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Sri Lanka - suggestions for an 11 day stay.

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Jan 25th, 2014, 12:14 AM
  #1
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Sri Lanka - suggestions for an 11 day stay.

I am now in planning mode for our November trip and 1 of the options is Sri Lanka ( with a stop over on the way home in maybe Dubai or Doha) anyway this will give us 11 days on the ground in Sri Lanka and we have to fly in and out of Colombo.
Ideally I would like to travel without flying in SR or limit to maybe 1 flight, happy to take trains etc.
There has been a wealth of info ref SL but I am having trouble narrowing down the "highlights" what would your suggestions be for a first time visitor to SL with 11 days?
We like doing a variety of things on our holidays, so open to suggestions. I love to sightsee, but I am not one of those people that will spend 4 hours at one temple, I go, see it and then move on! We are both active and fit ( cough!) and are quite happy to do the odd long day exploring as long as we have some slower days mixed in.
Is Kandy worth a visit, how about Galle? Should we bypass Colombo altogether and how about "tea trails" that I hear so much about?
Also this would be the 2nd half of November, is the weather likely to be an issue?
I would really value your input.
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Jan 25th, 2014, 03:08 AM
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Nicky,

You should focus on the Cultural Triangle, Tea Country (Tea Trails is a must!) and a beach destination (we rented a villa with its own pool and chef on a deserted beach). A safari in Yala park would be another option. Getting around by car is best, but it is slow going. So you may end up spending a night in Kandy and stopping for a couple of hours in Galle. Neither has that much to offer, IMO. Whether you spend any time in Colombo or nearby will depend on your flights. Click on my name for our trip report if you want more details. We and others used Boutique Sri Lanka for reservations with much success.
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Jan 25th, 2014, 05:47 AM
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Thanks forthe reply Craig, I am still trying to decide if SL is ty destination. The other is a Burma/Laos trip ( both places I have been too but D hasn't and really fancies it!)
Will read your report Craig. Did you like SL?
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Jan 25th, 2014, 06:00 AM
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If you cut Colombo, Negombo and one night from the Cultural Triangle you would get my trip down to your time - click on my name for my TR. However, given the choice of SL and Burma/Laos I would choose Burma, which is not only a more interesting destination but seems to be changing at lightning speed. (I don't think 11 days is long enough for Burma and Laos.)
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Jan 25th, 2014, 06:24 AM
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I would probably just go to either Burma or Laos, when I went to Burma about 4 years ago I had just 7 days I think but would need to revisit Yangon and Bagan as D hasn't been there...... Am very interested in a Mekong Cruise too but the ones I like are very expensive...
That said I am still interested in SL as both of us haven't been there....
I'll check out your report Thursdays but I fear your travel style maybe a tad more "intrepid" than ours!
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Jan 25th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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Smeagol - lol! Actually, I did SL with Boutique Sri Lanka, so not at all intrepid, but rather more budget than your trips. No Tea Trails, alas.
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Jan 25th, 2014, 07:36 AM
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my only comment having not yet been there is that I think the lux which you prefer is mostly lacking in SL, except perhaps for tea trails...
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Jan 25th, 2014, 08:13 AM
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Nicky, we liked Sri Lanka but it's not a "top 5". As for "lux" - Tea Trails is fab. The Kandalama, where many have stayed in the cultural triangle is nice and architecturally unique but not top-top end. There may be other places more to your liking in that area. The Lansiya Villa, where we stayed in Tangalle was spacious, comfortable and the food was good. We had the entire property to ourselves. I think you and David would like it. There is also an Aman nearby, which was recently reviewed on this forum.
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Jan 25th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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We loved Sri Lanka. And IMO, Sri Lanka has the best collection of luxe boutique hotels of any place I've been.

Take a look at the BSL website. They have lots of info on places to stay, things to see and do.

I'd recommend the cultural triangle and Tea Trails for sure. We didn't like Kandy all that much, but we loved the Kandy House.

Photos: www.marlandc.com/sri-lanka-2007.html
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Jan 25th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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Thank you everyone, I have some homework to do for sure!
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Jan 26th, 2014, 09:20 AM
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Smeagol- we are on our final flight home from SL. Loved it. You can read my trip report - but you are getting good direction here. The cultural triangle for site seeing ( I am with you- limited attention span) Tea Trails is an absolute must- great for R&R and lovely hiking, sneak in a few beach days if you can. Overnight in Galle Fort is plenty to take it in - then fly out of Columbo.

I would check on the weather - I think Nov is rainy season? We had plenty of rain at the beginning of our trip (1/10-26) which apparently was unseasonable.

