Sri Lanka has recently come out of troubled times and the tourists are just about beginning to flow in. Visit now to get a true feel of the destination. It is truly value for money.
Food, sight-seeing and shopping
Regular flights operate from Delhi, Mumbai & Chennai so reaching there is not difficult. Do book your hotel before you go. As suits your budget you cold go for Taj Samudra, Hilton etc or at a budget level, go for Renuka hotel. In the middle is the Cinnamon hotel. All these are on Galle Sea face. If you are planning for a longish (3-4 nights), do not book for entire duration, you may want to stay elsewhere later. Getting hotel accommodation is not a problem at present. In Colombo stay at a hotel on Galle Road. It is closer to the beach & where you would want to do most of your shopping.
In Colombo visit the National Museum, Independence ground, general market area etc. Also visit Kandy, Galle, Lavinia.
Kandy is a small town about 3 hours away from Colombo. Regular buses ply but you can also get cabs etc. Not very expensive. The Famous Temple of Buddhas' Tooth is at Kandy. Enroute you may go to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and spend about 30 minutes there. If you start early you may squeeze in some shopping enroute & back at Colombo. Kandy is a UNESCO Heritage City.
Galle is a small town 2 hours South of Colombo. The drive is beautiful and along the coast. Visit the old Dutch Fort. Enroute stop at the beach (about 45 minutes from Galle) where local fishermen will take you in glass bottom boats to see corals and fist. One trip of about 30 minutes costs 800 Sri Lankan Rupees for 8 people. Not expensive at all.
Lavinia Beach. A very pristine & beautiful beach. You can stay here for one night. It is about 15 km South from Colombo. Not much water sports but a beautiful beach.
Shopping. Main items for shopping are artifacts, jewellery (precious stones), clothes and bone china cutlery. Main places are House of Fashion, Majestic Mall, Odel for clothes. Stones & Strings for precious stones and Noritek, Dunkotuwa for bone china. It is world class and very cheap.
Do not buy in duty free at Colombo airport, it is quite expensive. Buy on return at Indian airports duty free, things are cheaper are more variety is available.
Activities & things to do
Beaches are the main attractions. Can also visit Buddhist temples, Dutch Fort etc.
It is quite similar to Kerela. English is widely spoken. Currency can be exchanged almost anywhere and the rates do not vary from day to day. 1 US $ = 107-110 Sri Lanka rupees depending where you change. 100 Indian rupees = 230-240 Sri Lanka Rupees.
Ordinary hotel room in Colombo (with AC etc but without food) should cost about 70-100 dollars/day. Taj etc can go upto 200 USD/day. There are options in between.
Travel tips, How to reach, travel warnings etc.
All shops are open from 9 am to 6 pm so be careful. They will not open for even 5 minutes after closing time.
Indian autos (three wheelers) operate there (called Tuk-tuk). Rates are fixed at 100-400 Sri Lankan rupees for most destinations. You can bargain but not much, it isn\'t worth it.
Not much night life except in high end hotels for house guests.
Liquor is cheap and widely available.
All kind of food is available Chinese, Indian, Thai etc and is quite reasonably prices rather quite cheap.
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