Sri Lanka Experiential Travel Guide: 19 Things to Do & Places to Visit

Recently, Sri Lanka suffered a collection of tragic bomb assaults. As information tales rolled in all through the day, so did a flood of recollections from our travels there — assembly folks on trains, sharing dawn with pilgrims and vacationers alike on the prime of Adam’s Peak, wandering via the tea gardens, studying to pop spices and prepare dinner Sri Lankan meals in clay pots, admiring sleeping Buddha sculptures in caves, and far more. So whereas it could appear to be unusual timing to write about journey in Sri Lanka now, we felt it was time to end a draft article and remind folks of the wonder and pleasure of the nation. And, to encourage you to maintain Sri Lanka in your journey want checklist to assist help the nation because it recovers.

Sunrise on the prime of Adam’s Peak, a sacred place for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Sri Lanka. Ceylon. The little tear-shaped island simply south of India. Our go to there wasn’t my first.

I lived there for 18 months when my father labored on the U.S. Embassy. My recollections of Sri Lanka from my six to seven year-old self consisted of brightly coloured saffron robes worn by Buddhist monks, child orphan elephants bathing within the river, big sleeping gilded Buddhas, and a vibrant inexperienced so far as I might see throughout the rolling hills of tea plantations within the north.

Something I respect now as an grownup, but didn’t totally perceive as a toddler besides to notice variations in folks’s clothes, was the range of ethnicities, cultures and religions in Sri Lanka. This features a majority Sinhalese inhabitants who’re predominately Buddhist, a Tamil group composed of each Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils who’re largely Hindu, and in addition Christians and Muslims.

Add to this a protracted and complex historical past relationship again eight,000+ years — together with energy struggles between kingdoms, colonialism, and compelled migration — and you’ve got the mix that makes Sri Lanka the fascinating and complicated place that it’s, the identical mix which helped divide it and drive it right into a devastating 26-year civil battle (1983-2009).

My household left earlier than the civil battle started. As the battle unfolded, we watched as Sri Lankan buddies emigrated to keep away from the battle. And simply as peace and stability returned during the last decade, we watched as a lot of them returned house. Dan and I got here shut to visiting Sri Lanka in 2008 once we have been in southern India. It was a time simply earlier than the top of the civil battle. At the counsel of Sri Lankan buddies, we determined to wait. When the battle lastly resulted in May 2009, we appeared for a chance to go to.

One lastly offered itself years later. Spurred by a gap in a Vipassana meditation course at a middle in Sri Lanka, we booked a last-minute flight to Colombo. As I sat my meditation course, Dan made his manner south to a seaside for his personal self-made retreat. After the meditation course completed, we launched into a two week journey across the island collectively.

To assemble an itinerary we collected suggestions from buddies who had lived or visited there just lately, piecing collectively a tough route centered on practice journeys, tea gardens and treks. We left issues versatile, typically reserving lodging the day earlier than or the day of, to enable shifts and changes as we wished.

In the top, it turned out to be a good higher two-week journey than we might imagined, flush with a variety of experiences and locations which belied the comparatively brief period of time we had. Despite the bottom we might lined and all that we would skilled, we by no means felt rushed.

Trains, tea gardens and treks. Here are the perfect experiences from our Sri Lanka two-week itinerary.

How to use this experiential journey information to Sri Lanka: Are you contemplating a Sri Lanka trip, however undecided which locations to go to or the place to start in planning your journey? What are among the most satisfying and consultant experiences, those that make you are feeling as if you’ve related with this island nation? And when is the perfect time to go to Sri Lanka? And how are you going to greatest keep away from the crowds? We’ll reply all these questions and extra on this Sri Lanka Experiential Travel Guide. The purpose: you might have all of the inspiration and sensible journey info to create your individual Sri Lanka itinerary and journey.

The following experiences are in chronological order from our journey. If you might have round two weeks, you’ll be able to conservatively accomplish one thing comparable and slot in trains, treks, tea plantations and extra. With three to 4 weeks you’ll be able to add in additional seaside time, a meditation course, a go to to the japanese aspect of the island, or a couple of extra hill cities alongside the way in which. We embrace options of practice journeys, satisfying treks and notable inns in Sri Lanka to assist spherical out your itinerary.

19 Things to Do and Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

1. Take the practice in Sri Lanka – repeatedly and once more

Traveling by practice in Sri Lanka, regardless of which class carriage, is one of the simplest ways to get across the nation for views, hanging with locals, and price range minding. It’s greater than only a transportation choice to get you from level A to B; it is an expertise. We traveled in each class, from third class to 1st class A/C (air-conditioned), and extremely suggest attempting all of it for those who can.

