Couchsurfing in Sri Lanka: How I managed 15 days Solo trip in just 30K INR

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A lot of people think that long international trips can turn out to be expensive. But honestly, that is not the case with every country, especially South East Asian countries. So if you plan properly, you can easily manage a long trip in just 30k - 40k and that's what I did in Sri Lanka.

While this wasn't my most planned out trip ever as I booked my tickets just 20 days before departure, I still managed to cut a lot of cost in the form of free accommodation which anyone could avail here. Now, you might be wondering how can you get free accommodation here? Well, this 15-day itinerary will cover that too so that you can plan an enjoyable but budget-friendly trip to this amazing island!

Kandy Lake. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Couchsurfing in Sri Lanka: How I managed 15 days Solo trip in just 30K INR by Rachita Saxena

Flights and Visa

I picked Chennai as my starting point because I got round-trip flights for 8 - 9k INR from Chennai. You can easily find return trip flights for 12 - 15K INR from any city if you plan ahead and book on time.

And the visa process for Sri Lanka is quite easy and takes just a few minutes. You get an E-Visa for this country for 1200 - 1400 INR which is valid for a month. All you have to do is apply online and pay the fees and you will receive the visa in just 10 minutes.

You don't have to carry the visa with you since it is all automated. So, once you provide them with your passport, they will search for e-visas and then stamp your passport for approval.

Route

As my return flight tickets were for Colombo, I started my journey from Chennai to Colombo and then spent 2 days here, exploring the capital city. After that, I made my way to Kandy in a 5-hour train ride and spent another 3 days here.

I also took a day trip to Sigiriya from Kandy on the last day and then made my way to the 'Little England', Nuwara Eliya. Here, I explored the famous Horton National Park and the beautiful landscapes for 2 days and then made my way to Ella in train on the 3rd day.

In Ella, I spent 3 days, exploring and relaxing in the hill station while being rewarded with an amazing view. From here, I took a bus to Mirissa and spent another 3-4 days exploring the beaches of the South. Next, I moved to Unawatuna and Galle and spent a day or two here and then returned back to Colombo on the day of my flight.

Since Sri Lanka is relatively small, it is easy to travel around quickly from one city to another and you can easily pack a lot in a 2-weeks visit to this beautiful island.

This is the route that I would recommend for a 2-week visit here:

India - Colombo - Kandy - Sigiriya - Kandy - Nuwara Eliya - Ella - Mirissa - Unawatuna - Galle - Colombo

Personally, I think that 2 weeks are less to cover the island but if you are short on time, then you can include the above-mentioned places in your itinerary.

What is Couchsurfing?

One of the major contributions in helping me stick to my budget was couchsurfing as my accommodation option. Now, for those of you who don't know about Couchsurfing, it is the best way to meet new people and build your travel connections.

Couchsurfing is an application where you can search for hosts in a particular country or city who will be willing to let you crash at their place. For free. Yes, you heard me right! This app lets you find free accommodation with like-minded people who are interested in sharing their own travel stories and cultures with you.

Trust me, this is completely safe and a great way to make new friends and learn about new cultures. All you need to do is make your account on the Couchsurfing website/app and then get yourself verified.

Couchsurfing Place in Mirrisa. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Couchsurfing in Sri Lanka: How I managed 15 days Solo trip in just 30K INR by Rachita Saxena

After that is done, you can find hosts and send them a request asking if they are willing to host you. Sri Lanka was actually my first couchsurfing experience and though I was nervous in the starting, it turned out to be the best trip of my life.

I met a variety of people here who were really sweet and helpful and went out of their to make me feel comfortable. However, you have to be slightly careful while finding hosts on couchsurfing. Make sure that you check the reviews and details before sending a request.

Trust me, Couchsurfing is a magical portal for all the budget travelers out there and is definitely a great way to save some extra bucks on accommodation.

