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I love to research travel – where to go, what to see, what to do and for me spending hours reading other people’s blogs is inspiring and so helpful. Some people like to relax by watching TV; I like to relax by researching travel!
Where We Stayed
- Paradise Beach, Negombo – $95/triple BB. A slurge because it was our first night. Friendly owners and staff, good wifi, they let us check in really early, good food.
- MPS Village, Dambulla – $59/double with extra bed. We were the only ones here, friendly manager, pool for the kids, small rooms with a nice balcony, beautiful grounds, food was okay.
- Le Grand Meaulnes, Habarana – $63/family room. Very clean and nice design. They had a baby chair! Good dinner, standard breakfast, wifi.
- Nature Walk Resort, Kandy – $80/triple. Nice views and common areas. Room was basic, but clean. 300R tuk tuk to town, friendly staff, overpriced.
5. Mountview Cottage, Nuwara Eliya – $52/room+$17/extra bed. No driver accommodation, nice views, friendly manager. Nuwara Eliya was very cold (July).
6. The View, Ella – $65 – still under construction, friendly boy running the place, rooms were nice and new, beautiful view, driver had to stay in town and the driveway is very steep.
7. Lakeside Cottages, Tissa – $50/triple BB. Peaceful, clean setting. Good A/C and hot water. A few minutes out of town, good food.
8. Moonstone Villas, Tangalle – $65/double BB. Beautiful place run by a lovely Canadian, Raelene. Amazing attention to detail, beautiful furniture, pool, verandah, excellent local and Western food, beach right across the street. Miles celebrated his 1st birthday here.
9. Nor Lanka, Unawatuna – $65/family room. Beautiful gardens and great design. Really good food and great breakfast. Helge, owner was really helpful.
Note about accommodation – I pre booked our accommodation before we arrived, but next time I wouldn’t have. I think we overpaid by booking ahead of time and our driver could have gotten us better deals.
Where We Ate
Generally we ate breakfast and dinner at our hotel. We found the food quality mixed. We like eating local food and loved the spicy curries, but found some places were hesitant to serve us spicy food. For lunches, we wanted to eat at local spots, but our driver would often take us to touristy buffet type of places.
Read more about Sri Lankan food at this Guide to Eating in Sri Lanka from another family blogger.
- Millennium Elephant Foundation – 2000R/person. More commercialized than I expected and the stations felt very manufactured (bathing, rides). We were constantly being asked for money from every mahout. We had fun there, but it felt touristy and it is always questionable if these places are good for the animals.
- Dambulla Caves – 1300R/person. Nice views and enjoyable walk.
- Sigiriya Rock – $30 US fancy ticket. We needed the bee suits for the last section. Beautiful views and even our young children did it in the crazy heat.
- Minniyera elephant safari – $52/jeep + 3000R park entrance. Go 3-6pm. We saw tons of elephants.
- Tooth Temple, Kandy – fancy DVD ticket. Morning prija was very crowded. It was great to have our driver with us to explain the temple since this is his hometown.
- Botanical Gardens, Kandy – have to pay to go in and it didn’t seem like many people visited, but the surrounds were lovely.
- Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya – it was weird to pay to enter a public park, but it was a cute old school park and playground. 200R/adult. Good place to spend some time if you have kids.
- Train – Nuwara Eliya to Ella, 2nd class. It was a bit hard to get seats. The views were lovely and our kids loved to stick their heads out the window. Great chance to see local life on the train.
- Little Adams Peak, Ella – 45 min walk each way. Nice hike with the kids.
- Yala Safari – $55/luxury jeep + 3000R pp park entry. It is a 30 min drive from Tissa to the park entrance. We saw a good variety of wildlife and the tsunami memorial. Road is really bumpy. Make sure you leave the park by 6pm or you have to take an extremely bumpy, longer road out.
- Turtle Conservation, Rekava – we organized this while we were at Tangalle. They called when turtles were on the beach and sent a tuk tuk to pick us up (it was late – 9pm). We had to walk 30 min on the beach in the dark to get to the turtle laying eggs. I felt that they were respectful of the turtle and it was interesting to see. 1300R tuk tuk and 1000 pp to see the turtles.
- Galle – we visited from Una, 300 tuk tuk. Chuch St had lovely shops and it was fun to walk around the fort and see the churches. Mama’s Rooftop had good curry.
We hired a driver for the first 10 days of our trip and then spent a week on the beaches, just hiring drivers between places. Our drive was Sudath (contact me and I can send you his email address). He was great at communicating with me over email and was really nice and patient as we were travelling with 3 young kids, all in car seats. We paid $450 US/10 days for his services + tip.
Overall we found Sri Lanka quite a bit more expensive than Southeast Asia, although we loved our time there.