Pristine nature, wildlife biodiversity and cultural heritage. This is Sri Lanka in a nutshell. Also known as Ceylon and well-recognized for lush tea plantations. What are the must see places in Sri Lanka? What are the top things to do? In this blog post, I’m going to share with you a detailed plan of my third travel week. It includes information what are the must see places in Sri Lanka, tips how to get around, cost breakdown and my personal insights and recommendations. Prices given in this post are up-to-date for January 2020.
Do you think that 3 weeks in Sri Lanka is too long? It’s definitely not! Be sure to check my 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary with real travel cost and travel map. If you are a keen hiker and pristine nature lover, you will fall in love with Sri Lanka immediately. This island country has so much to offer! Do you know how much does a decent room in Sri Lanka cost? Is there cold at night? What should you get vaccinated for? How much is a tuk tuk ride? Learn more about what you need to know before going to Sri Lanka.
DAY 15 | UVA HALPEWATTE TEA FACTORY | NINE ARCH BRIDGE
UVA HALPEWATTE TEA FACTORY
Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth-largest producer of tea. So why don’t you take this opportunity to learn more about tea production? There are many tea factories in Sri Lanka that organize guided tours for tourists. I decided to visit Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory, mainly due to its location and good reviews on the Internet. Within an hour I learned some basics about tea production, saw the manufacturing process and tried different types of tea. It’s crucial to plan your visit in the morning, when the tea factory is functioning to observe the people’s work. The guide in Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory had a good command of English and was more than happy to answer my questions. This is definitely a huge assent of this place.
HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET TO UVA HALPEWATTE TEA FACTORY?
The ticket to Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory costs 540 LKR.
HOW TO GET TO UVA HALPEWATTE TEA FACTORY FROM ELLA?
By tuk tuk. A guide price for a tuk tuk ride (Ella – Uva Halpawele Tea Factory – Ella) is 1200 LKR.
NINE ARCH BRIDGE
Nine Arch Bridge is definitely a must see place in Sri Lanka. It’s one of the examples of British-era railway construction in this country. The bridge in just stunning. You literally can’t miss it. The walking track to Nine Arch Bridge starts from Ella and it is well-marked. It shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to get there. Surprisingly, it’s allowed to walk on the bridge but keep in mind that the train can approach anytime. Check the train schedule before getting on it and get off before the train comes. You should hear it though.
DAY 16 | SAFARI IN YALA NATIONAL PARK
Yala National Park is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The place is best known for a very high density of leopards living in this area and variety of birds you can observe here. Currently, there are some daily limits of jeeps allowed to enter Yala National Park. Unfortunately, you cannot make any booking so you have to get up very early again. It’s advisable to be at the national park entrance at 5:00 am and trust me, within a couple of minutes you will see the queue of jeeps waiting to get in…
I’m more than sure that you did some research on the Internet and came across negative reviews published by visitors of Yala National Park. My recommendation is to always check the reviews of tour operator that you consider making the booking with. Each company offers a wide range of tours that may last a couple of hours or the entire day. I decided to choose the shortest trip which includes a 3-hour jeep ride in Yala National Park. Is this safari worth doing? Honestly speaking, I’m ambivalent on this…
My driver turned out to be very experienced in tracking animals. Therefore, I was fortunate to spot a lot of them, including leopards, elephants, buffalos, crocodiles, monitor lizards, bats, peacocks, parrots and several birds. What I particularly liked about this experience is this feeling of tracking animals, looking out for them and the jeep ride itself that makes your heart beats faster and gives you the adrenaline rush too. However, there were also some unpleasant situations and I would like to mention them as well.
The truth is that the jeep drivers compete with each other to satisfy customers and get as close as possible to an animal. It means that some of them speed and overtake close to the animals. It is an absolutely awful and inhumane behaviour. Moreover, even if you are lucky enough to spot a leopard, the driver will probably call the other drivers to tell them where the leopard is. So your one on one with the leopard will last up to several minutes and you will end up being surrounded by other jeeps shortly.
HOW MUCH IS SAFARI IN YALA NATIONAL PARK?
A private safari tour costs 11 800 LKR for two people (3-hour jeep ride in Yala National Park). It includes pick up and drop off from your guest house, entrance fee to the national park, fruits and water.
HOW TO GET TO TISSAMAHARAMA FROM ELLA?
By bus that goes to Kataragama. The ticket fare is 146 LKR.
DAY 17 | TANGALLE BEACH | GOYAMBOKKA BEACH | TURTLE WATCH REKAWA
TANGALLE BEACH | GOYAMBOKKA BEACH
After two weeks of intensive travelling time, I finally made it to the south cost! The first day on the beach felt like heaven. Tangalle is definitely my kind of place. A coastal town where beaches are almost empty with a few small beach bars. Not many people and almost no infrastructure. A very calm and chilled place. There are heaps of amazing beaches in the south part of Sri Lanka. Just have a look at the pictures below and make sure to visit Tangalle Beach and Goyambokka Beach when you happen to be around.
HOW TO GET TO TANGALLE FROM TISSAMAHARAMA?
By bus. The ticket fare is 60 LKR.
TURTLE WATCH REKAWA
Turtle Watch Rekawa is a place that gathers people who aim to protect the turtles’ nesting sites and ensure that the turtles’ eggs hatch safely. It’s a unique opportunity to observe marine turtles in their natural habitat. The turtles lay eggs almost every night on the beach in Rekawa. During the high season (April – July), it’s a sure thing that you’ll see the turtles venture to land. During the low season (October – January), it cannot be guaranteed. As I visited Sri Lanka in January, it was not a given, but luckily it all went to plan.
