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Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

This place is one of my personal favorites in the world and I have visited Hikkaduwa for the past six years. This is where you can really sit back, relax and enjoy life. This relatively small stretch of coast is loaded with a lot of stuff to do, or if you don’t feel like doing anything that’s totally fine.

With many resorts and homestays located right on the beach, you wake up to the sound of the ocean and you can right away feel the laid back feeling of the place. The food is delicious and cheap, the climate is tropical perfection and the sea is warm. This is also one of the oldest tourist spots in Sri Lanka so they are used to tourist and it’s a very safe environment for everybody. Here are some things to do in Hikkaduwa!

 

1. Visit a turtle hatchery or find some turtles near the beach

If you want to see turtles in the wild and also go swim with them, this is the place. There are some turtle hatcheries and one turtle rescue center if you feel like knowing more about these dinosaur-like creatures. In the hatchery, you can see baby turtles that are later set free into the ocean. The rescue center might be a bit of a sad sight with turtles that are missing limbs and such but they are also the reason the turtles are still alive.

The other option is to visit the outer point of Hikkaduwa beach, where Hikkaduwa National Park begins, to go feed and swim with adult turtles. The turtles come here every day to feed on seaweed that locals have been feeding them for a long time. It is a very exciting feeling to see these animals so close up and they are very friendly. Keep one thing in mind, they are wild animals and they should be respected so DON’T TOUCH them.

turtle hikkaduwa

2. Eat some Sri Lankan rice & curry

This is the main food that Sri Lankan people eat and you can find it pretty much everywhere. Many different varieties of curry and spices used, usually, you get four to five different kind on one lunch or dinner serving. This is for sure one of the best dishes in Sri Lanka and my advice is that you should try it in many different places for a real experience with the flavors. I have a few favorites and they are Ranjith’s Beach hut and The Book Worm. The Book worm only have one serving every night at 18.00 but it is as close as you can get to the authentic Sri Lankan Rice & Curry.

3. Go shopping in the street and find some amazing things

Street shops are where most of the things are sold in Hikkaduwa. Most of the shops are located on the one main road that goes through the village and you can find anything from clothes, jewelry, paintings and souvenirs here. Most of the shops are open from morning to evening so choose the best time for you, to go explore. Remember to bargain and do it with a smile, it works a lot better this way. Be careful of buses and other vehicles driving by on the road because sometimes they drive really fast.

4. Custom order tailor maid beachwear, bikinis or shorts

Sri Lankans are very good at handicrafts and there is a very talented man working in a shop called APSARA TAILOR. He makes custom swimwear (actually he can make whatever you wish, but swimwear is his thing) in a few days for only about 20-40€, depending on material and design that, of course, you can choose yourself. The quality is really good and the man himself is very lovable.

custom bikini

5. Go for a sunrise walk or run at the beach

There are two beaches in Hikkaduwa; The Hikkaduwa beach which is smaller and more of a “big hotels” beach with a lot of tourists. Then there is Narigama beach that is a lot longer (5km) and less developed, this is the beach where you want to go or stay at if you want a more relaxed feeling to the place. It is perfect for morning runs or walks. The northern part of the beach is where most of the resorts and homestays are located and if you start here, you will run or walk straight towards the rising sun and the further you get the less there are people or houses.

sunset hikkaduwa sri lanka

6. Rent a boogie board or bodyboard for the beach waves

The Narigama beach also offers some beach activities and this is a very good beach to start your ocean hobbies. Most of the shoreline is just sand and is perfect for boogie boarding or bodyboarding. There are several surfboard rental places where they also have boogie boards for them who don’t want to surf. If you don’t like to have a board, the waves are super fun to play in just by swimming into them and “surf” with just your body. You should be a little bit cautious about this if the waves get bigger because then it gets dangerous so look at the ocean for a while before you decide to enter or just ask some locals what the situation is that day.

7. Take a surf lesson or go surf Main Point

A lot of people start their surfing life at this beach, there are many small rental shops for surfboards and they all offer surf lessons too. This is a very good place to learn and progress in surfing. One great surf school is YULA Surf School that has the perfect location and have very friendly staff. If you are a little bit more experienced surfer there are also some reef spots to surf on that are more demanding. One of the most consistent surf spots on the west coast is the Main point or Main break and this is where it can get really heavy if there is a big swell, then it’s only for experienced surfers.

8. Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Hikkaduwa National Park

Right outside of Hikkaduwa beach there is a rock formation and a healthy coral reef that make up for the Hikkaduwa National Park. You can choose to rent the snorkeling gear and swim there yourself (beware that sometimes the current might be strong) or go on a boat tour and they will take you to the best parts, snorkel gear included. You can spot a lot of different fish there and some colorful soft and hard corals. If you are into diving there are also many dive shops that offer different dives around the area. One great local shop is Barracuda Diving center that I use when I go diving there.

9. Relax in a beach chair and drink king coconut

This is probably the most common thing why people want to get to the tropics and Hikkaduwa is perfect for that. You don’t need to pay for the chair and you can stay there the whole day if you like and there will be local salesmen walking the beach and offering all kinds of stuff. The best drink for sure is Thambili, also called King Coconut, that is a yellow coconut that tastes delicious and is very good for hydration. You can also choose the chair by a restaurant and have them bring you food and drinks to you. Just relax and enjoy!

king cocout sri lanka

10. Visit an Ayurveda spa and get a treatment

Ayurveda is originally from India and is one of the oldest medicinal treatments in the world and has a history of almost 8000 years. In these spa treatment facilities, they first talk to you to learn about you to be able to give the right treatment. Then you get to decide what kind of treatment you need. Mostly they do aroma massages and herbal treatments but also offers manicure, pedicure and such things.

11. Go on a river safari day trip

There are vast networks of rivers just behind Hikkaduwa, and you can choose from several different tour operators and tour packages but the main thing is that you get to see some unspoiled nature from a boat on the river. You can spot a lot of different tropical animals here and really feel the “jungle” vibe.

