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Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

West Harptree...
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Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

if you're looking for a budget holiday/long trip then Sri Lanka probably isn't for you. Since Lonely Planet was published in August 2009 prices have gone up more than 50%.

Comments from other travellers that we have met also confirm this.

There also appears to be an increase in the amount of threatening behaviour from the "low life" of this island. This has been borne out by fellow travellers we met in Thailand last year who have a property in Mirissa. It's purely a matter of time before someone is killed or severely injured as our female friend has herself been threatened with GBH by a heroin addicted beach boy.

However, do NOT let this distract from the vast majority of Sri Lankan people. They are very friendly, very helpful and lovely happy folk. Just be aware that there are scum everywhere and, it appears, that here they are getting bolder by the day.

I have read some of the posts, and have my personal experiences, of scams/beach boys/commission gits/three wheeler jokers.......so please fellow travellers, stand your ground and if necessary walk away and say, "you can have the appropriate rate or you can have nothing. What is it to be"?

They will probably take nothing but then it's their loss and you won't walk away feeling cheated and having made it worse for the next person.

Neil

Perth, Australia
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11. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Hi Achi

Noticed you're from Bangalore. Traveltom & I were there recently and wanted to find a pharmacy. Are there any in the city centre at all? We walked our feet off, asked a number of people in the street, were directed here, there and everywhere, but no pharmacy.

Melbourne, Australia
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12. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Hi Travelkat,

Usually city center means Majestic bus stand area.In SC road you would get few pharmacies.

And locals say 'medical shop' for pharmacies.I think they might not have understood what is pharmacy.That's why they were not able to show you exactly what you want...

Edited: 26 January 2011, 09:26
Perth, Australia
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13. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Thanks for the information achi. Didn't think to say "medicine shop" but did say "chemist" which brought more blank looks. I didn't feel like miming stomach ache or similar because I thought that would bring gales of laughter.

Anyway, all was well once we returned to Bangkok as pharmacies are all over the place.and it was quickly sorted out that I was lacking salt. Makes you feel strange all over. We've been to India a number of times and it's never happened before so it took me by surprise.

Melbourne, Australia
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14. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Usually you have pharmacies in most of known places in Bangalore.Anyway hope you are well and good now :- )

Edited: 26 January 2011, 15:31
liverpool
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15. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Are you sure his Tag Heuer watch was genuine and not fake.Dont judge a book by looking a the cover. He may not have had the cash that you think!!!!

Doncaster, United...
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16. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Hi all.

I feel it is good to be warned about possible 'scams' before you travel to a place, when you have never been somewhere before it is easy to be naive. Forewarned is forearmed as they say (I think that what they say anyway, lol)

The thing is the majority of us who are lucky enough to take long haul holidays work hard and save hard to be able to do so, I do sometimes think that some of the people who live in these tourist area's think we are all millionaires and have thousands of pounds disposable income in our pockets.

I cant speak knowing about Sri Lanka (we go in for 1st time in March) or India but certainly when we visited Cuba we had to have our wits about us, we had 3 days in Havanna and had we not been a little clued up to the point of being ignorant when locals spoke to us we could have been taken for a substaintial amount so many people approched us, They pounce right outside the hotel doors and actually address you with the words "hello, hello rich people !" . I guess this kind of thing happens all over the world, I dont think its always done with malice just people thinking why not get a few quid from those who wont miss it, Sadly though lots of the people who do get scammed might miss that 'few quid' and it could put them off visting these places again.

London
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17. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

So what "scams" should I look out for?

I am travelling with my boyfriend, but we have never been before.

We have booked the few long taxi rides via our accommodation before hand (I have chacked prices on here and already have quotes form them)

Same with Safari and plantation tour -

Going to MEF instead of Pinwalla.....

We plan to visit Pettah Markets/Colombo, Tangalle, Tissa for Yala Safari,

Sri Pada and Kandy

Top tips to avoid leaving Sri Lanka without a bad impression?

Australia
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18. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

I have just arrived back from my first trip to SL.

I am a late 20s female travelling alone. I have traveled quite a lot.

However I was a bit wary of what to expect! As I had read reports of unwanted male attention, touts, scams etc etc

I must say, leaving the country, I fell in love with it!

It is absolutely beautiful and filled with kind generous people.

