My Final Information to Sri Lanka: Ideas, Prices, Itineraries, and Favorites

train station in sri lanka
Up to date: 10/26/2018 | October 26th, 2018

My go to to Sri Lanka — a jewel–formed nation within the Indian Ocean — was an sudden shock. I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations for the journey. Nevertheless it turned out to be an incredible expertise. I beloved each little bit of Sri Lanka: the verdant panorama, the scrumptious meals; the crumbling, overgrown ruins; the considerable wildlife; and (particularly) the welcoming locals who took hospitality to the subsequent degree.

Touring Sri Lanka is a comparatively simple matter to do. It may be a little bit chaotic, with overcrowded buses transferring alongside clogged roads the place lanes are mere solutions, and trains packed to the gills with folks hanging off the sides (which truly is type of enjoyable). However English is extensively spoken so when you get used the chaos, it isn’t too troublesome to get round.

However there are a number of matters you must know earlier than you go to Sri Lanka to keep away from getting scammed, overspending, and, like me, lacking a few of the scenic trains! Right here’s my information to visiting Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka Journey Information: 14 Essential Tricks to Know for Your Go to

Journey Tip #1: Don’t drink the water – You shouldn’t actually drink the water in Sri Lanka, so convey a reusable water bottle with a air purifier. It’s actually sizzling, so to maintain hydrated, you’d in all probability spend 300 rupees ($2 USD) per day on plastic bottles of water at 60 rupees ($0.40 USD) every. However a water bottle with a air purifier prices simply $20 USD (although my most well-liked model Lifestraw is barely extra). Over the course of a two-week journey, that’s an $Eight USD financial savings (and also you assist the atmosphere too)!

Journey Tip #2: Eat the native meals– Exterior of the key cities of Colombo and Kandy, you gained’t discover many non-Sri Lankan or non-Indian meals choices. What you do discover is a poor excuse for Western meals that’s overpriced and infrequently a series. Persist with the native meals! It’s tremendous scrumptious. I by no means knew a lot about Sri Lankan meals earlier than hand however now I’m hooked! Simply eat all of it! Balaji Dosai in Kandy; Ahinsa in Sigiriya; Upali’s in Colombo; Sizzling Hut in Nuwara Eliya; and the eating places throughout from the bus station in Anuradhapura have been a few of my favourite.

Journey Tip #3: Extra about meals– Meals, apart from being loopy good, can be actually low-cost in Sri Lanka! Native meals prices about $1-Three USD per meal for easy dishes of dosas (a type of pancake), kottu (a dish made from roti (flatbread), greens, egg and/or meat, and spices), rice, rooster, and all the things in between. At eating places with desk service, you’ll pay nearer to $5 USD.

Journey Tip #4: Sri Lanka isn’t a celebration– Don’t count on too many possibilities to drink alcohol. Exterior the coastal vacationer cities and the capital of Colombo, there isn’t a lot nightlife or alternatives to drink. Whilst you can at all times crack a beer at your guesthouse, Sri Lanka isn’t residence to an enormous consuming/nightlife tradition. Anticipate your nights to be tame.

Journey Tip #5: Rent the Tuk-tuks– You possibly can rent drivers cheaply. Any tuk-tuk driver will allow you to rent them for the day. Anticipate to pay round $20 USD for the day. Furthermore, tuk-tuk drivers are fairly trustworthy, besides in Colombo, the place they’ll attempt to rip-off and overcharge you. Elsewhere within the nation, you’ll get a good deal. There’s no have to attempt to discount arduous.

Journey Tip #6: Take the airport bus – There’s a prepare to the airport you may take from Colombo Fort. It’s the most affordable method to get there, at 30 rupees ($0.20 USD). A tuk-tuk experience is about 2,500 rupees ($17 USD), and buses to the airport price 110 rupees ($0.75 USD) and depart about each 30 minutes from Colombo Central Bus Station or Mawatha Bus Station.

Journey Tip #7: Journey by prepare: Prepare journey, whereas usually slower, are the most affordable method to get round. Some typical routes: Colombo to Jaffna is 150-445 rupees ($1-Three USD), Jaffna to Anuradhapura is 150-295 rupees ($1-2 USD), Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is 85-280 rupees ($0.60-1.90 USD), and Colombo to Galle is 150-295 rupees ($1-2 USD).

