Backpacking Sri Lanka : 5D/4N Itinerary

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I arrived in Sri Lanka on December 4, 2017 at around 1am from Male, Maldives. I spent four nights in Maldives before heading to Colombo, Sri Lanka. I did not book a hotel on my first day in Sri Lanka because I thought it would be a waste of money considering that I would arrive past 12mn and leave for Nuwara Eliya before 6am. [Read : Sri Lanka Itinerary and Expenses]


I stayed in the airport until 4am and took a bus to Colombo so I could catch the first train trip to Nuwara Eliya. 

I did not ask the bus driver or the conductor of the fare (my fault) so when I arrived in Colombo, the conductor asked me to pay LKR1,000 which I know is too much for less than an hour ride. I argued with him and offered him LKR500 which he accepted. It was still a bit higher than the usual rate of LKR200-300 but I don’t want to have a fight so I gave in.

The driver dropped me near the market which he said was just near Colombo Fort Station. It was near, indeed but it was also a bit scary. It was still dark when I arrived in Colombo and walking alone in the street made me a little paranoid. 

I continued walking for about 10 minutes and reached the train station. I immediately bought a ticket so I can take the first trip. I purchased a second class reserved ticket for LKR600.

The journey to Nuwara Eliya from Colombo was long. We departed 5:55am and arrived in Nuwara Eliya station at around 1pm. I highly suggest that you pass by Kandy and stay there overnight if you have time. I would have done it but I had a limited time in Sri Lanka. In Kandy, you can visit the Temple of the Tooth and a side trip to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. 


When I arrived in Nuwara Eliya, I was greeted with a lot of Tuktuk drivers. I was already tired so I got one immediately. The driver initially asked me to pay LKR800 but I haggled for LKR500. He then offered to bring to the tea factory then to the guuesthouse for LKR for LKR2,500 but I insisted I can only pay LKR2000. I said to just bring me to the guesthouse but he said LKR2,000 is okay. 


The tea factory was old and it wasn’t operational at the time of my visit. To me, it was actually a tourist trap. Nothing much to see and it was raining so I did not have the chance to explore the tea plantation. It was a good experience though. I kinda learn a bit about the different types of tea. 


There was no sign that the rain will stop any time soon so I decided to just leave the tea factory / plantation and went to my guesthouse at Gregory Lake Holiday Home

I was exhausted when I arrived in the guesthouse so I thought of taking a nap and planned of going to the town center to have dinner. I ended up sleeping and woke up at around 11pm. It was too late, I had snacks at the tea plantation so I wasn’t hungry. I decided to go back to sleep. Hahaha

Day 2

I woke up early and worked for a couple of hours (I am a freelancer). Then, I took a tuktuk to the town center to have brunch. After filling my tummy with Sri Lankan chicken curry, I started gallivanting around town. I went to the famous Nuwara Eliya post office and walked my way to Gregory Lake Park. The park is close to the guesthouse where I stayed so I just continued walking instead of taking a tuktuk. I decided to pass by my guesthouse and visited the nearby tea plantation which I saw earlier when I took a tuktuk to the town center. The view of the tea plantation was great. The temperature was still cold even when tge sun was already up. I was finally able to fly my drone for the first time in Sri Lanka! Hahaha 



Around 11:30am, I left the guesthouse and went back to the train station. I got lucky to get the last reserved seat for the 12:45 train. 

The train arrived and departed on time. It was the most picturesque train ride I’ve had so far. I didn’t sleep or even took a nap the whole journey. I noticed that there were more tourists in the train than locals. People were standing, changing seats just to get a better photo. The journey itself was unforgettable. 


I arrived in Ella after about 2.5 hours. I already booked my accommodation through Agoda so I just opened my google map and followed the direction. Unfortunately, the location wasn’t correct in google map. Adhi's Place Ella was mapped in a different location not too far away from the correct location. Also, I found out that there’s actually a shortcut from the train station which I realized later when I found tourist from the shortcut direction. 

I checked in and freshened up then I head my way to the Nine Arch Bridge. The guesthouse staff said it was close and I can walk so I did. I followed the google map and it directed me to a confusing direction. Good thing I decided to buy a bottle of mineral water so I asked the vendor for the right way. I would have been lost or took the longer route. The lady vendor told me to take the temple road which was almost just at the back of the store. She told me to go up and turn on the second right. I was a bit confused when I reached the second at the top of the hill because I can only see houses. Then, I heard people and when I went back a couple of steps, I saw the sign to the bridge. It was a small steep path. I highly suggest to avoid this route if it’s raining. It can be dangerous and very difficult to traverse. 


