My Ultimate Solo Travel Guide to Sri Lanka | Solo Female Travel
Located below India on the map is Sri Lanka, a hidden gem of the Indian Ocean. The country has a lot more to it than just its ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, and amazing wildlife. Nicknamed the teardrop of India, it is known for its incredible natural beauty as well as its precious gemstones.
Earlier known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is very famous for its tea business, as more than 1 million people out of the 22 million in the country are engaged in the cultivation of tea (that about 5% of the country’s population is engaged in tea production!). So do not forget to have a cup of tea during your stay in Sri Lanka!
The welcoming look of the locals will make your solo trip to the country a very memorable one. And the icing on the cake is that the locals here speak English, so you won’t feel like an alien. Being a densely populated country, you will find some overcrowded buses and a bit of traffic jam, but this is what makes it fun. Make sure you keep your valuable possessions safely and avoid getting pick-pocketed while travelling through these busy places.
Before you book your tickets, let me tell you a few things from my solo trip to Sri Lanka that will make your experience a great one rather than just being a good one.
How to get to Sri Lanka
The Bandaranaike International Airport (commonly known as Colombo International Airport) is the main International Airport in Sri Lanka. I took a direct flight from Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore, and reached Colombo in around an hour and a half. But remember that it is not easy to get a direct flight to Colombo. You might, more often than not, need to change flights. So, make sure to plan everything ahead of time.
After reaching the airport, you have an option to change your SIM card. I highly recommend you to do so as it will save you a lot of money and ensure that you have great connectivity and uninterrupted high-speed internet at all times.
Top value for money hotels in Sri Lanka
If you are planning a solo trip to Sri Lanka, I assume that you’d be on a budget, just like me. I have done the research, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of shortlisting hotels. Here are the five best hotels in the country available for an affordable price for you.
1. Beach Hut, Arugam Bay
As the name suggests, Beach Bay is located on a beach. It is about 25 years old and has seven treehouses and six rooms on the ground. Since these have shared bathrooms, I would suggest you keep this in mind before you book the room. The restaurants here serve a whole host of Sri Lankan seafood and host barbeque nights as well. This is perfect if you want a cheap hotel and tasty food for as little as $10/night near a beach!
2. Siesta, Tangalle
This place is owned by a husband-and-wife duo and is one of the cheapest places to stay in Tangalle. Harshini, the wife, is a great cook and will make you remember your home with the food she cooks. Tharindu, the husband, is very friendly. You will see a wedding photo of the two on the entrance, which gives this place a very home-like vibe. It will cost you only $7/night to stay, which makes this place a must-try.
The bathroom is a very spacious one, and the room has some amazing paintings. It is a great place for someone who is artsy! I stayed here for two nights and totally enjoyed my time. The couple made this place feel like home, and there were no complaints. Although I’m an introvert, staying with Harshini and Tharindu didn’t feel uncomfortable.
3. The One, Galle
What makes this place the best one is that it is located slightly away from the heart of the city, which makes it a pretty quiet place. Also, it does not compromise on accessibility to various tourist attractions, thus saving your time, which would have been wasted on travelling otherwise.
Talking about the hotel, it is very spacious, be it the bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, or the veranda, and the Wi-Fi was great too. The food was freshly cooked and delicious. This restaurant provides all the services you can think of at an affordable price of $18/night. I spent five nights and enjoyed every bit of my time here.
4. Naomi River View Villa, Welligama
This is probably the cheapest, most comfortable room you’ll find in the country. For around $7/night, you will get a large room with free Wi-Fi and a beautiful view of the river. Also, there are nice restaurants around this hotel, which you can visit whenever you wish to eat something fancy in a restaurant. You must make a note that this hotel consists of a shared bathroom, which might be a dealbreaker for some, but the bathroom is fairly clean.
5. The Travellers Home, Kandy
The owners of this hotel are a couple too. Rather than owners, they are more like friends, and they greet you every time you go out and come back to the hotel. Again, the bathroom is a shared one but is clean and not an issue for most people.
However, it is about 5-kilometre from the centre of the city, which might be an issue for some. Also, even though the hotel isn’t in the heart of the city, the road in front of the hotel is a busy one and might act as a natural alarm in waking you up, something you should keep in mind. For around $15/night, this place is an easy recommendation if you want to spend quite some time in the city of Kandy.
Top tourist places to explore in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is nothing short of marvellous when it comes to natural beauty and tourist attractions. You will never be able to visit all the wonderful places in the country, but because everyone travels for a limited number of days, here is a list of places you MUST visit during your solo trip in Sri Lanka.
1. Sigiriya Fortress, Matale district, Central Province
Sigiriya was once the palace of the island’s king, and the word also means ‘Lion Rock’ in ancient Sanskrit. It is believed to have been constructed around 1500-1600 years ago. The sides of the mountain have some paintings painted on them, which portray the fortress’s eventful history!
The top of the mountain has a palace and at the bottom is a city complex, which clearly shows the planning of the kings. The rocks are more than 200-metre high, and the beauty of these cannot be explained in words.
2. Adam’s Peak, Ratnapura District, Central Province
This sacred mountain has religious significance in many religions. At the top, there is an imprint that looks like a footprint. To Buddhists, it’s the footprint of Buddha; to Muslims and Christians, it’s the footprint of Adam; and to Hindus, it was created by the deity Shiva.
