Want to Visit Sri Lanka – My 3-Week Itinerary

Visit Sri Lanka

by Shamsul
Visit Sri Lanka
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Travel to Sri Lanka – My 3-Week Itinerary

Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island located south of India and nicknamed the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. Here is a nice nickname that makes you want to go sightseeing and visit Sri Lanka, right? For my part, I made two trips to Sri Lanka: the first time in winter, in February, and a second time in summer, in August. Yes, I liked the country so much that I wanted to continue to explore it and introduce it to you! If I had to sum up my experience in this country, I would say that I was impressed by the beauty and variety of landscapes and charmed by the ease of traveling in Sri Lanka. The locals are generally amiable and helpful (for those who would like to compare with India, the mindset with tourists is close to South India and has nothing to do with North India!


Weather in Sri Lanka – When to go?
What to do in Sri Lanka?
3-week itinerary in Sri Lanka
State of mind
Depending on the seasons
Itinerary day by day
Travel to Sri Lanka – Practical information
Transportation in Sri Lanka
Rent a car with driver or travel by public transport?
Train, bus taxi and tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka
Tuk-tuks and taxis
Vaccines and health
Local SIM card

Weather in Sri Lanka – When to Go?

The weather in Sri Lanka is quite complex but has a great advantage: it is almost always the time to go to Sri Lanka! Let me explain: the country is subject to a humid tropical climate, but despite the island’s small size, its different regions are not affected by the monsoon at the same time. This is great news because whether you decide to go to Sri Lanka in December or August, you will always find areas with good weather! The weather is always nice somewhere in Sri Lanka

So, concretely, when should you go to Sri Lanka? Here is all the info I was able to gather (from reading, on-site experiences and discussions with locals)

If you want to visit the south and west of the island,

Choose the winter months, from November to March (during this time, the “Little Monsoon” is falling in the east of the country)

If you want to visit the east of the island,

Choose the summer months, from April to September (during this time, the “Great Monsoon” hits the south of the island). In general, the east is drier than the west if we compare the annual precipitation: the monsoon is less strong there, hence the fact that it is called small monsoon.

For the north,

we sometimes read varied things: it would approach the climate of the east, but locals told me that the weather was generally favorable all year round except for the months of October and November. I was there in February and had perfect weather!

For central Sri Lanka,

it depends on the corners. Basically, in the “north of the center” (let’s say the cultural triangle except Kandy, that is to say until approximately Dambulla), we are rather on the weather of the north of the country (in other words that it should generally go all the year) while in the “south of the center” (Kandy and the mountains of central Sri Lanka), we are rather close to the weather in the south of the country (rather to be avoided in summer).

The month of October is not recommended for traveling to Sri Lanka; it is really the month when it may not be terrible everywhere.

What to Do in Sri Lanka?

Places to visit in Sri Lanka

There are plenty of things to do and see in Sri Lanka! I went there for more than a month on my two trips and would still like to go back many times to continue traveling in this beautiful country! Among the things that I adored, I was struck by the diversity of the landscapes of Sri Lanka. So much variety on an island that is not yet huge; that is (in particular) what makes it a pleasant country to visit! Before giving you my itinerary, let me explain in broad strokes what you will see in Sri Lanka depending on where you will go.

Cultural triangle (in the “north center”): Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy, with Sigiriya and Dambulla at its center. In this part of the country, there are sites of major cultural importance classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. Totally unmissable to see absolutely, even if you don’t necessarily have to do them all!

Kandy and the central mountains:

The journey from Kandy to Ella is legendary, where you will find the famous tea plantations of Sri Lanka (Nuwara Eliya for example). There are also beautiful hikes to do there. This is an area that I would have liked to explore more!

East of the island:

The east coast, particularly Trincomalee and Batticaloa, is not very touristy. There are dream beaches and a certain sweetness of life. Falling for something!

Jaffna, to the north:

Jaffna is truly Sri Lanka off the beaten track. There are very few tourists. The atmosphere is super authentic.

South and West of Sri Lanka:

This is the most touristic corner, which apparently has very beautiful beaches. I say apparently because I only went there very quickly in February, to Mirissa to observe whales. I then made the choice not to go back because I wanted to discover less touristy areas and the weather was not suitable anyway when I went there in August.

National parks:

impossible to come to Sri Lanka without visiting its national parks and going on a safari to see elephants! There are many of them, spread all over the country.


3 Week Itinerary in Sri Lanka

Here is the itinerary that I recommend you do if you go for 3 weeks in August to Sri Lanka. This is not exactly the route I took on my trip, as I adjusted it based on two things. I added the places that I had already visited in February, that I had loved and which were doable in August and I removed some small things that I had not found ideal after the fact (we had stayed too long in the rain of Kandy). In summary, I reworked it for you to make it better while remaining optimal for the summer months.


