9 Days Itinerary in Sri Lanka @ $750 per person

Tripoto
22nd Dec 2018
Photo of 9 Days Itinerary in Sri Lanka @ $750 per person by Ashish G

Sri Lanka is one of those destinations which feel so close (to India) that you may not feel like you are travelling abroad. And yet, if you are looking for budget foreign destination which offers little bit everything of city, temples, hills, and beaches then you should definitely check out Sri Lanka as your next location. We travelled to Sri Lanka during winter break in 2018 for 10 days of which 8 were in Sri Lanka and 2 in travel. Itinerary was completely self planned and booked using travel guide which I published earlier.

Visa

Visa to Sri Lanka can be obtained very easily online ($20 per person, kids free) or on arrival ($25). Do use official website and no paperwork or travel agent need to be involved. I got approval within 30 minutes of filling in details. Your ETA approval will be recorded in the system but you may carry print out just in case. Visa will be valid for 6 months from date of application and for 30 days from date of entry for up to two entries.

Foreign Currency

Sri Lanka tourism industry (hotels, taxis, private attractions, etc.) quotes prices in USD, but payment is accepted in both USD or local currency LKR. Most places accept cash only so forex card will not be useful. Prices mentioned in this article use mix of currency, where ₹10 means INR 10, 10/- means LKR 10, and $10 means USD 10. Exchange rate at time of travel was ₹1=2.44/- and $1=180/- and $1=₹70.76.

You can estimate expenses of roughly 5,000/- per person per day for sightseeing, local public transport, budget food, and budget lodging on twin sharing basis, not counting flights expenses. You can increase this by 3,000-5,000/- per person per day if you are into fine dining and prefer mid-range hotels. If you are booking dedicated taxi then that will be extra as well.

You should obtain sufficient USD or EUR or GBP or major currency before hand at home country before travel. After you clear immigration at Colombo airport, you will see multiple currency exchange booths in arrival hall which are open 24 x 7. I found rate to be exactly same at all of them, and bought LKR from Sampath Bank's booth. No additional commission was charged. You should keep the exchange slip till end of the trip so that when you are returning you can sell LKR back and if you sell to the same bank then you will be waived commission (buy-sell spread will still be there).

Photo of 9 Days Itinerary in Sri Lanka @ $750 per person 1/2 by Ashish G
Photo of 9 Days Itinerary in Sri Lanka @ $750 per person 2/2 by Ashish G

Many websites inform that you may get slightly higher exchange rate in city outside airport if you find licensed money changers (aka 'jewellery shops') but I would recommend to not bother as difference will not be worth the time to find one. These shops also won't take your excess currency back. I also found that many of these money changer shops and mobile SIM shops don't open on Sundays in Colombo.

Also, you are theoretically likely to get better rates for large (say, $100) bills than small (say, $10) bills, but again difference is not likely to be large enough to bother (180/- vs 179.75/- when I checked).

Foreign SIM

In arrival hall, you will also find many mobile SIM counters where you can purchase tourist SIM. I had read that rates in market are cheaper, tourist SIM for 1,300/- vs local resident SIM for 300/- so I didn't bother to buy at airport. Later on, I couldn't buy because it was Sunday and ended up not buying at all. Pretty much all hotels and guest houses offer free WiFi but if you need to make call or need data on the go, then I will recommend you buy SIM at the airport itself for convenience. Two large telecom companies are Mobitel and Dialog and both have good coverage at common tourist circuit. I used my driver's Etisalat and found that to be sufficient too, at least for calls. So just go with whichever plan works out good enough.

Electricity sockets in Sri Lanka follow standards similar to India's so your chargers will fit in without any adapter. You may want to carry a pencil stub to use one of those pesky three-pin sockets, though.

