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Sri Lanka: Itinerary set - need fine tuning help!

Sri Lanka: Itinerary set - need fine tuning help!

Old May 18th, 2015, 07:42 PM
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Sri Lanka: Itinerary set - need fine tuning help!

Hi Fodor-ites!
Need some help with the next stage of planning our trip to Sri Lanka
I look forward to your valuable input.

So our flights are booked. (yay!) We're arriving at 12:55am on December 28th.. so we'll have to get a hotel for 27th/28th probably..
Where should we book? Colombo? Or Negombo?

I think Colombo is about an hour away from the airport? and Negombo is only 20-30min or so?
We will probably stay the last night of our trip in Colombo.. so I'm fine with Negombo.. however...
We need to buy train tickets from Nuwara Ellya to Ella.. I know I can get those in Colombo.. not sure where else I can get them along the way?

So this is our itinerary
Dec. 27/28th 2 nights Colombo *or* Negombo
Dec 29th/30th/31 3 nights Dambulla (or Sigiriya)
Jan 1st/2nd 2 Nights Kandy
Jan 3th/4th 2 nights Nuwara Eliya
Train to
Jan 5th/6th 2 nights Ella
Jan 7th/8th 2 nights Galle
Jan 9th/10th/11th Hikkaduwa
Jan 12th 1 night Columbo

January 13th Fly Out 7am

I don't mind being in Columbo arrival/departure (it's a big city) but by the time we arrive and catch a nap we would only have half a day/night before moving on at the beginning... and then half a day/night before we leave. We've seen an Anthony Bourdain and there are several yummy places (Ministry of Crab) that might be nice to visit.

*My biggest concern/question is just making sure we can get the train tickets*

Any thoughts/suggestions are welcome! Including any hotels and restaurants. I've been doing quite well looking at Booking.com for hotels. But personal experience/input is great. Will be booking those this week.

Thanks everyone
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Old May 18th, 2015, 08:28 PM
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I had a personal reason for visiting Colombo. If you don't, I wouldn't bother visiting.

Once you pick your hotel(s), maybe they can help with the train tickets. Or you could use the info here: http://www.seat61.com/SriLanka.htm

But I don't know that you need to buy tickets ahead of time.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 09:11 AM
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I would stay the first night at the Wallawa in Negombo as it a fab intro to Sri Lanka, ( and the food there is fab) and then head off to Dambulla area ( so cut that stay to 1 night) I think 2 nights in Kandy is about right, we had 1 and I think we were rushed.
I personally didn't mind Colombo so a night there is fine.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 09:59 AM
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I agree with the others here. If you do have some time in Colombo, do check out Gangaramaya Temple. Ministry of Crab is worth a trip alone in my opinion, but make a reservation to avoid disappointment.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 04:07 PM
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I felt Columbo was ok but not especially inspiring. The area around the Galle Fort Hotel is quite pleasant for a stroll. The Pettah, the huge market area is worth an hour or two wander (if you like markets of course!).

Really didn't like Hikkaduwa lots of over development and tatty guest houses and hotels.

Mirrissa was nice with a fantastic beach, Weligama was more of a normal town with some great restaurants and whilst the beach looked nice you could sea the twin sewers emptying into the sea there - so not for swimming! Goyambokka, near Tangalle was our favourite beach. Very quiet, some nice places to stay and some decent fish restaurants on the beach.

We took two trains, one first and one normal class. The normal class train with the locals was much more fun. First class was enclosed, had aircon and was populated almost entirely but tourists. Second class was non air con, open windows ( and open doors much of the time!). Our trip had a bit of party atmosphere with some musicians jamming away aid but not inconsiderable quantities of the local brew. All very friendly and a great way to meet the locals.
As suggested by thursdaysd, check out seat61 it is a terrific source for train travel anywhere. When we were there our driver arranged the first class tickets via a phone call to a local fixed who met us with the tickets at the stations ( his fee cost more than the tickets). The second class tickets we bought on the day.
Trains are a great way to travel in the country.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 09:10 PM
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Hello everyone!
Thanks for your great input!
We've decided when we arrive to head to Negombo to start our trip.. as it's closer (important when arriving at 1am! ;-) ) and in the direction we'll be going for the rest of our trip. We can adjust things to have 1 night in Columbo at the end of our trip before we leave.

thursdaysd - thanks for the link. I'll check that out for sure. I might try booking them through one of the hotels we're staying at as suggested.

tripplanner001 - thanks for the tips on places to visit in Columbo & the reso for Ministry of Crab. Will make sure we do that

Smeagol - good hotel tip.. I will check that out. Can't wait to start eating the food! looks amazing. (we have to spend 2 nights there because really we arrive so early .. really it's just one night.. but we have to book the hotel for 2)

crellston - always good advice thank you Normal class train ticket it is then. I want to be able to take pictures. And with the locals sounds like more fun! I am disappointed to hear about Hikka.. I will do a bit more research & check out Mirrissa. I remember reading about it earlier in my research & thinking it looked nice too.

Thank you
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