Secrets of Sri Lanka Trip Notes

Explore the ancient sites, lively culture and gorgeous beaches of Sri Lanka on a trip that takes you through Colombo, Sigiriya, Trincomalee, Kandy and more.

    • 12
    • HPKS
    • Total price tool tip
      *
    •  
       
       
       
       
    •  
       
       
       
       
    • Comfort
Book
Print Version
Last Modified: 28 May 2014
Secrets of Sri Lanka
Trip code: HPKS
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Be intrigued by the beautiful island of Sri Lanka on this enlightening Secrets of Sri Lanka adventure. Setting off from the capital Colombo, visit the rock carvings of Anuradhapura, explore the relaxed beachside town of Trincomalee, discover traditional villages in the Hiriwadunna countryside, admire the rock fortress of Sigiriya and wander through the lush Giragama Tea Plantation, all the while indulging in delicious meals and getting to know the culture of this unique country. Get off the usual tourist trail and discover another side of Sri Lanka on this fascinating comfort tour.
The operator for this Intrepid Comfort trip is our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
MapGroup sizeVisas
ItineraryYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseSingle travellersWhat to take
We also recommendAccommodationHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionSafety
Culture shock rating MealsTravel insurance
Physical ratingTransportResponsible Travel
Included activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingEmergency contact
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Colombo/Katunayake
Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport (the country's only international airport), you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Katunayake, situated just north of Colombo. Your airport representative will be waiting for you in the arrival hall, located after leaving the customs area.
Although Colombo is the commercial capital and by far the largest city in Sri Lanka, it is still relatively small by Asian standards. You will not stay in the capital itself, but in the quaint town of Katunayake, your hotel is conveniently located a short drive from the airport. If you arrive early you can take the time to explore Colombo or Negombo one of the nearby seaside villages. (Driving Time: approximately 30 minutes)
Day 2 Anuradhapura
After breakfast you will proceed to Avukana, a highlight on your way to Anuradhapura. You will explore the village and the famous Avukana Buddha Statue.
The 40 foot tall Buddha was carved from the granite wall face in the 5th century, arguably the most impressive remaining statue in Sri Lanka. The building of the Avukana Buddha is shrouded in legend.
A twenty-minute drive takes you to the ancient city Anuradhapura, built in the 3rd century BC and capital of the Sinhalese people for 1000 years from the 4th century BC, despite frequent invasions from southern India.
Today you will see the largest and most important ancient site in Sri Lanka; there are a wealth of old palaces, temples, 'dagobas' (Buddhist monument) and Buddha statues to explore over a large area.
The most visited part is the sacred Bodhi tree. It is believed to be a direct descendant of the tree where Buddha gained enlightenment, growing from a sapling that was found at the original tree. Sangamitta, the daughter of the great Indian emperor, Ashoka, who had sent his own son, Arahath Mahinda, to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka, brought this from India. It is one of the most important pilgrimage places in the country.
After a day of exploration you will check in to the hotel. (Driving Time: Approximately 3 hours)
Included Activities
  • Avukana - Buddha Statue
  • Anuradhapura - Ancient city sites tour
Day 3 Ritigala/Trincomalee
After breakfast you will start your journey to Ritigala Mountain. The jungle clad mountain is visible miles away as you travel on the Dambulla-Anuradhapura road.
You will be guided through the jungle in search for the ruins of the monastic complex of Ritigala, a lesser known but astounding Buddhist site, dating back over 2000 years. Here the ascetic monks, the Pansakulikas, made their home, and meditated in caves carved out of the mountain. As you make your way through, the amazing craftsmanship cannot be missed and the grandeur of it will be restored in your imagination.
The site has been declared a Strict Natural Reserve and the Archaeological Department has, over the years, diligently restored the ruins. You will leave Ritigala in awe, and head to beautiful Habarana where you will enjoy lunch with a local family and learn a thing or two about Sri Lankan cuisine.
In the afternoon you will arrive to Trincomalee, a beautiful seaside village that will be your base for the next few days as you explore the surrounding region. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure and there is no shortage of ways to enjoy some rest and relaxation in Trincomalee, be it relaxing by the pool or beach, sharing the day’s pictures with new friends, or just enjoying a G&T and watching the sunset. (Driving Time: 2.5 Hours)
Included Activities
  • Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve - Monastery ruins & caves
  • Habarana - Local family lunch
Days 4-5 Trincomalee
You will enjoy an early breakfast today to accommodate a full day of exploration and adventure.You'll start the city tour of Trincomalee with a visit to Koneswaram temple, also known as the Temple of a Thousand Pillars. Among the various monuments of Hindu antiquity found in Sri Lanka, the Thirukoneswaram Hindu temple in Trincomalee is one of the three principal places of worship dedicated to Lord Siva. The Portuguese destroyed the original temple in the 17th century.
You will also visit the Lover's Leap, one of the main attractions of the Swami Rock, located next to the temple. Next you will visit Fort Frederick on the Trincomalee Peninsula, a remnant of the colonial past of Sri Lanka. The Fort itself has an interesting and ironic story. The Portuguese built it with ruins from the original Koneswaram temple, but then lost it quickly. It subsequently traded hands several times in battles between the French, Dutch and British.
