If you have nine days to spare and are wondering what to do in Srilanka than this ultimate Srilanka Travel Guide is for you.
Sri Lanka, known worldwide for its beaches, temples, plantations, national parks, and great culture and civilization, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India. It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature’s beauty remains lavish and pristine.
If you are planning to spend two or three weeks in the country, I would suggest you begin your Srilanka itinerary with Colombo. You are going to need a lot of energy. Colombo is the heart and soul of Sri Lanka. It’s an amalgamation of modern, traditional, and contemporary design. Colombo displays the best and worst the country has to offer. The city is a contrast itself, with mansions, lush gardens, fine dining options, shopping malls packed with expensive designer brands standing next to urban slums; diesel fumed congested roads, and street markets.
Below I have outlined the itinerary, I personally followed as I explored Srilanka in November 2019. And I would highly recommend you do the same.
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Day 1 – (Delhi / Colombo)
My journey started on the 31st of October when I left for Indira Gandhi International Airport from Karnal, Haryana. At 9 pm I checked in my bags and proceeded towards immigration. The flight without any delay departed at 12.35 am (Srilankan Airlines – UL 198) and arrived in Colombo at 4.00 am. The immigration process at Bandaranaike International Airport was smooth and I got my free visa on arrival in about 5 minutes. Soon after, I left for The Kingsbury Hotel, which was about 30 minutes away from the airport. I reached my hotel at 8.00 am after a comfortable drive. The check-in process took about 10 minutes, after which I had breakfast at the hotel. Following breakfast, I went to the room to get some rest and at 12 pm we leave for Raja Bojun Palace Restaurant, 3km away from our hotel, for a wholesome Sri Lanka Lunch.
Post Lunch, we start the sightseeing on the famous ‘Tuk Tuk’
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We first visit the Buddhist Temple, then the Pettah Bazaar which is a famous market for all types of accessories and gems. It is a colorful and interesting Bazaar with a variety of things on sale. Inside the Pettah Bazaar is situated The Red Mosque (One Of The Best Attractions In Colombo) which has a red and white candy-like appearance that draws its inspiration from the Indo-Islamic architecture.
The first-day sightseeing ended with this because we had less time on hand and had to reach the hotel by 5 pm. We had to meet the Sri Lankan tourism officials at 6 pm and then attended the welcoming cocktail party hosted by them. We all had a great time at the party followed by dinner and called it a day by heading back to our rooms by 10 pm.
Day 2 – (Colombo / Habarana – 181km)
The following day started rather early with breakfast at the hotel by 7 am and checked out at 7.30 because we had to cover a distance of 120km to reach Riddhi Viharaya, a Buddhist temple in Ridigam Village of Sri Lanka. It is well known for its paintings and murals. The grounds of the temple are the place from which once Silver Ore was extracted for the first time. One can also witness paintings made in ivory inside the caves of the temple.
After the enchanting and peaceful tour of the temple, we had lunch at 2.30 pm and the left for Kaudalla National Park for the jeep safari (One Of The Best Things To Do In Habarana). The national park is an absolutely incredible wildlife spectacle. The Jeep Safari is a must-do. It takes us through Serene Trails and we are able to see a variety of wild animals and their associations with nature as well as witness their behavior towards their own kind as well as their behavior towards the other animals in the park. The park is known to be a home for several species of Elephants as well as water buffalos.
At 6.30 pm it was time to leave the national park and go to our new hotel, Jetwing Lake which was 56 km away for Kaudalla.
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We checked in at 7.45 pm and took some rest. We had an early dinner and went back to the room to call it a night and prepare for the following day.
Day 3 – (Habarana / Kandy – 95km)
The third day started early at 6 am, followed by breakfast at 7 and checked out at 7.30 am. Then we headed towards the Sigiriya Rock Fort (One Of The Best Things To Do In Srilanka) and reached there by 8.30 am. This is a UNESCO world heritage site that comprises a massive rock structure about 200m tall with more than 1200 steps making the climb very strenuous but worth every effort. It took us 2 hours to reach the top to witness the rock structure of the lion. Getting down was comparatively easier and reached the bottom at 12.30 pm.
