Our itinerary took us in a circular direction around the south western section of Sri Lanka, starting with the tea plantations and hill country and ending with some of the southern and south west coast beaches. The number of days spent in each place can be adjusted according to the number of days you have available and what you prefer to do.
Day 1: Arrive at Colombo airport at 7 pm. Stay in Negombo which is closer to the airport than Colombo.
Day 2: Transfer to Kandy by taxi which was organised by our Negombo accommodation. Stay for 3 nights in Kandy.
Day 3: Boat trip on the Mahaweli River.
Day 4: Trip into Kandy by tuk tuk.
Day 5: Transfer to Nuwara Eliya by scenic train and stay for 2 nights.
Day 6: Hire driver to take us to Horton Plains national park (pick up at 5 am) for 8 km trek in the morning and to the Blue Fields tea plantation and waterfalls in the afternoon.
Day 7: Transfer to Ella by scenic train and stay for 2 nights.
Day 8: Trek to the summit of Ella Rock.
Day 9: Transfer to Tangalle by taxi; stop for 2.5 hours at Uda Walawe National Park; continue drive to Tangalle on the southern coast for 4 nights.
Day 10: Catch up with blog posts and afternoon visit to Goyambokka Beach.
Day 11: Hire moped and explore the surrounding area of Tangalle (visit to the Blow Hole at Kudawella and the monastery at Mulgirigala)
Day 12: Lunch at the Anantara Peace Haven Resort (Chris’ birthday)
Day 13: Transfer to Mirissa by tuk tuk and stay for 3 nights.
Day 14: Tuk tuk to Weligama
Day 15: Walk along the coast and beaches at Mirissa
Day 16: Transfer to Galle by train and stay for 2 nights.
Day 17: Explore Galle
Day 18: Transfer to Negombo and stay for 1 night.
Day 19: Flight to London.
Sri Lanka travel costs (for 2):
Pick up from Colombo airport $10 = £7
Taxi from Negombo to Kandy = £32
Train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya = £2.50 approx
Train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella = £1
Taxi from Ella to Tangalle = £47 (included 2.5 hour taxi wait Uda Walawe)
Tuk tuk from Tangalle to Mirissa = £12
Tuk tuk from Mirissa to Galle = 2500 rupees (£12)
2nd class train from Galle to Negombo = 360 rupees (£1.73)
4 short bus trips which are 20 rupees each (10 p)
Total spent on transport £116 approx for 2 people
Sri Lanka accommodation and meal costs
We stayed in a mix of homestays, B & B’s and hotels. The total spent on 18 nights accommodation was £555 (average £30.83 per night) for 2 people. All of these offered breakfast and we spent around £25 – 30 each day on lunch, dinner and drinks for both of us. (Excluding lunch at Anantara Peace Haven resort which blew the budget!).
While you have to do your own research and planning this shows that a self organised tour is much more cost effective than a similar trip with a tour company. A similar organised tour would most likely be at least 2 or 3 times this cost. Train travel is unbelievably cheap in Sri Lanka and while not always on time it is a great transport option.
This itinerary gave us a great introduction to Sri Lanka and for this part of our round-the-world trip we particularly focussed on the contrasting natural scenic areas of the spectacular green hill country and dramatic southern coastline rather than religious sites and temples.
As we’ve found in other places, staying in homestays has given us a wonderful insight into local life. We’ve had the opportunity to meet so many interesting and informative local people throughout the last 5 and a half months and Sri Lanka was no exception.
As well as lovely traditional breakfasts we also had several home cooked Sri Lankan curries which were delicious and with the 6 or 7 different dishes you usually get, they are quite different from curries we’ve had in other Indian Ocean countries.
Sometimes however and particularly in lower cost countries we’ve found it is also good to stay in hotels from time to time. This itinerary gave us a good mix of accommodations and as such a great experience of the ‘real’ Sri Lanka.