Splendid Sri Lanka

Feb 6th, 2018, 04:56 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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Splendid Sri Lanka

Thanks to all who have posted their trip reports as they were helpful in planning our 2 week trip to Sri Lanka which has been 6 months in the making.

My husband and I flew business class mileage tickets NY to Doha on Qatar airlines; 6 hour layover in Doha and then direct to Colombo. The Doha airport is more like a pristine shopping mall than an airport. Business class lounge is stark but comfortable - open and airy with a tremendous pool. The lounge is probably the size of a football field. There is one restaurant on the far end that serves soup and sandwiches and another on the upper level with a breakfast buffet. Coffee and other beverage stations are scattered around.

We arrive in Colombo about 7:30 in the evening. Our driver Ranmal happily greeted us and led us to the ATM which is outside the baggage collection. Off we went in his Toyota van -- direct to Dambulla to the Heritance Kandalma. Although it was a long day, we preferred to just get to our destination rather than a one night stay in Negombo. Good decision as the ride took only 2 1/2 hour because it was night time.

Day 1. We got our first good look at this beautiful hotel which is cut into rock; it is a sparse building with large open hallways that run alongside the jungle. Boulders occupy the hallways in various places. A unique property architecturally speaking. You arrive on the 5th floor - there are a total of 7 floors. Luckily for us, we got the room on the 4th floor at the very end of the hallway which meant a long walk back to the lobby, but the reward was that the side wall of the room which was the end of the building was floor to ceiling windows. We awoke the next morning to the sight of hot air balloons rising over the lake.

Breakfast was a huge buffet with Sri Lankan hoppers, rice and curry, eggs any which way, and a table with at least a dozen different types of southeast Asian fruit, including my favorite passion fruit.

Ranmal picked us up at 8 and off we go to Anuradhapura. We secured a guide at the ticket admission booth, took a quick stroll through the museum and were off to see the ruins. I had done a lot of reading and was certain of which ruins we wanted to see —good thing because our guide wanted to wrap up after 2 hours and we weren't done -- he gave us another 2 hours of touring for a total of 4

A quick stop for some fresh coconut juice. Ranmal said to make sure there is no black on the coconuts - the more orange color, the fresher the coconut.

We opted to climb Mihintale without a guide.

Hot and exhausted after 17,000 steps according to the I-watch, we head back to the hotel for a spectacular sunset which we watched from our room.

Normally I'm not one for dinner buffets, but this one was quite good with a variety of foods and all nicely presented. A bottle of mediocre wine with dinner - not a great wine selection and certainly not worth what they charge.

Day 2
I'm surprised how lush and green Sri Lanka is and wasn't expecting such a beautiful jungle setting on the lake at the hotel. Monkeys roam about and one visited me as I took my shower - the both of us looking at each other through the outside glass. I was also surprised by the vast rice paddies and while not terraced like Bali, they are still gorgeous.

Off at 8 AM to Dambulla Caves. There are 2 sets of stairs you can take up to the caves. One set must be the original stairs with a nice quiet approach as the other set goes through a temple with hawkers on the stairs. Take one up and the other down as they are different experiences.

Next we drive to Aukana and Ritigala. If you are short on time, you could omit these 2 sites, however I enjoyed both. There are not many tourists at either site so you can experience them quietly. The climbing at Ritigala is not easy and we didn't go all the way to the top, but it was neat to be in what appeared to be a long lost jungle temple setting.

After another day of climbing and walking (about 16,000 steps), we got back to the hotel around 3:30 and by 4 we were getting massages. Highly recommend the spa.

Another beautiful sunset. There is a flutist playing on the west end of the property on one of the enormous rocks by a pool. We watched the sunset and listened to his flute which made for a spiritual ending to the day.

Dinner at the other restaurant with table service. Seafood chowder, rack of lamb, lobster, dessert, 3 glasses of mediocre wine - about $65 including service-expensive by Sri Lankan standards.
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 7th, 2018, 05:35 PM
  #2  
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Day 3 and 4

Day 3
We saved Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya Rock for the last day for 2 reasons. First, we wanted to see Anuradhapura prior to Polinnaruwa since chronologically this made sense and second, because these 2 remaining sites are supposed to be the highlights of the Cultural Triangle. In retrospect, I wish we had a little more time at Polonnaruwa and perhaps we should have seen Sigiriya on a weekday instead of the weekend when a lot of Sri Lankans also come to visit.