Local Transport

We had arranged for dedicated private taxi for whole trip which costed about $50 per day, plus additional $10 daily for driver's accommodation for on-demand unlimited mileage all inclusive AC cab by Fantasy Lanka Tours. Driver accommodation is charged separately and new expense in Sri Lanka compared with India. You can pick taxi operator from TripAdvisor or have them bid for you at srilankacaranddriverhire.com. I was quoted rate from $360 to $580 for same duration, and you have to use ratings, reviews, and your comfort factor to pick one. They will accept both USD and LKR in payment, and some may demand 20%-50% advance. We were demanded 50% advance only on first day of tour.

You should verify if any and all of fuel, toll, parking, driver lunch, driver dinner, driver accommodation, full insurance, mileage limit, English speaking driver, guide services, etc. are covered. Further, you should specify itinerary as clearly as possible so that they don't bother at last minute about going outside the estimate. You should also specify sedan vs vans as later is fairly common too. TripAdvisor Sri Lanka forums have good guide on trade off between dedicated cab and point to point cab booking, though I suspect their prices are bit outdated. Lastly, do note that drivers expect tips at the end of service which could be 500/- or $10 per day depending on your comfort level.

Public transport is cheap and similar to India so if you are adventurous then you can try local buses and trains. You will miss on the way sightseeing stops though if you go for buses. Auto-rickshaws, called tuk-tuk, are fairly common but charge 100-200/- per km from tourists. Buses cannot be be booked online or in advance and you have to just walk to nearest bus stop. Trains can be, though. Two-wheeler are available for hire to within cities, and while I don't have direct information, I am told that rates are 2,200/- per day plus fuel extra.

My Itinerary for 10 Days

Day 1

We left Bangalore early morning 8 am by train to reach Chennai by afternoon 3 pm. We had a Sri Lankan Airlines flight to Colombo that evening at 9 pm, as flights to Colombo work out cheaper from Chennai. After short 75 min flight in which we were offered a cup of juice and a small sandwich we landed in Colombo around 11 pm.

If you don't have ETA then there are payment counters just before immigration queue. If you do, then you can directly join the queue. It was long queue but short quick and easy process and we cleared in about 30 minutes. Immigration form expects your Sri Lankan address so you should have at least one/first hotel booking done in advance.

After exchanging money, we looked for taxi for our hotel. Since we didn't have mobile data yet and didn't buy SIM, we couldn't book Uber or local ride hailing PickMe and just asked around counters for quotes. Most were quoting similar rates but we found Airport Taxi to be slightly expensive. Do confirm if toll is included in the price quoted or not. We booked one from Airport Tourist Driver's Association booth for 3,000/- including 250/- toll.

We had booked Ashan's Cozy Apartment via booking.com, and it turned out to be home stay. It had a large AC room with 6 person capacity, with private but outside bathroom. There were no lifts though and we had to lift our luggage through two flights of stairs. WiFi was okay but patchy.

Day 2

Next day we left around 10 am for Colombo City tour. Independence Square is simple structure commemorating Sri Lanka's independence from Britain in 1948. There is small museum (closed on Sunday) and park nearby and you can just hang out for an hour or so there.

Photo of Independence Square, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

Gangaramaya Temple (5:30 am - 10 pm, 300/- entry ticket) is must see place. There are two separate temples accessible with same ticket so keep hold of ticket till you visit both. One on the Beira Lake is small and other one is huge with many smaller temples, exhibits, museums, and sitting areas. Main temple was stunning in beauty and had very peaceful ambiance. You can also do boating on Beira Lake (130/- for 30 min, 70/- for child) and there is small island to walk around near smaller temple. We met a snake charmer on the side walk who let us touch and play with monkey and python for 200/-.

Photo of Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

We drove by local Pettah market and Red Mosque (cannot go in) which looked very much like any Indian market. Our driver also drove around ministers and military leaders homes. Dutch Hospital Shopping building nearby houses upscale restaurants (approx. 4000/- per meal), one of which, I am told, 'Ministry of Crab' requires few days' advance reservations.

Photo of Dutch Hospital - Shopping Precinct, Hospital Street, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

Evening was spent at Galle Face Green which is beach side area full of activities. It's a rocky beach so at best you can wet your toes, but there was lot of local crowd, food stalls, kite flying (100/- cheapest), and horse riding (100/- for 5 min). It was good 3 hour spent just looking at Colombo Port and enjoying sea breeze. Before dinner, kids spent time playing in Viharamadevi Park. Pre-Christmas period had parts of town in lights and decors.

