In May 2017 I decided to visit my motherland and explore it properly for the first time in over 25 years. This was my first proper visit since leaving Sri Lanka a decade ago. Myself and two of my friends set off on our trip to Sri Lanka. Initially when I was doing some research, I was thinking about hiring a driver to drive us around and to see the sights as people do normally. After weeks of researching I came across so many articles, which indicated that backpacking would be the best option to explore Sri Lanka.
Planning the time to visit
First and foremost the thing to consider is weather, like you would for any destination. Sri Lanka has two major monsoon seasons and to make things a bit more spicy it has another monsoon, which basically is there throughout the year.
May – July (South-West Monsoon)
October – January (North-East Monsoon)
January – April (South)
May – July (East)
As you can see that irregardless of the time you go to Sri Lanka even if its during the monsoon season, you can simply travel to the region where the monsoon is not active. This makes Sri Lanka an all-year round destination.
Let me suggest some places to avoid/alternatives
Pinnawala elephant orphanage – I avoided this based on the fact that animals should be out in the wild and free to roam. This place charges a ridiculous amount of money for tourists to feed the elephants and I personally think its outrageous. Sri Lanka has the highest density of elephants per square meter. The chances are that you’re going to see one crossing the road or you have several national parks to choose from, where you will get to see plenty of them.
Sigiriya Rock – 35 USD pp and none of the money goes to preservation of the site? I don’t think so. The locals pay a mere 60 LKR. However, if you really would like to do it then I suggest you start your hike early in the morning and if not see my suggested alternative for a fraction of the price with equally amazing scenery.
Suggested Two Week Itinerary for Sri Lanka
- Minneriya National Park
- Pidurangala Rock
- Nilaveli, Trincomalee
- Pigeon Island, Trincomalee
- Paasikudah, Batticaloa
- Kandy to Ella Train
- When you arrive at the airport it would be a good idea to pick up a sim card. It only costs around 1800 LKR and choose Dialog as they have the best coverage. Trust me it goes a long way if you’re backpacking around Sri Lanka. There is good 3G and 4G coverage so you’re never left without emergency internet.
- Also if you’re going to stay in Colombo then download uber or and an app called pickme (first app is self explanatory, the second is an uber like app for TUK-TUKs) http://pickme.lk/app/
- If you got yourself a sim at the airport and looking to get a taxi into Colombo. Look for the prices on uber and pick me and book a taxi via the app. Airport pickups and drop offs are fixed and I would highly recommend not to get a taxi waiting outside the airport as you will end up paying more than you need to.
There are a lot of travel blogs out there which tell you to avoid Colombo and go straight to the next destination. This is a good option if you’re limited for time and you’re not an individual who enjoys the hustle and bustle of a city. However I would highly suggest it if otherwise. There are plenty for airbnb’s to choose from and I stayed in in this beach side apartment in Wellawatta.
Arriving in Colombo around midday, my friends and I were famished. What do you do when you get to a culinary paradise like Sri Lanka? Well you get your flip flops on, sun cream and shades on and venture out into the scorching heat. There are some good restaurants in Wellawatta. First stop was at Yaal restaurant. You can read a review here .
If you can carry a water bottle in your rucksack, please do at all times. The heat is on another level and I am not exaggerating at all. So heat brings upon thirst. Thirst means you need a rooftop bar, right? Well look no further Colombo has plenty of those. We went to two of those
Both were good but the first one was my favourite as the view of the beach was much closer and the prices were cheaper.
Ministry Of Crab (Highlight of Colombo)
Before I get into this restaurant. Let’s think about the term ‘splashing out’. This term does not really associate itself with a backpacking trip right. However, a little bit self-indulgence is necessary from time to time and this restaurant was a place to do it. Its expensive even for European standards. Then again it has to be if it’s one of the best restaurants in South East Asia and I had to reserve a booking a month in advance.
I would not be doing justice if I decided to sum up Sri Lanka in one blog post. Therefore stay tuned more to follow in the next weeks..