Around the World: Sri Lanka Part 2

Sri Lanka: Talpe Beach, Galle Fort and Colombo
The Tea Hills

After traveling in Sri Lanka for over two weeks, I think it is safe to say that ideally you need at least 10 days to explore this beautiful and interesting country. We met another family from London who had been in the country for SIX weeks and they said that they never tired of it. It has so much to offer, especially for adventurous, active and curious travelers. From the beach to hiking and beyond, I have come across at least three fabulous itineraries for one week, 10 day, and two week itineraries. It also makes the perfect combination with the Maldives.

From Yala and our somewhat failed safari experience, we travelled to Talpe beach. The road was much easier on this stretch and looking out the window during the drive was entertaining. I have grown to love our drives as it is one of the few times in which our kids sit still and we can rest a bit!

During our journey we stopped at a large luxury resort to meet with management for a site visit. We had an expensive lunch in which the food was mediocre and the prices well above average for the area. I don't mind paying when it is worth it, but I find it especially annoying to pay for mediocre when there are many other fantastic options to choose from elsewhere. The resort did have some nice facilities but overall I found it lacking the charm of the luxury boutique hotels that we have experienced.

The pool at Why House in Talpe
Upon arrival into Talpe we checked into a boutique hotel called Why House. We were greeted warmly by a man with a giant smile followed by Henrietta who is always nearby. We  instantly found ourselves at ease when we noticed another young family in the pool. That evening we ended up having a drink with them while our kids played together. This is the sweet spot we have found in travel. This combination of nice accommodation, great service, good food, and relaxed guests. Unfortunately this is often a roll of the dice as you never know who your fellow travelers will be. The next two nights the vibe was a bit different as our new friends checked out and it was just us and a few couples. The only real negative for us is that the Why House was not on the beach. They offer tuk tuk service but as we had Tharindu, it was not a problem. I noticed many lovely boutique luxury options on the beach that I took note of for clients and for future visits.

Taking a rest on Mirissa Beach
One evening we went to a restaurant called Kingfisher on a nearby beach called Unawatuna. Our kids were able to play in the sand while we enjoyed a casual dinner on the beach. The staff kicked the football with them and gave our kids plenty of attention which was the norm for the country. Nearby there was a gelato shop run by Italians called Love Gelato which I would HIGHLY recommend for freshly made gelato. There is also a delicious coffee shop called Kat's Coffee in the area which was owned by a German woman who was very interesting to talk to as she shared about life in the area and the various social enterprises taking places such as Rice & Carry which has some lovely products that she stocks in her store.

We would have loved to surf during our time in Talpe as there were many surfing schools along the beach that provide lessons. It was on our list of things to do but as we have often found when traveling with the kids, we have to be VERY flexible. We just couldn't seem to make it align with the timing or our kids temperaments.

We also would have loved to have seen whales but we were not visiting at the right time of year. This would certainly be something to keep in mind if you are visiting the South from November to around April. Instead we went to a turtle conservation and release project. The kids learned about the turtles and enjoyed releasing the babies into the sea. I have recently seen some mixed reviews on whether or not this is a good project to support and to be fair I cannot comment as I need to research further.

From Talpe we drove a short distance to Galle Fort. We loved the style of our boutique hotel Fort Bazzar in Galle Fort. The interconnecting rooms were perfect for us.

Of course we found the best gelato soon after our arrival called Isle of Gelato. Sometimes we pretend we are going to get a treat for the kids but really it is just as much for us.

We had the most amazing Sri Lanka hoppers at a tiny place called Hoppa. It was perfect. Tiny restaurant that was packed and served the BEST hoppers. We had not tried hoppers before our time Sri Lanka and wow, they are delicious. Easily the best of Sri Lankan cuisine, though the curry is rather delicious as well.

During our last few nights the country was celebrating Vesak. There were lanterns everywhere and for two days the town was celebrating. People dress in white and it is illegal to sell alcohol during these days. Buddhism is main religion in Sri Lanka and Vesak is an important festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.

We are not allowed to take photos of the children's faces at SOS village for privacy reasons
The most important visit we had was to the SOS village in Galle. The tour company that we worked with in putting together our itinerary makes a donation to support a child for six months for every trip that they put together. It was the main reason I worked with them as there are a number of tour companies I could, and have, partnered with before. We brought with us some footballs and toys as gifts and we were warmly welcomed. We were introduced to the five children that we had supported which was a surprise to me. Our kids played with the children on the playground and we learned about how they operate. It truly was such a special visit and our driver was so touch that he made a donation for  a child's school books while he was there with us! For every itinerary I work on for clients traveling to Sri Lanka, I will be making a donation to this fantastic home. It is always inspiring to see such good in the world.

From there we spent one night in Colombo at the new Shangri-La. It was a completely different style than our previous hotels. The service was hands down the best we received anywhere. Incredibly attentive and just on it. They brought complimentary slushies at the pool and tossed us a ball to play with before we could even ask. The breakfast buffet was incredible! If we had stayed more than one night I certainly would be a few pounds heavier. I LOVED that they had an option to charge laundry by the bag instead of per piece as everywhere else seems to do. This proved to be a huge benefit as we managed to get 52 pieces of clothing in that bag!

Sri Lanka is truly a special place and one that I highly recommend a visit to. Please reach out to myself or the team to help plan your vacation to this fascinating country.

Bedtime in our room with a view at the Shangri-La
Our Bests:

Best breakfast: Shangri-La in Colombo

Best pool: Camellia Hills for the view but Taylors Hill overall for the kids.

Most relaxing place for our family: Taylors Hill.

Best food: Camellia Hills and Shangri-La.

Best Ice Cream: Love Gelato in Unawatuna

Most Family Friendly: Taylors Hill

Best decor: Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Best bedrooms for the family: Interconnecting at Fort Baazar, Dickoya at Camellia Hills, Pattiyagama at Taylors Hill.

Best Egg Hoppers: Hoppa restaurant in Fort Galle

Best Massage: The one arranged by Henrietta at Why House

Best activities with the kids: Riding the train from Hatton to Ella, Walking with the Elephants and Releasing Turtles
The view from Camellia Hills View was Stunning!
The design and decor of Wild Coast Tented Lodge was stunning

Breakfast at the Shangri La. Yum!
Things to keep in mind for travel in Sri Lanka:

1. Having a good driver/guide is key!

2. Keep plenty of cash on hand. There are ATMs and cash points in each city.

3. Be aware of festivals as this impacts traffic and the sale of alcohol.

4. Pack long skirts or pants for visiting temples.

5. If you are traveling with kids, you will likely receive a lot of friendly attention. It is a culture that is warm towards families and they may try to touch the kids by lovingly tapping their head or pinching the cheeks.

6. The country is large and varied and we would recommend at least 10 days to explore.

7. If traveling with a toddler, limit the amount of touring as to avoid meltdowns! Given the heat and excitement, we found it ideal to tour in the morning with a nap back in the air conditioned hotel in the afternoon before pool time or heading back out.

8. Be Flexible! Traveling requires it and so do children!

9. Always pack a change of clothes on your carry on and a few snacks.

10. There are many stores called Food city throughout the country which is a good place to pick up snacks, drinks and any needed supplies such as diapers or wipes.

Until next time Sri Lanka!


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