Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Lesbian Sri Lanka Travel Tips
  1. Get a free sim card from Dialog at the Airport. It’s 649 rupees ($4USD) for 9GB of data.
  2. Avoid taking tuk-tuks. Take the bus instead. Take a look at how much we paid for transportation.
  3. Eat local food. Look for the little hole in the wall restaurants filled with locals.
  4. If you’re a female traveler, don’t stay out past sunset. The creeps come out at night.
  5. If you’re a female traveler, bring a pepper spray. We have one and feel much safer with it. We have almost had to use it a couple of times unfortunately.
  6. If someone does harass you, take out your phone and threaten to take a picture of them. They run away with the fear of being exposed. This has worked for us on a couple of disturbing occasions.
  7. Take the train for the scenic routes but know that it will take you twice as long to reach your destination.
  8. Rent a motorbike to explore freely. We loved having a motorbike in Tangalle but not so much in Ella. The roads in Ella are not great and neither are the motorbikes you rent so it’s not a good combination.
  9. If your destination is less than an hour away, walk. We love walking to places because you don’t just zoom by, you get to stop and explore as you go.
  10. Have rice & curry at noon because it will be freshly made. You have no idea how many times we ate cold rice & curry when we first arrived.
  11. Don’t book hotels online. If you’re looking to save money, check out how to find cheap accommodation. Once you find the hotel you like, call them to book. The booking websites take commission from hotels so they are likely to give you a better price if you book directly through them.
  12. Take the train from Ella to Kandy NOT from Kandy to Ella. If you travel from Kandy, you’ll be on an extremely full train with a bunch of sweaty and smelly people. If you travel from Ella, you’ll get the scenic views and a seat.
  13. Download the Pickme app before arriving to Sri Lanka. Pickme is a local taxi service app. You don’t get ripped off by taxi drivers and you don’t need local currency to pay.
  14. Take the train to Colombo to Galle. It is a gorgeous train ride that only costs 190 rupees ($1.23USD).
  15. DON’T take the Galle train from Colombo Fort Railway station, take it from Maradana Railway Station and thank me later when you actually have a seat for the 3 hour journey.
  16. Stay in Unawatuna and take a day trip to Galle Fort. Galle Fort is expensive, touristy, and not worth more than a day.
  17. Pack for summer, winter, spring, and fall. It’s likely you’ll experience all seasons while traveling the country.
  18. Smile often. Sri Lankan people are very smiley people so smile back.
  19. Get an international drivers license if you plan to drive a car or a motorbike. They are pretty strict about this, and cops definitely stop foreigners.
  20. Don’t do the whale watching tour in Mirissa. We regret doing it and wish somebody warned us about it. Basically, 50+ boats chase around whales, or one whale in our case, and crowd around it as soon as it peaks its tail out. It’s awful. Also, the boats are old and spit out a bunch of black smoke throughout the entire trip. Once you see a tail, they ask “happy?” and if you say yes, they leave. Total waste of money.
  21. Bring clothes that covers your legs and shoulders. Respect their culture, wear appropriate clothing.
  22. Do a guided safari tour at a national park. We did our safari tour at the Yala National Park and saw peacocks, elephants, a leopard, tons of beautiful birds, and hundreds of water buffalo. It was awesome!
  23. Take a walk from Delawella Beach to Mihiripena Beach. There are so many empty beaches and beautiful scenery. If you’re into walking, walk from Koggala Beach to Delawella Beach, this is even better! We spent the entire day walking and saw some of the most beautiful beaches.
  24. Take a picture at the palm tree dome in Mirissa. This is probably the most beautiful place to take a picture at. Take a look at our picture
  25. Eat kottu, rotti, dhal, curd, rice & curry, and all the fried goodies from the local vendors.
  26. Watch out for fake turtle sanctuaries, hatcheries, or conservation centers. We didn’t go to one because it just seemed to us like a big scam. They get a tuk-tuk driver to take you there, then you pay over 1,500 rupees ($10USD) to take pictures. If you pay more, you can free the turtles. In my head, they are going back, catching them again, and making money from them again. No thanks.
  27. Take the morning trains. Taking the train always takes longer than the bus, but if you go at night, you don’t get the views so what’s the point?
  28. Rent a motorbike in Tangalle. The roads are great and there is so much to see around there. We loved Tangalle.
  29. Stay at Hotel Grand Halabana with Niel for the ultimate Yala National Park experience. Neil’s house is in the middle of the forest, so we saw crocodiles, peacocks, snakes, rabbits, water buffalo, and many birds just in our backyard. He also sets up your Yala safari tour with loads of goodies, and he’s a total sweetheart who treats you like his family. Call him to get a better deal on your room.
  30. Visit Nuwara Eliya. It is so much better than Ella. It is not as touristy and it has so many tea plantations!
  31. Visit the Soya Center in Kandy and try their “chorizo” burritos and their ice cream. Honestly, try everything on their menu! It’s so delicious!
  32. Don’t pay $30 to climb Lion’s Rock in Sigiriya, pay $3 to climb the Piduragala Rock and have a view of the Lion’s rock instead.
  33. Stay near Negombo a day or two before you fly out to avoid paying for a taxi from Colombo.
  34. If you’re getting harassed by tuck-tuk drivers, pretend to not speak English and they will leave you alone.
  35. When they ask you where you’re from, lie. They gage how much to overcharge you based on where you’re from. So if you say you’re from the U.K. or the U.S.A, you’ll be paying 3x the normal price.
  36. Choose the vegetarian option when ordering your food to avoid getting sick. We didn’t get sick once by simply going vegetarian during our stay.

