Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

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  • Day1

    Arriving in Colombo

    January 15 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Fairly typical flight out of Sydney and not a whole lot to report. The terminal was extremely crowded with lots of groups heading for WORLD YOUTH DAY in Panama. Our flight was fairly full, even in the Quiet Zone, and our usual trick of booking window + aisle seats and having a spare between us didn't work out, sadly.

    Arrived in KL on time and killed a few hours having a snack and sitting around on laptops. It's funny how despite being a reasonably-modern airport, there's hardly any power points anywhere. Crossed the airport to where our gate was located and found our flight with no dramas. This time I had a spare seat next to me, but Shandos was sitting on the other side of the plane - the system had allocated tickets nowhere near each other, and then demanded $10 to sit together!

    Didn't see much on the flight in since it was dark, but we were quickly off the plane and through the terminal. No problems at immigration which was a relief since I'd realised I put the wrong passport number on my application (I had two numbers transposed). Had sent a message asking to change it and never heard back, so I was worried I'd have to pay another $50 USD for a visa on arrival, but it never eventuated.

    Got some cash from the ATM, a pair of SIM cards, met our driver and headed into Colombo. It's normally an hour drive but took us about 25 minutes thanks to no traffic late at night. Streets deserted around the hotel.

    Our room is pretty crap, but we're leaving first thing in the morning so it's not a big deal.
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  • Day3

    Exploring Anuradhapura

    January 17 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Up early, had our hotel breakfast of Sri Lankan food and then headed out on our borrowed bicycles, heading for the nearby ruins of Anuradhapura. This was the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, originally starting around 500 BC, through to around 900 AD.

    Quite a bit to see, though it was spread out over quite a large area and cycling around proved to be tough work in the sunshine and heat. Lots of large stupas to see, including several that are still active Buddhist shrines, attracting pilgrims from across the world. Not many western tourists about, surprisingly, mostly Sri Lankan and Indian tourists.

    Biggest mistake for the day was that we hadn't realised we needed to pay our entry tickets (a very steep USD $25 each) in cash, and once we'd paid that we had basically no money left. This meant we couldn't have lunch until we made it back to town, a 20 minute ride away. Thankfully we had enough for an extra bottle of water which was definitely needed!

    Rode around checking out various things until about 3pm when we'd seen most things and were extremely hungry and thirsty! Back to town we went, stopping by the ATM and then getting some much needed food and drink.

    Such a late lunch meant we weren't particularly hungry for our hotel dinner, which was a shame because there was a large spread on with lots of great curries and other foods. Managed to get through about half of it!
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  • Day2

    North to Anuradhapura

    January 16 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Reasonable night's sleep since we were both very tired by the time we arrived, though we did both wake up a couple of times. Our train wasn't until 11:50am, so we headed out into the city in search of breakfast and a few sights. Colombo isn't a major highlight city, and it was still quite early (around 7:30am) so there wasn't a whole lot open.

    Eventually over near the train station we found a bakery and had a couple of omelette rolls (literally just a bread roll with an omelette in it), along with some tea. From here we headed across into the Fort district to check out the old Colonial buildings and the government office buildings which were still kinda impressive.

    But eventually we wandered back to the hotel, grabbed our stuff and headed to the station. Picked up our tickets with no issues (again it had been a bit of a worry since they were bought by a third party), and then had an hour or so to wait. Had another cup of tea and bought some samosa-type snacks to munch on during the journey.

    The train arrived right on time. Our second-class tickets meant that we had a padded seat and plenty of luggage space, though it wasn't air-conditioned (at least the windows opened and the doors stayed open the whole time too). Not at all modern, but comfortable enough. Spent about 20 minutes rolling through Colombo before getting out into the fields - green rice paddies as far as the eye can see. Very fertile, and very pretty.

    Second class unreserved and third class didn't look like much fun - standing room only! Wouldn't have been a great way to spend four hours. Arrived in Anuradhapura at around 4pm, got a tuk-tuk over to our hotel which was much nicer than the previous night's. Decided to have dinner here as we were both tired. Food was great though huge portion sizes - too much! Lots of Sri Lankan curries and other dishes which were all very tasty.
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  • Day4


    January 18 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

    Early start for the trip down to Polonnaruwa, which started with a tuktuk ride to the bus station. There was a bus already there and waiting so we grabbed some snacks and hopped on. Fairly ancient model of bus, but the inside wasn't too bad - at least the seats had padding! Plenty of space at first as the bus wasn't too crowded, but by about 90 minutes in it was mostly full and we were very squished together on a three-seater with another man. Definitely designed for Sri Lankan sized people, not westerners!