Photo of Galle Face Beach, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Galle Face Beach, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Day 3

Other attractions we skipped are National Museum (9 am-6 pm, last entry 5 pm, 250/- adult, 150/- children), Kailawasanathan Hindu Temple (6 am-10:30 am, 4:30 pm-7 pm), Seema Malakaya Temple, Isipathanaramaya Buddhist Temple, Bally's Casino, Water World Lanka (aquarium, 600/-). We stopped over at Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple on third day morning for 20 min which is good but not a grandiose temple.

Photo of Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple, Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Himi Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple, Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Himi Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

After leaving hotel around 10 am, we reached Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage around 1 pm. Story behind orphanage is that it takes care of abandoned calves and tends them to youth, though for tourist purposes you can consider it open zoo. There is also separate zoo nearby and you can also take elephant ride. Orphanage has three broad time slots: milk feeding to calves, fruit feeding to elephants, elephant bathing, so you should try to plan your arrival at beginning of one of these. You will be shuffling between hold area for feeding and river for bathing. One ticket (700/- SAARC adult, 350/- SAARC child) gets you multiple access to all events. Sri Lanka can be very hot even in December and afternoons are worst. Despite that you can easily spend 2-3 hours here watching elephants eat, play, relax, dance, and what not. They even have huge hose spraying elephants in river, though we expected more frolicking in water it was still good experience.

Photo of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Bus Stop, Kegalle-Rambukkana Rd, Rambukkana, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Bus Stop, Kegalle-Rambukkana Rd, Rambukkana, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Bus Stop, Kegalle-Rambukkana Rd, Rambukkana, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Bus Stop, Kegalle-Rambukkana Rd, Rambukkana, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

We left orphanage by 4 pm, and found one restaurant still serving lunch! After basic rice and curry lunch (250/-) we reached Kandy by 7 pm that night and checked into our home stay Jily Stay. Room was cozy with three bed, sofa, and bathroom. There was no AC but only standing fan which we found okay for the weather there. Breakfast was included and owner lady was kind enough to serve bowl hoppers, canned juice, bread, and banana next morning.

Day 4

About 9 am we left for local sightseeing. First stop- Kandy Lake view point. We spent about 30 min taking pictures and moved on to famous Temple of Tooth Relic. Temple has many small free temples, and one main paid (1,000/- for SAARC adults, child free) temple. Finding the ticket counter can be bit tricky though, as we just followed the crowd (and it was a lot, shoulder to shoulder) and didn't see one, until we were stopped (we looked like foreigner, I guess, even as Indians and Sri Lankans look much alike) and had to go out (locals go free). Photos are not permitted and honestly you don't get to see the alleged tooth of Lord Buddha. You will not miss anything even if you skip this temple. World Buddhist Museum and Kandy Garrison Cemetery are some attractions nearby the Tooth Temple but we couldn't really find them at place Google Maps mentioned!

Photo of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

After lunch in market nearby (few pure vegetarian dosa restaurants), we retired for afternoon nap. About 3 pm we left for Bahiravokanda Viewpoint Temple (250/- entry ticket) which houses large Buddha statue on top of hill and where you can also climb up to head of statue (stairs bit out of sight). It was great view from the top and breeze was amazing. Temperature had cooled down by now.

Photo of Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue, Bahirawa Kanda Road, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue, Bahirawa Kanda Road, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

Around 4:30 pm we left for culture show which our driver had arranged. I had read of three locations for culture show: Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre, Kandy Lake Show, and Mahanuwara YMBA, and we ended up with YMBA one. It was slotted for 5 pm, though didn't start till 5:30 pm, but you should reach by 5 pm anyway to pick front seats. Honestly, I was underwhelmed by the quality, but for 1,000/- per adult it wasn't expensive. Whole dance had amateurish feeling and not well rehearsed. You would have seen better dance at your college festival, for example.

