Hello loves! We are just back from our Sri Lanka trip and it was one of the best trips I ever did. I always heard good things about this country and was very excited to go, but I never thought it would be this amazing, with such beautiful landscapes, it has so much to offer, the mountains, the beaches, all the temples, the activities you can do, the very spicy but delicious food and best of all – all the wonderful people we met! Our trip was planned for three weeks, while we would spend 5 days in the Maldives. During those three weeks we would go around the south part of the island, which would fit perfectly in our time frame. In the end we were so in love with Sri Lanka and all the places we had visited that we extended our trip and stayed for another week, so it was 4 weeks in total and the best 4 weeks ever!
So let’s start with the Sri Lanka Recap which I promised I would make. Here I will guide you how we did our trip, step to step, showing you where we slept, where we ate and what we visited. I will also link to separate blogposts that we did from every location so you can get some more insights.
After arriving to the airport we took a car/taxi to Negombo which is just 20 minutes away from the airport, it is the perfect place to stay over night or spend some days when you just arrive or about to leave. We had booked some nights at Hotel Dorset which was really nice, around 27 euros per night. The hosts were very helpful and gave us tips for our upcoming adventure. Negombo was nice, there is a long street full of little shops, bars and restaurants which is filled with tuk tuks, we walked around getting the vibe of the country, met lots of nice locals and got sim cards for our phones. We payed 15 euros for 25 GB, 15 GB during day time and 10 GB during nighttime, yes it is a lot but since we’re working online it’s necessary because the internet doesn’t work very well in most places, besides 15 euros is nothing for so many GB!
Below the street you find the beach, it is not the most beautiful beach I have seen, it is very big with some big hotels along the beach but also some cute beach bars where we had coconuts and ate rice & curry.
When we were leaving to the next location we asked our hosts at the hotel if they could help us arrange a car/taxi and they did, so we took a car from Negombo to Kandy for 40 euros and it took around 3 hours. It was a very small little car and we stopped on the way to eat some rotis.
Read about our car trip from Negombo to Kandy here.
After driving 3 hours from Negombo to Kandy we checked into our hotel we had booked the night before, it’s called Meili Lanka City Hotel and it was very nice, nicer than I expected, very big and clean rooms with AC, we payed 18 euros for the night. We only stayed in Kandy for one night because we were going to visit the Elephant Freedom Project in Kegalle and to take the train to Ella the next morning, therefor we didn’t see much of Kandy and don’t have any other recommendations, I’ve heard it is very nice though where you can visit the tea factories and the temples.
Right after we had checked in to the hotel a driver came to pick us up from The Elephant Freedom Project that we had booked in advance, we payed 5000 Sri Lankan Rupees for the pick up and for them to bring us back to Kandy and it took around 1 hours to drive there. We actually drove back the same way we had arrived, so we could have just driven straight from Negombo to Kegalle, but we didn’t think so far… Anyways, the Elephant Freedom Project was one of the highlights of our trip and I really recommend you to visit it if you are in Sri Lanka and up for visiting elephants. It is a freedom project which rescues elephants from other parks where they allow riding, where they do tricks or other un natural things for elephants. At the Elephant Freedom Project you help to take care of the elephants instead, and just have a really nice day together with the team! Read more about the project on our previous blogpost.
We woke up very early in the morning to be at Kandy train station at 8am, the train leaves at 8.45 and we wanted to be sure we could get tickets. It was very easy and it cost 1,80 euros for one 2nd class ticket. If you want a 1st class ticket you have to book it long in advance, but I would recommend to take the 2nd class because it’s more adventurous and fun. It’s very packed and hard to get a seat, we were standing up for almost the whole ride (6 hours) but it was no problem at all, it was so much fun to just walk around the train, watch the incredible view and from time to time we got a chance to sit down by the open doors. You can also go back to the 3rd class where there is more space, also a little bar where you can buy drinks and food. Read more about our train trip here.
