Nothing can truly prepare you for the riot of colour… the sounds… the smells of Sri Lanka. No book, website or personal recollection can truly capture how manic the roads can be, how friendly the people are, how tasty the food is, or how beautiful and endless the beaches appear.
I say this because if you read the Lonely Planet guide to Sri Lanka, I want you to realise the country is a thousand times more amazing than the book makes it out to be. Granted the book makes it out to be pretty fabulous. But, take it from me in reality everything is brighter, louder, tastier and more beautiful than any book can convey.
Aside from that is this Lonely Planet guide any good? Well, yes and no. No because it misses out some pretty vital information, like the fact there’s a limit to the amount of Sri Lankan Rupees you can take into the country (and the fact that they’re almost impossible to come by outside of the country).
It’s also arranged a little confusingly making you think that if you’re staying in a certain area you’re limited to the attractions listed within that section (which – so long as you’ve got a decent driver and a comfy air-conditioned car – simply isn’t the case). It’s also not as extensive as it could be in listing the attractions in the south and obviously isn’t as up-to-date as Trip Advisor. It even suggests that Yala National Park isn’t the place to go for elephant spotting. The above photo taken at Yala would seem to dispute that! With this in mind use the guide in conjunction with Trip Advisor and the staff in your hotel, who will no doubt utter the phrase “You may follow your guidebook, but Sri Lanka is my country, so I know it better than any guidebook, so please let me help you plan your trips.”
Where the Lonely Planet guide does come into it’s own is when you’re wandering around an attraction wondering what the heck you’re looking at. See, Sri Lanka isn’t big on signage. So unless you happen upon a helpful guide you might be left using your imagination as you saunter around Galle Fort or a similar attraction. Fortunately Lonely Planet offers some historical and geographical context to your whereabouts.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, but like I said before, in conjunction with the web and personal recommendation. A good starting point, but a little limited.
Fabulous rating: 3/5