Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka Trip Notes

Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka

These trip notes are valid for departures from 20 January 2015 to 31 December 2015. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2016 - 31 December 2016

Last Modified: 25 May 2015
Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka
Trip code: HPZM
Validity: 20 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2015
Despite being influenced by the cooking traditions of India, Portugal, Arabia and Holland, Sri Lanka’s cuisine – complex, gratifying and redolent with spices – has a style uniquely its own. Working your way through Sri Lanka in a circle from Negombo to Colombo, indulge in seafood on the coast, hoppers on the streets and Tamil cuisine in the Highlands. Plus there's a hefty dose of culture, history and fun to round off a delicious adventure through this provocative country.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesFinish point description
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency contact
MapYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
ItinerarySingle travellersVisas
Also available to purchaseAccommodationIssues on your trip
We also recommendMeals introductionWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Included activitiesGroup leaderTravel insurance
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Money ExchangeJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Spending moneyJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
TippingArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Departure taxFinish point Feedback
  • Our Original style trips have a great balance of included activities with your group and free time to explore independently. Where we stay ensures we keep our travellers firmly entrenched in a region’s people and culture, and provides them with unique local experiences that benefits the community too. In most locations we stay in simple tourist-class hotels (i.e. 2-3 stars), plus on many trips you'll also get to experience a night with a local family on a homestay or something a little different like a Bedouin camp in the Sahara. Original style trips come with all manner of transport modes and use a mixture of local and private transport. You might find yourself sailing in a dhow in Zanzibar, jumping on a rickshaw in Sri Lanka or sailing on a yacht through the Galapagos. No matter the mode, it's all about minimising our environmental impact and making getting around part of the adventure.
Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka
Days 1-2 Negombo
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. With charming people, mysterious ruins and some of the best cuisine in the world, Sri Lanka’s hypnotic essence will remain with you long after you come home.
Get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka in Negombo - a historical commercial centre surrounded by a fascinating network of canals teeming with rural life.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Spend your first night enjoying Negombo’s sweeping coastline and watching the fishing boats float by.
The next day, wake early and check out Negombo's lively seafood markets. Negombo is situated at the northern end of a lagoon renowned for lobsters, crabs and prawns. Fishermen take their canoes (oruvas) to go in search of fish, and come back into the lagoon with the day's catch. There are often fish auctions on the beach and sales at the market offer a great insight into local commerce.
At the market, also check out the local cottage industry of jadi fish fermentation. This intense, salty concoction is one of the essential building blocks of the Sri Lankan kitchen.
Next, drive to a coconut plantation (approx 1 hour) and learn how this 'superfood' plays a vital role in Sri Lankan cuisine. Enjoy lunch accompanied by one of Sri Lanka's most famed condiments; a fiery coconut sambal.
After lunch, drive to Anuradhapura (approx. 5 hours).
Go on a food crawl through the town, sampling local favourites such as paratha (stuffed flat bread) and sweet banana and pineapple roti.
Included Activities
  • Negombo - coconut plantation visit and lunch
  • Negombo - Fish Market Tour
Golden Star Beach Negombo or similar (1 nt), Ceylan Lodge or similar (1 nt)
Day 3 Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka's most extensive and important ancient city. Ruled by Sinhalese kings for over 2,500 years as the country's first capital, the city rose to its glittering greatness over 2,200 years ago and fell to invading southern Indians several times over the next 1,000 years. The set of ruins is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Anuradhapura is also considered the birthplace of rice cultivation in Sri Lanka, with production flourishing as far back as 161 BC. Rice remains a mainstay of the Sri Lankan diet today and features at almost every meal.
Take a bicycle tour of the ancient city. Start at the sacred old Bo Tree, a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and the inspiration for Anuradhapura's great buildings. The Bo tree was grown from a cutting of the original tree in Bodhgaya under which Buddha gained enlightenment. The ruins themselves are spread over quite an area, some in woodland settings and others appearing park-like with columns and old ponds dotted about.
Our tour will also take in the impressive sacred sites of Jetavana Monastery and Ruwanwelimahaseya Dagaba.
The bicycle tour will be approximately 6-7 hours, with regular stops along the way to relax and refresh. There is likely to be some traffic, so it is recommended that you are comfortable on a bike if you choose to cycle. For those who do not wish to cycle, a tuk tuk option will be available.
In the evening we join a local family for a home-cooked meal. This is your opportunity to get a real insight into the food culture in a typical Sri Lankan home. Help in the preparations, jot down some secret family recipes or simply enjoy some conversation around the kitchen table. Dinner will consist of traditional curries served with rice.
Included Activities
  • Anuradhapura ancient site
  • Anuradhapura - home-cooked experience
Ceylan Lodge or similar (1 nt)
Day 4 Dambulla
Take an early morning public bus to Dambulla (approx. 2 hours).
An historical town near the centre of the island, Dambulla is a great base to explore the wide array of natural wonders and historic sites in this fascinating area.
Dambulla's most famous attraction is a beautifully preserved complex of cave temples, which contain paintings and ancient Buddha statues, some carved from the solid rock.
Spend some time wandering the temple complex.
In the afternoon, check out the impressive Dambulla Wholesale markets. Boasting an incredible array of fresh food, much of which is subsequently transported to Colombo for sale, this is the perfect place to get a sense of the diversity of Sri Lanka's abundant produce.
