Back on track Travelling around Sri Lanka by rail has always been a cheap and easy way to explore the country (and preferable to those ubiquitous white minibuses), but service quality and comfort have been in decline in recent years. Now two companies are offering a more upmarket experience on train trips between Colombo and Kandy, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Badulla and Batticaloa. Attaching private carriages to the national Sri Lanka Railways' locomotives since late last year, Rajadhani Express (www. blueline.lk) and ExpoRail ( www.exporail.lk ) have received positive reviews from local rail-riders. Facilities include power sockets, air conditioning and, on ExpoRail services, Wi-fi and meals. Fares are very reasonable on both services, with a Colombo to Kandy ticket costing 950 rupees (HK$57) on the Rajadhani Express and 1,200 rupees on ExpoRail. Tickets can be booked online ahead of your trip. If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka this summer, note that, as of January, the country requires foreign nationals to obtain a visa online at www. eta.gov.lk rather than on arrival. Lonely Planet's latest guide to Sri Lanka is due for official release on July 1, but should start appearing on local bookshelves a week or two before then. Look out for the updated cover (left), and avoid the 2009 edition. Jumbo jollies The latest of a series of ladies-only packages to come out of Thailand is a 'Girly Getaway' offer from The Sarojin (above far right), a luxury resort at Khao Lak, which is about an hour's drive up the coast from Phuket Airport. Two- and three-night packages, available until October, start from HK$3,600 per person (sharing), inclusive of tax. For this, you'll receive: Garden Residence accommodation, a 90-minute traditional Thai herbal aroma massage for two at the Pathways Spa; an ?la carte sparkling-wine breakfast; two three-course lunches or dinners for two at either of the resort's two restaurants; and return private airport transfers with refreshments and those all-important cold towels. As an added extra, elephant trekking and/or elephant bathing are offered at 2,750 baht (HK$680) per person for both, or 1,900 baht per person for bathing only. For more details and reservations, visit www.sarojin.com . Open to offers Xiamen gets another foreign brand name added to its hotel scene tomorrow with the official opening of the Westin Xiamen (above right), a 304-room property located downtown, in the city's tallest building. A Renewal Opening Offer will be available on the hotel's website until the end of August, offering accommodation from 888 yuan (HK$1,090; plus 19 per cent tax and service) a night with 50 per cent off all food and drink charges (except room service). Go to www.westin.com/xiamen for details. Deal of the week Nanda Travel is selling a couple of cheap 'Early Bird' flights to India for departure up to the end of September, but you'll need to book by Thursday. The advertised fare for either Mumbai or Delhi is HK$2,740 for a round-trip ticket on Cathay Pacific, although once the airline's fuel surcharge is added, the price rises to HK$5,340. Still, this is less than half what's currently showing up for round-trip fares for both cities on the Cathay Pacific website. Tickets are valid for one month and are not eligible for mileage accrual. For reservations, call 2522 3137 or visit www.nandatravel.com , which also features a live chat pop-up window for easy assistance.