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Sri Lanka in August(14 Posts)
We've just booked our first long haul, we're staying just north of Colombo in an all inclusive, but we want to get out as much as possible, does anyone have any tips? Travelling with DD9 and DS16
Sorry if any of the below comes across as negative in advance! We went to Sri Lanka this Easter and travelled around - I loved it. It’s a beautiful country and the people are quite exceptionally kind. The weather was just starting to change when we went and as I’m sure you know, summer is monsoon season. The general recommendation is to go East of the country in the summer to avoid the bad weather. We did have a bit of rain when we went and it absolutely pelts down hard.
All the families and tourists we met were either on tour company coach tours or had hired drivers. I know some people do travel around by public transport though, particularly using the trains. The roads (with the exception of one or two motorways) aren’t great and going anywhere does take some time. For example, it took us 4-5 hours in traffic to get to Kandy from Colombo. Dambulla and Sigiriya were another couple of hours on from Kandy, i don’t think either would be do-able from just north of Colombo which would be a shame to miss. Kandy would be a do-able day trip from Colombo (although it would be a long day!), There is a big religious festival in August at the Temple of the Tooth which would be worth seeing. It does involve an elephant being ridden though so depends on what you feel about that and I imagine the traffic to and from the city will be choc a bloc - there is a Kandy/Colombo train though.Avoid the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which is a frequent stop off on the way to Kandy, from an animal welfare perspective it’s not ethical.
We had a day in Colombo - it’s sprawling, not the loveliest and the traffic is absolutely horrendously mad. There are some historical sights but it’s not somewhere i think I’d go back to if I went to Sri Lanka again.
We didn’t go to Galle but that’s another possible day trip and a motorway connects Colombo to Galle. It’s an old Colonial city on the coast.
I’d go on Viator, put in ‘day trips from Colombo’. That will give you some ideas of what is going to be do-able. If you’d like their details, happy to pass on the contact details of our transport firm who I’m sure would quote you better prices for the same trips.
I’m not an AI fan so this might have coloured my response - I just think because of the slowness of travel in SL you’re going to miss out on seeing some great places and trying a good variety of food. I don’t think the weather at that time of year is going to be ideal for days flopping around the pool either (although I’m sure you’ll get some sunshine). Apologies OP, this is all just personal opinion. As above, it’s a brilliant country and I’m sure you’ll have a great time.
Just looked this up for you - there are day trips to Dambulla & Sigiriya from Colombo (I imagine it will be a long old day though!) and Udawalawe National Park - www.viator.com/Colombo/d4619-ttd
Also re the weather - August is an inter Monsoon month so i got that wrong! The general advice though is that the East not West Coast is better during our summer.
Yes we saw that August was a bit of a window. We do like an AI, and we have lovely pools and beaches for the kids, but definitely want to get out, thank you for that info, we'd love to travel to Kandy but it doesn't look possible, my youngest has suspected ASD so long travels aren't the best, but we may look at getting the train from Columbo to Ella.
I've already seen to avoid that elephant zoo, we'd love to visit a national park or somewhere to see wildlife in the wild!
I'd love details of your transport firm please, we are there a full 2 weeks so would look to do some travelling maybe every other day.
We'll probably give Columbo a miss, its not really what we are looking for tbh!
The train ride from Colombo to Ella is about 10 hours I think, Kandy is more do-able at 3 but you’d have to figure in the time from where you are based to the train station in Colombo - Colombo traffic is really slow and stop/start.
We used Your Driver Sri Lanka who were brilliant and have a 5 out of 5 rating on Tripadvisor. Maybe contact them and explain about your DS’s ASD and see what they suggest as do-able trips within 3 hours of where you are based. Day trips can feel a bit full on as getting anywhere takes forever which is why a lot of people do multiple location visits. If you are thinking of doing Sigiriya, it’s absolutely huge and climbing up in the mid day heat with DC would be a nightmare - it’s about 1hr30 to climb it. We gave it a pass when we got there as DD nearly fainted climbing up to the caves at Dambulla. DD really enjoyed the Safari we did at Minneriya though.
