people and cultures – inspiring journeys
sharing meaningful discoveries in Asia

Sri Lanka- Tea Country and the South- Galle Fort

Train Travel into Tea Country:
A ticket for a just few dollars can get you a seat in the 1st class observation car.

The observation car is the last carriage of the government train with seats looking out to the large rear-end picture window. However if you do not like riding backwards, this may not be for you.

First Class BLUE Cars operate on some routes which are comfortable with Air-con
and allow advance bookings.
Otherwise enjoy the ride meeting locals in 2nd class with open windows and breezes.

The stretch from Kandy – Nuwara Eliya, the former British Hill Station is actually nicest by road passing a gorgeous scenic view point.

The nicest train stretch is between Nanu Oya Station (for Nuwara Eliya)  and Ella.

More Info on Train Travel in Sri Lanka:


Nuwara Eliya:

St Andrews Nuwara Eliya: wonderful property and staff:

Feel back in time amongst the English gardens and colonial inns:
The Grand Hotel :

or the famous Hill Club founded in 1876:

A short drive from Nuwara Eliya are the Hakgala Gardens – the hill with herbs and flowers brought by Hanoman from the Himalaya. Close by is the Sita Amman Temple – the apparent site where Sita was kept by Rawana.

Adam’s Peak:

Hatton is the closest train station to Adam’s Peak for the 5200 steps to climb up the 7km. Most pilgrims set off well before dawn. In the main season, the path is illuminated. Pilgrim season begins in January until Full Moon of May. Later in the season is best with less crowds! Earlier in the season you may find long queues for the final steps!
More history and photos on:

Tea Leaf Vision School: – a real inspiration for next generation!
providing English teacher training to youth of Tamil tea-picking families and youth of Sinhalese farming families. Located in Maskelyia, amidst tea plantations and reservoirs- about 20km from Dalhousie.

See: Adam’s Peak and Tea Leaf Vision School visit back in 2012!

Horton Plains National Park:

Drive or train on to Ohiya to set off for an early morning walk to see the spectacular view at 
World’s End. Need to start EARLY before the clouds close the world! Be on the trail by 0700am.
Arrange a breakfast box and set off on a loop covering 9.5km- mostly flat passing through forests at the beginning, then opening to the spectacular view point at World’s End.  Then, following the open plains back, you pass by Baker’s Falls. If wish to get to the base of the falls, there is a steep descent.
Option to just do a half- the loop as far as the view point and back. 
More info on Horton Plains:

Haputale is a nice base for Horton Plains and if wish to venture up to the lovely view point of Sir Thomas Lipton’s Seat above the tea plantations.

Haputale Accomodations:
The Clouds: a charming 4-bedroom Bungalow with a spectacular view when the skies are clear.

This delightful town has become a travelers mecca with charming places to stay.
Wonderful walks to an easier Little Adams Peak above more tea plantations.

Just above the town up a steep hill is Ambiente– a simple guesthouse with spectacular views.
Lovely photos to see on:

Nearby Rawana Falls has another cave said to be where Sita also spent some time.

To the South Coast from the Hill Country – you will need to drive.
Less than 3 hours drive brings you to the pilgrim sites of Kataragama & gateway for Yala National Park.

Yala National Park
besides elephants and other wildlife, this is one of the best places to spot a leopard.

Uda Walawe National Park
also wonderful with less crowds:

Learn about the Elephant Transit Home looking after baby elephant orphans.

and Read about Dilmah Teas conservation initiative at Uda Walawe:

South Coast:

Talalla Yoga Retreatin Tangalle

Unawatuna Beach 
15 min drive from the historic Galle Fort- once considered one of the loveliest beaches in the world has rebuilt since the tsunami- although it’s sad that some tacky uncontrolled development has been allowed again. Nevertheless, Unawatuna is still a charming cove for swimming. Nearby along the coast you may spot some fishermen on stilts.

Galle (Gaalla) or pronounced Gaul in English

This historic heritage town which feels sleepy, is a magically alive multi-cultural community.  Entering the fort walls, the British Coat of Arms is engraved on one side and that of the Dutch VOC- East India Company on the other.
Galle was also referred to in the Bible as the port of Tarshish where ships trading with King Solomon obtained elephants, peacocks, spices and gemstones. With its strategic position, sailing vessels from Egypt, Persia, Arabia, China and Malaya continued to converge here.

