Sri Lanka Guide

Date visited Sri Lanka: 02 June 2017

                                                                                                  Duration: 2 weeks

6 Reasons to travel Sri Lanka in the off-season.

1- less crowds, the follow on effect of this means less tourists. Awesome!

2- Everything becomes cheaper, fewer people means demand drops and with it the prices come tumbling

3 – More relaxing. Debatable because  I can’t imagine Sri Lanka  to be anything but relaxing but go with me. It has perfect balance of Fewer people on the beach, less people in the hostels for you to have your own space and relaxation time.

4 – The weather is still beautiful. Prior  to our visit during Monsoon season it rained non stop for three days. The two weeks following during our trip was clear sky’s, sunny and 30° perfect days the whole time. Compared to NZ winter I know where I would  rather be.

5 – The waves are bigger. Surfers come to Sri Lanka during peak seasons for “Indonesia-esk” barreling waves. However they rarely go over 3ft. In the off-season it gets a bit more fun. Sheltered beaches like Weligama receive rideable swells of 4 to 8 ft monsters.

6 – You can get a last minute seat on the worlds most scenic train.

 

Ella to Kandy Train, Scenery, Tea plantations

Tea plantations through the rolling hills are the highlight of the 7hour journey

 

 

Transport

Singapore City, Singapore to Colombo, Sri Lanka

Air Asia (one stop over in Kuala Lumpur) LKR 25,050 ($164 USD) each.

The easiest way for us accounting time vs cost was to fly.

This journey included an 8 hour over-night stopover at Kuala Lumpur airport. The actual flight time was 4 1/2 hours in total.

After a restless sleep in Kuala Lumpurs flight lounge we finally boarded our flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka. We flew with Air Asia (both flights) though it is a budget airline our journey was pleasant. We had booked extra luggage for the flight and therefore also received a snack with water.

3 1/2 hours later we finally touched down. We were very excited for Sri Lanka and sharing this new experience together.

 

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0095.JPG

Colombo to Galle

LKR 400 ($2.60 USD) Total

We arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. With only 12 days in this beautiful country our travel route and itinerary were pre-planned.

First up Brett and I wanted to go surfing in the southern beaches, then travel inland doing a loop back to Colombo.

We needed to board a train for Galle on the same day.

Once we got out money at the ATM inside the airport, We boarded the E3 bus heading to Colombo Fort (main centre), bus stop is located across the road from the airport. The bus journey cost LKR 120 each and took around 45 minutes.
After arriving at Colombo Fort you must then catch a tuk tuk to Maradana train station, it should only take 10 minutes and cost LKR 200 for the whole ride.

“We read online that it was better to go straight to Maradana train station to catch the train to Galle as it was the first stop, giving you a better chance to get a seat than catching the train from Colombo Fort (second stop). – Don’t get us wrong, you may still miss out at Maradana.”

We bought our train tickets to Galle at the Maradana train station for LKR 180 each ($1.30 USD, 2nd class tickets). This journey took 2 1/2 hours.

“We were started to realise the trains are a very cheap way to get around the country.”

Once our train arrived (on time) lots of people crowded the plateform. Before the train had stopped people were already trying to hop on the train. No lines here, an intense mob pushes for the door so be ready! With the train door stopping right where we stood Brett was able to force his way on and grab two free seats!2

1/2 hours later we arrived at Galle train station and took a tuk tuk straight to our hotel, finally we had made it.

 

 

Delawella, Delawella swing, Sri Lanka, beach

The famous swing was unfortunately broken, lucky the beach was still so beautiful.

Galle to Unawatuna Beach

LKR 20 ($0.13 USD) Total for the public bus

Unawatuna Beach is only 5km from Galle. Its rated by many travellers as a nicer place to stay than Galle, with a better beach. We decided to check it out.

From the main bus station we asked which was the bus for Unawatuna, and hopped on and 15 minutes later our bus had arrived. This public bus cost us only LKR 20 each.

“So cheap!”

 

Unawatuna Beach to Midigama

LKR 38  ($0.24 USD) Total for the public bus

Buses between towns are the best way to get around. Ride with the locals, its super cheap.

