Final comments and travel tips on Sri Lanka
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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We are back in Kandy, packing up to fly to Trivandrum, India tomorrow. We've had a great time here. The friendly people, splendid beaches, ancient sites, and great value for the money all make Sri Lanka a wonderful destination. It is a bit "off the beaten track" though so you might want to combine it with a visit to India or Southeast Asia. It is well worth a stay of a week or two!
Our comments and travel tips for Sri Lanka
We really enjoyed Sri Lanka but it is still very much a developing country so it has all the challenges and rewards that go along with that.
We felt very safe everywhere we went in Sri Lanka. The people we encountered were without exception friendly and helpful. Since tourism here is not a huge industry here, when you are away from the usual sites you might encounter prolonged stares of curiosity. Smiles and waves from us were always reciprocated.
We were occasionally asked for money by beggars but they were always quite passive. Merchants were very rarely aggressive and always very low pressure, one exception is the roving vendors selling trinkets at some of the ancient sites who can be quite persistent!
English is spoken by nearly everyone who deals with the public. Most signs are written in English, Sinhala, and Tamil.
Sri Lanka has some great accommodations at all price levels. There are swank boutique hotels with rooms for hundreds of dollars per night as well as budget places for well under $20. Food is amazingly cheap. It would be difficult to spend more than $5 for a large meal at most restaurants.
Public transport is VERY crowded but dirt-cheap. Don't use it unless you are on a shoestring budget. Renting a car cost us $18.00 per day but we would not recommend driving here unless you are used to very frenetic driving conditions, have nerves of steel, and have experience driving on the left side of the road. Getting a car with a driver costs less than $50 a day, and if you are here only a short time, can be a great way to see a lot without frazzling your nerves,
The beaches of the south are absolutely lovely (and offer that amazing turquoise water that you get only on the Indian Ocean) as well as a huge range of food and accommodation choices. Kandy is a great place to base yourself for tours of most ancient sites in the central plains as well as excursions into the hill country. Don't stay in Colombo any longer than you have to, other than the international airport, some discount clothes shopping, a few historic hotels, and a handful of museums; it has little to offer the traveler.
Despite the fact that there is a guerilla war going on in the north and east of Sri Lanka. All that is going happening from most tourist sites. Neither side of the conflict has ever targeted tourists. Even though we'd read the rather dire US State Department travel warning, we never felt any type of threat and didn't see anything unusual other than a few military checkpoints along major roads. But we have to add that Tamil Rebels bombed two local busses while we were here, good reason to get a private car!