As Sri lanka is an island, it has abundance of bay and sands. It definitely has some quite and aloof beaches as well but I would share my experience of the ones I visited.
Looking for Nightlife or Surfing, Mirissa is your places to crash. This beach is vibrant and full of life. Specialy flocked by people of the age group 20-40yrs. Mirissa is absolutely exquisite. It has an array of dinning options (shacks). The accomodation ranges from a hostel to a boutique hotel.
Time for exploring the sea world!! Your destination is Hikkaduwa. Whether you want to go Snorkeling or scuba diving and even if you aren’t trained, this place has all the options to make you a pro. By this I mean Hikkaduwa has a training center which has packages and going via them is ensuring your safety.
For snorkelling you dont have to be a pro, coz the corals are right next to the sandy beach, you could stand at the beach and stare at the pretty school of fish and you don’t even have to enter the waters (In morning).The eateries shut down early, max by 11pm so follow “Early to bed eary to rise, makes the man healthy, wealthy and wise”.
If you are like Uncle Scrooge and longing for a Luxury holiday, pool infront of the sea, aesthetically decorated shopping arcades, plush rooms then Bentota is the place for you. The bay is full of hotels of nothing less than a 4 star. Backpackers keep away, dont stay just take a stroll thats what I did😁
We covered alot of terrains, so how could we miss a National park. Yala is a deroute from the road connecting Ela and Mirissa.
Its a huge territory where the animals rule. We are permitted only in a section of the forest. And I am glad its that way. Like other sactuaries the enterance gate is located 20km from the main town. The experience is incomplete without a ride in an open jeep, its windy and dusty but worth it.
Usualy tourists book a pre-packaged deal. And it is difficult to find a cheaper deal for the jeep if you are jus two. Coz they rent the complete jeep which costs around 8000-15000 SRs.(inclusive of enterance fees). We took an afternoon slot for the safari.
Since the permitted area is more of grasslands,its very easy to spot wildlife. In adittion to the below I spotted an elephant, wild boar, deers(ofcourse) and exotic birds. The guide said that we were lucky to find a leopard in such a clearing. (Lady travelers beware , the guides are big time pile ons, so maintain the correct distance) (Tip: carry multiple sets of camera betteries, mine got exhausted just after I clicked a mongoose😫, hence a mobile cam photo of the Leopord) To add on to the trail, the jeeps take everyone to the beach, swimming isn’t allowed but its good to be at a raw & non touristy beach. After the safari, our jeep dropped us to the town. And we were back to our guest house.
Ella is more about the journey rather than the destination. We were way early at the station to grab the best seats. (As I said it was all about the voyage)
There was a seperate toilet for the tourists, and we took advantage of it🤣. We had our breakfast at the confectionary situated at the platform, the shop was fully loaded with eateries . I felt like a 5 year old in the candy shop.😋
Soon our jouney began, a loooooooonnng jouney 8hrs to be precise. As I mentioned before, the first class coaches were full of different nationality travellers, some were on a guided/packaged tour & some were like us. The train had a small pantry from where one could grab hot tea, coffee, water, all at higher price ofcourse. (Better to stock beforehand)
I was mesemerised by the landscape through out the route. Also made some freinds on the way, posed for cameras while looking out of the window and just couldn’t sleep. It is a experience that every traveler to Ella should witness.
Alas during lunch time we reached the mini hillstation. I had already booked a luxurious resort (for a change) “The Okreech cottages” costing $32 for a night.But there are multiple cheaper options available starting $12.
For some reason Okreech’s kitchen was not operational. So we went to the main road for our meals, we were so lazy to climb back that we decided to come back to the hotel after ohr dinner only. We were hardly in Ee for 18hrs in Ella, but utilized our time to the fullest. Travelers with liesure time stay for 3-4 days, to hike and to visit the nearby attractions.
What we did is ate!!
We had a big lunch at Chill cafe. I ordered for a srilankan lunch platter worth 800Srs. (Food at restaurants is very expensive). But I was stuffed. The vibe of the place was nice.
We took a stroll and by the time we finished it was evening. We enjoyed some drinks and live music in a bar. And by 9pm we were in our bed, fast asleep😴
The next morning we revived ourselves with a cup of tea at our patio and yet another journey was waiting for us.
Early morning we were at the Colombo railway station. Breakfast for us was Nescafe and puffs.(Eating less and selective is the secret of not having a Delhi belly). A narrow gauge train, which looked similar to our Shimla toy train arrived at the platform. We boarded our coach, non ac but 2nd class. Apparently Sri Lanka hardly has any Ac coach in its trains.