I arrived at the Nine Arch Bridge at around 5pm and the next train was expected to pass through the bridge at around 5:30. I was planning to fly my drone but unfortunately it was too late. I was still preparing to fly it and the train passed. I should have trusted mg instinct and flew it  earlier. It was frustrating but I guess I wasn’t lucky. There was another train expected to pass at around 6pm but it’s already dark so it will be useless. I took a couple of shots from my camera but they were not good but I’m glad I saw the train passing through the bridge. 



I was already tired and I know it will take me over an hour to trek back to the town center so I decided to take a tuktuk. 

It was dark when I arrived at the town center so I decided to have my dinner at Chill Restaurant. It’s probably the most popular restaurant in Ella. I noticed it was full when I passed by going to the bridge and when I came back to have mg dinner it was also full. I had to wait a bit to get a seat. I ordered a set of curry with rice. It was good but the serving was huge so I didn’t finish it. 

The guesthouse that I stayed was just about 7-10 minutes walk from the town center but it was dark so I was a little scared. Hahaha. There were no lampposts  along the road. Electricity is limited so houses and establishments use generators at night. 

Day 3

I woke up early not to roam around but to work. Yes, I have to work while on vacation otherwise I will not have money when I get back home. I don’t complain though, I still feel lucky that I am able to bring my work wherever I go. 

I initially planned of taking the 8:40am bus but decided to take a van instead. The fare is high compared to the bus but I do not have much time so I opted to take the van. Travel time was reduced significantly and we were able to stop at Udawalawe National Park to take a photo of a wild elephant. 


I arrived in Mirissa early in the afternoon and the van driver dropped me to Latheena Resort. I initially thought I booked a place in Mirissa Beach but I was wrong. I booked a place in Weligama which is still relatively close to Mirissa. The staff were nice an the food in their restaurant is good so it was a nice stay. 

Mirissa Beach looks close to where I stayed so I walked. It was not that close but I decided to continue walking. I ended up with a blister in my toes since I was wearing flip flops. 



It was windy when I arrived in Mirissa Beach so again I wasn’t able to fly my drone. I stayed for about an hour in the beach and enjoyed the sea breeze while people watching. 

I went back to the resort and took a tricycle this time. Had dinner, worked again and called it a night. I basically didn’t have a night life in Sri Lanka not because I do not have time but simply because it’s not my cup of tea. 

Day 4

I woke up early to go to Galle and see what’s in store for me there. I checked out from the resort and left my luggage. I tool a bus to Galle. I had to walk to the bus stop for about 7 minutes because buses in Sri Lanka do not stop anywhere. Passengers and drivers are disciplines so they only stop and alight at designated bus stops. 

The trip was less than an hour. I was able to explore Galle for over an hour. It was hot and humid but it was good to see the fortified old city. 



It was still early so I decided to go back to Mirissa Beach to fly my drone. Luckily, the wind wasn’t that strong compared to the other day but it was still beyond normal. I got a warning to fly with caution because of high wind velocity but I flee it anyway but not too long. 


After getting some aerial shots, I went back to the resort, picked up my luggage and took a tuktuk to Weligama Station to take a train to Colombo. When I arrived at the train station, the people there said that there were no trains. They said the drivers are on strike. I did not believe at first but it was confirmed by the train station staff. I had to leave Weligama so I had no other choice but to take a private car. Good thing there were two other tourists stuck in the station so we decided to split the cost.

I arrived in Colombo late in the afternoon, checked at CityRest Fort Hostel and went out for dinner. 

I read about the Ministry of Crabs when I was looking for places to eat in Colombo. It’s probably the most popular restaurant in Sri Lanka for tourists visiting Colombo. I had no reservation so I went there for early dinner. It was expensive but I want to try it. I paid roughly $60 for a medium-size crab. No regrets, it tasted really good!!!


Day 5

I tried walking around Colombo and I hated it. I encountered touts almost everywhere. I had enough of them so I just stayed in the shopping mall and bought pasalubong (tea, lots of them) instead of gallivanting around the city. I went back to the hostel earlier than planned and left Colombo to the airport way ahead of my scheduled departure. I really don’t like Colombo.

This blog post is part of our comprehensive BACKPACKING IN SRI LANKA TRAVEL GUIDE. This will help you explore Sri Lanka on a budget.
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