Later, meet a local who will help you prepare a feast of fish caught from a nearby lake.
Included Activities
  • Dambulla - Cave temples
  • Dambulla - Wholesale Markets tour
Gimanhala Hotel Dambulla - or similar (1 nt)
Day 5 Sigiriya
Take an early morning bus to the rock fortress of Sigiriya.
Built as a royal citadel on top of a 200m high rock mass, Sigiriya is an impressive fortress with some fantastic views, glorious water gardens and 5th-century frescoes.
The site was occupied long before the citadel was built at the end of the 5th century, and it later became a monastery before falling into disrepair. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, you'll ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are the extensive remains of King Kasyapa's summer palace from where there are breathtaking views.
Admire the commanding views from the top of Sigiriya Rock.
Return to Dambulla for breakfast then head on to the renowned spice-growing region of Matale.
Discover the secrets to this fragrant cuisine on a tour of a local spice garden. Learn how spices such as kurundu ('true’ cinnamon), indigenous to Sri Lanka, and cardamom are grown and used to season traditional dishes.
Arrive in Kandy by late afternoon.
Sri Lanka's culture capital, Kandy is a pleasant city surrounded by lush green countryside - it's home to a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants.
Enjoy an evening visit to the octagonal Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic) where we may also experience drumming and chanting rituals of the white-clad pilgrims who come to worship at Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist site.
Included Activities
  • Sigiriya - Rock Fortress
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Matale - Spice Garden visit
Hotel Senani or similar (1 nt)
Day 6 Kandy
Wake up and prepare a special meal to offer to local Buddhist monks. This special ritual is known as dana, and involves the giving of both food and gifts.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore. In addition to wonderful local markets, there is also a National Museum, monasteries, scenic walks around town and the botanical gardens are among the best in Asia.
In the early evening, meet up to see a traditional Kandyan dance performance.
Next, it is off to another local home for an introduction to some distinctive Kandyan dishes.
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Cultural dance performance
  • Kandy - Dana ritual experience
  • Kandy - Home-cooked experience
Optional Activities
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens - LKR1200
  • Kandy - National Museum - LKR250
Hotel Senani or similar (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Haputale
Take a scenic train journey from Kandy to Haputale (approx. 6 hours), arriving mid afternoon.
Set in Sri Lanka's lush central highlands, Haputale is surrounded by picturesque tea plantations, misty cloud forests and epic views.
On arrival, visit a Sinhalese family for a cup of the region's signature blend and an introduction to the famed Sri Lankan sweet tooth. Prepare traditional Sri Lankan sweets like kokis and kewum – incidentally it’s in some of these dishes that the epicurean influence of former colonial powers Portugal and the Netherlands is most apparent.
In the evening join your hosts for a dinner of tasty Hill Country curries.
The following day, visit one of the areas famed tea plantations for a crop to cup experience. Sip some the estate's signature brews, meet with some of the plantation workers and, depending on the season, try your hand at picking tea leaves as well.
Next, sample the distinct aromas and flavours of Tamil cuisine over lunch with a local family. Return to Haputale in the late afternoon.
Get ready for a mini masterclass in the preparation of one of Sri Lanka's favourite 'fast foods' - the roti. Also try your hand at one of the country's most renowned dishes - the aptly named Kothu Roti.
Translating from Tamil to mean 'chopped roti', this iconic dish is believed to have originated in the 1970s from local Muslim and Tamil people. Generally eaten for dinner, kothu roti is prepared from a mix of a pan-baked bread called godhamba roti, accompanied by vegetables, egg and spices. The dish is prepared by cutting up the ingredients together on a hotplate with two large blunt metal blades, creating that signature rhythmic din.
Included Activities
  • Haputale - Sri Lankan sweets cooking demonstration
  • Haputale - Tamil family lunch
  • Haputale - Tea factory tour
  • Haputale - Roti mini masterclass
Srilak View Inn Haputale or similar (4 nts)
Days 9-10 Mirrissa
Rise early and head for the coast, bound for Mirissa (approx. 7 hours), stopping past picturesque waterfalls along the way.
The beautiful town of Mirissa is situated on Sri Lanka's southern coastline. The beach is a long curve of sand and has lovely calm clear waters for swimming - the sunsets are great too. This is a paradise that you won't want to leave!
Perhaps consider taking a bicycle ride or tuk tuk to nearby Weligama where colourful fishing boats bring back their loads of fresh fish to sell along the shore, or just sit back with feet in the sand and a frosty Lion beer.
Witness the delicate art of stilt fishing in Ahangama. Meet local fishermen and hear how their livelihoods and lifestyles have changed post-tsunami. You may even get the chance to taste the local drop, toddy (or coconut arrack), a drink made from palm tree sap.
In the evening, join a cooking class to learn some signature seafood dishes - Ambulthiayal (sour fish curry) is a local favourite.
Included Activities
  • Mirrissa - Sri Lankan seafood cooking class
  • Mirrissa - Stilt fisherman meeting
Optional Activities
  • Mirissa - Bike hire (per day) - LKR300
Paradise Beach Club Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Days 11-12 Galle/Colombo
After breakfast, drive to Galle.
Used by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British during its colourful history, the port town of Galle features an impressive Dutch fort with extensive walls containing many interesting buildings.
Continue on to Colombo, Sri Lanka's bustling capital. Take a late afternoon city walking tour.
Sri Lanka's commercial heart, Colombo is a cosmopolitan mix of vibrant street markets, colonial buildings, interesting museums, fine restaurants and great shopping opportunities.
Farewell this incredible Real Food Adventure with a final feast with new friends.
This trip concludes after breakfast on the morning of day 12. There are no activities planned for this final day and you are free to leave at any time.
Included Activities
  • Galle - Fort Walking Tour
  • Colombo - Walking tour
Mirage Hotel - Colombo or similar (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • HPZM Single Supplement (HPZM)
  • HPZM Single Supplement (HPZM)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Circle Sri Lanka (HPSH)
Culture shock rating

