Sri Lanka destinations, hotel fringes (e.g. beach strip from the property), street corners and public places are filled with touts and agents who loiter about looking for tourists. The moment they see one, be it family or individuals, they approach them with a smile, ask you about their country on whether its beautiful, a quip about the weather and then get into a tirade on whether the tourist has visited the "world famous" gem factory / river ride/ coral reef ride etc. They also add that "today" is a special discount day / lucky day/ special event day. How cliched and ridiculous can they get ? Only a naive very very first time tourist is going to fall for this. But they do it nevertheless.
It is actually annoying beyond the first time. The way they tout these destinations, if only the SL government would do it in a regularized and authorized manner (none of these rides and safaris are organized. it's a big scam).
Sri Lanka is one country that still has a fairly large number of elephants left in the wild.
They are generally living inside national parks these days, but many roads goes next to the national parks and there you will see many signs asking to watch out for wild elephants on the road.
All you have to do there is drive slowly really so you don't end up hitting one.
And while elephants are normally not very agrresive animals you should also not walk up to them if you ancounter them cause if they somehow get upset with you then they can be very dangorous animals simply because of their size.
But all in all this is a danger i think we should be happy about as it's nice to see that elephnats still roam in the wild in some countries.
Sri Lanka has a fantastic coastline with many paradise like beaches, but be ware that there is often a lot of undercurrents and you should always ask locally if this is a problem before going swimming.
The surf can be really big on many beaches on the island and being taken by a current is something that can be very dangorous and it kills people every year so be ware.
This should of course not deter you from going for a swim, but you should just be a littl aware and ask the locals what the situation is like before jumping in the ocean.
We loved our short 4 day trip to Sri Lanka last week. The Sri Lankan people were all friendly, kind, informative and just lovely, we really enjoyed their hospitality and welcome to their country.
I am going to write another separate thread about our experience with the hotel we stayed in but this one is just about the terrible experience we had when we hired a car with Europcar or Aban Tours LTD who are the actual individuals who run this shambles of a business claiming to be a car rental company!
Please for your own safety keep AWAY from these people. They use the Europcar name but are no way under any circumstances to be trusted to hire a car from or provide a safe mode of rental transport.
If you do risk it, check your car is in good working condition with headlights etc as the Police WILL pull you over and have every power to fine you or worse.
You can only drive on an International license (not Sri Lankan as the police informed us!!), unlike any other country in the entire world! They will NOT inform you of this when you collect the car.
You need to forward a copy of your IL to the Sri Lankan authority to get permission to drive at least 3 days beforehand. As this was a last minute holiday I didn't realise this was the case. Was not told at the time of booking on the internet and was not told by the staff at Europcar!
*EUROPCAR claims "Being the "World's Leading Leisure Car Rental Company" committed to our customers?! NO!* This is not true of the staff at Columbo airport!
Excellent customer service and high quality vehicles?! *NO! Customer service was disgraceful.* We had only had the car for 10 hours and we had the following problems- central locking system was temperamental, window wouldn't wind back up again on drivers side unless moved up and down repeatedly, no screen wash and wipers were old and useless, one headlight was not working, there was a loose connection on the battery and the car wouldn't start unless you 'wiggled' a part on the top of the battery!!!!!
The police pulled us over just as we were about to pull into our hotel car park to inform us our headlight was not working. After asking for our licence, they informed us that we could not drive in Sri Lanka without a Sri Lankan driving licence. I told them that Europcar did not inform me of this. Europcar had taken copies of my licence and my friends licence that morning and did not tell me about this at all!
I called Europcar and explained this to them. They did not apologise at all, they did not give any reason for making such a huge mistake. They offered for a driver to come the next day but I said I did not want a driver as we could arrange tours using the guides in the hotel who knew the area (we were at least 2 hours from Colombo airport and I didn't want to be restricted by a driver who was travelling that distance each day and was not familiar with the area).
_I asked them to come and collect the car, this was on the same day that we collected it from them, around 8pm in the evening._
They repeatedly ignored my phone calls over the following days, even though the Sri Lankan police had also spoken to them and demanded they sort out the problem by collecting the car and reimbursing us our money.
I called them on the Monday evening (the day we arrived)
I called them on the Tuesday evening after returning from a tour to find they still had not collected the car
I called them again on the Wednesday evening and they gave me a false mobile number for their manager and then had the audacity to put the phone down on me!
They only use new rental cars, average age 6 months?! *NO! Our car was at least 6 years old*. It was a rust bucket!
All inclusive prices?! *NO! We paid for additional driver, GPS and full tank of fuel 7,000rupees* but couldn't use the car as the police told them to collect it from our hotel. They said it would not cost 7,000 rupees to fill the car up to drive to Bentota. Of course, I hadn't asked for a receipt at the petrol station so I had no proff of this. They would only give me 2,000 rupees compensation (even though the car now had a full tank of petrol)
*24 hour assistance?! NO!* When we arrived at the airport to return home and drop the keys off and GPS, they told me their manager was asleep and couldn’t deal with my problem. The line was often engaged and I kept having to call regularly to speak to someone but even when I did, they said, I need to speak to my manager. All I wanted them to do was to pick the car up! It didn't need any discussion with a manager?!!
