Travelled in: July 2016
As promised here is Part 2 of my journey around Sri Lanka last summer, check out Part 1 here!
From the Culture Triangle we moved on to Kandy… We arrived here with a driver which cost around £20 and took around 3.5 hours.
We stayed here for 2 nights at Springdale Residance… The room was set in an extension above the owners house. The owners were amazing and cooked an incredible breakfast every morning! They also owned a laundry business and did our washing for us for free. The location was slightly out of the city center, but it was walk-able in about 20 minutes, and super easy to get a tuk tuk!
Kandy is a vibrant city and the main attraction is the famous temple of the tooth. Make sure you cover up if you visit as they will turn you away if you are exposing your shoulders or knees. This happened to us and we had to go and buy cover ups from the local stores.
We were also lucky enough to be in Kandy for the Perahera festival, which is a celebration revolving around the tooth relic. There is a lot going on during the festival, but the main event is the evening procession. Expect to be wowed by the elephant parade, the traditional street performers and the fire dancers. It was one of the most mesmerizing things I have ever seen. The procession is free to watch from the street (be prepared to arrived super early to get a good spot) OR most of the shops will set up seats which tourists can pay a small fee for to get a seat for the night.
Other attractions in Kandy include the Kandy Ceylon Tea Museum, which was a good little trip out of the city to the tea plantation hills. There is also the Kandy Market which is a great place to visit and haggle for some traditional Sri Lankan souvenirs.
Most tourists come to Kandy purely to do the famous Kandy to Ella train journey, which is known as the worlds most scenic rail route…
From Kandy the train departs twice a day, once first thing in the morning and one around midday – don’t count on it being on time though as it is renowned for always running late. You cant pre-book tickets so make sure to arrive at the station early on your day of departure to secure a ticket. The journey takes about 7 hours to Ella and passes through beautiful Sri Lankan hill country full of tea plantations. Our train was particularly crowded from the beginning and we only managed to get a seat about 3 hours in… Standing really wasn’t that bad though as we were taking in the views from the corridors and dangling our legs out the door like the Sri Lankans do.
We stayed in Ella for 2 nights, but could have easily stayed longer! Ella is a great place to just turn up and find somewhere to stay, there is so much competition and you can easily haggle with hotel owners to get the best price.
Ella is BEAUTIFUL and an amazing place to get some fresh air in to your lungs – the place is SO GREEN. My favourite thing we did was climb mini adams peak, you cant really beat these amazing views. We also visited a working tea factory and walked across the famous nine arch bridge.
There are also some great restaurants in Ella… The Down Town Rotti Hut was great for a cheap and cheerful Rotti dinner. AK Ristoro is one of the highest rated restaurants in Ella and it lives up to the good reviews, a mix of Italian and Sri Lankan food, with some pretty decent cocktails on the menu.
From Ella we got the public bus down to Mirissa. This bus journey was actually one of my favourite experiences in Sri Lanka! We got the bus at 7am from Ella center, the bus was already packed so we were left standing for about an hour or so before getting a seat. There was bhangra music blaring, the driver was racing down the mountains at the speed of light, and although slightly terrifying, the public bus is definitely not an experience to be missed. The journey took about 5 hours, and it cost the equivalent of about 30 pence.
Mirissa is the perfect beach destination. We didn’t book accommodation in advance and it just so happened that the first place we came across was I&I Rest Hotel, it was ideal for what we needed, big rooms, clean, super friendly staff and a strole away from the beach, plus a serious bargain only costing around £6 per night.
We spent 3 days in Mirissa purely lounging on the beach, sipping coconuts, and stuffing our faces at The Dewmini Rotti Hut. I seriously recommend the avocado rotti and chocolate milkshakes!
For anyone feeling slightly more adventurous Mirissa is a great place to go on a whale watching trip or hire out a body board for the day as the sea can be pretty rough along this stretch of beach.
Another public bus journey later and we arrived in Hikkaduwa.
We didn’t love the beaches here as much as Mirissa, so we spent our days out and about. We visited Galle, an old dutch fort town a 20 minute journey away…
We also visited a turtle hatchery just up the coast and made some cute new friends…
Our last stop was Negombo as it was close to the airport. Again the beaches here weren’t great, but we had a pool in our hotel so we spent a fair bit of time lounging around here before we made our way back home. I wouldn’t recommend Negombo as a destination to spend a long period of time in, however it is easy to get to the airport from so is good for a quick stopover.
For more tips on travelling Sri Lanka you can check out my post here…