Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, just off the southeast tip of India, – it`s stunning nature and beaches, wildlife, delicious food, ancient temples, and last but not least, the lovely and friendly Sri Lankan people!.
Sri Lanka, being an island with a tropical climate, coconuts and fish are two of the most influential components of Sri Lankan cuisine. Fish is made into curries, and coconut in some form or another, is a dominant ingredient in cooking. Rice and curry is the Sri Lankan staple food. Though Sri Lankan food has parallels to South Indian food, yet it remains distinctly its own form of cuisine.
Traveling around Sri Lanka is a relatively easy thing to do. It can be a little chaotic, with overcrowded buses moving along clogged roads where lanes are mere suggestions, and trains packed to the gills with people hanging off the edges (which actually is kind of fun). English is widely spoken here so, once you get used the chaos, it isn’t too difficult to get around.
But there are a few things you should know before you visit Sri Lanka to avoid getting scammed, overspending and like me missing some of the scenic trains!
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka’s weather is disrupted by two separate monsoons affecting different parts of the island at different times of year. Your trip will require a little research and planning to know what will be the weather like during that season?
Typically monsoon occurs from April/May to September on the west and south west coasts (including main touristic sites such as Galle, and the southern coast), with the wettest months from April – June.
The less severe monsoon usually hits the east coast from November to March (includes Arugam Bay and Trincomalee).
If you want to experience the best of all the incredible and famous place in the west and south west region of Sri Lanka then December to March is the best time to visit.
Our Ultimate 6 days guide for Sri Lanka
I would recommend that if you want to explore and experience the best of Sri Lanka then the trip should be nothing less than 2 weeks in my opinion.
I had just a week holiday, so I went for short trip to Sri Lanka
Our Itinerary was Mirisa – Galle – Hikkaduwa – Colombo – Back Home
One of the best places to spot the blue whale is off the coast of Mirissa in the south. Mirissa has a great relaxed and laid-back beach atmosphere. It is one of the beaches where you can enjoy full privacy without being troubled by anyone. The serenity and peace at beach will make you forget about all your stress.. Mirissa is a great place to swim and nearby the surfers have their own little beach break. You can find a lot of people relaxing at the beach and getting that perfect tan under the sun. In the evening, the beach gets transformed into beach restaurants serving delicious fresh seafood. The sunset, music sea and sand make it an ideal setting for a romantic dinner date.
Day 1 : Mirissa – Enjoy sunset on beach
So, as we arrived at Mirissa around 12pm
We check in and then went to the beach around 5pm and enjoyed the sunset with Sri Lankan cuisine and music.
How to Get to Mirissa From Sri Lanka Airport
We arrived at the Colombo/ Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) around 8am, there are three ways to get to Mirissa – by car/ taxi, bus and train. The drive from the airport to Mirissa took about 3hrs. There is no airport train, to travel by train you have to go to Katunayake railway station by bus or cab. Buses are also limited for Mirissa. Ride would cost around 10000 Srilankan rupees.
You even have an option of pre booking the cab, but we used the airport taxi services. There is a counter at the arrival lobby in the airport, and you can find the exact taxi fare to your destination.
Your best and most convenient option is to pre-book your car because it may be cheaper than booking at the counter & a driver will be waiting for you in the arrival hall holding up a board with your name on it.
Day 2: Yala National Park
At around 5am we left for Yala National Park as it is 3hr journey from Mirissa.
It is necessary to book a guided tour to be able to visit the reservation, private driving is not permitted. So, we booked Yala National Park ticket from Klook as there are lot of offers available. Yala National Park is situated on the south coast of Sri Lanka, with parts of the park reaching out for water and touching the Indian Ocean. Unlike the safaris of Africa, Yala is still relatively undiscovered and catching up to its African counterparts in many ways.
Yala is divided into 5 zones. The two zones that are open to the public and tourists are zone 1 and zone 5. The other zones are reserved only for professional research and documentary filming.
You will required a good guide who will know which locations are most likely for sightings in addition to avoiding big tourist crowds. We were able to ask lots of questions throughout the safari and really get to understand the animal’s behavior and more about the park itself.
So book from Klook and enjoy a Jeep safari ride with huge variety of wildlife such as leopards, bears, elephants, wild boars, deers, peacocks, jungle fowls (the national animal of Sri Lanka), crocodiles, water buffaloes, lizards and approx. 100 different kind of bird species as well as many more.