When I eventually got to speak to the manager at 1am in the morning, 3 hours before our flight was due to leave, he said it was on the website about the fact you need an International licence, I said it wasn't. Whatever the case, why didn't they tell me this when I collected the car? Especially when it had both my licence details and my friends on my Europcar rental agreement paperwork?! He had no response to this question.
All the problems with the car, he blamed on ME and said I should have checked all of these things when I collected the car.
No apology. Nothing.
He said that because we had paid online to Europcar, I had to get the money back from them.
He was only willing to give us 10,000 rupees. 4000 for the petrol, 2000 for the additional driver, 4000 for the GPS.
It took us over 2 hours to argue with the 3 men at the desk and we still had no apology which was sincere.
Disgusting service from appaling rude people.
*So we had a car for 4 days and could not drive it because of Europcar’s negligence to adhere to Sri Lankan law.*
*Please take heed to this or you could be in huge trouble!!*
DO NOT HIRE A CAR FROM THESE IDIOTS!!!
I sought on web some good reviews for Sri Lanka freelance driver/guide Chaminda Prabath, we contacted by e- mails and closed the price and all itinerary. We left for vacation to India ,and then we intended go to Sri Lanka, on our last day in India (next day we had a flight to Colombo) ,I got e-mail from Chaminda that he can't be our driver and he have go to any embassy and issue visa, and he will send another driver to meet us in airport. When we landed in Colombo his friend meet us ,his name Harith Madushanka, he know just few words in English and it was very hard to communicate with him. Somehow I ask him cal to Chaminda ,and then ask whthere hi will join us next day, answer was "of course I"ll came to Kandy and will continue with you".Next day in Kandy I ask Harith once again call to Chaminda ,and then he told ,that Chaminda already abroad,and hi Harith will continue with all tour. Harith was good driver, but with almost zero English, another thing he cheat us for money ,let say he always ask to buy for us some fruits or bear and just last day I found ,that on each bottle of bear he cheat us for about 120-150 LKR.
So beware of these two guys: Chaminda Prabath e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
I have contact this "Mr Naim " through email@example.com as some of the members gave him quite a good review.
However he did not pick me up at the airport and broke trust with me very much!!
when met in Sri Lanka he looks different as compare to the photos as posted in VT.
He gave lots of lies and empty promises.
Next day, I gave a call to Naim and a man came to visit me too late.
The man who told himself Mr. Naim's brother, was also no good person. He was not a driver,just a con artist.
He did not anything for me, but requested much commission to introduce another driver.
So I mean, please BEWARE firstname.lastname@example.org, Mr. Naim and Vishwaka Travels,
I recently asked an Aluthgama friend if he knew a beach boy who arranged trips for me during my first few visits to the Island. “He has a German wife” I explained. My friend answered “Mark – all Aluthgama beach boys have at least one German wife and usually a Sri Lankan one as well”.
This tip may appear a little obvious but having read some heart rending tales in several travel forums it seems reasonable to warn women visitors to Sri Lanka about the dangers of predatory males. Of course it happens in every country on earth but the Sinhalese can be particularly charming people, Sri Lanka is a relatively modern country and the people well educated so tourists will find less of the cultural barriers that exist in some ‘exotic’ locations, it’s very easy to make friends with the local people and like anywhere not everyone is full of good intentions.
Sex before marriage still isn’t the norm in Sri Lanka but like young men anywhere Sri Lankan boys won’t turn down the opportunity when it arises. Fuelled on by their friend’s tales of sexual conquests, they believe that westerners have lots of casual sex and to be fair some tourists live up to their expectations. Sadly it can go much further than holding hands on the beach, some people are highly skilled in the art of separating foreigners from their money and whole families are sometimes brought into intricate and elaborate plots.
Please remember that a holiday romance is probably just that – nothing more and whatever happens, think very carefully about planning a future with anyone you meet in and around a tourist area, no matter how charming and sincere they appear.
*SRI LANKA IS A HIGH RISK AREA*
PLEASE PREPARE! Malaria can sometimes be fatal and at best may make you regret that you survived. Most medicines must be taken weeks BEFORE you come here. There are 4 different species of Malaria and humans can get them all from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Illness and death from malaria are largely preventable - if you plan ahead.
While you are here you need to use a repellent spray early in the morning and any periods of darkness, especially at night. The Bartender at my beach hotel had Malaria 3 times before he was 25. Do not take chances!
MALARIA can incubate in your body for years. Do you really want to take the chance?
I would suggest you buy repellent with 100% DEET.
A FEW OTHER WEBSITES:
GENERAL INOCULATIONS NEEDED
PERSONAL PROFILE YOU CAN BUILD
Literally at every Tourist site, from Kandy to Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa, and from Tissamahrama to Galle to Colombo, there are many touts and sales people who try to make fast buck.
