My friend and I recently visited Sri Lanka. We went in October, which is a good time to visit Sri Lanka if you’re the kind of person who wants to avoid huge crowds. The tourist season in most parts of Sri Lanka is from November to February when it’s a little cooler. We only had 5 days in Sri Lanka, so we could just visit a few places – Colombo, Kandy, Hikkaduwa and Galle.
We took a late night flight that reached Colombo at around 2:30 am. We had to wait at the airport for a while to get a bus. At around 5 or so we took bus no. 187 from the Airport to Colombo Fort station. It was a mini bus and took about an hour. From Colombo Fort we had planned to take the train to Hikkaduwa, but the timing didn’t work out and so we took another bus. The ride was about two and a half hours long.
The bus ride was interesting. They played some music videos in the bus that my friend and I found really funny. All videos were kind of similar and the theme was always about a guy who likes a girl, but then the girl likes someone else or the girl likes a guy, but the guy likes someone else. We reached Hikkaduwa and took an auto to our hotel – YKD Guest House. This hotel is close to the bus stop. Initially we planned to stay there for just one night, but later decided to stay there for another night too because we liked the hotel a lot.
Hikkaduwa is a really cool beach town. The atmosphere there is chilled and it feels very much like a touristy place. There are a lot of restaurants along the beach to hang out. You could also go snorkelling, but it isn’t that impressive. One of my friends who visited Hikkaduwa at the end of November said that they were able to surf there, but when we were there we did not see anyone surfing.
Galle is about 20 Kms from Hikkaduwa. We initially planned to stay one day in Hikkaduwa and another day in Galle. But later we decided to just do a day trip to Galle and stay in Hikkaduwa because we thought YKD guest house was very nice and located in a convenient place. We hired a scooter from a shop at Hikkaduwa. If I remember right, it was about 500 LKR to rent the scooter for 12 hours. The ride was scenic, the road runs parallel to the beach so you get a great view of the sea during the ride. We got stopped by policemen, both while going to and coming from Galle. They informed us that our Indian licenses were not valid in Sri Lanka. I was a little nervous, but they let us go after a little bit of discussion between themselves.
At Galle there are two sight seeing places. One is the Galle Fort. This fort was built first by the Portuguese and then fortified by the Dutch. There are some interesting places inside the fort. The way the streets and the buildings are lined up gives a good idea of a medieval fort-city architecture. I really liked the light house inside the Fort. It reminded me of how ships might have used that during the colonial era.
The place that we were most impressed by in Galle was the Japanese Peace Pagoda. It is a small Buddha statue on top of a hill. The bike ride up to the Pagoda is fun. The view from the top is awesome. And also the place itself is very serene and tranquil.
The next place we stayed at was Colombo. We took a train from Hikkaduwa to Colombo. At Colombo we stayed at Clock Inn Colombo. We stayed in dorms here. This hotel also was good. They had a common area that was really nice to just hang out and meet other travellers. Colombo was mostly just like any city in Tamil Nadu.
I was impressed by the roads in Sri Lanka, we never came across any pot holes and it was clean everywhere. I was quite surprised. For some reason I never thought Sri Lanka would be this clean. Everyone looks Indian, so I expected it to be littered with trash everywhere like India (Haha). Most people followed the traffic rules properly, all the traffic lights worked and the road markings were perfect. The Sri Lankans were very friendly and helpful.
Our next stop was Kandy. We took a train from Colombo to Kandy. I actually thought Kandy was on a big mountain and asked my friend to bring a sweater and stuff. But only on our way there I realised that it was only about 500 meters above the sea. The train to Kandy was scenic. The views from the train at some places were impressive. At Kandy we stayed at Kandy Hostel by Backpack Lanka. We liked this place also. All three places we stayed in Sri Lanka were good. I guess if you check Trip Advisor or Booking.com and check the reviews before you pick a place to stay, you should be able to get good places to stay.
Kandy has a slightly cooler climate than Colombo and it’s also a nice place to chill. Some of my friends who went to Kandy last year had gone on some trekking trips and stuff. We didn’t do any such things. We were just chilling. There is a lake at the centre of Kandy around which you could go for an evening or morning walk . There is also another Buddha statue that is on top of a small hill. Other than this there is a shopping mall at Kandy and some street shops where you could buy stuff from. On our way back to Colombo we took a bus because we couldn’t get train tickets. The bus broke down half way and we had to get another bus. We couldn’t get seats in this second bus, so we had to sit on the aisle. There was a guy from the first bus who helped us get this bus and was helpful. Even the conductor and driver in this bus were really nice. When we reached Colombo they apologised to us that we couldn’t get seats in the bus.
We took an early morning flight out of Colombo. We enjoyed our trip to Sri Lanka. It was a good experience to see a country that is kind of similar to India but in many ways different too.
Check out this Video I made of our trip.