12. Visit a moonstone mine and shop for gems

Moonstones are gems that are white, grey and purple in color. They are believed to have energetic properties like calm sleep and clearing of the mind. Not sure how it is but these stones are beautiful and near Hikkaduwa, there are a few mines that you can visit and see how the process works. It is an interesting thing to see how the mining works. There are also many jewelry stores in Hikkaduwa where you can find special stones and have them custom made to jewelry if you like, and the price range is very cheap compared to other parts of the world.

13. Enjoy the amazing sunset at the beach

This is one thing you definitely want to do, go to a restaurant or sit in a bar and have a cold drink an watch how the “big boss” drops below the horizon for a very beautiful sunset. Words can’t describe the feeling and the sight of this so you better experience it for yourself.

14. Party all night long!

Last but not least. Hikkaduwa is pretty famous for some of its parties and for a good reason. Every weekend people from other beaches, even Colombo, come to party at some of the best nightclubs on the west coast. When I say nightclub it has a slightly different meaning here, all the parties are usually open-air events and 90% of them are on the beach. The bars are most of the time open as long as there are customers and it’s not rare that there still might be a party going on when the sun rises at Saturday or Sunday morning.

Some parties you don’t want to miss are Vibration on Fridays and Chill space or Mambos on Saturdays. There are more parties if you really feel like going out, usually, every day of the week at some bar. Just check out your surrounding when you are in the area. Oh yeah and remember to ENJOY and take it easy on the arrack (local coconut rum)!

Where to stay in Hikkaduwa?

There are many options where to stay and I have personally stayed in a lot of different places. I will try to help you out with the best places I know of, for you to have an awesome time in Hikkaduwa.

Budget stay:

*Hansa Surf is where I usually stay. The location is perfect, right on the beach and it’s cheap and they have good food.

*Thiranagama Beach Hotel is another great cheap place to stay in and it’s located on the beach but a small distance away from all the nightlife so it’s calm and quiet.

*Curry Bowl Restaurant & Turtles Rest is near the Hikkaduwa National park and is also located on the beach for a very reasonable price.

3-star stay:

*Royal Beach Hotel & Restaurant is a bit more classy but still on the beach.

*Thambili Cabanas is for you who want to relax on the quiet side of Hikkaduwa. There is a swimming pool and a private beach area just 300m away and they have also one of the best organic restaurants in the area.

*Funky Hotel is the place to stay if you like to party. This is the place where they have a party downstairs if all the other places are closed.

4-star stay:

*Avenra Beach Hikkaduwa – when you want a new and stylish hotel with a swimming pool area right on the beach.

*Coral Sands Hotel is the place when you want to enjoy a large pool area next to the beach where the turtles are swimming.

*Hotel Suite Lanka with a private beachfront area and castle-like building this is one very beautiful place.

5-star stay:

*Villa 46 is a high-class service mansion in an area where no other tourists usually go. They also have a spa and wellness center for your maximum relaxation.

*Riff Hikkaduwa is the best hotel in the tourist area. You will get celebrity treatment with world class service here and it’s right on the beach.

*33 Lake Terrace is for those who like to stay out of the noisy streets and enjoy more of nature. Located a few kilometers from the town this hotel is right next to a lake and they offer a luxurious experience unlike any other in the area.

beach hikkaduwa sri lanka

Have you ever been to Hikkaduwa? What did you like and not like about it? Comment below! I hope this article was helpful and wish you a nice experience in this beautiful place called Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka!

-Michael

 

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Lotta: Good morning from a sunny Sumatra! At the moment I’m sipping a coconut outside of our room and wondering about life. The days repeat each other pretty much and the time goes by. I’m starting to get a little bit bored here and I feel that I really need some new activities.
This small village with the same faces, the same food, and the same activities every damn day, ugh, drives me almost crazy! 😀 

One good thing about this is that there is a lot of time to work and THINK about everything. Thinking is good, people! Your brain is your most important muscle and you need to use it as much as possible to develop! And the most important thing in life is to develop yourself.

We have 12 nights left here and then we leave to Malaysia for a jungle trip – can’t wait for a new adventure! We found out that the oldest rainforest in the world is located about 8 hours from Kuala Lumpur and that’s where we’re going.  After that we head to Thailand to celebrate our friend’s 30th birthday – it’s gonna be EPIC! So now I just have to try to enjoy this calm before the storm, hah.

This week’s Valentine’s Day got me thinking a lot about friendship and made me miss my friends back in Finland so much. When getting older, it gets a lot harder to find good trustful friends – I’m pretty careful about who I trust and let in close to me. I’m not interested in small talks and superficial relationships, I need something deeper. I just don’t have any interest to speak about the weather or some other superficial things and waste my time in relationships that don’t give me anything.

When I was younger, I was really different about this, I had a lot of friends and I spent my time just hanging out even with people who gave me shitty energy or took all my good energy from me. I’m pretty sensitive and I just can’t be surrounded by that kind of people anymore because they exhaust me.

The past few days I’ve missed my besties and nights when we just sip wine, laugh and talk about everything, even the deepest and most sensitive things. That is absolutely the worst part of traveling.

As I wrote last week, we went to the Tsunami Museum this week. It wasn’t that special as a museum, but the subject was really appealing. I still remember vividly when I looked at the news on the TV of what happened in December 2004. It was such a frightening thing for a 14-year-old girl and I got so upset.

North Sumatra was the place that took the biggest hit in the tsunami and there were over 200.000 casualties. Not so many people know this thing because of so little tourism here so all the headlines were about Thailand and other big tourist spots. 

There was a tsunami short film at the museum, and I was wondering if I  even want to see it at all. But it’s not every day you get the chance to do this so I decided to go for it. The film reminded me of how fucking powerful nature really can be and how small and vulnerable we, the human beings are!

The entrance to the museum was only 10.000 IDR (0,70 euros) so it was definitely worth it.

tsunami museum

On Friday, I went back to Kuala Lumpur by myself to pick up my laptop which was finally repaired. It takes only 1.5 hours to fly from Banda Aceh to Kuala Lumpur. It felt good to get out of here for a while, back to civilization for one day.

The Apple repair service, where my laptop where, also worked out really well in the end. Now my laptop works like a brand new one! Thanks to Apple for a great service (even if I had to search for the place for two days when I brought it in)! If you have to repair your Apple products in Kuala Lumpur, I can highly recommend this place: Thunder @Avenue K Shopping Mall.