Sri Lanka Itinerary for 15 Days

Here is my concise 15-days itinerary for Sri Lanka that you can follow too:

Day 1

I reached Colombo in the morning, around 11 a.m., and then had to reach the city to check-in to my hostel. I was staying at Colombo City Jumbo Hostel which cost 450 INR per night and included breakfast as well.

I got a local bus from the Colombo Airport for the city which cost approximately 65 INR and took me an hour to reach. From the Colombo bus stand, I had to take another bus to reach my hostel which cost 5 INR. After reaching my hostel, I relaxed for a while and just explored my surrounding area which was mostly residential.

Since I was tired from my journey, I didn't explore much and just slept for a while. And at night, I went in search of food and water. In Sri Lanka, rice dishes are quite famous so you will find them on every corner for 100 INR. For water, it is always better to buy a big bottle from a local grocery store as they charge reasonably.

Day 2

Next day, I started my city exploring but since it was hot, I skipped most of the places which I wasn't really interested in.

Viharamahadevi Park. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

First stop was the Viharamahadevi Park which was about 2 km from my hostel so I walked to the place. This is a beautiful, green park where you would find a lot of families and friends hanging out. The park is huge and has a giant statue of Lord Buddha and is certainly a great place to unwind a little.

Opposite to this park. you have the beautiful building of the Colombo Municipal Corporation which makes for a good photograph. And if you interested in museums then you can also check out the National Museum which is located just behind the Viharamahadevi Park.

After the park, I took a bus to the Wellawatta Beach (7.5 INR) which is an offbeat beach destination from where you can see the most mesmerising sunsets. Here, you can take photographs and spend some time, observing the horizon and taking in the surroundings.

After that, I took a bus to the Galle Face (10 INR) which is a popular picnic spot in Colombo. Here, you can walk beside the ocean and have some delicious food here. A must-try dish to taste here is the Chicken Kottu at Nana Restaurant. This dish can easily be eaten by two people and is slightly spicy so be careful while ordering it.

Nana Restaurant. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Couchsurfing in Sri Lanka: How I managed 15 days Solo trip in just 30K INR by Rachita Saxena

After spending some time here, I headed back to my hostel and then packed as I had to leave the next morning for Kandy.

Day 3

I left for the Fort Station next day, from where I was going to catch a morning train to Kandy.

It took me about 5 hours to reach Kandy and the ticket for a Second class cost me about 95 INR. On the way, I admired the gorgeous mountain views and learnt more about the culture and life of Sri Lanka from a local passenger.

Once I reached Kandy, my adventure truly began because this was my first Couchsurfing experience. I waited for my Couchsurfing host to pick me up from the station and the whole time I was nervous and scared about it.

Sunset at Kandy Lake. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Kandy, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

But once I met him and talked to him, I felt quite at ease and when we finally reached his house, I was pleasantly surprised by the location. It was slightly secluded but since Kandy is on a higher elevation, it is cooler here and you can see some amazing views from here.

So, on my first day here, I explored the nearby places and got a sense of traveling and landscape here. There weren't many local buses in the area where I was residing so I decided to walk to the city center to explore the spots.

The first night, I mainly talked to my host and learnt more about his life. And also, I tasted the Chicken curry which Sri Lanka is quite famous for.

Day 4

Next day, I started early for my sightseeing day. Since my place was about 3-4 km from the Kandy lake, I decided to walk and it took me an hour to reach my first destination.

Here, I stopped for a while to take in the gorgeous blue lake which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful lakes in Sri Lanka. The lanka is surrounded by gorgeous trees and mountains and the water is pristine so it looks completely magical.

Udawattakele Forest Reserve. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Kandy, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

Next, I made my way to the Kandy City View Point which is about 2 km from the lake and can be reached on foot. From this vantage point, you can see the entire Kandy city and can marvel at the beautiful Portuguese architecture which is interspersed throughout the city.