State of Mind
The Route is Globally Around Two Axes:

The discovery of must-see sites such as the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka and a national park
the desire to get out of the most touristic corners (south and west) to discover the north and east of the country (Jaffna, Trincomalee and Batticaloa).

For the rhythm, we chose to do a circuit in Sri Lanka, combining relaxation and visits and, above all took our time by generally staying 4 nights in each place (with a few exceptions). I found this rhythm pleasant; it allowed us to see a lot of things while not having the impression of running, it was perfect! We, therefore, did not have the fatigue generated by the fact of changing accommodations too often and planned days that were not too busy, which allowed us to adjust the program according to our desires of the moment and/or to take advantage of the swimming pools of our hotels for bathing and reading!


Depending on the Seasons

This itinerary is suitable for a trip to Sri Lanka in the summer (August for me). If you choose to go in winter, you can generally keep this itinerary but replace the days in the east of the country (Trincomalee and Batticaloa) with days in the south, west or in the mountains of the center of the island. In this case, I really recommend the train trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, which is magnificent, and possibly going whale watching in the south.

If you are wondering if you can still try to go to the central mountains of Sri Lanka in August, I think it is better to be a little flexible on your itinerary and wait to see the weather there. For our part, we had originally planned a hike in the Knuckles Mountains but had to give up due to the weather.


Itinerary Day by Day

Click directly on the links in the itinerary to read the article on the destination you are interested in or click here to see all the articles written about Sri Lanka on the blog. There is reading!

Travel to Sri Lanka – Practical information
Transportation in Sri Lanka
Rent a car with a
driver or travel by public transport?

The most common way to get around Sri Lanka is to hire a car with driver. This is what I did on my first trip and it is clearly a good solution; it allows you to go from one point to another in the country easily. Just be careful of the distances, don’t reason like your country! The roads are often narrow, sometimes winding, congested, and under construction and speed is therefore minimal. The journeys can quickly be very long if you have not taken this into account.

Despite the ease of the car, I admit I had the feeling during this stay that I was missing something: I have trouble seeing the country from the window of a car most of the time. Do not see anything contemptuous there. I am not at all saying that this solution is terrible or that it makes you a “bad traveler”, absolutely not. Renting a car with driver is a practical solution that has many advantages. I will definitely do it again in other countries.


10 Days of Driving with a Driver in Sri Lanka

I’m simply expressing what I felt after 10 days of driving with a driver: I missed contact with the local population, the fact of sometimes struggled a bit to find the right bus or train, to get kind help from someone, to exchange smiles, to share a tiny seat with someone, to tell myself that the drivers really drive like crazy, to jump on a bus that doesn’t really bother to stop, to be able to observe the habits of the inhabitant. In short, I had the impression in the car that a screen had been put between the country and me. And this feeling was not pleasant at all!

In addition, I find that traveling by public transport has a lot of other advantages. First, it forces you to slow down. Not that you go much slower than by car (well, it depends on the roads, sometimes yes but sometimes not as the roads of Sri Lanka are sometimes tricky), but it is another state of mind. We were less likely to plan to do too many things because each trip requires thinking about it a little, which is not bad! Then, public transport is less polluting and causes less traffic problems on small roads. Last point, and not least, necessarily: the price of public transport is ridiculous and can considerably reduce the budget of your trip to Sri Lanka. To give you an idea of ​​the prices, a 3rd class night train trip from Colombo to Trincomalee costs us 1.70€ per person! On bus journeys of several hours, we were at around 1€ per person. You see it, the beautiful economy?


Train, Bus, Taxi and Raksha in Sri Lanka

I’m so enthusiastic about public transport in Sri Lanka because I’ve found it surprisingly easy to use.


It is possible to consult the train schedules in Sri Lanka on the railway company’s website, which is super practical for organizing your trip. However, trains cannot be reserved from other countries unless you go through travel agencies. I haven’t tested it but it may be worth it because the commission charged shouldn’t be huge given the price of train tickets, and from experience the trains are efficiently full if you try to book them once there! In August, we always ended up finding a train, but not always on time or with the comfort we wanted. Lots of info on trains in Sri Lanka on this site.

We were surprised by the comfort of the trains. Taking an overnight train and only being able to buy a 3rd class ticket with a reclining seat, we expected the experience to be really uncomfortable. In the end, it was very correct. Besides the fact that it is almost impossible for me to sleep on a reclining seat (plane included), there was nothing to complain about: correct seats, fan, assigned seats… A good surprise!


