Sri Lanka

Map of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a safe country to explore on your own. Many people could have heard of the LTTE activities in Sri Lanka, however many places are still relatively safe to tourists. It’s named one of the most picturesque countries in South Asia. Trust me, it is !

GENERAL INFO

How many days shall I spend in Sri Lanka? I think something like a week to 10 days is merely sufficient. I semi-backpacked for 7 days in Sri Lanka (between 5 October and 11 October 2009).

When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka? There are two monsoons in Sri Lanka. The best and the driest seasons are from December to March of the following year, on the South and West Coasts and in hill country, and from May to September in the East coast. Thus, Sri Lanka is a all-year round travel destination. I was there in early and mid October 2009, the weather was perfectly fine, ie. hot and sunny days I had.

MAIN SIGHTS

Top 6 places/cities of interest which ones must not miss: Sri Lanka is full of picturesque landscapes. There are beautiful coasts, rich cultural and historic cities, ruins of old kingdoms, sacred places and serene hill country in Sri Lanka. The top 6 places which ones must not miss when visiting Sri Lanka are:

  1. Sigiriya Rock Palace ♦♦♦
  2. Polonnaruwa ancient city ♦♦
  3. Kandy (second biggest city of Sri Lanka, also the capital city of the last kingdom) ♦♦♦
  4. Dambulla cave temple ♦♦
  5. Anuradhapura ♦♦
  6. Nuwara Eliya (hill country, tea plantation) ♦

Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport is the main gateway for entering Sri Lanka. I flew into Colombo on 5 October 2009, and left the country on 11 October 2009, in an early flight.

The 2 places/cities of interest which I can give them a pass: Colombo and Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage ! Colombo isn’t an interesting city to visit. Terrible traffic jams everywhere and the city is always blanketed with thick layer of dust. Ones may need 3-5 hours to cover all tourist spots in the city. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is another give-it-a-pass spot. Foreigners are changed US$ 20 to enter the site while locals just pay SK 100 (approx. US$ 1). You would be sick of elephants as elephants are seen everywhere in Sri Lanka, such as temples in Kandy.

LODGING

Shall I stay in hotels or hostels in Sri Lanka ? Go for hotels. Sri Lanka has not been a popular tourist destination, thus hotel room rates are not too high. Ones can easily get a decent double-sharing room at a 4- or 5-star hotel in Colombo for US$ 60-70. In cities or towns outside Colombo, do try spa resorts which cost approximately US$ 50-70 for a double-sharing room.

Hotel suggestion (rate as of 2009)
Colombo :
1. Ceylon Continental Hotel (5-star)   Rates approx. US$ 75
2. Cinnamon Hotel  (5-star)   Rates approx. US$ 90
Polonnaruwa :
1. Royal Lotus Hotel (2-star) [in Griritela, about 10min drive to Polonnaruwa]  Rates aprox. US$ 75
Sigiriya & Dambulla :
1. Thilanka Resorts & Spa (3-star)   Rates approx. US$ 67
Kandy :
1. Hotel Thilanka (3-star)   Rates approx. US$ 70

SUMMARY

My most memorable moments in Sri Lanka: There were two ! First, Sigiriya. The view on the summit is spectacular. Those who have seen the place would be amazed by the spectacular architecture of the rock place ruins. I was ! The second was the a day off in Kandy. Kandy, which lies in the midst of hills in Kandy district, was selected as one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. This old capital city of the last kingdom, is also pronounced the most scenic city in Sri Lanka which is agreeable.

Traveldalometer for Sri Lanka : ♦♦♦ (3/5)


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