Ah it must have been Kandy I was thinking then, not Ella, I think 3 hours would be ok'ish.
None of us would be up for that climb I don't think!
I like the look of the elephant safari day trip in the link you gave above, I think we'll book that, and maybe a half day tour of Columbo, just to have a quick look.
What is the etiquette on tipping please?
I'll contact the tour company and see what they can offer, thank you.
At your AI you won’t need to tip I assume (except for the maid service and porters?). Prices are low, it’s not an expensive country so I went higher on tips than my usual 10% but it’s up to you! One or two places did include a tip in the bill so check for that.
Other than that - here’s a link to the religeous festival in Kandy - rove.me/to/sri-lanka/kandy-esala-perahera
The roads into Kandy are likely to be rammed so a train there would be better - I think you can book this all in advance. Do give yourself lots of time re Colombo traffic though -it’s pretty insane! There are also trains from Colombo down to Galle. I liked Kandy (we had a great hotel on the hillside overlooking the Temple of the Tooth) and at sunset with the monks chanting coming from loudspeakers around the lake, it’s quite magical. It is a busy and outside of the lake area not that pretty city though, not all Western tourists like it just to give you a heads up! The nice bits of Sri Lanka are mostly in the countryside, the towns are gritty. If you go to Kandy, visit the British cemetery - it’s really interesting and the grave keepers will tell you all about the lives and deaths of the people there for free (although we gave them a good tip!).
On a quick final note, on the coast there are a lot more mozzies so pack some kid friendly deet. Insect repellant is expensive out there so get it here!
thanks so much! You don't happen to reminder the hotel you stayed in in Kandy? That sounds magical
Just to say, we spent 10 days in SL on our honeymoon in August (2006!) but didn't have a day of rain, so hopefully you'll be lucky. We did 5 days in a beach hotel and then 5 days touring with a driver. We loved it, it is a wonderful place. Hope you have a fab time.
I’m SriLankan, although raised in the UK.
I go every single year because it’s fantastic.
The train ride from Colombo to Kandy is stunning. Try to go in an observation car at the Front.
You are a bit limited from seeing the best bits as you are in all inclusive.
Also take the train from Colombo down to Galle. It runs along the coast and the view is breathtaking. When in a Galle, visit the Dutch Fortress town.
Other visits I would recommend are if you are prepared to maybe skip a couple of nights of the AI, is to visit Sigirya which is a monolith rock fortress in the middle of the jungle and visit a tea estate factory in the hill country to see how tea is made.
In Colombo, have afternoon tea at the Galle Face hôtel, and visit the Colombo Museum which are beautiful colonial era buildings.
The Dutch Hospital and the Fort area In Colombo also have colnial buildings.
Shopping; you’ll hear about the famous Odel. (Ask to go to the main one. The clothes are a bit shit, but everyone ends up buying T-shirt’s & tea)
My favourite is Paradise Road which has the most amazing homewares.
Great place for a honeymoon!
Yes of course, we stayed at the Ozo and had a superior room with a lakeside view balcony. Some pictures for you!
In Kandy at sunset everyday there is a ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth with drumming monks. Prayers are played on loudspeakers from the trees around the lake and with the sun going down and mist on the lake (if it’s been raining!) it’s quite lovely
One thing to be aware of, is as you are almost on the equator, there is barely any dusk or dawn.
The sun sets just after 6pm and within about 15 minutes it’s fully night.
Likewise, it’s full daylight ( and hot) by 6.30am.
Insect repellent is not expensive there. You can ask in any pharmacy.
I can’t remember the name. It’s a little white bottle with a pink top.
For temples and also to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, wear long loose cotton trousers
Oh yes, in Kandy, go to the cultural,show. It’s got loads of dancers and ends with fire walking!
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