January this year when I started drawing a trip, or should I say planning a vacation. LOL. Like literally everything is still unsure. I’m only thinking of a beach getaway since summer is coming and it’s a very nice sem-ender for this year. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about beach or resort is the paradise of the Maldives. It’s a dream vacation and it’s on top of everyone’s bucket list. And yes, everything pushes through. Sri Lanka visit comes up at the end since I’ll travel with a friend and he wanted to visit the country plus it’s just one plane away from the Maldives. Yes, you heard it right, like it takes only 45 minutes travel from Colombo to Male, Maldives. 

Exactly a week after my second semester during this year, when I go to Sri Lanka. My summer class started 2 days after my trip so I was too busy to share it right away but this is it, after how many years of waiting. I’m also kind of excited to share this, so here we go!

It’s my first time to visit the country and I never thought this could happen, and I’m very lucky I had a chance to do it. Some people think Sri Lanka is not a good place to visit, or some say it is not worth it; it’s just a province and nothing much to see but to tell you honestly, my experiences in the country for the first time is so good and memorable. I learned a lot from their culture, religion, tradition and importantly the people who made my stay filled with fun and excitement. 

Colorful Temple along the street of Matale.

Let me give you some idea about Sri Lanka. Despite being a small island, Sri Lanka leaves many visitors feeling amazed at the diversity of its landscape and vegetation. Mountains made from some of the Earth’s oldest rocks rise to over 2,500 meters. You will also find there the famous Sigiriya rock fortress which I’m going to talk about later, the central highlands, which are still heavily forested, and the coastal lowlands, which have a huge range of bird and animal life. The country is certainly more forested than you might expect.

Local Streets
Sri Lanka’s local street and market
Remaining mud houses made by indigenous people Veddha tribe.

English, designated as a ‘link language’, is widely spoken. it’s the main language of the mercantile sector and the hospitality industry, so as a tourist you will have an easy time to talk to other people. Place names and signboards are in English and Sinhala, or English and Tamil and sometimes all three.

This was taken at the zigzag road.

The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee (Rs). Notes are in denominations of Rs 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Rs 10, 5, 2 and 1. I just feel weird when I tried to use their money like for example when you eat to a restaurant, you will pay thousands for a not so expensive food you will get. Haha.

I left the Philippines early morning of May 26th and flew Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur where I had a connecting flight. I don’t think there is a direct flight from Manila to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, so I just chose to have a layover. Waited for 4 hours for my next flight then flew Sri Lankan Airlines to Colombo.

Having a connecting flight might be a hassle for other people. But if you are a solo traveler, I would recommend having a layover because it’s one way also to see how nice other country’s airport. Like myself, I really enjoyed it hanging around the airport lounge of Kuala Lumpur while waiting for my next flight. By the way, they have a very beautiful airport too. I can say it’s much better than the one we have. Haha! 

Here are some reminders, if you want to travel to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Make it sure that you have your flight bookings, hotel bookings and e-visa printed with you since it will require you to present everything in the immigration. In my case, I have my tour provider, so they sent me everything I need for the flight and they all compiled it in one handy book. They didn’t even ask me for show money because all my itinerary is set by Audley.

VISA: My e-visa in Sri Lanka has applied ahead of time online and it’s very easy and quick. You just need to pay $30 or around Php1500. I have my e-visa with me, when I landed to Colombo, I got some problem with visa and I thought something is wrong. The problem is with the system, the Immigration officer also told me that we don’t need to apply for a visa online since it’s very easy to get one upon arrival. I did it since Immigration in the Philippines is very strict for us Filipinos when traveling. We can get 30 days visa upon arrival. Same thing with the Maldives where we can get 30 days visa upon arrival and don’t need to apply online ahead of time.

Right after I landed, my private chauffeur met me. Yes, I had a private chauffeur because it’s included on the package of Audley, the tour provider who did my itinerary, hotel and flight bookings and everything else I needed for the tour. I had the best trip in Sri Lanka so I highly recommend Audley to all of you.

“May pa-flower si Mayor”. The thing I said in mind after meeting my personal chauffeur after giving a flower for myself. 

