Sri Lanka

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The Tropical Paradise Island

Sri Lanka is a jewel. The island seems small but is surprisingly diverse and has so many things to offer. A countless number of incredible beaches, offering to the visitor amazing places for sunbathing, snorkeling, diving or surfing. Sri Lanka has so many parks, jungles, mountains, rivers, lakes, archeological sites… It is home for a very wide range of species inside and outside the water. We have seen incredible birds, wild elephants, donkeys and deer. It is common to observe a wide varieties of plants, trees, flowers, fishes, corals, sea turtles, monkeys, lizards, spiders, etc.

We spent a total of 5 months in Sri Lanka and we have have been to many places from south to north. Traveling in Sri Lanka can be very cheap and easy. The food is delicious and the people extremely smiley and welcoming. We would like to share here some contacts and travel tips.

 

Climate: When to Go?

Sri Lanka has always a rainy season and a dry season. You can travel to Sri Lanka at any time of the year. It is a tropical climate (hot and humid) and it is much colder in the mountains. Broadly speaking:

  • May to September: The dry season is in the north and north east.
  • October to February: The dry season is in the south and south west.

Selective Asia has an excellent website about the climate in Sri Lanka for detailed information.

 

Transport

It is very easy to move in Sri Lanka from one city to the other, and it is also very cheap if you use the bus or the train. The disadvantage of such options is that it can be very slow, and sometimes very crowded (especially on public holidays or full moon days). The railway network is quite developed and the schedule shown on their website is also reliable.

The other more comfortable and quicker ways of moving in Sri Lanka are the taxis that are widely available. Their prices is of course much more expensive than the public transport, but they are still much cheaper than prices of taxis in Europe for example.

Between the public transport and the taxi, it is also common to use the tuktuks, not only to move within the same city, but also to move from one city to the other when the distance is not too big. It is also very common to rent a scooter or even your own tuktuk.

It is also easy to rent your own car or to rent a car with a driver. Interior flights are available but very expensive.

 

Price Index

Sri Lanka can welcome all the budgets. You can eat very well for less than 1 USD and also for 30 USD. You can sleep in a very descent place for 10 USD and also for 200 USD a night. Here are some examples in US dollar:

  • Accommodation: 1500 LKR (10 $) per night and more.
  • Vegetable roti (snack): 50 LKR (0.40 $).
  • Food (vegetarian): 150 – 400 LKR (1 – 2.50 $) and more.
  • Seafood meal: 600 LKR (4 $) and more.
  • Mega seafood meal (fish, prawn, calamari, giant prawns, crab): 2500 LKR (15 $).
  • Beer on the beach (625 ml): 450 LKR (2.50 – 3 $).
  • Train and bus ticket: 300 LKR (2 $).
  • TukTuk 1-2 km: 100 – 250 LKR (0.50 – 1.50 $).
  • One kilo of tuna: 400 LKR (2.50 – 3 $).
  • One kilo of prawns: 1200 – 1500 LKR (7 – 10 $).
  • Scooter one day: 1200 LKR (7 – 8 $) and less for longer periods.

In the touristic places in Sri Lanka, it is very common to see expensive prices for everything, especially for accommodation during the high season. Checking prices online (on booking.com for example) is the best way to know what to expect for your travel dates.

Unfortunately, it is also common, in the touristic areas, that some Sri Lankan sellers would overcharge the tourists. It is important to know the prices, and to negotiate the accomodations, taxis, tuktuks, etc.

 

Hikkaduwa (south)

We stayed almost 4 months in Hikkaduwa. It is a beach, surf, snorkeling, diving and a seafood paradise. It has also a vibrant nightlife and it is a perfect location for digital nomads or for long term travelers as it offers a lot of furnished houses for rent and it is close to Colombo for those who need to extend their visa. Unfortunately, the beach has been kind of destroyed by the numerous guesthouses, and the main road is extremely touristy and busy with traffic.

 

Renting a villa

We have a contact for those who would like to rent a villa, 1.5 km from the beach, surrounded by the jungle, nice neighbors, birds and monkeys that come around.

Name and phone and facebook.

 

Best snorkeling spots

Hikkaduwa is a snorkeling paradise and it is an activity you can do by yourself for free. You will observe countless species of fish, corals, and you will definitely be able to swim with sea turtles if you spend enough time in the water and you follow the spots showed on the map below.