Some are local guides, but beware, if you don't decide the price before you start out with them, they will demand quite excessive fees at the end.
The touts are people who will try to take you to a shop, massage parlour or even to a close by spice garden (specially near the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage) and get a huge commission on that, which amounts to robbing you.
The sales people are who come behind you, sometimes, with their merchandise in their hands. Although the maps and books are all right, the souvenirs are of quite bad quality and not worth the price at all.
All the souvenirs that we bought at Tourist Board approved shops are of excellent quality.
Sometimes one is just busy. You know walking somewhere, mission minded, oblivious to the outside world, for fear of being side tracked. So the head goes down, ears are pinned back and we trudge forward.
Its during these moments, when you are walking through the village trying to make the last bus that will take you home, a Sri Lankan or group of Sri Lankans wielding massive smiles and interested dispositions... Stop you, and with a little wobble of the head ask you where are you from? How you like Sri Lanka? Have you seen Sigiriya? Did you watch the Cricket?And many other burning questions that you simply must answer.
So if you do see a group of Sri Lankans walking toward you with grins on their dials, pin your ears back and run. Run I say! Otherwise you will have to meet them and exchange great conversation with these locals. And we certainly can't have that can we, certainly not! Certainly not when we have a bus to catch, a restaurant to find on a Tee Shirt to buy! :o).
If you want to have a Tuk-Tuk ride take it from your hotel..it will be much cheaper! If you take it from the street they may charge you 10 times more (what actually happened with us :))..Second thing to be aware is talking to strangers...As you leave the hotel different people will follow you..They introduce themself as a hotel gardener or hotel cleaner etc and even as a police officer (they may show you even ID (very quikly)).They'll say about any activities (elephant show exmpl) and offer to escort you...Be careful-it's a fraud.Their aim is your purse
Busses are the bullies on the roads of Sri Lanka. It seems that bus drivers have no respect for other road users (or the lives of their passengers). I took a bus from Bandarawela to Matare – I was very relieved when we arrived at our destination, as we had a burst tyre on the way at high speed.
There are lots of websites providing health information for visitors to Sri Lanka, my particular favourite is compiled by The Hospital for Tropical Diseases (University College London Hospitals) and you will find it here:
There are good doctors everywhere, if you are ill speak to your local three-wheeler driver rather than your hotel and you could save yourself a £50 hike in the price of your treatment - local doctors charge a few pounds.
There is much discussion about malaria in Sri Lanka and whether or not anti-malarial drugs are necessary in the main tourist areas but there are other mosquito-borne diseases to worry about too so precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes are increasingly important.
Dengue fever appears to be on the increase (a Sinhalese friend was very ill with Dengue in October 2006) and the Sri lankan press is currently reporting a Chikungunya viral fever "epidemic" in some parts of Sri Lanka.
A Google search will give you news on the most dangerous areas and may offer medical advice but there are no pills you can take to prevent either Dengue or Chikungunya so not getting bitten is the only way to be 100% sure.
Unfortunately the mosquitoes which carry Dengue and Chikungunya do not only bite of an evening so you need to be on your guard round the clock.
Some people swear by all manner of herbal potions, electric devices and even garlic pills to keep the mozzies away but my advice is to use DEET based products and if you are not staying in a sealed AC hotel room you should sleep under a net.
Giving your room a good blast with a fly spray an hour before retiring might be an idea too but take it easy with the smoking coils, particularly if you are travelling with children, some of the ingredients (such as DDT) are not particularly good for your health.
Having spent a month in a Turkish hospital, I know from experience that a serious accident abroad is no fun and accidents do happen. There are some excellent hospitals in Colombo and in a tourist resort you should be fine but off the beaten track a well equipped hospital or even an ambulance could be hours away. We don't like to think about the worst happening but Sri Lankan roads are comparatively dangerous so it might pay to be prepared.
Make sure that you have photocopies of your medical insurance documents with you and that your travelling companions know what they are and where you keep them. It’s maybe even a good idea for backpackers to tell the people you travel with what to do and who to phone if there is an accident in which you are seriously injured.
You are unlikely to be far from medical advice for more minor complaints as even small towns will have a doctor’s clinic and or medical centre complete with dispensary. The medical advice is generally good, costs next to nothing and the doctors appear happy to help traveller. You don’t need to be registered just turn up and speak to the doctor, who will almost certainly speak English.
I would not advise seeking medical advice from a local pharmacy, no doubt some are excellent but others leave a lot to be desired. In the past I have been offered hair remover for mosquito bites and haemorrhoid cream for a sweat rash, the doctors are a much better bet.
This is the closest hotel you can experience the Beach as you come to Colombo. Good food, good rooms...more
Very pleasant polite friendly front desk staff. Exceptionally efficient. Greeted with a warm towel...more
If there's a hotel I have loved to bits in Sri Lanka, this hotel is the one! Not only because it had...more
More Regions in Sri Lanka