We're going to Sri Lanka for 7 nights in October and I need some help deciding! I really like the idea of Galle and am thinking of basing there mostly, with 1-2 nights within the fort (we're big walk around towns/just soak in local culture people) and some time on a nearby beach (Unatawana, Mirissa?). Saw some good guesthouses and potential apartments on Air B n B (but would love suggestions!). I feel like we need to do another area but can't decide what is best. I did talk with a highly recommended tour/driver company that had given me a reasonable rate for the whole time, but I feel now that this itinerary would be moving around too much and trying to pack in too many sites (Sigirya, Dumballa, Kandy, Hill Country, Galle with lots of little stuff lined up). I'd still likely use them for driving, so we have freedom for many options.
Hill Country looks beautiful so I am really thinking about that for a couple days but of course I know the cultural triangle area is also highly regarded.
We most enjoy culture, especially as I said, seeing local life...not just ticking off sites. But, I am interested in the Buddhist heritage here also. I would say less so interested in wildlife. But, some beach and/or beautiful hill country time would also fit nicely (we're big tea lovers too).
Hi Shannon! If you want to see Galle and beach nearby, I can recommend you staying in Unawatuna. From there to Galle a tuktuk ride costs only 500 rupees (less than 4 usd) one way. And there is really a lot of accommodations options near the beach in different prices and conditions! :)
About the tea, I recommend you to buy it in tea factories. They give the best prices and quality!
I did a 10 day trip and touched almost major UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
You may have a look at my itinerary and decide where to go:
1. Mihintale (Arrived in Anuradhapura from Colombo. Decided to visit this place on a day trip from Anuradhapura. First place where Buddhism started in SL)
2. Anuradhapura (Must visit for culture)
3. Dambulla (Rock Caves. Must visit for culture)
4. Sigiriya (Most visited place in SL.)
5. Polonnaruwa ( Better ruins than Anuradhapura but Anuradhapura is a living place of worship unlike this place)
6. Kandy ( Temple of the Tooth and Kandyan dances in nearby cultural hall). Nearby botanical gardens I gave a miss. You may visit elephant orphanage also somewhere nearby but I didn't visit)
7. Nuwara Eliya ( Train ride from Kandy to Nuwara is awesome passing through tea gardens)
8. Horton Plains ( Amazing albeit a costly trek)
9. Galle ( The Fort. Around 6 hours voyage in Sri Lankan Navy vessel - whale-watching off Southern Coast (Galle to Mirissa, Matale, etc and back) and lucky to catch a glimpse of the tail of the Blue Whale)
Beach was empty)
11. Colombo ( half a day with a friend)
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We stayed in Mt Lavinia which is close enough to Colombo to visit and far enough away to relax on the beach. We spent 3 nights in Mount Lavinia Hotel which was nice after a long flight. The pool is good and it's right on the beach. The must-sees in Sri Lanka for me were Kandy and the Dalada Maligawa
There are many many stunning Buddhist temples within the cultural triangle. The best way to see it all is to hire a car and local driver, you can do this from your hotel. We had a wonderfully informative driver called Jurie who took us to many places we would otherwise have missed. He recommended climbing Adam's Peak at night to descend as the sun is rising. Unfortunately we did not have time on that trip. Maybe next time!
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