Journey Tip #8: E book your prepare upfront: In case you are taking the scenic prepare from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya or Ella (or vice versa) and desire a seat, e-book it upfront by means of a journey company, as tickets can’t be booked in particular person on the station until it’s completed 4 days earlier than departure. You possibly can at all times (and solely) get a cramped second-class ticket (the place you’ll study the brand new that means of a decent squeeze) on the day of departure. Many individuals will let you know to get to the station at 7am to purchase a prepare ticket, however they don’t begin promoting them till 8am, so don’t hearken to these folks. Additionally, the idea of “bought out” doesn’t apply to “cattle class.”

Journey Tip 9: Present up early at Sigiriya: In case you are visiting Sigiriya, get there when it opens at 8am to keep away from enormous strains and crowds on the website. In case you are there after 10am, the crowds are so overwhelming it’s not value visiting. It takes an hour to stroll up because it’s single-file all the best way!

Journey Tip 10: Skip the ticket line at Anuradhapura: In case you are visiting Anuradhapura, tickets are $25 USD however are by no means checked until you might be getting into the museum. (I additionally seen Western vacationers have been the one ones ever requested to point out a ticket on the museum.) Enter the positioning with out paying through the use of the tiny street simply southeast of the museum.

Journey Tip #11: Deliver flip-flops to temples: You’ll must take your socks and footwear off earlier than visiting temples, even when they’re outdoor, so convey flip-flops to maintain your socks clear!

Journey Tip #12: Don’t count on high-end hostels: Hostels are actually fundamental (fan, mosquito internet, electrical bathe) however at $4-6 USD per dorm mattress, you may’t go improper.

Journey Tip #13: Day journey to Galle: Galle is just value a day journey. Don’t keep over within the city. There’s not a lot to do there in any respect.

Journey Tip #14: Discover low-cost lodging: There are a whole lot of low-cost lodging all through the nation. You’ll normally get breakfast together with your room too. Personal rooms with your individual lavatory begin at $10 USD per evening. Add $5 if you’d like air con.

Visiting Sri Lanka: How A lot Does it Price?

  Visiting Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an inexpensive nation to go to. Even once you splurge, it’s not that costly. General, I’d say you couldn’t want greater than a finances of $30 – 40 USD per day. The nation may be very low-cost, particularly in the event you follow scrumptious native or Indian delicacies (the meals is so low-cost there’s no cause to grocery store and cook dinner your individual meals), keep away from the overpriced Western fashion eating places (native meals tastes significantly better in any case), journey second class and on buses, and don’t go loopy with the lodging. Ever although I used to be on a finances, I didn’t go as little as I might (dorms each evening, solely Sri Lankan meals, minimal actions, and many others) and nonetheless discovered it was arduous to interrupt the financial institution. The costly days during which I took a tour or determined to attempt some fancy restaurant have been balanced out on the opposite days I didn’t.

Here’s a record of costs that can assist you get an thought of prices in Sri Lanka:

  • Airport taxi – 2,500 rupees
  • Nationwide Museum in Colombo – 600 rupees
  • Prepare from Jaffna to Anuradhapura – 340 rupees
  • Bottle of water – 60 rupees
  • Bus from Anuradhapura to Dambulla – 340 rupees
  • Tuk-tuk from Dambulla to Sigiriya – 1,000 rupees
  • Kottu rooster (and water) – 370 rupees
  • Lunch 2 – 500 rupees
  • Tuk-tuk – 200 rupees
  • Bus from Dambulla to Kandy – 98 rupees
  • Hostel in Kandy – 600 rupees
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy – 1000 rupees
  • Dosai dinner in Kandy – 200 rupees
  • Prepare to Nuwara Eliya, second class – 160 rupees
  • Beer – 500 rupees
  • Bus to Tissamaharama (Tissa) – 240 rupees
  • Bus to Galle – 307rupees
  • Western lunch in Galle (burger and fries) – 1,200 rupees

What to See and Do in Sri Lanka: Itineraries By Area

  Wandering the Beautiful Jungles in Sri Lanka
The place must you go in Sri Lanka? In every single place – when you’ve got the time! Most vacationers give attention to the southern half of the nation, with its mountaineering and seashore cities. After many years of struggle, the north has a legacy of destruction that has but to go away.

Although I initially had deliberate to discover solely the south as a consequence of my restricted time there, I used to be supplied the chance to speak to a member of Parliament in Jaffna up north and study concerning the Tamil struggle, so I rearranged my route thus:

ColomboJaffnaAnuradhapuraSigiriya/DambullaKandyNuwara EliyaTissamaharama (Tissa) – GalleColombo

I used to be glad I did. Seeing the north gave me an added perspective on a portion of the nation with out hordes of different vacationers. The truth is, in my time up north, I noticed solely 4 Westerners.

