Sri Lanka

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Hi, my name’s Prateeque and I’m the local ambassador for Not In The Guidebooks for Sri Lanka and the Galle region. Having worked in Sri Lanka for a large part of my life and travelled to every corner of it, it’s fair to say I know the country like the back of my hand and have a passion for showing people the true beauty of this wonderful country. I’ve joined Not In The Guidebooks for this reason, to search for the best local experiences through our local partners, so the whole community and local businesses share in tourism spend.

Galle is the heart and capital of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It is located 199 km from Colombo and it is the fourth biggest city in the country. But it retains the charm of a slow paced life which you see inside Galle Fort, inland villages and on the beach. Beautiful palm-fringed beaches, lush jungle, paddy fields, tea estates and of course, a seventeenth century Dutch fortress, are just some of the many fabulous jewels in Galle’s crown. This south coast resort is one of the island’s most popular tourist destinations and its mighty fort, replete with hefty bastions, thick grass-topped ramparts and a collection of striking colonial buildings in all their crumbling, ochre-walled beauty has become one of Sri Lanka’s most photographed attractions. A gentle walk around this colonial landmark is the best way to admire her architectural marvels – buildings in various states of repair dating back to the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British eras. A prominent café culture in the fort means that there are many places to stop for refreshments whilst the jewellery, handlooms and homewares of the fort’s many boutiques make perfect souvenirs for taking home.

Galle’s golden beaches unfold to the north and south of town, with generous sprays of sand filling bays and coves under the shade of exotic leaning coconut palms. Unawatuna Bay, a curve of sand lined with low-key beach restaurants and bars, offers safe swimming year round as does Dalawella Beach, which is more intimate, but similarly well-facilitated. Head further south and you’ll come across near-deserted strips of sand backed by private villas and homes, small beach clubs and boutique hotels where you can lay out your towel and dip your toes in the sea. Watersports in the Galle area include snorkelling, diving, deep-sea fishing, kayaking and surfing.

Inland the scene is luminous green. Lush expanses of carefully tended paddy fields stretch between palm-dominated jungle beneath which sit village homes and Buddhist temples fringed by bright white parapet walls. Guided bicycle rides are the best way to explore the narrow back lanes and bunds of this serene inland wildlife-filled hinterland, and kayaks can also be taken out to explore the narrow canals and waterways of this verdant scene. Further inland, there are rainforests to discover, temples to visit and tea estates to encounter.

When is the best time to go?

• The dry periods in Sri Lanka are split by area with December to March being the best period for the west and south coast and the Hill Country
• The southwest monsoon affects the south and west coasts as well as the hill country between April and September
• Temperatures are relatively consistent year round (26-32°C) all around the island, especially around the coast
• Traditionally Sri Lanka sees most visitors from December to March but there is never a bad time to visit. February is my favourite month and January is a great time to be in Galle for the Literary Festival

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