Hello Everyone!!

Recently I was on a solo trip to Sri Lanka. Before going, I did some research and frankly speaking there are some confusions. I am also seeing people asking similar or different questions on how to travel in Sri Lanka, what should be the mode of transport, where to go, which places are better and so on and so forth. So I thought of sharing my experience of my ten days solo backpacking which may give some ideas about travelling in Sri Lanka.

First of all, Sri Lanka has so many things to offer and each offering is so different from the other that comparing between places is not the right way of planning a trip.

So it is important what kind of travel the person wants to do. Eg, is he/she a beach lover or a mountain lover or a wildlife lover or loves various water activities. That will help to decide the places of visit if time is limited. Else Sri Lanka being a small country, anyone can quench their thirst by visiting all important places within 15 days.

Now comes the route planning part. There are two ways of doing it after one lands in Colombo – clock wise or anti clock wise.

Clock wise: Colombo – Sigiriya – Polonnaruwa – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Ella – Udawalawe – Yala – Mirissa – Galle – Colombo

Anti clock wise: Just the opposite of the above.

If someone is interested in Jaffna or some other places, they can add in the plan. Use map and put that location as per sequence.

Now comes the transportation part. It has two parts – one is travelling from one place to another and the other is travelling from point to point within the same place.

Travelling from one place to another :

1. Bus: Sri Lanka Bus service is amazing and for almost all places, there are buses. It may be so that some areas have no direct bus service, nearby towns have and one can just a tuktuk and reach there and take. There is no need to do any advance tickets. Local people are very helpful and will help in identifying the bus. Communication in English is ok for all. There are two kind of buses – Highway bus service which has AC, faster and little costly. And the other is local buses. One just has to decide depending on his/her requirement and priorities.

2. Train service. Train service is good but timing is always a constraint. However my suggestion is, anyone travelling to Sri Lanka must enjoy one train journey which is from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya or Kandy to Ella. This is one of the most scenic train routes in the world. There are other train routes too like Colombo to Habarana and then taking a tuktuk to Sigiriya. For train service, one can do advance booking. However once you reach the station, go to the counter, take the printout of the ticket which will have a coach and seat number. Do not board the train only with the printout of online booking confirmation.

3. Taxi is always an option at a higher cost. If in group and cost being shared, this is also a cheaper way of travelling on your own free will. All places are well connected by roads and one can enjoy the scenic beauty while travelling by road.

Travelling from one point to another in one place:

1. Tuktuk: in spite of all complaints of overcharging etc, tuktuk still is the most preferred way of travelling within the city. One can download PICKME app which is Uber of Sri Lanka and avail the services or at least do bargain properly by knowing what’s the rate as per pickme which is being used by local people also.

2. Taxi service: this also can be booked through pickme app. Or search in Google etc.

3. If you are in a grp and backpacking without any dedicated travel partner, try to share the cost which will be cheaper oer person.

4. Scooty : Always a lovely choice for solo or couple to roam around the city. There are shops which give the bike/scooty on rent.

Food: Costly but ok. Don’t expect excellent food everywhere. Colombo, Kandy has a lot to offer but not all places. Ella has some nice cafes. Mirissa has one great lounge called Petti Petti. However when it’s earing in popular cafes, be ready to spend 1.5 times more than what you generally spend in your country. However there are small cafes too which are economical.

Alcohol: Costly. Try to buy from Liquor stores which will be comparatively economical. Eg, Beer : USD 2.5 to 3.00.

Ciggerate, snacks, Water etc: Ciggerate is very very costly, almost $0.65 per piece. You can carry it from your home country while travelling. I found water very costly – almost USD 1.00 for one litre. One can buy daily stuff like some snacks, water etc from deptt stores which is cheaper or at least one will not be overcharged.

Stay: There are plenty of homestays, hotels in every location. However each location except the cities like Colombo, Kandy being small, even 500 meters away from the centre feels totally out of place. So while booking your place to stay, do some research and preferably book your homestay in the centre. There you will find cafes to hang out in the evening, people to spend time and sharing your journeys and adventures etc. Also it becomes easy to find partners with you you can share some rides and share the cost of you are travelling solo. I did most of my bookings through www.booking.com.

Money part: Carry cash. Some homestays or cafes don’t accept cards. Also tuktuk, taxi need cash only. Special reminders to Indians who became so familiar with UPI payments that habit of carrying cash is forgotten. Please don’t do this mistake. Also there ar ATMs in all places.

People: In one word, excellent. Also literacy rate being over 97%, and free education by govt, one will find almost all speaking in English which makes it very easy for people to communicate. However like any other country, there are some who will always try to cheat you. Trust your instincts, sixth sense, be careful and take care of your belongings especially in trains and buses.

Also some confusions people raised on a few travels

1. Colombo to Sigiriya by train: There is no direct train from Colombo to Sigiriya. Take the train from Colombo to Habarana which is a 4.5-5 hrs journey and then take tuktuk to Sigiriya

2. Sigiriya to Kandy: There is only one bus in the morning directly from Sigiriya to Kandy. Else one take take the tuktuk to Bandulla and then take the bus for Kandy. 3

3. Udawalawe to Mirissa: No direct bus. One has to take a bus from Udawalawe town bus stand to Ambilipitiya and then another bus to Matara and then another to Mirissa. Else one can take a Highway bus from Ambilipitiya to Galle, get down at the outskirts of Galle and take another bus to Mirissa.

Thats a small effort from my end to give a first hand kind of information to all who wants to explore this beautiful island country.

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By tripotomaniac

Born at Lumding, a town in Assam, Anirban spent his childhood enjoying the whispering sounds of the woods and trees, cherishing the flora and fauna in places like Dwarband, Masimpur, Burlongfur, Mandardisa. Anirban’s writings reflect his deep love towards nature, people and a culture that we can follow to live by. In Anirban’s words, the golden sunrise, the meadows, the snow-clad tall mountains, the never ending seas, the horizon, the smell of sand and soil, large monuments, the history, the people fascinate him and take him to a different world. And he gives his father all the credit who made him feel, cherish and experience these wonders of Mother Earth. His contributions to travel sites like Tripadvisor has a reader base of over forty thousand as well as in websites like Tripoto, He is an author for Happytrips.com, a Times Travel Magazine. His first poetry collection “Osheemer Daak” – Call of the endless is recently published and available in Amazon, Flipkart. One can follow him at www.facebook.com/anirbandeb or his website https://www.endlessvista.com. His email id is tripotomaniac@gmail.com