The spot number 3 is the best spot. Many will try to sell you a boat ride to reach this area of the ocean where the rocks are. It is also quite easy to swim there by yourself if you are an average-good swimmer. It will take you only 10-20 minutes to reach the rocks. the sea life there is impressive and I was able to spot sea turtles every time I went there.

N.B.: It is easy to rent or to buy snorkeling equipment anywhere in Hikkaduwa.

 

Best Surf Spot

Equipment for surf can easily be rented in front of Villa Paradise. It is also a good place to take some surf lessons.

 

Other tips:

It is useful to rent a scooter in Hikkaduwa. You can see many things around and travel to other places in the south coast like Unawatuna, Mirissa, Galle, etc.

It is always cheaper and quieter to go inside the land, i.e. further from the beach area, to find better accommodations at better prices. It is also very green and beautiful and it will make you profit more from the local Sri Lankan life.

 

Contacts in Hikkaduwa

  • Restaurant and Bar: Main Reef (here on the map). The owner’s name is Rohan and he is our friend.
  • Ayurveda Doctor and massage center:
  • Yoga:

 

Note for Digital Nomads

Hikkaduwa is the perfect spot for digital nomads in Sri Lanka. The offer of villas to rent is impressive. You have to negotiate the prices and think about renting a scooter for a long period. It is easy to rent a place for as low as 200 US$ in Hikkaduwa and for 400 US$ you can have an amazing house.

The best Internet provider is Dialog. You can easily buy your own router at their office in the city center. This will give you the best connection in the city. Then you have to spot the locations with a strong signal. With some speed tests, you will easily identify the locations of the antennas.

It is also very useful to check the coverage map of Dialog to know more precisely where to go. In general, Internet is very good in the covered locations.

 

Tissamaharama (south east)

Tissamaharama is an excellent location to visit Yala and a break before heading north to the mountains of Ella.

Accommodation

Great Lake Villa: It is a wonderful quite place on the lake, and perfect for bird observation. Around 2000 LKR.

 

 

Ella (mountains)

Ella offers a wonderful landscape in the mountains of Sri Lanka and the most enjoyable temperatures in Sri Lanka. The city center has been unfortunately destroyed by the massive tourism and the anarchic buildings. We recommend to chose a place that is outside of the city to enjoy the mountains and the view.

Accommodation

Nice View Homestay: Around 2500 LKR per night with breakfast included. It is located outside of the city, but it is perfectly located to hike in mountains and to go the Ella Rock and the water falls. It is also easy to catch a tuktuk to the city center.

 

 

Arugam Bay (east)

The beaches of Arugam bay are not as beautiful as the ones you can find in the south coast (Hikkaduwa, Mirissa…). But there are a lot of virgin beaches in Arugam Bay that are not easy to find in the south. It is mainly a Surf destination. The season starts in May, as the rain starts to hit the south.

Accommodation

Surf and Sand Hotel: Excellent location, nice owner, good breakfast and good prices.

 

Trincomalee (north east)

The dry season in Trincomalee is more or less from May to September. It is one of our best destinations in Sri Lanka. The beach is a real paradise, and there are a lot of snorkeling possibilities. We highly recommend that you stay in the city instead of going to the very touristic areas of Uppuveli or Nilaveli.

Staying in the city will give you the opportunity to have a free access to a snorkeling paradise beach, very cheap local food and free places to visit at a walking distance like the Fort Frederick, the Hindu Temple Koneswaram Kovil, the Maritime And Naval History Museum, etc.

Accommodation

We recommend Dyke Street as the best area to pick your location.

Dyke Rest is the hotel we recommend in the area. around 2500 LKR directly on the beach. It is possible to observe fishermen pulling nets in the morning, and it is directly located close to an amazing snorkeling spot. The spot is precisely shown on the map below.

Food

You can get incredible good and cheap food at Trincomalee. Those are our favorite places:

 

Anuradhapura (center north)

Anuradhapura is part of the “Cultural Triangle” with Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya. Those cities are home for World Heritage cultural sites. In Anuradhapura there are ruins dating to centuries Before Christ and the giant Abhayagari Dagoba or Stupa dating from around the year 80 BC.

Accomodation

Emerald Holiday Homes: Spacious and comfortable room with AC, very well located at a walking distance from the city center, at a very reasonable price (around 2000 LKR).

 

 

 

Useful links

 

 

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