The famous Hot Springs of Kanniya is next on your itinerary, reputed for the healing powers of the waters; legend has it that King Ravana struck the earth in several spots with his sword, and from it sprang hot water. This is a great opportunity to meet the locals who come here in pilgrimage or in search of healing.
We have a free morning on Day 5. Some may opt to go on a whale and dolphin watching excursion. The coast of Trincomalee is well known to be a migratory route for Blue Whales and Sperm Whales.
You may choose to visit Pigeon Island, one of the two National Marine parks of Sri Lanka, or just take the opportunity to capture some stunning photos around Trincomalee.
In the afternoon, after the midday heat has subsided, you will start on a cycling tour around Trincomalee, and enjoy the beautiful countryside surrounding the region.
Included Activities
  • Trincomalee - City tour
  • Trincomalee - Kanniya Hot Springs
  • Trincomalee - Countryside cycling tour
Day 6 Hiriwaduna/Polonnaruwa
After breakfast you will proceed to Habarana. From there, by way of Land Master, you will start your safari through the Hiriwadunna countryside and through authentic Sri Lankan villages, where you will be truly immersed in the culture.
You can spot amazing native wildlife, cross streams, and meet villagers in their day-to-day life. If you’re lucky, you may even spot crocodiles.
All life here springs from the rivers and streams that make the land so fertile, which is abundantly clear when you cross a large tributary by catamaran, observing fishermen, farmers and village women washing clothes at the periphery of the waterways.
Your experience would not be complete without a traditional Sri Lankan meal shared in the home of a friendly villager. You will say goodbye to your newfound friends and arrive to Polonnaruwa in the late afternoon.
You will explore Polonnaruwa at a glance, a World Heritage Site since 1982 and the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to the 13th century. You will proceed to your hotel which is located on three acres of landscaped gardens, close to the main sites of Polonnaruwa. It is a quaint retreat which will be your base for explorations in the coming days. (Driving Time: 4 hours)
Included Activities
  • Hiriwaduna - Village safari & local lunch
  • Polonnaruwa - World Heritage Site tour
Day 7 Sigiriya/Minneriya National Park
After breakfast you will proceed to the World Heritage Site of Sigirya Rock or Lion’s Rock in Sinhalese. Sigiriya is an impressive ancient rock fortress and palace. You will climb to the citadel that rises 200 meters from the jungle floor. It is reputed to be have been inhabited for over 5000 years, initially as a shelter in the Mesolithic Period, and established as a Buddhist Monastery in the 3rd century BCE.
In the 5th century CE, Prince Kashyapa briefly made it his capital and fortress after he seized the throne from King Dhatusena and the rightful heir Prince Moggallana. Prince Kashyapa is alleged to have turned it into one of the most spectacular residences and palaces of all time. The gardens can be viewed along with the remains of the mysterious frescoes, which at one time may have been considered the largest picture in the world, covering a wall 140 meters long and 40 meters high.
Towards the late afternoon, you will leave to the Minneriya National Park for an optional Jeep Safari. Minneriya National Park is about 9000 hectares and is home to a great array of fauna, including elephants that frequent it as a favourite watering site.The purple-faced langur and toque macaque can also be found here as well as an incredible variety of birdlife. In the evening you will return to Polonnaruwa. (Driving Time: 3 hours)
Included Activities
  • Sigiriya - Rock Fortress
Optional Activities
  • Minneriya National Park entry - LKR3250
  • Minneriya National Park jeep safari - LKR6000
Day 8 Kandy
After breakfast you will say goodbye to Polonnaruwa and head on your way to Kandy. You will stop in Matale and visit the Matale Spice Garden.Here you will enjoy an incredible sensory experience as you learn about the variety of spices that enrich both Sri Lankan cuisine and Ayurveda Therapy. You will enjoy a cooking demonstration and lunch.
In the afternoon you will arrive in Kandy, the 2nd largest city in the country after Colombo. It is a peaceful and beautiful place. There are plenty of scenic walks through the hills and forests that surround the town as well as along the lake that forms its centre.
You will start with a city tour. In the heart of the town is the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa), the most important shrine in the country, which houses a relic of a tooth of Buddha taken from his funeral pyre in 543 BC.
It is renowned for its daily Thewawa ceremony. Each evening, the day's worship culminates when the casket containing the tooth relic is put on display to devotees who have traveled from all over the Buddhist world. You will also visit the world-class botanical gardens and the local market. There will be plenty of free time to explore this pretty town on your own.
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens
  • Kandy - Spice & Herb Garden visit
Optional Activities
  • National Museum - LKR250
Day 9 Knuckles Mountain Range Trek
After breakfast you will set off on a moderately challenging but manageable trek on the Knuckles Mountain Range. Named so by British surveyors after its peculiar formation that resembles the knuckles of a clenched fist, its traditional Sinhalese name is Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning “Mist laden Mountain Range”.
The entire range is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also of great scientific interest, it is endowed with an extremely interesting microclimate. In the cloud forests at higher altitudes, some fauna and flora native and unique only to this microclimate can be found.