“After trying to flag down busses, we noticed that they don’t pick you up from anywhere along the road. You will need to wait at the designated bus stop.”

Bus stops are usually marked on the road with a yellow box painted where the buses stop. We told the bus driver our destination and he gave us a signal when to get off. As a back up we always travel with an offline map app on our phone to track our movements.

The journey is around 25 minutes.

 

Weligama, Sunset, Sri Lanka, Stick fishing, beach, travel, adventure.

Sunset after stick fishing was unbelievable

Midigama to Weligama

LKR 15  ($0.10 USD) Total for the public bus

Another local bus to Welingama. It’s so cheap why not! As it was closer our fare was cheaper, we paid only LKR 15 each, it took about 5 minutes. Super easy!

 

 

 

Elephant, Udawalawe Reserve, Nature, Sri lanka, wildlife

Our indestructible elephant truck.

Weligama to Ella

LKR 1,700  ($11.00 USD) Total for the public bus and tuk tuk ride for 2 people

On our last day in Weligama we took a day trip to Udawalawe Elephant Safari, organised by Hangtime Hostel. It cost LKR 5000 (excluding entry fee) which included transport to and from the park, jeep around the park and breakfast.
Udawalawe is half way to Ella already, so we bought our backpacks along took a public bus from Udawalawe to Wellawaya for LKR 100 each. 1 1/2 hours.

At Wellawaya we could wait 2 hours for the next bus to Ella or take a tuk tuk, emotionally exhausted from seeing so many elephants we got a tuk tuk for LKR 1500 total, they dropped us at the hotel door and was 1 hour and 15 minutes, nearly half the time of the bus.

 

 

Ella to Kandy

LKR 400  ($2.60 USD) Each Total for 3rd class reserved train ticket.

Whats bandied around as the most scenic train ride in the world can be found here in Sri Lanka.
Ella to Kandy or vice versa is known for its picturesque views of the rigid mountain ranges, waterfalls and terraced tea plantations. It is definitely a must do when travelling Sri Lanka.

As this is a popular train amongst tourists and locals you will need to book your tickets early. The reservations open 30 days before the train and is usually completely booked out. While we were in Galle we headed to the train station a week before to book our tickets, 1st and 2nd class were already gone, fortunately as it was low season a few third class reserved tickets were still available. This class ended up to be the best seats in our opinion.

The journey is around 7 hours which is plenty time to take photos, relax and soak in the views.

Top Tip –  For unobstructed views, try get seats on the left hand side if going from Ella to Kandy.

 

Here is  a run down of how the train class system works

You can only reserve tickets on 1st class, 2nd class. If it’s a popular train there is sometimes a 3rd class reserved carriage. This means you will have guaranteed seats and no one will be standing up in the aisles. In 1st class there is an observation view with bigger windows and AC, this is nearly 4 times more expensive and as there is AC this means you can’t open the windows to take photos. We thought it better to opt for either 2nd/3rd class reserved to take photos hanging out of the train, you won’t need AC as it doesn’t get very hot through the mountains with the windows open.

If you didn’t manage to book tickets in advance, you can always turn up on the day, one hour before departure and buy 2nd class and 3rd class non reserved. There is a high risk you will not get seats, it is first come first serve basis.

 

Kandy to Colombo

LKR 190  ($1.24 USD) Each Total for 2nd class non-reserved train ticket.

All the reserved seats were fully booked, bugger. Our only option then was to arrive an hour before the train departed for 2nd class non-reserved tickets, with a high risk of standing (which we did). The journey took 3 1/2 hours and stopped at Colombo Fort station.

Alternatively you can take a bus but we thought the train would be the cheaper and faster option.

 

Colombo, Sri Lanka to Goa, India

SpiceJet (one stop over in Chennai) LKR 20,800 ($136 USD) each.

We were unable to find direct flights to Goa, so we settled for the one stopover in Chennai. This meant another sleepover at the airport, we had to deal with it. Flight times weren’t very long, it was just waiting at the airport that took most of our time. Service on SpiceJet was standard, this was our first time flying with them and other than a small delay the service was good.

