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tips and ideas for 10 days in Sri Lanka, train travel, beach options

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Hi everyone, I've been reading a few of the exchanges on this forum from some who've traveled there, thanks for sharing your experiences.

Is SL set up for an independent solo (female) traveler? Do I need to use a travel agent or can I get around independently (without being a backpacker)? Are there taxis, or other tourist buses or minivans, if the local ones are not suitable or safe enough?

I would like to know the latest information on train travel as transport between towns. It seems everyone hires a car and driver - is car the only way to get around?

I saw some weather tips the southwest and central could be better bets, but also much is unknown in these years.

From what I gather, the places to visit &set up base include: Negombo, Dambulla, Kandy, Hatton, Kogalle, a short visit such as I am toying with (eg 10-12 days) and potentially link to Maldives for a few days of pure (veg out) relaxation. I've seen Yala mentioned (for elephant sightings), which I could skip.

Have I missed anything. Are there some beach spots to consider in SL and so skip Maldives?

Would appreciate any tips, ideas, suggestions, as I am almost booking this trip, yes, at the last minute. Is this a place one can arrive and figure it out along the way, or does one need to have very defined plans before arriving in SL?

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