I was in Kuala Lumpur only for one night and I stayed at Zen Rooms KL Sentral* which cost only 14 euros. It is very close to the bus station where the bus to the airport leaves. It is also nearby the NU Sentral which is a big shopping mall where I went to buy some necessary stuff like vitamins and supplements from a pharmacy. Here in Sumatra, there is a pretty poor selection of those and people don’t really speak that much English, so I bought everything we need in KL.  

Michael just came back from the water and we’re going to eat some lunch now!

Until next time,

Lotta

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This place is one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka and has an amazing and important story in the history of the country. Have you ever heard about this place?

It is also known as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of it’s “unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries” as said on the official site. This truly is an interesting place with a lot of different religions and ethnicity’s along with some pretty non-Asian architecture, and next, you are going to find out why!

SHORT HISTORY

The fort stands today next to the city of Galle which is on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The earliest recorded history of Galle is from the 2nd century AD and it’s said that it has been a busy port from the beginning.

This was when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon. We are not going into that any further so we jump straight to 1505 when the Portuguese landed here. They had an alliance with the king at the time so they started making some changes around the area, including the initial fort construction called “Santa Cruz” which was built of mud and palm trees. Later it was extended with some watchtowers and bastions.

The Portuguese also moved to Colombo but they had to return to Galle in 1588 after the King (Raja Singha I 1581-1593) attacked them. The story of the Portuguese ended in 1640 when 2500 Dutchmen attacked the fort and captured it, this was made in an agreement with the King (Raja Singha II).

galle fort, sri lanka

When the Dutch settled down they started to improve the fort and also build a lot of the buildings that still are there today. This included a Protestant church, the Commander’s residence, public administration buildings, a gun house and arsenal, residential quarters, warehouses and buildings for trade and defense.

The British invaded Colombo in 1796 and a week later they conquered The Galle fort also. They used Colombo as their main base and did not pay much attention to the importance of the fort. It was used as the Southern headquarters and they did build some landmarks that are there still today.  The lighthouse that is on the southern tip and probably the most recognizable of all builds by the British. They also made a lot of reinforcements to the fort during the Second World War.

locals, galle fort

THE FORT TODAY

Galle Fort is today in very good condition and it is a peaceful place to spend a day, or a few. There are two main gates from where you can enter the fort and once inside you are free to explore and investigate the place as much as you like. All the old Dutch and British architecture is still in place and it kind of feels like entering an old European town when you get in.

There are some museums and a lot of cafe’s to spend your time in. Quite a lot of art is also found when walking the streets. An interesting thing is that some of the street names are still in the original Colonial Era names; such as Lighthouse street, Hospital street and more like this.

orange juice

galle fort, cafeteria

WHAT TO DO AND SEE

The best way to explore the site is by walking, it is fairly small and one day will be enough to see most of it. When you enter the fort you will right away get the feeling of what it’s like with the small narrow streets and the European vibe around it.

One of the best views open up on the west side, the coast side where you can walk on top of the wall and hang out on the grass and enjoy the views. This is also where the lighthouse is. Another interesting spot is the north part of the fort whit massive stone walls and a clock tower rising to the sky.

galle lighthouse, sri lanka

When you enter the streets you can find the National Maritime Museum which is built in the old Great Warehouse where the Dutch stored spices and ship equipment. Then there is the Dutch Reformed church, Meera Mosque, The Buddhist temple that is built on the site of the old Portuguese Roman Catholic Church and The Old Dutch hospital.

There are also more government buildings to see but most interesting is the fusion of the Asian and European way of living. Go visit the art shops and small galleries and cafe’s, it is also possible to take a Sri Lankan cooking class!

There are several nice restaurants also varying from Dutch, Portuguese, Indian and Sri Lankan food. And if you are interested in staying for the night that is also possible. The sunset from the fort is very amazing and might be a reason you want to stay.

galle fort

WHERE TO STAY

If you are interested in sleeping inside the fort it is possible. The fort gets quiet during the evening when most of the tourists are gone and you get to feel the real Galle fort magic.

Here are some places you might want to consider:

Budget stay:

*Beatrice House is located right next to the ocean wall so it’s easy to get to the best views.

*Samaya Fort Hotel – every room is equipped with a balcony, private bathroom, and bath!

*Millennium Rest & Gems are one of the cheapest in the area and all rooms have air conditioning and private bathroom.

In between stay:

*Parawa House built in a European style with some artistic features.

*Deco On 44 has a swimming pool and is an Art Deco building restored in the 1930s.

*LE JARDIN DU FORT is set on the south side right next to the beach. All rooms have a patio with garden view.

Luxury stay:

*The Bartizan Galle Fort is one of the only places to stay with a Seaview and the hotel is built in a Dutch colonial building.

*Taru Villas – Rampart Street – this is the world-class standard hotel with celebrity treatment.

*Fort Square Boutique Villa* is another “superstar” stay. This is luxury!

galle, sri lanka

galle fort, sri lanka

HOW TO GET THERE

All you have to do is get to Galle and from there you can walk for 5 minutes or take a tuk-tuk. The best and cheapest way to get to Galle is by train or bus. All the trains going south from Colombo stops at Galle. And if you come from the south you can hop on the train in Matara. There are several different routes of buses also going to Galle many times a day and this is for sure the cheapest way.

You can also rent a scooter and drive there yourself, but remember to be careful because the Sri Lankan traffic can be very hectic (watch out for buses driving fast). The other easy way to get there is by tuk-tuk, you can rent the tuk-tuk for the whole day and the driver may even be willing to show you around the place.

-Michael

It’s time for the weekly update again. These have been our most read posts – it’s nice to see that people are interested to see more real life stuff instead of super edited pictures and posts – what the internet is mostly about these days. We flag for authenticity!

The week has been pretty basic including our daily basics like work, surfing, yoga etc. except that we both have suffered some flu and headache symptoms the whole week. It’s such a different strain of bacteria here so it’s pretty normal to have some kind of flu or virus once in a while. We have tried to fight against the flu with vitamins and hydrating the body as much as possible. And of course, rest when needed!

home office

I haven’t even been in the water for a week so I’m starting to get a bit bored and I really need some activities. Michael has been in the water almost every day even if he’s a little bit sick because he can’t stay out!

