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Wanderer Neha

"i haven't been everywhere but it's on my list."

My Sri Lankan Trail

January 20, 2017

Sri Lanka might seem like a small country to cover all parts in a single trip. But it's a vast expanse and you'll need at least a month. I just had a week for this trip. For my 6 nights / 7 days stint, I chose to explore 4 cities.

Colombo → Nuwara Eliya Kandy Mirissa Colombo

Sri Lanka is a budget destination if you make the right choices in terms of travel and stay. I traveled with my 2 friends so most of the costs were split to make my individual trip expense - USD 800 (all inclusive).   

Visa

For Sri Lankan visa, you can register and pay prior to your trip and get your passport stamped on arrival. It is valid for 30 days but can be extended. SAARC Countries are required to pay USD 20 while all other countries have to pay USD 35. I found the visa process fairly smooth. Find more details on their official site.

Local Transport

One of the smartest decisions we made on this trip was to hire a car through and through for the entire trip, Right from the airport pickup on arrival until airport drop for departure. This obviously included the local transit and sightseeing in between. It considerably brought down the hassle of worrying about our local transit from one city to the other. One of our Airbnb hosts in Sri Lanka was kind enough to arrange it for us. Even though we felt it was slightly expensive but this would guarantee us maximum comfort on our trip. The car was cute Scooby-Doo-ish van and also had WiFi! We paid USD 400 for this service. The driver was courteous and drove well. The roads in this country are stunning and made me fall in love with road trips. I did not experience any road rage here.

sri lanka travel cab

However, we would have hoped for a better tour guide as our driver. So much of our travels depends on the knowledge of the guides. Make sure you hire someone with experience and fluency in English. We were on most occasions left to figure stuff on our own.

Another drawback was that we couldn't experience the country by its famous rail routes which boast of beautiful views and landscapes. 

The journey begins...

Nuwara Eliya

I can't stop obsessing over Airbnb while planning every trip. It's cheap, reliable and adds to your overall traveling experience. It makes me look forward to my future travels and get excited about the next house I'll be staying in.

nuwara eliya sri lanka airbnb 

Our Airbnb in Nuwara Eliya

nuwara eliya sri lanka airbnb


Sri Lanka was no different. Our first stop was in Nuwara Eliya at this beautiful cottage house. We were hosted by a loving family and their hospitality was one of a kind. We had the best meals of our entire trip at this house. It was so flavourful and authentic that we can't stop thinking about it a month later.

sri lankan breakfast 

Waking up to this Breakfast spread: Rice hoppers & Sri Lankan curry
 

Nuwara is a hill station and the weather was just the right kind of cold in December for city-dwellers from Mumbai. There are few tourist spots such as World's End, Sita Temple, Gregory Lake, Pidurutalagala etc. but most often packed by tourists. What we enjoyed the most was staying perched in our cute little cottage overlooking the hill and filling our tummies with culinary delights prepared by our local hosts.  

I was sad to leave Nuwara because we were spoilt by our hosts during our time here. Next stop -

Kandy

We planned a pit stop in Kandy majorly because we wanted to do a day trip to Sigiriya. And also because we found a luxurious condo to celebrate 2 birthdays that were falling on our time there. This property was perched on a hill and therefore quite far from the hustle bustle of the city. We could spend hours admiring the picturesque sunrises and sunsets while sipping our wines from the balcony of this house.

kandy sri lanka

View of Kandy town
 

kandy sri lanka airbnb

Our Airbnb in Kandy
 

kandy sri lanka sunset
Sunsets in Kandy
 

If you like exploring cities and towns in different countries to get to know the way of life, you'll find Kandy interesting. We spent some time at the local cafes and malls in the evening and also visited the Temple of the Tooth and Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue (good view of Kandy town!).

Mirissa

For our southern location, we chose to stay at Mirissa which was closer to most of the beaches we wanted to visit. Our third property was very unique and we were living quite close to nature. We spent the evenings sipping cocktails at the beach shacks. The beaches down south are really pretty and clean. I get excited for some reason when I see light blue waters! Not a thing I can easily find back home. Instead of Galle, you can find your base closer to one of the beaches as there isn't much to see in Galle. Except maybe snap a few pictures. The shorelines, however, are very glorious and you can instead spend more time there.

mirissa sri lanka airbnb

Our Airbnb in Mirissa
 

galle sri lanka
Sightseeing in Galle
 

mirissa beach sri lanka
Mirissa Beach
 

jungle beach sri lanka

Jungle Beach
 

hikkaduwa beach
Hikkaduwa Beach
 

Colombo

Our last leg of the trip was reserved for the capital city - Colombo or as my friend likes to call 'cleaner version of Bombay!'. That's partially true though but let's not take any credit away from this charming city. I couldn't stop staring outside my car window marveling at the malls and shops neatly aligned at the high street.

colombo sri lanka

But then that was it, we weren't aware that the city shuts down at 7 PM!! 7 PM?? That's when my city starts hustling!! I was quite unhappy, especially because I didn't want my trip to end this way. We had saved a chunk of our budget for shopping in Colombo and all we could do is explore one mall. I love street and local market shopping but sadly that couldn't happen on this trip. We had no option but to go and crash the night at the airport for our early morning flight.

Other things to note

  • My flight tickets were booked more than 6 months in advance at a decent rate
  • Tipping is optional in this country but on many occasions, we were so impressed by the service that we did go ahead and tip
  • Steer clear of restaurants and try eating local home-cooked meals which are easy on the pockets too 
  • My individual accommodation expense was USD 200
  • Entry to a lot of tourist attractions is expensive for foreigners 

The last bit aside, Sri Lanka has been an absolute delight! If you plan to visit this country, go with an open mind. There are no monuments or scenic points for you to trot from one place to the other. This place is all about the natural raw beauty and road trips.

That was my Sri Lanka trip in a nutshell. If you go to see, I haven't even covered 50% of this country. There is just so much to it and I'm definitely coming back. There are very few places that can leave you hungover!
 

Get USD 20 off on your first Airbnb booking if you register your account through my referral link.

Also, read: Make The Most Out Of Sri Lanka

 

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