 

Accommodation

Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle

Deluxe Double Room LKR 24,240  ($159 USD) per night

***Read full review here

 

We had just spent the previous 24hours commuting including a sleep on an airport floor. Jetwing Lighthouse was a complete flip of the script. Rags to riches.

Jetwing Lighthouse is a hotel which pulls out all the stops for its guests. Sea side luxury with super king beds and huge spa ensuites. We were revitalised by a cold towel and fresh coconut water on arrival. A second boost came when we walked  into our grand room. Dropping our bags we were swallowed up by our giant bed. Weightlessness never felt better to our tired aching bodies.

A fresh plunged coffee and we began to explore. A tranquil Infinity pool looks out at the raging seas. The bar area is a classy establishment with comfortable seating and a billiards table for socialising. The stand out feature, and what could be a tourist attraction in itself is the grand staircase. An artist impression of the invasion by the conquering Dutch twists it way up three flights in an incredible scene.

With a choice of room service, or an up market restaurant you’ll never want to leave. After cleaning up, putting our robes and settling in, a knock came at the door. Some complimentary chocolates arrived right on Que. Our perfect evening completed.

We took a morning walk along the sandy beach front before a buffet breakfast of everything imaginable filled us up ready for a day of exploring outside this wonderland  walls.

Jetwing Lighthouse in one night supercharged our biological batteries and had us feeling like kings. Flash packers finest.

 

 

La Villa, Unawatuna Beach

Double Room with fan LKR 1,524 ($10 USD) per night.

Situated a few roads back from the beach front, it’s a lovely, quaint and affordable place to rest your head. When we arrived the daughter of the owner checked us in and made sure we were settled in.

Our room was simple and cosy with an en suite bathroom, very basic but I suppose that’s what you get for what you pay for. The balcony area is very quiet and in the trees, perfect for relaxation.

The WiFi here is very stable, so we were happy to get some work done. Food is also available, we didn’t eat here but if it’s anything like other homestays, I bet it would be delicious.

Our stay here was short and sweet but we can recommend this place if you are on a budget.

 

 

Asanka Surf House, Midigama

Double Room with fan LKR 2,722 ($18 USD) per night

Asanka Surf HostelThis was Brett’s find on agoda.com and it was perfect! He wanted to come to Sri Lanka for the surf so we made sure to fit in 4-5 days for him to go surfing.

Midigama in the high season is usually really busy but while we were there, Brett and I were the only guests. It was nice in a way as we had the whole place to ourselves. Asanka is the owner and he made sure we were well looked after, he went down to the beach with Brett and showed him the best points to surf. You are able to hire the boards for LKR 300 a day here which is a great price.

Our room was basic once again but we liked it, comfy double bed with a mosquito net and an en suite. Breakfast is also included which is always a bonus! We had pancakes with bananas and coconut mmm our favourite.

The surf house had an awesome feel to it and in the high season I can imagine it would be pumping. There is beach access across the train tracks and road just for the guests. We do recommend going here in the high season as the surf would be better and cleaner, during the low season Weligama is more sheltered so there are better waves.

Before you leave make sure you get dinner at the house, home cooked curries with papadums and rice, it was so yummy we are still dreaming about that night.

We really enjoyed our stay here and hopefully we can come back in the high season.

 

 

Hangtime Hostel, Weligama

Dorm room LKR 1,500 ($13 USD) per night. Private room LKR 3500 ($38 USD) per night

Cheapest and best rates here

The word has spread through travellers like wild-fire in the two short years since Australian owners Niall, Nik and Maggie opened Hangtime doors.

Typically booked out in advance right through the high season. Another perk of travelling low season, we got ourselves in a stylish private room. The double bed is inside an old local style boat, a quirky feature which suits the decor of the place. The third story is where the hang out and restaurant are located, it has incredible views of the Weligama beach right in front of the hostel. It’s also a place you can always find a guest, volunteer or worker to hang out with, everyone is approachable such is the genuine and relaxed atmosphere.