Sri Lanka Travel by Train
Train journey in Sri Lanka: one of the simplest ways across the island.

Sri Lankan trains don’t go in every single place, however they attain shut to most locations in Sri Lanka that you simply’d need to go to. Additionally, many practice routes take you thru attractive surroundings and landscapes — tea gardens, forests, villages, coasts — typically the place there aren’t any roads.

The contemporary air and meditative gradual motion and sound of the practice is a lot extra satisfying than diesel-filled roads and the jerky actions of bus transport. We traveled by practice from: Colombo – Kandy – Hatton – Haputale – Ella – Colombo.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Hill Country Tea Plantations
Views from the practice in Sri Lanka’s hill nation.

No matter which practice journey you select, you gained’t be dissatisfied. Although the practice route to Ella will get many of the press and hype, we really felt that the phase from Hatton to Haputale was essentially the most spectacular.

Given the recognition of practice journey with locals and vacationers it may be difficult to safe tickets for reserved seats. Read under for recommendation on shopping for tickets and touring by practice in Sri Lanka and not using a reservation.

2. Admire the murals and gilded Buddha statues at Dambulla Cave Temple

We can develop “temple fatigue” shortly. As such, and primarily based on our analysis, we arrived at Dambulla Cave Temple with managed expectations. But because it was solely a pair hours north (72km) of Kandy and en route to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, we opted to cease off and test it out.

We’re so glad we did.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Dambulla Cave Temple
Buddha statues on the Dambulla Cave Temple.

These Buddhist cave temples, additionally a UNESCO web site, date again to round 1st century BC. The advanced contains 5 caves open to the general public, every a bit totally different from the following when it comes to its dimension, and its model and vary of work and Buddha statues. Of course, the work and statues have been renovated and brushed up over time. However, it’s nonetheless spectacular to soak up Buddhist spiritual artwork spanning 22 centuries and to witness the dwelling historical past of how native folks nonetheless use these caves as we speak for spiritual functions.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Dambulla Cave Temple
Sleeping Buddha, Dambulla Cave Temple.

This is a well-liked web site for each Sri Lankans and vacationers, so for those who discover that one cave is crowded, simply transfer to the following one till the crowds dissipate and transfer on. It’s definitely worth the extra effort to find a way to get pleasure from every of the caves with some quiet and stillness.

How to go to the Dambulla Cave Temple: Buses go away Kandy bus station (simply subsequent to the practice station) for Dambulla all through the day. The journey is about 90 minutes every manner. Ask the bus attendant or driver to drop you off on the Cave Temple entrance so that you simply don’t have to double-back from Dambulla city a couple of kilometers away. We opted to spend an additional greenback or two to catch an air-conditioned bus from Kandy bus station. It’s not the best to discover so simply ask one of many males on the info desk. They’ll level you in the suitable route.

If you might have a backpack or baggage with you, ask to go away your luggage on the Police/Security checkpoint on the way in which up to the temple. There aren’t many meals choices across the entrance to temple, so think about bringing some snacks or taking a tuk-tuk into Dambulla city for lunch.

When we visited there was no entrance price. We’d learn beforehand to count on an entrance price, so we’re undecided if we simply received fortunate the day we visited.

Three. Climb to the highest of Sigiriya (Lion Rock) Citadel earlier than the crowds arrive

The story goes that within the fifth century King Kasyapa wanted to construct a brand new, safe capital after usurping the throne. He brutally murdered his father and scared off his brother, the rightful inheritor to the throne.

After this Game of Thrones-style transfer, he headed simply north of Dambulla and constructed his palace atop an enormous 180-meter excessive rock – Sigiriya, or Lion Rock – giving him a vantage level from which to see any armies coming from miles away. His palace served him properly and guarded him throughout his reign. After he died, it was used as a Buddhist monastery till the 14th century.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Sigiriya
Sigiriya Palace, views from the highest.

Most vacationers go to Sigiriya, one other UNESCO web site and some of the visited locations in Sri Lanka, as a day journey from Kandy. Our recommendation is to spend the evening in one of many family-run visitor homes shut to the location and take a tuk-tuk early within the morning so that you arrive at 7AM when the ticket workplace and gates open.

This will enable you to stroll via the gardens, benefit from the frescoes — together with the well-known Sigiriya Maidens — within the caves alongside the rock face (cool, however you’ll be able to’t contact!), climb to the highest of the rock, stroll across the palace ruins, benefit from the views from up excessive, and head again down. And to do all this earlier than the hordes of vacationers on bus excursions from Kandy arrive. On our manner down from the highest of the rock, we noticed a whole lot of holiday makers lining up.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Sigiriya
Walking up to Sigiriya within the early morning mist.

