Sri Lanka Highway Journey – Good two-week introduction to this island nation

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A Sri Lanka highway journey lets you actually immerse your self into the tradition and see the depths of this outstanding island nation, recognized for its prime quality tea and abundance of gems. On this article, I’ll share with you the route and particulars of a two week Sri Lanka highway journey I did in February 2022. Should you’ve by no means been to Sri Lanka earlier than, that is the right itinerary because it consists of among the highlights of the nation, in addition to some lesser recognized scenic areas.

Sri Lanka road trip guide - photo by Mike Shubic

Why Go to Sri Lanka?

There are lots of causes one would wish to go to Sri Lanka. Listed here are just some:

  • Tropical Local weather – Lovely seashores with pristine shoreline, palm bushes swaying within the wind and ocean views of turquoise water so far as you may see.
  • Meals – Sri Lanka is blessed with a particular delicacies flavored with unique spices. Famed curry dishes with aromatic lentils, rooster, greens or fish. Don’t miss the Hoppers.
  • Wildlife – This island nation has 26 nationwide parks and two marine parks. Essentially the most well-known is Yala, which has the very best density of leopards on the planet. The nation can also be residence to a whole bunch of fowl species, crocodiles and different reptiles, numerous species of sea turtle, whales, dolphins, and naturally, herds of elephants and water buffalo.
  • Panorama – Sri Lanka’s abundance of natural world provides method to nature trails, misty mountains rise into the clouds, hillsides are terraced with rice patties or blanketed by tea fields.
  • Waterfalls – You’ll by no means get board chasing the a whole bunch of waterfalls throughout the nation, many could be seen from the highway, others require a brief to lengthy hike.
  • Tradition – Historic cities, relics and spiritual monuments showcase early Sri Lanka in cities like Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. There are additionally many temples and pagodas to discover all through the nation.

Whereas the historical past of Sri Lanka is intertwined with its neighbor to the north (India) and that of colonialism, the Sri Lankan individuals are fearlessly impartial with a robust identification all their very own. The individuals are heat and giving, and for those who go to, you’ll really feel proper at residence.

Sri Lanka Highway Journey Logistics

Should you want to lease a automotive, scooter, or perhaps a Tuk Tuk to highway journey round Sri Lanka, you have to to get a particular allow. Apparently they’re fairly simple to acquire and don’t take lengthy to get. Sri Lanka doesn’t acknowledge international and even Worldwide drivers licenses. That mentioned, many foreigners can be intimidated by the Asian driving strategies, or, by the truth that Sri Lankans drive on the left hand facet of the highway. Essentially the most most well-liked method to do a Sri Lanka highway journey is by hiring a driver and/or information, which is what we did on this journey (aside from a brief time period scooter rental mentioned beneath).

Sri Lanka road trip guide map

Listed here are some suggestions to your Sri Lanka highway journey.

  • Driver/Tour Operator – We employed Lanka Excursions for a two week highway journey across the south central a part of Sri Lanka. Nuwan and his staff at Lanka Excursions are completely one of the best, I extremely advocate them. They’ve per-organized excursions, or they’ll customise one thing base in your group and pursuits.
  • Renting a Scooter or Tuk Tuk – There are lots of locations renting scooters or Tuk Tuk’s, and so they don’t care if in case you have an area driving allow, however the police will. After our two week tour of Sri Lanka, we visited another areas on our personal and rented a scooter, unaware of the required driving allow. We have been pulled over by the police and questioned by an officer who didn’t communicate superb English. Fortunately, we had the enterprise card of the scooter rental proprietor and the policeman allow us to go after talking with them.
  • Ideas for renting a scooter with out a Sri Lankan driving allow – If you’re in a extremely touristic space like Unawatuna, the police are extra lenient with foreigners who would not have an area driving allow. Simply be sure to have the scooter paperwork accessible (insurance coverage and registration), your driver’s license, and, the enterprise card of the rental store in case you get pulled over. From my expertise, they have an inclination to drag individuals over early within the morning and early within the night. If the police proceed to provide you bother for not having an area driving allow, have no less than 2000 Rupee to provide to the officer.
  • Price for renting a Scooter or Tuk Tuk – Should you want to lease a scooter by yourself, it’s about 1500-2500 Ruppes ($7-$12/day) plus gasoline. A Tuk Tuk will run you about $25/day plus gasoline.
  • Price to rent a Tuk Tuk Driver – Hiring a Tuk Tuk driver could be very inexpensive. A brief journey 5-10 minutes would possibly solely be 200-300 Ruppee ($1-$1.5). An extended journey, 20-Half-hour, would possibly run 800-1000 Ruppee ($4-$5).
  • Gas in Sri Lanka – Throughout my go to, and on the time of scripting this, Sri Lanka is in the midst of a gasoline disaster. The worth of gasoline was round 280 Ruppee per liter, and the traces to get gasoline, have been fairly lengthy, so maintain this in thoughts for those who lease a scooter or Tuk Tuk, in addition to when negotiating a charge for a driver.
  • Sri Lanka Highway Journey Period – This journey outlined, and illustrated above within the map, is about 625 miles in all (or 1000km), excluding facet excursions. That is about 23 hours value of driving, relying on time of day and site visitors.
Tuk Tuk in road on Sri Lanka road trip