    Eventually it emptied out a bit, and by around midday we got off the bus in Polonnaruwa. Walked a few blocks to our hotel, dropped off the bags, picked up some bikes and headed off. First stop was lunch, where I had a vegetable kottu - a sort of stir fry dish that used diced up roti bread instead of noodles or rice. Very tasty.

    Our destination was just outside of town, the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa. This was the capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura, roughly around the 10th-13th centuries. The site here was quite a bit more compact, and also better preserved than Anuradhapura. Less cycling, which was good since we were both still sore from the previous day! But it's also not an active Buddhist pilgrimage site, so most of the people we encountered were tourists (largely French and other Europeans).

    Quite a few sites to see, including a royal palace, several large stupas, ruins of lotus ponds, and various temples as well. Interesting stuff, and a lot of it was in quite good condition too though one never really knows how enthusiastically things have been "restored".

    Since we'd started late it was nearly sunset by the time we finished and had to ride back through the entire length of the park. Thankfully it was almost entirely downhill, which had escaped me on the way out but I was most thankful for!

    Had a bit of confusion with the people running our hotel since they expected us to be having dinner there (they'd asked and we hadn't said anything committal), so when we went out for dinner they seemed slightly perturbed. It seems like the done thing that everyone eats in at the guest house, and the room is probably also a loss leader for them as the dinners can get quite expensive. In any event, we went to a restaurant nearby and had a vegetarian curry buffet which was quite nice.
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  • Day34


    January 26, 2017 in Sri Lanka ⋅

    Who knew this sleepy backpacker town would be in the middle of such amazing scenery! But there was one catch; to be able to see the views you had to hike Ella's Rock. We knew it would be difficult but we underestimated how steep the climb would be! In total it took us 6 hours, which was a little longer than expected due to some shortcuts that turned out to be dead ends and light rain that made the terrain slippery. But getting lost was part of the adventure, and part of the locals' creative business venture. They were always willing to give "a" direction, however getting the "right" direction would cost you. And since all the signs and markers put in place by the government were tampered with we embraced the game and wandered through a private tea plantation and 6 foot high grass to catch a group of hikers who seemed to be on the right track.

    Once we got to the top we couldn't stop admiring the views, however we only got to enjoy the clear sky for about 15 minutes before the fog and mist started to roll through. This didn't stop us though from taking some amazing photos as we stood high above literally in the clouds!

    All in all, when we got back down we were very proud of our accomplishment and also very hungry!
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  • Day31


    January 23, 2017 in Sri Lanka ⋅

    After spending some time in India it was time to see something different so we ventured down to the "tear drop of India" also known as Sri Lanka. We arrived in Negombo fairly late in the evening so we didn't get a chance to look around but from what we could tell the town was fairly small but conveniently located to the airport.

    My mom joined us on this trip as well so we were excited for her to get to experience a MitchaRu adventure!
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  • Day35


    January 27, 2017 in Sri Lanka ⋅

    Our last stop in Sri Lanka was a quick visit to the capital Colombo. We were surprised how modern and developed the city was compared to the rest of the country. A lot of the British influence is still seen in the architecture of the buildings that remain and the monuments reflect the independence gained from them. We also took a stroll along the beach promenade which wasn't anything special but gave us a look into how the locals pass their time.

    As we prepared to say goodbye to Sri Lanka we made our way back to Negombo to be closer to the airport. We were warned by multiple people and our airlines that we needed to arrive to the airport 5 hours before our flights due to runway construction that was causing major backup. So after a short nap, we took their advice and left for the airport at 2am for our 7am flights. It wasn't that busy when we arrived but luckily we had lounge access to pass our time comfortably and reminisce about our time in this beautiful country.
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  • Day205

    A country to feel good

    March 19, 2017 in Sri Lanka ⋅

    German version and more photos:

    Before I report about my experiences in Sri Lanka, I would like to tell you, why I continued my cycling trip in Sri Lanka. Anyone who has followed the project from the start, knows that I have started with the goal of cycling the complete 12000 km from Munich to Nepal.

    After I decided in Turkey to fly back to Munich, this plan had disappeared.
    (In the blog entry: Turkey - Among the same, I reported on the reason for my return to Munich)

    During my time in Munich, I had to think about how I would go on with the trip, but also make a decision on what my future career depends on.
    For the last two years, I studied a second school subject, to become a full teacher. Before I left, I had final examinations. Unfortuneately I had not passed one exam.
    I was really down, because it was my goal to leave Munich without any time pressure and obligations. For a long time I displaced the decision, if I make a second attempt. In December, however, I had to make a decision: Either to repeat the exam in June 2017 or to study two years for free and to travel without time pressure. It won the reason, so I will be back in Munich in April 2017. This meant that I have a time window of 3.5 months to arrive in Kagate / Nepal.
    I opted for a completely new route. Visit my friend Adi in Dubai and spend one month each in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal. I still wanted to continue to travel by bike, but also experience other things.

