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first timer to Sri Lanka

London
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first timer to Sri Lanka

Hi,

It'll be our first time to Sri Lanka and wanted to know if it is easier to go by train from Kandy - Galle Via Colombo or try and get a car/driver? How long does the train take v car? We hope to stay a couple of nights in Kandy in order to be central but is that necessary or would staying outside of the main areas prove difficult for transport?

Also we are planning to head to Unawatuna and although I see that it's a popular beach (other hotels etc) we would like to experince some local culture and dining. Is that possible in Unawatuna or is it too touristy? Does anyone know what the weather will be like in mid Nov as the getting confused with all the monsoon seasons.

Greatful for any advice!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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1. Re: first timer to Sri Lanka

Hi there,

I'll do my best to give some grate ;-) advise...

1) The car-driver can take a slightly quicker route and does not have the transfer time at Colombo Fort, from Kandy-Colombo train to Colombo-Galle train. But basically not a major difference: train 6 hours _plus_ wait/transfer time and car also 6 hours. See www.railway.gov.lk for the timetables.

2) If you plan outings partly by public transport, Kandy is quite a good place. Other central enough places are e.g. Dambulla and Ella.

3) U'tuna is as good a beach place as the others along the coast (Hikkaduwa, Bentota etc.) in that it has a large hinterland nearby. So in the beach town itself there's not much local culture (except for a few temples) but at a few km from the beach plenty of it starts. All tourist towns have enough of local food (rice & curry) on the menu.

4) Weather can be unsettled, esp. between Galle and Negombo. Unawatuna and more to the east suffer less from the 'intermonsoon' winds and rains than the west coast, esp. east of Matara is called a main dry zone of Sri Lanka.

Hope this helps a bit,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

UK
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2. Re: first timer to Sri Lanka

HI,

Just to add a little detail to what Erik has said,

When you go on the train timetable site, you'll be looking for Kandy to Colombo and then to Galle.

Also look at Peradeniya as trains coming through from the hill country don't actually go into Colombo but pass through Peradeniya Station, a few kilometres outside of Kandy.

Rod.

Colchester
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3. Re: first timer to Sri Lanka

One big difference between train and car is going to be the cost. Even using Inter-city trains the cost of rail travel from Kandy to Galle is going to be about £3- £4 per head. Travelling by car is about 230Km and, if it is a one off, you will have to pay for the retun journey also. That is about 460Km and most people calculate at around 40 rupees per Km, so 18,400 rupees, roughly £100. There is a taxi firm in Kandy, called Derana which charges 26 rupees per Km and 22 rupees for the return journey. I used them in June and they were fine. That would still cost about £63. If you have the time and the inclination, travelling by train is certainly a way of getting a taste of the real Sri Lanka and the journey from the hills to Colombo and then along the coast to Galle are very scenic.

Kandy is certainly good for transport and also an excellent base from which to visit the cultural heritage sites which are within a day's travel. Kandy also offers a wide range of accommodation to suit all styles and pockets.

Which ever way you do it, I'm sure you'll enjoy the trip.

London
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4. Re: first timer to Sri Lanka

Thank you all for your advice. We are pretty independent travellers and think we will opt for the train rather than car/driver.

Does anyone know what the weather will be like on the south coast mid Nov to end Nov?

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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5. Re: first timer to Sri Lanka

Hi there,

Could depend quite a lot on the part of the south coast. During that time the east monsoon starts in full (today already it has hit the real east, like Batti). On the eastern half of the south coast, roughly Matara-Yala, it could change the normal 'dry zone' pattern there in the yearly wet times though I don't think it will go upto the level of local flooding. On the western half you have more the southwest coast 2nd intermonsoon season behaviour: a mixture of overcast days with days that still have 4+ hours of sunshine, albeit often scattered over the day.

Hope this helps a bit,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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6. Re: first timer to Sri Lanka

PS to add, as my earlier posts conflict each other a bit when read literally:

East of Matara during the 2nd intermonsoon season tends to be a bit all-or-nothing approach. Either the real monsoon rains (all day) when they reach that area, or a lovely sunny day as this area has 10+ months a year. West of Matara has winds from both coastal sides and has the 'mixed unsettled intermonsoon' type of weather. As unpredictable as the all-or-nothing but within a much smaller bandwidth, not either-burned-or-swept-away as in Hambantota.

Have sun fun,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

7. Re: first timer to Sri Lanka

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