Polonnaruwa has an excellent museum which we saw after buying our tickets. As an aside, tickets to all of these sights in the Cultural Triangle run about $25-$30 per person and they take US dollars and rupees - no credit cards.

Right outside the entrance to the site there is a lot where you can rent a rusty single speed bike and ride within the complex. By doing this, we forgo the guide and self tour with the help of some guide books. You can't possibly walk the complex as it is too big so your other choice is to get in and out of your vehicle throughout the day. We loved riding through the ruins.

In general, at these Buddhist sites, but especially at Polonnaruwa, be prepared to take your shoes on and off all day. I wore socks because of the hot stone or walking on a dirt floor.

We leave at about 2:30 and arrive at Sigiriya about an hour later and it is mobbed. Ranmal had suggested the afternoon climb because he said the mornings are too crowded.

The walking path to the Rock is packed with people and we are just shuffling along at a slow pace. We start to climb the steps and we are jammed with people on either side feeling like we are in a New York City subway during rush hour. Not having fun. We make it to the Lion's Paw and start the final climb. It's going too slow - take a step and then wait a minute before the line moves again. Vertigo sets in and I need to turn around. Disappointed, but that is the way it goes sometimes.

Back to hotel for final sunset and walk around the hotel gardens.

Tonight's buffet dinner and it is grill night. Chicken, lamb, sausage, shrimp, King fish, steak, barbecue ribs, pork loin. We opt for Lion Lager in lieu of wine. The pastry chef monitors the dessert bar and gives descriptions of all the Sri Lankan desserts which we haven't seen until tonight. An excellent coconut cake and the pastry chef promises to give me the recipe at breakfast.

There is a lackluster gift shop and jewelry store at hotel. Good for buying postcards and the front desk will sell you the stamps which makes it easy.
The hotel also sells jars of homemade chutneys and jams.

Day 4
Our last breakfast and the pastry chef delivers the recipe which includes jaggery - not sure I'll find this at home so the jaggery hunt begins.

No matter how many times I've been to Asia, I never tire of the car rides. I love seeing the everyday goings on in each town. The little kiosks, the fruit stands, people sitting on their plastic chairs or sweeping the dirt outside their homes.

We leave at 7:30 and head towards Kandy. First stop is the Euphoria Spice Gardens. We take a 45 minute informational tour and then check out the gift shop. No pressure to buy, but we did anyway.

Next stop is the lovely Peradeniya Botanical Gardens which has over 10,000 trees. This was the highlight of the day. The park and the trees are spectacularly beautiful. Took us about 1 1/2 hours to briskly walk the park.

Next we are off to Temple of the Tooth which turns out to be a bit of a disappointment especially if you've been to other Buddhist temples in Asia. The ticket booth and the shoe drop off (definitely need socks here if a hot day) are not near each other. Get your tickets first and then find the shoe drop off which is closer to the temple entrance. The temple is crowded, but manageable. The whole complex just seems a bit disorganized and not as impressive as other Buddhist temples we've seen. Originally we had plans to attend the temple Puja ceremony at 6:30 but opted for a Kandyan dance performance instead.

The most interesting part of the temple complex was the Raja Tusker museum which tells the story of Sri Lanka's most famous elephant.

After the temple, we have about 1 1/2 hours to spare before the dance perfomance. I knew there was an Odel's store nearby and Ranmal takes us there - about a 7 minute walk from the temple. Great t-shirts, cute dresses and gifts.

We then make it over to YMBA for the dance performance and good thing we got there about 30 minutes early because seats were going fast. We're in the 10th row and really enjoy the hour performance of dancing and acrobatics.

Finally head over to our hotel for the night - Theva Residency - a boutique hotel about 10 minutes from Kandy. The rooms are clean with modern decor and almost no water pressure in the shower. Dined at the hotel patio restaurant and the average meal at best makes us miss the buffet at the last hotel.
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 10th, 2018, 03:31 PM
  #3  
 
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I am enjoying reading about your trip. Sri Lanka was one of our favorite trips. We learned so much about the history of Sri Lanka and of Buddhism in Sri Lanka! Looking forward to more...
Kathie is offline  
Feb 11th, 2018, 02:33 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Thanks for the detail and all of the practical tips. Sounds like you are having a really good time. This will be a trip report to come back to when planning a trip one day, which I think is now inevitable. The first hotel and all the sights seen while there seem particularly pleasing on many levels. Looking forward to more.
Lolazahra is offline  
Feb 11th, 2018, 05:04 AM
  #5  
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Day 5, 6, 7, and 8

Day 5
Breakfast at Theva Residency makes up for the poor dinner. Eggs are well prepared and the toast/Danish basket is quite good. Homemade marmalade and pineapple jam.

