If you are reading this and you haven’t been to Sri Lanka or you aren’t planning on going warning this might change your mind. Voted the number one country to travel to for 2019 Sri Lanka is only getting more and more toursity by the day as travellers discover its beauty.
Fly into the capital Colombo (CMB) airport, you can fly direct from Melbourne and London. Grab your bags and head on out of there, Sri Lanka is full of amazing places and Colombo isn’t one of them. You can grab an Uber for about £40 down to Weligama (south provence) which will take 2.5 hours or for the local experience you can grab the train for about £1 each and taking about 6 hours. Views are great though.
If you have time it’s worth stopping at Galle Fort (town) and Unawatuna (beach) for a night or two but if you have less than 10 days go straight to Weligama.
Budget and local; Weligama watergate resort is an absolute local charm. It’s as basic as you get but what it lacks in hot water and luxury it makes up for in love and family. It will cost about £7 a night including breakfast but we loved it. Note the word “resort” doesn’t mean much in Sri Lanka
Expat and Funky; just up the road from watergate resort is Basecamp. A funky expat guest house (not hostel) set up by two friendly Dutch gals Renee and Sheryl who came to Sri Lanka years ago and never left. Expect smoothies, ocean views and yoga classes but you’ll pay about £38 a night + £5 for AC
Hostel and surfer vibes; hang time hostel was the first hostel set up in Weligama by two Aussie dudes who came and never left. It’s in the perfect location for the surf schools and has an awesome roof top cafe with coconut milk flat whites, smoothie bowls and vegan burgers.
Boutique chic with a price tag; Ceylon Sliders is a heavenly tall narrow building with gorgeous chic rooms, roof top yoga and an amazing cafe with everything an instagram blogger would want and more. This place is about £140 a night but if that’s your style go for it and enjoy! We went twice for lunch/dinner and had the best flat whites in Sri Lanka.
The beach is Weligama is a bit of an eyesore when it comes to plastic and rubbish. The water can be really gross especially after a down pour of rain which washes all the junk into the ocean. I got conjunctivitis after my first day of surfing … don’t think about it, it’s shit I know !
Surf school; Weligama has waves for the complete newbies and the medium skill wannabe pro surfers. We did our surf lessons there with Shan (Instagram @surf_shan) and he was a legend. His number is +94 76 836 3153. Awesome guy full of happiness and passion about teaching people to ride the waves. I stood up on my second wave and pretty much thought I was a pro from there onwards. The lesson will cost 2500 rupees for the 2 hours but if you mention my name or show him this blog I’m sure he will offer you 2000 like he did for us. The company was called AMA surf school.
Yoga on the roof top at Ceylon Sliders at 6am every morning.
Ceylon sliders has it all. Burgers, huge salads which are SO good, flat whites, raw balls, sweet potato fries and smoothie bowls. I wanted to move in.
Hang time hostel does great coffee, food and smoothies with an awesome ocean view
Nomad cafe is another cracking spot for smoothies, smashed avo and healthy stuff
Chef Akila was an awesome cliff side local restaurant run by Chef Akila himself. A down to earth family man with a passion for cooking. Expect to wait 1-2 hours as everything is made from scratch when you order. Nothings pre-prepared but it’s so good. Order the rice and curry, garlic prawns and the gado gado. Go early for sunset around 5.15pm.
This beach is only 5kms from Weligama and for some reason is so much more beautiful. The beach and water are cleaner and it’s more secluded. The hotels and guest houses will cost more but you might like it. Otherwise it’s only a short tuktuk from Weligama to visit.
Eat or do a cooking class at the No 1 dewmini Roti Shop in Mirissa. It’s so cheap and so authentic we loved it. There was a cooking class going on next to us whilst we ate so we got a little insight into how to cook. Order as much roti as you can eat and also the kottu (diced rotti with veggies) is awesome.
Wood space; funky coffee shop with good coffee and smoothies
Shady Lane Mirissa; vegan smoothie bowl heaven and beautiful looking smashed avo. This place is blogger heaven and makes might fine food.
A Tuk tuk from Weligama to Mirissa will cost about 400 rupees.
2 nights here will be enough – Next stop head East to Hirikeytia.
