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 is worth doing in Sri Lanka? What are the must see places? In this blog post, I’m going to share with you a detailed plan of my second travel week. It includes information what is worth doing 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 8 | AMBULUWAWA
Ambuluwawa is the first multi-religious sanctuary in Sri Lanka. This biodiversity complex consists of Buddhist stupa, Muslim mosque and Christian Church. The truth is that I didn’t come to Ambuluwawa to see any of these. I wanted to climb a peculiar tower located in this area, which in my honest opinion is extremely risky. The higher you are, the most dangerous it is! The spiral balcony is getting more and more narrow with every spin and it’s almost impossible to pass each other at the top of the tower. What’s more, the railing is not high enough to protect from falling out. It’s definitely worth doing in Sri Lanka but recommended only for people who are not scared of heights. An adrenaline rush is guaranteed.
HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET TO AMBULUWAWA?
The ticket to Ambuluwawa costs 300 LKR.
HOW TO GET TO AMBULUWAWA FROM KANDY?
By bus with a change in Gampola. The ticket fare is 44 LKR from Kandy to Gampola and 32 LKR from Gampola to Ambuluwawa. Upon arrival, you will have to climb up the hill where Ambuluwawa complex is located. This shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes.
DAY 9 | TRAIN RIDE KANDY – HATTON | ST. CLAIR’S FALLS | DEVON FALLS
TRAIN RIDE KANDY – HATTON
Train ride from Kandy to Ella is considered one of the most scenic train rides in the world. The train stops at the following stations: Kandy, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya, Haputale, Ella and goes farther to Badulla. The total travel time is around 8 – 10 hours. As there are many things worth doing in central Sri Lanka, I didn’t go to Ella straight away. After a 3 hour ride I got off in Hatton to be headed to Adam’s Peak the following day. The ticket fare for this ride (Kandy – Hatton) is 150 LKR (2nd class without a reserved seat).
I remember myself being curious, is this famous train ride that remarkable? I won’t disappoint you by saying yes! It’s absolutely fantastic! Before I started my journey, I did some research, and surprisingly, I came across some conflicting information about this train ride on the Internet. How to buy train tickets? Which class should you choose? Express train or normal train? Should you take a seat on the left side or right side of the train? I’m answering these questions in a separate post on Kandy to Ella train in Sri Lanka.
ST. CLAIR’S FALLS | DEVON FALLS
There are two beautiful waterfalls in Hatton: St. Clair’s Falls and Devon Falls. Both of them can be viewed from the main road from quite a distance. There is a possibility to get a bit closer to the waterfalls but it is not that easy. You should follow the directions given by google maps to get closer to St. Clair’s Falls. The path goes between some Sri Lankan houses and you will feel like you are entering someone’s backyard. The path to Devon Falls starts by a small, gold temple. Go through it and then walk down the road to the viewpoint where you will see the entire waterfall. Isn’t this view stunning? I think it is!
HOW TO GET TO ST. CLAIR’S FALLS AND DEVON FALLS FROM HATTON?
By tuk tuk. A guide price for a tuk tuk ride (Hatton – St. Clair’s Falls – Devon Falls – Hatton) is 2000 LKR.
St. Clair’s Falls and Devon Falls
DAY 10 | ADAM’S PEAK
Adam’s Peak is a 2,243 m tall mountain and place of religious importance for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Thousands of pilgrims walk up this mountain every year. It’s also a very popular place to watch a sunrise. Frankly speaking, it’s quite a walk! Starting from the level of 1145 m, you will have to go up around 5 thousands steps to reach the peak. The trail is illuminated with electric light that makes the night-time hiking possible. There are also plenty of stalls with street food and drinks all way up. However, the best practice is to supply yourself with snacks and water beforehand as prices are quite high here.
The total hiking time is around 3 hours dependently on your fitness. But sometimes 3 hours may not be enough to climb up Adam’s Peak. Especially, when you hike at first full-moon night of January exactly as I did. It’s a public holiday called Full Moon Poya, a religious celebration of Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka. As a consequence, crowds of people walk up Adam’s Peak during this particular night and it takes more than 3 hours to get to the top of the mountain. I was a bit lucky, did it on time and witnessed a beautiful sunrise. It was quite a challenge though. People were queuing long hours to get to the top of the mountain.
A quick summary of my hiking experience to Adam’s Peak. If you aim to watch the sunrise from Adam’s Peak, you have to set off from Hatton around 1:00 am. Ideally by tuk tuk. I started my walk exactly at 2:00 am. The sun started coming up around 5:45 am and I reached the top of the mountain a few minutes after 6:00 am. In general, 2,5 – 3,5 hours is an average hiking time but it depends on your fitness too. A return time is around 2,5 hours. Not sure if this is worth doing in Sri Lanka? Don’t hesitate for too long. Just have a look at the below photo. The sunrise was truly spectacular and magical. Definitely worth doing!
HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET TO ADAM’S PEAK?
There is no entrance fee.
HOW TO GET TO ADAM’S PEAK FROM HATTON?
By tuk tuk. A guide price for a tuk tuk ride (Hatton – Adam’s Peak – Hatton) is 4000 LKR.
DAY 11 | TRAIN RIDE HATTON – HAPUTALE | DIYALUMA FALLS
TRAIN RIDE HATTON – HAPUTALE
On that day I continued the famous Sri Lankan train ride and got from Hatton to Haputale. The travel time is around 3 hours. The ticket fare for Hatton – Haputale ride is 140 LKR (3rd class without a reserved seat). I couldn’t wait to visit another amazing places, which are Diyaluma Falls, Horton Plains and Lipton’s Seat.
