I've recently visited Sri Lanka with my 75 year old mum and updated the "Visit Dambulla, Sri Lanka" webpage. And I've asked my mum her thoughts after visiting Sri Lanka.
I love Sri Lanka, it has great beaches, nice waterfalls, great wildlife, interesting ruins, beautiful temples and cool highlands and tea plantations. However it does have its problems. Recently, I was in Sri Lanka in July 2014 with my mom and here is her thoughts I'd like to share so others will know if it is suitable for them to go.
1) Sri Lanka is much better now. With a highway connecting the airport to Colombo, travel time from 2.5 hours is cut to slightly over an hour.
2) Everyone is out to get your money. Within a week of travel, you can hear plenty to horror stories.
- Cab driver (or Tuk Tuk driver) never have change. A 300LKR ride becomes 1000LKR
- Driver does not recognize roads or read maps. Very often a tourist with Google Maps have to direct driver.
- Prearranged fee to airport can change. 2500LKR can become 3300LKR with a 300LKR toll on the highway and sometimes 3300LKR per passenger if passenger decides to pay more.
- Taxes and Service Charge is not shown till you get the bill
- Entry to some locations is US$30 to Tourists and less than $1 for local. (or even free)
- There is always a local menu and local price for food and things.
- Traffic is a mess, 40km trip can take 1.5 hours.
3) Service in many hotels is simply amazing. Luggages carried, rooms made with nicely folded towels, and staff happy with 100LKR tip.
4) Weather can be very bad for people not used to the tropics. Its HOT, MUGGY or RAINY. Humidity is always high and showering 3 times a day is common. On top of that, you get lots of bugs, mosquitoes and such. To make it worse, not a lot of places have airconditioning.
5) Many locations are very relaxing, the beauty of nature, amazing star gazing opportunities makes your troubles go away.
6) Quality of food is hit or miss. Buffets generally have low quality food and the spices are especially strong. May make your stomach upset. Outside Colombo and Kandy, it is hard to get options if your stomach does not agree with Sri Lankan food.
7) Tea is amazing... Simply amazing... Nothing like the ones you get overseas.
8) There is a lot to see, ruins, temples, waterfalls, beaches. And what do they have in common? LOTS OF WALKING AND STAIRS! OMG! Stairs everywhere! Wore kneeguards cushioned insoles and comfortable shoes and still have aches and pains everyday.
On the bright side, this 75 year old lady made it up Dambulla and Temple of Buddha's tooth in Kandy.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience for my mom. She liked it and enjoyed herself but will never do it again.
-- Robin Low