Sri Lanka - Mountains or Beaches? I say BOTH!

Tripoto
18th Apr 2019

Mountains or Beaches? How about BOTH! Experience the best of both worlds only in Sri Lanka!!

Photo of Sri Lanka - Mountains or Beaches? I say BOTH! by Sapna Singh

Are you planning a 6 day vacation to some country but puzzled between spending your time amidst beautiful lush green mountains or relaxing at turquoise blue water beaches?

Let me mention this one country that let's you have the best of both worlds; Heavenly mountains and stunning beaches- Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has been ranked as the Best Travel Destination in 2019 and there is no reason to disagree.

I checked out all the cities and things-to-do in Sri Lanka and shortlisted the cities where I exactly wanted to be. My Itinerary involved visiting 5 cities: Colombo-Dambulla-Kandy-Nuwara Eliya-Yala-Bentota-Colombo. Colombo is only included for arrival and departure in the country.

Below are some pre-requisites which I completed before reaching Sri Lanka (Also including alternatives for you):

1. Booked the hotels in Dambulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Yala and Bentota. Alternatively, hostels are easily available if you want to stay in one; you will save money and meet lots of like-minded travelers.

2. Hired a driver who could take me to all the aforementioned places. It did not cost much. Alternatively, you can take a tuk tuk to travel around the city and train to travel to another city.

3. Got my ETA approval. You need an ETA for getting a Sri Lankan visa which can be taken before arriving the country or at arrival. Since it's just as easy as filling up and submitting a form, I recommend doing it before arriving in the country to save time and the extra money which you'll spend on it.

Day-1:

Arrived in Colombo. Met with my driver cum guide (I will address him as Wasantha in this post) who drove me to my hotel in Dambulla which took us around 4-5 hours.

Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. It is also listed under UNESCO world heritage site.

A flight of stairs is required to be climbed to reach the temple; it's at a good height and gives you a scenic view of the mountains around.

Photo of Dambulla Cave Temple, Kandy - Jaffna Highway, Dambulla, Sri Lanka by Sapna Singh

Be careful with the monkeys which are everywhere; they like snatching and eating lotus blossoms from people which they get as their offering. Don't get scared when you see a lot of them on the stairs; just keep moving.

70% of the population of SriLanka are buddhists and they are very particular about the dress code while entering the temple. I would suggest you to wear white and ensure that your shoulders and knees are covered.

In case, they are not, you'll be asked to rent a scarf which can be used to cover your shoulders and knees. I have posted the below picture for reference.

Photo of Sri Lanka - Mountains or Beaches? I say BOTH! by Sapna Singh

In the temple, you'll see sculptures of Gautam Buddha and paintings in the 5 caves. You can hang around for sometime and enjoy the breeze and scenic view from this height.

Photo of Sri Lanka - Mountains or Beaches? I say BOTH! by Sapna Singh

We left to go to our hotel and relax in the evening. Our hotel had a bar pool and having a beer here meant swimming to the bar counter and getting yourself one. Monsoon had just begun in Sri Lanka and it rained in the evening changing the entire atmosphere.

Photo of Sundaras Resort & Spa, Dambulla, Sri Lanka by Sapna Singh

For dinner, I wanted to go to someplace to try out the famous Sri Lankan curry and rice, so Wasantha took me to a place he was familiar with. I must say, the Sri Lankans are so courteous; the staff helped me figure out what exactly I needed and when my dinner finally arrived; it looked like food for 5. My appetite is above average; and the food was finger licking good so; I finished it all!! :D

Photo of Dine Hut Indian Restaurant, Dambulla Road, Kurunegala, Sri Lanka by Sapna Singh

Headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

Day:2

I woke up early morning at 6am, completed my packing and checked out from the hotel.

Reached Sigiriya Rock by 7.30 am. It is probably the most visited site in Dambulla and if you are here, doing the climb is highly recommended. Since this is listed under UNESCO world heritage site, you must pay ~35$ to access it.

The climb starts at 7am and by this time the sun is already out, you must keep a target of starting before 8am because the climb takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete depending on your speed and post 8am it gets very hot.

Photo of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka by Sapna Singh

It was a splendid feeling reaching on the top. I patted my back a couple of times on completing. Descended around 11.30 and met with Wasantha to head to our next destination.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants located at Pinnawala village.

You must pay 750LKR to enter; In here, you'll see lots of elephants playing in the mud who are taken to a river situated on the other side of the road (Walkable distance) for a relaxed bath.

Watching the elephants make those peculiar sound out of joy while bathing is a treat to the senses. I could watch them for hours.

Photo of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, B199, Rambukkana, Sri Lanka by Sapna Singh

Something very fascinating about the Sri Lankans was their weather forecast skills. I would always ask my driver what time would it rain today and he would look outside and tell me a time and it would actually rain exactly at that time.

We arrived at the spice garden somewhere around 4pm while it started raining. We were taken to the garden and shown the different things that grew there with each element's health benefit.

I did lot of shopping post that and something to make a note of : All that they claim for health benefits, actually works!

The entire route from Dambulla to Kandy was full of green hills, we stopped at multiple places to take some pictures before arriving to the hotel.

