My first few days in Sri Lanka didn’t start very well. I arrived at the Colombo airport after having a stop over in Dubai and discovered that the Emirates lost my luggage. I scanned every bag on the baggage claim for 30 minutes until the belt stopped, then rushed to the lost baggage service counter.
My travel plan in Sri Lanka was aggressive. My ten day plan was to drive all around the country, hitting up Galle, Waligama, Arugam Bay, Dambulla, Ella, and Kandy. Every town I wanted to go to was about a 2-3 hour drive from the airport. I imagined myself wearing the same thing for 10 days, which was an outfit resembling G.I. Jane – cargo pants, black tee and grey sweatshirt. I didn’t even bother to put a bikini in my carry on, as I usually do.
Luckily they told me that my luggage was on the next flight and would arrive in the morning. Instead of driving to Galle that night, I decided to stay overnight at a hotel nearby so that I could fetch my luggage. Next morning, after a lot of hand written forms and waiting staring at the wall at the airport, I spotted my luggage and the trip start to turn brighter.
So Sri Lanka is like if Bali and India had a child. It’s tropical like Bali but not as bright. It’s not as chaotic as India. I am only assuming about India since I have not been yet. If the country had to be described as color, Sri Lanka is khaki, marigold, burnt orange, and burgundy.
I can’t say enough about the people – Sri Lankans are the nicest people on this earth. I am serious. Most of the people can speak English and everybody has the best of intentions. Yes, there are vendors that push postcards and tourist crap for you to buy, but 99% of people are genuinely nice and very soulful. Meeting people was the highlight of my trip to Sri Lanka.
Driving in Sri Lanka is NUTS and I don’t recommend it unless you are from UK or another country where they drive on the left side of the road. Foreign drivers are very rare in Sri Lanka. My boyfriend and I rented a suburban (2 surfboards, so you do the math) and drove all around the country. At first, we were intimidated by the aggressiveness of tut-tuts, buses, and trucks, but we got our groove eventually and had fun driving around the country. Also, there are random road stops by the cops, but we were never stopped, and we are convinced that if you look other way and do not make eye contact, they will never stop you.
Here are the places we visited:
We surfed but it was not good, the water was kind of dirty. But, the fort area was awesome. I recommend walking around the fort area, shopping, and eating at The Fort Bazaar restaurant. The Fort Bazaar is also a boutique hotel. There are a lot of amazing hotels in this area, including Amangalle.
The Ceylon Slider is a cute boutique hotel with a cute cafe to go along with it. Yoga and surf classes are available, as well as surfing rentals. Eat at Can, if you get a chance – I recommend ordering the catch of the day and washing it down with Lion beer. Other things to do include: Surfing at Mirissa Beach, going to Delawella Beach, checking out the fake local fishermen near Weligama Beach, and visiting the Sunday markets. I wouldn’t recommend the Safari – I went, but it was disappointing. I saw more animals driving from Arugam Bay to Dambulla.
Surf Elephant Rock, but don’t venture to the woods – you will be eaten alive by a croc, no joke. A week after my visit, I found this article.
Also, visit the Peanut Farm and Whisky Point. Stay at Hideaway, preferably in the Bungalows. Amazing Boutique hotel with great Wednesday happy hours.
Here, you should check out Sirigiya, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, and Polonnaruwa. There are so many places to see.
Take a cheap train ride from Kandy to here. Try to get a seat if you can, but the charm is to mingle with the locals. Be sure to eat the roasted peanuts locals sell on the train, it’s absolutely delicious. Do tea tasting and also buy tea. Sri Lanka is the biggest tea producers of the world. Lipton tea plantation is in Sri Lanka.
I didn’t really feel this town though it was highly recommended by everybody who visited Sri Lanka. It’s the home of the backpackers. I highly recommend visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in the morning. Make sure to check the schedule not to get run over by the train while you are walking the tracks. DON’T STAY at Ella Adam’s View, a disgusting hotel that’s impossible to find or walk to.
There are just so much to write about Sri Lanka! Email me if you need any questions.