Trusted Travel Questions and Answers is my monthly chance to answer reader questions about travel and destinations. It can be hard to find trusted advice on travel from people who have actually been there. Every week I get a number of questions from readers asking for specific advice. This is my way of answering them but also sharing with others who might be looking for the same information.
8 Days in Sri Lanka
Daniel (sorry but you didn’t actually leave your name!) is heading to Sri Lanka for 8 Days and asked the following:
I am planning a trip for 8 Days in Sri Lanka. Going straight from the airport to Sigiriya, then Kandy the next day and after that driving to Kitulgala. From there I would like to go to a beach but I am trying to find the shortest most direct way to a beach and I am not sure if I have to drive back to Colombo to get there. Any advice you can give me would be great. Also if you know of any great places to eat local food that would be great. Thank you in advance.
Hi Daniel, first off, you are going to have a blast. I lived in Sri Lanka for 3 years and despite a civil war at the time I loved every moment. I have been all over the areas you mentioned and I’ll have to make a few assumptions first.
1) You’ll have your own car in Sri Lanka (or at least a driver)
2) You will be driving to Kitulgala through the hill country and not back through Colombo. This route is much more scenic and gets you into the heart of the tea country.
My advice is that you drive through from Kandy through Nuwara Eliya and then down to Kitulgala. If you have a chance don’t miss the quite Castlereigh lake. You can also get a nice view of Adams Peak from this area. If you are looking for a nice place on the water to stay I can recommend Castlereigh Family Cottages. They are warm, friendly, and have two amazing bungalows with verandas that look out over the lake.
How to get From Kitulgala to the Beaches in Sri Lanka
The most direct route in Sri Lanka is not also the quickest! From Kitulgala you are not that far from Colombo and the main road that runs south along the coast towards Galle and the beaches. At the moment (October 2011) this is still the fastest way south. However, the 4 lane toll highway (Southern Express Way) is due to open by the end of the 2011. Once it opens this will be your fastest way South.
Remember that the monsoon switches by season allowing swimming on the West and East coasts at different times of the year. If you are going this season (September to March) you can swim on the West Coast (advice below) and the rest of the year on the East Coast at Argum Bay.
From the coastal road you have basically three choices, first you can stop at the popular party and surfing beach Hikkaduwa. There are a number of hotels where you can stay here, almost all of them right on the beach.
Your next option is just past the fort town of Galle and is called Unawatuna. This small town is my favorite in the south and has a nice mix of clear tropical water, decent accommodation, relaxing during the day but with some parties in the evening. Further along, and probably too far for an 8 day trip are the secluded beaches of Hambantota. They are virtually deserted and offer great value for the intrepid traveler.
Where to Eat Local Food
To be honest this one is the easiest to answer! You can get great local food anywhere in Sri Lanka. Just stop into the local shops along the road and you will get homemade local fare. Everyone and their grandmother can cook amazing curries so you are in for a treat no matter where you go.
If you have your own questions about travel, life on the road or specific destinations Contact me and include the subject Travel Question. If your question can be used by others I’ll include it in my monthly Trusted Travel Questions and Answer section.
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