This is more about tailors than anyone else, although I could say similar about taxi drivers. Always agree on a price before you place an order for alterations or getting some articles of clothing made, and get this in writing. I've paid three times the price for something as simple as changing a lining in a suit jacket. Lankan workmanship can be good, but tailors cheat like anyone else in the country, so you could be asked to pay more than agreed on. Apothecary Tailors, down by Galle Face Hotel did me in....
I recently booked a bungalow in Dehiwala from best of lanka online travel agent.i paid nearly 360$ for 3days.in the website they shows a beautiful bungalow with kitchen,garden,bathroom with 2 bedrooms,but when i reached there i found that there was only 1 room which was seperatd by a half wall and a bathroom,and it was just a small part of the main house.and has 3 doors to main house in that area.windows are not seald.its not worth to the amount i paid,even the landlord agreed that its not worthy to the amount i paid.he said the real amount is 1/3 the amount i paid for 3days.a lady works in best of lanka fonling tourist.and take money unnesserely.then i didnt stay there and found a new place.but that lady refused to pay my money back.thats awful.i never exepect something like this from lovely srilanka
I booked Karachi-Singapore from Sri Lankan Airlines with a brief layover of 2 hours at Colombo. After booking the flight, I was informed by my travel agent that the flight has been cancelled and that my booking is rescheduled. Now, it would be Karachi-Singapore via Kuala Lumpur and with a night stay at Colombo. My travel agent assured me that the airline will provide us with the night stay in a transit hotel without extra charges.
When we arrived at Colombo airport, there was a mess at the transit counter where around 100 passengers were fighting and screaming with the airline staff for the transit stay and the staff had been suggesting them to stay at airport for about 10 hours!
Luckily, I had the hotel voucher with Sri Lankan airlien stamp on it and the staff allocated us to the transit hotel. So, always ask for a transit voucher from your travel agent otherwise be ready to spend the night at the terminal. It is another story that this actually proved bad luck because of the depleted transit hotel :(
The flight via Kuala Lumpur was also too long and tiring which cost us around 10 precious dayligt hours.
Colombo is a safe place to visit. No need to worry since the war is happening in Northern part of the country. I would suggest you to avoid traveling to North and East of Sri Lanka.
I live in central Colombo city. You can come down for here and sit for your exam peacefully and travel back. Good Luck
There's a fair bit of hype about the armed police/soldiers on the streets of Colombo and along certain highways. While the presence of check points and armed guards is never that re-assuring, you have to bear in mind that Colombo is the seat of parliament and the place where the President resides. Same as 10 Downing Street, or the US Embassy in London - you get armed guards. I've been to Colombo ten times or more and have never been asked to step out of a vehicle or show ID. As a tourist (in a taxi) you get waved on after a well-rehearsed look.
Give yourself a min. of 1.5hr on top of the time required to drive to the airport. Security is tight and EVERY vehicle is checked from top to bottom and under. Even our bags are x-rayed at least twice. Don't forget that the departure tax has just been doubled to 1000 rupees or US$11. No thanks to Sept. 11.
As I'm not frightened by anyone ;) I did an an unaccompanied tour through the slums of Colombo (f.e. along the train tracks) for two hours. There wasn't any situation in which I felt unsecure. I was most welcomed
(waiving, say "hello" and/or wanted that I take a pic of them).
Everywhere where there are tourists there are also people looking to separate them from their money. Galle Face Green and Fort are particularly fertile ground for conmen trying to part tourists from their dollars. If anyone approaches you here or near the Hilton hotel then no matter how friendly they seem chances are they want money.
Usual practice is to spark up a conversation through cricket or the colour of your skin ("aah if you stay in Sri Lanka one year you will be brown like me, no?") As you look uneasy they quickly say "I don't want any money, I just want to practice my English/talk to foreigners") Of course after ten minutes perfectly entertaining conversation it all swings back to money in the end.
Most claim to be teachers "on holiday" (funny how it lasts all year!) and raising funds for their school (usually a school for blind children). Then they pull out a list of names to show how many other kind foreigners have contributed. Don't join the list!
It's probably not a good idea for a woman to travel alone - there will be a lot of hassle. Men will follow you for hours, grab your breasts, masturbate at you (apparently this is more usual towards white women). It is more annoying than dangerous.
I was advised to wear clothes that cover my legs, not to make eye contact with men, even though they will do many things to try to attract attention! Also, NEVER try to get rid of a man by telling him you have a boyfriend. This gives them the impression the you are easy and makes them hassle you more! It's best to pretend that you don't know anything about sex - men are very curious about western women and can be blunt in their questions. If you are not married, do not admit you know anything!
Every one that aproaches you in a touristic area , will have something in mind to get some money from you, I stayd nearly a month and it was this way the very all times. Eventhough, they are kind and you will be the ona that makes the deal, when they give you a price con sider that they are always charging you triple, and they answer is always: "if you are happy with the price then I am happy too". But remember if they are happy with the price this is because it is expensive for the Sri Lankan average. The tuk-tuk or tricycle drivers are specialist charging you more, always arrange the price before get into it,
Beware the black sheep! After haggling and setting a price with the driver to bring you to your destination, expect them to come up with funny excuses like:
"The distance is further than expected" and "I had to make a detour to avoid heavy traffic".
In the middle of the road, they'll ask you to pay more than agreed on.
We ignored them and firmly gave them what was agreed on at the end of the journey. But definitely not so easy if you were travelling at night or off the beaten track (never know what they might do).
There was once where we got really peeved with the driver and threatened to jump car. A barrage of sarcastic remarks followed.
Don't ever walk at night by yourself. Why? Yeap, Curfew may occurs in certain area in Colombo especially where you might notice some policeman roaming around.
And never ever try to entertain any sympathetic man ( which known con-man in Colombo. Give your sympathy and you shall lose you money.
Be careful when you arrived at Fort Train station in Colombo and there are lots of touts are coming to you and try to give info about cheap hotels and taxies.
Don't trust them and follow your guide books.
if you are looking for some official information about trains at railway station be careful too. because some of people who are working at there can try to cheat you and give wrong information.
if anything happens or you are not satisfied contact police post at railway atation and ask for tourist police station in fort. its located near railway station and next to Hilton.
Beware of food that is cold and sweet. Why you ask? Because the chilis in these dishes can be just as deadly hot as in the main courses!! Don't let the fact that a dish is cold or sweet fool you into thinking that it's not spicy. It may be, but then again... it may not!! If you do find your eyes watering, your nose running and pain searing through your mouth, do NOT drink water! Plain white rice and/or pineapple will neutralize the chilis, water will only sear the spice further in!
1) There are lots of road blocks and soldiers but they were very nice to me. They often waved us through when they saw I was a tourist. I hope that Sri Lanka can find peace soon and end the war going on there.
2)If you go out walking alone count on being approached by some one who will want you to visit a certain store or offer to introduce you to a pretty Sri Lankan girl. These guys hang around out side most of the tourist hotels just waiting for some tourist to come out.
3)I did not need any vaccinations but my doctor recommended one for hepatitus. She also recommended a prescription for malaria pills since I planned to visit some marshy areas and National Parks for wild life watching.