It’s not always easy to understand in advance how many buses there will be per day and what the schedules will be, but once there, it’s really simple! Just go to the bus station and ask. The Sri Lankans are really helpful and will always try to give you a hand. I must say that we were pretty amazed. This is also valid when you are waiting for a bus on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere (wondering if you really should have trusted the person who told you this place was a stop!). People waiting with you or passing by will always ask where you are going to be sure to stop the right bus for you: just too lovely!

Bus Sri Lanka

No need to book tickets (by the way, it’s not possible). We get on and pay directly to the seller on the bus (there is always a driver and a seller), who are always honest about the prices. Then we sit where we can and go for the adventure. When I say adventure; it is partly true because the bus drivers in Sri Lanka drive really fast. Although there are regularly large posters or statues of deities hung, we can not help thinking that there could be a miss at some point. If this stresses you out, avoid getting in front and watching the driver and the road. Drivers are usually chewing betel frantically; not sure that’s really reassuring. But it’s an experience just for the atmosphere inside!

Taxis & Rukshas

When traveling by public transport, there is a good chance that you will have to do the last kilometers in a tuk-tuk (Ruksha). It’s a great joy for me. I love riding in a tuk-tuk!! As everywhere, it will be necessary to negotiate the price. The prices announced at the start are sometimes very correct, sometimes disproportionate, depending on where you are. Finding out on Google Map to get an idea of ​​how many miles to cover helps to get an idea of ​​the correct price. In Colombo, I really advise you to download the Pick Me app, the Uber of the Tuk-tuk! Click here for Itunes and here for GooglePlay (you must have a local sim card, I believe but I always take one). The price is fixed in advance and you are therefore sure to pay the normal price (in cash, however, not like Uber), which does not prevent you from rounding up when you have a nice driver!

Tuk Tuk Sri Lanka

Taxi is also a possibility. We took it from the airport to Colombo on the first day (and took a tuk tuk back, but only do it if you really have time! We were for fun). All you have to do is go to the taxi counter when you arrive and you will pay a fixed price for the trip to Colombo, plus a supplement if you want to take the expressway, which I recommend (€1.50 to save 30 minutes, it’s worth it when you’re exhausted on arrival!).



The currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee. It is easy to find distributors in cities.

The cost of living is generally very low, with the exception of hotels which are surprisingly expensive compared to the rest of the expenses. There are not a lot of hotels in Sri Lanka and the prices are sometimes a bit excessive (depending on the location and the season). I advise you to book them in advance or risk seeing the best value for money slipping away.



Good news, there is no need for a visa to travel to Sri Lanka for French nationals who wish to stay less than 30 days! You still have to ask for an ETA per person, which is mandatory upon arrival at the airport. It is very easy to do online on the official website. It costs $35, and although it is always better to do this kind of process in advance, I have always obtained it a few minutes later.

For more info, check out the different websites for comprehensive details on the subject.



I always take insurance when I go to countries outside Europe. As always, I took out Cap Assistance 24/24 insurance from Chapka Assurances. I’ve never had to use them (fingers crossed that it continues!) but they have a good reputation and the prices are competitive.


Vaccines and Health

The good news, there is no more malaria in Sri Lanka! Consult the agency and see the recommended vaccines or preventive measures.



Sri Lanka is generally safe as of this writing. We felt very good there. Watch out for traffic; they tend to drive like crazy (especially buses). There are still sometimes some tensions in the north and east. It is always best to consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website before departure.



Good news, you will eat well! It sometimes lacks a bit of variety (a lot of rice and curry, but luckily there are a thousand and one curry recipes!). It’s overall spicy but nothing terrible if you specifically ask for dishes that aren’t too spicy. Don’t hesitate to ask for sugar-free juices. They tend to add a hell of a lot of it to pressed fruit juices… If you’re vegetarian or vegan, good news, it should be easy! You can read many articles on food in Sri Lanka for more info. Anyhow, you can eat rice and curry in Sri Lanka.



Getting dressed is easy. No real particular constraints apart from covering the knees and shoulders in the temples. Then, it depends a lot on the places where there are still few tourists. It can be wise to swim with a t-shirt so as no shock to anybody.

I prefer light clothes weather gets very hot quickly!


Local SIM Card

I recommend the Dialog network, which was recommended to me by Sri Lankans as having the best network coverage and which has prepaid card offers suitable for tourists (with a lot of data) for a very affordable price (6€ for 9 Giga and a certain volume of calls). It is very easy to recharge them in any small shop.


I haven’t compared all the guides to Sri Lanka, but here are the ones I liked:

Guide Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Guide
Best Thing to do in Sri Lanka


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