Matara Travel Guide

  • Beach, Matara, Sri Lanka.
    Beach, Matara, Sri Lanka.
    by planxty
  • Religious procession, Matara, Sri Lanka.
    Religious procession, Matara, Sri Lanka.
    by planxty
  • Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka.
    Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka.
    by planxty

Matara Things to Do

  • Plain but pleasant enough.

    In the same way as the Fort in Matara is smaller and not as grand as nearby Galle, so it is with the Dutch Reformed Church. There is some debate as to when the Church was actually founded. 1706 is the generally accepted date although there may have been another structure there previously. This is suggested by some old headstones present in the...

  • Explore the Fort.

    The history of Matara Fort closely mirrors that of Galle Fort some miles to the North although it is nowhere near as large or grand and nor is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site like it's cousin. Indeed, these days it is in need of some repair. The matter appears to be in hand with a joint project between the Sri Lankan authorities and the Netherlands...

  • Another historical mystery.

    Undoubtedly one of the major attractions of Matara is the old Fort area, which I find rather atmospheric, and was undoubtedly built by the Dutch during their colonial period in Sri Lanka. Standing a proud 12 metres high above it and visible from just about anywhere in town is the gleaming white clocktower and it is this that provides the mystery. I...

  • Fascinating island temple.

    I came upon this place purely through reading my guidebook as I had no clue about the town and had gone there on a daytrip from Galle although I was subsequently to revisit the place and stay for quite a few days, which I thoroughly enjoyed.It was on this subsequent trip that I actually found out about this island temple. The idea of an island...

  • Lest we forget.

    I have made no secret here on Virtual Tourist that I was in the armed forces and that I have an interest in military history and war memorials and commemorations. I have also mentioned in my other Sri Lankan pages that this country was, until about five years before time of writing (March 2014) in the grip of a bloody and brutal civil war which...

  • Polhena Coastal Belt

    If there is a Calm and Quite Coastal Belt with awesome beaches in Southern Sri Lanka, Its Polhena... The softest tranquil groups of small beaches along the village.. Its Surfer Friendly but the waves are not too high, But the water and the sea life and the reef is one of the greatest in Asia.. The Ravana's Ridge which relates to Ramayanaya the...


Matara Hotels

  • Nawathana Hotel

    I had initially visited Matara on a daytrip from nearby Galle and had popped into the Nawathana...


Matara Restaurants

  • Great food, inexplicably quiet.

    I had read good things about hte Pearl Cliff in my guidebook and had decided that I was going to treat myself to a meal there one evening when I was in Matatra. When I say treat myself, all these things are relative, I had a wonderful meal and a couple of beers and it still came to a lot less than £10 ($15US). I had been to see the big Buddha image...

  • Slightly odd but great food.

    One evening in Matara I was wandering about looking for a bit of a snack fairly late in the evening. when I say fairly late in Sri Lanka I mean before ten in the evening. It is really hard to get anything to eat after about nine in the evening anywhere there, including Colombo, the capital. Anyway, I happened upon the Indian Spice as I was having a...

  • Food fit for a king

    I have mentioned on a separate tip on this page that I stayed at the excellent Nawathana Hotel whilst I was in Matara and I do recommend it. However, even if you do not stay here, it is well worth dropping in for a meal whilst you are in the town. It has a pleasant seafront location within the blissfully quiet area of the old Fort where you can sit...

  • Another fine restaurant.

    I had been in Matara for a couple of days and , as is my wont, was trying to sample as many of the eating options as I could. Strolling along the seafront that evening, I chanced upon the Mayura Beach Resort which looked clean and pleasant enough so I thought I would give it a try. Although the fairly extensive menu did not seem overpriced to me by...

  • Great food, slightly odd place.

    I had read about this place in my guidebook and decided to visit it fairly soon after my arrival in Matara. The guidebook had mentioned that it was more a "drinking den" than a restaurant per se and that it was extremely gloomy and that is correct to an extent. Samanmal extends over three floors with the ground floor being a snack takeaway as the...

  • Varied menu, nice food.

    This is a new place (January 2009) which is also a hotel. We came for lunch, we had rice and curry but others in the group had fried chicken and chips, omelette etc and everyone was very happy with the food and the service. With drinks and ice cream the bill for 5 people was a little under Rs2000.