Leave at 7:30 and start heading to Nuwara Eliya where we will catch the train to Ella. We start climbing the mountains and seeing the tea plantations which are something we haven't seen before. They are beautiful and many of the plantations are edged with red and yellow flowers which contrasts against the green tea plants. We stop at Mackwoods Tea Factory for a tour and a cup of tea. The tour is brief - about 20 minutes or so, but still worthwhile. They have a nice little shop to buy tea.

We stop at Cargill's supermarket in Nuwara Eliya to look for jaggery and buy some snacks for our train ride to Ella. No jaggery.

We haven't seen many beggars as compared with India or other places. The ones we have seen seem to be legitimately sick or disabled. Ranmal gives these people money and we follow along as he said this is there only means of support.

Our travel agent had secured train tickets a few weeks prior to our arrival so we had reserved seats in the first class car. From what I've read, the train ride and car ride take the same amount of time, but riding the train through the tea plantations is a lot of fun and just a different means of transport.

Our 12:30 train is late and we head out by 1 PM for the 3 hour ride. Ranmal picks us up at the Ella train station and we head to the hotel 98 Acres. It's just a 10 minute ride through town which has a lot of backpackers walking to their guest houses. The town is under a lot of construction and unless we are missing something, I don't think it's a place we'll walk around.

98 Acres Spa and Hotel is situated in the clouds - literally. We check in and the golf cart takes us to our room and the view takes my breath away. The room is enormous with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors and a huge side window that opens up as well. There is a very large terrace with 2 chaises and 2 chairs. We are in awe of the view. This is an eco friendly hotel so the furnishings are minimal, but of high quality. Ceiling fan - no AC - it was cool at night so okay.

Off to the spa for massages and body scrubs. The spa sells wood prettily painted mortar and pestles and wooden boards with painted Asian - Buddhist scenes. Room service for dinner which is just okay, but nothing can spoil the romance of this place.

Day 6 -
We awake early and see the climber's flashlights on Little Adam's Peak. It is almost sunrise and slowly the fog/clouds clear and we can see the tea plantations again.

The shower in the room has a huge sliding window so you can enjoy the view while you shower. Breakfast is a buffet - the menu is similar to Heritiance Kandalama, but not of the same quality. On the way back from breakfast, I get our first close up view of the women picking tea leaves. They happily pose for a picture. They didn't ask for money, but we encountered many that did and seemed satisfied with 50 or 100 rupees.

We set off to hike Little Adam's Peak and along the path there is a women selling bracelets made from some sort of seed that looks like beads. We buy a bracelet and carry on. The views continue to be amazing. We stop off for a coconut and then walk around the surrounding area, but don't waste time walking into town.
I was surprised as to how hot it got during the day as I was expecting low 60s, but it was probably 75. Evenings are a little cooler.

The afternoon is spent on our terrace where I begin to write this trip report. Late afternoon we go to the hotel bar for a drink. There are many non-hotel guests who walk to 98 Acres so the bar is busy. Dinner at the hotel restaurant is okay.

Day 7
Sadly, we have to leave 98 Acres because we had been unable to get a third night. We check out at 12 - as late as possible. You can donate clothes at the hotel and it was a good time to load off some jeans and long sleeve shirts.

As we leave Ella, we make a quick stop at a waterfall which is on the exit road. About 50 minutes later, we are at our next property, Jetwing Kaduruketha in Wellawaya. We've traded tea plantation for rice paddies. Our travel agent suggested this property as a stop over on the way to the coast and it was a good choice. The property was a private home and the family that owned it is now in partnership with Jetwing to share this beautiful setting.

We check in and a sweet trainee shows us around the property pointing out the spa, pool, dining area and takes us to our own free standing residence. Bikes are parked outside if we want to use them. There are varied trees and many are labeled with little signs in front of each tree. We sign up for the bird watch walk at 6:30 AM the following morning. Our little house doesn't have AC- just a ceiling fan. The back of the house has wooden doors that open up to the rice paddies and the wooden side windows in the bathroom also fully open. Mosquito net over the bed, but it wasn't necessary.

