Sri Lanka | 3 weeks itinerary
In August 2018, two of my friends and I decided to travel around Sri Lanka for about three weeks, and here’s our itinerary. I’ve also added some tips and addresses to our favorite food places so make sure to check them out if you are around!
But before I start I need to advice women traveling solo or with other women that my friends and I , all three have been sexualy asaulted in public transportation. Buses and trains can be packed and some men might take advantage of the situation. Please don’t de afraid to speak up! It is really important that in these moments you reach out for help.
Despite that, we met a few solo female travelers that have felt safe at all times during their trip. So don’t be afraid to travel solo but be aware and make sure to be surrounded at all times.
Before you leave
Depending on your country the price of your visa or ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) will vary. The ETA for all countries who aren’t part of SAARC the fee is 35 USD. You will be granted a tourist visa with a double-entry valid 30 days. Make sure you apply directly through this link, as there are a lot of third party companies ranking first on google searches.
If you are going to travel for more than 2 weeks and have not booked transportation for your entire trip. I suggest you get yourself a sim card at the airport. It’s really affordable and it will be helpful as you won’t have access to wifi everywhere.
Our suggested apps to get before leaving are:
- PickMe Sri Lanka, this app is similar to Uber but for Sri Lanka that will work well in big cities. You will need a Srilankan number to use the app. You need to have cash as the app doesn’t charge you for the rides. Some drivers will try to raise the price, it’s up to you if you want to pay more or the price calculated by the app.
- maps.me is great to explore your surroundings without the risk of getting lost! You download maps that you can use at all times without an internet connection!
- Agoda, to me Agoda is one of the best accommodation searches App for Asia! They always have deals and have a VIP program to get better discounts.
- eservice.railway.gov.lk (website for train schedules)
We spend one night for 750 RP in a dorm at Colombo Jumbo City Hostel (good breakfast) and a nice host. We suggested us not to spend a lot of time in Colombo because there was not much to do or see, so we haven’t done anything in Colombo.
From Colombo Fort, we took the train for about five hours to get to Anuradhapura, where we stayed one night for 1020 RP + 500 RP (breakfast) at City Capital Hostel. Breakfast was really good! And we visited a temple with their tour guide for 700 RP, we got a blessing and saw the biggest stupa in the world as well as the tree of Buddha. We didn’t get the chance to do it but I suggest you go to Minthale!
From Anuradhapura, we took the bus to Trincomalee and then a tuk-tuk to our guest house. /!\ there are only two buses per day in the morning /!\ we stayed at Pigeon beach residence two nights for 2350 RP in a private room, with a shared bathroom. There was a restaurant on the beach quite pricy but it was the only one there. Good food especially their barbecue.
We took the bus from Trincomalee to Habarana and stayed in a guest house called Pawansa Home Stay, two nights for 3470 RP breakfast included. We had a very welcoming host, she prepared a juice cocktail for our arrival, it was really nice. The breakfast was amazing! Our host literally prepared a whole buffet!
From Habarana we visited Polonnaruwa, an antique city, it was one of the most expensive visits, 4020 RP entrance fee + 500 RP to hire a bike because you can’t go around walking it’s too big. You can book a tour or potentially take a tuk-tuk for a few hours but it will be more expensive and the bikes are the best way to go around.
The same day we went to Kaudulla Park to see the elephant gathering, an event that only happens between July and September every year. You get to see hundreds of elephants in the wild during a three hour Jeep Safari. Check for agencies in the city or ask your host if they organize safaris, but make sure it’s all included!
We found a tour for 4200 RP per person if we were 3 and 3800 RP if we were 4. Our host told us her son was doing it for 3500 RP. But the following day when we were about to leave for the tour, they told us we had to add the national park fee, which was 7125 RP per group. So, in the end, we paid 5875 RP per person.
On our way to Kandy, we took the bus for Dambulla cave temple, the entrance was 1500 RP and from there you can also do Sigiriya Fortress, also called the “Lion’s Rock”, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. It’s about 3000 RP to climb the rock.
We stayed in Kandy for two nights at Kandy city monkey for 1100 RP in a dorm. The old lady that works there was absolutely adorable! Breakfast was $1 or $2 (USD) a bit light but nice.
We visited the Royal Botanical Gardens, it was absolutely amazing. I would highly recommend going there for the day because there are over 60 hectares to explore! The gardens display over 4 000 different species of plants, regarded amongst the most superior in Asia.