Matara Shopping

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    The Beach Store: Shopping in Polhena

    by Maxus Written Feb 2, 2008

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    There isn’t much shopping in Polhena but Matara is close enough and has everything you might need. Cargill’s is a big supermarket chain selling western type things (for when you’ve had enough rice and curry) and is comparatively user friendly, it has a butchery dept. and a pharmacy.

    The people at the shop on Polhena beach were so friendly that I would call in as much for a chat as for the cool drinks and snacks they sell. It's like a million other shops in Sri Lanka with the addition of some beach balls, buckets and spades etc.

    What to buy: Your guesthouse probably doesn’t have an alcohol license but will let you drink your own so it’s worth finding the wine stores which sell beer and various spirits including some western brands (we developed a taste for Absolut Vodka) for which you will pay about the same price as you do at home. Local brands are much cheaper but taste dreadful and unless you have a particularly good liver you might not be able to see the next morning.

    Polhena beach caddae
    Related to:
    • Trains
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel

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Matara Warnings and Dangers

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    Loks lovely but be careful.

    by planxty Written May 2, 2014

    The beaches at Matara are undoubtedly beautiful and on a hot day it may seem like a good idea to just dive into the surf of the Indian Ocean but beware as it is not as benign as it appears and there have been a number of drownings in this area. The most recent figures I can find, which are admittedly a little old, are that no less than 24 people lost their lives to drowning in Matara in 2012 which is a fairly horrendous figure (see the attached webpage for fuller details). Apparently, the problem is very strong rip-tides and very quickly changing conditions.

    I did not see any of the beach patrolled by lifeguards nor did I see any warning flags anywhere here and the advice is to always ask local advice before venturing into the water. Anybody in the hotels or restaurants will be able to assist. I really don't want to spoil anyone's trip but it really is not worth the risk given the dangers involved.

    This advice is also applicable on many other beaches in Sri Lanka and I shall be re-posting this tip accordingly on various pages and make no apology for dong so as casual browsers may only look at one particular page.

    Beach, Matara, Sri Lanka.
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    • Budget Travel

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Matara Off The Beaten Path

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    Visit the big Buddha.

    by planxty Written Apr 20, 2014

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    I should start this tip by saying that I am no expert on comparative religion, indeed I am no expert on anything but I have noticed a trend in Asia which seems to revolve about building the biggest Buddha image possible and this tip refers to one of these attempts. It is in the village of Weherahena, not far from Matara which houses an absolutely massive Buddha image which is impressive although obiously modern and it is this that provides the slight problem for me.

    Certainly, I am glad I saw it, certainly I know that Buddhists feel compelled to construct the largest Buddha images possible (I have seen huge images in other Asian countries) and I would never decry that in the slightest way. I lived in Northern Ireland in the 60's, 70's and 80's and I know exactly where the road of religious intolerance leads. Perhaps it has just not been properly explained to me but I have an idea that if a particular place has some money then they construct the biggest Buddha image they can afford regardless of whether the place has any religious significance or not. I have tried my very best to find a religious attachment to this place and failed miserably. I know that legend records that the Lord Buddha visited Sri Lanka up to three times depending on what text you read but can find nothing of significance for this place.

    Whatever the historical and / or religious significance of the place may be, the statue itself is mightily impressive. Apparently it is 39 metres which is about 120 feet in proper parlance, it literally boggles the imagination as you approach it. In much the same way as the Taj Mahal in India, it becomes more impressive as you approach and you find your eyes drawn ever upwards, it isa immense. To put it in persoective, if you walk to the top top be level with the Buddha's head (which you can do at no cost) you are the equvalent of a five story building up. Apart from the sheer imensity of the statue itself, the views around the surrounding countryside are worth the climb.

    there is no charge for entering the temple complex although, as always, donations are very welcome for the upkeep of the place. The mobility impaired traveller would be able to enter the complex and view the image but there are no facilities to go to the top of the statue.

    To get there you can take a tuk-tuk which should not cost a huge amount. I did this on the way back but got a public bus on the way out which was infinitely more fun. go to the main bus stand in Matara and ask for the bus to Weherahena, you will be pointed in the right direction and it is literally a matter of pennies to get there.

    Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka. Temple gate, Weherahena, Sri Lanka. Detail, Weherahena, Sri Lanka. Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka. View from Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka.
    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Budget Travel
    • Photography

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