Escape the tropical climate of the coast and head for the hills to gaze at the timeless ruins and green charms of the country. From verdant tea plantations to spectacular train rides Sri Lanka is the perfect holiday spot for every kind of traveler. With world-class sites and crowd, one would get to see something utterly new at a short hop.
I am one of the many people who set resolutions at every new year (including the regional ones I observe which is Tamil New Year and Vishu), which are not impossible but not followed through either. One such resolution was to see a new country every year starting 2019. I solo trip once a year around India on a shoe-string budget, but heading off to a new nation alone was slightly daunting. A wrist injury meant I was housed in my close friend Rhicha’s den for a few weeks, when I shared my interest with her. Since she was game, we decided to go together instead. The reason to pick Sri Lanka included several factors. For one it was close, two there wasn’t a major language barrier (I am a Tamilian), and three I am a culture junkie. Also, I wanted to travel Srilanka on Budget and therefore I planned a trip to this country.
Details Of Our Sri Lanka Trip
Trip Type: Friends Trip
Cost: INR 51750
No. Of People: 2 Adults
Duration: 7 Days 6 Nights
Inclusions: Breakfast, Airport Transfers, GST, Sightseeing, Welcome Drinks, Massage Facilities
Exclusions: Lunch, Dinner, Entry Fee, Visa, Airfare
What Our Actual Sri Lanka Itinerary Looked Like
Day 1: Arrival, Sightseeing
Day 2: Transfer to Kandy, Sightseeing
Day 3: Transfer to Nuwara Eliya, Sightseeing
Day 4: Trekking
Day 5: Sightseeing
Day 6: Transfer to Bentota, Sightseeing
Day 7: Departure Back Home
Sri Lanka Weather In February
Being an island nation, I expected the country to be warm and humid. As both Rhicha and I are from Mumbai, the weather was just like home. But the stays were pleasant, and not excessively uncomfortable. The chill in Nuwara Eliya meant we needed to buy a jacket as it was bloody cold!
Here Is All That We Experienced On Our Sri Lanka Travel
One of the major factors, why I wanted to travel to Sri Lanka, was the cost. The Sri Lankan Rupee is weaker as compared to the Indian rupee, so that meant I could spend within my budget. An added advantage, which wasn’t meant to be, was meeting Kumara Sangakkara in person. Here is how we covered most of Sri Lanka on budget.
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1. Living The Rustic Life
After a quick nap, we headed off to a village tour in a bullock cart. We tried our hand at the wheat grinding stone and Rhicha tried her hand at the pounder (okhal and mussal). The lovely lady who runs the hut spoke no English or Tamil, but served us fresh sambhal, fish curry, dal, chutneys and poppadums cooked on earthen stoves. It was delicious. This was followed by a fun boat ride complete with a hat made of leaves and lotus necklaces. What an idyllic way to live life! We returned to a fun elephant ride, making a spectacle of ourselves. I’m pretty sure Rhicha and I became internet celebs in some European town that day! Followed by a quite evening of silence at a beautiful dam. Exhausted, we returned to a fulfilling meal at the hotel, and an unexpected chat on cultures and stories from two sides of the 1km border with the owner of the place!
2. A Day Full Of Sightseeing
Day two was purely up Rhicha’s alley. We decided to scale Sigiriya rock and walk up to the Lion’s Peak. Originally the throne of King Kashyapa, the climb will take you across some fascinating nuggets from urban planning in as early as 3rd century BC, when it was occupied by Buddhist monks. You’ll walk past wells, lakes, water storage systems, cobra’s hood with Buddhist carvings as you scale up. Then there is a small cave that is a photography free zone, where you climb up a narrow steel stair trail. Once at the foot of lion’s peak (quite literally, you will notice two paws carved on either side of the mountain) is when the steep climb begins. I huffed and puffed and cursed all the way along. But it was worth the climb. Thank god she’s a trekker. Next stop before heading off to Kandy was the Golden Cave temple, which is another climb. But it is a beautiful set up and takes you through the entire life Of Prince Siddhartha as the Buddha we know.
3. Ringing The Temple Bells
Day three started with a quick visit to the temples of Sri Lanka and at first, we visited the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Our guide regaled us with the stories of how the temple got its name and the VIP Sanctorum in the middle of the temple. En-route to Nuwaraeliya, we stopped over at the spice garden, and Dr Jay was very helpful with his botany class. We also visited a beautiful gem museum-cum-store and came out with our hearts satisfied but pockets lighter. The tea garden though was a highlight. Imagine walking in to tea haven at 4pm on a chilly afternoon!
Suggested Read: The Ultimate Guide To Sri Lanka’s Dambulla Cave Temple
4. Nuwara Eliya And Much More
Day four started at the chilly Nuwaraeliya. The gorgeous Seetha Amman temple, and Ramboda waterfalls gave us time to bond with our new friends. Our late evenings at the hill city was complete with fishy dinners and leisurely strolls at the Gregory Lake. Instead of our original plan to hike at horton plains, we opted to walk up to moon plains instead. The sight gives you a peek at the highest mountain peak in Sri Lanka. We then headed over to have a mid-lake picnic in what Ahamed said is the cleanest lake in all of Sri Lanka. Rhicha even managed to row the boat for a while!