Of course, as on all wildlife safaris, it all depends on luck to spot animals, especially the very rare ones such as leopards and bears. I was lucky enough to spot a leopard but not bear you might..
So, we were back to Mirissa roughly around 6pm. We went to the hotel room and then decided to go shack hopping and we tried 3-4 shacks with different Sri Lankan cuisine and beverages and all of them served best sea food I can say..
Day 3: Blue Whale watching in Mirissa Srilanka
If you want to go whale watching in Sri Lanka, the best area for this is in Mirissa. In fact, that is the main reason to visit Mirissa. The blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived and its incredible to watch them swim. Blue whales are even bigger than the biggest dinosaurs. The whale watching trips leave at 6 am, so you will be getting up early, but the early morning harbour views are just gorgeous.
The waters around Mirissa are particularly rich in plankton (a group of mirco organisms whales feed on), which result in sightings of blue whales, particularly between November to April.
I highly recommend going for whale watching in Sri Lanka with tour operator Raja and the Whales.
He even makes the statement on the boat that the whale’s happiness comes first and then the customers. I was very glad to be on a boat that had this attitude towards preserving the natural environment of these magical animals. They even give everyone anti sea sick tablets before setting out!!!
The other thing that won me over was food! The first hour of the tour is uneventful, but the crew serves coffee (much needed) and fried egg sandwiches with chicken sausage, making the time pass much easier. The scenery leaving the Mirissa harbour at sunrise is an absolute stunning. So many fishing boats surround us, all a different bright color. Later they also served us fruit like mango, banana, pineapple,watermelon, apple, sweet-lime, grapes and pomegranate which I found to be very impressive and after 30 mins again served juices and pastries. A note if you get sea sick. The water is very choppy. Sit on the bottom deck as it’s less rocky than the top.
This is the closest I have ever been to a whale in the wild. It is incredible how large this blue whale is. I can’t even imagine being this close to a blue whale! The whale slowly passes by our boat and decides to put on a show for us. Breaching right in front of us it was unforgettable. Even more unforgettable were Raja’s words. “I do not chase the whales!” also the fact that whales spend only 6 mins on the surface and 15 under the water so by respecting them and staying within sight but not too close you will see them for longer.
I have to say this was proved to us as he slowly approached 2 whales as we watched in amazement their graceful movements when along came a speeding boat from another company and immediately the whales dived in. Raja was furious at the lack of respect for these beautiful graceful creatures. So, someone asked him about a boat that was going faster than it should to get to the whales. Raja’s response was, ‘We can’t get angry at them. They don’t know any better. If I get angry and start yelling at them, they won’t want to listen. I have to teach them that there is a better way.”
We were also entertained by dolphins swimming and jumping dancing and flirting with us around and under the boat. Such a wondrous sight!
This is one of the best value for money trips we have ever taken. An amazing five and a half hours at sea with the Whales, Dolphins and flying fish.
So finally, we came back to room around 12.30 freshened up and packed our bags and were ready for another splendor destiny in Srilanka.
Day 3: Galle – Enjoy Sunset at Galle Fort
A Unesco World Heritage Site, the old part of Galle, Galle Fort, was built by the Dutch in 1663 and walled enclave surrounded on three sides by the ocean. It is an architectonic masterpiece, like suddenly being in an old colonial European city.
Galle is a jewel. This historic city is a delight to explore on foot, an endlessly exotic old trading port blessed with imposing Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient mosques and churches, grand mansions and museums. Wandering its rambling lanes, you’ll pass stylish cafes, quirky boutiques and impeccably restored hotels owned by local and foreign artists, writers, photographers and designers. Make sure to go for an afternoon walk on the city wall surrounding Galle Fort, and enjoy the sunset and scenic view of the ocean and the old lantern.
Galle cricket stadium situated near the Galle fort and fringed on two sides by the Indian Ocean. It is considered to be one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. Galle is a must-see when visiting Sri Lanka!
How to Get to Galle
I really recommend taking the bus to Galle. As tuktuk is bit expensive. It takes 30-40 min to reach galle bus station. Frequency of the bus is very good; every min bus arrives that goes to galle bus station. Ticket cost is less than 100 Srilankan Rs. Tuktuk can cost you around 1400-1800 Srilankan Rs. Fort is approx. 5 min walking from bus stop as you get down you can see the fort.
