Sri Lanka Guide

Where is the road calling you?

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Sri Lanka Guide

Tips and Tricks for Sri Lanka (As of 2012)

**You can apply for your visa online and save time and money at the airport. The visa is processed in minutes and you get a confirmation via email. www.eta.gov.lk

** Upon arrival at the airport, make sure to change money so you can take the local buses to your destination.

Tangalle:

Getting There – (from A-bay)- We took the 6am bus back to Monaragala for 160 Rs each (approx. 2 hours). Then a connecting bus (approx. 4 hours) directly to Tangalle for 190 Rs each. **Note, the 6am bus is much less crowded and much cooler!

Staying – We stayed at Dilena’s Holiday Resort for 1200 Rs per night. We had 2 really nice rooms there and enjoyed being close enough to town to get cheap food! Say “hi” to Kasun for us! The other places further down the beach may be nicer but the food is 3x the price and a long walk to town that you wouldn’t be making in the dark.

Eating – We highly recommend walking into town to get some food. There are a few really good hotels. The blue place on the right of the bridge has super spicy wadi wadi. There is a place across from the train station with good rice and curry for lunch.

Getting Around – We took at tuk tuk for 100 Rs upon arrival, not necessary but we were hot and weren’t sure how far things were so it was worth it. We walked back to the bus terminal…no real need for transport.

Mirissa:

Getting There – We got on a bus headed for Galle and got off along the road in Mirissa, 70 Rs each. You can also catch a bus to Matara and change for Mirissa.

Staying – We stayed at Amarasighe’s Royal Lodge, this is NOT the place in the book. The son own’s this one, and the rooms are definitely cheap enough and close to the beach. The family was nice enough to bring us another fan so we could get some rest! Free fridge for use, very spotty wifi for 1000 Rs but you get what you pay for.

Eating – We ate atleast once a day at the hotel close to our guest house. From either Amarasighe’s go left at the main road and the hotel is the last shop on the left. Good clean place with a really nice family and super nice kottu. We also loved the rice and curry for lunch and veg rotti in the morning.

Getting Around – We rented a motorbike to cruise the coast to Unawatuna for 500 Rs for half a day. Shop around for bikes!

Unawatuna 

Getting There – (from Mirissa)- We got on a bus to Weligama instead of trying to cram onto a bus to Galle from the side of the road for 19 Rs each. We changed in Weligama for a Galle bus and got off in Unawatuna, 37 Rs each.

Staying – Our fab apartment was in the back of a family’s house, with no name. It was very close to the main road down the beach road entrance. We really lucked out here paying 1500 Rs ($11) for the night when they normally charge $60 USD for the whole place.

Eating – We walked almost into Unawatuna town to find a local hotel to eat at…couldn’t fork out the western prices (200 Rs for a roti vs about 40 Rs!).

Getting Around – We were there only one day, don’t need anything but your feet to walk to the beach.

Negombo:

Getting There – (from Unawatuna)- We flagged a Galle bus down and paid 20 Rs each (30 min). Then we got a bus to Colombo, the big local bus, for 135 Rs each (about 3.5 hours). Then we changed again for a bus to Negombo for 53 Rs each (about 1 hour).

Airport (from Negombo beach area)- We took a tuk tuk to the terminal for 150 Rs, then an airport bus for 35 Rs each and changed to the free airport shuttle.

Staying – We wanted to stay at a homestay close to the bus terminal but the family was out of town so we were forced to head to the beach for all the other accommodation. We ended up at Sea Joy for 1500 Rs. Not we looked around at some super sketchy places for less money we decided to suck it up and just stay for the night.

Eating – We HIGHLY recommend eating at the Indian place close to the bus terminal. You can’t miss it, the restaurant is huge and the food is incredibly tasty…possibly the best food in all of Lanka (equal to Malldine). There are fish tanks inside with huge fish!

Getting Around – We took a tuk tuk for 140 Rs to get to the beach area, you can walk, it’s not exactly close but after wandering all of town trying to find any accommodation we were dripping wet and again, worth the money.

Aragum Bay:

Getting There – There are plenty of buses to catch from one place to another, but this is how it worked for us; bus to Wellawaya was 1 hr and 60Rp each, bus to Monaragala was 1 ½ hours and about 70Rp each, then bus to A-Bay was 2 ½ more hours and 160Rp each (baggage charge included)

Staying – Ram’s Café is a great place to stay with a wonderful host! We paid 1200Rp per night for a pretty new fan room upstairswith a balcony. There are also some cheaper options here for around 900Rp as well.

