Make your own itinerary !
Besides taking a Tuc-Tuc or a taxi to reach the nearby attractions, a whole round-trip to the cultural triangle in Sri-Lankas "midlands" is strongly recommended.
To get a hassle-free and totally individual roundtrip, up until now I used the excellent services of a Colombo agency, LANKA VACATIONS.
The owners, Mrs and Mr Farook care for very useful proposals and will send you a preliminary itinerary with hotels, attractions etc well in advance. We got always an AC-car with driver and local guide and were able to decide even on the short run about the length and main focus of our daily program.
As an excellent standard-program I and our family did already 3 times I recommend: Bentota-Pinnawela (elephant sanctuary)-Anuradhapura-Aukhana (giant Buddha statue)-Polonaruwa-Sigyria-Dhambulla-Kandy.If time allows, add Mihintale temple near Anuradhapura and consider an extension to Nuwara Elya (tea plantations in the highlands), allow 2 more days.
Last November the whole itinerary as mentioned above took 4-5 days and had been arranged according to our preferences, with excellent hotels, halfboard and all entrance-fees etc. I was charged for 4 nights/5 days around EUR 300,- per person. It was value for money and good service.
Contact Lanka Vacations, att Mrs or Mr Farook:
http://www.lankavacations.com/index.html? The serene beauty of the island by the mouth of Bentota River ; walk up to the small temple, sit down and look!
The Waterside Hotel, Bentota
"The beautiful Island of Sri Lanka"
My grandparents were married in Sri Lanka in the 1920's, so visiting Sri Lanka was an exciting idea, with thoughts of seeing the lovely countryside I had been told about. I always thought Sri Lanka would be exotic, exciting, with smells of spices, plantations, beautiful tropical countryside and long winding beaches, wildlife like tigers, monkeys and big lizards. I was not disappointed. I stayed in an area called Bentota. This is south of Colombo about 3 hour journey, and can be reached by taxi, train, bus or seaplane. The hustle, bustle and humidity of capital, Colombo, is very disorientating after such a long flight from Europe, however the colours, the tuk tuks swerving in and out of the traffic and the many people bartering in the markets, make this an incredible journey to your destination.
"Bentota, a wonderful place to start your adventure"
I stayed at the Taj Exotica in Bentota the first time, which was a lovely hotel, situated 65kms south of Colombo. The next time I stayed at the beautiful, quiet and much smaller, sophisticated Waterside Boutique Villa, a new hotel in the same area, I thoroughly recommend this one.
The area of Bentota is a wonderful springboard to visit other parts of the country, well situated for all kinds of excursions including day trips to Galle, the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage or the nearby Turtle Hatcheries. It would be a shame to visit SL without including a full 8 – 11 day tour of the Island, taking in the Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Nuwara Eliyia tea plantation area in the Highlands and Yala National Park on the South Coast. I love the wildlife, so for me a safari with a guide with local knowledge is a must.
Many people visiting are here to get married or enjoy a honeymoon. I couldn't think of a more romantic place with the lovely sunsets, tropical backdrops and warm welcoming people to congratulate you. Relaxing on the beach, by a pool or enjoying a meal under the stars. It isn't always sunny in Sri Lanka. When it rains it pours, however there are plenty of activities to amuse so don't dispair!
"From the Ashes of Disaster Grow the Roses ...."
Bentota was an area affected by the Tsunami in December 2004. It is a haunting memory for many people who lived through this, however I have such admiration for the humble, courageous way the people have picked themselves up and rebuilt their lives.
On the road from Bentota to Galle there is plenty of work still to be done, you may see some sites which require attention. Many charities have worked alongside the people to provide shelter, rebuild schools and provide food and continue to do so. Sometimes you can get involved in projects that are underway which can be very rewarding.
Having met with several individuals who have worked for the charities I realise how much devastation took place and how hard they have worked. When I see the children today, how happy they appear and how special school is to them, makes it more important to maintain and continue the works that have already worked miracles. Getting the schools up and running as swiftly as possible encouraged a message of normality for these children at a very difficult time. Children were provided with uniforms, sports equipment, musical instruments and a food programme set up to ensure nutritional needs were met. The photo shows you one of many families who have survived and flourished.