Post dance, we had planned to walk around the Kandy Lake but it was dark and there were no lights or activity around. Other attractions we skipped in Kandy are Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya (1,500/- entry ticket) and Udawattekele Sanctuary (jungle to walk around for 2 hr, 500/-). You can also make a day trip to Sigiria via Dambulla Cave Temples (ticket 3,000/-) and Matale Hindu Temple which has famous Pidurangala Rock (ticket 500/-) and Lion Rock (ticket 5,500/-) for hiking.

Day 5

We left for Ella via Nuwara Eliya on fifth day morning about 10 am. This route is one the most picturesque drive filled with lush green valleys and waterfalls all the way. Many people take 7 hour train journey on this route which is even more breathtaking. There are many tea gardens on the way. Pedro's tea factory is famous (we skipped) but there are many on the way and I think any would have been fine. Hanuman Temple en route on hill top, run by Chinmaya Mission Trust, had amazing views and good books on sale on Hinduism. They also had lunch buffet but we found that to be bit expensive (750/-). Ramboda waterfall view point is also notable.

Photo of Ramboda Falls, A5, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ramboda Falls, A5, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ramboda Falls, A5, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ramboda Falls, A5, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ramboda Falls, A5, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ramboda Falls, A5, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

We stopped so many times to take pictures that it was 4 pm when we reached Nuwara Eliya and we still had 2 more hours to go. Hence we skipped following attractions worth visiting in Nuwara Eliya: Victoria Park (300/- ticket) and Gregory Lake (200/- entry ticket, offers boating, rides, etc.), and Lover's Leap waterfall.

Seeta Amman Temple en route is also beautiful, and one of the two spots in Sri Lanka associated with Ramayana. Legend has that this temple was Ashok Vatika where Seeta Ji was kept by Ravana. This temple is free and that was surprise too as pretty much everything is ticketed for foreigners. Do consider donating here. There is also place where Seeta supposedly took Agni Pareeksha (called Agni Pravesh) but we skipped it.

Photo of Seetha Amman Temple, Seetha Eliya, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Seetha Amman Temple, Seetha Eliya, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

There are many spice gardens before Ella city, most of which give you 10 min free (or 100/-) tour and show herbs and spice plans, and try to sell you herbal medicines. We reached our hotel Madhushanka Resort in Ella by 8 pm. This was situated in such a narrow uphill road that our driver refused to take his car and we hired a tuk-tuk to lug our bags. Room was bit cramped, one double bed, and a balcony. AC or fan was not needed here as well.

Day 6

We left for Nine Arches Bridge around 8:30 am next day, which was good thing because we could see the passing train at 9:10 am. There is slippery trek down to the tracks and crowd on the tracks there made us bit surprised as being from India train tracks are not something you consider tourist places. We just saw from top and while view is good, it's not anything different just because a train passes through the bridge. You may have to hire a tuk-tuk or walk last kilometer or so as cars don't go on dirt road to view point. Many hotels and restaurants have train time tables so you can plan to coincide your trip if you like. One warning: weather post 4 pm with minor drizzle was very cold last night, and this being hill station we donned our sweaters for the day. Big mistake! Everything is so hot even there.

Photo of Nine Arch Bridge Road, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Nine Arch Bridge Road, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

On our hike to Mini Adam's Peak, we pretty much all took off our shirts and walked in vests, which wasn't too bad as pretty much everyone there was white tourist in even skimpier dress. It's about an hour long hike and we were able to do with young kids too so it's nothing to be discouraged about. Hike is one-third walk (or tuk-tuk 300/- one way), one-third walk, and one-third climb on stone steps and rocks. View and breeze would have been great were not for hot sunny afternoon. There is also 4 hr hike at main Adam's Peak, aka Sri Pada.

Photo of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

Ella restaurants can be relatively expensive, we found, with basic meal costing 500/-. Post lunch, we drove to hike Ravana's Cave (150/- ticket). This is second spot in Sri Lanka connected with Ramayana. Legend has that Ravana had hid Seeta here after abduction. This hiking was shorter, 600 steps and some rough terrain, but more beautiful in my view, as we entered dark cave dripping water gave the environment vintage feeling. There is small tea stall on the way which was (surprisingly) reasonably priced and cup of tea with breeze and background was memorable experience.

