SRI LANKA

A beautiful tropical paradise with a rich and diverse Landscape.

 The island of Sri Lanka is incredibly diverse and has something to offer for everyone. From the bustling beaches of Unawatuna & Mirissa to the quaint colonial era resorts in midst of the tea estates in Nuwara Ellya, the experience of exploring this beautiful country is truly unforgettable. 

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LET'S PLAN

When is it a good time to visit Sri Lanka??

Sri Lanka is a year round destination. Sri Lanka receives two monsoons in a year affecting the west and the east coast alternatively. From December to March the west coast and the central hill country has a dry and pleasant season while the east coast receives much of the rainfall. From April to September, the east coast has the perfect conditions for beach activities while the west coast experiences rainfall.

Who should I go with?

It’s a prefect place for everyone. There are many activities to indulge in with your family and also romantic resorts to go with your partner. It is an incredible destination for group of friends, couples and solo backpackers alike. 

What should I pack?

Sri Lanka offers an experience for backpackers to mid luxury travellers. Though you find most things in Sri Lankan super market, its best to pack the basic neccessities.

Is a Visa required?

Sri Lanka offers E visa upto 30 days from date of arrival which can be extended upto 90 days by approaching Department of Immigration through an authorised agent. Getting the E-Visa is a very simple process and you should receive your E-Visa in 3-5 days. Head to the official website for obtaining  Sri Lanka E-visa below, fill out the application and pay the relevant fees.
P.S. – There are a lot of fraudulent websites and other websites that charge extra money in form of commissions, please do not use them. Use the official website above to ensure you don’t get scammed or tricked into paying extra.

How do you travel within the country?

There are local buses and trains plying between most major spots in Sri Lanka but it is much more convenient to travel Sri Lanka by a self driven car. You can also hire a driver to drive you around.
 
If you chose to use a self drive car, you will need to get a driving licence from Sri Lanka Transport Department. The driving licence can also be obtained prior to arriving to Sri Lanka with the help of agents or car rental companies providing this service. We got our Licence from the Car Rental Agency that we hired. The process can take about a week and you need to provide them with the copy of your International Driving Permit (IDP). 
Here is a link to their website, which can help you chose a car.

What’s the budget like?

Sri Lanka offers a wide variety of accommodations and eating options for all kind of travellers. There are budget hostels, homestays, mid range hotels, boutique accomodations and luxury hotels all across Sri Lanka with a good value for money.
 
Traveling is relatively more expensive if you chose to hire a driver to drive you around. 
Cost of rental for a self drive car ranges from INR 1100-1200 for a small hatch back and INR 1400-1500 for a sedan.
 
Here are some basic prices for reference:
Bed in a dormitory in a  decent hostel – INR. 700-1100
Meal for two – INR 450-700
Beer – INR 150-200
Car rental per day – INR 1100-1200
Taxi from Airport to Colombo- INR 2000-3000

PLACES TO GO

COLOMBO

Sri Lanka has a wide range of topography with turquoise blue waters in the beaches of Mirissa to the cool tea estates of Nuwara Ellya.

One of the best ways to explore Sri Lanka is by making a road trip as the roads and the driving conditions are really good even for the inexperienced drivers. The journey starts and ends in colombo, exploring the west coast, the central hills and tea estates and the beaches to the south. We drove 950 Km in 10 days but this trip can be easily modified to suite your needs.

Day 1 in Colombo

Colombo is a beautiful city located centrally on the west coast of Sri Lanka. For most of the travelers, this is the first and the last stop as the Bandaranaike International Airport is located 30 km north of Colombo which is the main International Airport for the country. Depending on what time you arrive, you can either chose to explore the city or chose from a pool of excellent hotels to rest from.

Accomodations:
We stayed at Highbury Colombo which is a mid range hotel with pricing at INR 3k-4k per night. We arrived at night and decided to sleep early to get a head start for the next morning. The car company came with the car at the hotel itself with my Sri Lankan driving permit.
Day 2 Colombo to Kandy

Kandy is a hill station 115 km North east of Colombo towards the highlands of Sri Lanka. Enroute to Kandy was the first stop of our journey, Millennium Elephant Orphanage at a distance of 84 km from Colombo and takes about 2.5 hours to reach.