Weligama, Hangtime Hostel, Boat bedPossibly the defining attribute which should be held high above all other when booking your accommodation, they have a real coffee machine  and know how to make a flat white. The homely comfort travellers so often go without. Another simple but life saving feature is the wall sockets, they are all universal! No more fighting over that one adaptor.

The guys at Hangtime will accommodate you with whatever you need. Organising safari tours, surf lessons or even have a local take you stick fishing anything you need can be sorted by this bunch.

 

Weligama beach is renowned for It’s 3-4ft clean beach break, it’s perfect for beginner and intermediate level surfers. Hangtime have all the boards you need in-house. So if you see a swell you can head straight out. What’s lesser known is that during  the off-season the wave size and power increases while the tourist numbers drop! A perfect combination for some awesome sessions on waves which can break over 100m from the A frame out front of Hangtime or down the beach at “the island” which splits the swell in two forming beautiful left and right breaks. Oohh take me back!

 

Ella Edge Resort, Ella

Budget double room LKR 3,665 ($24 USD) per night. Standard double room LKR 5,344 ($35.00 USD) per night. Deluxe Double Room LKR 7,177 ($47.00 USD) per night.

Beautiful sweeping views are what Ella Edge resort does best with all the rooms opening out to the stunning valley lying below. An idyllic location set back high in the mountains of Ella. Tea plantations and little Adams peek all within view.

Spacious Rooms all come with a large ensuite and finished with elegant Sri Lankan style decor. The sophisticated feeling is satisfying.

Perfectly Located walking distance from town and all of Ella attractions. We enjoyed  the comfort of Ella Edge resort after days on our feet hiking to the famous nine arch bridge, the second largest waterfall in Sri Lanka and other local spots.

Lucky us… While staying here were where upgraded to Ella Edge’s HONEYMOON SUITE! It was beautiful and made our trip to Ella so much more special because of the kind people here.

 

Ella Edge Resort, Hotel, Luxury, Coffee, Room Service, honeymoon suite

Moonlit dinner for two at the Ella Edge Resort

The restaurant at reception level again offers a stunning view  of the morning sunrise. Breakfast offers Sri Lankan style hoppers, fresh fruit, toast and coffee satisfies and fuels the day ahead. While the in-house Chef will make you a delicious dinner so you can stay in your comfort zone and watch the stars come out.

Helpful staff had all the answers to our many questions on local restaurants, trails, train times and various other activities in the area.

 

 

 

Theva Residency, Kandy

Suite Room LKR 30,500 ($200 USD) per night

We had arrived in Kandy via the scenic train from Ella, though the great views didn’t stop with the train ride. High in the hillside Theva Residency has a view stretching across the entire valley of Kandy town below.  A view accessible from the restaurant, infinity pool or in most cases from your room.

***Read our full review here

Our room was simply stunning. A modern stone finish bathroom with high pressure shower cleans off that road dust from travel. Into our hotel robes we dressed feet snug in the slippers. The minibar was tempting, instead we put on the in room kettle and made an exquisite tea.

Our bight room was finished with some beautiful and authentic artworks, more stunning pieces can be found around the hotel. We explored the games room with pool table, a selection of movies and board games. Then found the steam room and sauna next to the infinity pool and finally, found our chair at the restaurant for dinner.

Romantic and private. The food is little more expensive than the restaurants around town, though the experience is far greater than anywhere else.  The chef creates marvellously fresh dishes specialising in world-wide cuisine.

Our morning was relaxed and slow. I put on the Jacuzzi and we slipped out of bed and into warm bubbly water. Who said you can’t hot tub first thing in the morning. It’s one of the best wake ups I’ve ever had.

 

 

 

Jetwing Colombo Seven, Colombo

Studio Room LKR 38,010 ($249 USD) per night

***Full review here

In the biggest city of Sri Lanka, Jetwing Colombo Seven is the perfect accomodation for getting some peace.
Our room had the feeling of inner city penthouse apartment. With the curtains pulled a large window is revealed, brightening up the entire room, light shines across the bed through the glass wall and into the bathroom.

