Many Dubai residents are planning to visit their families and distant relatives during the 3-day holiday marking the Eid Al-Fitr in August. Actually, when combined with the two days weekend, the holiday stretches to five days. If you wonder how to plan your Eid Al Fitr short holiday, you may consider something different and exiting this year. Travel to one of the most exotic places on earth, the island country of Sri Lanka.
For a small island, Sri Lanka has a lot to offer – beautiful nature, amazing beaches and countryside, exotic wildlife, incredible historical and religious sites, delicious food, a great choice of accommodations, and kind and friendly people. Marco Polo wrote in the 12th century that Sri Lanka is the finest island in the whole world, and its ancient name given by early Arab traders, Serendib, gave rise to the English word “serendipity”.
The scenic beauty and rich heritage of the country are widely popular, but if you have only three or four, or five days for sightseeing, there are several places you should visit. The first one is the cultural and spiritual heart of the country, the ancient kingdom and current city of Kandy, with its famous Temple of the Tooth. Housing a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha, The Temple of the Tooth is one of Sri Lanka’s most holy shrines, and of course, a cherished pilgrimage site for Buddhists across the globe. You probably won’t be able to see the tooth itself, but try to visit the place around 6.00 pm. and you will see the ornate casket in which it is said to be placed. Here you can watch a video of the beginning of the ceremony.
Another wonderful place to visit, especially for kids, is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which is a home to about 86 wild Asian elephants and is located in the village of Pinnawala, nearly 90 km away from the largest city in Sri Lanka, Colombo. The most enjoyable thing is watching the elephants feeding and having a bath in the river, all adults and babies together! And if you are lucky enough, you can bottle-feed milk a baby elephant!
Of course, since Sri Lanka is a small country, there isn’t an airport in every city, so the best way to get there is flying to Colombo. When choosing a flight and an airline, make sure that the carrier is well-established, safe, and reliable. One of the largest airlines in the world, Emirates Airlines will provide all that. Visit their official website and you will see the cost of a return ticket for Economy Class for Dubai – Colombo is AED 2,065, and if you fly from Abu Dhabi, it will be AED 1,965 per person. The lowest price of a similar airfare with Qatar Airways is AED 2,605 if you fly from Dubai, and AED 2,565, if you fly from Abu Dhabi. Turkish Airlines also have flights to Colombo, although you may find it difficult to book your flight on the particular dates. However, a return ticket from Dubai or Abu Dhabi will be between AED 5,100 and 6,600.
Of course, the prices of the airplane tickets are changing, sometimes even within minutes, depending on a lot of things, so don’t expect them to be the same when you are booking. You can also book you flight though a tourist agency or at one of the companies’ offices, but you will probably pay extra for service fees and all kinds of other additional taxes. So, we recommend you to do it online – it is faster, easier, and cheaper.
And when talking about online booking, the best option for reserving a hotel room is also online. You will find hundreds of websites which offer hotel and resort bookings, but as with the airlines, you’d better choose a well-established website in order to avoid various unpleasant surprises. The first place you should check is the Holidays page on QatarAirways.com where the company offers whole pre-paid holidays (including Sri Lanka offers) and hotel reservations. They work with more than 10 hotels across the island, so you can easily choose the most suitable for you. However, there are specialty websites, or online travel agencies to be more precise, where you will find a great variety of accommodations – 5-star hotels, exclusive resorts, budget b&bs, and many, many more. Two of the best websites are Booking.com and Expedia.com, which are some of the most visited and preferred agencies for hotel reservations in the world.
When booking both a flight and a hotel stay, note that usually, the earlier you book, the less you will pay. Another option for a more affordable holiday is get advantage of some limited time sale or promotion on the websites and in some cases you will be able to save up to 50 percent off the original price. And the final thing you need when travelling to Sri Lanka, is a digital camera with a large enough memory card to store all your photos and videos.