Places to visit:

Stop 1 – A walk with the elephant at Millennium Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala: – One of the best ways to start your Sri Lanka experience is by interacting with Elephants. There are several Elephant orphanages and sanctuaries in and around Pinnawala, which is Enroute to Kandy. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is the most famous but having read the reviews online of the mistreatment of the elephants, we decided to head to Millennium Elephant Orphanage instead. This orphanage houses elephants which were either orphaned or raised in captivity in poor conditions. There are several ways in which you can interact with the elephant and we chose to do a walking tour with the elephant. It was an incredible experience where we got to walk with Raja, the humble Giant. The orphanage is pretty big and you can chose to volunteer with the foundation where you can live in the foundation and take care of these magnificent creatures. Millennium elephant foundation gives you a chance to bathe these elephants in the river and have a much more intimate experience of interacting with them and ensuring the animals are well cared for and treated ethically. It is also very important to never ride these magnificent beings as Elephants are not meant to be ridden.

KANDY

Places to visit:

Stop 2 – The Hill Country – Kandy

Kandy is a major city in Sri lanka in the central province. It was the last capital of the ancient Kings era of Sri Lanka. The city is built around the Kandy lake which is an excellent place for evening strolls. The most famous tourist attraction is the temple of the tooth which is one of the most sacred places of worship for Budhists.
 
We stayed at 36 Bed and Breakfast which is located on the hill and has incredible panoramic views of the city and the Lake. As we arrived late and we were tired from our journey, we decided to sleep early, to get a head start in the morning. If you are up for it, there are several cafes and pubs in Kandy that can be explored.
Day 3 Kandy to Nuwara Ellya

The ferry to LaDigue from Praslin is just 15 minutes away via Cat Cocos. LaDigue is a tiny island with just 10Kms in diameter. It is mostly commuted by cycles. All hotels rent out cycles to go around the island! The entire city centre can be explored on foot within two hours. Two to Three days are sufficient to explore the island.

Places to visit:

Stop 1 – Temple of Tooth

Kandy is a major city in Sri lanka in the central province. It was the last capital of the ancient Kings era of Sri Lanka. The city is built around the Kandy lake which is an excellent place for evening strolls. The most famous tourist attraction is the temple of the tooth which is one of the most sacred places of worship for Budhists.
 
We stayed at 36 Bed and Breakfast which is located on the hill and has incredible panoramic views of the city and the Lake. As we arrived late and we were tired from our journey, we decided to sleep early, to get a head start in the morning. If you are up for it, there are several cafes and pubs in Kandy that can be explored.

Stop 2 – Rhamboda Falls 

The route to Nuwara Ellya is one of the most scenic routes in the world. You make your way through tea estates as you climb higher and higher on the hill ranges. Nuwara Eliya is at an altitude of 1,868 meters and the weather is always very pleasant. Enroute to Nuwara Ellya lies the beautiful and majestic Rhamboda waterfalls. About 100 m behind the falls there is Oak Ray Tea Factory and Museum. You can sip tea while enjoying the spectacular views of the valley below. On the lower flower, they have built a tea museum where you can see prices of making tea. This place is a must visit as the view is very picturesque. You can also buy tea leaves from here as souveniour.

NUWARA ELLYA

Places to visit:

Stop 3 – Nuwara Eliya 

The main city of Nuwara Eliya is sprawling. It was developed as a vacation spot for britishers during the colonial times and a lot of these houses have been converted to hotels. We stayed at one such hotel called Ferncliff. It had a fireplace and a library and the experience of living in a colonial era home was very special. Another great property to explore is the Heritance tea factory which has a restaurant in an actual railway carriage. Moreover, the hotel is located midst of tea plantations and the views are very picturesque. You can explore the main city of Nuwara Eliya and there are many restaurants and hotels to chose from. There is an excellent sri lankan restaurant in The Grand hotel if you want to try some sri lankan curries.
Accomodations:
We stayed at a colonial home turned into a hotel called Ferncliff. It had a fireplace and a library and the experience of living in a colonial era home was very special. Another great property to explore is the Heritance tea factory which has a restaurant in an actual railway carriage. Moreover, the hotel is located midst of tea plantations and the views are very picturesque.
Day 4 Exploring Nuwara Ellya
Places to visit in Nuwara Ellya:

Stop 1 – Horton plains-

28 Km away from Nuwara Eliya city, lies the majestic hortons plains. These are high table top plains which have a very rich bio diverse flora and fauna which is endemic to this area. Hortons plains is a UNESCO world heritage site. While enroute to Horton’s plains you will come across some of the most picturesque views of unending pasteur lands and wind mills. It is best to reach hortons plains early in the morning before 06:00 AM to get a chance to interact with wild deers which will come right to your car. The horton’s trek plain is a 8 km circuit where you get to see the world’s end view point and the waterfalls. The route is easy and can be done by anyone with basic fitness. The entire Horton’s plains can be done in half a day.      
 

Stop 2 – Pedro Tea Estate –

To see where your tea is made, head to Pedro tea estate where you can get a guided tour of the entire process. The tea is made in a factory which was built in 1885 and the factory is surrounded by lush tea plantations. The tour costs 200 LKR and lasts about 20 minutes. Its a great way to learn about how tea is made and graded.
Day 5 Exploring Nuwara Ellya
Places to visit in Nuwara Ellya:

Stop 1 – Moon Plains

Offering similar views as Hortons plains, moon plains offer panoramic views of the surrounding hill ranges and towns. The main attraction of Moon Plains is the mini Worlds End at the edge giving a 360 Degree view of the surrounding peaks and towns. You can see wild boars, cows, buffaloes and deer.

At the viewpoint, you will be able to see the peak point of 9 mountains in Sri Lanka on a clear day. 

Location is close to the city, roughly 2.5km to the entrance from the Nuwaraeliya town. Once you reach the Moon Plains office, you are supposed to reserve a safari jeep to ascend moon plains. The chargers for a Jeep from locals are around LKR 2000 for 45min – 1 hour and 5-7 people can travel.

 

 

Stop 2 – Lake Gregory

Located inside Nuwara Ellya, Lake Gregory is a popular destination. You can hire a peddle boat and boat around the lake or you can stroll along the banks of the lake.

ELLA

Day 6 Nuwara Ellya to Ella

Located about 50 Km from Nuwara Ellya, it takes about two hours to reach Ella. It is a small laid back town which is developing into a major tourist attraction. The town center is filled with modern cafes and food joints.

Accomodations:
We stayed at Lucky Star Ella which is a very cozy home stay with a .beautiful panaromic view of the hills
Places to visit in ELLA:

Stop 1 – Nine Arch Bridge –

Built by the British, this is one of the major structures created during colonialism. When the bridge was underway, WW1 broke out. The steel meant for the bridge was sent abroad and the locals ended up completing the bridge with only stones, rocks and cement which is another testament to the engineering at that time.

 The bridge is surrounded by a dense forest on one side and tea plantations on another which makes is very picturesque. It takes about half an hour of trek to reach the nine arch bridge. Its a thrilling experience to watch the train pass over the bridge.

Stop 2 – Ravana Falls – 
 

Located at a 10-minute drive from town is the Ravana Fall. As per mythology, Ravana kept Sita in a cave behind the falls when he kidnapped her from India. It is located next to the main road so you can easily take a dip. You can also, climb up to the cave but the climb should only be attempted in the dry season with a local guide.

Ravana Falls has become a very popular site with both locals and foreigners.

NILWELLA/MIRISSA

Day 7 Ella to Nilwella or Mirissa

While Enroute to Nilwella/Mirissa a detour can be taken to see the Lipton’s Seat in Haputale. This is the place where the first seeds of the country’s biggest export was sowed – Tea. Ella to Nilwella takes about 3-5 hours to cover. It takes one more hour to reach Mirissa. You can stay at either of the places. We stayed in Nilwella at a boutique resort that we highly recommend Jasper House.

