Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page > proposed itinerary for 14 nights Feb. 2016
Notices

proposed itinerary for 14 nights Feb. 2016

Reply

Nov 28th, 2015, 07:43 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
proposed itinerary for 14 nights Feb. 2016

I think I am all set for my February visit to Sri Lanka. My husband and I are traveling and we have a driver supplied by Camlo Lanka Tours. This is the proposed itinerary with all hotels reserved. Some I booked direct, some on booking.com, one through Camlo Lanka Tours.

Feb. 12 arrive 11:30pm stay Negombo 1 night Sernedib Guest House
Feb. 13 leave hotel mid-late morning, drive to Anuradhapura. Visit Mihintale in late afternoon. 1 night Ceylan Lodge
Feb. 14 visit Anuradhapura, drive to Dambulla late afternoon. 2 nights Joes Habarana Village
Feb. 15 visit Polonnaruwa
Feb. 16 visit Sigiriya Rock early am, visit Dambulla Cave Temple, drive to Kandy 2 nights Thilanka Hotel
Feb. 17 visit Temple of Tooth, Botanical Garden,city tour, museums, ?
Feb. 18 drive to Nuwara Eliya, visit tea factory, stay 1 night Heidi's Home Guesthouse
Feb. 19 visit Horton Plains early am, train to Ella, 2 nights Ella Flower Garden resort
Feb. 20 hike Little Adam's peak, Ella Rock water Falls
Feb. 21 drive to Tangalle, visit Elephant transit Home on way, 2 nights French Residence
Feb. 22 whale watching at Mirrissa, relax at beach
Feb. 23 drive to Unawatuna, 3 nights Bedspace Guesthouse
Feb. 24 visit Galle
Feb. 25 Unawatuna relax at beach
Feb. 26 leave Unawatuna at noon, city tour of Colombo, transfer to airport for 7:15pm flight

During some of the days I don't have anything specific planned, like at Nuwara Eliya and Ella. I will leave some of the suggestions up to the driver. I plan to release him when we arrive at Tangalle and use local transport to get to whale watching and then from Tangalle to Unawatuna. I may have the original driver take us from Unawatuna to the airport on the last day or have Bedspace arrange a tour and airport drop off.

What do you think of my plan?
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 28th, 2015, 11:58 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,915
Your itinerary is very rushed. My recommendation would be to trim back the number of destinations you're visiting so that you're not moving around as much and have time to actually enjoy your trip. Instead of switching hotels between Anuradhapura and Dambulla, consider combining your nights in Dambulla and doing Anuradhapura as a day trip; it will be a long day but doable. You could also choose between Tangalle and Unawatuna rather than visiting both, and add those at least one more night to Nuwara Eliya.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 28th, 2015, 02:29 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
The reason I'm staying in Anuradhapura the first night is to get a very early start there the next morning Feb. 14. This way we can spend most of the day here and not have to chew up a few hours of driving back and forth from Dambulla.

I chose to stay at both Tangalle and Unawatuna for the experience of 2 different southern beach towns and for the proximity of Mirissa for a day trip of whale watching. I also planned the 3 nights in Unawatuna at Bedspace to coincide with some English friends staying there those same nights. One friend is celebrating her birthday and a special dinner party is being given at Bedspace restaurant.

I'll look at adding an extra night to NE and only 1 night at Tangalle.

I know this is rushed but I'm trying to get a lot of different Sri Lankan experiences in during this trip as it could be the only time I visit here. A lot will depend on how much I enjoy SL in deciding whether to go back. I'm still not sure how I'm going to deal with the food. I can't take spicy food.
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 29th, 2015, 03:17 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,347
susiesan,

first of all don't worry about the food - as a hang-over from its colonial heritage, "western-style" food is available everywhere, indeed it can be difficult to get food that is spicy enough in some places. One place you might like to try is the Queen's Hotel in the centre of Kandy - they do a great club sandwich in the bar! if you tell your driver that you want a certain type of food, he [and it will be a he - I think we saw only one female driver in the entire 2 weeks we were there] will try to make sure that you get it.

secondly, I agree that your itinerary is quite busy, but in this case I can see why you are just doing the one night in Anuradhapura, and I think that your logic is sound. The roads are interesting to say the least and it can take what seems an extraordinarily long time to do a very short distance - for example it's only 90 kms from Kandy to NE, but it takes about 3 hours.

thirdly - don't miss Galle. in fact I would advise staying there rather than on the beach were it not for your wanting to spend time with your friends.

fourthly - I see that you have the Botanical gardens in Kandy on your list, so you might like to see the botanical gardens in NE as well, which we found very interesting. And it had a nice cafe serving western style as well as very god cheap Sri Lankan food.

have a wonderful time - it is a magical place.
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 29th, 2015, 08:04 AM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
annhig: the activities in the various locales are suggestions by my TA. Until we actually arrive in each town and see what the time is I'll decide what to do. I'll be reading up as I go as I'll have the current Lonely Planet Sri Lanka book with me. I will visit Galle as a day trip from the hotel at Unawatuna. I know the guesthouse can arrange a driver/tour for the day.