We had lunch at the Tropical Village and then left for the Highland Spice Garden. It was 2.45 pm then.
The next leg of our trip was visiting the famous hill station of Sri Lanka located around 44kms from the highland, known as Kandy (One Of The Best Places To Visit In Srilanka). We reached Kandy at 5.00 pm and were eager to watch the Kandy Cultural show at 5.30 pm. It is the best portrait of Sri Lankan culture and history. Our eyes were transfixed on their costumes, makeovers, strong expressions, and stage presence. They give out a meaningful social message by way of skits and dances. The show was extremely special and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Soon after the show, we checked into our new hotel, Amaya Hills, and had an early dinner by 8.
Day 4 – (Kandy / Nuwara Eliya – 76km)
This day is very different and interesting on the trip. Everyone was up by 6.45 am, enjoyed breakfast by 8 and checked out by 9. We paid our first visit of the day to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple is of utmost importance to the Buddhist followers because it contains Lord Buddha’s tooth relic in a casket. The temple is a complex of many smaller shrines and domes making the temple very touristy and giving it a beautiful appearance.
After exploring the temple, we went for lunch and soon were on our way to a very beautiful valley and hill station called Nuwara Eliya (One Of The Best Places To Visit In Srilanka). We reached this splendid place at 3.00 pm and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere of it. We felt wrapped in mist and clouds and this feeling left us overwhelmed. Nuwara Eliya is primarily surrounded by tea plantations and also is home to a variety of tea species due to its weather conditions and terrain.
We were lucky to get a tour of the Damro Tea factory and witness the entire manufacturing process step by step. We saw the making of the world-famous Ceylon Tea and tasted a pure unblended cup of it.
Then we headed towards the market place and explored a variety of different products. The market was beaming with a lot of flavors and flavorsome products to eat.
After spending an hour at the market, we reached the Araliya Green Hills hotel and checked in there. We ended our day with dinner at 8 pm.
Day 5 – (Nuwara Eliya / Bandarawela – 44km)
The fifth day held a fun train ride (One Of The Best Things To Do In Srilanka), one I wouldn’t forget for the rest of my life. After breakfast at 7.30, we reached the Nanu Oya railway station. Our train was as per the schedule and departed at 9 am. You’ll find one of the most scenic train journeys in Sri Lanka from Nano Oya to Haputale. It’s a beautiful ride through lush green plantations, valleys, waterfalls, rice fields, and endless mountain views. Of all the scenery, the serene route through the valleys, mountains, and plantations, the changing in the intensity of the green color has captivated my heart. It is one journey I will never forget and holds a special place in my heart.
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We reached Haputale at 11.15 am and explored the tea gardens. We reached the Lipton Seat at 1.40 pm in tuk-tuks from where we could see the panoramic view of the plantations and the valley. There are also a few points from here which are reachable by foot or by use of tuk-tuks.
We also did a picnic near the Lipton seat where we enjoyed our packed lunches amidst the beautiful scenery.
After exploring Lipton Seat, We reached Bandarawela at 4:30 pm (15 km from Lipton Seat), checked into our new hotel Bandarawela Hotel at 4:50 pm, Then we headed to explore the Bandarawala Markets at 5:15 pm, We were back at the hotel by 6.30 pm, We had an early dinner at 7.30 pm that night.
Day 6 – (Bandarawela)
This day really made me feel good about myself as we gave back to the environment. It started with waking up at 7.00 am, followed by breakfast at 7.45 am. By 8.15 we left the hotel and reached the Bandarawela area for Tree Plantation Program at 9.15 am.
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This area rests among dense and lush green plantations and forestations and makes it an eco-tourism spot. We planted trees with Sri Lanka Tourism and Government Officials. There was so much excitement and positivity in the environment and it was a different and good feeling to be present among nature and help make this world a better and cleaner place to live and breathe in.