After that, I made my way to the famous Udawattakele Forest Reserve. I wouldn't say that there is anything special about this place, you barely see any animals here. And the fee is slightly too much in my opinion, 330 INR, but if you want to enjoy a few view points and just roam in the nature then this is the place for you. This place is situated at a distance of 2 km from the Kandy lake so it took me about an hour to reach here on foot.

I spent an hour or two here before heading back to the lake to watch the sunset. In my opinion, Kandy lake is the best place to watch a sunset as you get to witness the most mesmerising colors here.

After that, I made my way back to the house and had a lovely dinner with a few other travelers.

Day 5

On my 5th day, I decided to go to the historical destination, Sigiriya, which was just 2 hours away from Kandy city. For this, I had to first take a bus to Dambulla as the direct buses to Sigiriya leave before 8 a.m.

Sigiriya. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

The cost of the bus to Dambulla was 100 INR and it took me about 1.5-2 hours to reach. From Dambulla, you get a bus to Sigiriya in every 15-30 minutes for 18 INR. The Autorickshaw drivers will try to tell you otherwise but don't listen to them. You will easily get a bus here. But yes, if you don't wish to wait then you can always take an Auto for 250 INR.

One of the biggest blunders that I did while visiting Sigiriya is to not take my passport. You see, visitors from SAARC countries get a 50% discount so the ticket price comes down approximately to 1100 INR from 2300 INR.

I spent the entire day in Sigiriya, learning about the history, and trekking to the top of the Lion rock. It was quite hot so it was really energy draining but the view from the top made up for it.

For my way back, I again took a bus to Dambulla and then to Kandy which cost me about 70 INR.

Day 6

On my 6th day, I bade goodbye to Kandy and started for Nuwara Eliya which is popularly known as the Little England. To be honest, this is one of the favorite places in Sri Lanka because the rolling hills and surrounding mountains are breathtaking here.

It takes 5 hours and 60 INR in bus to reach Nuwara Eliya and then another 30 minutes and 20 INR to reach my second Couchsurfing host's residence. My second couchsurfing host was the owner of Humbug Restaurant and Hotel and I had the opportunity to stay in a hotel room for 2 nights. Yay!

Here, I explored the famous Ashok Vatika park which was just opposite to my accommodation. I witnessed some really gorgous and colorful flowers here and the mountain landscape certainly added more charm to this place.

In the evening, you could also see a beautiful moonrise here but the ticket to this park is expensive for tourists. Thankfully, my Couchsurfing host bought the ticket for me which cost him just 30 INR as a local.

After exploring the park and a few other nearby places, I chatted with the owner and he was kind enough to order food from his restaurant.

Day 7

I started early the next morning, at about 6 a.m., as I had to reach the Horton Plains National Park which is famous for the World's End Point and the waterfalls. This is probably the most expensive leg of my journey but it was completely worth it. However, if I was in a group then I might have been able to save a little money on the transportation.

I got my breakfast packed and hired an Auto for the to and fro journey which cost me 1500 INR. It took us around an hour to reach the Entry point where I had to purchase a ticket for 2000 INR. As I said, this was the most expensive stretch of my trip.

After that, the auto driver dropped me at the starting point of the trek. And then, for the next 4-5 hours, I trekked the 10-km circuit where I came across a few view points, waterfalls, and a few animals too.

By the time, I reached back, I was tired to my bones so I just slept and then in the evening, explored the town of Nuwara Eliya with my host.

Day 8

I left for Ella the next day in train in the morning. For this, I had to take a bus till Nanu Oya Station which cost me about 40 INR. The train ticket to Ella cost 30 INR and the ride turned out to be a memorable one.

It is said that a train ride to Ella is must because you are presented with the most amazing tea farm and mountain views on the way. So, I thoroughly enjoyed looking out of the window and saw several people clicking photographs on this iconic train journey.

Ella Train Ride. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Ella, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

I befriended a Manipuri girl on the way and so, we hiked together to my Couchsurfing host's place in Ella. The view from his place was seriously amazing as you could see the mountain pass clearly. Unfortunately, it started raining once we reached there so we couldn't go out to explore much.