A desk allows work to be taken care of in comfort should it be required, otherwise a large deep bath is on had to de-stress. A small kitchen including washing machine provides a homely touch and was a timely clean for our packs. Exploring the luxury hotel further unveiled a gym, roof top bar and our favourite feature a roof top pool. The 360 view across the cities reaches provide the perfect spot for both a romantic sunrise and set.

Jetwing Colombo Seven, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Hotel, Luxury

Breakfast time at the Jetwing Colombo Seven

We love a breakfast buffet, not having to think or organize in the morning. Straight down to a table, food already waiting, coffee already hot. just dive in and set yourself up for the day. Jetwing Seven does a great buffet. A chef will cook you eggs any way you like, cooked and cold meats, cheeses, fruits, yogurts, fresh juices and pastries… you name it they have it! We indulged in our fill and retired back to our room. Sometimes you just need to lie back down.

We had a slow stress free morning which included another swim in our favourite pool before checking out no sooner than the required 12pm.

 

 

Food

  • Sri Lanka Curry, Curry, Food, Splash Restaurant, Weligama

    Selection of curries from Splash Restaurant. Our favourite in Sri Lanka.

    Roti – Popular food around Sri Lanka, here it is made out of wheat flour and turned into a flat bread. You can have it plain or with various fillings like chicken and egg.

  • Kottu (Kothu) Roti – is a shredded Roti with vegetables, meats and spices. You can also opt for just a vegetarian kottu. Very very tasty and one of our favourites.
  • Dhal curry – is found everywhere and the favourite to many locals. It is a vegetarian curry combined with turmeric, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves with soft lentils and creamy coconut milk. Absolutely delicious and definitely one of the meals I want to recreate when we get back home.
  • Coconut Sambal – An accompaniment to many curries it is grated coconut with coriander, lime and tomatoes stirred through. It provides an earthy flavour taste to contrast the curries.

    Buffet, Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle, Sri Lanka, Hotel, Resort

    Different style curry and chutney dips.

  • Wambatu Curry (eggplant curry) – Curries are usually served with other dishes as part of a huge, sharing meal with various other spicy, delicious curries. Wambuta curry is another vegetarian curry, but trust us you won’t be missing the meat here. It is an eggplant curry spiced with ginger, turmeric, chilli and mustard seeds with coconut milk addition. Mmm sounds so tasty.
  • Kukul Mas Curry (chicken curry) – very hot curry! It is combined with a variety of spices like; fennel seeds, curry powder, chilli powder, turmeric, cloves, lemon grass and lots of chillies, stirred together with coconut milk to give the rich, thick texture.
  • Lamprais – are rice mixed with either meat or vegetables packed and folded into a banana leaf parcel and served with a thick vegetable curry.
  • Seafood – you must try the seafood! There are many coastal towns in Sri Lanka where you will be spoilt with choice. From tiger prawns, red snapper, lobsters, crabs etc. It is more expensive if you are on a tight budget but worth the splash out!

    Jetwing Colombo Seven, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Hotel, Luxury

    Egg hopper for breakfast

  • Egg hoppers – not to be confused with string hoppers. They are a bowl-shaped, paper-thin, crispy pancake. The bowl has an egg cracked and cooked inside the base. Egg hoppers are eaten in the evening rather than breakfast and the presentation is on point.
  • Short eats (snacks) – found in the small food kiosks…. everywhere! They can include; stuffed roti,  samosas, vadai (deep-fried lentils, shaped into a ball or small doughnut shape) and pastries filled with either fish, meat or vegetables.
  • Ceylon Tea – tasted better at one of the tea plantations, making it that more traditional.
  • Arrack – There are not many alcoholic drinks here but we did find Arrack, which is a distilled alcohol made from herbs. It’s a great mixed with coke and quite strong (40%)
  • Lion Beer – is the local Sri Lankan beer, whenever we are in a new country we (mostly Brett) always try the local brew. Lion Beer was pretty good! Always refreshing after a hot day of sightseeing.
Beer, Sri lanka, Unawatuna

Lion Beer, local larger.

Recommended restaurants

Galle Fort
  • The Roti shop – upmarket restaurant serving Roti and curries, a delicious spot in Galle Fort.