Of course the rules apply of - don't wander down deserted lane ways, sit in busy train carriages, get back to your hotel before dark (pending where you are and where you are with), dont flash expensive items, be aware of your surroundings, be culturally sensitive and cover up if thats the vibe of locals.

It shocks me that people get surprised they encounter problems when they don't actively look after their own safety.

I felt safe and happy traveling as a solo woman through Sri Lanka for a few weeks. I stayed in mid-range accomodation and paid on average $30USD a night for double rooms. If you've got a partner $15 each isn't so bad.

But I didn't discover the super cheap accommodation prices you find in other areas of asia. Also 30 doesn't always buy you the cleanliness or standard of accom it would in say Cambodia...

I agree however that prices are MUCH higher than those featured in the Lonely Planet. In fact I would say LP is way off the mark ... it's been the worst guide yet!! SO be prepared for price and details to differ.

SL seems to be in a period of growth ... with that comes the growth of price, the touts, the occasional person who is dodgy. But get your savvy traveler pants on and be grateful you aren't wasting away under fluorescent lights in front of a computer!! I found in SL people will try and offer you services/deals (which is great!) - but when you aren't interested give them a simple straight forward 'no' and they will let you be.

SL is absolutely beautiful!! Get to the beaches, the mountains, the tea plantations, the safaris and the incredible Sigiriya!

And get there before the rest of the World does!

St Austell
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19. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Hi T419KG0

There are plenty of scams and try-ons although most of them are fairly transparent!

Ones I've come across (and I am sure others will fill you in on more) are

Spice Gardens .... you get a short, quite interesting tour around, but that is then followed by hard selling of products at highly inflated prices which you get at local markets for next to nothing. Don't bother going to them and tell your driver you are not interested. They get good commissions for taking you to them.

Persistent guides at Sigiriya who latch on to you and then want payment. If you don't want a guide, tell them to push off and be firm about it .. they are very hard to shake off.

The guy or lady who approaches you on the beach with a book full of signatures from people who have supposedly donated money to help the local church, orphanage or whatever...

A donation book at several Buddhist monasteries (and at Adam's Peak) where all the donations have several "000's" added to the end to give the impression that all past donors have been, er, more than generous shall we say?!

The guy who rushes up to you at train or bus stations offering to help you find your way, but then wants payment for doing it.

Ritigala ... we were asked for LKR 500 for each camera that we used whilst walking around there. There is no charge for using a camera at Ritigala.... so don't pay it, or hide your cameras at the entrance, both on the way in and out.

The guy who latches on to you when walking around Kandy and accompanies you into every shop, then telling the shop manager that he has brought you in there and claims his commission on anything that you buy.

The friendly chap who approaches you in the street and says that you know him because he works at the hotel you are staying at. I have become very used to this one and ask them to tell me which hotel that is ... and they then make off very speedily rather than trying out their latest scam on you.

Lock your bags when travelling on public transport. We have not been separated from our bags on many occasions so on one journey we did not lock them. We used a private bus and they insisted on locking our bags in the boot to free up more room. When we checked them later, they had been opened and several things taken .. they must have done it on one of the frequent stops to pick up more passengers. Not nice, but could have been avoided if we had been more sensible.

All the above experiences are little more than a minor nuisance and are unlikely to spoil your holiday. However, we let our guard down on one occasion whilst travelling on a hillcountry train and befriended someone who then robbed my daughter of a considerable amount of money. She was careless and did not take adequate care of her wallet, but it was the first time that we had met anyone who was not genuinely friendly and it proved to be the wake up call we needed. Most people are fine, but there will always be a few rotters about too.

Most crime in Sri Lanka is of an opportunistic nature rather than calculated or violent. I put down our two most serious incidents to our own silliness and for being too trusting of complete strangers .. you wouldn't do that at home, would you? Sri Lanka is basically a safe country but with an ever increasing number of tourists, there's bound to be a small proportion of dishonest locals who have discovered an easy way to make some money out of those of us off guard or unaware.

Sue

Edited: 27 January 2011, 12:04
London
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20. Re: Lanka is not a budget destination for Independent Travellers

Ah, thank you Susie - that is really helpful - especially simple things like the adding of "0000" to donation books - I would not have thought of that.

Or the Ritigala camera thing - it can be really hard to go against the grain at some places for fear of breaking ccultural rules or something -

My other half is a police officer and is always on at me to be careful with my belongings at home, so I am sure he will be even more so while we are away.

Brilliant

Thank you

x