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“Trap - be aware”

Lagoon Herbal Garden
Ranked #4 of 5 things to do in Koggala
Attraction details
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Trap - be aware”
Reviewed 12 April 2014 via mobile

So far the worst experience in Sri Lanka. First they offered us a lime juice and showed us their herbal garden. All explanations were superficial and the guy studied very well the German words for all the illnesses the pants can heal. He pretended to be an Ayurveda medic approved by the government in order to appear more competent. Then out of the nowhere he starts talking about massages and out of the nowhere appear two guys who give us a "massage". Afterwards they demand for a donation as they are still studying. By the end of the herbal tour, the price for going by boat to the islands has risen, so we left. In the end we found a nice guy in the neighborhood who organized us a catamaran to take us to the islands for 2000 rupees and invited us for tea afterwards. Nice talking with a lovely person without any tries of selling trips or whatever - a very positive experience after the try to rip us off at the herbal gardens.

3 Thank Daniel K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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132 reviews from our community

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Stourbridge, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
24 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Go for the experience, not the commentary”
Reviewed 12 April 2014

We stayed in The Fortress in Koggala, so the lake was just over the road from us. Our Tuk Tuk driver had suggested a boat trip around the lake as something we'd like to do during our stay. It wasn't part of our original itinerary, but as it was on our doorstep it seemed rude not to.

Sure, it was touristy. It makes me laugh that people berate the Sri Lankan's for capitalising on tourists when practically other country does it and, certainly, the 'Western world' is the blooming worst for it.

I was quite nervous when I first set eyes on our boat, it was ramshackle to say the least and the fact that our 'guides' had taken us along the train tracks and through a clearing in the bushes to reach the lake did little to dispel this.

Our guide continually apologised for his poor English. But it really wasn't that bad and his charm more than made up for it. The lake is vast, and makes for a relaxing sight.

Our trip took in Bird Island first of all (which we just viewed from the boat), then we headed to Temple Island, which houses a small pretty temple, mostly used on Poya days. Next-up was Cinnamon Island where a husband and wife show you how Cinnamon is prepared. Sure, they want you to buy something at the end of the experience. We did and I'm happily enjoying the Cinnamon powder on my morning porridge now I'm back in the UK. The couple are very charming and the wife will bring you a cup of Cinnamon Tea and let you have a go at grinding the Cinnamon powder too.

Next-up is the Herbal Garden. It's nothing special. We toured a similar garden in Langkawi. But you're given whistle-stop tour of the garden with the opportunity to ask questions. Sure, it's exit through the gift shop again - but where isn't these days?!

On the way back we were given the opportunity to visit Jungle Island which is mostly mangrove and jungle. We decided to head back instead, having already done our fair share of jungle in Borneo.

On the way back to the jetty we made small talk with the guide, headed over to look at catches that local fishermen had made and just took in the view.

There are crocs in the lake, but this doesn't stop the Sri Lankan's standing waist deep in the lake, fishing rod in one hand, cigarette in the other!

It's probably not worth make a trip to Koggala Lake if you're staying outside of the area. But if you're staying at one of the Koggala Beach hotel it makes for a pleasant morning out without the need to get a Tuk Tuk or driver. I guess it depends on the guide you get. Most of them are just locals who are trying to make a living from the tourist trade - our guide ran boat trips, was a Tuk Tuk driver and owned a King Coconut stall - more enterprising than most 25-year-old guys in the UK! I think we were fortunate that we got on well with our guides.

For more photos and information, visit my blog at: http://fabulousandotherfwords.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/far-away-places-places-to-visit-in-sri-lanka-part-3-koggala-lake/

Visited January 2014
4 Thank Samantha H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Copenhagen, Denmark
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Scam of the worse kind”
Reviewed 6 April 2014

Unfortunately I did not readTrip adviser before visiting this place... I was tricked!!
This kind of people should be punnished!

Visited April 2014
6 Thank HelleAagot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Avoid at all costs - Tourist Trap!”
Reviewed 1 April 2014

We are just coming to the end of several months in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately we visited this place within our first week when our brains had not fully started functioning in travel mood and as such got sucked in by what we now know is an absolute 'tourist trap'. Whilst we avoided paying the ridiculous sum asked for the boat trip, we succumbed to the massage (which was odd to say the least) and then made the fundamental mistake of heading to the insanely overpriced shop, where we spent a fortune on what I now know to be shonky products. My biggest (and most expensive) mistake was buying the 'miracle' hair removing cream, which as stated below, is really just veet in a new jar. We recently returned to the shop to let them know we were unsatisfied with the product and (again stupidly) request some form of recompense. The response we got was a shock, as we had not received seen this type of behaviour in our whole time in Sri Lanka. Not only did they become very rude very quickly, but when my husband suggested to some unsuspecting customers nearby that they may want to be careful, the man we were talking to tried to punch him and then called for some back up to provide a little more muscle to the situation. These guys go beyond pushy, they are con artists and should be closed down. Note: Tourists should be aware that the prices charged ensure that several people down the line ie your driver, your travel company etc receive a cut from such destinations.

Visited December 2013
2 Thank Sam-Gorringe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Over priced herbal remedies”
Reviewed 12 March 2014 via mobile

Went with one friend. When we arrived I inquired about the boat trip for two people
The man said 9,000rupees for two
I said NO.he said.How much do you want to pay.I said 4,000 rupees or we won't go.
He said o.k. I will arrange. He then took us to see no more than three plants in the garden. And then to the shop.To show us the herbal remedies. My friend has a foot injury from 16 years ago.He started to put many products on the table. Then the price. 18,500.rupees.I said NO yet again
He then removed one bottle. O.K.give me 5,000rupees.We will have the boat trip and then come back. After the boat trip, which was pleasant enough. We visited 2 islands.I went back to the shop. Told the man.I had changed my mind.Iam not buying anything from your shop.
I gave 4,000rupees for the boat trip only.
And started to leave. He asked why I had change my mind. BECAUSE I CAN.!!!!!!!

3 Thank Martin H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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