In the evening, we went to the city for dinner and just explored the town. Ella is a quiet town so you won't find many happening things over here which makes it a good place to relax and unwind yourself.

Day 9

Next day, we started our journey to the Ravana falls and the Ravana caves which took half of our day. You have buses going to the waterfalls and the caves. But, to enter the cave, you have to trek for 30 minutes and the path is slightly steep and scary.

In the evening, it started raining again so we just sat in one of the cafes where there was live music and enjoyed a good meal with dessert.

If you have a clear weather then make sure that you go for the Adam's peak trek and the Demodara Nine Arch Bridge when visiting Ella.

Day 10

We left for Mirissa the next day although there wasn't any direct bus to reach. You have to take a bus to Matara which costs about 140 INR and takes 3-4 hours to reach. From Matara, we got a local bus to Mirissa for 15 INR.

In Mirissa, I was again staying with a Couchsurfing host who was from Italy and aged 60. He was the sweetest person I had ever met and made me fall in love with his cooking. After having lunch with him, I made my way to the Mirissa beach and spent the entire day there, just playing in the water or looking at the invisible sunset (it was too cloudy and misty).

Mirissa is a quiet town so there weren't many parties or stuff going on here. So, it was a relaxed day for me.

Day 11

I started exploring the nearby cities and towns the next day and made my way to the famous Unawatuna village for Scuba Diving. Here, I found a good Scuba Diving school for my first dive and booked my place for the next day.

Unawatuna Beach. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Unawatuna, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

As I had a lot of time with me, I relaxed and explored the famous Unawatuna beach. Then, I made my way to the Blowhole point in Unawatuna which was surprisingly empty and gave me a good view of the ocean and the surroundings.

Then, I hired a Tuk Tuk to visit the Jungle Beach which was located about 3-4 km from the Blowhole and watched a gorgeous sunset here. Jungle beach is slightly secluded from the rest of the town so you don't see a lot of tourists here.

However, after dark, it can be slightly intimidating and scary to walk alone here. Thankfully, I reached safely back to Mirissa in a bus for 40 INR and enjoyed a delicious Pasta meal with my host.

Then, I rested for my Scuba Diving day the next day.

Day 12

Most of my 12th day was gone in Scuba Diving as half of the day went in the actual experience and the remaining half in sleeping. Spending a day in water can be quite tiresome but oh-so-rewarding.

Mirissa Lighthouse. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Unawatuna, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

In the evening, I took a walk to the Mirissa's Lighthouse point which is actually located in a private hotel. Here, I spent some time on the private beach also which felt like an amazing luxury.

Then, I headed to the Mirissa beach to watch the last sunset in Mirissa.

Day 13

Next day, I shifted to Unawatuna village and on the way, stopped on several beaches like Weligama, Ahangama, and so on. These places were completely isolated so it was great to chill and relax here.

In the evening, I took a train from Unawatuna to Galle for 5 INR to explore the Galle fort. Sadly, I didn't have a lot of time and it was raining so I couldn't explore much on that day.

Day 14

Next day, I started early for the Galle Fort and was able to explore the entire place on foot. There are beautiful and colorful Portuguese buildings here to check out. And you also have a pretty lighthouse here to admire.

Galle Fort. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena

The cafes and food stalls are really amazing too and offer the most delicious dishes ever. One can easily spend a day in this place, exploring the historical buildings and eating till you burst.

Day 15

Finally, the day of my departure arrived. So, I took a bus from Galle to Colombo which cost me about 250 INR and took me about 2 - 2.5 hours to reach.

From Colombo bus stand, I caught a bus to the airport and made it in time for my flight to India. Honestly, Sri Lanka is one of my favorite trips as I made so many friends here and discovered the benefits of Couchsurfing.

Sri Lanka Train Ride. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Rachita Saxena
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