Is there any better feeling than that experienced the day or two before you head off on holiday?
That feeling of excitement as you head off into the unknown, ready to soak up new sights, experiences and cultures.
Sri Lanka’s not a place I ever thought I’d get to but later today we’ll be jetting off from Abu Dhabi and we could not be more excited!
We’re booked into the most gorgeous hotels and will be experiencing some of the island’s most unique (and if all goes to plan, memorable) boutique offerings. After what feelings like months of planning, everything has some together and with unseasonable rain in Abu Dhabi, a holiday is certainly welcome.
If Sri Lanka’s on your wish-list or you’ve started planning your visit, this post is for you!
A number of flights service the international airports in Sri Lanka. The largest airport, Bandaranaike, is situated just out of the capital city of Colombo and though it’s currently undergoing renovations (which are causing significant delays), it is still the airport visitors are most likely to use.
If you are flying out of Colombo, ensure you allow additional time to check-in until the runway repairs have been completed. At present, the runway is closed to aviation traffic between 8.30am and 4.30pm each day and the check-in recommendation has been pushed out to 5 hours (with counters closing 90 minutes before departure instead of the standard 60 minutes).
Sri Lanka looks and sounds too amazing to pass up so we certainly didn’t allow the potential delays to sway our decision to travel there – just ensure you allow enough time to get through the airport without having to worry.
The addition of a second international airport in 2013 has done little to distribute the flights through the country; Mattala Rajapaksa services the south-east coast but few airlines use it – it has in fact been labelled the emptiest airport in the world. This makes it an unlikely option for potential tourists but I’m sure would allow for the fastest check-in in history should you decide to use one of the few airlines there!
The vast majority of visitors to Sri Lanka will require a visa to do so. If time allows, you can apply for your visa online or, as we are going to do, you can be issued one upon arrival. A single entry visa (for 30 days) is USD20 if applied for ahead of time or USD25 at the airport.
Touring with Red Dot Tours
Having worked in the past as a reservation agent for an airline and a tour guide, I get a real kick out of planning our own itineraries but with so much going on around the UAE, we didn’t have the time to organise our Sri Lankan visit to the level we normally would have liked.
We knew what we wanted to see and do near Galle but hadn’t had a chance to lock down details elsewhere.
Enter Red Dot Tours!
Jennifer became our Sri Lankan miracle worker, putting together an amazing customised itinerary for us. She listened intently to our requests and added her own recommendations – creating a trip that is is a perfect balance between our travel preferences and her personal knowledge of the country.
Red Dot have taken care of the majority of our accommodation for us (with the exception of Cantaloupe – two gorgeous hotels we’d already excitedly booked), our transport and many of our activities.
If like us, you’re short on planning time or would rather let someone take care of the planning for you, we can already confirm that Red Dot goes above and beyond – and we’ve not even touched down on Sri Lankan soil yet!
Buses, trains, tuk tuks, taxis and drivers – Sri Lanka is not short on transport.
Though maps make distances from one location to another appear short, we have been warned that traffic, road condition and mountainous conditions can make trips longer than anticipated so allow plenty of time to get around the island.
We decided to book a driver in for the majority of our visit. Though the scenery from the train looks absolutely gorgeous, we’re hoping to fit a fair few activities and sights in and having a driver will allow us to do so. We also love stopping on the side of the road when something catches our eye and a train just won’t do that!
We will be coming back to you with reviews of the following properties following our visit so I won’t go into specific details at this point. We are excited by the gorgeous vistas, stunning pools and the unique offerings of these properties though (some include safaris, barbecue dinners, canyoning and mountain biking – seriously!) and are excited to discover ourselves.
Night 1: Horathapola Estate
Night 2/3: Borderlands
Night 4: Cantaloupe Aqua
Night 5/6: Cantaloupe Levels
Night 7: 3 Sisters
Night 8: Fort Bazaar
Night 9: Kulu Safaris
Night 10: The Hammock Lanka
Night 11: Mandira Dickoya Bungalow
Night 12: Kings Pavilion
Night 13/14: Aliya Resort & Spa
All of our stops in Sri Lanka were decided based upon the activities and sights that we wanted to enjoy.
Snorkelling, scuba diving, whale watching, canyoning, visiting a turtle sanctuary, hiking Adam’s Peak, leopard spotting whilst on safari, touring a tea plantation, checking out both religious and ancient monuments and more; our visit to Sri Lanka is full of adventure, nature and local culture.
It’s perfect for us!
For us, one of the big appeals of this beautiful country is the diversity it offers. From beach days to safaris and everything in between, there are enough activities to keep even the most active adventurer busy but there’s also plenty on offer if doing nothing is more your style.
We’re going to be dipping into both sides of the pool (so to speak) so stay tuned as we bring your our thoughts on each of the activities we have planned…
Let’s Do it…
Now, on our last morning in Abu Dhabi, our bags are calling out to be packed, the electronics are charging away and our passports are set to go.
Sri Lanka, we can’t wait to check you out for ourselves!
If you’re headed to Sri Lanka, pin your favourite images so you came come back to these beautiful hotels…