Tips n Tricks : Sri Lanka
Trip Start Dec 22, 2005
10Trip End Jan 02, 2006
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Adam's Peak : Do go to Adam's Peak (or Sri Pada as its known locally) ONLY if you think you are very fit. Of course, if you go, you will be rewarded with one of the most inspiring sunrises of your life. The hike is going to be over steep steps that go on and on ( about 5-6k of them) but once you reach the peak, the views are simply out of the world.
Do go prepared for the cold - esp., if you are going in December/January.
Rafter's Retreat ( Kitulgala -Owner Mr Channa) is ok. The service was good(most of them speak English), food was ok, the rooms comfortable. The white water rafting is however good fun with lots of thrills.
"Three Coins beer" a strict no no - "Lion Beer" is the brand to go with in Sri Lanka.
Kandy/Sigiriya/Elephant Orphanage/Anuradhapura :
Burma Rest house or Burmese Rest house(next to Trinity College, Colombo Street, Kandy) is extremely basic and inexpensive. However do keep in mind, that other than a clean bed no other material comforts are offered. This place is ideal for students or shoe-string budget travellers.
Kandy : Check out the "Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic". If you want to see the actual tooth relic, do get there very early in the mornings (before 7 am) as that part of the temple is only open for a short time. Also do check out the Spice Gardens.
Hotel Suisse is great for a typical Sri Lankan lunch/dinner of Rice, curry, coconut sambhol, papadams. Nice Bar and great view. Rooms are available too ( approx 40 USD per day)
Hotel Casamara : Kandy City. Right in the heart of town with a great rooftop bar which gives you a panoramic view of the city.
Transport : Buses are aplenty and the frequency is extremely convenient. Sri Lanka has one of the best public transport systems in place. They are inexpensive and wherever possible do try and take the "Inter City" buses rather than the local bus. Inter city buses are a lot more comfortable - air conditioned and limited number of people on board.
Transport : Tuk Tuk - the 3 wheelers there are another popular mode of transport. However do bargain hard or you will be fleeced out of your mind.
Cultural Triangle is a must. Sigiriya is supposed to be the best of the lot, but both Pollanaruwa and Dambulla are highly recommended too.
Also for the purpose of the cultural triangle, it would be ideal taking up accommodation in Dambulla City rather than Kandy (like we did) as that would shorten your journey time to virtually nothing. Plus the Sacred city of Anuradhapura is also closer to Dambulla than Kandy.
Train rides are recommended if you are planning to cover long distances between one point to another in the Island. Especially use the train if you are covering the Western side of the island - it's very well connected by train. However, be prepared to rough it out - like I said earlier there is no difference between a second class and a third class except for the steep difference in price! Might as well take the third class!
Unawatuna is a sexy sexy stretch of beach. It is not as well known as say Bentota, Hikkaduwa or the others but thats the beauty of it. Accommodation is limited, so book ahead. The water here is an amazing gorgeous shade of blue green and is ideal for surfing/snorkelling. Extremely invigorating and relaxing at the same time.
Other than Sunshine Inn,Dalawela(where we stayed 25 USD HB) - Unnwatuna beach resort ( right on the beach and @ 55USD for HB ) is another option. Another very pretty place is Hotel Sun n Sea ( owned by a very sweet and friendly lady called Muharram) - this is right on the beach too and has a great restaurant with awesome views of the beach below.
For Single women travelers :
First thing to do when you reach a town is to find out what the time the restaurants/shops in the town you are visiting close down. For instance, in Kandy, the official closing time is 7.30 - 8.30 pm. The streets wore a completely deserted look post 9pm and if walking around on your own, you attract a lot of unwanted attention. Besides it gets very difficult to get transport/food etc. once the town shuts down. So if on your own, best to take the necessary precautions and stock up with food, basic necessities etc beforehand.
As is the case with any tourist hotspot, avoid the touts and guides like the plague. We almost got cheated out of 4000 rupees, thankfully better judgement prevailed. A Map of the Island and public transport during the day is all you need to get around.
Taxi services are also available. A lot more expensive than public transport but worth it totally, especially if you do not want to rough it out like we did. However, do ensure to get into only the taxis recommended by the hotel (s) you are staying at or by friends etc. Safer.