Backpacking Sri Lanka

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!

"I think it must be the most beautiful place on earth. I cannot imagine that there is a more beautiful one" (Philips Brooks, 1883)

In this article we will be talking about Sri Lanka, a small tropical island in the Indian Ocean. Due to its location at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, it is also known as the 'Tear of India'. Its the perfect destination for nature lovers, culture or sports enthusiasts, beach lovers, and anyone who wants a little bit of everything!

Sri Lanka is also becoming increasingly popular with backpackers because one thing is guaranteed here: It never gets boring! There is hardly any other place where you can discover such a great variety of landscapes in such a comparatively short period. Explore magnificent coastlines with white sandy beaches and tea plantations in the central highlands, climb to the mountain peaks, take a jungle walk through dense rainforest, and visit exciting cities and mysterious temples – there’s just about everything in this country!

Sri Lanka's national parks are also particularly fascinating. As early as the 3rd century, many areas of the dream island were placed under special protection, guaranteeing today that there is an incredible variety of exotic animals and plants. On safaris and jeep tours, you can vividly experience elephants and leopards, snakes, crocodiles and monkeys in the wild. The national parks with their lagoons, dense cloud forests, vast steppes, waterfalls, and bizarre rock formations will surely make the hearts of nature lovers beat faster.

Adrenaline junkies are also in luck, as Sri Lanka offers all kinds of sports in and on the water. So how about rafting, kayaking or water skiing? You can also surf here all year round. A colourful underwater world invites you to go diving and snorkelling. The country is also attractive for its affordable prices, helpful inhabitants, and a well-developed infrastructure. Public transport is cheap, and travelling by

train through the picturesque landscape is a treat in of itself! Sri Lanka is a country to fall in love with. This country captivates visitors with its breath-taking nature and incredible diversity.

You will experience an extraordinary kind of backpacking adventure that will surely make you want to see more.

See below for the perfect Sri Lanka itinerary for an unforgettable journey here:


Important Basics

Official Language ( Sinhala )
EnglishSinhala
Helloei-bo!
GoodbyeBye
Thankssto-te
Jaov
Nono-me-te
Capital City

Colombo

Form of Government

Presidential Republic

Phone Country Code

+94

Currency

Sri Lankan rupee

Climate

Highest temperature by day: 29 to 36 degrees Celsius

Highest temperature at night: 15 to 25 degrees Celsius

Fun Fact

The first female Prime minister in the world was Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka.

Cities

Negombo

Once you’ve arrived at the international airport of Colombo, you won't go to the capital right away, but to the small bathing resort Negombo at the western coast of Sri Lanka. This is much closer to the airport than Colombo itself.

You can relax there from your journey on the eight-kilometre-long sandy beach. The charming city centre with numerous churches, which give Negombo the nickname 'little Rome', is also worth seeing. In the port and trading town, old fortifications and the various canals, which were built by the Dutch as a transport system for cinnamon, remind us of the former colonial times.

A particular highlight is also the country's second-largest fish market. Every morning, traditional fishing boats enter the harbour and supply the market stands with exotic seafood and fresh fish.

One night in a 7-bed dorm costs 7 EUR at the New Negombo Beach Hostel.

Weligama

You’ll take the train from Negombo to the south of the island to Weligama for about 8 EUR.

The coastal resort is the perfect location for amateur surfers because the gentle waves make it possible to stand on the board after trying just a few times. There are several surf schools where you can spontaneously book a trial lesson and rent surfboards at reasonable prices. The beautiful beach invites you to relax, and you can enjoy refreshing drinks and the 'Easy Way of Life' in beach bars.

We also recommend a trip to nearby Polhena Beach and the 'Ocean Road', which is ideal for cycling or motorcycling. The famous Beatroot Hostel offers overnight stays from 9 EUR in a 6-bed dorm.

Mirissa

Not far from Weligama is the beach resort of Mirissa, which you can reach by Tuk Tuk for only 2 EUR. The perfect combination of beautiful beaches and relaxed beach bars awaits you here.

After a day on the beach snorkelling, sunbathing and watching the spear fishermen fishing, you can go out for a fancy dinner and taste local specialities in the numerous restaurants in the evening. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals are reason enough to visit the small coastal town.

The whale watching tours that you can book in the harbour are the highlight here, and you have the chance to see sperm whales, orcas, dolphins and even blue whales – a unique experience!

You pay 13 EUR for an overnight stay in a four-bed dorm at the Hangover Hostel.

Ella

Next stop is Ella. The small village does not have much to offer except delicious traditional restaurants, as the actual attractions are on Ella's outskirts.