After this, we had lunch at 2.45 pm. Then we headed to explore the Bandarawala Markets. The markets were hustling with fresh green vegetables and fruits, each having a unique and vibrant color that caught our eyes. The stock was fresh and right out of the fields.
We were back at the hotel by 5.30 pm. We attended the cocktail party at 7.00 pm followed by dinner at 8.30 pm and called it a night.
Day 7 – (Bandarawela / Galle – 220km)
After having woken up at 6.30 and having had breakfast at 7.15 am, we checked out at 8.00 am.
First, we visited Samarakkody Holdings Pvt. Ltd. to witness the Manufacturing process of Cinnamon. It was 130 km away from Bandarawela Hotel. We reached there at 12.30 and took a tour of the place and saw the interesting manufacturing Process of cinnamon, which was done with utmost precision and care, minimizing any kind of wastage.
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After exploring the Cinnamon factory, they treated us with some lip-smacking delicious local Srilankan Food.
We reached Galle to see the Galle Fort and the Lighthouse. The Galle Fort on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka is built by the Portuguese and then fortified by the Dutch. A defense fort, made up of granite stones and coral, is a UNESCO world heritage site. Initially, the fort was a busy port for trading. It also became the place where the Portuguese landed, and later fell into the hands of the Dutch after a combined attack on it. One can see the British and Dutch inscriptions on the walls even today.
The Galle Area is also famous for its boutiques and shops which is sure to keep you occupied for long enough. We spent roughly one hour here, from 5.30 to 6.30. The shops have a variety of things like table cloths, jewelry, traditional sarees, etc.
We checked into the Fairway Sunset Hotel at 7.00 pm, followed by an early dinner at 7.30, and returned to our rooms.
Day 8 – (Galle / Bentota – 71km)
I woke up at 6.30 am, had breakfast at 7.45 and checked out at 8.30 am. our first destination for the day was Bentota Boat Safari.
We reached Bentota at 10.00 am and prepared for the boat safari. Famous for its water sports like surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, Bentota is also known for its dense mangroves. The Bentota Boat Safari gives you a tour of these mangroves. The safari lasts for about 2 hours. You often see birds and animals on the banks of the river, most commonly some baby crocodiles and bats as large as eagles and some water hyacinth plants.
The next stop was Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, which was 8 km away from the boat safari. The kosgoda turtle hatchery is home to many endangered species of turtles and their main aim to safeguard the species and help them breed and make efforts for the protection of the turtles. You can play with the turtles, hold them, and feed them.
We had lunch at 1.30 pm and then explored the Bentota Markets from 2.15 pm to 3.15 pm. we shopped for some souvenirs to take back home. The markets were beaming with Sri Lankan souvenirs and items and we kept wanting more.
We checked into Taj Bentota (One Of The Best Hotels In Bentota) at 3.30 pm and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hotel. Our trip had been hectic and we wanted to have a day by ourselves just relaxing in the hotel premises. We had an early dinner at 7.30 pm that night.
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Day 9 – (Bentota / Airport – 110km)
This day marked the last day in Sri Lanka. We checked out of the hotel by 8.15 am in order to reach the airport by 11.30. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1.55 pm and was on time. The immigration took a while due to a long queue. I also did some shopping from duty-free. We boarded the flight at 1.30 pm and reached Delhi airport at 4.30 pm. With this, our trip finally came to an end.
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My overall experience in this small and splendid country Sri Lanka was absolutely amazing. The trip was hectic but at the same time so much fun. The people of Sri Lanka welcomed us so warmly that it felt like home and soon they became a part of our touring family. All the places we visited captured our hearts and minds and we never wanted to leave. But all good things come to an end and I sincerely look forward to visiting Sri Lanka again. It is not only the Pearl of the Indian Ocean but in all senses, it is a “Gem”.
I was invited by Srilanka Tourism Promotion Bureau on a FAM Trip but as always, all opinions are my own.
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