FISH MARKETS & WILD WETLANDS
The first part of your SRI LANKA adventure combines a couple of fairly longish drives with early starts and mornings spent exploring iconic cultural sights, so your very first day in country is probably best spent regrouping after your flight. Most overnight flights from the UK arrive into Bandaranaike International Airport around noon, and there are several hotels near the airport that are set up for an afternoon of acclimatising by the pool; flights from popular stop-overs such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi arrive in the evening, so too late to move on the same day anyway. If you fancied an immediate introduction to Sri Lankan life, or you needed something to keep the kids distracted from the jet-lag bite, you could take a taxi or tuk-tuk to NEGOMBO, 10km east of the airport, to see the brightly painted fishermen's boats that line the mouth of the town’s lagoon and to wander around the amicably chaotic fish market nearby (winds down around 4pm most days). Or you could head to MUTHURAJAWELA, 15km south of Negombo, a saltwater marshland that’s home to crocodiles, monitor lizards and a variety of aquatic birdlife. Your hotel should be able to arrange transport to either; the trip to Muthurajawela [daily until 4pm | Rs.2000 by tuk-tuk, Rs.3500 by car] also includes a two-hour boat tour, which takes in the canals around Negombo as well as the wetlands themselves.
TOP TIP Exiting Bandaranaike, you’ll be greeted by a wall of heat and an orchestra of tooting horns and taxi drivers calling for custom – all great fun, but perhaps not quite what you need first thing after an overnight flight. If you book in advance, most hotels near the airport can send an air-conditioned mini-van to meet you, which makes for a more comfortable (and less daunting) start to your trip.
WHERE TO STAY
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read and watch before you go, foods and drinks your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From safari camps to beachfront villas – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Sri Lanka
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Sri Lanka’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety, and how to get around
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