The pool isn't busy and doesn't have many lounge chairs. We settle in for an afternoon of rice paddy viewing and swimming.

Drinks at the bar prior to an excellent Sri Lankan dinner - the best food thus far. It is a set menu. Lentil donuts and some other kind of lentil cracker is served immediately. I pick the Mango and chicken terrine to start. Kaduruketha style chicken mulligatawny soup. Curry leave flavored grilled seer (fish) and tandoori battered prawns with wok fried green vegetables. For dessert, Buffalo curd and blue coconut treacle.

Day 8
The bird walk at 6:30 is around the property - a total of 6 guests partake. After, we have an excellent curry and rice breakfast before setting out to Unawatuna. The ride is about 3 1/2 - 4 hours.

We stop at Hundungoda Tea Estate near Koggala and have an excellent tour of not only the tea making process, but rubber trees and more spices. Glad we stopped since it was more informative than the first one. Mid tour they give us some tea and cake and then we tour the factory. They have a cute shop with a large tea selection. We probably spent an hour there.

En route to hotel, we stop off at a turtle hatchery where they are saving various types of turtles. About 15 minute tour.

Next hotel is Cantaloupe Levels which is not on the beach but in the hills with a great water view. It is a newer property with a Miami- South Beach vibe. A pool tiled with multiple colors. A lot of white furnishings and bright pillows. We are upgraded to a deluxe room on the 3rd floor. There are only 9 rooms total. Poor water pressure along with difficulty controlling the temperature. Our rate includes dinner and the restaurant sends up the menu and asks us to make our choices. My least favorite meal of trip.
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 13th, 2018, 12:35 AM
  #6  
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Day 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13

Day 9
Breakfast at Cantaloupe Levels is average although the fresh fruit juices are very good. We head off to Galle to explore the fort and to do some shopping.

One thing I hadn't mentioned until now is the need for sunscreen not just in the south, but all of Sri Lanka. The sun is really hot and it's easy to get burnt. Also, bring sunscreen from home since it is expensive here and doesn't have the same protection.

The walk around the Galle fort is pleasant and scenic as it borders the sea. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to see the fort with occasional stops at the bastions and seeing The Dutch Reformed Church with the ornately carved memorials. We stop at Amangalla, the old govenor's mansion which is now a hotel, a good place to take a break and sit on the porch.

Up until now, we've not done much shopping and set out to explore the boutiques. We come upon an Odel's branch with different merchandise than the one in Kandy. Some of the other stores where we did shopping are: KK Collection, Barefoot, Exotic Roots and Three by TPV. We buy some clothes, artwork, inexpensive bracelets. Also, there are a couple of Spa Ceylon boutiques for aruveydic type gifts. There are numerous places to stop for a light lunch, lime sodas or a gelato. Shopping was fun, but it was hot and we were glad to wrap up and get in the air-conditioned van.

Ranmal suggests our stopping int the city of Galle since he remembers that we need to find jaggery. We stop off by some huge fruit stands which are always fun for picture taking and then Ranmal brings us into several little markets. In each, he tastes the jaggery and finally at the third market, decides it is suitable quality for us to buy. We walk around the shops just to experience the local street shopping, but there is nothing there for us.

Even though dinner is included in our hotel rate, we decide to venture out of the hotel and make a reservation at King Fisher in Unawatuna. The restaurant is on the beach and they seat us at our table - feet in the sand. We go to the fish tank and pick out some red snapper and king prawns for dinner. In addition, we get some chicken fried rice which is excellent. A guitarist stops at our table and serenades us with some "American" songs. A good choice for dinner. It was too late to walk around after dinner; the shops were closed, but there were a number of stores.

Day 10
We leave the hotel about 8:30 and head over to Koggala for a morning boat ride. Ranmal hires our boat and joins us for the ride, pointing out different birds and we see a couple of Water Monitors - a really large lizard (think small Komodo Dragon) with very long tongues. We stop off and disembark to see how cinnamon is made and make the obligatory purchase. Next is Fish Feeling where you sit on the docks and stick your feet into a cage of goldfish who swarm and nibble at your feet - a different type of spa treatment. There are 2 different cages - one with the small gold fish and then another with larger fish. The excursion is about 1 1/2 hours.

