10 days in Sri Lanka : Our Itinerary – The must sees
What to do in Sri Lanka during 10 days? This country is an increasingly popular destination. This island, located in the south-west of India, in the Indian Ocean, is very popular with its very varied landscapes. Plains, mountains, wild spaces, bustling cities, beaches… the country has a very marked cultural and religious diversity.
This diversity is due to the fact that three religions coexist in Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.
We had the chance to spend 10 days in Sri Lanka with the travel agency ElTucanViajero (MonSriLanka). They helped us create an itinerary for 10 days in Sri Lanka and found an excellent driver who adores and knows his country inside out. We explain why we preferred to take a driver at the end of this article. If you wish to contact the agency to inquire about the trip, your itinerary and prices, just write to them by email at: [email protected]
For practical information: when to go to Sri Lanka, plane tickets, drive to Sri Lanka, the budget for 10 days in Sri Lanka, how to dress for women etc. See the end of the article or click here for those in a hurry!
Visit Sri Lanka in 10 days – Itinerary & Must sees
Before detailing our 10-day itinerary in Sri Lanka, note that the driving times between each stage are long! To travel without being in a constant rush, we recommend that you allow 14 days for the following itinerary.
↠DAYS 1 and 2: SIGIRIYA & DAMBULLA
Once on Sri Lankan soil, we recommend taking the road directly to the center of the island so as not to waste time. The capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, is not of great interest to us. We therefore headed for Sigiriya, a city classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 160 km from Colombo.
What to do in Sigiriya?
We couldn’t wait to discover Lion’s Rock. On the other hand, we found it more impressive and beautiful to see it from the rock opposite… It’s a bit like climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the view is beautiful but something is missing from the scenery!
We recommend you to climb the Pidurangala Rock at sunrise. The departure is at 5 am, to be able to admire a magnificent light on the Lion’s Rock. The climb takes 20 minutes for athletes or 30 minutes for others, and costs only 2.50 euros. If you still want to climb the Lion’s Rock, be aware that the access will cost you € 30 per person.
🐘Open your eyes, it is not uncommon to see elephants roaming free in neighboring villages.
Where to sleep in Sigiriya?
😴For 2 nights, we stayed at The Paradise Resort & Spa. Count around 80 € (to be verified) for the night for a superb air-conditioned cottage, with meals. The price / quality ratio is very good. The strengths of this hotel: the incredibly friendly staff and the swimming pool to cool off. Reservation here
Where to eat in Sigiriya?
😋On the road to Dambulla, the Rithu restaurant was a good start to Sri Lankan food. Try Rice and Curry, the national dish that locals eat morning, noon and night. These are rice and vegetables, meats, fish served with different kinds of curry. Hearty dishes and very reasonable prices.
Besides Lion Rock 🦁, you can go to visit temples in Dambulla, the big city which is located near Sigiriya. Here is what we did:
What to do in Dambulla?
If you like temples, you’ll be happy to go to Dambulla! The Rock temple and the Golden temple are to be visited. The Rock temple is several temples that are in caves (caves). Count € 7.60 per person for entry + € 0.10 to store your shoes + € 0.50 for a sarong (sarong). Access to the Golden Temple is free. There you will see a large statue of Buddha covered with gold.
Dress to visit a temple in Sri Lanka: Women and men should have their shoulders and knees covered. Shoes are not allowed in the prayer areas.
📝Optional: if you plan more time than us in this region, you can visit the city of Polonnaruwa, ancient capital of Sri Lanka. This is an archaeological site reminiscent of the Angkor temples of Cambodia (smaller of course). It’s quite a distance from Sigiriya so plan a good half day, see more!
↠DAY 3: KANDY
If you have planned a 10 day itinerary in Sri Lanka, we recommend that you skip the Kandy stage to add a day in the South (our last stage). As you were told at the beginning of the article, it’s a bit of a rush to visit Sri Lanka in 10 days. Kandy is not of major interest to us, so there is no need to stop there.
What to do in Kandy?
If you still want to visit Kandy, you can go to the Temple of the Tooth (the famous temple where there is a box hidden inside with the tooth of Buddha). Entrance costs € 7.60 per person. We went there one evening during prayer and it was very crowded. It is a pity that such a sacred place for Buddhists is invaded by tourists, because the practitioners are disturbed. We queued for 30 minutes to see the pagoda where the Buddha’s tooth is hidden for 1 second. We let you judge if you like the place on these photos:
🔥We liked: attend a traditional dance show and fire walking demonstration
🌿In Kandy, there is also a nice botanical garden, entry is also € 7.60 per person. You will find a lot of species of plants & flowers and bats by the tens of thousands.
Where to sleep in Kandy?