Sri Lanka Highway Journey Day 1-3

You’ll possible fly into the capital metropolis of Colombo, so it’s value spending just a few days there earlier than exploring to remainder of the nation. Plus, chances are you’ll wish to relaxation a bit from the lengthy journey earlier than starting your highway journey.

The place to remain in Colombo

  • Galle Face – It is a great 4-star Colonial lodge positioned proper on the waters fringe of Colombo. It is a place wealthy in historical past with a really cool vibe. Rooms overlooking the water, a number of restaurant and bar choices, unimaginable views, swimming pool and nice service. I extremely advocate the Galle Face.
  • Kingsubury – This 5-Star lodge has 229 rooms which are expertly designed with luxurious in thoughts. They’ve a number of facilities and eating choices with heavenly Frette linen bedding. The usual rooms are a bit small, however properly appointed. The lodge has easy accessibility to purchasing, leisure and the enterprise district.

Issues to do in Colombo

Each of the motels listed above are completely located to discover Colombo on foot, or a brief Tuk Tuk experience. They’re positioned about Half-hour south of the airport. A cab or Uber experience will price about 2000-3000 Rupee ($10-$15). Each of the motels are shut to at least one one other in-between the Galle Face Inexperienced, the World Commerce Middle and the Dutch Hospital Precinct, in addition to the soon-to-be developed Port Metropolis undertaking. Port Metropolis is a formidable growth that can convey new motels, eating places and leisure alternatives. This new growth will actually put Colombo on the world stage and can entice extra individuals to spend time within the metropolis, quite than simply utilizing it as a leaping off level to discover the remainder of the nation.

Lotus Tower in Colombo Sri Lanka - Photo by Mike Shubic
  • One other nice method to see Colombo is by taking a double-decker tour bus with the oldsters from Colombo Metropolis Excursions. This sightseeing tour gives a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s new and outdated elements of town.
  • For a fowl’s eye view of town, don’t miss a visit up the Lotus Tower. At 356 meters, this tower is the tallest tower in South Asia, eleventh tallest in all of Asia and nineteenth tallest on the planet. It has grow to be probably the most iconic construction within the metropolis.
  • One other actually iconic constructing in Colombo is the Purple Mosque. Whereas we have been there Covid restrictions the place nonetheless in place and so we couldn’t enter, however even from exterior this can be a very spectacular construction.
  • Should you’re in Colombo on a Saturday, don’t miss going to Galle Face Inexperienced for the night festivities and night time safari. A lot of distributors, music and leisure.
  • Should you’re into retail remedy, the Galle Face Mall is correct throughout the road from the Galle Face Resort, it’s the biggest mall in Colombo and so they have an exquisite Foot Rub spa if that you must loosen up after all your strolling.

Sri Lanka Highway Journey from Colombo to Habarana for Safari and Sigiriya – Days 4-5

Distance: 125 miles or 200km – Drive Time: 4 hours

The subsequent couple of days take you from Colombo to Habarana. Habarana is the leaping off level for a few of Sri Lanka’s nationwide parks to go on Safari, the traditional metropolis of Auradhapura and the famed Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the most well-liked attraction within the nation.

