Sri Lanka - 3 Weeks

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Have we told you guys yet that we love Sri Lanka? I think we have many times. 

This country really blew us away. We honestly can not find a bad word to say about our experience in Sri Lanka. For a country that looks so small on the map, it has so much to offer. Pristine beaches, surf, desert safari’s, mountain hikes, jungle, amazing plant based food, and exotic wild animals just to name a few. 

We spent a jam packed 3 weeks in Sri Lanka, we feel like this was a good amount of time although 1 more week would have been perfect. Read on to see where we stayed and what we did for our 3 weeks in Sri Lanka.

Some helpful advice to start your trip

Here are a couple things that might be helpful in the very beginning. Get a sim card at the airport (Mobitel sim 40 Gb for 18$, works almost everywhere). If you are decide to head down south first, like we did, take the train – it’s very easy cheap and an incredible experience. Don’t worry, you can get your ticket last minute at the train station. Also don’t be afraid to visit Sri Lanka during low season. We only had one rainy day.  Low season is much cheaper, you can save up to 40-50% on rooms and its not very busy at all. 

If you need more information or want to plan a guided tour through Sri Lanka we cannot speak highly enough of Mindful Travels. This is a tour company owned by our good friend Amar. He is one of the most genuine and caring people we have met in all our travels. You can find his website here. If you mention that you know Marie and Jake, he will give you a good deal 🙂



first stop – COLOMBO/ Mount Lavinia  

DAY 1-2 

After arriving at the airport we took a cab straight to Mt Lavinia. The ride was about 45 minutes through traffic. We spent the next couple days soaking up the new culture by walking around the streets close to our hostel. We found a couple nice beaches and some nice restaurants. 

A couple days in Mt Lavinia is enough to get a taste of Sri Lankan life before heading south. If you decide to head down south first like we did, take the train – it’s very easy cheap and an incredible experience. You can get your ticket last minute at the train station. 

Eat at

  • Rasa Malaysia (at the beach, local restaurant – we recommend  aloo gobi, vegetable kohlapuri, greek Salad)

  •  Thai Cuisine la Rambla (very delicious Thai food, a bit more expensive than the local places, great Pad thai)

Stay at

Things to do

  • good place to start your journey, meet  locals, go to the beach

  • take a tuk tuk and explore Colombo 

  • meet other travellers, the hostel we stayed at organises pub crawls and city tours

How to get to your next stop 

  • Colombo/ Mount Lavinia to Galle – take a local train (3 hours, very cheap,  buy ticket at the train station)


head to the south – beautiful old town GALLE

day 2-4

Galle was one of our big surprises on this trip. You might not believe it but we dont do a lot of research before we visit a place. We like to experience new places with no expectation. Galle fort is an old city founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. Galle is a little old town surrounded by stone sea walls. 

Walking through the the streets it feels like an old European town that got a Sri Lankan makeover. You will find cute little shops, amazing local and western food and lots of photo opportunities. You will have to at least spend 2 day in Galle to experience this magical place.

Eat at

  • Lucky fort Restaurant (amazing local food, cute little restaurant, 10 curries for 2 people 15$)

  • Poonies Kitchen (cute little oasis in Galle, enter through a Clothing Store, amazing smoothie bowls and healthy meals

  • Sea Waves Restaurant (cooking classes)

Stay at

Things to do

  • explore the streets by foot or take a tuk tuk

  • watch the sunrise or sunset at the Lighthouse

  • explore the history of Galle, visit the museum 

  • find a cute souvenir, go shopping

 

How to get to your next stop

Galle to Unwatuna by Tuk tuk or Train. Its only a 20-30 min drive

Bach paradise – UNAWATUNA

Day 4-6

Unawatuna felt a little bit like Sri Lanka’s version of Bali’s Uluwatu without the surf. There is one main street that leads towards to beach, full with shops, restaurants, spas hostel and hotels. We spent 3 day here at Bed Space Beach, we highly recommend this place. The food was great for plant based eaters and the location was also super close to the beach. We rented out a scooter for our time here so we could go back and fourth to the beach swing, jungle beach and Galle without get a Tuk Tuk everytime. It was $10 a day for a scooter, not as cheap as some other places but still worth it for full days exploring.

Eat at

  • Bedspace

  • Skinny Toms Delhi 

  • Pink Elephant 

  • Spice Lane Ahangama 

  • Mati Gedara (vegetarian rice curry Buffet all you can eat for 3$ USD/ 5 different dishes)

 

Stay at

Things to do

  • Famous swing 

  • Chill at the beach: wijaya beach 

  • Sri yoga shala 

  • Spa at The sanctuary Spa 

  • Swim at Jungle Beach

  • Check out the Japanese Peace Pagodo

 

How to get to your next stop

  • Unawatuna to Talalla by local bus ( a few hours, ask at your hotel or the locals for the bus number, very cheap)

Time for yoga and surfing – TALALLA

DAY 6-10

A lot of people stay in Mirissa next. We skipped it but would still recommend it as the beaches  Our next stop was Talalla. The retreat we stayed at had it all. Wellness, Yoga, Surfing and great food. The area around Tallala is amazing as well. You will find the nicest beaches in Sri Lanka here. For $15 US we rented a Tuk Tuk for 3 ppl to explore the area several hours.  We took surfing lessons with the guys at Talalla Surf around the Tangalle/ Dikwella area and we absolutely loved it.