One good thing about being sick is that you have so much time to plan the future and the things you want to develop. And we definitely have plenty of ideas and plans for the future!

It seems like even Michael is starting to get messed up of the flu because he just cleaned our entire room. He changed the sheets, cleaned the air-conditioning machine (that’s probably what caused the flu, the AC was dirty as fuck!!!), washed the floor… I’m such a lucky girl! 😀

north sumatra

One day we went to a Banda Aceh center which is about 10 kilometers away from here. We stopped at the grocery shop and pharmacy. The center is a bit strange, this time there was a lot of weirdos and because there are no other tourists, we got a lot of attention. It’s a bit annoying sometimes.

north sumatra

Life is super easy here because you don’t have to cook yourself. There are a few places where you can eat, so we eat almost every day pretty much the same food which gets a little bit boring.

I’m used to doing my own cooking because I like to eat healthy and nutritious food – It’s quite difficult to eat clean here because they put MSG and another kind of unhealthy stuff in everything.

Michael has suddenly developed some food allergies (hand eczema) so he needs to put some effort into what to eat and what to avoid. Pretty difficult at times because of the limited supply of diversity. But the food is really tasty here (probably because of the MSG, haha), so I don’t complain!

local food, sumatra

Next week we are planning to go to the Tsunami Museum which is one of the most famous sights of Banda Aceh. This place suffered the most when the 2004 tsunami hit. There is also a ship on top of some houses that is left to sit there as a reminder of the tsunami power. You’ll see more about this next week!

north sumatra

Now I need to go get some food because I’m starving! Hope you have a nice Sunday!

-Lotta

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Ko Lanta, Thailand – a paradise island located on Thailands Andaman coast. It is actually not just an island, but an island district that belongs to the Krabi province. This place is packed with natural beauty like white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, mangrove forests, limestone rocks, and some tropical rainforests. And not to forget what’s under the ocean surface, a lot of fish and colorful coral reefs! What more can you ask for?

Short history: The Island district was founded in 1901 and it consists of 4 different island groups: Mu Ko Lanta, Mu Ko Klang, Mu Ko Rok and Mu Ko Ngai. The name was officially changed to “Lanta” in 1917 and has since been called that. The main island for tourism is Ko Lanta Yai which always and still is the most populated island in the area.

The first people who settled down on Lanta was the ChaoLay (Sea Gypsies) who mostly spend their time on the sea. Then came the Thai-Muslim people and finally the Thai-Chinese. All these groups still live on the island and have developed their own cultural ways. There are over 500 years of recorded history of all the groups living in peace and harmony and that’s why Lanta today is a charming multi-ethnic community.

All the people here share a common warmth and welcoming vibe and that’s locally known as “the Ko Lanta charm”.

Next, we are going to tell you all the different activities and things you can enjoy while visiting this amazing island.

1. Rent a scooter and explore the island

This is probably the best way to see a lot of the island beauty in just a few days. There are scooter rentals in almost every corner (even some restaurants rent out their own scooters) so finding one should not be difficult. The price is usually around 200 baht (about 5,50€) per day but if you want it for an extended period you should always try to bargain a better price, as with everything in Thailand.

Make sure you get a proper agreement of the deal you make and check the condition of the scooter before you put your name on the paper. If there are some scratches or marks on the scooter, you better take pictures of them so when you return the scooter you can show that it is in the same condition as when you took it out. Remember to bring your passport or a deposit for the time of rental, this is just a guarantee for the owner that you are going to bring the scooter back. Drive safely, on the LEFT side, and wear a helmet!

rent a scooter
explore the island

2. Visit Koh Lanta Old Town

This small town is located on the east side of the island, while most of the “happening” is on the west coast, this is a relaxed traditional small town. The sea-gypsies were the first to settle in this town and later on, when the Thai-Chinese arrived it became a port of trade. This was the main town back in the days but after more and more people arrived in the north and west of the island and Saladan (main town nowadays) was born, the Old town got its name. Before it was just called Lanta town.

When you visit the place now it feels like going back in time, it’s mainly built of wooden houses. It is very relaxed with some shops and restaurants for tourists but there are no big crowds here. It is actually one of few remaining traditional Thai towns in the country. There are still some remaining Sea-gypsies on the south side of the island but it is highly suggested to leave these people alone and don’t take any photographs.

The best things to do in the town is just walking around and admire the magical old feeling, do some shopping and have some good food at a restaurant on top of the water build on wooden stilts and just enjoy!

3. Go on a snorkeling day trip

There are many different tours to choose from and every one of them has a little bit different schedule and program. The most popular is the 4 island trip and the day trip to Ko Rok. If none of them is interesting to you, you can always rent a longtail-boat for yourself and visit the islands and beaches you like. The second option is more expensive but with a lot more freedom to choose when or where to go (this might be a better idea because of the massive tourism on the organized tours).

With the organized and scheduled tours, you don’t have a choice but to go with the flow and do what the tour guide says, and there are many other people doing the same thing. Either way, you will see some really impressive limestone islands rising up from the sea and some very beautiful beaches. The snorkeling is also very impressive with a lot of fish and different corals. Highly recommended to do a trip, one way or the other!

koh lanta snorkeling trip
koh kradan

4. Party and enjoy the nightlife

Ko Lanta is not really famous for its parties, like the neighbors Phi Phi and Phuket, but there are still some pretty good party possibilities on a smaller scale. You can find a party every day if you like, but it is also very easy to not go out. In general, Lanta is a pretty silent place during the night with a few exceptions. The places are, to name a few:

Funky monkey – A karaoke bar that is open every day and there is always something happening, they also serve good food here.
Pangea beach bar – Party on Tuesdays and sunset party on Sunday, located right on the beach with no other bars around so it’s a quite good place for parties.
Ozone beach bar – Party/disco on Thursdays, some laser light and techno music for the more “fast people”.

