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First Time to Sri Lanka

First Time to Sri Lanka

Old Jan 13, 18, 8:00 pm
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First Time to Sri Lanka

Fiance and I are taking our honeymoon this April in Sri Lanka. We'll be there for 8 days. Flying into Colombo. Have a few questions:

1) What would be a somewhat budget friendly itinerary for a trip of that duration (hotels around $200/night). At the moment, Kandy, Udawalawe National Park, and Galle are of interest. Would it be possible to see all of these places in our limited time? We're interested in the wild life, Buddhist temples, and the tea country.
2) What is the recommended transportation getting from one town to the next? Train? Arranging day tours, out of Colombo?
3) General tips / things to avoid.

Much Appreciated,

merittraveler
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Old Jan 13, 18, 8:21 pm
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I researched a potential trip there this past summer, and the one site I'd recommend is seat61.com for information on train travel in Sri Lanka.
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Old Jan 14, 18, 4:02 am
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Sri Lankan here.

1) An accommodation budget of $200/night should guarantee five-star accommodation almost everywhere. Also, 8 days should be more than enough to see all of the places you are interested in. You might want to also consider visiting Sigiriya and/or Anuradhapura.

2) The most flexible option would be to hire a vehicle + driver; the going rate is ~$80/day. Note: this recommendation is based on your accommodation budget!

Trains do work, especially between Colombo and Kandy (~4 hours by road, thanks to horrible traffic, vs. 2.5 hours by train) - BUT if you want to travel comfortably, you'll need to book 1st or 2nd class tickets very early on (it might be too late already).

3) Off the top of my head:

a) Sri Lanka has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the whole world. However, do beware of petty crime.
b) Most locals are hospitable and will go out of their way to help foreigners (without expecting remuneration!). Exceptions to this general rule: shady characters outside the airport, shady characters in 'touristy' areas, and many taxi and trishaw drivers,
c) Uber is extremely popular in Colombo, and will help avoid your being ripped off (very useful at the airport, especially if the hotel isn't picking you up). Pickme, the local equivalent, is also good, and available in several other cities as well (both Galle and Kandy, I think). Kangaroo Cabs is another alternative - and they allow multi-day car+driver bookings as well, I think.
d) Srilankan Airlines offers free prepaid SIM cards (with voice + data) to all tourists arriving to Sri Lanka, from what I remember. Not sure about other airlines - I think that the SIM cards are provided courtesy of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, and other airlines might be distributing them as well.

Last edited by npsomaratna; Jan 14, 18 at 4:12 am
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Old Jan 14, 18, 7:14 am
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Would it be recommended to hire a driver in advance, and hold off on booking hotels until arrival?
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Old Jan 14, 18, 9:03 am
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npsomaratna, that's a fantastic contribution. What an introduction of yourself to FlyerTalk. Welcome!

It's been many years since we did a trip thru the cultural heart of Sri Lanka. We used JetWing who put together a trip specifically for the two of us including private car and driver. Our trip was similar to this one. I'd contact one of the agencies and see what they can offer.
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Old Jan 15, 18, 12:42 am
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Originally Posted by kalderlake View Post
I researched a potential trip there this past summer, and the one site I'd recommend is seat61.com for information on train travel in Sri Lanka.
seat61.com is great....while i have never used it in sri lanka, i regularly use it in europe....its definitely got the best info on train travel....
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Old Jan 15, 18, 12:44 am
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Originally Posted by merittraveler View Post
Would it be recommended to hire a driver in advance, and hold off on booking hotels until arrival?
i travel to colombo quite often & either use uber or the hotel car....both are relatively inexpensive when compared to other parts of the world....my suggestion would be to book the hotels in advance & use the hotel cars....
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Old Jan 16, 18, 3:19 am
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I agree. Uber is pretty good in not just Sri Lanka but other parts of Asia as well. Buses and trains will be quite cheap as well. I don't think it's wise to hold off on hotel reservations until arrival...too risky. What if you don't get good rooms. Trains are a great way to move across the country. They're an economical option as well. As a lover of history and mythology, I'd recommend, if you have time, to try exploring the "Ramayan Trail" in Sri Lanka.
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Old Jan 20, 18, 6:47 am
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How is Pick Me? Would that be recommended over Uber?

*side note, is a visit to the Maldives worth a short stay? Or should I stay in Sri Lanka.
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Old Jan 20, 18, 9:04 am
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Originally Posted by merittraveler View Post
*side note, is a visit to the Maldives worth a short stay? Or should I stay in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is a great jumpting off point for the Maldives. However, you need several days to justify the trip. You fly to Male, then typically take a small plane on to the atoll where your hotel is. You'll consume the better part of a day going and another day returning. Further, it's not inexpensive travel. If you can expand your trip by several days and have the budget, go for it. If not, I'd leave it for another trip.
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Old Jan 20, 18, 5:21 pm
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I had the best time visiting the "Cultural Triangle" in Sri Lanka in 2016.
I hired a tour guide & driver from "traumlandtours.com" and was really happy with the services. I paid $355 for 4 days.
In Kandy, I would recommend "The Elephant Staples Hotel".
Hope this helps.
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Old Jan 20, 18, 6:09 pm
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Looking at a resort in Yala. Is it possible to get from Yala National Park to Colombo by air? Iím not having any luck with Cinnamon Air, and donít want to be in a car that long.
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Old Jan 22, 18, 5:21 am
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Sri Lank Is an awesome spot to travel.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 3:02 pm
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Book your hotel early and for airport it is better to get the Hotel pick up. They are more expensive( a lot more by Sri Lankan standards) compared to under and pick me. But the reliability of the hotel airport rep who will pick you up as soon as you leave the customs area and put you in the hotel car.

As for Maldives, it depends on where you want to stay. You can stay in a resort close to the airport which means you take a short speed boat ride. If you want to stay further away from the airport, then you either take a seaplane or a domestic land based flight. There are about 5 to 6 flights per day from Sri Lanka to Maldives.
It is not cheaper in Maldives and you would find it almost impossible to get a resort under USD 200 in Maldives.
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Old Feb 2, 18, 2:03 am
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Smile

Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
npsomaratna, that's a fantastic contribution. What an introduction of yourself to FlyerTalk. Welcome!.
Thanks! I've browsed through FlyerTalk many a time over the years, and oft recently, I thought that it might be good to contribute to the community, rather than being a silent consumer
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