 

Unawatuna Beach
  • Coral Light restaurant – recommended to us by a local, is situated on the beach front. They serve all the traditional curries and local drinks.

 

Welingama
  • Splash restaurant – perfect spot for lunch. We ordered the curry and rice which came with 4 different types of curry and rice. We shared this meal and lucky we did there was so much delicious food!
  • Hangten – restaurant located in our hostel rooftop (Hangtime). It’s the perfect place to hangout and chill. I love the vibe here and the food is on point! If you are not craving any more curries and instead some tasty western food, you have gone to the right place. We had the burgers and wraps here and they were delicious!
Ella
  • Chill restaurant – Highly rated on trip advisor. As soon as we walked in it was very busy with tourists, always a good sign. They offer food from all around the world, whatever you are craving you can find it here. We ordered a Sri Lankan curry and rice and it was absolutely delicious, it was a great meal as it offers 8 curries to taste! In the evenings make sure you get there a bit early as it is always busy. We really enjoyed the food here and the great ambience.

 

Kandy
  • Theva Residency cuisine – Fine dining at its finest, our hotel in Kandy had a world-famous cuisine restaurant so we had to sample the food while taking in the breathtaking views. The food is little more expensive than the restaurants around town, though the experience is far greater than anywhere else. The chef creates marvellously fresh dishes, the chicken pesto pasta was mouth-watering until the last lick. Bianca’s fajitas also went well past the ordinary. Specialising in around the world cuisines, take your pick.
  • Midland Deli restaurant – a more budget option, this restaurant is popular among many locals and tourists. It is a great place to order Sri Lankan style meals for lunch and dinner at affordable prices. Food is delicious, you can’t go wrong with a rice and curry from here.

 

 

 

Must see & do 

 

Light house Fort Galle, Fort, Monks, Sri Lanka, Galle

Walking along the fort walls brings you to this awesome lighthouse.

Galle

  • Explore the UNESCO listed Galle Fort. There is so much history here, 400 heritage houses, mosques, churches and old government buildings. You can walk around this beautiful area by foot as it is easy to get around.
  • If you like museums there are a few to choose from; Marine Archeological Museum, National Maritime Museum and the National Museum.
  • Walk through New Town, it’s nothing like Galle Fort but worth a look.
  • Dutch Market is 300 years old, selling the freshest produce. Come along and see the hustle and bustle.

 

Unawatuna Beach

  • If you don’t want to stay in Galle, Unawatuna Beach is only 3km away so you can easily do a day trip to the fort from here.
  • Relax, Sunbathe and swim here for a few days. Perfect place to chill and hangout.
  • Walk up to sunset viewpoint during sunset to capture the beautiful colours of the sky.
  • Take a 15min bus ride to Dalawella beach, this place is “instafamous” known for the Palm tree with a swing.
  • Visit the sea turtle hatchery in Habaraduwa. We headed over around 5.30pm to release 2 day old baby Olive Ridley turtles into the ocean. It was such a special experience. The hatchery not only protect turtle eggs but help injured and sick turtles recover. Once they are healthy they are then released back into the ocean. It costs LKR 500 each to enter the hatchery and LKR 4,500 donation for both of us to release 15 baby turtles.
  • Hire a scooter for the day and drive down the coast to find secret beaches you can have  to yourself. Scooters cost LKR 1000 a day. (Depending on yo haggle.)

 

Sea Turtles, Sri Lanka, Habaraduwa, Turtle hatchery, turtle rehab, turtle release.

We loved releasing these new born turtles from the Sea Turtle Hatchery, into the ocean.