This hotel had the most picturesque view out of all the hotels that I stayed in. I absolutely loved my stay.

At around 5pm , we left to take a tour of this city and attended the Cultural show which happens everyday in Kandy.

We were presented the culture, tradition, dance, music of Sri Lanka followed by some fire shows which were- FIRE!

I went to a nice restaurant to have dinner and headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

Day-3

Thousands of worshipers visit this temple each day which houses the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha and is revered by the everyone. You must pay 1500LKR as an entry fee to the temple.

Since it was my birthday, I chose this place to start my day with taking blessings from Buddha. The temple is very busy; you'll find almost everyone wearing white and holding lotus blossoms for their offering to the temple.

Remember to dress appropriately covering your knees and shoulders.

Ramboda falls is the 11th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and access to this place is via Ramboda falls hotel. There is a steep downhill trek - which is not at all difficult to reach the fall.

Spend sometime clicking pictures and then you can have lunch at Ramboda Falls hotel where the beautiful view will be served complimentary with your food. Service was a bit slow though.

Photo of Ramboda Falls Hotel, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Sapna Singh

I went to this tea factory named - Tea Bush where I was provided a tour of the factory to understand how tea cultivation is done and what are the different types of teas which are grown in the area E.g. Gold tip, silver tip, green tea, black tea etc.

I was then taken to the tea lounge upstairs for tea tasting. Several types of tea were served to me and I enjoyed sipping them outside in the balcony enjoying the rains and landscapes covered in clouds.

Photo of Tea Bush Ramboda- Oakray Hotels, PBC Highway, Ramboda, Sri Lanka by Sapna Singh

Nuwara Eliya is my most favorite city in Sri Lanka. This city was founded by a British officer back in 1846. It is the English who started tea cultivation here and today Nuwara Eliya is one of the largest tea exporters in the world. Tea estates are stretched everywhere and you'll find people selling fresh veggies (Lettuce and carrot) straight out of the farm.

The whole city has an English vibe to it, be it the with it’s colonial bungalows, lakes and red brick Victorian post office.

Day 3

Most of us know the significance of this place in Hindu Mythology, It was on my mind to be here anyhow so I did, offered my prayers and spent sometime reading the description on different sign boards.

I simply took a walk around the lake and preferred enjoying it's beauty. There are carnivals which happen on timely basis and I was lucky to be there during one. Various types of food were being served at different stalls and there was sort of mini music festival going on at a restaurant.

I checked in to the hotel to freshen up- went outside for a walk; celebrated my birthday at an Indian restaurant and headed back home to get some sleep.

Day-4:

Checked out from the hotel at sharp 8am and took a small tour of the city because I loved it a little too much and wasn't done just yet.

I had to experience the train ride which is said to be the most beautiful train ride in the world so I decided to board it from Nanu-Oya to Ella which would take 3 hours. The train starts at 9.24am and I made it just in time.

Our red train went through mountains, villages, beautiful tea estates and the longest tunnels that I’ve seen so far. Note: The trains are packed and it’s difficult to get a window seat, you might even have to stand for hours before you get one. Finally arrived in Ella after 3 long hours.

This is another famous waterfall in Sri Lanka and the locals believe that Ravana's palace is situated behind the falls although nobody has ever seen it.

Travelling to Yala took around 3-4 hours. The final 2 days were more about relaxing and rejuvenating unlike the heavy exploration ones in the mountains. I spent all my evening relaxing by the pool and hanging around before having dinner and going off to sleep.

Day-5:

Visited Mirissa which was a last minute entry in my itinerary. I took the small trek to the Coconut Tree hill and spent around 30-40mins enjoying the heavy breeze and the uncountable coconut trees perched over Indian ocean forming a dome like structure.

The beaches of Sri Lanka are super clean, not very crowded and truly a surfer’s paradise and Unawatuna was no different. My afternoon was spent relaxing at the beach.

The dutch city is highly aesthetic and a gem.

Took a walk around the city, saw the famous lighthouse, explored the nook and corners and finally found an open air seat with an ocean view stretched across 3 sides making me wonder if this is what edge of the world looked like.

Last stop for the day and trip was Bentota. I checked in to the hotel and enjoyed a lovely dinner by the Bentota river.

Day-6

This was my last day in Sri Lanka. Considering my flight was at 2pm from Colombo and I still had time, I quickly went to the beach in the morning which had to be accessed via the river. Spent sometime sitting by the beach and gazing at the waves hitting the shore.

Day 6

I checked out from the hotel post having my breakfast and stopped by shops which Wasantha recommended for purchasing souvenirs. I bought some Tshirts and fridge magnets.

Arrived at Columbo Airport:

Bid adieu to my lovely new friend- Wasantha and proceeded to the airport which marked the end of my trip to Sri Lanka.

Every corner of Sri Lanka is beautiful and the people are the humblest and unpretentious. They will always make you feel home with their warm welcoming smiles. There was never a time when I felt unsafe while I was in Sri Lanka. You must visit this country once in your lifetime to experience all the goodness Sri Lankans have to offer.

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