Photo of Ravana's Cave, Ella, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ravana's Cave, Ella, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ravana's Cave, Ella, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

Ravana's Waterfall (free) is also place one can spend more than an hour. It's loud waterfall which rocky access where you can get sprayed with fine mist. Ella is definitely one the breathtaking place I've seen and both hikes are worth doing.

Photo of Ravana Falls., A23, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Ravana Falls., A23, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Day 7

We slotted Udawalawa National Park elephant safari for next day, and departed our hotel at about 10 am. I was under the impression that safari timings are morning 6 am or afternoon 3 pm (based on online booking websites) but realized there that safari can be done anytime 6 am to 4 pm. You will have to hire safari jeep from outside first. Drivers have all unionized, and are represented by one person, and you cannot talk to multiple drivers to bargain, so you don't really have much option. "Boss" guy quoted $95 for jeep plus entrance ticket, and later 8,000/- for jeep alone, and finally settled at 6,000/-. No need to book in advance, unless you want the jeep to pick you up from nearby hotel within 20 km. Jeep can sit 6 people so it is advantageous to combine with other tourists but we were only Asians there and other white tourists had pre-booked through tour packages so didn't bother to combine, and their guide didn't let us combine.

After booking safari jeep, you will have to buy entrance ticket which has sliding scale with number of people (8,350/- for two; another reason to join with large group). Safari lasts for 2.5-3 hours depending on your interest. Unfortunately for us, being Indians, seeing water buffaloes and peacocks dancing wasn't as exciting was it perhaps was for others. There were lots of cranes and elephants too, but having visited Pinnawala, they weren't interesting too. I regret this decision of my trip, considering that this was single most expensive attraction I paid for. Not to mention rough bouncy jungle roads gave literal pain in my neck. I'd recommend you skip this and add additional day to Nuwara Eliya. There is also another popular national park called Yala, but I've heard that that's even more expensive.

Photo of Udawalawa, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Udawalawa, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Udawalawa, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Udawalawa, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

We reached out hotel Kiss Lanka Surf Palace in Weligama by 8 pm, though to our distress found weather very hot, room closed, no AC, and no fan! We had to cancel the room on spot - and owner was kind enough to understand - and find another room immediately. Booking.com showed a nearby and cheap option (a relief, for such short notice) called Hispaniola Inn but our worry only extended as we found place deserted with only one old guard. Turns out hotel was new and we were first customer! Hotel owner was in different city, and they didn't have much experience running hotel, and local representation (father of owner) didn't speak English, so every conversation was phone call to the owner. After lot of discussion, having few other reasonably priced options, we decided to stay there. Apart from that hassle, this was really nice room, large double bed, with AC, chairs, safe, fridge, etc.

Day 8

We went to Tangalle beach next morning, having read it to be the best beach among all, in a coastline which spreads from Bentota to Hikkadua to Galle to Mirissa to Matara to Tangalle. Well, it's okay but I wouldn't call it best. Beach is small, clean and quite with literally no waives! There was thankfully a changing room there and police on duty.

Photo of Tangalle, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Tangalle, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

We spent about 3 hour playing around, had lunch, and reached at Matara beach by 4 pm. This beach had children play area which kids enjoyed a lot, and breeze was great, so it was fun to just sit and watch. There is small (free) island temple nearby. After dinner at Mayura restaurant (cheap, tasty) nearby, we retired for the day.

Photo of Matara, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Matara, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Day 9

Our driver had arranged for Whale Watching tour (5,000/- per person, kids free) next morning, through Mirrisa Whale Horizon ship for which we left at 6 am. Unfortunately, we didn't see any whales but saw two pods of dolphins. You go very far out in the sea and water is rough and wind is strong, and this is something unique about this experience. However, apart from that this is also skip-able activity I feel, since even in best case scenario you are going to see just back and fins of Whale.