Weligama

  • Perfect to spend few days of surfing! At Weligama beach it is more sheltered when the wind is up so the waves here are cleaner.
  • Head to Midigama and surf Lazy left or the reef break Ram’s right.
  • Experience an authentic South Coast Sri Lankan activity… Stick fishing. Local fisherman sit on the sticks over the coral to catch fish for their family and to sell at the markets. At Hangtime Hostel you can book yourself onto this activity and experience it first hand. Gune, the local fisherman will show you a few tips then leave it to you to catch the fish, he is an amazing fisherman and coconut tree climber! While you are fishing he will climb the coconut trees and give you a drink, it truly is a fantastic experience.
  • Rent a scooter and discover the pristine beaches in Sri Lanka, at low season you can get a beach all to yourself. Secret beach in Mirissa is a good find and Hiriketiya beach was our favourite.
  • Uda Walawe Elephant Safari (organised at Hangtime Hostel, LKR 5000 excludes entrance fee) – With elephant cruelty at the hands of the tourist dollar rife in some nations, it’s beautiful that ethical places like this park exist. The park is over 30,000 acres and home to over 500 elephants. Tight restrictions are in place for both your and the elephants safety. You must remain in the vehicle at all times. We roamed around the park stopping a distance from various herds of elephants going their business eating and dusting themselves. Some curious elephants wandered up to our jeep for a close up look giving us an unforgettable close encounter and some amazing photos. We saw over 40 elephants in our thrilling time at the park. An unmissable stop in any trip to Sri Lanka. ***Read full experience here

Ella

Ella Edge Resort, Hotel, Luxury, Coffee, Room Service

The view from little Adams Rock is stunning.

  • Climb up to little Adams peak for sunset or sunrise. We headed up at 4pm to catch the sunset, from town it took us 45 minutes to get to the top. We secured a good spot and waited until the sunset. The last part up the stairs is quite gruelling but worth it once you get there.
  • Watch a train pass over the magnificent 9 arch bridge – hike for 1.5 km to get to the 9 arch bridge, we got here at 9am and waited until 9.15 for the train to pass over, the architecture is truly jaw dropping.
  • Hike to Ella rock, adjacent to little Adams peak. It is a lot higher and this hike is 2 hours up to the top. Perfect to watch sunset and sunrise.
  • Get wet at the Ravana Waterfall – take a bus, tuk tuk or motorbike 6km from Ella to find the 25 meter high waterfall. This is a popular spot for locals and tourists to enjoy the view and take a dip in the water.
  • Visit a tea plantation – Ella is the hub of tea production here in Sri Lanka, making it a prime spot to do a tour and visit a plantation to observe the process of making tea. Popular tea plantations in the area are The Halpewatte Tea Factory, the Newburgh Estate and the Kinellan Tea Factory.
  • Book tickets for the Scenic train Ella to Kandy (or vice versa). This is one of the world’s most scenic train rides, passing through valleys of many terraced tea plantations and high mountain landscape. It’s also famous for taking photos outside the cabin doors.
Kandy, Sri Lanka, Temples, Buddhism

We spent a day exploring the buddhist temples.

Kandy

  • The temple of the tooth also known as Dalada Maligawa is a main attraction in Kandy. It is one of the most sacred Buddist pilgrimage sites in the world. Built in 1800, this is where Lord Buddha’s teeth are kept.
  • Browse through the Kandy markets to find great souvenirs to take home. You can find many exciting goods like jewellery, ceramics, handlooms and many more.
  • Visit the largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka, Peradenyia botanical gardens. Built in the 14th century, it is home to a variety of plants and flowers.
  • Watch a Kandyan dance and drum show –  Intense, spectacular show of dancers and drummers in traditional costumes. If you have time try to go to a show.
  • Head to the Ceylon Tea museum/factory, still a functioning tea plantation where you learn about the process of making tea.
  • Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage – PLEASE DO NOT GO! Before visiting elephants anywhere we strongly encourage you to research the ethics of the place. A quick look into the negative reviews on trip adviser reveals the cruelty of the Pinnewala park. Chains, bull hooks and cages are used by abusive mahouts to control the elephants in what is called “the crush”, breaking the animal spirit with tortuous methods, allowing ignorant tourists an opportunity to bath and feed them. Although it may seem like a great experience… this is not a wild animal, nor a natural habitat. This is a cruel practise and in our view should not be supported.

 

Colombo

After a full on 10 days exploring Sri Lanka, we were pretty tired and needed some well deserved R&R.

Here are some main things to do and if like us only have one day/one night.