Another profit to this strategy is that you simply’ll find a way to discover Sigiriya within the early morning coolness earlier than the day warms up and views turn into hazy.

A notice on entrance charges and another to Sigiriya: The entrance price for foreigners to go to Sigiriya is a somewhat hefty $30/individual. We made the choice to go to anyway, however if you’re on a strict journey price range think about skipping Sigiriya and climbing close by Pidurangala Rock for a view of Sigiriya and the encircling landscapes.

Where to keep to go to Sigirya early within the day: We stayed at Gagadiya Rest just some kilometers from the doorway to Sigiriya. This is a small family-run guesthouse with simply two rooms – very clear and new. They have been within the means of constructing a second flooring and extra rooms once we stayed, so that they most likely have extra rooms now.

We obtained a free tuk-tuk trip from the guesthouse within the early morning out to Sigiriya after which ate breakfast there once we returned, earlier than heading again to Kandy that day. It’s additionally attainable to get a terrific home-cooked dinner there, however ask concerning the value because it tends to be a bit increased than in different lodging, maybe as a result of there’s not a lot round and you’re a captive viewers. You may also seek for different inns and guesthouses in Sigiriya.

four. Eat your weight in Sri Lankan rice and curry.

The primary Sri Lankan meal, whether or not at a hole-in-the-wall or high-end restaurant, is rice and curry. Often, you’ll get a giant plate or bowl of rice after which a collection of a number of totally different curries to go along with it. In many easy cafeteria-style locations the curries will likely be laid out buffet-style and also you’ll level the server to which of them you need. It’s greatest to eat throughout native meal hours in order that the meals is freshly cooked and never sitting out for hours within the warmth.

Sri Lanka Food, Rice and Curries
Rice and curries, a typical Sri Lankan lunch at a neighborhood restaurant.

Vegetarians ought to rejoice at Sri Lankan meals. There are normally a number of kinds of daal (lentils), sabjis (blended greens), beet root, eggplant and different vegetarian curry choices on provide. For meat eaters, you’ll discover several types of rooster, meat or fish curry choices with varied ranges of warmth and spice. In extra formal eating places you’ll have the choice to select what number of curries — and which of them — you need served together with your pile of rice.

Sri Lankan Food in Ella
Delicious meal at Matey Hut in Ella with a alternative of 4 curries.

Don’t overlook to search out or ask for the several types of sambols (salads), chutneys or scorching sauces obtainable. Some of our favorites included pennywort salad (gotukola sambol), spicy coconut chutney (pol sambola), and spicy onion sambol (lunu miris). When you do, you’ll typically get a nod of approval and smile out of your waiter as properly. For extra info on Sri Lankan meals, take a look at this text from our good friend Mark.

5. Pay a go to to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy.

Inside the previous royal palace advanced in Kandy, Sri Dalada Maligawa (aka, Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) is what’s believed to be the relic of the tooth of Gautama Buddha, rescued from his funeral pyre in 543 BC. Almost 800 years later, the story continues with the tooth having been smuggled to Sri Lanka from India within the early 4th century.

In addition to its spiritual worth, the relic of the tooth introduces one other Game of Thrones-like twist: it’s believed that whoever holds the relic additionally guidelines the nation. So it turned a prized possession and political software of monarchs over the centuries. Its closing resting place is now in Kandy the place it’s mentioned to be safe contained in the palace’s fundamental shrine.

Sri Lanka Travel, Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
One of the various elaborately embellished hallways within the Temple of the Relic of the Tooth.

Although it isn’t attainable for guests as we speak to see the precise tooth relic, it’s nonetheless value visiting the palace and temple if you’re in Kandy. The procession of pilgrims, devotees and rituals surrounding this sacred relic provide a little bit of energetic devotion, of dwelling historical past. You’ll discover lotus blossoms and frangipani choices heaped all through the totally different temples, tucked into sacred nooks. The palace and temples grounds — with their elaborate wooden carvings, gilded statues and work, and manicured gardens — serve up a little bit of visible overload.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Kandy Temple of the Relic of the Tooth
Flower choices on the Temple of the Relic of the Tooth. Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Note: If you occur to go to Kandy throughout July or August ask concerning the dates for that yr’s Esala Perahera (Festival of the Tooth), a two week interlude when the city fills with embellished elephants, dancers, ceremonies, and extra.