Double rainbow while on safari in Sri Lanka - Photo by Mike Shubic

With restricted time, we solely visited one of many nationwide parks, Minneriya, which is finest recognized for its massive herds of Elephants. Minneriya Nationwide Park is located round a reservoir by the identical title and is positioned within the south central a part of the island. This park includes grasslands, thorny scrubs and plenty of species of bushes. In extra to the herds of elephants, deer, wild boar, water buffalo and jackals will also be discovered.

Elephants in the middle of the road during sri lanka road trip - photo by Mike Shubic

Sigirya, which is one among 8 UNESCO World Heritage websites in Sri Lanka is take into account the eighth marvel of the world. Situated in a rural a part of the nation, Sigiriya was constructed across the third century B.C. and was used as a monastery for 800 years. By the fifth century Sigiriua grew to become a royal palace.

This nationwide monument is actually damaged up into two elements, the huge royal gardens on the base, and the royal palace on the high of the monolithic rock. So as to attain the highest, it requires a semi arduous hike up some 1200 plus steps, which can take you 45 minutes to an hour to climb. It’s finest to do it early within the morning to keep away from the crowds and the warmth of the day. Sigiriya is totally spectacular and whereas it may well get busy with vacationers, it’s definitely value a go to. This was one of many high highlights on all the journey for me.

Advisable Lodging

  • Whereas in Habarana we stayed on the Cinnamon Lodge. The grounds, pool and meals are fairly good, however the lodging are are in determined want of renovation.
  • A better option can be Aliya Resort and Spa – whereas I didn’t keep right here, we did have lunch and a spa therapy and toured the grounds, this place appears to be like very nice!

Sri Lanka Highway Journey from Habarana to the traditional metropolis of Anuradhapura – Day 5-6

Distance: 40 miles or 65km – Drive Time: 1 hour

Anuradhapura is without doubt one of the historical capitals of Sri Lanka, well-known for its well-preserved ruins of an historical Sinhala civilization.

The ruins of Anuradhapura are one among South Asia’s most evocative websites. The sprawling complicated accommodates a wealthy assortment of archaeological and architectural wonders: monumental dagobas (brick stupas), historical swimming pools and crumbling temples, constructed throughout Anuradhapura’s thousand years of rule over Sri Lanka. Right now, a number of of the websites stay in use as holy locations and temples; frequent ceremonies give Anuradhapura a vibrancy that’s a pointy distinction to the museum-like atmosphere at Polonnaruwa.

Anurandhapura to MataleDistance: 70 miles or 113km – Drive Time: 2.5 hours

Knuckles Mountain Vary

Whereas on this space we additionally explored Pitawala Pthana (aka the Mini Worlds Finish) – that is an space stuffed with Grasslands that may solely be present in Sri Lanka. It is a gateway to the Knuckles Mountain Vary, which guests flock to for the superb hikes and views. This area is wealthy in biodiversity, with distinctive and endangered natural world. The breathtaking panoramic views with spectacular surroundings is absolutely one thing to behold. On the “mini worlds finish” is a large sheer cliff, the place those that courageous sit on the sting, photographing the expertise.

Sri Lanka road trip to Knuckles Mountain Range. Photo by Mike Shubic

The village of Manigala can also be positioned inside the Knuckles Mountain Vary, however is a couple of 30 minute drive down Illukumbura highway. Manigala is thought to be a hiker’s haven and can also be fashionable for glamping and photographing the unimaginable rice terraces.

Rice terraces in Sri Lanka - Photo by Mike Shubic

Our final cease of the day we visited the Sera Ella waterfall, which is located inside the Pitawala village. This waterfall requires a brief, however steep hike to succeed in. This waterfall flows year-round, however is heaviest throughout the monsoon season between November and March. The waterfall will get its title from the species of fish that lives in its waters, domestically often called ‘Sera’.

