What an amazing country. A beautiful place, well worth a trip! Enjoy the tips on the places to go (or not). Plus, if you make it to the end there are bonus tips! FYI we had 2 weeks there.
A rather vibrant city, and the capital of Sri Lanka. Most blogs and travel guides suggest a quick stop here and then onto other places. We arrived late on a Friday and left early on a Sunday. I would recommend one whole day, but you could easily fill in more time!
- Ministry of Crab owned by some ex cricketers (Kumar Sangakkara, Dharshan Munidasa and Mahela Jayawardena) who are well known to those who enjoy cricket, but not to me… An amazing experience in itself, the restaurant, full of seriously beautiful food. My favorite was the Avocado salad! But the crab itself in a Garlic, Chili sauce should also not be missed!
- Pettah Market; a very cool market to wander, to see where locals shop daily for everything from food to household items. Fashion and more. Lots of colors, lots of smells, and lots of people/animals (yes dead and alive). You could smell and hear the action!
- Gangaramaya Temple; which is in two sections, the lake part (which we saw, but did not visit) and the land part which is simply a beautiful calming wander for around 1 hour.
- The Red Mosque; well worth the drive by for the ‘insta’ photo, but from our experience, a bit difficult to visit.
We mucked up a little on this one; I would not recommend staying in this town, but we did have one of the best meals of our trip! So on the way through stop for an hour or so and do these three things:
- No 1 Roti Shop; the better meal of the trip; do stop for a meal here! Basic typical Sri Lankan food.
- When the tide is down, there are turtles on the point outside Cinnamon Hotel. These turtles are wild, and some around 120 years old! Howe beautiful is that. Locals try and give you seaweed to feed the turtles, however, they then expect you to pay, warning.
- Safron Robes Art Gallery; there is a really special art gallery on the non-beach side of the main road. About 6 floors of beautiful pieces of Sri Lankan art, handicrafts and various other goods.
(Pronounced Gaul)My favorite destination on our trip. A nice town, with the fabulous area known as the Forte. This is an old area which was originally built by the Portuguese and then ‘reinvented’ by the Dutch. Any which way, it is very European and I immediately felt at home! I cannot mention everything, because we simply touched the surface, but here are a few of my top tips and there is a lot more to see:
- Poonies; I had an amazing lunch, a salad, which I SO needed. It is said that you should not eat anything that could make you sick in Sri Lanka, but this place is run by an English woman who is very fastidious. I recommend the Salad Thali, and also get the milo/banana chocolate drink. I also had an iced coffee and the coffee was good!
- My favorite drink of the trip was a Mojito at a Minute by Tuk Tuk (for sunset)
- Galle Fort Hotel for dinner in the courtyard and an extensive gin list, including Victorian (Australia) Four Pillars Gin which is one of the best in the world!
- Aman Galla; we had a special lunch here and then a tour. If you could stay anywhere this is where I would stay.
- Walk around the Forte and the lighthouse; it's so beautiful. We did this at dusk, so it was not too hot.
- Galle forte ice-cream; I needed this. Was seriously delicious!
- Fort social looks cool but has no alcohol; maybe brunch or lunch spot...!
- Fort Street printers looked amazing but we didn’t make it either.
- We Stayed at; Villa Erna Emma
3 rooms, happy medium for them is 6 guests. No kids are allowed. Breakfast was divine, and set us up for a great day!
Yala National Park
Leopard trails at Yala is the place to stay! Need not say any more. Just go. All expenses including alcohol included and they didn’t miss a beat!
We were told if we saw one Leopard we would be lucky, we saw SIX.
Beautiful food, in camp and on safari, air conditioned tents! All very clean. Honestly, the highlight of the trip!
A day in the life, includes an early morning safari (5am for a few hours). Coffee and snacks in the truck, and back for breakfast around 9am. Then either a sleep, or explore of camp (games, movies etc available). Onto lunch, usually a banquet, alcohol included, starter, main and dessert!!! Then afternoon Safari, back to the camp upon sun-down, for a drink by the lake, then a beautiful meal (also 3 courses), followed by after dinner activities or an early night after the early morning! We took a bottle of wine back to our tent one night and watched a movie, or can play games etc. Let me remind you again how good the food was. Oh and also, no alarm, just a polite knock on the tent (which is airconditioned!); so lovely!
A cool town, up in the hills. Was a gorgeous drive to get here. Most people head here to do walks around the mountains, in particular Adams Peak, however it is closed at particular times of the year, so check that out prior.
-Chill lounge; upstairs, gorgeous for a cocktail or beer, and snack. Beware of the bugs!
- Reminder to take a Tuk tuk to the 9 arch bridge; one of the large parts of Ella! We did not realise you cannot see this from the train!
- Train ride from Ella to Kandy well worth it although we just did it to Nurna Ella and drove the rest which was a beautiful way of seeing some of the countryside via train some via car! On the drive we went to tea farms, and had a great encounter down a large hill (with 9 bends) of a man who ran with a bunch of flowers the whole way, and met us on each bend! Was a great laugh; we didn’t purchase the flowers, but we did give him a little tip.
A nice inland city. The old capital. A must see for the major temple and the Elephant Orphanage. We had one night, and it was, to be honest, enough.
- Elephant orphanage be there 10am to watch parade to the river. Earlier if you want to see them in the park before, otherwise you miss them for good. (image at top!)
- Global kitchen for food; heavenly, however no alcohol!
- Hipsters Hangout - hard to find but worth it for the simple but yummy food, lotssss of drinks and great vibe.
A Really sweet also, inland town. I could have stayed two nights, but the one afternoon walk up the rock, sunset up there and then a night was enough. We went in the low season (tourist wise) so it was quiet.
- Burger at Sams, a very cute bar on the river; the staff were very accommodating, they bring playing cards and snacks, and the beer is cold and tastes good even from a can after the walk up the rock!!!
- Espresso at Italiano for actually a good coffee!
- The gorgeous gallery Pethikaea; offering ‘Reproductions’ (but originals) of the freezes you find up on the rock itself.
A funny one! It is basically Colombo, but not. Worth a night there on the way in or out to be close to the airport of Colombo!
- Stay at Jetwing Blue, absolute value for money for a good location and great service.
- The beach is beautiful for walks, but expect people selling useless things to you!
- If you want to get to the Fish market, be there by 6am
- Lords out the back (free fish foot and/or hand massage) and great food from all over the world, kind of like a typical pub/Sports bar
- Uber works in some areas and is much cheaper
- Alcohol is hard to come by, and is not served once a month on the full moon. Have back up if you need or be prepared to search!
- Good coffee is hard to come by, but coffee is easy to find.
- A ‘Hotel’ is a local eatery, where you will find amazing Curry’s and flat breads etc. not in actual fact accommodation.
- When bargaining half the price they say and expect to say half that again (about 3/4 of the original price)