Next we head over to Martin Wickramasinghe Museum which is a series of 5 buildings. There is an excellent folk museum with various items that pertain to the everyday life. Items are labeled in English. The transport museum was also interesting with different bull carts and carved boats. We spent about an hour there.

We are anxious to get to our next hotel which is the big splurge. We arrive at Cape Weligama around noonish and are greeted with Moroccan mint iced tea and a frozen pop of mango and basil. They take us via golf cart to tour the property which is hilly. The dining buildings are all magnificent, all incorporating views of the ocean. We are on the second floor; our room and verandah must total over 1000 square feet and the furnishings are beautiful. The verandah has 2 ceiling fans and it's easy to imagine spending a lot of time there.

We head over for afternoon tea which is included. A large tea menu to choose from. Scones and some assorted tea cakes.

Dinner is at the main dining room and since this is a Relais and Chateaux property, we're expecting great food. We sit outside on the patio hearing the sound of the waves. The chef doesn't disappoint. A calamari dish for me. My husband had an excellent squid ink pasta with fresh seafood. Dessert is a trio of sorbets - mango, soursop and raspberry with Jack fruit crumble.

Day 11
One sports activity is included each day. Today's activity is body boarding. We head out about 300-400 yards in the ocean with the sports director from the hotel - beyond the reefs - with our boogie boards and flippers. We are two of three guests partaking. The waves are huge which is why there are so many surfers in Weligama. He watches the waves and tells us he will let us know when to start kicking and catch the right wave. When he gives us the signal, we are off riding the top of the wave for at least 100 yards or more. It's a lot for fun and also tiring paddling back out to the waves each time.

Breakfast is predictable, but excellent with a choice of both North or South Sri Lankan breakfast. My husband chooses the South and the plate comes with roti, milk rice made with coconut milk, and hoppers - everything you could want for a rice and curry breakfast.

We spend the day at the moon shaped pool for adults only on super comfy lounge chairs overlooking the ocean - watching the surfers and admiring the blue water and palm tree lined shore. One of the best pool views ever.

Tea in the afternoon and then an excellent dinner of huge prawns.

Day 12
We are supposed to check out today, but we still have one more night in Sri Lanka and haven't booked a room yet. It's hard to leave the luxury of this place and so we opt for one more night. They need our room for other guests, but can move us to another room. We agree to check out early at 10:30 and our new room will be ready at one.

Adjacent to the hotel is a small beach so we take a morning swim in the ocean. Running out of sunscreen and the hotel sells it at just $45 a tube.

The wait for our room gets extended from 1 to 2. Then to 2:30. Then to 3:30. Then they want to extend it again to 4:30 and we head up to reception to speak with manager. The day has not panned out as expected since we just feel like we are waiting around all day to check back in. The manager offers to buy us dinner at the hotel and asks us to meet for a drink prior to dinner.

We get settled in again and meet Roshan, the manager for a drink. He spends about 45 minutes with us telling us about the hotel property and the company that runs it. We talk about other Asian hotels and like most other people we've met, he asks us about our President. Did we vote for Trump? Do we like Trump? What do most Americans think of Trump?

Roshan calls for the Chef and he asks us what he can prepare for our dinner. My husband opts for rice and curry with calamari, goat mutton and fish. I order a grilled seafood platter which includes slipper lobster, prawns, red snapper, tuna and calamari. A fabulous dinner with decent wine.

Day 13
Our final day and it will be along one since our plane departs at 3 AM tomorrow morning. We debated on heading up to Negombo to get a hotel room near the airport, but ultimately decided on just staying at Cape Weligama and leaving for the airport about 9 PM.

Our activity today is an early morning bike ride with the sports center director leading the way. In an hours time, we see a peacock, water buffalo, mongoose and the third type of monkey that is native to Sri Lanka, the purple faced leaf monkey. We pedal by the rice paddies and through a cinnamon plantation. We pass by the jackfruit trees, pineapples, pepper trees, apple trees - the list goes on. Kids are on holiday today so many come out to the road to greet us and one catches up to us on what is obviously a brand new bike which he is proud to show off.

A final swim in the ocean and our last breakfast. We pack up to check out and ask if it is possible to extend the check out time. Next thing we know, the housekeeping manager is at our door and offering to give us another room for the day - until 9 PM when we will depart for the airport. We change rooms once again and move to a new one with a private pool. Heaven. Hope the minutes tick by slowly.