This beautiful bay was our absolute favourite place in Sri Lanka. We came for 2 nights and stayed 5. If you love the beach, surfing and non touristy places this should be your priority. It’s just awesome. Coconut flat whites, yoga classes, sunrise surf and cheap roti.
Sea view Tree House; if you want cheap and local and don’t mind cold showers and glamping in a tent this is for you. It was so beautiful and peaceful we loved it. It will cost about £12 a night including breakfast which is served on your balcony to you by the most adorable happy Sri Lanka man. The tent is elevated on stilts and you can see the ocean from your bed. Hang in the hammock, enjoy some peace and take in the gorgeous forest view. It is very poorly signed so you’ll need to call the owner once you think you’re nearby. Tuktuk is the best way to get close. But that’s what you get when it’s secluded and you won’t see another human but the owner.
Peak House; located on the other side of Hiri bay but just as awesome. This guest house has 4 rooms and was lots of fun. We met some beautiful travellers from all over the world and had an awesome family dinner with everyone which turned into a rowdy party. The rooms are so clean and spacious and they have hot eater hallelujah! It’s just perfect and will cost £15 a night inc. breakfast. A tuk tuk rose into town for supplies and back will cost 400 rupees.
Dots Bay house; this funky expat hotel is set up with all the beachy vibes, Aussie expats and yoga classes you could want. The dinner and food is awesome, coffee is great and Emy the yoga instructor is awesome. 8am vinyasa flow or 4pm yin yoga daily is the perfect way to compliment the hours surfing.
The Roti Hut; run but Suneil and his brother, the roti hut was set up in September 2017. Selling Roti, hoppers and … that’s it… they are around 100 – 150 rupees per roti which is about £0.50. And they are so good. They will probably forget your order if they are busy but grab a table and watch the surfers and keep making eye contact with them so they don’t forget. Suneil also has a tuktuk and would love to drive you around to places.
Dots Bay House; we ate here 3 nights. The food isn’t cheap cheap but it also isn’t western prices. They do great burgers, salads, smoothies, coffees, kombucha and vegan cakes.
Blue Chill House; this place is local and funky and had a wicked wooden interior and upstairs area. We had the rice and curry, spring rolls and coconut salad. It was really good and portion sizes were decent. Not as cheap as the roti hut but also a proper restaurant.
Peak House; our accomodation had awesome family dinners. We had a huge prawn BBQ feast with rice and curry and it was sensational.
Verse Collective Coffee; this funky expat hotel has a cafe with ocean views over Dickwella beach. Really good coffee, choc chip bicsuits and veggie bowls.
Salt House; great coffee, smoothies and burgers. Their brownies and chocolate mousse are also heaven. You can do yoga classes there each morning at 7.30am and use their pool after the class.
Grove; I heard the breakfast here is amazing but we only went for dinner. Not the cheapest in the bay but the food is great and plentiful.
Squid; take away fish and chip shop. Grab some for dinner and head to the beach or rocks for sunset.
Yoga classes at Dots Bay House – 8am flow or 4pm yin
Surfing all day everyday. The surf here is the best in Sri Lanka. The waves are long and rolling and great for beginners and the more experienced. It is a really fun wave and the water is stunning. Expect to see turtles swimming past you and popping up to say hello. There are a few rocks but it is mainly a beach break.
Explore the abandoned houses on the beach next to Dots Bay house.
The easiest (but not cheapest) ways to get around is by private driver. Here is the name and contact for our lovely driver Mohummad who drove us around. +94 77 274 9648. He is based in Weligama.
UDAWALAWAE NATIONAL PARK – ELEPHANTS
If you are wanting to do a safari whilst in Sri Lanka – go to Udawalawae. The crowds are smaller and there is plenty more elephants to be spotted in the wild. Yala the alternative national park often has Leopard sightings but the elephants are more rare.
We didn’t stay in the national Park we just got a driver to take us from Hirikeytia to the park, wait for us and then continue on to Ella. We paid the driver 12,000 rupees for this.