There are several other bars on almost every beach but these are the main attractions that are located on Long Beach. Check out street signs or flyers that are handed out on the beach for more specific parties. The famous “Thai bucket” is included in every single party if you like to have some more alcohol at once. It’s cheaper to buy drinks this way but beware that you will get very drunk very fast when drinking these so be careful. Enjoy!

party ko lanta funky monkey

5. Eat delicious Thai food

Thai food is some of the best this planet earth has to offer, and it’s affordable too! Rice is the main ingredient in almost every dish, plain white rice as a side to many dishes or then there are several different types of fried rice too.

There are several different curries to try like Green curry or Panang curry.  Pad Thai is one of Thailands national dishes, fried rice noodles with egg and shrimp and is a must try if you visit Thailand. There is also a big variety of fresh seafood that the many restaurants cook in their own brilliant way, often barbequed with some delicious sauce added after.

Soup is another specialty of Thailand and there are two soups that rise above the other, Tom Yam (spicy and sour) and Tom Kha (smooth coconut milk soup) to which you can add the protein of your liking: chicken, beef, seafood or shrimp. As a dessert, you should definitely try Mango sticky rice or the traditional Banana pancake.

Whatever you eat, you will love it! Be brave and try some new things and you will find some amazing flavors!

6. Visit a viewpoint spot

There are several viewpoint spots and restaurants around the island, some are located inland and others on the coastline. If you are a sunrise lover you could visit some on the east coast and if you are more the sunset person, just choose one on the west side. The east side has more island and coastline views when the west offers a faded view of the Phi Phi islands and the wide open Andaman sea.

viewpoint restaurant

viewpoint ko lanta

7. Try some Thai massage

Thai massage is famous for being one of the best massages in the world. The quality is really good with the experienced older ladies and the price is more than okay, 300 baht (about 8€) for an hour and they will twist you in so many different positions that you will feel like reborn after. The best massage places are usually located close to the beach where you can hear the ocean breeze, so comforting!

thai massage

Photo 16-01-2019, 13.52.12

8. Visit Mu Koh Lanta National Park

This park is located on the southern tip of the island and extends out to the nearby islands where the 4 islands day trip also takes place. This is a place with unspoiled nature and a lot of wildlife. There are a lot of monkeys, lizards and other small animals native to Thailand. You have to pay a park entrance fee, 200 baht (5.50€) per person and an additional 20 baht (0,60€) if you bring a scooter.

There is a nature trail that is about 2km long that lingers through the jungle and has some breathtaking views. It is pretty exhausting and a lot of steps so remember to bring a lot of water with you. Then there are also two beaches, one that is very rocky and another sandy. In between these beaches are some big rocks with an old lighthouse on it with again some really nice views. You can spend a whole day here or just visit it quickly, up to you but worth it anyways.

9. Go to a Thai boxing event

This is another thing Thailand is famous for and it can get pretty brutal on a “fight night”. Many foreigners also go to Thailand just to train and fight the locals so there might be some interesting fights. They usually arrange it one or two days a week and tickets are sold in advance or at the “arena”. It’s usually around 800 baht (about 22,30€) for a normal ticket and even more for VIP tickets. If you are a fan of fighting then this will for sure be entertaining. There is a lot of advertising prior to events so you better check the surroundings or ask a travel agency to hook you up with tickets.

ko lanta thai boxing

10. Enjoy a fire show at the beach

After the sun has set and the beachgoers has left for the day it is time for the local “firemen” to step in. Almost every beach has some restaurant or party where there will be fire performances performing with different equipment. These guys are really talented at what they do! It’s a really nice extra when dining next to the dark beach and a perfect situation for some long shutter photography. After the show the “firemen” will go around the restaurants and ask for a tip from people who liked what the did, this is how they get paid.

koh lanta fireshow

11. Relax at the beach and enjoy the calm waters

There are about 20 different beaches on Ko Lanta so finding one that suits you and your needs should not be that hard. The most popular and most developed are Klong Dao Beach and Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach). Here you can find a lot of restaurants and beach bars, but also some pretty quiet places along them because of the size of the beaches.

Klong Nin is another fairly long beach that’s not overly developed yet. For more private and undeveloped beaches you should head more south and visit Nui Bay beach, Klong Chak beach or Bamboo beach. Remember to bring water and some sunscreen because it’s hard to find some shade on many of these beaches.

relax on the beach calm waters

koh lanta relax on the beach

12. Go scuba diving

Scuba diving is very popular at Ko Lanta and there are very many spots you can go diving on. There are scuba diving shops on nearly every beach and they all have PADI or SSI certification so they are safe for everyone. Best way to find the scuba shop you like is to just walk into one and ask around, where they are going to dive in the next few days and different requirement criteria they might have.

If you are a beginner, this is also a good place to start because of the price level in Thailand is one of the lowest in the world and the sea currents are pretty nonexistent in the area. Many dive shops also have a swimming pool for beginners where you train to know all your equipment before you enter the ocean.

scuba diving ko lanta

13. Take a tuk-tuk ride

This is the second best option to get around the island, after the motorbike. These motorbike modifications are a specialty to Asia and this part of Thailand. They are very convenient, you can find them almost anywhere and they are fairly cheap. Especially if you go out partying this is the best option for you to get around. Drunk driving (if you have rented a scooter) is just stupid and should not be done in any circumstance! The tuk-tuk rides are also a good way of supporting locals directly because they work for themselves.

tuk tuk experience

14. Try horse riding on the beach

On the more popular beaches, there are also some horse riding possibilities. The price is about 1000-1200 baht (about 30-35€) for 1-2 hours. This tho is a little bit controversial because of the hot climate when they do the riding during the daytime. If you still want to experience this thing it is best to do during sunrise or sunset to ease out the stress on the animals. It is also possible to take a jungle route instead of the beach if this seems more interesting.

horse riding on the beach

15. Mangrove kayaking

There is a lot of mangrove forest on the North side of the island and again there are many companies doing day trips there. You get to see the inside of the mangrove forest and how this ecosystem works. The tours are working with the ocean tide – the best time to go is when it is high tide and the ocean fills up the floor of the forest. The price is about 1000 baht (about 30€) for a half day trip. If you are not interested in kayaking there is also the possibility of taking a long tail boat tour thru the mangrove but these don’t go that deep into the forest because of the size of the boat.

mangrove kayaking ko lanta

16. Visit Khlong Chak Waterfall (if it rains)

This waterfall is also a part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park but is a little bit apart from where the park entrance is. To get to this waterfall you need to hike about 25 minutes through the lush jungle. The path is not so good and you might find a bit difficult to find without a guide.

