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Recently back from Bentota

nottingham
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116 posts
27 reviews
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Recently back from Bentota

We had a good time in Sri Lanka. Its a beautiful lush place with lots of fantastic wildlife and surprisingly clean and litter free compared with Goa. Our hotel (Lihiniya Surf) was brilliantly situated right beside a beautiful deserted beach and served up (mostly) excellent food. Just as well as the standard of food generally was very poor.

There was nowhere to go at night. No bars or cafes anywhere around the place but the hotel put on some entertainment incl Sinhalese devil dancers and a snake charmer + local musicians, and we chatted with other tourists around the hotel bar.

The thing that spoilt our holiday and put us off going back was the local people. Everyone was looking to extract money from us right down to the little monks at the temples. They appear to be a nation of con merchants and unfortunately 99% of conversations lead to an attemp to lead you off to a shop or a restaurant where they claim 25% of any inflated cost for taking you there.

Driver guides aren't interested in taking you to places that you want to go but instead take you to places where they can get a cut of the price you pay. Our driver took us to a moonstone mine and an expensive restaurant despite me stating that we didn't want to go to either. We dumped him and made our own way back on the A/C bus. Not all drivers are like this (apparently) so if you do go check a good one out with one of the destination experts.

We travelled up to Kandy (via Columbo and Pinewalla ) on the train. Altough we didn't visit the elephant orphanage we stayed at the elephant view hotel and watched the elephants bathing the follwing morning which was a fantastic sight to behold. The staff at the hotel tried to rip me off despite me leaving a generous tip.

My conclusion is that it isn't the Tamil Tigers that put people off visiting Sri Lanka so much as the the local people who put the dampeners on what would otherwise be a fantastic holiday.

We wont be going back as we enjoy open communication with freindly honest people. The Indians are far better hosts in our opinion

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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52,723 posts
179 reviews
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1. Re: Recently back from Bentota

Good story! Agree with most points. Indeed driver guides need to be 'reprogrammed' to avoid the tourist traps.

One question though: 3 weeks ago I travelled by bus and train through Bentota and and still saw all restaurants and bars on the 'strip' (hotel road) which runs Lihiniya-Taj-Serendib-Bentota Beach up to the river. Were they all closed during the evening in your experience?

Awaiting,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

worcestershire
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18 posts
40 reviews
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2. Re: Recently back from Bentota

We stayed in Bentota 4 weeks ago and with the exception of the Golden Grill which was being refurbished all of the restaurants were open. We had some good meals and much cheaper than at the Bentota Beach hotel. One of the best was at Lucullus, which we were taken to by a local, 4 of us ate and drank including the freshest fish and prawns for £15 which was hardly a rip off!

We found the locals to be wonderful, helpful, friendly people and they made our holiday. The village of Bentota is quite sprawled out and we were shown local shops which we would never have found by ourselves but where "essentials" were much cheaper than along the main strip.

We did a week's tour before Bentota and we didnt find a problem with any of the hotels that we stayed in. The standards are high, even "up country". Yes tipping is customary and you begin to feel that you constantly have your hand in your purse but the service is excellent and the vast majority of staff are very helpful. We certainly didnt find the locals to be aggressive in asking for money as they are in some other 3rd world countries and at least they offer a service for their money - we didnt see loads of beggars just looking for handouts as one does in India

We would go back tomorrow

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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52,723 posts
179 reviews
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3. Re: Recently back from Bentota

Thanks for that, Allison!

Still quite curious then what our Nottingham friends mean with

"There was nowhere to go at night. No bars or cafes anywhere around the place "....

Awaiting,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka, Kalutara, Ahungalla
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4. Re: Recently back from Bentota

Just to add.....

Hotel Wunderbar, one of Bentota's highlights for nightlife and food was certainly open during this time !

Regards

Dave

nottingham
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116 posts
27 reviews
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5. Re: Recently back from Bentota

Hi folks,

Just a few points I'd like to make to the responses to my post.

Firstly it wasn't the lack of restaurants open in the evening that I was referring to but bars/cafes. As we were half board we were catered for in the evenings by our hotel. It was the food that we ate at lunchtime that was mostly of a poor standard and this was found by many of the other guests at our hotel, one of which was served up undercooked chiken in a local restaurant.

We didn't come across the wunderbar Dave,but from what you say this may have been a good alternative to drinking at our hotel.

I don't have a problem with tipping Alison, neither do I object to giving a few rupees to beggars who are unable to earn a living because of age or disability. There were actually quite a few of these in Aluthgama who we gave money to. What I do object to is being pressured to buy handicrafts/jewellery that I didn't want and being faced with a sulky or aggressive response when I declined to comply. On a number of occassions when we said that we hadn't got the money we were encouraged to whip out a credit card.

As I implied in my first posting, we wanted to plan our own itinery which didn't include a spending

spree. Being a student I cannot afford to spend indiscriminately and the few items that I did buy were from honest shopkeepers without the input of a "guide". Most notable of these was an old gentleman with a craft shop on the other side of the railway track who spoke excellent English and was himself disappointed with the way that tourists were

preyed upon by hustlers. He sold his products at a fair price so as to increase turnover and enable more prequent purchases from the local craftsmen who supplied him.

I can appreciate that some people are happy to have one of locals plan their itinery for them and pay for this service, and that they don't object to paying extra in the form of commission for the goods they buy.

Naturally we have various hopes and expectations of our holidays.

6. Re: Recently back from Bentota

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