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  1. #1
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    Best Route around Sri Lanka

    I am considering a 1 month trip to Sri Lanka (around mid April to mid May). My question is should I go clockwise or conter-clockwise?

    Flying to Negombo, and then I can go to Kandy (and trek the 3 regions around there) and then the train down via Ella. And then to Anugam Bay. And then up the entire East coast before turning inland to head up to Jaffna and then head down the entire West Coast back to the airport.

    Or should I do it the other way around? Starting by heading north along the West coast first and then to Jaffna and then down the entire East Coast to Anugam Bay and then inland uphill via train to Kandy and finally to the airport.

    I am not interested in Colombo. And this is a trip focused on gastronomy. And I would like to know about the low season vs high season in all of these regions in April/May. I'm looking to avoid high season.

    I will be coming from Indonesia via KL with Air Asia and will head back to Indonesia again via KL with Air Asia after the 1 month trip to Sri Lanka. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    A couple of months ago I came back from 3 weeks in Sri Lanka. Even for low season there were bugger all tourists around. The Easter bombings scared all of them away. I planned my trip around places I wanted to go rather than doing a geographical loop around the island. There wasn't anything in the SE or West that interested me so I stayed around Southern, Central & Northern districts.
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    We did it years ago when places like Jaffna were off limits.

    Get the train from Colombo to Kandy, in the scenic carriage if possible.

    Buy a combined temples ticket at the train station in Colombo.

    Then around Anradhapura, Sigiriya etc. Then south to Galle and the beaches around Unawatuna etc., then back to Colombo for the flight.

    It might be worth asking around in Kandy for a taxi with driver for a week or so. Cheap and easy.

    Ella is lovely, though it chucked it down with rain when we were there.

    You'd have to modify this route for the places that have become accessible since the tigers were tamed.

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    Why didn't you find the southeast interesting? There is Yala.
    And where in the North did you go?
    Did you find the South coast a bit too focused on resorts?
    Did you know notice budget accommodation near the beach?
    When were you in Ella when the rains started?
    Do you know which months are busiest in the South? Southwest? And East?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sakoo View Post
    Why didn't you find the southeast interesting? There is Yala.
    Looked like mostly beaches & surfing. There's plenty more beaches around SL and surfing isn't my jam.

    And where in the North did you go?
    Stayed in Jaffna for a few days, hired a scooter and did an explore around the local area. Did a bit of war/tsunami tourism but there wasn't much of that to see.

    Did you find the South coast a bit too focused on resorts?
    Only stayed in Galle. Inside the old fort is nice with its quiet musuems and restored colonial buildings & boutiques.

    Did you know notice budget accommodation near the beach?
    There were plenty in Trincomalee, prolly would be a few around the south too.
    My impression of SL is that it's much like India but cleaner. My highlights were Sigiriya, staying in Galle, lots of chilli/curry crab and snorkeling with turtles and black-tipped reef sharks near Trinco. Honourable mentions to whale-watching, Anuradhapura, watching a cricket game with the locals in a concrete and corrugated iron pub, friendly/helpful locals (especially at bus stations;exception being all the touts in Colombo), climb up Adam's peak, an enjoyable few days on the scooter in the North just going wherever I pleased.

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    Thank you for the information.

    I have more questions now.

    Which non-surfing beach was your favourite. I'm also not a fan of surfing rather snorkeling.

    Jaffna is a bit of a dead end to go, is it worth it? I am not interested in tsunami or war tourism, rather gastronomy with the local people. Does it have budget accomodation, less than 1000r/night? And how much was the scooter rental/day? Was there a lot of rubbish on the beach?

    And that is another question, it seems like there is rubbish on the beach on the East coast and Trincomalee. Did you notice this traveling off-season? Can you elaborate more on Trinco regarding snorkeling, did you have to go to pigeon island to snorkel, or could you do snorkeling without buying a ticket? Did you see a blue whale?

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    The beaches in general were clean and mostly deserted. I was told that Trinco in high season is a mass of sunbathers fighting for a spot on the sand. When I was there, low season, post bombing there were max ten tourists on the beach and surrounding restaurants. I went snorkeling at Pigeon Island, bought a ticket from my guesthouse. It was just a drop-off and pickup to the island, you could try to hire your own boat if you wanted. The coral & fishlife are not as good as you find around Thailand & Vietnam. Turtles & sharks are what made it a highlight for me.

    There's lots of empty beaches in the North, tourism hasn't hit the area in a big way yet. They're pretty boring. You might be lucky to see a few fishermen about but that's it. The food in the north is a bit different, it's more Indian. You're more likely to find a Tandoori there than in the south but I didn't see anything that you wouldn't find in India. Not that I sought out anything especially, I'm a beer snob more than a foodie.

    Saw a couple of blue whales on a whale watching tour in the souith, along with pods of false killer whales, spinner dolphins, blue-fin tuna & the odd flying fish. The whales aren't that spectacular. I went with a reputable company that follows the laws about staying a minimum distance away and the most I saw were the section of the whale with the blowhole coming up out of the water. Didn't see the whole whale.

    Can't remember specifically the price of the scooter, just remember it was a bit cheaper than in Thailand. Generally everything: food, accom, scooter hire were cheaper than Thailand. The trains were on strike when I was there, local buses were dirt cheap.

    There's a recent LP Sri Lanka guide you can buy/steal online with fairly up to date prices on things.

  8. #8
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    Thank you, I still have a few questions

    10 people on the beach sounds fine, what kind of people where they? Couples? Honeymooners? Tour groups? Oldies? Hippies? Dudes? And how were their attitudes? Where they all from similar countries or was there a cultural explosion amongst them?

    What kind of prices for beach accomodation did you see? Did you notice anything around 1000-2000r/night? And when you were looking at the menues, did you notice full meals for 100-200r?

    How close did you get to that turtle and shark and are you allowed to touch them or be nipped by them (for a memory)?

    How much were the turtle and shark experiences all in?

    I suppose Sri Lanka is not really a beer country. That is what Europe is for.

    Regarding the north, do you think it is worth going all the way up there? Now that you have seen it, would you like to see it again? Or see more of it? Or was once enough?

    It is a Tamil area, so Tami Nadu in India is their homeland, did you notice more vegetarian options in the North? Or was it just as meaty as the south?

    To really enjoy a blue whale sighting best from the air on a helicopter like the nature documentaries.

  9. #9
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    The beach peeps were your typical northern European sun seekers.

    I booked all my accomodation on booking.com or agoda.com so don't really know what the prices were. IIRC correctly a rice & curry set was about 600r. That's about 6 small curries/chutneys of varying types with tea and some veges. A single curry + rice at the local stall would be about 200r

    Wasn't told any rules about turtles and sharks. Visibility was okay, maybe not the best time of year. The sharks buggered off real quick if you got close, the turtles didn't give a swimming fok if you hung around, didn't touch one.

    Didn't notice more vegetarian fare in the north. I'm a one meal a day carnivore so didn't look for any. Plus the curried crab was pretty good.

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