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From charming colonial hotels to lovely gift shops

Please don’t stay in Colombo if you go to Sri Lanka. Even 3 days is enough to explore historic Galle and the surrounding areas. Here’s our cheat sheet for how to spend 3 days in and around Galle.

On the way…

We flew in very late at night…due to the odd and inconvenient flight time offered by every airline to Sri Lanka…stayed at the Taj Airport Garden Hotel. This is truly an airport hotel of decidedly average caliber. But there is no point in splurging on this part of the trip – just crash and get up early the next day for your drive to Galle. Save yourself a lot of trouble and hire a car and driver for the journey – not only for the round trip transport, but also to take you around a bit while in Galle. It’s only a tiny bit more to pay the driver for extra time in town – since he will stay in town to wait for your return anyway (20000 LKR / S$250 / $175 USD).  You can arrange this at the Taj Airport Hotel through the travel desk. Be prepared – it’s only about 100km but it will take you about 4 hours given the condition of the roads (tuk tuks, errant cows and dogs, slow-moving trucks, etc.)

Stop off as Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Project. This is one of the many turtle conservation projects in the area, but we like this one because it is truly about animal rescue and preservation…whereas many of the others obtain their turtles through unsavory poaching practices. Visit the turtles and get a quick tour where you can learn about the different types, their habits and more (400 LKR / S$5 / $3.50 USD).  I got to hold one!


The Galle Fort…
thing to see in Galle is the Galle Fort. The Fort is a Unesco World Heritage Sight and deservedly so…built in the 17th century by the Portuguese and then later taken over by the Dutch it is a massive, hulking fortress of epic proportion given the time in which it was built. The fortress is so strong that when the 2004 tsunami struck, it emerged relatively unscathed. Spend an hour or so here…taking in the breathtaking water views, strolling around the ramparts and if you come on the weekend, seeing all the teenage couples paired off in dark corners, holding hands and stealing chaste kisses.


A bit of shopping in Galle…
In and around Galle Fort area, there are charming colonial streets with many a lovely store scattered about.

If you like jewelry the following are recommended. Please note though when I say jewelry in these parts, this means gemstones set in gold in traditional settings. And in some cases you can get knock off Bulgari but with real gold and stones. For me, this is not my taste (I prefer quirky things with a bit of character), but if it is yours, then try:

  • MM Ibrahim, 47Church Street…in Galle since 1909, known for their Bulgari copies
  • Laksana, 30 Hospital Street, wall-to-wall gemstones and jewelry, will custom make pieces as well
  • Mangala, 43a Columbo Road…more gems and jewelry if you haven’t had enough
  • Manika @ Fort Gallery…original, unique jewelry and gem designs

Laksana jewelry store