6. Buy some artistic, colourful and eco-friendly souvenirs in Kandy.

We weren’t searching for souvenirs or to purchase something once we stumbled upon EarthBound Creations (28 Yatinuwara Veediya, Kandy) as we wandered the streets of Kandy. However, the colorfully artistic use of recycled supplies (recycled newsprint, plastics, and so forth.) modified that. In addition to the environmentally delicate use of recycled supplies, this social enterprise additionally works with girls who have been affected by or displaced by the tsunami in 2004.

Sri Lanka Travel, Kandy Social Enterprise Souvenir Shop
Our recycled Sri Lankan newspaper souvenirs from EarthBound Creations in Kandy.

This means whenever you purchase cool souvenirs and items right here — we purchased a basket and an outdated bi-plane made, each product of recycled cardboard and newsprint — it helps present revenue and coaching to this deprived group of girls. Inventory there’s cool, visually interesting, fairly priced and feel-good.

7. Wake up at 2AM to climb Adam’s Peak (Sri Padaya) and luxuriate in dawn on the prime

This mountain is taken into account sacred by a number of religions, together with all of the outstanding ones practiced in Sri Lanka. Sri Pada (“Sacred Footprint”), a rock formation close to the height, is taken into account to be the footprint of Buddha for Buddhists, of Adam for Christians and Muslims, and of Shiva for Hindus.

During your stroll up, you’ll discover loads of native pilgrims of various religions and vacationers alongside the way in which. You’ll discover much more gathered in massive numbers on the prime close to the temples ready for the solar to rise.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Adam's Peak Sunrise
Sunrise at Adam’s Peak.

The concept is to hike up Adam’s Peak at midnight so you’ll be able to get pleasure from dawn on the prime, adopted by views from the mountain within the early morning gentle on the way in which down. We set our alarms for the ungodly hour of 2AM, bundled up in a number of layers of clothes towards the morning chill, received a tuk-tuk trip to the bottom of the mountain, and set off for the height (2,243 m / 7,359 ft).

Although we loved the anticipation of dawn subsequent to the Hindu and Buddhist temples on the peak whereas we watched them carry out totally different ceremonies and prayers, we discovered the crowds and the entire cameras and selfie-sticks a bit a lot after some time. We headed down earlier than the solar was totally up and left the crowds behind us.

This was such a superb determination.

Sri Lanka Travel, Adam's Peak at Sunrise
Early morning gentle on our manner down from Adam’s Peak.

We had views of the close by mountains and hills nearly all to ourselves in an ideal early-morning gentle which lasts just a few minutes at greatest. It’s magical.

How lengthy does it take to climb Adam’s Peak? It’s not a technically troublesome climb, nevertheless it’s a fairly difficult stroll up with lengthy stretches of steep steps (estimated between 5,000 and 6,000 stairs). We have been suggested that it took about Three-Three.5 hours to get to the highest, however we discovered ourselves in within the closing stretch after round 2.5 hours with one other hour to wait earlier than dawn. So we escaped the chilly at a conveniently-placed tea home earlier than the ultimate set of stairs and loved cups of steaming milk tea.

It takes round 1-2 hours to return down. The steep descent might be powerful on the knees, muscle groups and different joints. Bring a knee and/or ankle brace when you’ve got any points. Even higher, deliver a strolling stick or two.

Best time of yr to climb Adam’s Peak: Pilgrimage season at Adam’s Peak runs from December to May, coinciding with the perfect climate within the area. At different occasions of yr you would possibly encounter rain or get fogged-in views on the prime. If you’ll be able to handle it together with your schedule, strive to keep away from the weekends as we heard the crowds swell much more with native pilgrims.

How to get to Adam’s Peak: Take the practice to Hatton station after which a neighborhood bus (normally waits outdoors the practice station) or rickshaw (about 1,000-1,500 rupees) to Delhousie.

Where to keep to climb Adam’s Peak: We suggest staying in Delhousie, the village constructed up close to the doorway to the Adam’s Peak path. We’d hoped to keep at Hugging Clouds, however by the point we received round to reserving it was offered out so we stayed about Three-5 km away. Although our lodging supplied a free tuk-tuk switch at 2:30AM, being that distant from the doorway was nonetheless a little bit of an annoyance. And on our manner again we had to seek for and negotiate one other tuk-tuk. You can seek for different inns and guesthouses close to Adam’s Peak.

eight. Rickshaw trip the hill nation and tea plantations

Sometimes it’s definitely worth the splurge of some dollars to take your individual rickshaw somewhat than the general public bus. It’s undoubtedly a smart concept whenever you’re in the course of hill nation surrounded by tea plantations and you want to take all of it in a bit extra slowly and to take images alongside the way in which.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Hill Country and Tea Plantations
Tea plantations and inexperienced for so far as the attention can see.