I fell in love with almost every place we visited in Sri Lanka, but Ella must be the one that stole my heart. The train ride was beautiful but so is Ella, the nature is absolutely incredible and there are so many things to do. We stayed in Ella for 4 days, we checked in to Ella Paddy Field View Guest Inn where we payed 23 euros per night. I loved this guesthouse, cozy rooms and a big terrace where we had our breakfast watching the view every morning. It was very close to the centre, by walking it took us 10-15 minutes or 5 minutes with the scooter which we rented at the guesthouse.
In Ella we went to check out the Nine arches bridge which you can read about here and also climbed up the Small Adams peak which you can also read about here. There is also the big Adams peak which is much bigger but we thought the small one would be enough :) Apart from climbing and checking out the bridge we went to see the little tea factory, took the scooter down to the waterfall and hung out in town eating rice and curry!
We loved Ellement Hiking Bar, Very good food, fun and cool staff, open until late and just loved the vibe! This is the place where we hung the most but Ella town is full of cozy restaurants with really good Sri Lankan food. We felt that the food got worse and worse the closer we got to the beach, so make sure to eat as much rice & curry as you can ;)
After 4 days we went down to Yala national park and we got a ride with our guesthouses owners car, we payed 40 euros (8000 Sri Lankan Rupees) and it took us around 2 and a half hour.
We stayed for some nights at Wild Coast Tented Lodge, a beautiful newly opened hotel right in the Yala National Park, read about our experience in this post. Since we were there we of course did a Safari as well, it was beautiful and we saw a lot of animals! Yala is famous for its leopards and the main reason people go there, unfortunately we didn’t see any leopards, but the group that went after us did… I guess you just have to be lucky! We saw a lot of other animals though, such as elephants, wild boars, peacocks and lots of other birds! Read about our Yala safari here.
Hiriketiya was our absolute favourite place, we first stayed for 4 days and after Maldives we extended our Sri Lanka trip for a week and spent it all in Hiriketiya. We stayed at Hiriketiya Surf Homestay which is a little homestay all the way to the left if you stand on the beach and watch out to the ocean. We first booked on booking.com and got a room downstairs with no view, so we later changed at the location for a room upstairs which they apparently didn’t have on booking.com, so I recommend to book directly with the hosts on location. The rooms downstairs are not as beautiful as the ones upstairs which are absolutely amazing! The rooms are completely new, they are still renovating one by one, and rent out the ones they have done… The walls are open on the side so you sleep hearing the sound of the waves, the beds are great and there is of course a mosquito net over so you don’t get eaten by all the mosquitos! We loved this place so much and stayed in total for 9 days! The price is a bit more expensive than the others, but its definitely worth it, we payed 36 euros per night.
Hiriketiya beach is very small and perfect for surfers and beginner surfers, they rent out surfboards everywhere and you can take classes for 15 euros per person. There are 3 restaurants by the beach, we liked all of them, and the one in the middle called Beach House has very good pizzas and great breakfast, they also have nice rooms.
All the places on the beach close very early, at 9.30 they already start packing up, so be early. I guess it is because people wake up so early in the mornings to surf, which is totally fine, it’s better to wake up early and have a longer day with light than to stay up late at night in the dark. In Sri Lanka we woke up at 7 every morning, which I normally don’t do on vacation. There is also a nice bar called Dots Bay House which is also by the beach but a bit above, they have live bands playing some nights, very good food and they also rent out rooms, which seemed very nice! So I would recommend that one too, it is a bit more pricey but depends what you’re looking for!
After 4 days we ordered a car to drive us to Mirissa, our homestay helped us organize it. We drove for 2 hours and we payed 40 euros (8000 Sri Lankan Rupees) for 2 hours driving.
Mirissa is a bigger town on the middle of the south coast, the beach is much bigger than Hiriketiya and there are definitely more tourists, still very cozy. We didn’t love it as much as the previous beach but it was nice with something different, more things to choose from as well. We were staying at Dream Palace Family Guesthouse which is situated on the street just above the beach, it took us 2 minutes to walk down to the beach. The guesthouse is very nice and clean, we had a big room with AC and paid 21 euros per night.