Luckily there are a lot of tours made to this waterfall but you should only go there if it has been raining. The tour has been disappointing for many who hike there in the dry season only to come up to an almost dried up waterfall. The waterfall itself is only about 7 meters high so it’s not that spectacular. On the way back there is also a possibility to hike to the Klong Chak cave which is a small cave with massive roots growing through the rocks.


Where to stay on Ko Lanta?

Are you going to backpack or maybe spend your honeymoon here, no problem, we got you covered! Here are some of the best places to stay on Ko Lanta in every price range!

Budget travel:

Dreamy Casa offers nice air-conditioned rooms right next to the main street on Long Beach for a reasonable price.

Lanta Happy Hill is surrounded by greenery and lush gardens and the walk to the beach takes only 5 minutes.

Lanta Coral Beach Resort has bamboo bungalows or nice small cottages located next to the beach.

3-Star travel:

Lazy Days is a beach bungalow style resort right next to the beach. Location is perfect with everything you need for a vacation.

SER-EN-DIP-I-TY offers air-conditioned rooms in a quiet area just next to Long Beach.

Siam Lanta is a bestseller in Ko Lanta, the resort has a swimming pool and is surrounded by jungle.

4-Star travel:

The Houben – ADULTS ONLY offer some villa-style accommodation with stunning views.

Alanta Villa offers spacious villas built with natural materials and every villa has a private pool. The natural choice!

Lanta Casa Blanca has one of the best location ratings on the island and the resort has it’s own private beach area.

5 -Star travel:

Rawi Warin Resort and Spa located on the west side about half way the island. This is a quiet place with all the luxury you could possibly need!

Layana Resort & Spa – ADULTS ONLY is on Long Beach and is still surrounded by tropical greenery with a view over the sea, with world-class service of course.

Pimalai Resort & Spa which is rated no.1 on trip advisor as travelers choice. It is located more south than most resorts and has complete privacy and excellent service!


That’s it from us at BEMBALYFE! Hope you enjoyed the article and found it somewhat helpful. Have you ever been to Ko Lanta and done something we didn’t cover here, please let us know in the comment section below.

-Michael

 

*This post contains affiliate links. More info here.

Have you ever wondered about why there is a fortress on top of a 200-meter high rock in the middle of Sri Lanka? And what about the rock right next to it?

There is a lot of history and mythology around this whole area which is located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This place is famous for the UNESCO World Heritage site called Ancient city of Sigiriya or Lion rock. I will tell you some more about it in a bit.

There is also another rock there, called Pidurangala Vihara, that’s not so famous but still very interesting and mind-blowing. This is where we went! Both rocks are located just a few kilometers from each other so you can enjoy both sites on the same trip if you like.

In this post:

-The ancient city of Sigiriya, Lion Rock
-Pidurangala Vihara, Pidurangala Rock
-What to know before you go
-Personal experience
-How to get there
-Where to stay

The Lion Rock history

sigiriya lion rock

The Ancient city of Sigiriya, that’s the official name, is an ancient rock fortress with a lot of history. The rock itself is the result of ancient volcanic activity and it rises about 200 meters above the ground where it’s located. The rock has played a big part in the ancient civilization and is believed to have been inhabited almost five thousand years because of its shelters and caves.

The fortress, that today still stands there, is built around 477 CE to 495 CE. This was the reign of King Kashyapa, who moved the capital from Anuradhapura, which was the capital at the time, to this location because of some insecurities of his own wellbeing. He built his palace and fortress on top of this rock. The fortress was occupied for 18 years and after the King died the fortress was left to stand there alone.

Later the Buddhist monks started using it as a monastery until the 14th century. Not until 1831, the site was rediscovered and some archaeological work started. In 1982 UNESCO made it a world heritage site.  This is considered one of the best preserved ancient urban planning sites and also called the 8th wonder of the world.

Pidurangala Rock

pidurangala rock sigiriya buddha

This rock is a bit taller and larger than Sigiriya. This site has also been used for shelter for about the same time as the more famous Lion Rock. This site became more important when King Kashyapa (477-495 CE) moved the monks, living in the area, here to live in a newly built temple and monastery. There is a “Stupa” where King Kasyanapa were cremated.

Then there is a temple just at the entrance of the hike whit a “modern” house from where you can enter the old cave temple. The hike to the rock can be divided into two stages. The first one is easy with built steps and the second one is more like climbing a natural rock formation.

When you reach the first stage there is a massive Buddha statue lying in a small cave. This statue was once the biggest brick statue of Buddha in the world and is measured 12,5 meters. The second part, where you get on top of the rock, is also the best and most demanding part of the climb. It may take some time and effort to get yourself up there but it’s well worth it.

What to know before you go

hiking to the top

Book a tuk tuk the day before to pick you up in the morning as early as possible. If you rather go in the afternoon then just have the people at the place you stay get a tuk tuk for you.

Both rocks are temples so you need to wear appropriate clothes. This means you should have your knees and shoulders covered and no hats allowed. Some loose breathable clothes are suggestible. Wear good shoes, some people go there in flip-flops and it is possible but for more comfortable use sneakers or hiking shoes.

hiking to the top of pidurangala rock

The Lion rock is quite easy to climb, with stairs and plateaus all the way up, and that is why it’s also very crowded. The Pidurangala rock, on the other hand, is more demanding to reach the top. Even if you can make it to the first stage, which has stairs all the way, the views are spectacular. The hike up both rocks takes about the same time, around 20-45 minutes depending on how fast you are. The way back down is about twice as fast.