  • Colombo Fort – today there is no fort but plenty of colonial and modern buildings in the area. There is an old Galle Buck lighthouse you can climb the steps of and explore.
  • Gangaramaya Buddhist temple – decorated with beautiful brass work, stone carvings and other Buddhist art, this is one of the most respected in the country.
  • Independence Memorial Hall – perfect to visit in the evening when the fountains are lit up, very stunning.
  • Galle Face Green Promenade – long stretch of green next to the sea, it’s a great peaceful place for walking, running and watching the sunset. In the evening, there are food stalls selling delicious street food.

 

 

 

 

Tips & Advice

  • The currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee
  • Organise your Sri Lanka tourist visa before arrival. You can do this online at www.eta.gov. lk
  • Plugs used in Sri Lanka are the three round pins in a triangle pattern. They operate on a 230V supply voltage and 50 Hz.
  • We were in the country for a few weeks so we bought a SIM card, they are so cheap and reliable it was worth buying. We went with dialog network as they are rated number 1 network. It cost LKR 500 for the SIM card and LKR 200 for 2gb data. LKR 700 total ($4.60 USD) and the network coverage was very good.
  • When catching the public bus make sure you head to the designated bus stop, we thought they would pick us up from anywhere on the road but that is not the case.
  • Sri Lankan’s head bob/wiggle = agreement/acknowledgment
  • High season is from November to April.
  • Low season is from May to October. Some people like us, enjoyed travelling in the low season as you get most of the beaches by yourself and can surf with 200 people less on bigger waves.
  • ATM’s were easily available at all the places we went too, we didn’t have any trouble with our travel card here.
  • Do not drink the tap water, try refill your water bottles hostels/hotels instead of buying the plastic bottles.
  • We mainly ate vegetarian food but depending where you go, you can eat meat and fish….. we just judged upon the restaurant.
  • It is a safe country, we never had the feeling of being threatened. Always just be travel smart wherever you go!
  • No trouble with language barriers. Most people could speak or understand English.
  • Public transport is easier to get around the country. For any long distance commutes we took the train and for any short-haul travel we used the bus, both were very easy to use.
  • If you are booking the scenic train from Ella to Kandy (or vice versa) make sure you book in advance for a guaranteed seat. These trains like many others can get pretty full. You can buy a reserved seat in 1st, 2nd and 3rd class. We got 3rd class reserved tickets as they were the only ones left and they were reasonable seats.
  • When visiting temples both males and females must wear longs which cover the knees completely also take your shoes and socks off, even if they are outdoors.

 

 

 

Helpful words and phrases

Several languages are spoken in Sri Lanka. The official 2 languages are Sinhalese and Tamil.

 

Sinhalese

Hello                                                Ayuboan

Asain Elephants, Udawalawe Reserve, Nature, Sri lanka, wildlife

Udawalawe Reserve allows the elephants to live wild and free.

Goodbye                                         Gihillā ennam

How are you?                                 Kohomadha?

Please                                              Karunakarala

Thank you                                      Istuti

Welcome                                        Sadarayen piligannawa

Pardon me                                     Samāvena

Do you speak English?                Oba ingreesi kathaa karanavadha?

Yes                                                   Ow

No                                                    Naa

 

 

Tamil

Sea Turtles, Sri Lanka, Habaraduwa, Turtle hatchery, turtle rehab, turtle release.

Little Olive Ridley turtle about to explore the big wide ocean.

Hello                                                 Vanakkam

Goodbye                                          Poyvituvarukire

Please                                               Tayavu Ceytu

Thank you                                       Nandri

You’re welcome                             Paravaa illa

Pardon me                                      Mannikanum

Do you speak English?                Nienga English pésuviengala?

Yes                                                   Amam

No                                                    Illai

 

 

 

 

Want some more inspiration?

See our Sri Lanka Travel Gallery for inspiring photos

Read our full adventure with elephants here

 

* Updated to 2017 prices; Please let us know if there has been any changes to prices or if you have any tips to add.

* This guide is written in our own personal opinion and all recommendations are our own

 

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Ahamed Nizar
    July 28, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Great post! Beautifully presented my home. Hope you guys come again!

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