The most popular destination is Little Adam's Peak. The so-called Butterfly Mountain is considered to be a holy place in the four major religions of the country. Therefore, it’s a popular place of pilgrimage. The top of the mountain can be reached via a 7 km long staircase and offers a fantastic view of the surrounding plantations and the Ravana waterfall – an absolutely unique experience, especially as the sun rises.

Ella Rock, which offers excellent views of the surrounding area, and the picturesque 9 Arches Bridge, which you can reach by walking along the railway tracks, are also worth seeing. If you don't want to join one of the numerous hiking tours, you can also explore the central highlands on a rented motorcycle.

The Hangover Hostel in Ella offers a bed in an eight-bed dorm from 11 EUR.

Kandy

You’ll take the train from Ella to Kandy for only 3 EUR.

The six-hour journey between the two cities in the country's most famous train route passing green rice fields, remote villages, and idyllic forests. Due to the breath-taking scenery, the train ride is a complete experience in itself, which makes time fly by in no time.

Once you arrive in Kandy, you will be enchanted by the charm of the mountain town. Walk through the Royal Botanical Garden and visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. You can also see Buddhist temples such as the Tooth Temple, located next to the idyllic lake in the city centre, as it is considered to be the most significant temple in Sri Lanka. You also have a fantastic view of the city from the big Buddha statue.

Another attraction in the surroundings of Kandy is the Sigiriya Lion Rock, an approx. 200-meter-high magma block of an eroded volcano, on which the ruins of an old royal fortress sits enthroned. You can stay overnight at the Kandy City Hostel for 10 EUR (6-bed dorm).

You can take the train and a taxi back to the international airport Colombo, from where you will fly back home after 2 exciting weeks in Sri Lanka.


Negombo

Negombo

Once you’ve arrived at the international airport of Colombo, you won't go to the capital right away, but to the small bathing resort Negombo at the western coast of Sri Lanka. This is much closer to the airport than Colombo itself.

You can relax there from your journey on the eight-kilometre-long sandy beach. The charming city centre with numerous churches, which give Negombo the nickname 'little Rome', is also worth seeing. In the port and trading town, old fortifications and the various canals, which were built by the Dutch as a transport system for cinnamon, remind us of the former colonial times.

A particular highlight is also the country's second-largest fish market. Every morning, traditional fishing boats enter the harbour and supply the market stands with exotic seafood and fresh fish.

One night in a 7-bed dorm costs 7 EUR at the New Negombo Beach Hostel.

Weligama

Weligama

You’ll take the train from Negombo to the south of the island to Weligama for about 8 EUR.

The coastal resort is the perfect location for amateur surfers because the gentle waves make it possible to stand on the board after trying just a few times. There are several surf schools where you can spontaneously book a trial lesson and rent surfboards at reasonable prices. The beautiful beach invites you to relax, and you can enjoy refreshing drinks and the 'Easy Way of Life' in beach bars.

We also recommend a trip to nearby Polhena Beach and the 'Ocean Road', which is ideal for cycling or motorcycling. The famous Beatroot Hostel offers overnight stays from 9 EUR in a 6-bed dorm.

Mirissa

Mirissa

Not far from Weligama is the beach resort of Mirissa, which you can reach by Tuk Tuk for only 2 EUR. The perfect combination of beautiful beaches and relaxed beach bars awaits you here.

After a day on the beach snorkelling, sunbathing and watching the spear fishermen fishing, you can go out for a fancy dinner and taste local specialities in the numerous restaurants in the evening. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals are reason enough to visit the small coastal town.

The whale watching tours that you can book in the harbour are the highlight here, and you have the chance to see sperm whales, orcas, dolphins and even blue whales – a unique experience!

You pay 13 EUR for an overnight stay in a four-bed dorm at the Hangover Hostel.

Ella

Ella

Next stop is Ella. The small village does not have much to offer except delicious traditional restaurants, as the actual attractions are on Ella's outskirts.

The most popular destination is Little Adam's Peak. The so-called Butterfly Mountain is considered to be a holy place in the four major religions of the country. Therefore, it’s a popular place of pilgrimage. The top of the mountain can be reached via a 7 km long staircase and offers a fantastic view of the surrounding plantations and the Ravana waterfall – an absolutely unique experience, especially as the sun rises.

Ella Rock, which offers excellent views of the surrounding area, and the picturesque 9 Arches Bridge, which you can reach by walking along the railway tracks, are also worth seeing. If you don't want to join one of the numerous hiking tours, you can also explore the central highlands on a rented motorcycle.

The Hangover Hostel in Ella offers a bed in an eight-bed dorm from 11 EUR.

Kandy

Kandy

You’ll take the train from Ella to Kandy for only 3 EUR.

The six-hour journey between the two cities in the country's most famous train route passing green rice fields, remote villages, and idyllic forests. Due to the breath-taking scenery, the train ride is a complete experience in itself, which makes time fly by in no time.