I also felt that ship crew knew no whales were going to be around but they just went anyway, and intentionally had rough ride, so that by 4 hours in, most passengers had vomited and given up, and they had easy time convincing passengers to return back without watching whales while at the same time making it appear passengers' decision. I won't necessarily blame Horizon for this though, as all ships pretty much had same routine.

If you do go, note that wind is strong (no need for caps), and it can be cold (light jacket is fine), water and sandwiches are provided free, and ticket prices may differ for lower deck and upper deck. We were fairly exhausted by the time ship returned at 1 pm - there is something in strong breeze which is simultaneous pleasant and exhausting even if you have done nothing but sat on a boat - and went to our hotel for lunch and nap.

In evening, we went to nearby Weligama beach which is famous for surfing lessons and I took one for 2,000/- for 90 minutes plus tips. There were hundreds of people trying out surfing there. It was different experience, though I do pity my instructor given my utter failure to be to able to learn anything that day.

Photo of Weligama, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Weligama, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

Restaurants around Weligama beaches were all expensive, relatively, with 1,000/- per person cost. After light dinner at Golden Bay Resort, we called it night.

While I found beaches in Sri Lanka okay, I wouldn't call them any better than Goa or Kovalam, and definitely nothing like Radhanagar in Andaman Islands. If you like, you can try other popular beach options like Hikkadua (famous for snorkeling, glass bottom rides) and Bentota instead of Mirissa/Tangalle. I am told one can see turtles in water in Mirissa beach. Unawatuna beach near Galle is also popular. Other attractions which we skipped are: Galle Fort, Japanese Peace Pagoda, etc. in Galle. Google Trips app comes handy in collecting your reservations in one place and providing nearby tourist attractions.

Day 10

Last and tenth day was return to Colombo to catch a 2 pm flight back. For most routes in Sri Lanka taxis run at about 30-40 km per hour, due to hilly terrain, single lane roads, and random traffic jams. Except this return Expressway covered 150 km in less than 3 hours.

You can sell your excess local currency back before check in. I was provided USD back in smallest denomination of $5 bills. I don't know if they carry $1 bills. Expert tip- Use bank's exchange rate night before (e.g. for Sampath Bank) to have just enough amount in LKR (plus 20-30/- extra) to sell back, and spend rest of it. Airport has free WiFi as well.

Adios Sri Lanka, or as locals call it often, Ceylon!

We reached Chennai by 3:30 pm, booked an Uber to Kyambadu and hailed private AC sleeper bus to reach Bangalore at midnight of new year!!

Note on Food

Sri Lankan food is generally cheap, and hence we didn't pack any of Maggie or MTR packets. We found that for vegetarians options are very limited. Whole cuisine essentially has 5-7 options:

* Rice & Curry - staple and most common option, 150/- at roadside cheapest way to fill your tummy, rice with mix of curries, common being (dry) dahl, (gravy) potato, (dry) banana flower, jackfruit, mango, etc.

* Rotti - paratha like bread made from white flour (maida), with fillings, veg and meat (okay to eat, bland in taste)

* Kottu - paratha like bread pieces mixed with veg/meat crumbs (didn't like)

* Pittu - lumpy rice, eaten with curries

* Hopper - string or bowl shaped, made from dosa batter, eaten with potato or dal curries (good, tasty)

Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G
Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ashish G

Other, non-Sri Lankan options were:

* Veg Fried Rice - not at all you imagine or get in India, barely eatable

* Veg Fried Noodles - some kind of rice noodles, served with soya sauce, barely eatable

Restaurants and hotels don't serve free drinking water, which was strange but we faced this consistently at all hotels and all restaurants, hence you need to buy drink or carry your own. We saw locals drinking tap water, but weren't sure if we could. 5 liter cans are available from every convenience store at 150/-. 1 liter may cost 70-100/-. Cargill Food City is popular mini-mart chain where you can buy grocery, packaged food, and toiletries if you miss them. Prices are comparable to India's.