It’s recommended to arrive in Turtle Watch Rekawa no later than at 8:00 pm. Then you will have to wait patiently for a guide who takes you to the beach. Observation of turtles may take 3 – 4 hours because the viewing in arranged in small groups. It’s crucial to remain quiet and follow the instructions given by the guide. It’s also prohibited to use phones and cameras during this experience. This type of light is harmful for turtles. Please keep that in mind. The animals welfare should not be affected by our presence.
HOW MUCH IS TURTLE WATCH REKAWA?
The ticket to Turtle Watch Rekawa costs 1000 LKR.
HOW TO GET TO REKAWA FROM TANGALLE?
By tuk tuk. A guide price for a tuk tuk ride (Tangalle – Rekawa) is 600 LKR during the day and 1000 LKR at night.
DAY 18 | MIRISSA BEACH | SECRET BEACH | POLHENA BEACH
Time flies when you are having fun on holidays, right? After two days in Tangalle, I was ready to change my location and explore a new place. Mirissa is another fabulous destination to enjoy the Sri Lankan seaside. Not a surprise that you can find here beautiful beaches, such as Mirissa Beach, Secret Beach and Polhena Beach. These are slightly more touristic than beaches in Tangalle, but still quite decent to relax. I am sure that you will find a perfect spot in Mirissa to enjoy your last days in Sri Lanka to the fullest.
HOW TO GET TO MIRISSA FROM TANGALLE?
By bus with a change in Matara. The ticket fare is 60 LKR from Tanagelle to Matara and 40 LKR from Matara to Mirissa.
DAY 19 | WHALES WATCHING | COCONUT TREE HILL
Whales watching is one of the most exciting water activities you can do in Sri Lanka. Blue whales, the world’s biggest mammals, can be spotted in the ocean near Mirissa from November to April. Sure thing that there are a lot of operators offering the whales watching tour. I booked it with Harbour View guest house, a place I stayed overnight in Mirissa. It turned out it was a good choice. The whale watching was truly amazing. Give it a go! I’m sure you won’t regret watching whales in Sri Lanka.
This cruise may take a few hours or the entire day. It depends on how close to the land the whales are. I spent 3 hours on the boat because the ship crew tracked the whales quickly. A huge asset of this tour was that the boat kept a reasonable distance from the whales. We were close enough to watch the whales and take some pictures but not too close. Hence, animals’ well-being was protected. I also appreciated the fact that we got back to Mirissa when we all agreed that we have had enough of whales watching.
HOW MUCH IS WHALES WATCHING?
Whales Watching costs 7000 LKR. The price includes lunch, fruits and water.
COCONUT TREE HILL
What is the most famous spot in Mirissa? The Coconut Tree Hill with no doubts. This spot has become quite popular over the past few years, especially on Instagram. Due to that, it’s not unlikely to see here lots of people queuing to take some photos with these tall palm trees. Let’s face the truth. This is just a hill with palm trees. But these palm trees are absolutely beautiful. Even though, Coconut Tree Hill gets crowded sometimes it’s definitely a must see place in Sri Lanka and an amazing place to watch the sunset.
DAY 20 | UNAWATUNA BEACH| DALAWELLA BEACH | MIHIRIPENNA BEACH | JUNGLE BEACH
You will fall in love with Unawatuna if you are looking for a seaside destination with plenty of bars, restaurants and beach parties. Make sure to visit Unawatuna Beach, Dalawella Beach, Mihiripena Beach and Jungle Beach. What I loved the most here is that there are some amazing swings around Unawatuna. For a small fee, you can enjoy a swing on one of the beautiful beaches. That a treat! I was truly in love with one particular place called Dream Cabana. It’s a beach bar where you can do the palm tree rope swing. It’s out of this world! Definitely a must see place in Sri Lanka if you are not scared of heights.
HOW MUCH IS PALM TREE ROPE SWING?
Palm tree rope swing costs 500 LKR (for three swings).
HOW TO GET TO MIRISSA FROM UNAWATUNA?
By bus. The ticket fare is 100 LKR.
DAY 21 | GALLE
Galle fort is located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, only 6 kilometres from Unawatuna. It has been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage as the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South Asia. The city was extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. It’s a must see place in Sri Lanka due to its unique architecture. In addition to this, you can find here very interesting souvenirs. Tuk tuk is not needed to get around. In this particular case, it’s better to explore the area on foot. There is nothing better than a pleasurable walk between these beautiful buildings. So let’s go, shall we?
HOW TO GET TO UNAWATUNA FROM GALLE?
By bus. The ticket fare is 40 LKR.
DAY 22 | COLOMBO | ARRIVAL IN NEGOMBO
There is only one thing that I planned to do in Sri Lanka but I haven’t done it. A visit in Colombo. The plan for my last day in Sri Lanka was to set out early in the morning from Unawatuna, get to Nebomgo, leave my luggage there, get back to Colombo and explore the city. Surprisingly, it took me half a day to travel from Unawatuna to Negombo on the bus and I didn’t have enough time to get back to Colombo to see the city. My flight back was in the early morning on the following day so this is why I decided to stay the last night in Negombo. If you are going to stay the last night in Colombo, I’m sure you will find time to see this city.
HOW TO GET FROM UNAWATUNA TO NEGOMBO?
By bus with a change in Colombo. The ticket fare is 142 LKR from Unawatuna to Colombo and 150 LKR from Colombo to Negombo (bus with air-conditioning).
What are the must see places in Sri Lanka in your opinion? Is there anything you would add to my list? Let me know by leaving a comment below!