Once you arrive in Kandy, you will be enchanted by the charm of the mountain town. Walk through the Royal Botanical Garden and visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. You can also see Buddhist temples such as the Tooth Temple, located next to the idyllic lake in the city centre, as it is considered to be the most significant temple in Sri Lanka. You also have a fantastic view of the city from the big Buddha statue.

Another attraction in the surroundings of Kandy is the Sigiriya Lion Rock, an approx. 200-meter-high magma block of an eroded volcano, on which the ruins of an old royal fortress sits enthroned. You can stay overnight at the Kandy City Hostel for 10 EUR (6-bed dorm).

You can take the train and a taxi back to the international airport Colombo, from where you will fly back home after 2 exciting weeks in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home- Colombo
Home- Colombo
Flight
250
seven-bed dorm
7
2. Negombo - Weligama  
Negombo - Weligama  
Train
8
six-bed dorm
7
3. Weligama
Weligama
-
six-bed dorm
7
4. Weligama
Weligama
-
six-bed dorm
7
5. Weligama
Weligama
-
six-bed dorm
7
6. Weligama - Mirissa
Weligama - Mirissa
Tuk Tuk
2
four-bed dorm
13
7. Mirissa
Mirissa
-
four-bed dorm
13
8. Mirissa
Mirissa
-
four-bed dorm
13
9. Mirissa - Ella
Mirissa - Ella
Bus
24
eight-bed dorm
11
10. Ella
Ella
-
eight-bed dorm
11
11. Ella
Ella
-
eight-bed dorm
11
12. Ella - Kandy
Ella - Kandy
Train
3
Six-bed dorm
10
13. Kandy
Kandy
-
Six-bed dorm
14. Kandy- Home
Kandy- Home
Train +Taxi+Flight
258

Total price.

Flights 500,00
Transportation 37,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 135,00
Total672,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Coconut Roti: the pancake is made with coconut flakes and tastes so delicious. The perfect breakfast in Sri Lanka.

Dosa:  this is also a pancake, but the dough is much thinner. You can dip it into lentils and curry and enjoy it with rice. A traditional breakfast!

Soups

Lola Kanda: many locals eat the soup for breakfast, but you can also order it during the day in any restaurant. The herbal soup is made from natural products, such as local herbs and spices.

Main Courses

Kottu Roti: this dish is considered to be the most famous street food in Sri Lanka. Roti is cut into thin slices and then fried together with eggs and vegetables. Cheese is often added and sauce to top the dish off.

Puttu:  this rice cake is made from coconut milk and rice and usually has a cylindrical shape. It tastes sweet and salty as the locals dip the delicious cake into a chicken curry.

Pol Sambol: you will find this dish as a side dish with every curry in Sri Lanka. It consists of grated coconut, chilli and tomatoes and is served in a small pancake.

Idil: these are small flat cakes made from a light dough. You get an exciting mix consisting of beans and rice, which you then dip into a spicy curry.

Rice and curry: this classic is a typical curry served with a little bit of rice, potatoes and salad as well as various sauces.

Lamprai: the rice is steamed in a banana leaf and mixed with prawns or other seafood. An absolute must-eat on your journey!

Drinks & Snacks

Arrack: locals like to drink a glass of Arrack, a schnapps made from palm blossom juice.

Ceylon Tea: this tea is practically the national drink. Tourists from all over the world are impressed by the strong taste.

Sri Lanka

The exchange rate for 100 Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) is around €0.50 (as of February 2020). You can see the prices for certain products as well as the cost of living below.

Cost of Living 

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Drink tea. In Sri Lanka, you should drink as much tea as possible. It grows in the centre of the country and is an absolute speciality.

Be brave and leave the tourist hotspots. Sri Lanka is much more than just the southern part, and you will get to know the real character of the country, especially in the centre.

Cover your body. Sri Lanka is a Muslim country, and you must respect religion and dress appropriately outside the beach.

Don'ts

Don't take the bus in Sri Lanka, as it is not the best transportation for tourists. Instead, take a TukTuk.

Sri Lanka, the pearl of India. Yes, that's the way the country is called, but do not compare the two countries with each other under any circumstances! It is best not to mention them in one sentence together at all. Otherwise, locals can quickly get offended because the differences are more significant than you think.

Don't ride an elephant. Thus, you make a stand against animal cruelty and avoid an utterly overpriced tourist trap.

Even if it is tempting, there are countless dogs in Sri Lanka that we’re sure you would love to pet but we recommend that you don’t. Unless their ear is marked, but even then you should only stroke them slightly. Diseases can be transmitted quickly.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Yes

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least six months at the time of entry. Please also inform yourself about the current entry regulations regarding the corona virus. You can find up-to-date information at the Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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