The two routes we suggest for taking your individual rickshaw: from Delhousie to Hatton (or the other way) and from Haputale to Dambethenna Tea Estate (additionally the place to begin for the hike to Lipton’s Seat). Don’t be afraid to ask your driver to cease for picture alternatives and simply to benefit from the views. We discovered that our drivers snapped images of the tea plantations and views with their cell phones, identical to us.

9. Take a break from Sri Lankan rice with some roti (flat bread)

Although the usual Sri Lankan fare of rice and curry is tasty, you could end up reaching some extent of rice fatigue. That’s the place roti (fried flat bread) or kottu roti (diced roti which is blended with greens like a fried rice) come to the rescue.

Sri Lanka Food, Roti and Curry
Excited for a giant stack of roti with curry (as a substitute of rice).

If you continue to have a hankering for curries, think about switching out the rice for a stack of freshly made roti to go together with your daal (lentils) and different curries. One of our favourite locations for this was Malabar Restaurant and Bakers in Hatton. It was so good we ate right here two days in a row as we transited via city on the way in which to and from Adam’s Peak.

Sri Lankan Food, Kottu Roti
Hearty plate of kottu roti, constituted of finely chopped roti.

Another various to rice and curry is kotti roti, which basically seems to be like fried rice made with greens and totally different meats, however the place diced roti replaces the rice. You all the time know when that is being made as you’ll be able to hear the kottu roti grasp clanging away along with his knives to reduce the roti tremendous high quality. The taste is hearty and the sound satisfying. And the entire expertise provides a welcome break from the rice and curry routine.

10. Find a room with a view in a hill station

Although Nuwara Eliya and Ella is likely to be the extra standard and complex hill stations in Sri Lanka’s tea nation, we determined to strive less-visited Haputale for a few days primarily based on the advice of buddies who lived in Sri Lanka for a number of years. Most of the visitor homes and inns on this space are within the countryside outdoors of city, however we received fortunate with this room and examine on the town.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Haputale Tea Plantations
Balcony view over the tea plantations in Haputale.

To be trustworthy, there’s not loads happening within the city of Haputale and never many vacationer companies. But, it’s a superb base if you would like to go to close by tea plantations, go on some hikes within the space (e.g., Lipton’s Seat), witness native life, and simply chill with a pleasant view for a couple of days.

Where to keep in Haputale: We stayed at ABC Guest House, however not all rooms have balconies and this view. Get in contact to verify that you simply’ll be put in one of many upstairs rooms with a balcony. Otherwise, think about staying some place else within the space…and ask a few view.

11. Hike up to Lipton’s Seat and have a cup of tea

Mr. Lipton of Lipton Tea actually did exist. He’s not only a advertising persona. He is credited with remodeling Sri Lanka right into a one of many world’s largest tea producers after a illness worn out a lot of the nation’s espresso bushes within the late 19th century.

Sri Lanka Travel, Lipton's Seat
Where Lipton supposedly sat overlooking his tea plantations.

Today, you’ll be able to hike up via the tea plantations to the place on a hill the place he used to supposedly look out over his varied tea plantations to take inventory and guarantee every part was so as. Slightly make-shift hut has been arrange there so you’ll be able to have a cup of tea as you benefit from the views of the tea gardens under. How acceptable.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Lipton's Seat
Walking up to Lipton’s Seat via the misty tea gardens.

The stroll takes a few hours alongside winding plantation roads and thru the totally different segments of Dambethenna Tea Estate tea gardens to arrive at Lipton’s Seat. Depending upon the time of day and season you may additionally catch the tea pickers at work at they methodically make their manner via the slender rows of tea bushes and choose solely their prime, inexperienced leaves.

How to hike to Lipton’s Seat: We took a tuk-tuk from Haputale to Dambethenna Tea Estate and walked the winding highway from there. We caught to the principle highway somewhat than attempting to discover short-cuts within the tea bushes. If you resolve you don’t need to stroll, there are many rickshaws on the prepared to take you all of the up. If you might have additional time, cease off at Dambethenna Tea Estate for tea tasting and a manufacturing unit tour.

Local buses go away repeatedly all through the day again to Haputale.

12. Enjoy sundown atop Little Adam’s Peak close to Ella

In full disclosure, we hadn’t really deliberate to be on the highest of Little Adam’s Peak at sundown. We determined to take the “scenic route” steered by our guesthouse proprietor in Ella and as is typical for us, we received a bit of rotated alongside the way in which. So there we have been on the golden hour mountaineering the final leg of what’s affectionately referred to as Little Adam’s Peak. Turns out, ultimately, that our timing was nearly excellent.