5. A Day To Ourselves
Day five was a day of personal liberation. We visited the turtle farm and for a small fee got the chance to set a baby turtle free in the ocean. Ironic how even a turtle needs to buy its freedom! In Bentota, we went on a long boat ride in the Indian ocean, and spotted some interesting birds and fishes on the way. I even held a slimy jelly fish! Then there was a quick session of fish pedicure (Rhicha got rid of her sixth toe) and a refreshing cup of cinnamon tea in the cinnamon farm.The last day of the trip was an adventure time! we tried our hand at kayaking, jet skiing and somewhat at water skiing. We had too many laughs and mishaps to mention here. From here on, we headed back to Colombo, with the hope of meeting Mr Sangakkara at the ministry of Crab.
Our Accommodation In Sri Lanka
1. Pelwehara Village Resort, Dambulla (1 night)
2. Jack Tree Lodge, Kandy (1 night)
3. Serene Garden Bangalow, Nuwara Eliya (2 nights)
4. River Bank Villa, Bentota (2 nights)
All properties were top notch! The one at Nuwara Eliya had the friendliest staff. River Bank Villa is a dog-zone, the owners have 4 fur babies who are very cuddly and super friendly!
Local Food Of Sri Lanka
We chose not to eat in any major eateries and told the boys that we wanted to savor the best street foods that Sri Lanka has to offer. Needless to say, we had our fill of chicken fried rice (Lankan style), kottu roti, egg bhajjis, string hoppers, shambhal, and loads of fish! Then there were the calamari, and prawns, which are the best on offer anywhere in the world. The highlight of the trip came at the very end. We had made reservations a week in advance to the Ministry of Crab. We had jumbo prawns, small sized crab (the sweetest says my friend, this was my first time at deshelling, let alone eating a crab), and oyster shots. Prasanna, the manager, helped us pair the meal with some fine Tuscan wine, and then we settled down to some local Lion Beer, which is quite nice. The meal was finished with coffee jelly and cream dessert for me and a coconut pannacotta for the other nice lady. At 20K LKR, the meal was worth every penny! Alas, I couldn’t meet Sanga and had to make do with a photograph with his poster for the company.
Things To Buy From Sri Lanka
I am not a very avid shopper, so fabrics or clothing is not something I can describe in too much detail. I am an animal lover, so I picked up an elephant printed PJ. There are magnets and precious stones you can look at, the gemstone store we went to actually helped my friend customize her bracelet which was delivered to us on the last day of our stay at Colombo! Then there is the fisherman’s statute made in wood. But my prized possession is this musical frog that I picked up as a troll gift for some of my closest friends… the frog’s mouth holds a small rod that when rubbed on the spikes on the frog’s back produces a croaking sound. That said, this is essentially an Indian instrument commercialized in Sri Lanka. If you are an avid reader, you should look at some of the literature by Sri Lankan authors, there are tales of the civil war, before and after. We bought some souvenirs from Sri Lanka for our loved ones.
Sri Lanka Travel Tips
- The currency is weak, but the country is not cheap. Unless you know Sinhalese and can pull off being a Lankan, you will need to shell out at least 1500 LKR in each attraction. That number works only for SAARC nation passport holders.
- Withdraw cash only at Bank of Celeyon; they charge you 300LKR for transactions. Other banks charge 400 LKR.
- The country is not swipe card friendly. Be prepared to carry loads of cash. You can transact in USD instead of LKR; that will give you better currency conversion when you get back home.
- If you choose to carry LRK, like us, make sure you spend it all. Conversion to INR is not a great idea.
- Don’t forget to taste the giant red the King coconut, it found only in Sri Lanka is what I’m told.
- A jungle safari in Sri Lanka is a must-have experience.
Our Experience With TravelTriangle
The experience was very lovely. Our Bengaluru to Sri Lanka trip was planned wonderfully by the folks. The folks catered to all our needs and planned a wonderful trip within our budget. We got a good discount, and I will surely plan more trips with TravelTriangle.
Some Common Queries
Q1. Is Sri Lanka expensive for backpackers?
Yes, Srilanka can be visited as a backpacker, however, the price of activities is very high in the country. Safaris and admission into the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Q2. What is a famous Sri Lankan food?
Some of the best Sri Lankan food is Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), Kottu (also, kottu roti), Kukul mas curry (chicken curry), Parippu (dhal curry), Gotu kola sambol (pennywort salad).
Q3. When is the best time to travel to Sri Lanka?
The best time to travel to Sri Lanka is between the months of December and March.
Q4. Is Sri Lanka a safe country?
Yes, all the riots have ended and a peaceful environment has been restored in Sri Lanka. However, one should also be aware of their surroundings while traveling to a new country. It is advised to be cautious in local markets and open areas.
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