Matara is one of the three districts in the Southern province of Sri Lanka. The coastal region is lovely with nice beaches, especially Polhena and Tangalle. The University of Ruhunu and the Uyanwatte stadium, which is the biggest in the southern province is located here. This is also the hometown of the famous Sri Lankan cricketer, Sanath Jayasuriya and a village in this district has been named Sanath Jayasuriyagama (literally meaning Sanath Jayasuriya village).
Weligama is a beautiful coastal area and one can see lovely fishing boats that look quite funny with two long poles balancing them on either side as they bob sideways in the waters. Also, unique to this district is the stilt fishermen. Stilt fishing as the name suggests is fishing carried out by standing on stilts in the water.
Also off the coast of Weligama is Taprobane Island, the only private island in Sri Lanka and the villa on the island was originally built by Count de Mauny in the 19th century and has had many famous visitors to the island, including Somerset Maugham, stay there but is now owned by Geoffrey Dobbs, the founder of the annual Galle international literary festival. The property can be rented out and is about 2000 dollars a day.
Vevurukannala Buddha, constructed by a Buddhist society project, is the tallest standing Buddha in Sri Lanka. Though it is a more recent work, it is interesting for its story house and the Jathaka stories passageway. The story house beside the standing Buddha statue has the story of Buddha painted alongs its interior walls providing an opportunity for visitors to learn about the life of Buddha from his birth as Prince Siddhartha to his becoming Buddha. And, even more interesting is the passageway parallel to the standing statue that allows one to climb up to the top of the statue. Along the passageway are painted all the Jathaka stories, which is an ancient fictional (for the believer, it is the truth and not a fiction) series of chronicles about all the births of the Buddha, his evolution into Buddha.
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The Galle road is generally the busiest road in Sri Lanka hence travelling the road from Colombo to Matara, one will have to face the traffic.
There are chartered flights to Dickwella and Deccan aviation is one such company offering the expensive water taxi flights.
The inter-city train goes around the coast from Colombo to Matara and takes nearly 4 1/2 hours.
Hiring a car or a van or using your own vehicle is the best way to travel to Matara.
There are inter-city buses that depart frequently from Colombo to Matara.
Apart from the hotel restaurants which are pretty good, there are a few smaller cafes in town:
|Beach Inns||Beach Road, Madiha||GUESTHOUSE||84|
|The Retreat Madiha||Pubudu mawata||Guesthouse||-|
|Ravana Ridge||124/A, Beach Road, Polhena||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hilten Surf Hut||Matara Road Midigama||Apartment||-|
|Reef Edge||No 11 C, Beach Road Polhena||HOTEL||-|
Internet cafes are available in all the cities and these are cheap and easy to access. Most hotels have internet access as well but are relatively expensive. There are various internet service providers (Sri Lanka Telecom, Dialog, Mobitel etc.) providing different packages: ADSL broadband, dial-up, WiFi. Please contact a service provider to learn more about the packages and prices.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country code for Sri Lanka is 94. Remove the intercity prefix (0) before the area code when dialling internationally into the country (i.e., 0112 688 688 becomes +94 112 688 688) when dialling from abroad). The two next numbers after 94 represents the area code, they are different for every district.
The use of GSM cellphones is widespread and the coverage is good. Dialog and Mobitel are two operators that have sales offices at the airport inside the arrivals lounge. Dialog Mobile has the widest coverage in the country including rural areas and has the best quality GSM / 3G / HSPA +/4G network. Mobitel also has a 3G/HSPA+ network. All the mobile operators are having same call rates due to floor rate tariffs. Therefore it is advisable to go to the network which offers you the best quality. All Mobile Operators offers cheap IDD Call rates. If you want to surf internet, best way is to buy a HSPA dongle and a Mobile Broadband connection. Dialog Mobile, Mobitel, hutch, Etisalat and Airtel offers prepaid Mobile Broadband services which can be activated and used immediately. Dialog is the Vodafone Roaming Network in Sri Lanka and offers the best range of Value added services for Roamers and the rates are cheaper. Etisalat and Airtel also provide cheap roaming rates specially to India.
Sri Lankan Post is the national postal company. Each city/town has a main post office and the villages will have access to sub post offices, either at the village or nearby village. Local post, through normal mail, is cheap and fast. However, to ensure that the post has reached recipient, it is better to send by registered post which will allow you to have a reference number which you can later use to check with your post office that your mail has reached its destination. There are local courier services. Aramex and Pronto are some of the ones in Colombo and they deliver mail the same day or overnight. For better tracking and fast services companies like DHL, or TNT provide a good service but are more expensive.
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