My overall impression of Sri Lanka is that it is a splendid Asian holiday - a perfect mix of culture, mountains, jungle and ocean. The people are friendly and you have to appreciate how many not only speak English, but have learned a second alphabet - not an easy task. We probably could have fit in a day or two at a National Park like many others, but having been on African Safari, we opted for extra time at the beach. Sri Lanka feels less commercial than some of the other Asian destinations we've been to and hope that it can remain so. It will be culture shock to arrive back in the New York winter tomorrow.
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 17th, 2018, 03:44 AM
  #7  
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Check in at Airport

Our flight was at 3AM and we got to the airport at midnight. There are 3 security checks. The first upon arrival at airport where you send your luggage through. Next you enter the main terminal which was chaotic. There are 2 security lines - one for Sri Lanka Air and the other for all other airlines. It took one hour for us to get through til we finally reached the check in counter. Don't short change yourself with time for your departure. After check in, you go through Emigration which was quick. The final security check was prior to boarding.

Once through Emigration, there is shopping - all stores were open even at 1AM. There are at least half dozen tea stores including Dilmah if you still haven't bought tea. There are a couple of Spa Ceylon stores with prices just slightly higher than outside the airport. The business class lounge that Qatar Airlines shares has a small selection of food and beverage - kind of dismal.

Sad to be leaving Sri Lanka. It was a splendid 2 weeks.
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 17th, 2018, 05:17 AM
  #8  
 
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What a wonderful trip! Thanks for your excellent report.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 17th, 2018, 06:52 AM
  #9  
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I would highly recommend our driver, Ranmal, who we obtained through our travel agent, however, you can work with him directly. He is licensed through the Sri Lankan Tourist Department Authority. We had a nice Toyota van which was very clean and his driving very safe. He speaks English very well, was punctual and made nice suggestions along the way without being obtrusive.
Ranmal Samaranayake Telephone Mobile 94 774 489153; Email [email protected]
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 17th, 2018, 06:57 AM
  #10  
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Thanks Kathie. I know you are an active poster and I appreciate your feedback.
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 17th, 2018, 07:06 AM
  #11  
 
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Thanks for this, donnahelene. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Guess what, you can buy jaggery on Amazon!
TDudette is online now  
Feb 17th, 2018, 07:17 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thanks for a lovely report! I'm toying with a trip to SL and S. India for next year and your SL trip sounds wonderful. You packed a lot in, too!

Would you mind sharing the name of the travel agent? Did you notice if the rates for the hotels are better with an agent compared to online rates? Did the agent arrange the driver or did you do so directly?

Welcome back to NY -- the temperature has been bouncing up and down for the last 2 weeks -- if you're returning to NYC this weekend, you may be hitting a bit of snow, too. But Wednesday is forecast to be up to 72 degrees!
progol is offline  
Feb 17th, 2018, 07:50 AM
  #13  
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Progol - We used Boutique Sri Lanka, and the reason I didn't mention them thus far is because we didn't have a great experience during the booking process. The hotel rates they secured were just slightly less than what we could get on our own. In one case, my rate was significantly lower. If you do decide to use them, keep a very close eye on the your itinerary and hotel rates and your credit card charges. There were multiple errors along the way and had I not been paying close attention, things might have turned out differently. I found them to be more of a booking agent vs a travel agent and even after asking for multiple suggestions about the trip, their response was limited. Fodors was a better source of what to do. If you know exactly what you want and where you want to go, they were okay. They were helpful in my understanding in how long it takes to drive from place to place since the map can be deceiving and while places look close by, it can take much longer to get there than expected. Also, they quote the rates in US dollars, then charge your card in British pounds, and then let you know what you owe in rupees. I did contact other travel agents, and the issue I had with them was that they wouldn't break out the different costs - just wanted to give me a total rate. Boutique Sri Lanka did break everything out. So use them with an eye to the detail of your trip. If I were to do it over again, I would book my own hotels and then just contact Ranmal (driver)whose information I gave in an earlier post.
donnahelene is offline  
Feb 17th, 2018, 11:24 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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donnahelene,
Many thanks for the honest appraisal of your experience with the agency. Having negative feedback is just as important as hearing about positive experiences, and I truly appreciate your comments. My inclination is to do as you suggest as well, although I will likely reach out to agencies to see what they can offer. I’m still very early in the planning stage but your information is incredibly helpful.

I’m getting lots of good ideas reading your TR and have enjoyed it thoughly.
progol is offline  
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