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Next Stop: Sri Lanka

Old Oct 17th, 2014, 04:27 AM
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Next Stop: Sri Lanka

After batting around several options for our next "big" trip, I'm pleased to share that we've finally settled on Sri Lanka. We originally planned to visit the island country a couple of years ago, but had to cancel our plans. We thought about India, but figured we did not have enough time on this go-around, and just couldn't make South Africa work given the constraints around time and interests.

Now we will be headed to Sri Lanka during the first two weeks of March and couldn't be happier with our choice. We worked with Boutique Sri Lanka, which came recommended by many on this forum the last time we planned this trip and decided to go back to them again. Chamila has been the person who's working with me and is a true pleasure.

Our focus will be the Cultural Triangle and Tea Country, with four nights in each. In addition, we will be staying two nights in Colombo, Kandy, and near Yala National Park.

I've been busy rereading some of the trip reports here as well as thumbing through the Lonely Planet and Insight Guide guidebooks, but am sure will have some questions for you as I go into planning mode.

Want to share the good news with my friends here.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 05:44 AM
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Sounds great, TP - we'll be here to answer your questions when you are ready...
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 07:43 AM
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Have a wonderful time! Sri Lanka is still on my "re-visit" list.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 07:54 AM
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Best of luck!
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 10:15 AM
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Thank you!
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 12:22 PM
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I hope you have as good a time as we did, tp.

it was definitely one of our best holidays.

Have you finalised your itinerary yet?
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 02:15 PM
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Ann, yes, we will the structure in place but not the details of what we want to see and do, although I have some ideas from our planning last time around. We will start in Colombo and end at Yala, with stops in the Cultural Triangle, Kandy, and Tea Country.
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Old Oct 18th, 2014, 05:56 AM
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hi tp - that sounds very like the itinerary we did 2 years ago, except that we got back from Yala to Colombo by spending two nights in Galle which we loved.

How are you getting back from Yala to Colombo?
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Old Oct 18th, 2014, 11:52 AM
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Ann, we have a car and driver booked for the whole trip, so we could get back to Colombo by road. However, I'm thinking about possibly flying from Hambantota to save the road trip, depending on what our international flights look like.
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Old Oct 18th, 2014, 01:48 PM
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tp - that's what I was wondering about. you would be hard pressed to drive from Yala to Colombo in a day. There is a new road round the new airport in Hambantota [built there according to our driver because a top minister comes from that area] but few drivers seemed to be familiar with the concept of driving on a dual carriageway. Also the speed limit is about 60 kms/hour which is pretty slow.

Once you get to Galle [a day's drive from Yala] there is a modern highway to colombo which takes about 2 hours, but they are still building the next section from Colombo to the airport so you still have to slog through the city which can take between 1-2 hours depending on the time of day.

if you could get an internal flight to Colombo, then you save yourselves in effect 2 days driving.

if you decide to drive, then I recommend spending a night in Galle, two for preference.
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Old Oct 18th, 2014, 03:58 PM
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Thanks, Ann. Normally I would be up for spending a couple of nights in Galle, but I'm a bit time pressed on this trip. Appreciate the info on distance and time. Looks like flying would be the way to go here.
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Old Nov 5th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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Hi

I think much of the information you are receiving from other posters on here regarding travel time from Hambantota to Colombo by road is out of date. Previously this journey would have taken about 7 to 8 hours. No there is a very good expressway from Matara to Colombo. From Hambantota to Matara is about 1 1/2 hours on the old road and then from Matara to Colombo is max 2 hours on the new expressway. I now do the Yala to Colombo drive regularly in about 4 1/2 hours including a short comfort break.

Are you coming in to Colombo city or do you want to get to the airport?
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Old Nov 5th, 2014, 01:42 PM
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Mohammed, thank you for the updated information. I just booked my flights yesterday and will be traveling from Hambantota to Colombo by air and onwards.
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 05:03 PM
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With about six weeks to go until our trip, I just applied for and received confirmation of my ETAs for Sri Lanka tonight. I assume all I need to do is print the email confirmations of the approval with ETA numbers as a backup. Is this correct? I cannot seem to find information about it on the website.

Also have a question about tipping of the BSL driver and local guides, and what's appropriate.

Thanks.
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 02:40 AM
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Your plan for the ETA's is exactly what we did for Australia. Once you register, you are "in their system". We tipped about $10/day for our SL driver. Local guide - maybe $5 for 1/2 day...
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 05:13 AM
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Have a great trip!

I look forward to reading your report when you're back -- I always enjoy your writing and will save and use it for a future trip, too!
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 06:45 AM
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We did the same for our driver, and donated a pair of binoculars that we had taken with us for him to use with future customers.

Have a great trip!
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 12:14 PM
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Craig and Ann, thank you for your feedback about the tipping. And the Australia comparison is really helpful.

Progol, thank you. I will be share to share about my travel. Very excited; the trip seemed so far away when we originally made reservations, and now it's so soon.
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Old Jan 12th, 2015, 05:51 PM
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Tripplanner001
Could you give me the day by day outline of your trip? I am planning a trip like yours for a year from now. I tried to contact BSL but never got a response so I'm searching for a new TA. I want to give them an itinerary to price out before I choose a company to travel with. So far the only one who has been emailing back and forth and wants my business is MoonLanka.

Can you also tell me what hotels you are staying at?

Thanks for the advice, Susie
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 06:23 PM
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Susie, apologies as I did not see your questions until now. We will be in Sri Lanka for 16 nights on the following itinerary:

2 nights in Colombo, Cinnamon Grand
4 nights in the Cultural Triangle, Heritance Kandamala
2 nights in Kandy, Elephant Stables
3 nights in Nuwara Eliya, Tea Factory
2 nights in Ella, Secret Ella
3 nights in Yala, Cinnamon Wild
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