In the evening you will head back to Kandy and enjoy some time at leisure, with an optional group dinner, or catch a traditional fire walking show by Sri Lankan dancers on your last night in quaint Kandy.
Included Activities
  • Knuckles Mountain Range - Day trek
Day 10 Kitulgala
After breakfast, you will head toward Kitulgala. However no trip to Sri Lanka is complete without enjoying firsthand what has made Sri Lanka so famous: Ceylon Tea. You will stop at the Giragama Tea Plantation and take an interactive crash course in plucking tea and how it’s processed. You will enjoy a wonderful cup of tea and head on to Kitulgala.
Located in the wet zone rain forest, Kitulgala gets two monsoons each year and is a very wet place. The Kelani River may be familiar to you if you’ve seen the Academy Award-winning movie, 'The Bridge Over the River Kwai', which was in fact filmed here in 1956.
This is also a good place to jump in for a refreshing swim.
In the evening you will enjoy a pleasant nature walk at Kitulgala and perhaps share a cup of tea with some locals. (Driving time: approximately 2.5 hours)
Included Activities
  • Giragama - Tea Plantation visit
  • Kitulgala - Nature walk
Days 11-12 Colombo
In the early morning you will enjoy a guided Trek of this Jungle reserve.
Enjoy this time at your leisure, and in the afternoon you will start your short journey to Colombo. You will arrive in Colombo in the late afternoon and enjoy a cooler evening city tour and orientation.
Tonight is your final night and you might like to enjoy a goodbye dinner together, to celebrate the incredible adventure you shared. (Driving Time: approximately 2 hours)
Your trip will end in Colombo this morning after breakfast on day 12. Check out time is usually between late morning and midday, but may vary.
If your flight leaves in the evening you may wish to book additional accommodation so you have a room until departure.
Your tour leader will be on hand to assist with transfers to the airport. These are not included, but can be booked through us or your travel agent.
Included Activities
  • Colombo - Walking tour
  • Kitulgala - Jungle trek
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.
  • HPKS Secrets of Sri Lanka - Single Supplement (HPKS)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Circle Sri Lanka (HPSH)
  • Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka (HPZM)
  • Circle Sri Lanka (HPSH)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
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 (LRK).
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.
Tipping
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. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
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 group 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
As of the 1st January 2013 a 25USD (3,250LKR Sri Lanka Rupees) departure tax has been introduced for all international flight travellers.
Group size
Maximum of 16 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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
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.
Accommodation
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
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.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
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.
CHECK-IN TIME
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.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
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.
AIR CONDITIONING:
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.
Meals
7 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
USD 300.00
Transport
LONG TRAVEL DAYS
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
Tamarind Tree Hotel
1 Andiambalama Estate Yatiyana Minuwangoda
Negombo
11500
SRI LANKA
Phone: +94 117488288
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group 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 operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Finish point
Hotel Sapphire
No. 371, Galle Road
Colombo - 06
Colombo
SRI LANKA
Phone: +94 (01) 2363306
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact Intrepid's Sri Lanka office on +94 11 256 4584 during business hours or after hours on +94 716 105 296
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$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
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.
SRI LANKA:
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:
www.eta.gov.lk
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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
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.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. 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.
WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. 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 ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
IMAGES FROM HOME:
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.
Health
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.
DENGUE FEVER:
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.
Safety
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. 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 group 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 group 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:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
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.
BALCONIES:
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
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!
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
BICYCLE HELMETS
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 group 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 throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
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.
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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 343.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
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.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.