The Portuguese, blown off course, first arrived in 1505, the Dutch in 1640 and the British in 1796.
Secured within the old fort walls built by the Dutch, the town was miraculously spared damage from the 2004 tsunami. The ambience of the town appears very sleepy today but inside these walls are fascinating stories of this living multi-cultural community.  

Read: Around The Fort in 80 Lives:  great stories compiled by Juliet Coombe.
and learn more about
Galle Literary Festival:
This site also has links to wonderful places to stay within the Fort

such as: Galle Fort Hotel: for upscale and beautiful restored chic:

There are lots of small guest Inns within the Fort such as:
Frangipani Guesthouse on Pedlar Street.

Apa Villas – a beautiful haven and short drive from Galle Fort:

Apa Villa Illuketia – a former plantation estate with 5-6 guest accomodations is a magical place for a group of friends or family with the most wonderful food of Sri Lanka.

 is about 3 hours drive south of Colombo along the congested coast road.

Turtle Conservation project at Kosgoda
If driving along the coast road approx 1 hour north of Galle, you can stop to learn about the Sea Turtles:

The Villa Bentota
North of Kosgoda along the coast you will find Villa Bentota, designed by architect Geoffrey Bawa.

The Inland EXPRESSWAY allows you to reach Colombo from Galle in just 1.5 hour drive time.
Bentota is half-way between Colombo and Galle, and may be quicker to access via the Inland Expressway.

There is also a train service to Galle. The station is in the Galle Town outside of the Fort.
More Train Info on:

Colombo and arriving in Sri Lanka:
Many travelers opt to skip Colombo and head first to Negombo, the beach resort town which is a short ride north of Colombo airport. But Colombo is very worthwhile to get to know and an AIRPORT EXPRESSWAY makes access easier.

Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara – approx 7km north of Colombo is graced with incredible mural paintings. Throngs of worshippers coming during late afternoon time.
See photos and learn more about the history:

Cinnamon Gardens
The leafy embassy row neighborhood of Colombo is also home to Viharamahadevi Park and the National Museum.

The Old Fort area of Colombo is where you can visit the Old Dutch Museum and see colonial British buildings. Nearby is the lively Tamil Pettah district and the Fort Railway Station.

Galle Face Green – just south from the Fort area along the coast is where locals come to stroll and picnic- especially lively at sunset time and evenings.

The Galle Face Hotel of Colombo is still a choice place to stay or at least, to have tea or a drink looking out to the sea. This historical place has welcomed guests and royalty since 1864.
The classic rooms of the old wing have been totally renovated and there is also a newer Regency Wing:

Each evening most likely you can encounter a local colorful wedding reception complete with welcome dancers in the lobby.

dancers galle face w

Other Colombo Accomodation Options:

Havelock Place – Boutique Bungalow in quiet residential area of Colombo 5- also open to outside guests for lunch and dinner: Check  on
Very close to Buddhist Cultural Center which has a great bookshop as well as interesting activities.

MOSS  Bnb:  clean and friendly- budget option also walking distance to Buddhist Cultural Center, Barefoot Crafts and Cafe and other cafes and galleries.

Art and Crafts:

BAREFOOT Crafts and Cafe supporting a cottage industry of weavers.
Relaxing place for lunch too:

THIMBLE Crafts providing income to women and daughters
Handpainted wall-hangings, table runners and other items- mostly of elephants in beautiful Sri Lankan colors. Some of the best items for gifts or for your own home.
Check out their stall on lower level of Crescat Shopping Center just next to the supermarket check-out. They also now have a shop open in Negombo and at the airport.

The Old Colonial Dutch Hospital  in Colombo has been renovated into a new shopping and dining complex.


If prefer to be closer to the airport for the late night or early morning departures- Negombo is a lovely stretch of beach, but the strip of accommodations has undergone a major face-lift from the tired run-down former mass tourism type places, so may be best to check out newest developments online.
Negombo town has a large Christian community with local churches and a famous fish market.

Ranweli Eco Resort–  approx 20 min drive north of Negombo.   A long time established property on a secluded beach and eco area for birdwatching.

Ayubowan! is the traditional greeting wishing Long Life.
May Sri Lanka now enjoy a long life in peaceful times


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