After enjoying our 4hrs of journey we reached Kandy. The station was small, clean and less crowded. It felt like we were at a hill station, since the weather made us put on our jackets.
We took an auto from outside the station to our accommodation- Backpack Lanka Kandy (the same chain of hostels where we stayed in colombo) this one had a pool as well. Here we booked a twin room with balcony. (Don’t start to fancy the room readers, we had to use a common bathroom which was 20 steps from our room but was very well maintained). The other part of the story is that we were the only residents and it gave me creeps to go to the loo at night. The best part about the hostels is that they have a kitchen and water dispenser which ars accesible to the distressed guests like us😅
We had limited time in Kandy and had to make the most of it. I consulted the guy at the reception and he showed me multiple tour options. The one which attracted me the most was “The tuk-tuk tour”, that costed us 2400 Srs. The hostel had there own tuk-tuk. With no delay we jumped into the auto, grabbed an on-the-go lunch and were on our way to the beautiful sites.
Temple of the sacred Tooth relic
Girigama tea plantation
Bahiravokanda vihara Buddha statue
It was october and I got a new job while the joining date was in December, I had to take out some days to plan a voyage between the switch. I asked multiple friends to accompany me but who knew a girl from school will become my travel partner. I immediately booked Jet airways flight to Sri Lanka which costed me Rs18000 two way. E-visa is available for Indian citizens which is trouble-free to apply and costs $20. Itenerary-Colombo>>Kandy>>Ella>>Yala>>Mirrisa>>Hikkaduwa>>Bentota>>Colombo Early morning we landed at the Colombo airport with no local currency, funny that the forex exchange counters denied accepting Indian currency( we were the victims of demonetisation) And my ATM card was not internationally enabled, luckily my freind’s card was a saviour. As per my usual budget trip rules, we took an auto to the nearest bus stand which is 2km from the airport. Secured a seat in a local bus that took 45 min to reach Colombo (30km from airport) Note:Auto’s are pretty expensive and charge like 200 S.Rs for 2km. Ohh did I forget to mention that we were not having iternational internet activated, so finding our accommodation was another story. We were finding it all around when it was right under our nose. We booked “Backpack Lanka hostel”, they were accommodating to our ,way too early checkin and let us crash in their lobby and cater to all our requests for food, charger, bathroom, toilet etc😆 We both were done with our morning chores ready to explore the city on foot. Took the feel of wide roads, cleanliness and the way people cross streets. Colombo doesn’t have much of attraction points so one day is good enough. In this one day, we booked the train tickets to Kandy and to Ella, also visited the Kelaniya temple. Local bus was our mode of transport to and from the temple which we boarded from, near the railway station. In the evening after taking a nap, we took a stroll at the “Galle face”. Family spent time here enjoying the local snacks and the breeze from the sea. It was a exhausting day and we had to catch the train the next day , hence we bid gudnight to our 1st day in Sri Lanka.
For all the pround first timers starting with a month long backpacking trips, below are the list of things to pack if you are heading to warmer regions :
Trouser/jeans/lower – 2 no.
Tshirts/tops casual – 5
Party wear top- 1
Undergarments- 3 sets
Bikini – for the beaches
Night dress- 1
Nail paint remover
Washing powder small sachets
Shampoo – small bottle coz it’s less messy than shampoo sachets
Shower gel with loofah- prevents you from keeping wet soap in your bag
Facewash- 50-100ml bottle
Battery backup/power bank
Kindle/Novels to read
Trendy but comfortable flat sandals/ballies
Medicine for vomiting and stomach ache
The very first step taken by me was to quit my boring, routine, sales job. I planned a one month backpack solo trip. For an Indian girl – even thinking about it gives jitters to the family and friends. And the same happened with mine. But I was very determined. One day I sat with the map for south India and Google. Jotted down all places where I wanted to go. It took me 5 hrs to chalk out the same.
It was still 15 days left for the beginning my trip, and as the days came closer I started to become hesitant. But there was no getting away. I had my flight ticket booked for MUMBAI.
In this article I would only share my itinerary and keep my experiences for later.
Mumbai – Lonavala – Goa – Gokarna – Chikmagalur – Madikeri – Wayanad – Ooty – Kochi – Munnar – Thekkady – Kumarakom –Alleppy – Varkala – Kanyakumari – Madurai – Kodaikanal – Vattakanal – Pondicherry – Chennai
It had been a life changing experience for me. Being in my own country, I did not understand the local language but the world is not a scary place as it is thought to be. Every girl if given enough support, exposure and determination is capable of traveling alone. The best part about travelling alone is that you are not restricted to your own small group, I made strangers my friends, stayed with the locals and saw all the interesting places around.