Eat at

  • Talalla retreat (amazing food, good veggie options)

  •  or at any local place 

Stay at

Things to do

  • Take a tuk tuk and explore the area

  • Rock pool or Blow hole

  • Beach hunting – best beach: Hiraketija beach

  • Catch an unforgettable sunrise at the beach

 How to get to your next stop

  •  Talalla to Yala (3 hours by car, 7000-8000 rp for 3 ppl)

It is time for the first SAFARI – YALA  

DAY 10-12

Yala National Park was the first time we had ever seen an Elephant in the wild and was our first National Park in Sri Lanka. For this reason Yala will always hold a special place in our hearts. We only stayed here for 2 days but it was unforgettable. Our tent at the Wild Coast Lodge was the picture perfect setting, monkeys, wild pigs, buffalo and birds surrounded our tent one afternoon. It was one of our favourite experiences of the whole trip.

Stay at/ Eat at

Things to do

  • Safari at Yala National Park  $35 (6:30am or 3pm)

How to get to your next stop

  • Yala to Udawalawe (van and local bus, 2 -3 hours)

Safari no. 2 – UDAWALAWE

DAY 12-14

Another place we went to experience a Safari. Compared to Yala, less Jeeps are allowed in the park. We saw our first elephant right next to the road on the way to our camp when we arrived. It was an insane experience. The male elephant was really calm and curious. We stayed at Makulu Safari Camp, this place was also a highlight. Run by local Sri Lankans, we experienced real Sri Lankan hospitality. The food was amazing and so was the scenery, we paddled along a little river next our camp in a canoe for sunset. 

Eat at

  • Makulu Camp has amazing local food

Stay at

  • Makulu Safari Camping 

  • (Tent for 4 for 65$/night, amazing camp with little river and boat to take out, outstanding local food) 

Things to do

  • Udawalawe Safari (6am or 3pm/ 25$US entrance fee +Jeep rental Danushka Safari)

How to get to your next stop

  • Udawalawe to Ella (by  local bus – ask the locals, 3 hours, very cheap)

Lush green in ELLA

Day14-16      

We had heard great things about Ella before arriving. It definitely seemed to be a favourite among tourists. We could see why after our first day! Famous for beautiful hikes, viewpoints and of course the 9 Arch Bridge, we managed to take some epic pics in Ella. The town itself was quite busy, we didnt expect there to be so many people. Although it was busier, Ella has a really cool backpacker vibe. 

We stayed in the Higherground Treehouse which was really cool, we had so much fun playing around with the monkey’s. They literally came into our treehouse when we left the door open. For nature, beautiful green mountains, picturesque tea plantations and really cool backpacker scene, you will want to spend at least 4-5 days in Ella. 

THE TRAIN FROM ELLA TO KANDY

Most of you would have seen the photos of the blue train in Sri Lanka. The train ride from Ella to Kandy is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. We are so happy that we reserved seats in 1st class the day before we left after we considered just arriving on the day and booking a ticket. It was really busy!! If you want to enjoy the amazing views and take some really nice photos without the stress of being squished in with 100 people, definitely reserve your set the day before. 

Having said that, no matter what you do you will love this train ride. Absolute gorgeous scenes to wake up to. We recommend taking the early train so you can see how the light changes across the tea plantations as the sun rises. 

Eat at

  • Ella Village Restaurant (great local food for a good price)

  • Cafe chill (Western food an local food)

  • The Barn (good Wifi, nice setup, good food)

Stay at

Things to do

  • 9 Arches Bridge ( go early & if you want to the the train its passing at 9:15 am)

  • Waterfall hunting 

  • Little Adams peek (20 min hike, great view, good photos/ drive to 98 acres Hotel and ask from there)

  • Ella Rock  (3-4hour hike, most people go for sunrise at 4:30 am)

Finish with a bang – SIGIRIYA

Day17-19

The last stop on our epic 3 week Sri Lankan adventure was Sigiriya. What a way to finish off! From Sigiriya we took a day trip to Kaudulla National Park for one more safari. This was our favourite safari of the whole trip. Here you will see heards of 30-50 elephants roaming the grass plains. We highly recommend this safari.

Sigiriya itself is a quite little town, most people are there to see and climb Sigiriya and Pidurangala rock. If you didnt have time or enough money to see both rocks in our opinion, taking into account the price and the popularity of these two sites, we would prefer to go to Pidurangala Rock. It is much cheaper ($3 instead of $35) and the view of Sigiriya rock from the top is spectacular. 

We have to mention also that our little homestay in Sigiriya was one of our favourite places to stay in all of Sri Lanka. It is very basic and definitely not luxury, but the local man that owns it is the kindest person. The food he and his wife prepared for us was incredible, i’m getting hungry just thinking about it now! 

Eat at

  • Croissant hut (good food but we waited a long time for it)

  • Amba Sewana, our Homestay made great dinner

Stay at

Things to do

  • Pidurangala Rock (only 3 $ entry, amazing view of the Sigiriya rock which is just in front of it, 30 min Hike)

  • Sigiriya Rock (35$, amazing view)

  • you might see wild elephants at the lake next to the homestay 

  • day trip to Kaudulla National park (best park to see a lot of elephants)

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Sri Lanka for us was just magical, you will be blown away by pretty much every aspect of this country. Perfectly safe to travel and full of so much beauty!! We hope you will enjoy this country as much as we did. If you need any help planning your trip be sure to contact Amar at Mindful Travels here.

If you want to read about how we saved up for this trip, read our article on how to save for travel here.

Thanks for reading, for more information and inspiration we hope to see you over at @mariefeandjakesnow.

Lots of Love

Marie and Jake 

Conscious Team