Bring water and some snacks, when you finally get up there you will want to stay there for a while and enjoy the views. If you go during the day you should bring a hat and some sunscreen because it gets really hot up there. The best time to climb is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Our experience of Sigiriya

We came to Sigiriya from Kandy by bus and tuk tuk and the climate was very likeable, even when we visited during the rainy season in December. The thing with the fortress today is that it’s very expensive to go there for a foreigner, 5000rps! That’s a bit much and they have constantly kept increasing the price because there are more and more visitors all the time. Kind of stupid I think?

Pidurangala rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

So we decided that we will climb the other rock next to it, Pidularangala rock and temple, which is about the same height and from there you get the amazing view of the fortress itself. And the best thing is that it’s not so crowded and the price is only 500rps. You need to wear proper covering clothes because of the temple site but that’s what it’s like on every religious site.

sigiriya rock

The hike up is best to do during the early hours to see the amazing sunrise from the top, or the other thing would be to go there in the late afternoon to see the sunset. The second option is more dangerous because if you enjoy the view too long it will be pretty dark to get down a semi-tricky path. For us, this was the better option because we were only staying one day. If you have more time (and/or money) you should definitely go visit both of the sites.

The area itself around the sites is very calm, a small village with some restaurants for westerns. We stayed at a homestay called Blue Water Villa* and we got to meet this very kind family who was willing to help with anything even if their English skill was not the best. A true Sri Lankan homestay! This is a place you want to visit at least once in your life, there is some magic in the air there…

blue water villa, sigiriya

blue water villa, sigiriya

How to get there

The closest city is called Dambulla and you can get there by bus, taxi or hired van. From there you need to take a tuk tuk or local bus to get to the Sigiriya village. Of course, you can also drive a scooter if you want to get the most freedom in your traveling. It is also possible to take a train from Colombo to Habarana, and from there you need to take a tuk tuk or bus to get closer. Habarana is about 16 kilometers from Sigiriya.

Where to stay

We stayed at a small homestay called Blue Water Villa which was right next to the village.

Sigiriya-blue-water-villa-lotta-morning

Sigiriya-blue-water-villa-bike

Other homestays to consider:

*Sigiriya Rock View Home Stay

*Relax Guest Sigiriya

For some more western and comfortable stays (and more expensive) consider these:

5-star:

*Water Garden Sigiriya

*Roo Mansala Boutique Villas

4-star:

*EKHO Sigiriya

*Sigiriya Village

*Hotel Sigiriya

3-star:

*Cloudz Sigiriya

*The Hotel Chanara

Hope this article was helpful and enjoy your stay in Sri Lanka!

-Michael

 

Hope you have a nice Sunday and greetings from Sumatra, we both are here again! Michael came here on Friday and I came yesterday from Kuala Lumpur, where I spent two days by myself.

It really wasn’t the plan, but I broke my laptop so I had to stay there until I got it to a repair shop. Sometimes there are situations that can’t be expected in life! I’ll tell you more about this Kuala Lumpur trip towards the end of this post. However, here’s a small weekly review of the past week!

So last week we were at Krabi, Ao Nang Beach, from Monday to Thursday. We stayed at Ao Nang Bamboo resort* which was a nice and peaceful place with bamboo bungalows and a pool area.

breakfast

ao nang beach thailand

Photo 27-01-2019, 6.32.48 PM

One day we visited the Tha Pom Klong Song Nam nature trail, which is in the middle of a mangrove forest. The route was 1.2 km and it was a really beautiful place! We were there in the afternoon and we saw how the mangrove roots were filled up with water from low tide to high tide.

krabi

natural trail in the middle of the mangrove trees

natural trail in the middle of the mangrove trees

Photo 29-01-2019, 4.29.04 PM

mangorove trees

The next day we woke up early in the morning and went to the Tiger Cave Temple which is one of Krabi’s most famous attractions. Climbing to the top was pretty tough, but well worth it.  1237 steps later my legs were shaking and they were sore for a few days after!

From the top, you can see the beautiful landscape of Krabi and the Buddha statue that stands at the top of the mountain. The entrance is free and you should dress according to the religion – the knees and shoulders should be covered. You can borrow clothes or sharongs there if you don’t have any yourself.

I recommend climbing there very early in the morning to avoid the heat and crowd. We started at 7 am and it was a really good time because there were no people besides us and a few others and the heat wasn’t too bad yet. Climbing there took us about 20 minutes.

ao nang bamboo resort

tiger cave temple krabi, thailand

krabi thailand

On Thursday morning we left for the Krabi airport and flew to Kuala Lumpur. All in all, Krabi was a very nice experience, but still a little bit too touristic for us. The Thai culture cannot be properly seen when the place is made really tourist friendly. Overall, our 2,5 week Thailand trip was still full of happening and new experiences.

So the original plan was to fly straight from Kuala Lumpur to Banda Aceh, Sumatra, but I managed to break my brand new laptop so I had to stay in Kuala Lumpur and find out how I could get my laptop repaired.

kuala lumpur

The two days were full of blood, sweat and tears, and I was so fucking frustrated because a good repair shop wasn’t so easy to find as I imagined. There is still a warranty on my laptop and getting it to the warranty repair was really difficult, which was super weird in a city that big.

I was ready to give up so many times! I wandered around the city and visited many different repair shops. Thank god I finally found a good place and they sent my laptop to Apple for a warranty repair. I almost cried after that because I was so happy!

I stayed at Hotel Check-In which was nearby NU Sentral. The hotel was 40 euros for 2 nights but totally not worth the money, at least not my super tiny single room. In KL you can stay at 4-star hotels for that price but this one wasn’t like that at all. My room was so small that I couldn’t even spread my yoga mat on the floor and there were cockroaches in the toilet.

Normally I’m not that demanding at all about where I sleep but this time I was too tired (I had insomnia and slept only 6 hours for 2 days) and frustrated from the laptop thing so everything seemed so shit, hah. But all good in the end and the frustration turned into joy.

big breakfast kuala lumpur

nu sentral kuala lumpur

After all, I finally arrived at Banda Aceh yesterday and it’s so nice and stressless to be here again. Feels almost like being home and it’s also so nice to finally be in one place for a little longer after been traveling around in many places.

