Sri Lanka Backpacking Travel Guide

Information on hostels, transportation, cheap food and drinks, sights to see, activities and more.

Backpacking Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is right at the top of my list of favourite countries to backpack through. People, food, culture and natural beauty. These are the four things that I use to rate a travel destination. Some highly ranked destinations have a few of these. Sri Lanka has them all in spades and is cheap to top it off. Check out my destination guides for Sri Lanka below.

City Guides

Colombo - Most travellers will only spend a night or two in Colombo. However it still has a lot to offer and shouldn't be completely ignored. The food here is perhaps the best in the country [...]
Anuradhapura - Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka and part of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. It is famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilisation [...]
View from Elephant Rock near Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay - Arugam Bay is one of my highlights of Sri Lanka. When the weather is favourable (May to October) this is the place to be. It has the best surf and the best parties [...]
Sigiriya near Dambulla
Dambulla - Sigiriya and Minneriya, two must see sites in Sri Lanka, are both located only a 30min drive away from Dambulla. Dambulla is also right in the centre of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka and the two ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa can both be visited as day trips from here [...]
Nine Arches Bridge near Ella
Ella - Ella is a small village towards the south of the hill country in central Sri Lanka that has become very popular with backpackers and budget travellers. There are some popular hiking locations close by that pass by waterfalls and tea plantations and provide some very rewarding vistas [...]
Kandy - Kandy was the capital of the Kandyan Kingdom which existed from 1469–1815. The Kingdom of Kandy was the sole independent native polity on the island of Sri Lanka from the 1590's onwards and did not succumb to colonial rule until 1818 [...]
Kitulgala Rafting
Kitulgala - Kitulgala is small town situated on the Kelani River only a few hours east of Colombo. It is the best spot in Sri Lanka for adventure sports such as white water rafting and canyoning. There are also jungle hikes and water falls to visit [...]
Mirissa Beach - Mirissa is a beautiful little village on the south coast situated between Galle and Matara. The beach dominates the lifestyle in Mirissa with a fantastic sandy coast stretching for about 600m. It has a really nice beach and is popular place to stay while learning to surf. It has also become a popular spot to go whale watching [...]
Nuwara Eliya - Nuwara Eliya is at an altitude of 1,868 m and the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. The altitude and temperate climate gives the city a very different feel from other parts of the country. Visitors to Nuwara Eliya usual come to see the Horton Plains National Park. [...]
Polonnaruwa - Polonnaruwa is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka and part of the Cultural Triangle. The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms and a popular destination to see the ancient ruins [...]
Trincomalee Beach Hut
Trincomalee - Trincomalee is a beach-side town on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka. The coast in Trincomalee is protected from the rough seas seen in other parts of Sri Lanka. It's a great spot for beach lovers and those looking to try their hand at snorkelling or diving. There are many PADI dive schools [...]

Useful Info and Links


  • BusSeat - A resource for finding and booking luxury coaches. Useful if you want to avoid crowded public buses.
  • Kangaroo Cabs - Taxi company with good reputation. Allows online booking.
  •  - The man in seat 61 (the best resource for rail transport info in the world) has detailed information on catching trains in Sri Lanka.

Travel Logistics

Government travel advice and warnings

1 comment

  1. Comment by Sri Lankan Safest Driver

    Sri Lankan Safest Driver Reply May 24, 2017 at 4:49 am

    Hi Hayden,

    I am really surprised to see the wonderful facts that you have written about Sri Lanka.

    Pictures are so beautiful and information are useful to Sri Lankan Trip Planners

    Hope You Visit Sri Lanka Again.

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