"A bit different..." Trincomalee by mafi_moya
Trincomalee Travel Guide: 28 reviews and 57 photos
Looking for a slightly different flavour of Sri Lanka to that of the villages of the south coast and the tea estates of the hills? Until very recently, Trincomalee and the east coast of Sri Lanka was out of bounds to tourists. War-ravaged for the best part of twenty years, any kind of tourist infrastructure was destroyed and the region was cut off from the rest of the country, becoming a chessboard for the tactical (and very bloody) games of the military and the LTTE rebels. Not just closed to tourists, very few Sri Lankans have actually been to Trinco, as it's affectionately referred to.
However, the current peace process has opened it up again and tourists (both foreign and Sri Lankan) are flooding back. A military presence remains and trouble does still occasionally flare - the LTTE may not be mounting all out offensives anymore but they still have a hand in political assassinations and public rioting. But growing numbers of people think the charismatic town and the stunning, unspoilt beaches are worth a visit. And besides, tourists are extremely unlikely to encounter any problems.
Those great beaches are a bit of a mixed blessing for tourists. In their rush to get to Nilaveli up the coast, many ignore Trinco itself - which personally I think is the area's key asset. What they miss out on is a sleepy fishing town with tons of character and very friendly people.
Trinco is most famous for its bay, routinely described by people who know about these things as one of the world's finest deep-water natural harbours. This of course attracted the interests of various colonial powers (and the Americans today if you believe the rumours in Colombo). It was a key British naval base in World War 2. But despite this, Trinco is far from your stereotypical port town - it feels more like a small village.
There are still plenty of bombed out buildings and walls riddled with bullet holes all around town, but Trinco certainly doesn't resemble a war zone and there are even a few genuine tourist attractions, the main one being Swami Rock Temple (Koneswaram Kovil). The people are a mix of Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims - and despite the horrific recent history most live, work and socialise together and get along just fine. Trincomalee offers something a bit different to most of Sri Lanka's towns and I found it quite uplifting as well as interesting and attractive. It's quite a trek from Colombo but it's definitely worth it.
In terms of public transport, you can get to Trinco by either bus or train. Air-con luxury buses from Colombo cost about... more travel advice
The bay (or rather bays) are what Trinco is most famous for. There are three main bays - Back Bay to the north of Fort... more travel advice
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