I have to go back to KL in one or two weeks to get my repaired laptop but before that, we enjoy our stay here by working and surfing. Oh, and I bought a new book (Unlimited power by Tony Robbins) at KL airport so I’m gonna read A LOT also! I’m so hooked on this book!

Read our last week’s update: THE WEEKLY UPDATE 4/19: NATIONAL PARK, TOURIST HELL, ISLAND LIFE

Hope you had a nice week!
Laters, Lotta

 


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
– Steve Jobs

Huh, it has been quite a week! Although for outsiders, our life may look like a relaxed travel life but it’s not like that all the time. We are not just lying by the pool and enjoying some beer or cocktails. We are working and trying to develop our things all the time and it’s really stressful a lot of times.

Today I woke up in the morning before seven, did some yoga and the rest of the day I sat in a restaurant with my laptop and tried to figure out how the hell I could make some things work properly. My patience and electronics are not the best combination!

Regardless of that, the week has been rewarding. I have lots of pictures from the week so this post is more about pictures and less text.

koh jum office
Our office changes daily. Sometimes it is a beautiful place with a sea view and sometimes MC Donald’s!

We were at Koh Lanta National Park which is the most southern point of the island. It costs 200 baht (5,60 euros) per person for foreigners and another 20 baht (0,60 euros) if you’re bringing a motorbike.

koh lanta national park bembalyfe

koh lanta national park

koh lanta national park

We also visit Koh Lanta Old town! There were cute little shops.

koh lanta old town

koh lanta old toen
One other day we went on a (pretty horrible!) snorkeling trip with other tourists.
Horrible because we are not huge fans of tourist trips… The trip was “4 island trip” which included 2 snorkeling stops, a “cave swim” where we swam 80 meters with life jackets (Michael was like I don’t need it but the guide forced him to put it on haha! It was a funny situation) through the dark cave. With a hundred other tourist! Last stop was a lunch break on a peaceful beach, Koh Kradan which was very beautiful and peaceful.

koh kradan

koh kradan

After Koh Lanta we took a tourist boat and went to a Koh Jum where we spent one day. We didn’t know that there was no ATM on the island, and we had not much cash, so we were forced to leave after one night.

Koh Jum was so nice and a really calm island. We were pretty sad that we had to leave only after one night. We stayed at Coral Bay resort which was very nice with clean bungalows and friendly stuff. Michael turned 32 when we were there, what would be a better place to be on a birthday?

If you’re wondering where to stay at Koh Jum, we highly recommend this. You can book your stay here*

koh jum thailand
koh jum thailand

koh jum thailand

coconut
koh jum local boat
We didn’t want to go on a tourist boat anymore, so we took a local boat which was 4 times cheaper than a tourist boat and the trip was very nice. Locals are super friendly and things work easily with them without any confusion!

From Koh Jum we went to Krabi town for one night. We stayed at Sleep Easy which was clean and nice hostel owned by an Aussie dude. One night costs only 16 euros which is not bad in that area. We had a private room because we don’t want to stay in dorms with all our electronics.

In the evening we went to the night market. I love night markets! We ate grilled seafood and of course – banana pancakes! Huh, it was super sugary for me cause I don’t eat desserts very often. Okay, I think it’s super sugary for everyone!

sleep easy hostel krabi town

From Krabi Town, we took a local bus, or more like a pickup truck with seats in the back, to Ao Nang where we are currently. We stay at Ao Nang Bamboo resort and we stay here for 6 days. We have a cute little bungalow and this place is overall nice and quiet with a pool! This place is a couple of kilometers away from the beach, away from all the tourist hassle, so we rented a scooter so we can drive around easily.

-Lotta

*This post contains affiliate links.

Lotta: Greetings from Thailand! Here’s our weekly update with pics taken with the phone during the past week. We are currently at Koh Lanta, which is an island in Krabi. We’ve been here for six days now and just been relaxing and enjoying the beach life. My father is also here, with his girlfriend and friends, and it makes me extremely happy that I can spend quality time with them because most of the time I’m traveling and can’t spend time with my fam. We’ve had so fun together here!

We flew here through Kuala Lumpur which is the best waypoint when flying from place to place in Southeast Asia because getting there is so cheap (from Banda Aceh to Kuala Lumpur only 20 euros!) and there you can buy all the necessary stuff if needed and best of all, enjoy the super delicious food (which is always an important thing when traveling haha). We stayed at My Hotel* which is nearby the bus station. It is a good basic hotel which cost 12 euros a night.

In Kuala Lumpur, we just chilled and ate good food and went to bed early because we were pretty exhausted from traveling. The next morning we woke up at 4 am, packed the baggage, drank some coffees and took the bus to the airport. Our flight to Krabi was at 7 am and the flight took only 1.5 hours, we both slept almost the whole flight.

Read our older Kuala Lumpur post (in Finnish) here.

I’ve never been to Thailand before, so I was really excited to get to experience a new place and see the culture. The other big reason I was so excited was that I could wear bikinis and get tanned because in Sumatra I couldn’t do that because of religious reasons.

We are staying at Lanta Smile Resort* which is located at Long Beach. Koh Lanta is a peaceful island, not like a big party island. During the day it is really peaceful, no loud music at the bars etc. Here you can relax, enjoy delicious local food, go to Thai massage and in the evenings watch the sunset while sipping cocktails. There are also bars so if you want to party it’s possible of course.

Cocktails and sunset

I tried Thai massage for the first time in my life and to be honest it was the best massage I’ve ever had! It lasted almost one hour and cost 7 euros. The Thai woman threw and turned me in different positions and got all the muscle and joint tensions open and I felt like a newborn after that.

Office today.
Office today. Not bad.

Something on my mind right now:

– There’s so many Swedish here, huh. And Finns also. Pretty much like a basic tourist place.
– Locals are so friendly here. Everyone is smiling!
– The weather is amazing. +33-37 celsius and cloudless sky!
– Coconuts are not as good as in Indonesia or Sri Lanka. Why the hell do they taste like cornflakes here? 😀
– Why does every breakfast include egg or dairy?
– To see my family members happy and loved is the thing that makes me the happiest in life.

Today is my dad’s last day here so I think there will be some party tonight! Now I shut down my laptop and head to the beach, laters!

-Lotta