I have been reading about Sri Lankan food. If I stick to coconut based curries I should be okay. Hoppers look to be delicious!

For the train from NE to Ella, should I go online and buy the tickets myself? Or is this something my driver/TA can do for me? Do locals get a better price than tourists?
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 29th, 2015, 10:53 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 694
The itinerary looks well planned and the route is good. February is also a good time to visit especially the southern beaches.

I cannot comment on the individual properties you have selected but presume you have studied reviews etc. There are many new smaller properties, also lots of rooms on offer in the informal sector via AirBNB etc, some very good and some not so nice so due diligence is worth it.

I would not fret too much about spicy food. Although Sri lanka is home to a lot of spicy stuff you can always find western standard fare like fish and chips, pastas etc. If you try any of the seafood BBQ places on the beach in Mirissa etc which I highly reccomend just tell them to do it non spicy with herbs, garlic, lemon, butter etc. To use the local lingo be very clear that you do not want anything "hot" and "chilli".

Have fun, do let us know how you get along and - Sri Lanka is an amazing country!
Mohammed is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 29th, 2015, 11:17 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
Yes, Mohammed, I read lots of reviews before I booked hotels. One thing I was wanting was to have a pool in each place as I enjoy cooling off at the end of a day of touring hot places.

So how do I say "no spice, no chili" in Sinhalese? Aren't the curries made ahead of time with the spices already in them? I don't want to eat all western food, do want to try Sri Lankan food. Grilled fish on a beach should work for me.
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 29th, 2015, 12:30 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,347
susiesan - I meant "western" as opposed to spicy. hoppers themselves aren't spicy, [and are very tasty] but the curry "gravy" that may accompany them can be very "hot!". Do what Mohammed says and you'll be fine.
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 30th, 2015, 08:46 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
I heard from my TA with Camlo Lanka Tours. Kanchana says this driving plan is very doable, drive times are realistic for each day. he suggests I try to buy the train tickets online myself. Does anyone know how far in advance they are sold?
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2015, 07:46 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 2
Sounds great. Annuradhapura is huge. If I had to choose between it and Polonarua....I might choose the latter but both are amazing and worth time. The Hulu Ecological park in Habarana is a wonderful place to see elephants when they are in residence. Also, we used Raja and the Whale in Mirissa and they turned out to be the best whale watching boat....most of the other boats turned back but Raja was persistent and we saw a mother and her baby. Sri Lanka is a fantastic place. Don't worry about food at all it's fresh and people are very accommodating if you have issues wish spicy things, etc.
MarcJeffrey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2015, 02:04 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
Yes, MarcJeffrey, Raja and the Whale gets good reviews on TA.

Never heard of Hurula (not Hulu) Eco Park. I will look into it.

While in Habarana/Sigiriya area I have a hotel booked Joes Habarana Village. Price is $62 a night. It's not getting good reviews now so I am looking to maybe change to another hotel. Any suggestions for something close by in this price range of $50-60 a night? I prefer a place with a pool.
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 25th, 2015, 05:24 PM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
I changed the hotel in Habarana to Mutu Village for Feb. 14 and 15. I also changed the south coast location from Tangalle to Mirissa. The main reason to stay here is for whale watching, and the boats go out early in the morning. I didn't want to have to drive 30 minutes to get to Mirissa and decided to just stay there. I am trying to decide between Bon Accord Guesthouse and Handagadera Colonial Villa for Feb. 21 and 22 stay.
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 26th, 2015, 01:29 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,555
When we were there the tickets were being sold 10 days in advance, now that appears to have been extended to 45. More info on the excellent http://www.seat61.com/SriLanka.htm#.Vn5cHa_fWrU

We traveled first class (needs Booking in advance) and third class (booked on the day) our driver arranged our 1st class ticket - I preferred the third class carriage, more fun travelling with the locals! We collected our tickets from a guy who met us at the station.