Diyaluma Falls is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and a stunning bit of nature. Despite the fact that this country is full of waterfalls (there are over 400), this one is pretty special. Why? Because there are several infinity pools and you can literally jump into them, swim and enjoy spectacular views at the same time. Unfortunately, the walking track to Diyaluma Falls is unmarked. Local people will help you get there for little money. I was lucky because I made my way without their help, just because I met other tourists who gave me some useful tips. Diyaluma Falls is definitely worth doing in Sri Lanka!
HOW TO GET TO DIYALUMA FALLS FROM HAPUTALE?
By tuk tuk. A guide price for a tuk tuk ride (Haputale – Diyaluma Falls – Haputale ) is 4000 LKR.
DAY 12 | HORTON PLAINS
Next day I reached the World’s End! Horton Plains National Park stuns with a spectacular view at an escarpment that plunges 880 metres. But you need to be a bit lucky to enjoy this view. It’s recommended to get there before 9:00 am. Otherwise, the view may be obscured by mist. So it’s another early wake-up call. You should set off from Haputale at 5:00 am to make it happen. You may also be interested in climbing the second highest mountain in Sri Lanka, Kirigalpoththa Mountain Peak (2 388 metres). The hiking trail starts exactly in Horton Plains. What a shame that I didn’t have enough time to do this!
The Horton Plains hike is a loop. Make sure to turn left at the first trail intersection. As a result, you will first get to the Mini World’s End (less spectacular escarpment) and after next 20 minutes, you will reach the actual World’s End. It’s important to start walking exactly in this direction, not the other way around. Thanks to that you will get to the World’s End earlier and it’s more likely that you will avoid mist. Once you have enjoyed the view, keep going in the same direction and don’t forget to stop by Bakers Falls. It shouldn’t take you more than 3 hours to do the entire loop. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth doing in Sri Lanka!
HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET TO HORTON PLAINS?
The entrance fee to Hortons Plains is 7550 LKR for a tuk tuk (two people and the tuk tuk driver).
HOW TO GET TO HORTON PLAINS FROM HAPUTALE?
By tuk tuk. A guide price for a tuk tuk ride (Haputale – Horoton Plains – Haputale) is 3500 LKR.
DAY 13 | LIPTON’S SEAT | TRAIN RIDE HAPUTALE – ELLA | LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s top tea producers. More than 4% of the country’s land area are covered with tea plantations where over 300,000 tea pickers work every day. Having said that, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the most famous tea plantations, Lipton’s Seat. You shouldn’t miss this opportunity either! The lookout at the top of the hill offers a spectacular view. Tricky part is that you have to arrive there quite early, ideally before 9:00 am. If you come later than this, you may see nothing else than mist. The way to the top of the hill is quite long and steep so renting a tuk tuk is a good idea.
HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET TO LIPTON’S SEAT?
The ticket to Lipton’s Seat costs 250 LKR.
HOW TO GET TO LIPTON’S SEAT FROM HAPUTALE?
By tuk tuk. A guide price for a tuk tuk ride (Haputale – Lipton’s Seat – Haputale) is 1500 LKR.
TRAIN RIDE HAPUTALE – ELLA
Later that day I continued the famous Sri Lankan train ride and got from Haputale to Ella. The travel time is around 3 hours. The ticket fare for Haputale – Ella ride is 150 LKR (2nd class without a reserved seat).
LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK
Ella is a very touristic place. I felt here like in a small European town and due to this I didn’t particularly like this place. Not a common opinion. I know. But you can quickly escape from Ella city centre by taking an enjoyable walk to Little Adam’s Peak. It takes around an hour to climb this mountain. The walking track is easy and well-marked so you shouldn’t be stressed about finding your way to Little Adam’s Peak.
DAY 14 | ELLA ROCK | RAVANA FALLS
Ella Rock is a 1041 m tall mountain. The hiking track begins in the centre of Ella and it’s not difficult. However, it’s slightly more challenging than the one going to Little Adam’s Peak. What’s more, the walking track is not marked at all. So the hardest part is to find your way up to the mountain. The place itself is quite commercialized. You will notice some stalls with street food and drinks along the trail and on the top of the mountain too. When it comes to hiking, I’m sure you will come across some local people who will guide you to Ella Rock for little money. You can also hope for the best and ask other tourists for some directions or follow my instructions below. It shouldn’t take you more than 4 hours to climb Ella Rock and go back.
The hiking track starts at the train station in Ella and goes along the railway. After 30 minutes, you should notice a small chapel on the left side of the railway. Turn left after this chapel and go down the road. Then cross the bridge and turn right this time (not left – it’s very important to turn right here as the path itself leads you to the left). You will get to the small tea plantation. Simply go through it. Then you will have to walk through some bushes for a little while. After that, you will reach the point where you can turn both, left and right. Turn left and go up the hill. From this point the hiking track is quite obvious. In case of any difficulties, you can also have a look at the above map. It should be helpful too!
Ravana Falls is a popular spot in Ella. It’s not allowed to swim in this waterfall, but you can get quite close to it. The truth is that you have to see at least one waterfall in Sri Lanka. Frankly speaking, I was not impressed by Ravana Falls because I have seen more beautiful waterfalls before. However, if you are in Ella and you haven’t seen any yet, go for it! It would be a shame not to see any waterfall in Sri Lanka!
HOW TO GET TO RAVANA FALLS FROM ELLA?
By bus. The ticket fare is 45 LKR.
What is worth doing in Sri Lanka in your opinion? Is there anything you would add to my list? Let me know by leaving a comment below!