The main beach is quite crowded, but if you walk all the way to the left you find it less crowded. The beach is full of cool bars and restaurants. We really liked a reggae bar/restaurant, I can’t figure out the name but you will see it on the beach, it’s got all the reggae colours and lights! They don’t have the best food but it was nice to chill there with a beer, I love reggae places! For eating I can definitely recommend Salt, we had the best tuna that I have ever tried, it is a bit more fancy but it’s really cozy with nice lighting just on the beach. There are plenty of places!
We took a tuktuk one day to see Weligama, it took 20 minutes and we payed 2,5 euros (about 500 Sri Lankan Rupees). Weligama is also famous for its surfing, the tide is very high so there are no places on the beach and it felt quite empty, but I guess it’s a lot of fun if you’re a surfer, they had a lot of cool places for food and drinks, we had breakfast at Aloha Home & Kitchen, it’s really nice and they have very good avocado toasts and bowls, it was nice with something different than Sri Lankan food once.
After the breakfast we took another tuktuk to Dalawella, it took 1 hour and we payed around 6 euros (1200 Sri Lankan Rupees). Dalawella is just beside Unawatuna which is the most famous tourist beach area, but Dalawella is a small beach where we mainly went to check out the famous swing! The swing is located just in front of the Dream Cabanas and since we arrived so early we hung out the whole day there. There are so many people taking pictures with the swing so now Dream Cabanas charge 500 Sri Lankan Rupees per ride, I guess to protect the palm. In the evening we took a tuktuk back to Mirissa!
Read more about our experience in Mirissa and Dalawella here.
The last days we spent in Unawatuna and Galle. These places are supposed to be a bit more touristic but it is nice to see, specially Galle which is like a little European town since it was founded by the Portuguese. Galle is only 15 minutes away with tuktuk from Unawatuna so it’s a nice place to go during the day or why not even sleep there! We slept at Unawatuna which was nice, the beach is not the most beautiful but you have beaches around which you can go to easily with a tuktuk. There are a lot of cool bars and restaurants and shops on the walking street which I really enjoyed, but if you don’t have the time for Unawatuna it doesn’t really matter :P Read more about our days in Unawatuna and Galle here.
We were in total 3 and half weeks in Sri Lanka and I think it was the perfect amount of time to visit half of the country. We spent around 3-4 days in every location and always booked our guesthouses the night before we arrived on booking.com, we like to not plan too much and just see where it takes us, so sometimes we just booked for 1 night and then if we liked it we booked extra nights already at the guesthouse.
We mostly travelled by car/taxi which we felt was the most comfortable way to travel, we paid around 40 euros per ride and it was always around 3 hours. You can also travel by tuktuk which is much cheaper, we took a tuktuk from Hiriketiya to Unawatuna and it took us 2,5 hours and it was a lot of fun as well! Depends what you feel like!
Our favourite place was definitely Ella and Hiriketiya. Our least favourite was Galle and Unawatuna, I think it’s because its more touristy, but they were still nice and if you have extra time you should visit for sure. The train ride is a must, you will not regret it and also the Elephant Freedom Project in Kegalle <3
We ate mostly rice & curry which is around 500-800 Sri Lankan Rupees (2,50 – 4 euros), fruit shakes cost around 100 Sri Lankan Rupees (50 cents) and beers are about 500 which is 2,50. You have to eat their Rotis, I loved their vegetarian rotis which are amazing and lots of curry, a perfect snack!
Always bring cash with you, there are not many places where you can pay with card, but every little village has ATM’s so you can withdraw.
That’s about it! Sri Lanka was really one of my favourite trips which I’m still dreaming about and would go back in a heartbeat! <3
Feel free to ask any questions you might have!
Lots of love xx Mikuta + Klemens