Note on Traffic

Sri Lanka is cleaner country than India, if not at world standard. No garbage dumps but litter wasn't uncommon. Roads are better, though mostly 2-lanes. Traffic is lighter than India, though random jams still happen, but driving sense is slightly better too. We didn't hear much honking or see much overtaking or signal breaking there. Two-wheelers still try to cut through though.

Overall Costing

Chennai to Colombo return flights for 4 = ₹53,800* = ₹13,450 per person

Bangalore to Chennai & return, local taxi, food, etc. = ₹3,500

Visa for 2 adults = $40 = ₹2,948 = ₹1,474 per person

Private taxi for whole trip = $510 = ₹36,100

Hotel Colombo for 2 nights = 8,500/- = ₹3,480

Hotel Kandy for 2 nights = 7,750/- = ₹3,180

Hotel Ella for 2 nights = ₹3,640

Hotel Mirissa for 3 nights = 9,500/- = ₹3,900

Average Hotel rate per night = ₹1,580

Udawalawa safari for 2 = 6,000/- + 8,350/- = ₹5,880

Whale watching for 2 = 10,000/- = ₹4,100

Driver and other tips = 4,500/- = ₹1,840

Other sightseeing tickets, food, and miscellaneous = ₹10,940 for whole duration

Total everything = ₹1,33,300 for 2 adults and 2 kids

Total per adult person for 9 days = ₹53,200 = $750

Average per person per day = ₹5,900

*we booked just 40 days in advance for peak December season, otherwise flights cost about ₹9,500-₹10,000 per person

Be the first one to comment
Related to this article
Weekend Getaways from Chennai,Places to Stay in Chennai,Places to Visit in Chennai,Things to Do in Chennai,Chennai Travel Guide,Places to Visit in Tamil nadu,Places to Stay in Tamil nadu,Things to Do in Tamil nadu,Tamil nadu Travel Guide,Things to Do in India,Places to Stay in India,Places to Visit in India,India Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Colombo,Places to Visit in Colombo,Places to Stay in Colombo,Things to Do in Colombo,Colombo Travel Guide,Things to Do in Sri lanka,Places to Stay in Sri lanka,Places to Visit in Sri lanka,Sri lanka Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Kandy,Places to Stay in Kandy,Places to Visit in Kandy,Things to Do in Kandy,Kandy Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Ramboda,Places to Visit in Ramboda,Things to Do in Ramboda,Places to Stay in Ramboda,Ramboda Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Nuwara eliya,Places to Visit in Nuwara eliya,Places to Stay in Nuwara eliya,Things to Do in Nuwara eliya,Nuwara eliya Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Badulla,Places to Visit in Badulla,Things to Do in Badulla,Places to Stay in Badulla,Badulla Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Udawalawa,Places to Stay in Udawalawa,Places to Visit in Udawalawa,Things to Do in Udawalawa,Udawalawa Travel Guide,Things to Do in Ratnapura,Weekend Getaways from Ratnapura,Places to Visit in Ratnapura,Places to Stay in Ratnapura,Ratnapura Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Weligama,Places to Visit in Weligama,Things to Do in Weligama,Places to Stay in Weligama,Weligama Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Matara,Places to Visit in Matara,Things to Do in Matara,Places to Stay in Matara,Matara Travel Guide,Places to Stay in Southern province,Things to Do in Southern province,Southern province Travel Guide,Places to Visit in Southern province,Weekend Getaways from Tangalle,Places to Visit in Tangalle,Things to Do in Tangalle,Places to Stay in Tangalle,Tangalle Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Hambantota,Places to Stay in Hambantota,Places to Visit in Hambantota,Things to Do in Hambantota,Hambantota Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Ella,Places to Visit in Ella,Things to Do in Ella,Places to Stay in Ella,Ella Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Seetha eliya,Places to Stay in Seetha eliya,Places to Visit in Seetha eliya,Things to Do in Seetha eliya,Seetha eliya Travel Guide,Weekend Getaways from Mirissa,Places to Visit in Mirissa,Places to Stay in Mirissa,Things to Do in Mirissa,Mirissa Travel Guide,