Sri Lanka Travel, Little Ella Peak
Capturing the waning gentle at Little Adam’s Peak.
Sri Lanka Travel, Little Adam's Peak
Cheesy selfie atop Little Adam’s Peak.
Where to keep in Ella: We opted to splurge a bit and keep at Ella Grand View on the sting of city. Rooms are new and properly embellished, and every has its personal balcony. The proprietor could be very pleasant and serves a hearty breakfast. The quickest manner to get there’s by strolling the railroad tracks from the Ella practice station. Search right here for different inns and guesthouses in Ella.

13. Take a cooking course in Ella and study the secrets and techniques of Sri Lankan meals

Because Sri Lanka is so shut to India one would possibly assume that the cuisines are the identical. While there are some floor similarities between the 2 nations’ assortment of cuisines, Sri Lankan meals is exclusive and employs totally different spice combos in its masalas, plenty of coconut milk, ample quantities of contemporary curry and pandan leaves, spicy sides known as sambols, and cinnamon.

Sri Lanka travel guide, cooking class in Ella
Getting began at a Sri Lankan cooking class in Ella.

To perceive the fundamentals of Sri Lankan meals and the way we might replicate some dishes at house, we took a cooking class with Lanka in Ella. Over the course of a number of hours we realized how to prepare dinner 5 totally different curries (carrot, beet, inexperienced bean, eggplant, and rooster), plus a sambol and salad. It was wonderful.

Not solely did we study the basics, however Lanka was open to answering the slew of questions we had, together with these associated to Sri Lankan meals, what life was like throughout the civil battle, the tourism development spurt (or overtourism) in Ella, and absolutely anything else.

We extremely really useful this expertise. It’s additionally a terrific worth at round 2000 rupees ($12). There are different cooking programs on the town, however ensure to ask what number of dishes you’ll really make since among the different choices solely provide 2-Three curries for the same value.

14. Hike Ella Rock within the morning sunshine

Although we didn’t rise up earlier than daybreak to climb up to Ella Rock for dawn as many suggested (sure, we do get pleasure from our sleep), we made it up there for mid-morning. This nonetheless allowed us to get pleasure from among the morning gentle, coolish climate, views of Little Adam’s Peak and the hill nation, earlier than the haze settled in with the afternoon warmth.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Ella Rock
Enjoying the view from the highest of Ella Rock.

Although Ella Rock correct will get all of the limelight, we loved the opposite overlook, one about 5 minutes away that includes a small Buddhist temple in a cave. There are nearly no folks there and it’s a superb place to breathe deeply and take within the magnificence round you.

How to hike to Ella Rock: The hike takes about 2-Three hours from Ella. It begins by strolling the railroad tracks for a number of kilometers. The path then cuts in on the left aspect close to a few makeshift eating places simply previous Kithaella practice station. Don’t fear about strolling on the railroad tracks; you’ll hear the practice coming from a good distance away. Here’s an summary map of the route and a full information.

Do you want a information to hike Ella Rock? In doing our analysis for this hike there have been all kinds of tales of individuals getting misplaced and needing to choose up a neighborhood information to get to Ella Rock. Maybe we simply received fortunate with our timing, however we discovered that though the path wasn’t explicitly marked with indicators, the trail was clear sufficient to comply with, particularly given the opposite hikers alongside the way in which.

15. Get your Sri Lankan avenue meals repair at Galle Face Green in Colombo

For the mix of avenue meals, ocean views, and a terrific place to watch the sundown, head to Galle Face Green in late afternoon. Although a lot of the road meals right here generally is a bit on the fried aspect, there are some tasty crab and shrimp bites that you’ll find at choose meals stalls alongside the walkway.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Galle Face Green Street Food
Street meals stalls on Galle Face Green.

For a meal with an precise seat, take your choose of one of many restaurant stalls whose menus are stuffed with deviled and grilled seafood or rooster. It you order a beer, it is possible they will serve the can in a bag in order to keep away from their working afoul of liquor license authorities.

Where to keep in Colombo: It would possibly sound odd to keep in a capsule resort in Sri Lanka, however the Star Anise Boutique Capsule Hotel was really useful to us by one other traveler. Its novelty issue, the truth that it provides double mattress capsules, and the value and handy location to the practice station made it a straightforward promote for us. If you might be somebody who likes plenty of house and privateness, this is able to not be the place for you. But, for a fast in a single day keep in Colombo this labored out nice for us. You can seek for different inns in Colombo right here.