While we were exploring the city centre, we got somehow, dragged into a traditional dance show for 1000 RP and it was really amazing! People will stop you in the streets and suggest you some activities you can say yes or no but every time it happened to us we had a great time!
We took the iconic train that goes from Kandy to Eliya through tea plantations. We skipped Adam’s peak because the weather was really bad! But if you feel like doing Adam’s peak, the hike includes 5,000–6,000 crumbling steps and incline trekking, but technical climbing is not required. It can take up to four hours to climb.
We stayed in Nuwara Eliya one night at Panorama accommodation for 1070 RP breakfast included. Nuwara Eliya has a cooler climate as it’s located in the highlands. It was very cold and humid, so make sure you have warm clothes for that part of your trip! We visited a tea plantation called blue field factory for free including a cup of tea. You can buy tea there but check my recommendations for cheaper options.
It’s a small touristic town, with the main strip where you have all restaurants, boutiques, accommodation, etc. I didn’t really like it, to me there was nothing authentic, you can tell that it’s made to attract tourists. We stayed 15km away from Ella in a guest house, Udawara guest, two nights for 1000 RP in a private room with our own bathroom.
It wasn’t the cleanest but we got a free dinner and breakfast included in the price. If you find a nice driver you can go around there’s a lot of waterfalls and temples to visit around. We ere lucky to connect with a father and his son that were staying there for two days, he offered to take us around for free! His kindness made our adventure even better! He wanted to show his son the area and therefore asked us if we wanted to come along. It was a busy but amazing day.
We visited two waterfalls, one was free and the other one had a 200 RP entrance fee and we had to walk for like 1,5km to reach it. We also visited the Haputale monastery for 150 RP.
It took us a whole day to go down to Mirissa. We stayed in a very good guest house called Golden Rose guest, two nights for 1500 RP breakfast included for a private room and private bathroom. There’s not much to do in Mirissa so I’d suggest staying two nights, one day to relax at the beach and the other on to visit Galle, one day or half-day is enough for it in my opinion. But we did two days of relaxing at the beach.
The hostel we stayed in was the worst of all. We stayed two nights at Milkyway holiday bungalow for 1160 RP in a private room with a private bathroom. Galle is really expensive so like I said stay in Mirissa or even Hikkaduwa and come for the day. In Galle, we saw the fort and wanted to see the stilt fishermen, but unfortunately, it’s a scam. They aren’t actually fishing but are there as a tourist attraction, that was a huge disappointment for us! If you want to take a picture of them you will have to pay.
We went back to Kandy and stayed at the Central City Hostel two nights for 900 RP. We went back to see the Ensala Perahera festival, if you’re in Sri Lanka at that time you can’t miss it! It was truly impressive! The only negative aspect of the celebration was the elephants used during the parades. They were in chains and some of them seem to be in a lot of distress.
I finished the trip with one of my friends in Hikkaduwa, for two nights at the Sumudu Villa for 1420 RP we had a big double room with a private bathroom. We took these last two days to relax and enjoy the beach as it was a very
The overall budget for Sri Lanka
All prices listed above are per person. I spent most of my budget on food because I love eating! And to help me keep an eye on my budget I used the app Budgi and Splitwise for group expenses. In total, I spent around 700 AUD in 20 days including accommodation, transport, and food.
- Balaji Dosai Kandy – It’s a must-try! Cheap and delicious food, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly. Location: 25/A George E Desilva Mawatha, Kandy 20000
- Café Devine Kandy – good burgers and pasta
- Sunshine Beach Mirissa – reggae kinda beach restaurant and bar /!\ there is another bar called Sunshine beach inn /!\ we went there the two nights we were in Mirissa and it was delicious! Happy hour every day from 3 pm to 10 pm and a very good seafood platter. For 3000 RP we had fish, prawns, crab, calamari, chips, and salad!
- Paddlers inn cafe Galle – a bit pricy compared to what we had previously but really nice and authentic place with occidental and Sri Lankan food
- Gaama’s place Hikkaduwa – a really nice guy who just opened his restaurant at the time it was the best Rotti we had in almost 3 weeks! It’s located on Sarath Gunawardena Mawatha Hikkaduwa
- Cheap tea, coffee, and spices: in Kandy, there’s a tea store called Hatton tea store situated 37, de Soyza Lane, Kandy. The cheapest tea was 1000 RP for 1kg. I spent 1200 RP for 300g of pecko tea, 150g of black coffee, 150g ginger coffee, 8-9 cinnamon sticks, and 100g of cashew nuts.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope it was helpful! Also, check out my post about travelling in Asia as a black woman. Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Instagram!