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Physical rating

This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Money Exchange
The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Rupee (LKR).
There are now many ATM machines throughout Sri Lanka, which accept both Visa and MasterCard. Although this is a safe and convenient way to access money during your trip we do recommend that you carry some money as cash/travellers cheques for when ATMs can not be accessed. Some money should be taken as US dollars cash in case of emergencies.
A 'black market' for currency changing does exist in Sri Lanka, these are considered a danger and best avoided. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger shops and restaurants but only in the bigger cities. Some banks will allow cash advances against a credit card.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
At your group meeting on Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
Severe food allergies must be advised at the time of booking so it can be assessed whether we can cater for the passenger for the included activities as food allergies could impact the extent of participation in these activities.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Srilak View Inn Haputale or similar (4 nts), Ceylan Lodge or similar (2 nts), Hotel Senani or similar (2 nts), Paradise Beach Club Hotel or similar (2 nts), Golden Star Beach Negombo or similar (1 nt), Gimanhala Hotel Dambulla - or similar (1 nt), Mirage Hotel - Colombo or similar (1 nt)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Please note that not all hotels on this trip have air-conditioning. All hotels do have a fan.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
11 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 7 Dinners
USD 150.00
Bus, Private Bus, Bicycle, Train
There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
Golden Star Beach Hotel
163 Lewis Place
Phone: +94 312233564
Joining point description
Located right by the beach, the hotel has a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Rooms have en suite bathrooms, AC & TV.
Joining point instructions
Taxis are easy, safe and cheap. A taxi from Bandaranaike International Airport to Negombo takes approx 40minutes (approx. 10kms) and costs approx. 1,700LKR (15USD).
Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option.
Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure.
If you have pre-booked this service, upon arrival at the airport please head towards exit number 1 where you will see the booth for AIRWING TRAVEL and TOURS. Please identify yourself to the person at the booth. Your transfer driver will collect you for your onward transfer to your hotel.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled or if you have any trouble locating your transfer representative on arrival to Colombo airport please call the below numbers:
+94 (0) 76 831 6000
+94 (0) 71 927 7676
If you are staying in Colombo prior to the tour it is approximately 30km from Colombo to Negombo, which will cost about LKR2,500 (US$25).
Normal check-in time is 12:00.
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Finish point
Mirage Hotel Colombo
61, Moor's Road on Marine Drive (Colombo Plan Road)
Wellawatte, Colombo 06
Phone: +94 (0)112 363471
Fax: +94 (0)112364922
Finish point description
The Mirage Hotel is located about 3 kms from the city centre of Colombo and 1 hour's drive from Bandaranaike International Airport. The hotel has a fully equipped business centre and restaurant with a bar.
Emergency contact
in case of an emergency please use the following emergency contact information to contact our local Sri Lanka team:
24 hour booking/reservation issues: +94(0)76 831 6000
24 hours crisis emergency: +94(0)71 927 7676
For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
Foreign passport holders are required to obtain a visa prior to entry into Sri Lanka. This can be done on-line at the following website:
Detailed information and application forms are provided here. The process is simple and the cost is US$20 for most countries.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles. If you wish you can bring along your own.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.
While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 179.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.