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Proposed 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary - any recommendations welcome

Proposed 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary - any recommendations welcome

Old Jun 9th, 2013, 10:42 PM
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Proposed 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary - any recommendations welcome

Hi everyone

A friend and I are travelling to Sri Lanka for 3 weeks at the end of this year. I’ve been looking through all the great tips given on this forum and would love some feedback on our proposed itinerary for late Dec 2013 for 23 days.
Also, any suggestions for accommodation would be great (that’s reasonably priced - not into expensive hotels).

So far we’ve planned the following:

Dec 28th Depart Sydney Arrive Colombo very late
2 nights Negombo 28th/30th

Dec 30th Fly to Jaffna with Helitours
3 nights Jaffna 30th/31st/1st

2nd Jan bus to Anuradhapura
1 night Anuradhapura 2nd Jan
Want to pick up a driver here for the rest of the time we spend in the Cultural Triangle

3rd Jan drive to Dambulla
3 nights Dambulla 3rd/4th/5th
Hoping to do Dambulla, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa

6th Jan drive to Kandy and finish with driver
2 nights Kandy 6th/7th
Do we need 2 nights in Kandy or is 1 enough?

8th Jan - train/bus?? to Tea Country
Looking at staying in Ella or Haputale. Interested in hiking
3 nights 8th/9th/10th

11th January Tea Country to Uda Walawe National Park
How long is this part of the journey?
What’s the best travel option - bus/driver???
2 nights NP 11th/12th
Unsure as to best options for accommodation here.

13th Uda Walawe National Park to Mirissa
Wondering how long this trip will take and best travel options

3 nights Mirissa 13th/14th/15th
Is this a good place for downtime - relaxing by the pool/sea?

16th Mirissa to Galle
2 nights Galle 16th/17th

18th to Colombo
Looking for the best way to do this leg of the journey, not the shortest but the most interesting

1 night Colombo 18th

19th Fly to Sydney

I have found very little information on Jaffna on travel forums. Would really appreciate some feedback on what is good to do there and if three nights is enough.

Thanks in advance

Sandra06 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2013, 06:25 AM
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A couple of basic recommendations:

1. Book a car and driver through an agency. That way, if you have any problems with either the car or the driver, the agency can trade out the car and/or driver. Reading some of the reports here will make it clear why you want to have this back-up. Using a car and driver for all of your transport is certainly the easiest way to go.

2. It takes a lot longer to get from place to place than what you expect.

I've not been to Jaffna, as the war was still going on when in was in Sri Lanka. I have read the reports of a number of veteran travelers, and it sounds to me like three nights in Jaffna is enough. I do hope you will come back and tells us about your time in Jaffna.

There are a number of travel agency websites that give driving times - look at Red Dot and Boutique Sri Lanka.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2013, 03:18 AM
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Many thanks Kathie for your advice about using an agency to book a driver.

Do you think the time we've planned to spend each place sounds viable?

Will definitely come back on the forum and let you know what our time in Jaffna is like.
Sandra06 is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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I haven't been to all of the places you list, so I don't know for sure. You are spending a LOT of time on the road. Do make sure you get good drive time estimates, so you will know what to expect.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2013, 07:42 AM
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I have been to most of the places you mention with the exception of Jaffna . Here is a link to my TR from a couple of years ago:

Kathie gives sound advice re booking a guide driver. We always travel completely independently but SL was an exception as it was both easier and cheaper to go through an agency ( but choose carefully!.

Of the places you mention, Anurahadpura impressed me the least, although to be fair, we had to battle through floods to get there and probably did not see it in its best light..Polunurawa was much more impressive.

As you will be in the tea country and are into hiking, check out the nightime ascent of Adams Peak. It is hard but the views are breathtaking and the experience, very special.

We stayed at a couple of places on the south coast. Goyambokka was a small local beach, very nice and very local and quiet. Weligama was a bit further on and much bigger. Great restaurants and some nice walks around the area, but you really would not want to swim off the beach as the towns sewer empties right on to the beach. We walked to Mirrissa a couple of times and it was a very pretty beach with some nice places to stay. A good choice. A bit more developed but nowhere near as commercialised as the places closer to Columbo.

Galle is a very interesting town with lots to see and some of the best food we found was in the restaurants there.

I am pretty sure the train now runs from Galle ( or maybe Weligama ) to Columbo which would be the most interesting way to get there - I thing around 5 hours. Columbo itself did not appeal excep for the massive markets area there.

Negombo is no great shakes either. Lots of package tour groups go there and it is overdeveloped but the beaches are quite nice.

We spent 2 or 3 nights in Kandy and enjoyed it although that was partly because of family history and the stories my grandfather used to tell of when he was area planter there in the 1930s.

Kathie also makes a good point about travel distances. It doesn't look far on the map but it always seems to take twice as long as it should.

Finally, the most memorable part of our time there were the train journeys we took in the tea country. Do try and fit at least one in if you can as you will see far more of the countryside than just ravelling by road. Your driver will drop you off at one station and pick you up at the other end at no extra charge.

Have fun with your planning!
crellston is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2013, 02:54 AM
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Many thanks for your comments and advice. Very much appreciated. I also read your TR from a couple of years ago and this will also help inform the planning of our trip. Like you, I've travelled completely independently in the past but have to say that your comments (and those of others) have certainly made me rethink this for Sri Lanka and we're now looking at employing a driver for parts of our trip.
Sandra06 is offline  
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