Sri Lanka has been gaining popularity as a backpacking destination since the civil war ended in 2009. While Sri Lanka has been steadily undergoing development after the ravages of war, many places are still relatively untouched by modernization, making it popular for those who love to go off the beaten track.
Sri Lanka is a country so full of diversity that anyone who visits will definitely have something to look forward to. It is home to many different religions (temples galore!), ethnic groups and languages, making it a must go to those who have an interest in culture and history. Being an island, you’ll be surrounded by beaches, each with their own unique personality. You’ll be spoilt for choice, choosing from hip Arugam Bay famous for its surfing, beautiful Mirissa where you can go whale watching or Trincomalee for some spectacular snorkeling on Pigeon Island. Nature lovers can also rejoice for there are many national parks dotted around Sri Lanka with a multitude of wildlife such as countless species of birds, elephants, leopards and the like. For those who love beautiful scenery and hiking, there are the famous trails such as Adam’s Peak, Sigiriya Rock and the Horton Plains to visit.
Day 1: Arrived in Colombo and toured Gangaramaya Temple
Day 3: Took a day trip to Sigiriya Rock
Day 4: Took the train to Hatton and then took the bus to Dalhousie
Day 5: Woke up at 2am to attempt to climb Adam’s Peak then headed to Ella
Day 6: Afternoon trek up Little Adam’s Peak and attended a local festival in the evening
Day 7: Had a free ride to Tissa thanks to my new Australian pals Dave and Duane
Day 8: Headed to Yala national park early in the morning and then took a few long bus rides to Arugam Bay
Day 9: Chilled at Arugam Bay
Day 10: Another long bus ride to Trincomalee
Day 11: Diving off the coast of Trincomalee
Day 12: Snorkeling at Pigeon Island
Day 13: Dolphin watching and fishing
Day 14: Long bus rides (again!) back to Kandy
Day 15 & 16: Back to Colombo for some rest (and gym) before flying back to Singapore
TIPS & ADVICE
1. Attractions and destinations can be hours upon hours apart and taking public transport can be very tiring so make sure that you take that into account whilst planning your trip.
2. Take note of the season when you visit especially if you’re planning on visiting some of the beaches. To be safe, always check up the weather forecast for the duration of your stay while planning any trips!
-South-West: Rainy season between May and Sep. Dry season between Dec and Mar
-North-East: Rainy season between Oct and Jan. Dry season between May and Sep.
1. Public transportation can get really crowded at times (which might be uncomfortable for some). Always go early to the bus or train station in order to secure a seat.
2. Public transportation is really, really cheap. Great for budget travellers!
3i. Some tuktuk drivers, especially in touristy cities will try to rip you off hard. Always agree upon a price before setting off. I’ve met other travellers who had to pay $80 for a journey that would usually cost $10 – $15. They can get really aggressive especially if you are a solo and/or female traveller.
ii. Tuktuk drivers may also take you on a much longer route than needed and thus allow them to jack up prices. If you’re unsure about the route, you should ask the locals or have your GPS handy to ensure you don’t get ripped off.
4. If you’re especially adventurous, you could try walking instead. When I arrive in new places such as Kandy and Colombo, I would turn on my GPS and just walk to my accommodation of choice. Even though this might take me an hour or two, it gives me a better idea and experience of the new place I am in. Of course this is not possible all the time as many areas in Sri Lanka are still very underdeveloped.
1. Accommodation is not cheap in Sri Lanka. Hostels and guest-houses can cost anything from USD 15 to USD 30.
2. I did not pre-book any accommodation and used TripAdvisor to determine where was my next bed each time I was in a new destination. I had some good hits and also some big misses.
1. If you are daring enough and have a strong stomach, go for the street/local foods! Local food is extremely cheap and a filling meal of rotti, curry and a bottle of soft drink can cost just USD 1.
2. If you have a bigger budget and can’t stomach local food, there are also many restaurants available in the bigger and more popular areas such as Kandy and Ella.
1. Crows and buffalo/cows seem to be Sri Lanka’s national animals. Be ready to avoid cow poop wherever you walk.
2. Bring insect repellent as there were mosquitoes everywhere you go. Especially along beaches and mountains.