Why Sri Lanka? Why not Sri Lanka!
I only knew this country from our Geography class and from the then Ceylon (former name of Sri Lanka) stamps given by my uncle to add to my collection.
An unsolicited FB comment comparing Maldives to a bathroom in Sri Lanka sparked curiosity and introduced the idea of making it to the list of our travel group’s next annual beach destination.
We welcomed summer of 2015 early this February at the Wonder of Asia – Sri Lanka, with a mix of rich cultural and spiritual splendour, lush flora and fauna, and not to mention the golden sand which is distinctly Sri Lanka.
Visa: Philippine passport holders should secure a Sri Lankan visa. The easiest and cheapest way is to get it online via their electronic travel authorization system at eta.gov.lk. Expect applications to be responded in 24 Hours. I got mine after 3 minutes. You can also get your visa upon landing, but this will be 3x more expensive than getting it online. Also note that your passport has an allowance of 6 months prior expiration during your trip.
Accommodation: We booked our hotels thru Agoda.com and one straight from the hotel’s website. Search and compare not only by getting the lowest price but consider the reviews of previous travellers to get the best deals and the total hotel experiences.
Read my blog about our choice hotel in: Sigiriya | Calming Kambukgas Mankada Lodge, Bentota | Fun Under the Bentota Sun: Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa Sri Lanka and Colombo | Painting the town red at Cinnamon Red.
Flights: We separately booked our flights thru Cebu Pacific which flies respectively to and from NAIA Terminal 3, Manila to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia and Air Asia to Bandaranayake International Airport, Negombo, Sri Lanka. 08:55PM-12:35AM – Manila-KL (3Hrs 4Mins) | 09:50AM-10:40AM – KL-SL (2.5 Hrs time difference)
Land Transfers: As advised by my Sri Lankan friends, better secure your land transfers accredited by your hotel to avoid over pricing. You can also make arrangements and negotiate with the same contact to cover your full land travel itinerary. When in Colombo, hop in their 3-wheeled metered-‘tuktuk’.
Communication: Dialog Telco welcomes tourists with a physical simcard or an automatic electronic advise on your cellphone with your temporary number for the duration of your trip. This is toped-up by free RM80 that can be used for SMS, call or data.
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR), Advisable to bring USD currency for easier exchange of currency. As of our visit last Feb 2015, LKR132.46=USD1 If you’re traveling with a group of friends, assign each a task from the preparation to the trip proper – from booking the flights and accommodations, itinerary, sights, food and places to make your trip easy breezy!
Things To Do
Rock Temple & Golden Temple | Dambulla
The Cave monastery, is Sri Lanka’s most popular historic site and home to Buddhist monks. Housing a collection of statues and covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha, this is one UNESCO World Heritage site you shouldn’t miss. Wander as you walk barefoot on the slopes and stairs that will usher you to this serene, spiritual site.
Entrance Fee: USD12 | Opening Hours: last entry 5:00 PM
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Stand in awe in this majestic site formed around the story of King Kaspaya’s guilt and betrayal 1600 years ago. Camouflashed with gardens, ponds, fountains, and pavilions with bright colored frescoes, this fortress was built against the forces of his own people.
Arm yourself with strong legs, long breaths and water to hike from the summit to the top of the rock. Strike in the morning while the rock is not hot.
Entrance Fees: USD30 | Opening Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM, last entry 5:00 PM | Advisable duration of Visit: 3-4 Hours
Beach at Bentota
Bentota boasts a long stretch of golden, sandy shores between the Indian Ocean and Bentota River. As self proclaimed children of the Sun and the Sea, we stayed in this sunny side of Sri Lanka for 3 days.
Colombo Galle Face Green
Enjoy the sea breeze, the night sky with the newly-constructed structures along the coast and street food in this seaside urban park that runs next to the Indian Ocean.
Entrance Fee: no fees needed | Advisable Time of Visit: 6PM before the sun sets
This place is known as Torrington Square in early days. This Hall was built in commemoration of their independence from the British in 1948. The column and pillars are decorated with traditional Sri Lankan designs and statues of lions are placed around the the building.
Right across is the Independence Square Arcade famous for shopping, dining and wining.
Entrance Fee: no fees needed | Advisable Time of Visit: on or before lights off at 9PM
Where to Eat
CHC Café | Badagamuwa Tourist Complex, AKT Highway (Colombo Road-A6), Badagamuwa, Kurunegala, Sri Lanka
This is a recommended half-way restaurant if you’re caught dead hungry on your way to Dambulla or Sigiriya from the airport.
Green Cafe | 9 Sangaraja Mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka
An affordable street side cafe in Kandy. If you’re a fun of spicy food from a selection of Malaysian and Indian influence Nasi Goreng and Biryani to the different kinds of curry, this is where you should be. Balance the spice with their chocolate flavoured Island Ice Cream as dessert.
Street food at Galle Face Green
The view of Galle is best enjoyed while savoring a wide selection of Sri Lankan finger-food snacks.
Tasty Prawn Vadai made of flattened pattie of lentils and spices, topped with chili paste. This can be compared to our very own ‘ukoy’ minus the spice.
Ulundu Vadai is a donut like snack made of urdu dhal (lentil-like beans), mixed with herbs and spices and fried ‘tip golden brown.
Café on the 5th |108, 5th Lane, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka
Thanks to TwinDee Dineesha & Dinusha for introducing us to ‘hoppers’ – a uniquely Sri Lankan fried pastry that takes the place of rice partnered with ‘cheese & chicken koththu’. Sri Lankan food’s best enjoyed and eaten with your hands.
WHERE TO SHOP
The Island Spice Grove | 25, Uthuwankanda, Mawanella, Sri Lanka | 0094-35-2241637 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Go natural with the spice and ayurvedic medicinal products at the Island Spice Grove. A resident expert will walk you through their garden of fruits, herbs and spices, ending your experience with their signature massage and tea. We hoarded their chili powder and sandal wood natural hair recovering cream used by monks to keep their head bald.
The Pottery Shop | 2nd Floor, Majestic City, Galle Road, Colombo 4, Sri Lanka
Get your customized mugs from this hand, homemade clay specialty store. They’re strong advocates for ‘Save the Elephants’ with their famous elephant foot shaped mugs.
Laksala State Gift & Souvenir Boutique | 215, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Thummulla, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka
Find all your Sri Lankan traditional handicrafts, souvenirs and keepsakes in this state-owned boutique shop located in several areas around Colombo.
Tea Place | near the Hilton Hotel
Sri Lanka is famous for their Ceylon tea and this is one tea heaven with different brands and flavours to choose from.
So many things to do, so little time. Bohoma Estuti Lanka! You’re one for the books!