16. Find the Hopper grasp within the Colombo Old Fort space

Hoppers is a typical Sri Lankan dish that includes a bowl-shaped pancake constituted of rice flour and coconut milk, typically with the choice of a fried egg inside, which is served with a easy curry. Almost as enjoyable as consuming hoppers is watching the masters at work on the road with their hopper pans churning out completely shaped hoppers by the a whole lot.

Sri Lanka Food, Hoppers
Hoppers, the Sri Lankan breakfast of champions.

If you’re in Colombo search for this man on York avenue within the Old Fort space. Hoppers with a smile!

Sri Lanka Food, Hoppers
The hopper grasp of outdated Colombo.

17. Stock up on spices on the market to take house

After our Sri Lankan cooking class in Ella we have been armed with a listing of Sri Lankan spices, sauces and different foodstuffs we needed to deliver again house. If you might be comparable to us and go for meals souvenirs somewhat than typical memento tchotchkes, make a cease on the contemporary market behind the Colombo bus station to refill on all of your Sri Lankan spice wants.

Sri Lanka Travel, markets
We want we might take these house. We opted for dried spices as a substitute.

Not solely is it enjoyable to enter a market with a purchasing checklist (after all, we purchased greater than we anticipated), however the high quality and value of spices in Sri Lanka is difficult to beat. The perfume from the cinnamon sticks and cinnamon bark is one thing magical. Interaction with native distributors and asking questions on totally different spice qualities and choices is enjoyable, too.

18. Disconnect and decompress in a small Sri Lankan seaside village

We didn’t do plenty of seaside hopping to find a way to provide you with a definitive “best beaches in Sri Lanka” checklist. The cause? Once Dan discovered this seaside and family-run guesthouse close to Tangalle within the south, he determined not to go away for ten days.

Sri Lanka Travel, Tangalle beachers
Godellawela to Silent Beach…not removed from Tangalle.

So whereas I used to be at my Vipassana meditation course, Dan created his personal retreat on the seaside. For him, mornings have been about meditation, studying and a leisurely breakfast with the visitor home household.

Days have been about extra studying on the seaside, exploration of close by cities and villages, and impromptu Sri Lankan delicacies classes at native eating places. And late afternoons featured extra seaside time and sundown with a beer below a palm swooping right into a strip of sand carved by the day’s waves. Sunsets, like snowflakes, no two have been the identical.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Southern Beaches Sunset
Colorful sundown marks the top of one other day.

The lengthy, empty seaside and huge horizons mixed with being disconnected and the laid again tempo and restricted motion have been precisely what he wanted to calm down, learn, and recharge.

Note: If the Godellawela seaside space lodging occurs to be full or the seaside is experiencing building or growth, think about additionally the Goyambokka seaside space simply to the east. Likewise, think about Silent Point and Paradise Beach simply to the west.

How to get there: To get there from Colombo, take the practice to Matara. From Matara take a taxi or a neighborhood bus. For Godellawela, ask the motive force to drop you off on the aspect of the highway at Muthu Resort and Restaurant. For Goyambokka, ask the motive force to drop you off on the highway between Grand Residence and Cafe Goyambokka.

19. Take a Vipassana 10-day silent meditation course

If you really need to disconnect from the world to reconnect with and dig deep inside your self, there’s no higher manner to accomplish that than by taking a Vipassana silent meditation course for ten days. Now, this isn’t a luxurious, laid-back meditation retreat with non-obligatory massages on the aspect. Instead, it’s extra like meditation boot camp with the morning bell at 4AM, round 10 hours of meditation every day and nearly nothing for dinner.

Sri Lanka Vipassana Meditation Course
Walking to the meditation corridor (taken after the course was completed and telephones have been returned).

But doing a Vipassana course is SO value any momentary feeling of discomfort or lack of luxurious, and can possible be some of the rewarding and memorable experiences of your life. I gained’t go into all the main points as to why, and the psychological and bodily advantages. Dan already did an unbelievable job doing that in his Vipassana course article. I ought to notice, nevertheless, that every Vipassana expertise is totally different and distinctive.

Finding a Vipassana Meditation Course in Sri Lanka: I searched round on the Dhamma web site for Vipassana facilities in heat climates — in order to escape winter in Berlin — which had availability after I had a break in my schedule. Finding an obtainable Vipassana course in Sri Lanka motivated this journey, and its timing, to Sri Lanka.