Back to my trip, I was driven for 30 mins to the first place for a night’s stay to get rested after a long flight for the next day’s tour. And that’s it, my tour started the next day and explored the country. 

Reasons Why I fell in loved in the country Sri Lanka

Temple of the Tooth, housing Sri Lanka’s most sacred relic of the Buddha, built next to a reservoir and the royal palace. I got to see locals and how they praise God. Before you can enter the temple, you need to remove your shoes and walk barefoot as part of their beliefs. That’s a number rule in all of their temples.

Before you enter the temple, you should buy first some flower, something for Buddha.

Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, located seven kilometers from Kandy, are worth spending time in, enjoying a slow stroll around the grounds as you observe varied flora. The gardens have been a source of inspiration for artists and gardeners alike for well over a century, and are very well maintained. Trees are categorized into ‘endemic’, ‘indigenous’, ‘exotic’ and ‘poisonous’. The orchid house and spice gardens are also worth exploring

Batik Shop where you can see local artworks and they will even show you how batik is done. Interesting to see how they do it by hand even on it’s small details. I actually got one for myself as a souvenir.

Elephant ride that makes me feel nervous since it’s my first time. But yes, it’s very nice not to give a try.

Wood Carving Shop. I was also able to go to a local wood carving shop and they also demonstrated how wood arts are made. Amazing to see and to think it’s made by hand, lots of hard work.

Gal Oya National Park where I’m able to see elephants in the wild by a boat safari ride. A lot of wildlife is present there and very visible as you go, like different kind of birds, marsh mugger crocodile and even group of water buffalo.

At my back, the largest lake inside the Gal Oya National Park.

Elkaduwa Tea Plantation at Ashburnham Estate. This place is just amazing for me since it’s my first time to see a tea plantation plus it’s just in front of the place where I stayed for 2 days. A very picturesque view of tea plants on the hill. Truly such a wonderful place to visit. If you are up for a quiet and relaxing getaway then you will surely love it. By the way, the name of the place where I stay is the Ashburnham Estate. It’s a bed and breakfast with a very nice and accommodating place and staff.

Read another post: Hotels where I stayed during my 10-day visit to Sri Lanka!

Nothing special with the waterfalls at Ashburnham Estate, but I found it very relaxing. It’s just 5 mins walk away so I didn’t waste my time not to visit.

Dambulla Cave where you can you see a lot of their Buddha statues under the huge rock. By the way, it’s a religious site so taking pictures standing beside the Buddha is a big no-no to them.

Minneriya National Park which offers superb opportunities for viewing elephants in the wild. This is one of my favorite place I’ve been since I never seen such a large number of elephants like this in the wild before. I feel like a kid seeing them personally, so close like they were walking in front of me. 

You didn’t go to Sri Lanka if you are not able to visit the famous Sigiriya Rock fortress which is one of their major tourist spots. I’m lucky I was able to see it myself. The climb going up can be tiring but if you see the top with the fascinating view on it, you will say it’s worth it. Down under the rocks, you will see a lot of ancient writings on the rock walls and Buddha statues so you will somehow enjoy the walk going on the top.

On top of the Sigiriya.

This is just one of the boulders you will see when you climb the Sigiriya rock fortress.

After the Sigiriya, about an hour and a half drive away is the Pollonaruwa Archeological site which really amazed me as well. The place is actually a royal palace way back before in their history. The site itself composed of ruins that made their history very unique. It’s all about their history, culture and their religion.

Cambodian inspired structure.

I was also able to taste some of their local food like this one. And lots of mouth-watering fruits.

Some of my friends are asking me how did I able to go there and asking for some tips. But honestly, I can’t give much of advice or tips since everything was set by my tour provider. I don’t know how to travel around there because I had my private vehicle and chauffeur. But if you are a backpacker and want to explore every single place of Sri Lanka, you better do it yourself by taking their public transport such as a bus or by their own version of a tuk-tuk. Don’t be afraid to do it and I can assure you that the people in Sri Lanka are all friendly and very accommodating.

Sri Lanka’s TukTuk

Truly my trip in the country is very successful and full of fun. Have a lot of memories to keep. If ever you tried to visit Sri Lanka, feel free to comment it down below and share your thoughts. Don’t forget to like and share this.