Only certain carriages allow online booking.

Good choice on Mirrissa. Lovely beach!
crellston is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 5th, 2016, 08:58 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3
don't take public transport to tangalle to mirissa. whale watching starts around 6.30. If you really want to use public transport stay one night at mirissa.
Anuwa is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 6th, 2016, 12:50 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
crellston: My TA will get the train tickets for us on a Rajadhani car. That web site is not working now for doing your own online booking. We will go from Nanu Oya to Ella on the 12:40pm train in first class.

anuwa: I did change the hotel location to Mirrissa. I am leaning towards Bon Accord Guesthouse.
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 28th, 2016, 10:00 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 3
Your plan sounds solid and amusing! Ella is simply gorgeous. From ancient ruins to the bright and cheerful down south area, your trip seems to cover all aspects of Sri Lanka. I really wish if you guys could cover Yala on your way to Tangalle from Ella. It would add an extra day to your trip but I can assure you that it will be worth the effort. Once you get to the down south coastal belt, watch out for quacks pretending to be tourist guides who might make you spend more than the standard rates. You can easily avoid them by renting a car from Kings rent a car and enjoy a peaceful drive along the coastal line. Overall your plan sounds like a great trip. Enjoy Sri Lanka!
Sarah_Smith is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2016, 12:39 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
Sarah_Smith the reason I'm not visiting Yala or Udawalawa is because we went on safari in Africa, in Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia in April 2015. I know the day safaris in Sri Lanka would be a big disappointment compared to African safaris. But maybe once we get to Sri Lanka and get templed out I may change my mind. As we will have a driver we can do whatever we want.

I did confirm to stay at BonAccord Guesthouse in Mirrisa instead of staying in Tangalle. From there we will go whale watching.

Travel insurance and visas have been purchased, flights confirmed, hotels booked. I'm ready to go in one week!
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2016, 01:34 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,784
Have a wonderful time! We loved Sri Lanka.
Kathie is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 1st, 2016, 12:21 PM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 588
Kathie: back from my vacation. Overall impression of SL: meh. Glad I went, don't need to go back. My biggest gripe is with the tremendous disparity in the cost of admissions between locals and foreigners. Example: to visit Horton Plains Nat'l park for a foreigner ends up at $21 each. Our driver paid $4.20. Each temple or ancient site visited cost a minimum of $20 and prices are scheduled to go up again June 1 and next Jan. 1. Compared to admission prices in the rest of the world Sri Lanka is way out of line.

I did not like the food much and there was very little I could eat. Even though I repeatedly asked for "no chills, not spicy", the food would come loaded with chilis and I'd have to give it to my husband. I was stuck eating only fired rice and noodles.

I've never been chewed up by mosquitos so badly in any other SE Asian country. I always had repellant on and still got bitten. The country is very dirty and trashy, but not as bad as Egypt.

The way Sri Lankans treat animals and wildlife is very disturbing. They don't seem to care much about them. So many stray, sick, and injured dogs all over the country. They abuse the elephants by allowing the riding and using them in the religious parades.

We had a wonderful driver supplied by CamloLanka Tours who I can heartily recommend to put a trip together for visitors. The people were the best part of the trip-inquisitive, helpful, and not always trying to scam you.

My itinerary went as planned except for a hotel switch in Anuradhapura due to an overbooking situation. Only one day of cool rainy weather in Nuwara Eliya, very hot and humid the rest of the time. Whale watching was a bust-only saw 1 for a very short time.

Next trip I'm beginning to plan: Vietnam in Feb. 2017.
susiesan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 1st, 2016, 01:47 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,347
so sorry susiesan that you didn't enjoy SL. It is true that locals pay different entrance fees to the tourists but this is not unique to SL - it's what happens in other places - Cuba for example - and it does enable locals to visit cultural sites which otherwise would be closed to them as they earn so much less.

I'm a little surprised that you thought the food too spicy - we had no trouble at all finding european-style food when we wanted it; it's widely available because of the legacy of British rule and the demands of "western" tourists.

of course in a country with so much poverty it's inevitable that the welfare of animals is not the top priority but this is surely no different to many Asian countries and indeed to Cuba [where I have just been] The same applies to rubbish and dirt - standards and priorities are bound to be different.

Glad that you thought that the tour company was good - but who else tried to scam you? Scamming seems pretty rare in SL compared to some other places.

Anyway, good luck in Vietnam!
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:58 AM.