We did Burma in Jan 2012- and loved it- but understand if you want to check out someplace new.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 09:39 AM
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I'm not sure how reliable the weather is these days. There was massive flooding in January when I went.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 09:44 AM
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At the minute the flights are all working ( we can fly from our local airport 15 mins from home versus Heathrow 2 hours away) and we can go to SL via Dubai..... Because we are leary about the weather this was why we thought beach / relax in Dubai for guaranteed sun( although really I could care less about going there) AND its on the way home, although I am going to see if I can find anywhere affordable in the Maldives.........( doubt it)
Whilst I REALLY want to go back to Burma, it's just adding more flights. ( and the Biz class flights to Colombo are cheaper at the moment.
That said I am looking at Qatar who do fly to Yangon... So that could work too, I am keen though to try something new. Chic - I'll check out your respiort but are you saying just 1 night in Galle?
Aok so Tea trails is now a must,
I have looked at the BSL website. It's a bit out of date??
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Jan 26th, 2014, 12:22 PM
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I'm with Kathies here - loads of wonderful top end boutique hotels in SL - in fact TA had a "flyer" about them recently. Tea trails was a bit outside our budget but even within our £100/night limit, we stayed at some terrific places.

if you cut out Yala [which I would not go to again, at least in the way that we did it] you could do more or less what we did [depending on what time you land at Colombo - we arrived at about 1pm, and were through immigration etc in about an hour, giving 4 hours of daylight four our onward journey]

Day 1 - drive to Kandalama - stay 3 nights. see Dambulla caves, Sigiriya and Polunawara.

Day 4 - drive to Kandy - stay one night. see temple of the Tooth that night and Botanical gardens in the morning - an absolute must.

Day 5 - PM - drive to Tea TRails - stay 3 nights.

Day 8 - drive to Galle - stay 1-2 nights [depending on time of flight home]

Day 10 - fly home.

not sure what you mean about the website being out of date - if you start to work with it, you can get a huge amount of information from it. AND it appears that I was wrong - they do now seem to offer just a driver and vehicle, if that's what you want.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 12:30 PM
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oops- I missed that you've got 11 days - in which case possibly add a day to Kandy or Galle, or stay a night in Colombo on the way home.

of course there are loads of things that you can do instead of this, but it does give you a good overview of the country, without TOO much driving.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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Annan the offerson the website were for 2012 BUT I am going to contact the. Thanks for the above , super helpful. Flight leaving Colombo to DXB is about 17:00!
Why would you cut out Yala?
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Jan 26th, 2014, 12:33 PM
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Omg this apple key pad..l that should say "Anne, the offers on" And the" but I AM going to contact BSL.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 12:44 PM
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Nicky, I wouldn't waste any more time in Kandy or Galle than necessary. I'm not saying don't go to these places, but with Kandy you can visit the Temple of the Tooth, stay overnight and stop at the Botanic Gardens on the way to Tea Trails. Galle is a good stop from Tangalle or Yala and worth a couple of hours. Given your timing, it would be a push to make your flight from Tangalle or Yala so maybe an overnight at Galle would make sense in this case.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 01:24 PM
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Thanks Craig.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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smeagol - I didn't spot that business about the year, but it's definitely been updated as the button for transportation is new, as are the services on it.

we stayed at Yala wild [I think that its name has changed] which is just outside the park. we did a "safari" into the park arranged through our driver, but I've no reason to suppose that it was significantly different to the ones you could arrange through the hotel. My main objection is that as vehicles are only allowed into a relatively small part of the park, you all end up chasing round the same "roads" [mud tracks] following the same relatively small number of animals. At best it must be stressful for them, at worst, it could be dangerous as a dozen or more trucks jockey for the best position to see a few elephants or a leopard.

We told our guide that we didn't want to do this and would prefer to go and look at some birds; it took a bit of time for this to sink in but we got there eventually and had a very good time until towards the end when they thought that a leopard had been sighted and they just could not resist going to look even though we said we didn't want to.

There are probably much better ways of seeing wildlife in Sri lanka than going to Yala but if you decided to go there, it would be better to work out how you were going to do it in advance so as to avoid the sort of experience we had.

I do not agree with Craig that staying in Kandy or Galle are a waste of time. Possibly a night is long enough for Kandy [we had two as we were going to the 20/20 world cup cricket match on the night we got there] but IMO Galle is well worth at least one night, if not two. The fort is fascinating to wander around, and the town itself is interesting; if you're lucky there may be an international cricket match on at the ground just outside the Fort! also our hotel [the Fort Printers] had an arrangement with another hotel out on the beach nearby so when we wanted to lounge around and swim, we got a tuk tuk out there and used their facilities, which filled another half day, as did the maritime museum.
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