A beautiful romantic hideaway, nested along the sandy beaches on Sri Lanka's west coast where beautiful design blends with nature.
I have been to Sri Lanka on two occasions and just love the shopping there!
The high-end boutiques like Barefoot and Paradise Road offer traditional Sri Lankan and contemporary western products. You can find anything here from flamboyant coloured tablecloths to multi couloured sarongs.
'Odel' and 'House of Fashion' are department store-like shopping spaces which hold a range of designer wear (mostly seconds) and other quality products. Look carefully and you might find some hidden treasures among the rows of clothes or homewares.
'A-World' is a huge department store close to the Bandaranayake International Airport and is known to be the biggest shopping space in Sri Lanka. The clothes are slightly more expensive than places like Odel or House of Fashion because they offer original designer-wear.
All these places are well known among the locals, so all you have to do is ask your taxi driver to take you there. However it is best not to go with the regular taxi service as the drivers do not speak English and are not very safe to travel in. The same goes with trishaw's (tuk tuks), you will be lucky to find a tuk tuk driver who speaks english and doesnt rip you off!
Try a tour company like 'Abans tours' (www.abanstours.lk) which has a tour desk in Colombo at the Galadari Hotel as well as the Bandaranayake International Airport. Their rates are slightly more expensive than others, but all their drivers are friendly and speak good Engish. But most importantly they offer a safe and comfortable service.
For fantastic views and a slice of Sri Lankan life pick up some provisions at bustling Pettah Market, cross the road, brave the crowds at Colombo Fort Station, and for less than a pound rattle your way down the west coast to Galle or beyond. A stream of temples, houses, workshops show life behind the roads, and the line soon settles into its place between fine beaches creeks and bays, and the fields and forests of the coastal hills. Theres a rickety fan for air conditioning, and people sit in the open doorways reading a paper or gazing at the scene. A trolley and sellers pass up and down the aisle. You can join the train at many of the seaside resorts on route, to finally reach Galle. Straight outside the station here, nestling between dutch fort and the lapping Indian Ocean is the worlds most beautiful test cricket ground and a host of fine buildings to explore. Beautiful bays with bright small boats and stilt fishermen surround the town. And if this journey has tempted you, there are more trains and mountain views if you head for Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, or even up to Dambulla and finally Trincomalee on the distant east coast with its fine open bay and harbour. If crickets your thing you can reach nearly all of Sri Lankas test grounds and experience a riot of enthusiastic and friendly supporters.
Colombo Fort Station in the historic core of the City, Galle Fort Station right by the cricket ground.
Info at 'seat61'
Pinnawella is an amazing place and a fantastic way to see and understand the elephants of Sri Lanka. One of the first elephants you come across is chained up. Yes, I know what you are thinking - so was I - but it turns out that this gentle giant is chained for his own safety, as he is totally blind and would struggle to survive in the wild.
Bath time in the river is amazing and the setting is simply beautiful. I was in Sri Lanka only 2 months ago and it is a wonderful place. You really have to go - they are such lovely people and the country is so beautiful!
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