Sri lanka waterfalls

Advisable Lodging

  • We stayed in Matale on the Grand Mountain Resort. It is a pretty property with a number of facilities and nice meals.
  • We additionally visited Aliya Resort and Spa for a foot therapeutic massage after our hike, whereas we didn’t keep right here, it appears to be like like a tremendous property value testing if you wish to keep within the space.

Sri Lanka Highway Journey from Matale to Kandy – Days 7-8

Distance: 15 miles or 26km – Drive Time: 40 Minutes

Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest metropolis and is brimming with wealthy tradition, spectacular magnificence and old-world appeal. Lush forests, sprawling mountain ranges meandering round Kandy Lake, which is named the Sea of Milk. Distinguished colonial buildings and sumptuous Kandyan-inspired structure completes this Medieval Metropolis.

Sri Lanka road trip to Kandy

One of many main highlights in Kandy is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a temple that homes SriLanka’s most necessary Buddhist relic – a tooth of Buddha.

One other spotlight from Kanday was attending to see a cultural efficiency by a gaggle of Kandyan dancers. In response to legend, the origins of Kandyan dance lies in an exorcism ritual often called the Kohomba Kankariya, which was initially carried out by Indian shamans who got here to the island, from which the locals adopted the dance. It was initially carried out by dancers who have been recognized as a separate caste beneath the Kandyan Fudel system, they have been aligned to the Temple of the Tooth and had a major position to play within the Dalada Perahera (procession) held annually on the temple. Should you get an opportunity, I extremely recommenced seeing a efficiency.

Advisable Lodging

  • Perched excessive within the hills above Kandy is Amaya Hills Resort, offering spectacular views of town beneath. The grounds, meals and pool are fairly good, however the rooms may use some work, they have been a bit modest. It’s a couple of 20 minute drive up the hill to the resort from central Kandy.

Kandy to Nuwara Eliya – Days 9-10

Excessive above the coastal plains of Sri Lanka, mountain clouds relaxation upon a blanket of tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya. This area positioned at over 6000′ above sea-level, so evidently, it’s a lot cooler right here. As a matter of truth, it was used as an escape from the warmth by the British after they occupied the nation. There isn’t any different place in Sri Lanka that has this cool crisp local weather. That is additionally an important get-away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities—it’s a nostalgic and peaceable metropolis that has earned the nickname ‘Little England’ with remnants of British aristocracy. Uncommon vegetation, birds and animals thrive on this area. There may be additionally an exquisite leisure lake surrounded by a park, together with close by waterfalls and caves to go to.

There are a selection of tea plantations to discover, together with the world well-known “Ceylon Tea.” You’ll take pleasure in seeing the tea puckers laborious and work, then doing a manufacturing unit tour to see how the tea is processed. You are able to do a tea tasting, and for those who discover one thing you want, they’ve retailers to buy manufacturing unit direct.

Tea tasting in Sri Lanka - photo by Mike Shubic

Advisable Lodging

  • JetWing St. Andrew’s lodge – It is a stunning property with a number of nooks and crannies to discover. Whereas the lodge appears to be like good from a far, it’s removed from good and in want of a significant renovation. The hospitality nonetheless lives as much as town’s historic moniker and the general expertise of the lodge is kind of good.

Sri Lanka Highway Journey from Nuwara Eliya to Mirissa – Days 11-12

Distance: 145 miles or 235km – Drive Time: 6-7 hours

Mirissa is without doubt one of the hottest seaside locations in southern Sri Lanka, and for cause! The world has all of it, stunning seashores, nice waves for browsing, waters teeming with marine life, together with turtles, dolphins and blue whales, the biggest animal on the planet.

Mirissa is the perfect place for whale watching between November to April, because the waters grow to be a playground for myriad species. A few of the mostly noticed whales embody sperm whales, killer whales, Bryde whales and brief finned whales, whilst you’ll be capable to see faculties of bottle-nose dolphins and striped dolphins as they playfully frolic across the sightseeing boats.

Marissa can also be well-known the world over due to 1000’s of Instagramers who’ve photographed Coconut Hill. Swaying tropical palm bushes are perched on a hill that drops into the ocean whereas a rugged shoreline highlights to scene for some fairly superb photographs.