Places to visit in Nilwella:

Stop 1 – Nilwella Beach

Twenty minutes from Tangalle, Our resort Jasper house was located right next to the Nilwella beach. It has an incredible view of the ocean and is surrounded by coconut trees. Room 7 is arguably the best room in this beautiful boutique hotel called Jasper House. It was one of the most unique experiences of our stay in Sri Lanka. It was our first experience to sleep in an open room concept where there are no windows or walls and your room faces the ocean and a beautiful garden with peacocks and Langurs. We were initially a little sceptical of being able to have a sound sleep, but after swimming at the beach and the pool at the hotel, we were only awoken by the morning sun. The beach is quaint and incredibly beautiful.  You can take surf lessons at the beach. 
 
Day 8 Exploring Mirissa

On the southern coast of Sri Lanka lies this incredible beach town called Mirissa. It is about an hour drive from Nilwella.

Places to visit in Mirissa:

Stop 1 – Mirissa Beach

Mirissa beach is lit with people and has a lot of beach side resorts offering sun beds and swimming pool access for a small fee. We spent our morning here swimming at the beach. You can also take surf lessons here in the morning.
 Stop 2 – Secret Beach

You can enjoy your entire day here swimming in the ocean or you can trek from the west end of the beach towards the beautiful and secluded Secret beach. With a wall of rocks blocking the wrath of the ocean, this beach has a lagoon which is perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Don’t forget to wear your boots though, you may step on an unsuspecting sea urchin.
 
Stop 3 – Coconut Hill
Situated at a 15-minute walk from Mirissa Beach is a small coconut farm on a hilltop. The  sunset view from here is spectacular. You can easily find this place on google maps.
 

Stop 4 – The Doctors House

Its a great place to chill and party in the afternoon. It has good food, wine and live music.

UNAWATUNA & GALLE

Day 9 Nilwella/Mirissa to Unawatuna & Galle

Located 75 Km west of Nilwella along the coast, along the southern coast of Sri Lanka next to Galle, Unawatuna is a beautiful laid back beach. We stayed a Thaproban beach house which was right on the beach and the mornings were absolutely amazing. The sea was a little rough but we had a great time swimming.

 This is an excellent location to go out for dolphin and whale watching. There are some tour operators who even offer diving with whales but be ready to spend a lot if you want to experience that. None the less, it’s a great beach to relax, eat and chill.

Places to visit in Unawatuna:

Stop 1 – Unawatuna Beach

Spend some time at the beach swimming and laying on the sun beds. Its a great way to relax and unwind.

Stop 2 – Jungle Beach

Located on the opposite end of the cove to the Galle fort, Jungle beach is very famous with locals during the weekends. This beautiful beach is best visited on a working day as to avoid crowds. It provides beautiful views of the Gallery Fort.
Day 10 Streets of Galle

Cobbled streets, white colonial buildings and stone walls, Galle has an incredible mix of Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture.Galle is a bustling yet charming town in south west coast of Sri Lanka and has one of the prettiest markets we’ve visited. It also has many of the best heritage restaurants here. You can shop some great souvenir or walk by these cobbled streets in awe of the beauty. It is a very popular destination for pre wedding shoots, we witnessed five on the same night.

 This is an excellent location to go out for dolphin and whale watching. There are some tour operators who even offer diving with whales but be ready to spend a lot if you want to experience that. None the less, it’s a great beach to relax, eat and chill.

Colombo

Day 11 Drive back to Colombo

Head back to Colombo and drive through the expressway E01. It takes about 2 hours to reach Colombo.

Before our fliight back to Mumbai we stayed a night at Marino Beach Colombo Hotel. The hotel is relatively new with an epic view of the Arabian sea especially through the rooftop Infinity Pool.

Sri Lanka has some of the most diverse and unique Landscapes. This circuit takes about ten days to complete. This circuit gives you a good mix of the inland hill country and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka.

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