If you’re interested in more travel budgeting tips, check out the 46 Travel Budgeting Tips that have helped us travel for less than $1,000/month.

10 Replies to “Sri Lanka Travel Tips”

  1. The whale watching is also owned by the military so avoid giving money them. You can’t stop the rise of military controlled tourism there but you can give your money else where. They undercut local businesses and continue to fund human rights abuses.

    Also I’m sorry you’ve had a few creeps. I had my fair share while there too unfortunately.

    1. lezwandertheworld says: Reply

      I honestly wish someone would have told us not to do the whale watching. We didn’t know it was owned by the military, you would think they would invest on boats that don’t leak black sh*t into the ocean.

      The creepy pervs really ruined part of our travels there unfortunately, so hopefully our advice will help other girls avoid the situations we had to experience.

      1. They ruined parts of my holiday too. Did you get pepper spray there or bring it with you? Its illegal to buy in Australia but I want some for when im doing a semester in India. I also agree about Galle Fort too. Oh im glad you two enjoyed the Soya Centre.

        1. lezwandertheworld says: Reply

          We actually bought it on Amazon in the USA. It’s a small pink pepper spray, nothing heavy duty. You should see if it’s available in Australia. I think it might be. It definitely helps us feel safer knowing that we can use it if necessary. You should really look into it, we’re in India now and have already had a couple of ugly incidents unfortunately. It really sucks. Anyway, yeah the Soya Center was honestly the best part about Kandy! Hahah we’re such foodies! We went back twice and ate so much ice cream!! It was great!

          1. I looked into it and I could get fined or arrested for having it in Australia as it’s a prohibited weapon. So I don’t want it in my bag when i’m at the airport. Maybe I might be able to buy it in India.
            I’m sorry you’re having awful incidents xo

          2. lezwandertheworld says:

            That’s a shame, maybe order it online and have it sent to your first hotel and give the hotel a heads up. That might be your best bet.

  2. Excellent tips and SO helpful for my planning! Since you visited several southern beaches, if you were only going to do 1, would you choose Unawatuna, Mirissa, or Tangalle? My goal is for lovely beachside walks, a few dips in the ocean, and decent restaurants. (Heading to east coast beaches later in the trip so I think one in the south will be adequate). Thank you!

    1. lezwandertheworld says: Reply

      Hi Becky, I’m glad you’re finding these tips useful! I would suggest either Mirissa or Tangalle. Mirissa is definitely more of a relaxed beach town with many nice restaurants on the beach and plenty of beautiful views. It’s very tourist friendly but not too touristy. Unawatuna was definitely too touristy for our liking! Tangalle is awesome if you rent a bike and go explore the neighboring beaches. Tangalle is more like a town with a beach, not so much the beach vibe.

      1. I think you are the first person to describe the difference between Mirissa & Tangalle in a way I instantly understood. I”m looking for a slight beach vibe without the crazy tourists, so Mirissa sounds perfect 🙂 Happy travels!

  3. lezwandertheworld says: Reply

    I’m glad I could help! I hope you enjoy Mirissa! Let us know if you need any more help planning your trip! We’re happy to help!

Leave a Reply