x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Don't let rain spoil your holiday in Colombo

A reader scheduled to travel to Sri Lanka for a wedding this month wonders if rain will rule out a side trip to Kandy.

We're off to Colombo for a long weekend this month to attend a friend's wedding. Even though it is monsoon season, we're planning a self-guided tour of the city, preferably on foot. We'd also like to spend a couple of nights in the hills of Kandy. Should we be concerned about getting around during the rains?

Because the monsoon showers are temperamental and therefore hard to predict, you'll find it hard to stick to a rigid itinerary. The best way to go about seeing Colombo is to decide on the things you'd like to do and places you want to visit, while keeping in mind that a heavy downpour can subject everything to a last-minute reshuffle.

Getting around on foot can be a beast during this time of year, especially if you aren't familiar with the city. Instead of trying to find your bearings while steadily getting wetter, hire a car for the day (from 2,700 Sri Lankan rupees [Dh92] for a sedan at local car rental agencies). If you don't want to drive the car yourself, ask for a driver who knows his way around the major monuments and attractions - it will save you time and energy.

Colombo manages to go about its business whatever the weather, so go ahead and tour the city, even if the rain is falling in sheets. Equip yourself with a sturdy umbrella, rubber sandals and a raincoat, and make sure your camera is waterproof. Then plan your day around a few important sites, such as Galle Fort, an extensively fortified old Dutch town, the historic Slave Island on the south side of Galle Fort, and Wolvendaal Church, one of the oldest cathedrals in Colombo, dating to 1813.

Kandy is best visited in the dry season (November to April), but some tourists prefer to go in low season, when the hills are shrouded in cool mists and everything looks freshly washed. Because Kandy sits 500m above sea level, the difference in climate is palpable immediately, and comes as a sheer relief from hot and humid Colombo.

Getting to Kandy from Colombo is a daunting prospect in the pouring rain - it's 115km by road, and what is otherwise a three-hour trip can take much longer.

If you're unwilling to make the journey in bad weather, take a flight instead. Sri Lankan Air Taxi (www.srilankan.aero/airtaxi/; 00 94 777 633 977) has recently started daily 9am flights from the capital to Kandy on two De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft, each seating 15 passengers. The 30-minute flight costs from 22,200 rupees [Dh740] return, including taxes.