Coconut hill in Mirissa Sri Lanka - Photo by Mike Shubic

Sri Lanka Highway Journey from Mirissa to Unawatuna Days 13-14

Distance: 20 miles or 31km – Drive Time: 45 minutes

Unawatuna is one other fashionable seaside space in southern Sri Lanka, with its palm tree-lined seashores, turquoise blue waters and good collection of motels, guesthouses and eating places attracting guests from world wide. The placement is kind of very good with tons to do inside a stroll or brief tuk tuk experience. The historic Galle Fort for instance is just some miles away. Jungle Seaside and the Japanese Peace Pagoda are additionally fashionable sights.

Advisable Lodging

We stayed in two totally different locations whereas visiting Unawatuna.

  • Gloria Grand Resort was the primary, which is positioned within the hustle and bustle of Unawatuna. The great factor about staying right here is every part is only a brief stroll. The lodge is definitely fairly good and an important worth. The service is impeccable and morning breakfast is kind of good.
  • The second place we stayed was a boutique place known as Sundown Level Resort, which actually lives as much as its title. The place feels extra like a big visitor home, the lodging weren’t as good because the Gloria Grand, however the views are beautiful. The household who runs it are one of the best, very candy and accommodating. Sundown Level can also be positioned in a fairly space of Unawatuna, however the stroll to the seaside and different facilities is a bit farther, not out of attain, however be ready to stroll a bit extra.

Advisable Unawatuna Eating places

  • Koha Surf Lounge was our absolute favourite place.
  • Sea Waves
  • Daffodil
  • Wasantha Sri Lankan Delicacies Restaurant

Sri Lanka Highway Journey from Unawatuna to Bentota – Days 15-16

Distance: 45 miles or 31km – Drive Time: 1:15 hours

The seaside in entrance of the resorts in Bentota was my favourite in Sri Lanka. We stayed on the Taj Resort and the seaside instantly in entrance of the lodge is incredible. The sand is the smoothest I’ve ever walked on, it’s extra like powdered sugar than sand. Bentota Seaside is severely one of the crucial stunning seashores in Sri Lanka. With picturesque landscapes surrounding it, and coconut bushes swaying with the light breeze, it’s a picture-perfect place to spend your days when not exploring the city. You may loosen up beneath the solar or take pleasure in thrilling water sports activities reminiscent of crusing, windsurfing, parasailing, jet snowboarding and extra. Bentota Ganga is a river that flows into the ocean, simply previous the mouth proper on the town is a large open house for different water sports activities, reminiscent of water snowboarding, which I had a possibility to do. Snowboarding is my absolute favourite sport, so evidently I used to be fairly excited to have a go of it.

The Ganga River is the third largest river of Sri Lanka, which is teaming with wildlife. We spent half a day on a riverboat tour taking us via mangroves, the place crocodiles, water displays, monkeys and river birds thrive. It was a delightfully enjoyable cruise alongside the river with magnificence surroundings to take pleasure in.

Fisherman in wooden kayak in Bentota Sri Lanka - Photo by Mike Shubic

We did make one cease on our cruise, to an island the place they produce and course of cinnamon. Aspect observe: Sri Lanka is without doubt one of the world’s largest Cinnamon producing nations. We bought an illustration from this household on how cinnamon is harvested, which was actually fascinating. In the course of the demonstration we loved a style of cinnamon tea and later bought an opportunity to buy some cinnamon in numerous varieties, from sticks, to grease extract.

Bentota was actually an exquisite finish to this unimaginable Sri Lanka highway journey.

Advisable Lodging

Taj Bentota – That is such a phenomenal property and probably the greatest motels we stayed at whereas in Sri Lanka. The seaside can also be probably the greatest we visited within the nation. The meals is superb and the lodging are fairly comfy.

Return to Colombo Airport – Day 17

Distance: 68 miles or 109km – Drive Time: 1:45 hours

You would wish no less than two weeks for this Sri Lanka Highway Journey, however three can be even higher so that you don’t should rush from one location to the following. You probably have any questions on highway tripping Sri Lanka, please depart a remark beneath, completely happy to assist. Thanks a lot for stopping by. Till subsequent time, we’ll see ya on the highway…


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