😴We do not recommend staying in the center, which is very noisy and teeming with people. The travel agency ElTucanViajero (MonSriLanka) therefore found us a nice hotel with a nice view and a swimming pool on the roof. This is the Ozo Kandy Hotel.
I remind you that you can contact the travel agency by e-mail : [email protected]
↠DAY 4: KITULGALA
What to do in Kitulgala?
Kitulgala is absolute calm, a nature getaway that lovers of beautiful landscapes will love! This region of Sri Lanka is very famous for rafting. So if you feel like it, give it a try. The river, surrounded by reliefs and lush green vegetation is magnificent.
Jungle treks are also possible in Kitulgala. Finally, do not miss this magnificent footbridge, very easy to access: GPS coordinates°
Where to sleep in Kitulgala?
😴We spent one night at Forest Edge. The hotel is isolated, so it is very quiet and the view of the mountains is splendid! 😍Be careful, the road to get there is a bit difficult. Price: 50-60 € per night. Reservation here
🚗 3 STOPS on the road from Kitulgala to Ella
From Kitulgala, you will reach Ella in 4 hours via the main road. After an hour’s drive, you will pass Kotagala. This small town is nothing special, but we saw on Google Maps that the train was passing close to the tea plantations 🌱. To get there, you have to go to Suppiah & Sellam House and continue 100 meters further. Then walk along the rails on your right for 5 minutes.
So we stopped for 45 minutes while we waited for a train to pass by and took this photo:
» An hour later, you will reach the highest city in the country: Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s Little England. Its altitude of 1868m guarantees a very pleasant climate. The typical English post office is surprising. We stopped there just for lunch!
» Just outside of town, past Lac Grégory, you’ll find huge tea plantations with incredible views. These plantations are similar to those you will see at the busy Lipton’s Seat and access is free! There were no tourists. Another sublime spot found by our guide Sarath 😍We chose not to do the Lipton’s Seat because it would have taken us too long to see a similar landscape. GPS coordinates of the location.
↠DAYS 5 & 6: ELLA
Ella is one of the most touristic areas in Sri Lanka. And for good reason, many places of interest are located nearby!
What to do in Ella?
We detail this in this article dedicated to Ella.
↠DAY 7: NATURE EXPERIENCE NEAR ELLA
Nature lovers should not miss this step. Very close to Ella, we stayed at the Clove Tree House. We tell you about this great experience in the article dedicated to Ella and its region.
🚗 STOP on the road from Ella to Udawalawe
Go see the beautiful Dyaluma Falls, waterfalls on several levels with natural pools. Sorry, we don’t have a photo because we didn’t go: Aurélie felt bad about her electrocution the day before 😂. You can find plenty of them on Instagram.
↠DAY 8: SAFARI IN UDAWALAWE – 10 days in Sri Lanka Itinerary
To see elephants in the wild, Udawalawe National Park is where it is. It was our first safari and we had a blast! We saw several elephants 🐘, buffaloes, monkeys, birds… The landscapes of the National Park are also superb.
»Price of the safari with Jeep and entrance to the park: 24 € each for the Jeep up to 6 people + 21 € the entrance to the park per person if you are 2. Note that the more numerous you are, the higher the price of the park is decreasing (17 € per person if you are 6 for example).
📝 Attend to the Elephant Feeding in Udawalawe
3 times a day you can watch the baby calves being fed by the keepers in the national park.
Why do they have these needs? Because all the baby elephants that are present have lost their mothers. To survive and grow properly, they must therefore be given milk and treatment if necessary. On average, 3 elephants/week are killed in Sri Lanka, leaving many orphans. Baby calves are prepared here until they are 5 years old to re-introduce wildlife. To do this, they are kept as far away from humans as possible: so don’t expect to approach them during feeding or to feed them yourself. Information on the Elephant Transit Home website.
Where to sleep in Udawalawe?
The hotel is great! We stayed at the Kottawata Village in a nice cottage that overlooked the pool. The outdoor bathroom adds charm to the accommodation. Booking here
↠DAYS 9 & 10: VISIT SOUTHERN SRI LANKA
What to do in the south of Sri Lanka?
- Relax on beautiful beaches: go here to see our favorite spots 🏖
- Surf in Hiriketiya, a cool place where we would have loved to stay longer,
- Discover the Sri Lankan hinterland and culture with Manju, THE region specialist guide who works with ElTucanViajero agency (MonSriLanka): contact [email protected]
- Visit Galle, the wealthy city in the South. You will find cute shops, a pretty lighthouse and a beautiful panorama of the ocean.
Where to sleep in the south of Sri Lanka?
😴We had the chance to collaborate with the Hotel Tri Lanka. If you can afford it, you should definitely give this place a try. We were in a tastefully decorated villa with private pool. The view of the lake and the vegetation is breathtaking 😍. The hotel swimming pool, open to all guests, is also sublime and very photogenic, as you can see:
On the other hand, the food does not live up to the standard of the establishment. If you are staying there, we therefore recommend that you take your meals elsewhere.
