When Ben suggested we start our SE Asia trip in Sri Lanka, I was 100% onboard. Lonely Planet has ranked Sri Lanka as the top destination to visit in 2019 & it was also the closest destination to London, it completely made sense to begin our adventures there.
We spent 3 weeks traveling all around Sri Lanka, so I’ve broken down our trip into 3 parts, sharing the details on all of our accommodations, restaurants & actives in every place!
Just a heads up…
We ONLY stayed in private double rooms with an ensuite, so the accommodation prices are for those rooms
When we were in Sri Lanka it was £1 to 240 Sri Lankan Rupee
Week one consisted of Colombo, Unawatuna & Welligama.
- Day 1 – 3 Colombo
- Day 4 – 5 Unawatuna
- Day 6 – 8 Welligama
DAY 1 – 3: Colombo (3 nights)
We took an overnight flight with Swiss air via. Zurich & arrived at 8:30am on day 1. After a long flight, we passed out as soon as we arrived at our hotel & woke up in time for dinner! The next two days, we walked all over Colombo and through the various districts. While I definitely think we stayed one night too long, it was a great chance to figure out our route and whether we would go east or south first.
To do at the airport:
- Buy a SIMCARD once you get into the Arrivals area, we paid 12 USD each for 20 GB of data – perfect for using google maps to help find the various bus stops!
- Exchange money. Sri Lanka has a closed currency, so you are only able to get Sri Lankan Rupees when you are in the country. They also don’t charge you additional fees at the airport!
- Use UBER! If you are going to Colombo & don’t want to take the bus, book via. Uber. It’s going to save you at least 1000 SRL & with the intense heat that will hit you once you walk out of the airport, you’ll be thankful for a car with A/C.
Pros: Quiet as we were the only people there, close to restaurants & clean
Cons: 40 minutes from the train station & centre of town. The pool is more of plunge pool rather than a swimming pool
Price: 17.00 GBP/Night
*Before flying out of Sri Lanka, we spent another night in Colombo & stayed at Hangover Hostel. We much preferred this spot as it’s right on the beach, close to various restaurants & a great atmosphere. Price: 18.00 GBP/Night
Black Cat Colombo ($$) Their smoked salmon toast is SO good
Plus Nine Four ($$) Ben had a bacon sandwich while I ordered avocado toast with prawns & mango salsa. I’m going to add that to my list of breakfasts to make when we next have a kitchen, it was seriously that tasty
Hotel Pilawoos (Outside Old Dutch Hospital) ($) The locals behind the counter will help you order based on what meat you would like
Old Fort Cafe ($$) Curry & Seafood…both were fantastic
Curry Pot – Colombo 03 ($) Order the Kottu & only get curry if you like it super spicy
Things to do:
While we didn’t love the busyness of Colombo, we made the most of our time there & walked all over the city, a few of our highlights are:
Old Dutch Hospital – Great bars, cafes & restaurants in the centre of the city
Patteh Market – Wonder through the bustling street market
T Lounge – Lovely tea cafe in the Old Dutch Hospital, great spot to cool down after a few hours of walking around the city
Cinnamon Park – Lovely park in the city centre – there is a small lake with row boats that you can rent. Serval Ice Cream tuktuks park on the grass as well.
DAY 4-5: Unawatuna
From Fort Station in Colombo, we took the train south to Galle. From Galle, we travelled along the waters edge to Unawatuna, a quirky beach town full of boutiques, smoothie bowls & luscious jungle.
– Fort to Galle 180 SLR each
– Sit on right hand side of the train so you have the ocean views
– It takes about 2 hours
Tutktuk or Bus
– From Galle Train station to Unawatuna 400-500 SLR
– Takes about 20 minutes
– All busses heading to Madiha or Welligama will pass through Unawatuna 120 SLR
– Takes about 15 minutes
Sam’s Guest House (2 nights)
Pros: Fast wifi (perfect for booking our next few nights of hotels), only a few minutes from the beach & large room
Cons: On the main road (it was rather noisy during the day, however it did get quieter at night)
Price: 16 GPB/Night
Kat’s Coffee ($) Yummy porridge & variety of coffees
Black & White ($$) Great salads & curries
Skinny Toms ($$) Awesome for Smoothies & Paninis
Nanda ($) Try the Kottu here, it’s a local Sri Lankan dish of stir fried vegetables, mixed with chopped flatbread – so yummy!
Bed Space ($$) The menu is full of freshly caught fish & incredible burgers. We recommend arriving a little earlier than you usually eat as there was quiet a wait to get a table after 7:30 pm.
Things to do:
Beach: Relax on the beach & go for a swim! If you head to Peacocks on the beach, they offer free sunbeds for the day.
Relax with Cocktails: We sat at Funky Cafe for a few hours, sitting on there pillow covered balcony with a mojito & our kindles.
Wander the Streets: There are loads of beautiful trinket stores, spas, cafe’s & bars along a series of windy colourful roads. All of the roads lead to the beach & it reminded us of Mexico with the beautiful artwork on the walls.
DAY 5-8 Welligama
From Unawatuna, hop on the bus that says Welligama on the front. It will cost around 150SLR to get you to Welligama.
(3 Nights) We stayed at Open Sky guest house & we didn’t love it. The wifi didn’t reach our room, we had to move rooms because our bathroom was totally open to the corridor (so weird!). I highly recommend trying to booking in at Hangtime Hostel. We met up with our friend Milly in Weligama & she was staying there. It looked AWESOME, sadly it was booked up when we were in town, so this is definitely a spot you want to prebook.
Ceylon Sliders ($$) Try the Tumeric Latte – such a nice change from my morning tea!
Soul Cafe ($) Smoothie Bowl!!!
Good Time Coffee ($) Smoothie Bowl!!!
Dolphin Beach Resort ($) Order the Veggie Roti & Chicken Roti! They are Sri Lankan dishes, essentially a rice flour wrap that’s filled & than grilled. Awesome afternoon snack & super duper cheap.
Hungry Birds ($) Don’t order a salad like I did, go for the curry instead. You won’t be disappointed!
Ceylon Sliders ($$) Definite splurg meal for us backpackers, but 100% worth every penny! My tuna sushi bowl was divine & the cocktails are SO fresh!
Froggys ($) Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. They are massive, so we ended up taking half a pizza each home & having it the next day!
Things to do:
Surfing: There are loads of surf schools on the beach! We rented boards from Freedom & I managed to get up a few times which was awesome!
Yoga: There are signs for yoga all along the street & Hangtime Hostel also has 2 daily classes
Exploring: Midigama is only a short Tuktuk drive away & the beach is much quieter.
Next week I’ll be sharing part 2 which includes snorkelling with turtles, the perfect beach town, an elephant sanctuary & more! We definitely kept busy!!
Have a question about Sri Lanka? Ask in the comments below!