon CHB
    Subscriber

    If you do want a driver then I could ask my MIL to arrange, or put in contact with. She is a school principal in Columbo and haggles better than anyone I know.

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)

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