Practical information for your 10 days in Sri Lanka
↠ When to go to Sri Lanka?
After talking to the locals, the year is divided into three parts:
- The great monsoon: July / August in the southwest of the country, from Kalpitiya to Tangalle
- Off-season: April to October, it rains intermittently throughout Sri Lanka. Prices are lower and tourists fewer. The weather is not always rainy so it might be a good idea to leave at that time to cut costs.
- The dry season: November to April, the best time to travel but also the busiest, so prices follow. During these months it can rain a little but only in the east of the country.
☀️ We visited Sri Lanka from March 22 to April 1, 2019 and did not see a single drop of rain!
↠ Airline tickets to Sri Lanka
✈️ From France, we took the company Qatar Airways to get there, with a stopover in Doha. As usual, we went through Skyscanner to book our tickets. This is the first time we tested this company and it was great! We decided to pay more for our tickets to avoid the Air Saoudia company.
Here are the reasons:
- The stopover at the airports of Jeddah or Riad in Saudi Arabia is long and unpleasant. Indeed, the search of the security service can be quite picky: we have seen a lot of bad testimony. In particular, an employee of the ElTucanViajero agency (MonSriLanka) who told us that his computer had been dismantled entirely for a reason unknown to him. So we might as well tell you that we did not want to have our drone or our computers confiscated, which are our work tools!
- Tip: if you decide to try this company with these stopovers, cover yourself up if you are a woman
- The company 100% respects religious codes, including prayers. We are not particularly open to religions in general, so we prefer to avoid it for long flights.
Our plane tickets with Qatar Airways cost us 405 € per person round trip.
↠ Getting around Sri Lanka
🚗 The car is the most convenient way to get around Sri Lanka.
We decided to take a driver to transport us because the steps to rent a car are complicated. First, he will apply for an international permit in France. It can take up to 3 months to be issued. Then, once you arrive in Sri Lanka, you will have to convert your international permit into a Sri Lankan permit, which seemed tedious to us! We saw all of this at the last minute 😆so we didn’t have time to get an international license.
So, we had the chance to travel to Sri Lanka for 10 days alongside Sarath. He taught us a lot about his country and he was unfailingly thoughtful 🙏. This is our first time traveling with a guide and we loved the experience! So Sarath, if you read us, thank you for supporting us for 10 days and thank you for helping us take the pictures. Do not hesitate to contact the ElTucanViajero agency (MonSriLanka) to find you a good driver, it seems that they are rare… E-mail [email protected]
💰Price of an English-speaking driver: € 55 for one car per day for 3 people, all inclusive (car, gasoline, accommodation and food for the driver). If you are satisfied with the service, it is customary to leave a tip at the end of the stay, between € 5 and € 10 per day.
» To rent your own car you can find the best deals here
» Other possibilities: rent your own tuktuk, or take public transport (buses, trains).
↠ Have internet on your phone in Sri Lanka
Abroad, we always buy a local SIM card to access the internet on our phones. If you want to do the same, we advise you to buy it at the airport from the operator Dialog. I paid € 12 for 16 GB of data. Activation takes place instantly. If you are short of data, it is possible to top up your bundle in many points of sale from € 1 per top up.
Yann had taken his from Mobitel and it captured 4G much less well than my sim at Dialog.
↠ Do I need a visa for a trip to Sri Lanka?
Yes ! holders of a French passport should, before arriving in Sri Lanka, apply for an ETA on the government website or via the link below. Our visa for Sri Lanka was granted to us within hours.
💰Tourist VISA price for 30 days: € 30 per person.
↠ Budget for your 10 day itinerary in Sri Lanka
For accommodation in Sri Lanka, you will find plenty of offers on Booking.com.
Here is a budget estimate for your 10 day trip to Sri Lanka:
How should I dress if I am female?
As said before, women and men should have their knees and shoulders covered when entering temples.
Otherwise, you can dress as you wish in all the places mentioned in our itinerary. No one will tell you anything. But, in the event that you are a little “naked”, in shorts for example, expect some rather masculine looks.
💬 Besides, I’ll take a little aside on this. Before I left, some people told me that “white” women were harassed by men in Sri Lanka, and I read that on quite a few blogs too! Here is my feeling: apart from a few times when I got checked out (dressed in shorts or pants) by men of a certain age (like in France, finally!), I never felt any form of discomfort or harassment. In fact, I have felt the curious looks of women more than men! Most of the people I met, men and women, gave me a benevolent smile. I consider that if a man looks at me with a smile, it is not necessarily to seduce me 😉.
More information for your trip to Sri Lanka