And although Sri Lanka could seem like a small island, there’s a lot to see and do there! Greater than I imagined. Anuradhapura and Sigiriya each have wonderful historic ruins. Kandy is full of mountaineering treks, an enormous Buddhist temple, and a butterfly backyard. Nuwara Eliya is thought for its mountaineering, Tissa is the gateway to Yala Nationwide Park (which has elephants and leopards), and Galle is an exquisite outdated Dutch fort city.

beautiful view of a tower in galle, sri lanka
Though I coated a whole lot of floor in my two weeks, I nonetheless missed many locations, together with Ella (extra mountaineering), Arugam Bay (seashores), and a lot of the southern coast (extra seashores and nightlife). I raced by means of the nation and crammed an excessive amount of into such a brief time frame. I wouldn’t advocate going at such a breakneck tempo.

The place ought to YOU go?

I’d break your Sri Lanka travels into two elements — the north/heart and the south — and give attention to a kind of areas. There’s merely an excessive amount of to do within the nation and journey (buses and trains) across the nation is just too sluggish to attempt to cowl a lot floor in a restricted time.

Until you will have extra time, then the world is your oyster!

Advised Sri Lanka Itineraries

Southern Route (two weeks): Colombo – Hikkaduwa – Galle – Mirissa – Tangalle – Tissa – Ella – Nuwara Eliya – Kandy – Colombo

Northern Route (two weeks): Colombo – Nuwara Eliya – Ella – Kandy – Sigiriya – Anuradhapura – Trincomalee – Jaffna – Colombo

North and South (4 weeks): Colombo – Jaffna – Trincomalee – Anuradhapura – Sigiriya – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Ella – Tissa – Tangalle – Mirissa – Galle – Hikkaduwa – Colombo

In case you have a month, you might do that complete route plus add within the coastal cities of Arugam Bay and Negombo. With two weeks, give attention to both the southern coast or the central/northern areas.

One matter to know is that when you’ve completed the key matters in a metropolis, there’s little or no cause to remain. For instance, Tissa is the gateway to Yala Nationwide Park. Tour operators run most excursions within the early morning (the next likelihood of seeing animals) so in the event you took a kind of excursions, you might be on a bus transferring on to your subsequent vacation spot by lunch time. There’s actually not a lot else within the city. The identical might with Jaffna. Tick a number of bins after which transfer on. Galle is extra a day journey from a close-by seashore city than a spot to spend a number of days. There was so little to do there I simply went again to Colombo as an alternative of staying the evening. Sigiriya and Dambulla will be completed in two nights (although I added an additional evening as a result of I preferred the household I used to be staying with). Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Kandy, Arugam Bay, Trincomalee – these locations have extra actions and are value spending an extended time in.

The place to Keep in Sri Lanka

For lodging, I actually preferred the next locations:

The place to Eat in Sri Lanka

For eating places, apart from the record above (merchandise quantity 2(, I’d additionally advocate the Ministry of Crab. It’s an costly seafood restaurant in Colombo however it’s scrumptious! Sri Lankan crab is known worldwide and so they have gigantic ones. It’s not low-cost however generally, you simply must deal with your self. Whereas I didn’t exit a lot, if you end up in Kandy, the Barely Chilled Bar is a well-liked assembly spot and has great views of the town (and the sundown).

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Sri Lanka is a straightforward nation to go to, and with a number of suggestions, you may journey there with ease. It is a very budget-friendly nation, even in the event you go nuts on the sights and excursions. I didn’t spend some huge cash, averaging simply $35 USD per day. (Any costly days shall be balanced out with a budget days the place you simply stroll round, hike, or sit on the seashore!)

Trying on the map of Sri Lanka, you may say, “Oh, it’s not that large. I wager I can cowl a whole lot of floor in a brief interval if time.” You can, however you gained’t “see” a lot. It is going to be an excessive amount of of a blur. There’s a lot to see and do in Sri Lanka and it takes awhile to journey round. Don’t rush your journey.

Sri Lanka could also be small however it packs a strong punch. Take your time to see this land of jungles, waterfalls, monkeys, scrumptious meals, and beautiful folks!

E book Your Journey to Sri Lanka: Logistical Ideas and Methods

E book Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite search engines like google and yahoo as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned.

E book Your Lodging
You possibly can e-book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep elsewhere, use Reserving.com as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost lodges. I exploit them on a regular basis.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes improper. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions prior to now. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that provide the very best service and worth are:

On the lookout for the very best corporations to economize with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the very best corporations to make use of once you journey! I record all those I exploit to economize once I journey – and I believe will assist you too!

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