    The journey is thus no longer a continuous cycling trip from Munich to Nepal. Its more experiencing countries by bike with the final destination: Kagate in Nepal. The 12000 km mark I will no longer crack. How much distance I ultimately traveled, I will tell in my last blog entry.

    In Sri Lanka, also called as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, I landed with the plane 6 o'clock in the morning. In the beginning I had booked a hostel near the airport. Actually I wanted to spend another night there, but I could hardly wait to go to Hikkaduwa, which is 130 km away. It was my first destination right on the coast. I put the bike together and took only the most necessary. Camping is in Sri Lanka is good as impossible and cooking utensils I did not need to drag along, since the food in restaurants is extremely cheap (2 € to 3 € for a dish). So I could leave a lot of my equipment behind.

    My path led south along the coast. Right at the beginning I made the acquaintance with the Sri Lankan traffic. Especially the truck drivers and bus drivers driving without regard for losses, so I made several times a stop in the road trench.
    Having arrived in Hikkaduwa, I was looking for a hostel and immediately met other travelers. The first days I spent surfing and snorkeling. One of the main attractions on the beach are three large turtles swimming at the seaside during the day.

    Among the hostelmates was Alex from Germany. The chemistry was right. He also wanted to go further south. Next we met in the village of Merissa. Alex took a bus, I continued cycling.
    Merissa has a beautiful beach known for its beach shacks. A surfspot is also just around the corner and there were just ideal conditions. We liked it so much that we stayed 5 days. I was on the water every day and was regularly infected with surfing.

    On my arrival I had heard of a festival, which takes place in Arugam Bay, in the east of the country. The Internet did not reveal how much a ticket costs and what music direction is played. Alex and I thought it was worth a try. I left my bike in the hostel and finally I was able to enjoy a bus ride.
    Before us lay 280 km for which we will need more than 8 hours. Astonishingly, time passed by in flight. We were literally overwhelmed with impressions.
    The bus drivers drive like mad. In overtaking maneuvers they making from a two-lane road, a three-lane. Partially, the bus was so crowded, that I sat on the top over the engine. Or I stood in the front door, and the wind blew through my face. It was my most adventurous bus trip so far.
    Not far from the festival grounds we had booked our accommodation. On the bus we met Domingo from Chile, who spontaneously joined us.
    In the evening we went to the festival ground. From a distance we already heard the music: trance. I'm not a fan of trance, because the music is too monotonous. There was only a 5-day ticket to buy, which cost 120 €. Since we had taken the long way, we still wanted to enjoy the festival. Without problems we sneaked along the beach on the festival ground. Most visitors were pumped up with drugs and danced in trance. It was an interesting experience, but one evening was enough.
    The next day we relaxed on the beach. Then our paths separated again. Alex went on to the highlands. Domingo stayed for another day, but we met a few days later in Weligama. For me, I went by bus back to Merissa, and from there one town further to Weligama.
    I checked into the hostel Weligama, which had opened only a month ago. It was immediately a family co-operation. I liked it here so much, that it was difficult for me to continue riding.

    But I wanted to see more of Sri Lanka, so I took the off again. I cycled along the coast to the southernmost point, Tangalle. From there I went on towards the highlands. My next goal was Ella, where I would need three to four days. On the way to Ella I met incredibly nice and open-minded people. They were always given a smile.

    Unexpectedly, I passed a national park known for its wild safaris. The next day, I sat with a Norwegian couple, and three friends from Austria in a jeep, and we set off for an 5-hour safari. We got to see many animals. Especially the elephants posed perfectly for our cameras.

    The next day I was back on the bike and reached Ella in the evening. The small village is surrounded by a diverse mountain landscape. A famous peak is the "Liddle Adams Peak", which is reached within an hour and guarantees a great view.

    After two days of stay, my next destination was "Adams Peak", one of the main attractions in Sri Lanka. The mountain is near the city of Hatton and is best reached by train. It is not just a train ride, its one of the most beautiful train journeys you can do in the world. The special feature is that you can sit directly at the door.
    Actually, Steph from Australia (I met her at the hostel) and I wanted to go on the same train, but I had to take a train later because of the bike. We met later in the village at Adams Peak.
    From Hatton it was again 40 km with the bike to Adams Peak. On the way I got invited to a volleyball game, which I could not refuse.