Eating – Ram’s food was a nice treat but definitely more than we usually spend. If you’re looking for something cheaper, head down the road to Ali’s Restaurant, cheapest food in town!

Getting Around – We can’t tell you how much it would cost, but tuk-tuks and motorbikes can be hired to get to some of the other surrounding beaches. You really don’t have any need to pay for transportation if you’re staying right in A-bay the whole time. The bus stop is just the side of the road.

Habarana:

Getting There – (from Trincomolee): The bus cost us 160 Rs each from Trinco terminal. The tuk tuk to the terminal cost a whopping 250 Rs.

Staying – We stayed at Sky View Guest House for 1200 Rs with a fan and private shower. The guest house was close to town but far enough from the main road that it was quiet to sleep at night.

Eating – Listen for the Kottu and tuck in for one. We heard bad things about the tourist restaurants in the book.

Getting Around – The town is only one road and very easy to walk around. A safari will run you about 4500 Rs which includes the park fee and transport and 2.5 hours in the park.

Dambulla:

Getting There – (from Habarana): The bus trip is short and cheap at 40 Rs.

Staying – We stayed at Healy Tourist in for 1200 Rs. They had wifi and the family was very nice and helpful.

Eating – We loved the little place near the clock tower on the road opposite from the Cave Temples. It’s literally right across from the clock tower, as local as it gets and great food.

Getting Around – Again, walking is just fine. Healy is a way out of town closer to the temples but it’s not too far from food. The cave temples cost 1300 Rs each.

Ella:

Getting There – (from Dambulla or Kandy): We went to the bus terminal to get a seat on the bus to Kandy which cost 95 Rs each. We paid for a tuk tuk to the train station 130 Rs. The train to Ella cost 450 Rs each. The train price is calculated by segment. Each segment is 220 Rs, we chose the second train of the day to Ella and had to switch after 10 mintues. So, we ended up pay 220 Rs for 10 minutes and 220 Rs for 6 hours! If you chose the later train, take the BUS to the next terminal and not the train. We learned our lesson.

Staying – We wouldn’t recommend Green View GH unless you do some serious bartering and get a nice room. We much preferred Rawana for 1500 Rs. The inner rooms were just fine and the place has wifi. The guys that work at the place are very friendly and helpful.

Eating – We ate a little local place with no name. They are the only place in town with roti and kottu that actually looks like a typical Sri Lankan hotel. Skip the Roti Hut.

Getting Around – Renting a motorbike is the best way to see the area around Ella. We paid 1500 Rs for the day and it was worth it, even though it was expensive!

Kandy:

Getting There – The terminal in Negombo is very organized and easy to navigate, our bus to Kandy cost 143 Rs each plus an extra fare for both our bags (about 4 hours). To get to the cheap rooms in Kandy take a tuk tuk for 150 Rs…you could walk it easily but after our flight and long day on the bus, the $1 was worth it!

Staying – We stayed at Golden View Guest House for 1500 Rs for hot water and 1300 Rs for cold water and free wifi. The few guest houses down the hill are pretty shitty for nearly the same amount of money. We tried to barter less than 1200 Rs and we wouldn’t have paid 900 Rs.

Eating – Malldine all the way, it’s close to the Muslim place by the clocktower. Wish we could have eaten there every day of our trip!

Getting Around – A tuk tuk to either the bus station or train station is about 150 Rs.

Trincomalee:

Getting There – We took a gov’t bus for 200Rs each all the way to Trinco (about 6 hours). Although they stop a million times they are cheaper than the private buses. A bus to Uppaveli from Trinco will run you 20 Rs, ask a local to tell you when to get off, there are no signs.

Staying – We stayed at French Garden for 1500 Rs. There are 3 of them, dad owns one and the 2 sons each have a place.

Eating – Anton’s French Garden is the one not on the beach but definitely has the best food for the price! Nothing beats home cooked meals.

Getting Around – We didn’t go to Nilavelli but the local bus would be the way to go. We paid 250 Rs from Uppavelli back to the bus terminal in Trinco. We scoped out the local bus and saw only 1 come by in over an hour on the main road, if you have the time do it and if not, dish out the money for the tuk tuk.

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