Day 4: Hikkaduwa – Play with Turtle
Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka is a small coastal town located approximately 100km south of Colombo. The best time of year to visit Hikkaduwa Beach is between November and March for the hot summer rays and good surf.
Famous for being inundated by floodwaters after a tsunami passed through on Boxing Day in 2004, Hikkaduwa has since recovered and is a divine place to surf, snorkel, explore or just crash out. It’s beautiful beaches and large array of restaurants and hotels make it a top choice for holidaymakers – both local and international.
I would recommend spending two days in Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka to get a real feel of the area!
So, we checked in Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon in Hikkaduwa. So once checked-in we went straight off to coral reefs beach in front of hotel where turtles are regularly seen. Right from the shore, you can easily spot many sea turtles just hanging out in the water. They aren’t scared of people and often swim right up to you! We even feed them (which is free of cost) but we did not know and ended up paying 500 Srilankan Rs to a stranger.
The same afternoon we went to Sea Turtle Hatchery & Rescue Center where baby turtles are nurtured and hatched in captivity before being released to prevent them from perishing in fishing nets. But we missed it as have released all baby turtles the previous evening, but we where able to see different kinds of turtle over there.
This is a public area and free for anybody to join. They even let some tourists help transport the baby turtles from the hatchery to the beach. The centre is open daily for visitors to view these endangered reptiles. Between the months of January and April, it is possible to visit this enclosure and see if any turtles are hatching. In the evening around 6:30 pm, they release the turtles from the enclosure and let them run for the ocean!
Reaching to this place is pretty easy. You just have to hop on local transport bus and get down at turtle rescue center which will cost you 25 Srilankan Rs per head. So, we came back and enjoyed the sunset on beach on that day.
Day 5: Snorkel, Scuba Diving
Day 5 started with tasty Srilankan and English buffet breakfast. Rent a mask and snorkel as coral reef are closer you can get a closer look at the underwater world. During snorkeling we saw the underwater life and even swam with turtle and other went for scuba diving, these was one of our first and best experience and we were mesmerized to see underwater life. Later we decided to just sit on the beach and relax and then went shopping and called it a day.
If you want you can even visit nearby turtle rescue center there is the Tsunami Museum, housed in an old wood and iron house. Here you can read touching first-person stories, accompanied by drawings and photographs.
This is just north of Hikkaduwa near the giant standing Buddha put up by Japan after the tsunami.
There are many Buddhist temples around Hikkaduwa, all of which visitors are welcome to wander around. One of the most significant is Thotagamuwa Rajamaha Viharaya, 2km north of town, with its regal stone statues of the Buddha, wall paintings and intricate woodwork.
Hikkaduwa’s lakes are also a highlight. North of town, you can hire a canoe and paddle up the inland lakes to Kalla Bongo Lake Resort.
How To Get To Hikkaduwa
Bus or tuktuk are 2 options to reach to hikkaduwa. There is a direct express bus from Galle bus station to hikkaduwa that cost you around 50lkr per head and tutuk will cost around 2000Lkr. Tuktuk takes around 30-40 mins and bus takes around an hr to reach.
Day 6: Half day tour to Colombo
We had planned for city tour of Colombo as our flight was late night, so we booked hop on-hop off bus tour which is 3 hr tour and costs you around 20-30$ per head. After completing the tour, we wanted to relax so we headed for a good spa in Taj Samudra Colombo which costs around 2500LKR
How to Get to Colombo
You can book a cab from hikkaduwa as there are many tour operators who will charge you around 4000-4500 Srilankan Rs.
Finally, the time came to say Ayubowan (good bye in Srilankan language) to this beautiful country and i would like to Bohoma istouti (Thank you in Srilankan language) for incredible and amazing memories.
Cost of cab from colombo to airport 3500Rs
PS: Always carry umbrella/Raincoat while travelling to Sri Lanka
Hotel to Stay in Sril Lanka
Mirissa : N34
Galle : Prince of Galle
Hikkaduwa : Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon
You can book hotels on TripAdvisor and Booking.com
For Scuba diving and Yala national park Klook gives you great offers.
For Flight Skyscanner
For Booking Click here
Go through beautiful photograph of Srilanka.
Check out my different foods recipe.