    The Adams Peak is a "Must Do" for both, tourists and locals alike. Before you are on top of the 2243 m high summit, 5400 steps must be conquered. Locals of all ages go to the mountain to pray at the summit.

    In our accommodation we met Weston from China. At three o'clock in the morning, we three of us started to see the sunrise at 6.30 a.m. on the peak. Unfortunately it was cloudy on this day, that couldnt shot the sunrise photo.

    Adams Peak was my last major destination in Sri Lanka. On the same day I made my way back to Negombo. The last 130 km were hard but scenic. Two days later I went on to India.

    I liked Sri Lanka so much, that I have to come back. The beaches, the mountains, the people ... I felt like home.

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  • Day32

    Sigiriya & Dambulla

    January 24, 2017 in Sri Lanka ⋅

    We anticipated a lot of driving in Sri Lanka because we knew it was difficult to get from place to place with the small roads and varied terrain but one thing we didn't expect was rain! Unfortunately our luck wasn't great and the days were full of heavy rain which is unusual for this time of year. However we made the best of it and didn't get too wet while sightseeing!

    Our first stop was to the massive Sigiriya Lion Rock built between the years 477-495 by the ruling King as his capital, fortress and palace. The ancient ruins now are a UNESCO world heritage site and offer amazing views from the steep climb up.

    That night we enjoyed a stay in the jungle and took cover from the elephants and other wildlife there by sleeping in a treehouse! This was a fun experience and relaxing too as we listened to the peaceful sound of the rain and nature. Mitch even took it one step further by enjoying a fish pedicure in the small pond on the property!

    The next day we got back on the road to drive through the scenic tea plantations of Sri Lanka but first made a pit stop at the Dambulla Cave Temples which are the largest set of cave temples found in the country. Prehistoric Sri Lankan remains have been found at this site dating back more than 2,700 years ago long before Buddhist monks came to create the temples as a religious complex with statues and paintings.
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  • Day85

    Hambantota, Sri Lanka

    March 12, 2015 in Sri Lanka ⋅

    Hambantota, Sri Lanka
    March 12.
    This was a huge port that opened 2 years ago with the thought of expansion in Sri Lanka. We learned that we were only the 2nd cruise ship to have docked there since it opened. There is not much of a town here so we used it primarily to go out into the other areas of Sri Lanka that had a little more to offer.
    We took a safari into Yala National Park with the hope of seeing some wild animals.
    After visiting many large cities the past couple of weeks, we were especially appreciative of being out in a natural setting. We didn’t realize how much we had missed birdsong until we stopped bouncing along in our safari jeep and listened to the glorious sounds of nature. This is one park that you can be just about 10’ away from a small herd of water buffalo lounging in a pond and grunting, and they barely notice you.
    We saw 4 elephants - Sri Lankan elephants are smaller in overall size than African elephants and have smaller ears. Also, most of them do not have tusks. We saw many different types of birds, including a painted stork, as well as wild boar, jackals, spotted deer and a relatively rare siting of a leopard. The leopard was lying in a tree yawning the afternoon away as we excitedly took dozens of photos.
    The bus ride home was lots of chattering about the great things everyone had seen. All in all, a fabulous day.
    The photos are of some of the things we saw in Yala National Park.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka, ሲሪላንካ, سريلانكا, Şri Lanka, Шры-Ланка, Шри Ланка, Sirilanka, শ্রীলঙ্কা, ཤྲཱི་ལངྐ་།, Šri Lanka, Srí Lanka, ཤྲཱྀ་ལངཀ, Sri Lanka nutome, Σρι Λάνκα, Cejlono, سری لانکا, Siri Lanka, Srí Lanca, શ્રીલંકા, סרי לנקה, श्री लंका, Շրի Լանկա, Sri Langka, スリランカ民主社会主義共和国, შრი-ლანკა, ស្រីលង្កា, ಶ್ರೀಲಂಕಾ, 스리랑카, سریلانکا, ສີລັງກາ, Šrilanka, ശ്രീലങ്ക, श्रीलंका, သီရိလင်္ကာ, श्रीलङ्का, ଶ୍ରୀଲଙ୍କା, Lanka-dīpa, Шри-Ланка, Tāmaraparnī, Sirî-Lanka, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Sirilaanka, இலங்கை, శ్రీలంక, ศรีลังกา, Silangikā, Шрі Ланка, سری لنکا, Xri Lan-ca (Sri Lanka), Orílẹ́ède Siri Lanka, 斯里兰卡, i-Sri Lanka

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