Sri Lanka: The Best and Worst

It’s been a while since I’ve done a country round up (here are some older ones) but it seemed appropriate for Sri Lanka, a country that was new to me and largely unknown to many. Here is my trip by the numbers:

Total Days: 10

Total Days it Didn’t Rain: Maybe 2? But it rarely rained all day so it wasn’t really a problem.

Places Visited: Colombo, Habanara, Kandy, Galle, Negombo. Everywhere was beautiful. 

Biggest Misconception: I didn’t have a lot of conceptions about Sri Lanka going in, but I had heard a lot about it’s recent civil war, which worried me. I didn’t see a lot of evidence of the strife on the ground (although there were some rumblings on twitter), but I also didn’t make it up to the north, which was most affected. You can read a bit about it from a friend of mine who did, here.

Coolest Discovery: The food! I knew nothing about Sri Lankan food and assumed it was pretty similar to Indian. I discovered it’s actually a unique and really tasty cuisine.

Favorite Food: My favorite dish was simple and ubiquitous: a spicy yellow dhal that made my mouth water and my taste buds sing. I have plans to recreate it at home.

Least Favorite Food: I liked almost everything I tried, but one thing really bothered me: the tiny shards of bone embedded in all the chicken curries. It made them really difficult to eat!


Favorite Place: The city of Galle on the southwest coast. A colonial city built by the Portuguese perched on the edge of stunning deep blue water. I only was able to spend one afternoon there but I could have hung out for days.

Least Favorite Place: I originally planned to spend several days in Colombo, but after just one morning in the clogged, crowded and polluted city I felt like I’d had my fill.

Best Hotel: I stayed in some really nice hotels, even budget ones, but my favorite was the luxurious Cinnamon Bey Beruwala. Right on the ocean, with an enormous pool and drop dead gorgeous rooms, I really didn’t want to leave.

A traditional fishing boat

Most Annoying Thing: Getting catcalled for walking around in shorts in the beach town of Negombo. My fault though I guess, for wearing shorts and daring to be alone.

Most Memorable Moments: Seeing the wild elephants turned out to be really meaningful in retrospect, but my favorite moment was probably climbing to the top of Sigiriya, the ancient and intense rock fortress.

I also loved getting to spend time with so many amazing and diverse travel bloggers. So many conversations talking on the bus, or over a beer, about what people are doing, how they are dealing and more. The whole experience was really energizing and exactly what I needed career-wise.

Chris and Tawny from Captain and Clark and Brock from Backpacker Brock

Least Favorite/Most Dramatic Moment: Climbing down from Sigiriya, when Tawny and I were almost attacked by ENORMOUS angry wasps. That was a pretty tense moment but thankfully we escaped unscathed.

Best Souvenir: I knew even before I arrived that I had to stock up on cinnamon and ceylon tea. I did, along with an assortment of curry powders and spices and I’m putting it all to good use. Especially that tea.

Best Advice: It takes a long time to get pretty much anywhere, whether you’re going by private car, bus, or train, so make sure to account for that in your plans. Actually it takes a long time to do pretty much anything, so don’t even try to be in a rush. This gets easier with time.

Would I Go Back: Definitely! I still want to go up north and to visit Yala National Park. However, since the flight is just absurdly, miserably long from Seattle, I would probably only go again if I had more time to spend. But if you’re in South East Asia it’s just a short hop away!

My trip to Sri Lanka was sponsored by Cinnamon Hotels and Sri Lanka Airlines in conjunction with the Professional Travel Bloggers Association. All opinions are my own.

19 Responses to Sri Lanka: The Best and Worst

  1. sbold February 12, 2015 at 11:18 AM #

    Sounds really cool…

    My girlfriend and I are going to be arriving in Bangalore and have about 2 months for India and Nepal before heading over to SE Asia. Do you think it’s worth it to spend a couple days or a week in Sri Lanka? Is there a cheap way to get there from India?

    • Steph February 12, 2015 at 4:40 PM #

      I didn’t come via India but I think there are a ton of flights so you could probably find a convenient one. Then it was only a 3 hour flight from Colombo to Bangkok. I say worth it but I would try to spend at least a week, as Colombo isn’t that great so you’ll want to get out.

  2. Paula Through the Looking Glass February 12, 2015 at 3:11 PM #

    Is the catcalling everywhere? I’m only taking shorts with me!

    • Steph February 12, 2015 at 4:38 PM #

      I am not sure, as I was only alone in Negombo. I know a few people had issues in Colombo but I think it might be okay outside of cities.

  3. Olga February 12, 2015 at 4:18 PM #

    My uncle and his family have been to Sri Lanka several times, and they always said it’s one of their favourite spots. From your description, it seems like a very adventurous place, too! Something that I would love 🙂

  4. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren February 12, 2015 at 6:59 PM #

    I love these country roundups! I’m going to go back and read your older ones now. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

  5. Sam February 13, 2015 at 4:28 AM #

    Fuck those people for catcalling you. Sounds like it was a fun trip nonetheless, and travelling around with so many other bloggers must’ve been super fun!

    • Steph February 16, 2015 at 3:49 PM #

      Yeah, it’s annoying but sadly not uncommon in many parts of the world! I was actually nervous about traveling with SO MANY bloggers all at once, but it turned out to be fantastic.

  6. Mike | VagabondingMike February 14, 2015 at 6:41 PM #

    Just noticed you mentioned Seattle… Are we neighbors? (Seattle…not literally of course).

    Either way, your mentioning of spicy dahl brings back memories of my time in Northern India. I hear Southern India/Sri Lanka has spicier food though. Can’t wait to give it a try.

    Happy Travels!

    • Steph February 16, 2015 at 3:46 PM #

      I live in Capitol Hill, so we may well be neighbors!

  7. Carmen from Double-Barrelled Travel February 17, 2015 at 4:27 AM #

    Really want to visit! Is the food as spicy as Indian food?

    • Steph February 17, 2015 at 3:51 PM #

      Yes, it was quite spicy!

  8. handronos February 17, 2015 at 7:04 AM #

    galle … I really love this city

  9. Kerwin February 19, 2015 at 11:22 AM #

    Nice work. Give Colombo a chance though :). It was actually my favorite place. I grew up in the country, so I prefer city living :).

  10. Travel With Bender (@TravelwitBender) February 19, 2015 at 8:31 PM #

    Lovely, easy read on a fantastic trip!

  11. Icaruswept February 20, 2015 at 12:01 PM #

    Hah, the wasps. Good thing we got down when we did.

  12. Jessica - Notes of Nomads February 25, 2015 at 3:57 AM #

    Great round-up, Steph! I’m loving the tea too. Can never have too much tea!

  13. Devraaj Kumar February 27, 2015 at 3:36 AM #

    Thanks so much for these useful info! I am really impressed by read this. I really like Srilanak food specially sour fish curry….

  14. Hamza September 22, 2016 at 10:44 AM #

    I visited Sri Lanka in last December and in 10 days, I did Negombo, Anuradhapura, Sigirya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Yala Parc, Mirissa, Unawatuna, Galle and Colombo. Transportation was not a big deal; buses are always available and train through tea plantations was as pleasant as practical.

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