Whatever you believe, this is a beautiful place to visit and fun to climb to the top. It can take hours to climb, but you’ll find plenty of rest stops and food vendors, and you won’t regret climbing to the very top and acknowledging Sri Lanka’s history!
I had a fun time climbing the top of the mountain. Although it was quite a sunny day, the view from the top made it all worthwhile!
3. Yala National Park, Southern Province
This most-visited national park in Sri Lanka covers an area of 979 square kilometres and is located about 300 kilometres from Colombo.
It has a wide range of animals from different ecosystems, and you can also have a safari experience in the Sri Lankan style. The most popular animals here are elephants, leopards, and crocodiles. There are also about 200 bird species that have a home in the national park, including some exclusively found in Sri Lanka.
Apart from all flora and fauna, the park is home to two very popular historic religious pilgrimage sites – the temples of Situlpahuwa and Magul Vihara.
4. Galle Dutch Fort, Galle
This historical monument stands for more than 430 years. The fort is popular for its archaeological history and is considered a cultural heritage by UNESCO.
Other than being just a fort, this place is more like a fortified village, with people from all religions, churches, a mosque, and a lot of shops within the fortress walls. Along with all of this, there is a lighthouse and many museums inside the fort for you to explore. There are several shopping sites around the fort as well, in case you want to take a souvenir home from Sri Lanka!
5. Lotus Tower, Colombo
This is one of the best tourist attractions in the country and is usually quite a busy place. Opened in September 2019, this is the tallest self-supported structure in South Asia, the 11th tallest in Asia, and 19th in the world! Quite fascinating, right?
The tower is 350m tall and offers the best views of the city. It is also quite a picturesque spot for some breathtaking pictures!
There is also a restaurant at the top which is very popular among the visitors. At the base is a shopping mall, which sells a variety of products. You can also take the super-fast elevator to move around the tower in the blink of an eye as you explore this beautiful place.
Top Restaurants to satiate your food cravings
Here are some of the top restaurants in the country which will help you eliminate hunger when you do not wish to have your boring hotel food. The following restaurants are easy on the pocket, so you won’t have to think twice before going to one of these.
1. Ministry of Crab, Colombo
As the name suggests, this place offers every type of crab dish you can ever think of! Located in the heart of the city of Colombo, it is one of Sri Lanka’s best restaurants and serves some of the tastiest dishes. And there is a variety of options to choose from.
It also featured amongst Asia’s 50 best restaurants in 2017 and is the perfect place for seafood lovers. And a meal will cost you about $12.
2. Theva restaurant, Kany
It is located on the Theva Residency Road in Kandy, and that’s where the name comes from. I would say this place has got almost everything for everyone and is one of the most lavish budget-friendly restaurants in Sri Lanka. And I’m not even kidding! Be it Italian, Chinese, American, or Indian- this place has everything you’ll ever wish to try!
There is indoor and outdoor seating as well, and you’ll enjoy the view of the Hantana Hills while you fill your tummy. A meal will cost you around $15, and it is well worth the price.
3. The Gallery Cafe, Colombo
This restaurant offers a lavish ambience without you having to pay the price for it. Yes, you heard that right! It has beautiful outdoor seating and offers various types of cuisines like Indian, Italian, and Sri Lankan dishes.
But this place is known for its desserts, which are probably the best in Sri Lanka. They serve about 30 desserts (say what?!), so there is always something for everyone. A meal here will cost you around $17, including the dessert, which is a must-try.
The meal turned out quite delicious, and I would highly recommend you all to try it out on your solo trip to Sri Lanka.
4. Tea Avenue, Colombo
On your solo trip to Sri Lanka, you have to try out the country’s tea, and what better place than Tea Avenue? They have an outlet in Colombo which is not only famous for their tea but also the food.
The ambience is top-notch, and indoor and outdoor seating is available, whichever you prefer. A cup of tea will cost you $1-2, and a full meal will be around $15, which can be a perfect idea for brunch. Visiting this place during your solo trip to Sri Lanka is a must.
I absolutely cannot function without tea, so I had to visit Tea Avenue on my solo trip to the country. A delicious meal and a cup of tea for $15 is worth it!
5. Sea Spray Restaurant, Colombo
When it comes to authentic Sri Lankan food, the Sea Spray Restaurant is the only place you’ll ever need to go to. This is a rooftop restaurant that serves not only traditional food but also many other cuisines. It has a very royal ambience with a stunning view of the Indian Ocean!
As this restaurant opens only in the evening and does not shut until midnight, you can visit the restaurant for a dinner meal to enjoy the beautiful view.
You can fill your tummy for $18, which might be slightly costly for a meal, but it is worth it, thanks to the views and taste of the traditional food!
If Sri Lanka is your first solo trip, you can read my blog on things not to expect from your first solo trip for some tips.
That’s it for this blog. And I hope my blog gave you better insights into what Sri Lanka has to offer. I would recommend you to plan a solo trip to Sri Lanka and enjoy the beauty of this country and see it for yourself – trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
If you happen to travel solo to Sri Lanka, do let me know about your experiences in the comment section. I would love to know if my solo travel guide helped you on your journey!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.