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Trip Report Sri Lanka in 7 Days: highlights & lessons learned

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ABOUT US:
My husband Glen and I are in our late 20s/early 30s, living and working in Abu Dhabi, UAE and based in Washington DC. Between us we've traveled to 48 countries, yet never contributed to forums to share experiences for the benefit of other travelers until now. This is our first trip report, hope you'll find it helpful in planning your trip!

TRIP ITINERARY:
Dambulla - Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa - Kandy - Nuwara Eliya - Unawatuna Beach & Galle - Colombo

GENERAL TIPS:

Flights - If convenient to go via Dubai, I recommend FlyDubai, a low-cost carrier with nonstop service to Colombo, arriving 5AM so you get the full day.

Health - We took yellow fever and typhoid vaccines to be safe, but opted out of malaria pills and used repellent instead. Check http://www.cdc.gov/ for travel health advice.

Transport - We hired a driver via email based on recommendations on travel forums. Aruna gave the best quote, and we were happy with him: pleasant, informed, punctual, accommodating. His email is: Aruna Chaminda <arunathilakasiri1974@gmail.com>

Food - Local eateries run about US $2-$4 per person, and street food is generally safe and tasty. Hotel restaurants are dearer on the wallet - about $12-$20 per person, but offer non-spicy options if you have dietary restrictions. Must eat treat is called the 'hopper', a coconut milk and rice flour thin crispy bowl with fillings - the egg and cheese is delicious.

Tipping - It's standard to leave 10% for meals. Many restaurants bill 10% service charge, so it's optional to leave a little extra or round up. For hotel staff minimum is 100 rupees, less would be too low. Exchanges & ATMs dispense 1000 rupee notes so remember to break to have small bills on hand. For Aruna our driver we added 25% of his fee.

Washrooms - Outside of hotels, washrooms typically do not have toilet paper or soap, so keep tissues and sanitizer with you.

Now to details city by city ...

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