Go early in the morning (6am) or the last Jeep of the day (2pm). Each safari takes 3-4 hours and the park shuts at 6pm. The driver we were recommended was Lahiru. He was GREAT. Knew everything about the elephants and animals, and could spot them from miles away. He is really funny, has great English and is an awesome guy. Send him a Whatsapp to book the safari. +94 76 272 6799
Check out the newborn elephant we saw. 3 days old…
If you like hiking and moutains this is your place. Start early as it gets hot in the middle of the day, but all round Ella is quite a cooler and damp place. Our clothes went mouldy and didn’t dry at all. The main strip is slightly touristy but the countryside is just beautiful.
Hike Little adams Peak; this walk takes about 25 minutes to the top if you start from 98 acres resort and spa. Any Tuk Tuk driver will drive you there. Great views up in the clouds and it can be done without much hiking experience.
Hike Ellas Rock; this one is a much harder and longer 10km incline but the views are sensational. Head off early and take snacks and water.
Nine Arch Bridge; head to the Ella train station and ask them when the next train is due. You can walk along the tracks towards the nine arch bridge and find a spot to perch in time for the train to come zooming past.
We stayed at Top Heavens because we wanted cheap and authentic and it was exactly that. The room was BASIC. No hot water, no fridge or kettle and the toilet leaked but the views were amazing, the man who runs it is gorgeous and the breakfast was really good. It was about $25 US for 2 nights.
The guest house we wanted to stay in which was booked out was Chamodya Home Stay. We heard the family was very nice and the rooms were perfect. It was about $20 US per night.
Country Homes; Somewhere luxury for a retreat. This place is about $160 a night but it’s glam and very nice.
Ella 360; is a good Western restauntant with a bit of everything and live reggae music.
Chill Cafe; which we ate at both nights is perfect. Great menu and it is 3 stories to plenty of space to ‘chill’. Head to the top, take your shoes off and relax on the beanbags.
Get the famous train from Ella to Kandy. It will take about 7 hours and you don’t need to book or reserve a seat. Second class is better than 1st class because the doors stay open and you get the MOST beautiful view over the tea plantations and hills. It is breathtaking and so cheap. The food we ate from the locals who hop on and off and walk up and down the train was some of the tastiest vegetarian food we ate in Sri Lanka.
Resident View Homestay; This place was awesome. Family run guesthouse which is HUGE. The mum lives there on her own and her son helped set it up for her so she had company with guests. It is located about 10 minutes tuktuk outside of Kandy centre just near Kandy forrest. It will cost $15 US per night for a private room including breakfast. I think they are a very wealthy family who love entertaining and having guests stay. It’s perfect!
Temple of the Tooth; they do an evening ceremony but you are welcome to go inside and explore.
We were at the end of our trip and with limited time in Kandy (because we decided to stay in Hirikeytia for ages) so we didn’t do a lot in Kandy.
Sigiria is a really good hike about 1-2 hours from Kandy. You can organise day trips from there. Lions Rock is also impressive.
After Kandy get a train or car about 4 hours back to Colombo Airport for your flight out.
Drivers; Mohummad +94 77 274 9648. He is based in Weligama but will drive anywhere
Don’t drink the water
You can get a local sim so you have data from the airport.
When you get to the airport you can also ask for a private driver. My parents had a driver for 10 days and they paid them $70 AUD per day.
Chili Crab curry is a staple but we surprisingly did’t eat it.
Rice and Curry is a meal which comes with a bowl of rice and about 5-6 small curries and condiments on the side.
Dhal is EVERYWHERE and most likely in each meal. It is very delicious and you’ll love it.
Coconut pancakes served rolled with a desicated coconut, honey and sugar mix.
Roti is a savoury pancake made from either wheat or rice flour and coconut milk. Soemtimes thin like a crepe and can often come with vegetables, onion, cheese or egg inside. Even banana and chocolate! Some people make Roti with rice flour which means it’s gluten free
Coconut roti is made with coconut flour and chunks of coconut. It is more of a sweet dish and can often be served with sweet jam or Dhal.
Hoppers (photo below) made from rice flour and coconut milk. Usually served at breakfast with an egg inside.
Sri Lanka was one of our favourites coutries !! Enjoy it, recycle your plastics (we saw so many dicks throwing their bottles out the window) and get to know as many locals as possible.