Galle is a captivating city located on the southwestern coast of the Sri Lankan island nation. Known for its rich history and stunning architecture, Galle is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique cultural experience. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Galle Fort to the pristine beaches and mouth-watering cuisine, this charming city has something for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll take you on our journey through the sights, sounds, and flavors of Galle, and hopefully will help you plan an unforgettable trip while avoiding some potential pitfalls.
From Unawatuna, we moved just a few kilometers along the coast to Galle. Here, we planned to stay for 2 nights at a guesthouse located inside the fort walls. In particular, we were looking forward to enjoying real Indian food at the Galle Fort Indian Hut restaurant.
Inside Galle Fort
Galle is an old Portuguese colonial town that now functions as an over-priced honeytrap for unsuspecting tourists. After walking around this small town, there’s not much else to do apart from haggling prices with the local shopkeepers, in an attempt to avoid getting completely ripped off.
If you want to visit Galle, you can do this easily with a half-day trip. It’s really not worth the effort of staying overnight, since you can see everything the fort has to offer in under 2 hours.
Thenu Rest Guest House
Hoping for the best, we had booked the Thenu Rest Guest House 3 weeks in advance of our arrival (US$30 per night). This guesthouse is located centrally inside Galle Fort, and we had booked it for 2 nights.
When we arrived at the guesthouse, the Manageress told us they were fully booked… but they could put us up in another hotel around the corner, which she described as ‘same, same….’
We walked to the other guesthouse and checked out the room they were offering: It was a damp, dirty dump.
So, we went back to the Thenu Rest Guesthouse to tell them what we thought about it, in front of other guests in their reception. We also emailed the company we had booked through to start the complaints process (I sent them photographs of the room we had been offered).
The guesthouse Manageress offered to let us stay the 2nd night in their guesthouse, but there was no refund or offer of compensation for the first night.
OK, so by now we had blown off a bit of steam (this was not the first time this happened to us in Sri Lanka: We had a similar experience in Sigiriya). We weren’t going to let it spoil another day, so we took the flea-pit they’d offered us, but resolved to pursue compensation.
We spent just 6 hours in the room that night, and didn’t get much sleep. Lena couldn’t bring herself to wash in the disgusting excuse for a bathroom, and we didn’t undress when we lay down on the damp bed.
The next morning we returned to the Thenu Rest Guest House and were given a room that was just acceptable. Needless to say, we were not disposed to use any of the other facilities in the place.
The main problem with this guesthouse is the attitude of the managers/owners. They clearly think nothing of inconveniencing their guests, and offered no excuse, apology or offer of compensation. They just stared at us as though we were the problem.
After a lengthy email exchange with the online booking site, we were offered full compensation for the one night, plus $25 worth of points, and their apologies.
In conclusion, we were impressed with the booking site’s handling of this issue but sorely disappointed with the short-term cavalier attitude of the the Thenu Guesthouse management.
Galle Fort – Indian Hut
The good news about Galle is that there’s an excellent restaurant close to the lighthouse called The Indian Hut.
This relaxed Indian restaurant makes mouth-watering Mutton Masala and Chicken Tikka Masala, as well as delicious fruit lassies, all at reasonable prices. Following a trip through Sri Lanka, this distinctive type of cuisine makes a nice break from the ubiquitous Sri Lankan rice and curry.
Among the over-priced gift shops, we also found a bakery where they make orgasmic chocolate balls which you can order with a cup of tea… expensive, but very mmmmm!
Outside Galle Fort
By far the best values shopping to be had is in the markets outside of Galle Fort. Here, we found plenty of places for souvenir shopping, as well as places to eat.
In Galle town we got to try what I can only describe as Ceylonese-style fast food. This was Samosas and Curries served in a super-modern Burger King-like food outlet. A posh and sanitized version of street food.
After Galle, we were heading back towards Colombo, and the end of our Sri Lankan trip. We still were hoping for one last dip in the sea before taking our leave…
If you enjoyed Galle Fort Indian Hut, check out our Sri Lanka Travel Plan. You may also like: