Colombo is a short drive of 1 and half hour from Bentota, and after spending two leisurely days at Bentota its time for some crazy shopping at Colombo. This was a super surprise for me as well, as I wasn’t aware that Colombo actually has some amazing outlets where you can shop from. Personally I found it better that Bangkok when ti comes to shopping.
Galle is the fourth largest city in Sri Lanka and an increasingly popular vacation destination. With a wide variety of landmarks, eateries and high class accommodation, Galle provides a tourist experience that you won’t soon forget. Temperatures remain at roughly 26 degrees Celsius (but can sometimes go high) and the city’s climate is tropical, with no regular dry season.
I visited Sri Lanka in June end (pretty hot) but almost a very good season to travel across. Starting from Colombo --> Dambulla --> Sigiriya --> Polandua, we reached Trincomalee at the end of our trip. It takes almost 8 hours (a bit more or less) from Colombo, 4 hours from Dambulla. I travelled by public, non-luxury buses (definitely not with chickens) with local people, no AC and it was not horrible. They charged me almost $2 for the trip.
In a country where the overwhelming majority of the population (about 8%) has a car, the buses are the most popular option, not only for urban routes but also to cover long distances, such as the 400 kilometers that separate Colombo of Jaffna, lasting more than 12 hours.Yes... the bus trips are long... very long, made at an average speed of 35 km/h. The buses don't necessarily run at this speed, but due to the traffic, that even in national roads is intense, and mainly due to multiple stops to pick up and drop off passengers, as breaks for rest and meals. Private buses, which are the majority that runs on national roads, are even worse in terms of stops, as they stop to collect passengers at any point, not limited only to the bus stands.Travel on night buses take less time, but this service is only available on few routes, between the biggest cities.In Sri Lanka is few the express buses, that link two points without intermediate stops. However buses with air-conditioning, which are available between the biggest cities as also to the airport, have fewer stops, and some even use the recently open "expressways", a kind of highway that shortens travel time and increases comfort.
Another option is to take a train to Matra and a bus or taxi to your beach. There are wide choices of accommodation available from the pricey ones to dorm rooms. On our visit in February we found you can easily get a room after reaching the beach.2. The Tea plantationsSri Lanka produces some really good tea. The hill country is covered with tea plantations and they open their doors to visitors. You can expect a tour of the estate covering the plantations, tea processing techniques along with tea tasting. Most of these are free though you might be offered some paid refreshments. You can take a train or bus to get to one of the towns. Most of these plantations will be around if you are in the hills. A few plantations can also be found near the coast. These produce spices, coconut and rubber along with tea. Most of the visits are usually day tours but you can ask for accommodation in the estate. These are quite expensive and may defeat the free purpose.3. The Alternate Sigiriya
Anuradhapura is historically rich and is a UNESCO heritage site and is in fact one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
Being a hard core travel addict, i am game for any place that's new. In Dec 2016, i decided to travel to Sri Lanka. Like always, i had my homework right. Few places that was shortlisted as part of my journey includes Nuwara Eliya, Dambulla, Sigriya, Anuradhapura, Kandy & finally the capital Colombo to spend Christmas in town.I was mesmerised by the beauty of N/Eliya and decided to pen down a few words on this beautiful place that has the fresh breeze which touches every tea leaf, fresh veggies that is grown in abundance, trickling waterfall in every corner of the mountain. Wow, it was heavenly. It was hard for me to believe such a beautiful place still exist for someone who lives amidst concrete buildings and carbon mixed air.2 days is sufficient to cover the main attractions. The place is well connected from different parts of the city in lanka. It has gained its popularity through subtle tea plantation which attracts thousands of visitors, it has many water falls spread across different area, water from Lover's leap fall is used as the main source of drinking water by the locals.Temperature in December is typically between 12 -22* C, naturally it gets very chill by night, hence its advised to take warm clothing.Few places that i covered as part of this journey includes Seetha Temple, Hakgala Botanical Garden(entry fee is expensive), Mac wood tea plantation(got to taste the best tea in town here for free) Lover's leap waterfall(requires trekking of 2 kms up and down) Pedro tea estate( Entry fee is 200 LKR).I covered these places through local city bus which plies up and down with a frequency of 30 mins and decided to take leave from few other attractions which were difficult to reach as all the cabs and tuk tuk's knowingly comes with an expensive deal.If you are planning to visit Sri lanka, my advice is not to miss this beautiful place, not to forget, the locals ends their day within 8.00 PM, so remember to get back to base if you are dependent on local transport.
Yala Game Park is not the largest game park in Sri Lanka, yet with its variety of wildlife, it's the most visited. Even though Yala has one of the world's largest leopard populations, which is the apex predator in Sri Lanka. Seeing this subspecies & also the Black Sloth Bear still requires a little bit of luck.
But keep in mind, if you travel from Dambulla, you have to take one of the buses which are going from Colombo to Malee. No bus service was available originating from Dambulla when I travelled. And most likely, you'll not get a place to sit immediately after boarding the bus. For Solo Women backpackers - I travelled in shorts and it was comfortable in the bus. I didn't face any incident where people teased me or anything. By the time I reached Malee town, it was 1 pm (I started at 8 from Dambulla and this includes a bus repair on the mid way) and I saw the small harbours with pristine blue water. They were picture perfect. I was almost thinking this is it, nothing can beat this in such a place. I took a public bus from Malee bus station to Upuveli (Neelaveli is further and apparently more expensive). It took me a while to look for the hotels but I found few. It's a cluster of 8-9 shacks/hotels/resorts in Upuveli or may be a bit more. And you'll find all options starting from $7 (for a private room with bathroom No AC) to $$$ in big resorts, along with mid ranged hotels with pool and decorated bar in $40-$50. I chose the $7 one and that place happened to be the best bar at nights! French Hostel is what I remember the name was. Now you got there, there are plenty of things to do. Long bike rides, in empty roads, drenching in short and quick rains, the mountain temples, feeding the monkeys, trip to Nilaveli, morning breakfasts in near by villages are possible with a rented bike. I paid 250 SL Rupee, I had to keep my passport with the lady as deposit. I did both scuba and snorkelling, rate varies based on time. Dolphin watching and fishing is also possible. No whale watching in Malee, it happens in Merissa. Food is amazing, in all the restaurants, I chose typical SL food, with fish costing around $1.5 every meal. I also went to Nilaveli, for one evening. It is beautiful but expensive than Upuveli. And somewhere I found Upuveli more serene, calm and less crowded. There are also small beaches here and there in the city. Take your bike and just ride. Dip in the ocean and come back. On the way get into some temple, pose with kids, get fruits as blessings and ride on.
Day 4 and Day 5 (Bentota)Be sure to be well rested because this will be the longest drive of all the 7 days you will be spending at Sri Lanka. Bentota is a beach town which is a 5 hour drive away from Anuradhapura, so its best to start early so that you can still reach Bentota by late afternoon/early evening, leaving you with some time for leisure. I stayed at the Taj Vivanta in Bentota and was here for Christmas, so there was a great dinner being hosted at the hotel itself. There are many other resorts as well where you can opt for a pleasant stay.
So we landed in Colombo around afternoon and we decided to relax that day in Negombo itself and we had booked a bful Home Stay called Henderson Lake view residence. It was away from the main city therefore was a very quite place. We met the host family , had lunch and left to see Negombo beach which was around 5 kms from there. It was a nice beach and luckily the sky was extraordinarily stunning and we could capture that in out pictures. We took a speed boat ride, ate some snacks and went to the nearby market. When we came back, we met a lot of tourists from various countries who were staying in the same home stay and we decided to spend the evening listening to their travel stories . Below are few pictures of Henderson Home stay and Negombo beach
Unfortunately, the night life at Galle, Unatwana was shut down due to Full Moon day. The pubs were closed and the restaurants were forbidden to sell liquor. It was mostly dull, except for the scenic beach and the sounds of the waves.
As we start our journey from Colombo Fort railway station to Hikkadua, the happening beach destination in Sri Lanka, we could not but blame our luck for not being able to take the train which was unbearably late and as it arrived there was hardly any space to put our foot onto it. Taking a taxi to Hikkadua although not as beautiful option as train but was the best option in this situation.One might confuse Hikkadua for Goa as it seemed to be a mini-version of it.. Narrow lane with both sides dotted with shops selling souvenior and swim-suits, roads filled with foriegn tourists and road-side eateries, Beautiful clean beaches and beach-shacks with trance music playing in the back-ground.
Tangalle: If you are an early riser, go to the beach and see some baby turtles take their first steps. If you are not an early riser- be one, believe me it is worth the site.
Day 8Finally say goodbye to Sri Lanka and make sure to come back again soon for you haven’t even visited Arugam Bay or Jafna as yet! Approximate Cost Estimates Per Head (costs are estimated on the assumption that 2 people are travelling together):Flights – Rs. 10,000Visa – Rs. 1500Car on hire for 5 days (within Colombo you can take the local Taxis and buses) – Rs. 15,000Hotels – Rs. 1500 onward per day, so Rs. 10,000 in total (approx.) for 7 nights.Food- Rs. 10,000Entry fees to attractions/Interactions – Rs.5000Total: Rs. 56500 or $885You still have $115 to shop!Travellers’ TipsCarry Sunscreen Don’t fall prey to Tips. Almost everyone here who thinks has contributed to your trip in any insignificant way expects a hefty tip Do not visit any spice gardens and buy medicinal herbs or powders from there Wear your seat belt when in the car or get ready to cough up a fine.
On morning of 6th August we took train to go ella. Its like ooty and mussoorie in india. Its tea garden place. I recommend to take train to go to ella from kandy. As you can see very good landscape in route. I suggest to stay night at nuwara ella rather than ella. Nuwara ella is much cold than ella. We got room for 3 at 2000 slr near to public transport area as we have to take bus early morning to go to mirissa on next day. In ella we meet our friends from France. We spend evening together. we went to waterfall and caves together. This place is also very much famous for its tea. You can get flavored tea with strawberry chocolate flavor and many more.
No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without a visit to the “Lion Rock” Sigiriya and Cave temple of Dambulla that form part of the cultural triangle. Sigirya was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site forming the best example of ancient urban planning. The frescoes in the caves of the rock date back to the 3rd century BC were said to have been inhabited and painted by monks.
11. Talaimannar – Lord Rama Reaches LankaTHEN: This was Lord Rama’s first stop in Sri Lanka from where the conflict with Ravana’s mighty army began. After a lengthy battle, Lord Rama killed Ravana and then installed Vibhishana on the throne of Lanka.
Famous for Kite surfing and Dolphins
Things to do: Look for the place that points in directions of other international cities. Not far is the Hindu temple complex of Vallipuram and it's beautiful towering Gopuram. If you are looking for something more eccentric, then you may want to visit LTTE’s leader Prabhakaran’s house in Valvettithurai.
Things to do: A war museum in Puthukkudiyiruppu displays the weapons and assault vehicles of the LTTE. They were the first group to use the lethal 'suicide bombing'. The swimming pool where the naval wing of the LTTE used to train, lies empty deep in the jungles. Close is the submarine that the rebels were trying to build. That isn't all. You can also see remnants of a ship that was captured by the rebels. It may make you wonder, why a beautiful land like this had to go through horrors of war.You can read about all these war sites on my blog here: 8 sites where you can feel the war in Sri LankaHow to reach: Mullaitivu is well connected to Jaffna or Trincomalee by road. It is about three hours from either of these cities.Budget accommodation: 500-700 INR per person(though Jaffna or the more tourist friendly Trincomalee offer better variety).What to eat: Try the Kottu-roti, a stir fried mixture of meat, eggs, veggies and roti.So, pack your bags. Will you?Hope this makes you pack your bags and head for the island nation that is the flavor of the season.The Arabs knew the country as Serendib or the ‘island of thousand surprises’.And trust me, they were spot on.Follow my journey 'The 12 Project: 12 months, 12 countries, 12 challenges' and eccentric travel experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Eccentrips.com.
The bus terminals can be huge, as in Colombo, occupying a big covered area, or modest as in Pottuvil, where buses line up along the road. Also differ in terms of organization and information, but in general all have signs indicating the place were each bus stops departure, according to the destination.About timetables, these information usually doesn’t exist, being necessary to use the information desk, or more easily to bus drivers that always hang out at the bus stations.
So our first day at Beruwala (where our hotel was located) was all about relaxing beach side, enjoying sun and taking dips in the ocean.
Koggala is this small sleepy coastal town, situated at the edge of a lagoon. As our Tuk Tuk drove into this sleepy area we were amazed to learn that the town is bounded on one side by a rocky reef, and on the other by a large lake, Koggala Lake, into which the numerous tributaries of the Koggala Oya drain.
Katharagama is a temple town situated in the forests of south-eastern Sri Lanka. It is a one of its kind place, an amalgam of of nature, culture and faith. Skanda-Murukan is the presiding deity of the town. A warrior god for Hindus, the Buddhists believe he is the deified form of King Mahasena.
Do you like traveling to the tip of a country? If you do, then Point Pedro is waiting for you. Fishing boats lazily sway over the waters of the Palk Strait making for a pretty sight.
An add on to your list of "Must do's in Sri Lanka" is the white water rafting in Kitulgala. The river, sun and the mesmerizing surroundings capture all your senses. This indeed is my new found love. Sri Lanka was truly a delightful experience, I did not expect it to be this fascinating. It is now in my list of countries to be revisited. I definitely encourage you to add it to your bucket list. It will blow your Mind!
Our plan is to visit Delhouse (or Nallathanniya) which is one of the base for the trail to Adam's Peak. The trip from Kandly to Hatton takes about 3 hours and can be made by either bus or train. There is a morning train that leaves at around 10 am to Hatton and the I suggest you try to get a reservation on the day you arrive at Kandy unless you don't mind travelling, sitting nearby the doorway like I did. You can possibly get a bus to Delhouse directly from Hatton train station, during peak the season or else you have find your way to the bus station in order get a bus to Delhouse.
A place famous for spices, Batiks & a tall, imposing Hindu Temple
A small township with some beautiful scenery. The main attractions are the Ramoda Water Fall & the Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
After a week of traveling, we sit back and enjoy the sea while reliving our memories of the trip. Wadduwa is the perfect spot for that. What makes Wadduwa special is the fact that it's the closest beach resort to Colombo.
Pasikuada to mankerni to pasikuda to kandyToday is most travelled day. We have booking today for sea diving at mankerni beach at giman free resort. We reached there at 7 am. We took learning classes and paper work from lady named Roya. We did practice in pool. And then finally the time came where we have to take boat and go way away from beach inside sea. I was very excited as it was my first time for diving and i am not a swimmer.
Highly recommended -- nestled across the banks of the Yala national park is a hidden eco gem of a resort "Kumbuk River Eco Extraordinaire". Rated as one of the top 10 unique eco hotels in the world, this place has a 40 ft elephant hut made out of grass. The hut is shaped like an elephant and sleeps 2 families and the best part if even if it's just the two of you, you will have the entire elephant room to yourself as the resort values privacy. Stay here if you would like to sleep 'in the belly of an elephant'. Their Tree House Luxuria (which we booked) overlooks the raging Kumbuk River and if you are lucky you can spot wildlife across the river bank. Other activities offered by the resort include a mud bath, zip lining, elephant watch, Yala safari, etc. Truly a place to be if you want a unique & rustic Sri Lankan experience.
SriLanka has a huge coastline and beautiful beaches. The waters of the Indian Ocean are well suited for swimming and the quiet beaches are best to laze around. Many visit the famous beaches of Mount lavinia and Weligama studded with high end resorts.
This day typifies of what it is like to travel alone and without a plan! I started off from my guest house, planning to scale the second, less illustrious (and did I mention ,free) rock in Sigiriya, and then, changed my mind on my way, turned back, got my backpack from the guest house. As I was having breakfast, I got chatting with some taxi drivers who told me that Pollanaruwa, which I wanted to visit, but was flooded, until a couple of days back, was fit to visit. I changed my plan, then and there and decided to go to Pollanaurwa. Before I said goodbye to Sigiriya, I made a new friend, one who was a bit shy, as you can see from the pic below!