Introduction

Galle (pronounced Gall) is the second biggest city in Sri Lanka. It was a Dutch occupied town for quite some time before it was handed off to the British. Because of their long occupation, the city has quite a bit of Dutch architecture, particularly around Galle Fort. It’s known for (selling) gems and precious stones, so there are a number of shops that sell jewelry with these stones.

Galle is a stark contrast to the rest of Sri Lanka. Many of the shops take credit cards, whereas most of Sri Lanka is cash only. The prices are a bit higher than the rest of Sri Lanka, but I also found the food to be more varied and tastier.

There’s a number of options for hotels in Galle. You can stay near Galle fort, where there’s good accessibility to numerous restaurants in walkable distance. More luxurious accommodations, such as resorts, will be farther out from the sites and restaurant choices will be limited. I opted to stay further away, in Villa Republic Galle (see my my review here).
There’s not much of anything different to say about transportation into and around Galle that differs from the Transportation section in the Sri Lanka page.
There are a lot of restaurants in Galle with more diverse cuisine than the rest of Sri Lanka, except for maybe Colombo. The prices are not too much higher than the rest of Sri Lanka (maybe USD 2-3 more per item).
Credit card acceptance is by far the best in Galle compared to the rest of the country (probably even better than Colombo). However, there are several ATMs that accept foreign bank cards.
Hot, like the rest of Sri Lanka. Galle was by far the most humid and muggy place in Sri Lanka.
The only specific health information for Galle would be to take precautions against mosquitoes and to be careful of riptides in some of the beach areas. Also, obviously keep hydrated.
As with Nuwara Eliya, the sunsets in Galle shouldn't be missed.

Sites

Cost: Free.

Hours: N/A

Time to spend: 30 – 45 min

Description:

The hospital has been around since the Dutch occupied Galle, but the Old Dutch Hospital isn’t just a hospital. It’s also the name of the shopping square where the hospital is located. The square also is where the District Court of Galle and the Southern Province Highway Patrol headquarters are located.

Verdict: Skippable, but nice to walk around. Also, you’re already in the area if you’re visiting the Lighthouse or Fort because it’s adjacent to the lighthouse.
Cost: Free.

Hours: N/A

Time to spend: 45+ min

Description:

Galle Fort was built by the Dutch, and is near Galle Hospital. You can see the Galle Lighthouse on one end. You can walk along the walls and see a small beach from above, or walk through it to get to the small beach. From the walls, you can see the Marine boardwalk in the distance, as well as the Japanese Peace Pagoda at Rumassala Rock.

Verdict: Worth visiting, but if you’re short on time, you can skip.
Cost: Free.

Hours: N/A

Time to spend: 30 – 45 min

Description:

The white pagoda has 4 images of Buddha’s stages in life: birth, first preaching of dharma, enlightenment, and parinirvana. From my understanding, there are several pagodas like this built around the world, under the direction of a Japanese Buddhist monk as a shrine symbolizing world peace.

In addition to the white pagoda, I barely noticed the statue of the Hindu monkey warrior demigod, Hanuman, near the Japanese Peace Pagoda as we were leaving.

Apparently, there’s a very good reason for the statue, which seems pretty out of place if you don’t know the history based on the legend behind the Rumassala Rock.

It is said that origins of the Rumassala Rock are from the Ramayana, a Hindu legend involving an Indian Hindu king (Rama), a Sri Lankan king (Ravana), and also Hanuman, albeit in a relatively small role. In the legend, Rama, his brother, and Hanuman came to Sri Lanka to rescue Rama’s wife, who had been kidnapped by Ravana. While in Sri Lanka, Rama’s brother was gravely wounded during battle and the only known herbs to heal him grew on a particular mountain in the Himalayas – the Gandhamardana. Rama asked Hanuman to retrieve those herbs. The problem? Hanuman had no idea what the herbs looked like. Short on time, he lifted the entire mountain and brought it to Sri Lanka. While on his way to Rama, a part of the mountain fell, and that piece is now Rumassala.

Verdict: Worth visiting, but if you’re short on time, you can skip.

Gallery

 

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