I selected Dhamma Sobha Vipassana Meditation Centre, a few hours by public bus outdoors of Colombo. I had a superb expertise there, however I might have most popular a bit extra inexperienced house to stroll and wander throughout the free time between meditation periods. If I have been to return to Sri Lanka for a Vipassana course I might as a substitute go to Dhamma Kuta Vipassana Centre close to Kandy as it’s reported to have actually beautiful grounds and gardens with mountain views.

Map of our Sri Lanka Itinerary

Our two week journey collectively in Sri Lanka took us from: Colombo – Kandy – Dambulla – Sigiriya – Kandy – Hatton – Adam’s Peak – Hatton – Haputale – Lipton’s Seat – Ella – Colombo. Dan’s phase took him from Colombo by practice to Galle and onto the southern seashores between Godellawela and Goyambokka.

Essential Sri Lanka Travel Information:

Best time to go to Sri Lanka

The nation has a number of monsoon seasons so “best time to visit Sri Lanka” relies upon a lot on the place you need to go. For the southern, central and western components of the nation (i.e., the place we have been) December – May is taken into account the perfect time. In the japanese a part of the nation, April or May to September is taken into account greatest. Weather is altering in every single place and monsoons appear to come and go at totally different occasions every year.

Sri Lanka Travel, Beaches
Big waves with the early monsoons in southern Sri Lanka.

How to Get a Sri Lanka Visa

Most nationalities want a visa to Sri Lanka. One might be obtained on-line simply and shortly. Just fill out the e-visa to Sri Lanka software and pay $30 wanted for a 30-day visa. Our functions have been accredited inside 24-hours. Although we carried a replica of our visa approval, the immigration officer didn’t ask for it.

Flights to Sri Lanka

Flying from Europe we had fairly a couple of connection choices to Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB). Many of the European flights do land very late at evening or early morning so we booked a resort close to the airport for that first evening. We typically use Skyscanner to verify availability and value of flights as its database contains all low-cost airways. Once you discover your greatest route or value then you’ll be able to ebook instantly via the airline with no additional charges.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Rickshaw art
Travel-inspired rickshaw artwork in Colombo.

Many reserved seats on standard practice routes promote out early. Don’t be deterred, although. You can all the time get on the practice you need with a 2nd or Third class ticket bought the identical day, and not using a seat task.

To get a really feel for the practice routes and the way you may want to plan your individual practice journey via the nation take a look at this practice route map on the official Sri Lanka Railways web site. You may also discover schedules and costs for trains there as properly.

Traveling by practice and not using a reservation: Many of the native trains don’t have reserved seating so that you simply want to present up 30-60 minutes earlier than the practice to purchase a 2nd or Third-class ticket (normally very low-cost). Then, it’s a matter of ready on the platform for the practice to arrive, and positioning your self shut to the doorways so that you might be one of many first to enter and snag a seat. Even for those who don’t find yourself with a seat, don’t fear. One is probably going to come obtainable at one other station.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide, Train Travel
Traveling and not using a practice reservation = a enjoyable balancing act.

Buying practice reservations: If you need a little bit of consolation on the practice with an precise assigned seat you then’ll want to do a little bit of advance planning to work out your route and dates of journey. We went straight to the principle practice station (Colombo Fort Railway Station) once we arrived in Colombo and purchased as many reserved seats as we might for the practice routes we knew we needed to take. Despite this being 10 to 14 days upfront of the particular journey dates, some routes have been already booked full.

We have heard, however haven’t tried ourselves, that it is attainable to work with native journey brokers to purchase reserved practice tickets upfront. Seat 61, the web site of all issues practice journey, has recommendation on how to do this right here.

Finding and Booking Hotels in Sri Lanka

Although we traveled throughout the excessive season we have been ready to make most of our resort bookings in Sri Lanka simply a few days earlier than — and even the day of — our arrival with none drawback. We largely stayed at small, family-run guesthouses and used Booking.com to discover and ebook lodging.

English is spoken at various ranges in smaller guesthouses so we discovered reserving lodging via Booking.com was simpler, speedy and safer than attempting to name and make a reservation over the telephone or by e mail. [Note: If you might be new to Booking.com, use this hyperlink to get $30 off your subsequent reserving of $50 or extra.]

Buying a SIM card in Sri Lanka

When you arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport airport in Sri Lanka you’ll discover a number of cell phone operators providing totally different “tourist plans” SIM card for cellular calling and web. We ended up selecting Mobitel SIM playing cards with a number of gigabytes of cellular knowledge and a bit of SMS and calling minutes for round $10. It was simple to arrange and we had fairly good protection all through Sri Lanka throughout our journey.


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