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Old 16th January 2022, 16:52   #16
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

Just got back from Sri Lanka about 2 weeks back. I had an amazing time but didnt go to a lot of places you went to. We had only 6 days, so we booked a cab from Airport to save time, had it almost through our trip except 2 train rides. Your post inspires me to go back on a backpacking trips. I will surely use this post as a reference for my next trip.
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Old 16th January 2022, 17:32   #17
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

Been to Sri Lanka long back on a school trip in 2012 when I was in 12th standard, absolutely beautiful country and friendly people, the scenery reminded me of Kerala in some ways. Was supposed to visit Sri Lanka again for a friend's wedding last year but unfortunately, between COVID and me changing my job, that wasn't possible.

I remember security in the airport was very tight back then, I wonder how it is now.
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Old 16th January 2022, 18:33   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffHanger View Post
Excellent travelogue - the photos and narration, thanks for sharing.

What is the procedure to get the visa and currency exchanged, and what is the total cost of the trip?
We did a 2 weeks backpacking trip in 2017 and it costed 60k all inclusive for two persons. Add 50% to get the current prices after 5years. My guess is 50k is enough for one person for two weeks, for a budget backpacking trip.

Visa: Indians get a visa-on-arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo. Fee is $25 per person. You can obtain this visa in advance by applying online - http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ and pay $20; provided you have an international credit/debit card to make the payment. On arrival at Sri Lanka, you will need to fill up the address of your first day's accommodation.

Flights: There are frequent flights from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. If you opt weekdays the price is going a lot different. We paid INR 10,200 for round trip for one person in 2017.

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) is approximately 2.7 times against INR. It is a dollar friendly country, so it makes sense to carry currency in USD from India. 1USD = 202LKR approx. There are many counters at the exit gates of airport to change the currency and all the counters offer the same rate at a given time. These counters work 24hrs. In case you don't change at the airport, there are many shops and banks throughout the country to change the currency. INR can't be changed at the airport and there are limited options - Colombo city and Jaffna are two places we found authorized money changers for INR. In a nutshell, carry enough USD- change at the airport and on the way back home change LKR to USD.

Ancient Cities and temples have a hefty entry fee for the foreigners, Dambulla cave temple entry fee LKR1500 as an example. Calculate these expenses under a separate head on your daily budget. SAARC country citizens get 50% discount at some places.

Last edited by Romins : 16th January 2022 at 18:35. Reason: more info
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Old 17th January 2022, 09:29   #19
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

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Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
7 am shift? 'Late' start on a Sunday morning huh

Quote:
Originally Posted by A2B View Post
Great Post, and if you are planning a trip in Summer, know that it will be as hot and humid as Chennai. Now the snap you uploaded with this comment.
...
Looks like its an Old Dutch trading centre, its on the board in the photograph.
Lol - talk about not looking carefully. Thanks. As for the heat in SL, I'm from Chennai. My wife is from Mangalore, an equally hot & humid location. We can deal with it (lol).

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Sri Lanka is a country that offers a slice of paradise to each and every one while also honouring every definition of paradise!

It can be drives, trekking, hills, valleys, beaches, spiritual, wild-life etc etc! You name it you get it!

Amazing log bringing out the backpacking part!
Thank you! My views exactly. Someday, I'm going to consider it as a Goa alternative if planned in advance for a long weekend (as an example).

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
Try? I think you've handed Sri Lanka Tourism enough content to create their next brochure. Brilliantly compiled. Looking at some of your earlier sojourns, it is a given that ninjatalli = nature thali(clap clap)
Thank you!
Quote:
PS: I just got off a bus thread and while looking at the second collage you'd attached, noticed that the bus you took was an Ashok Leyland of around 2004 vintage.
Wow! That was one of the better kept buses we saw on the road. Interesting!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffHanger View Post
Excellent travelogue - the photos and narration, thanks for sharing.

What is the procedure to get the visa and currency exchanged, and what is the total cost of the trip?
Thank you.

Others have given decent amount of information so I won't repeat. Also referencing this excellent post by D-bhpian @itwasntme on his recent SL trip that would answer all your questions (and more).

--------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by itwasntme View Post
We just came back from a spur-of-the-moment trip to Sri Lanka, namely Galle, Bentota & Colombo.
A few notes in no particular order:

>>The nodal website : https://www.srilanka.travel/helloagain/

>>ETA is online and automated within business hours. Else takes overnight at the most.

...
--------------


Quote:
Originally Posted by varadha_r View Post
Your idea of backpacking on local buses and trains is a great one especially in a friendly, safe country like SL. cant' wait to try it out.
Thank you!


Quote:
Originally Posted by rkw View Post
Very nice travelogue. Had been to Colombo & Kandy in 2014. Excellent foreign destination to visit yet economical, familiar & nearby. Fully agree with your observation of the meticulous driving discipline of the people there.



E-visa can be obtained by Indians for tourist purpose online by visiting their immigration website.
We did the E-visa only. I believe visa-on-arrival is just the same process done at the airport, although there might be some delays.

Quote:
Originally Posted by satyabrata.dash View Post
Just got back from Sri Lanka about 2 weeks back. I had an amazing time but didnt go to a lot of places you went to.
Good to hear on your trip. Well, do put up a thread/post on your trip if possible. I'm sure there are things you did that we (and others) could pick up for future trips to SL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dragracer567 View Post
Been to Sri Lanka long back on a school trip in 2012 when I was in 12th standard, absolutely beautiful country and friendly people, the scenery reminded me of Kerala in some ways. Was supposed to visit Sri Lanka again for a friend's wedding last year but unfortunately, between COVID and me changing my job, that wasn't possible.

I remember security in the airport was very tight back then, I wonder how it is now.
Didn't see a lot of security to be honest, it was quite similar to any airport in India from a security staff numbers perspective. Things seemed pretty much normal even across the country. Hardly felt or saw any indications of the political (or historical) related issues.

The only 'problem' we saw was the railways going on strike around Christmas but that was due to some union-related issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romins View Post
We did a 2 weeks backpacking trip in 2017 and it costed 60k all inclusive for two persons. Add 50% to get the current prices after 5years. My guess is 50k is enough for one person for two weeks, for a budget backpacking trip.
...
Flights: There are frequent flights from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. If you opt weekdays the price is going a lot different. We paid INR 10,200 for round trip for one person in 2017.
...
Ancient Cities and temples have a hefty entry fee for the foreigners, Dambulla cave temple entry fee LKR1500 as an example. Calculate these expenses under a separate head on your daily budget. SAARC country citizens get 50% discount at some places.
Agree - prices have gone up quite a decent bit more than what you faced in 2017. Flights for us were ~35k inr return (for both) but we booked only 1 month in advance. Tourist locations entry fees were around 3000 LKR (e.g. for Kandy Tooth relic temple), even for SAARC country natives.

I would put 1 - 2L inr for a 2 week backpacking trip (depending on how the couple budget their trip).

Last edited by ninjatalli : 17th January 2022 at 09:31.
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Old 17th January 2022, 19:26   #20
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

This was an amazing trip that is well documented in this travelogue!

Sri Lanka is definitely in my places to visit list.
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Old 17th January 2022, 20:48   #21
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

Really surprising that being close to south India, Sri Lanka is still not on radar of most Indians. Thanks a lot for sharing the 2 week backpacking trip and opening a new world of country side. Looks totally like being in India. Had the occasion to make friends with lot of Naval officers in Kochi but could never plan a trip. Now it seems it is calling me. The photographs were really good with some perfect shots at various angles.
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Old 17th January 2022, 22:49   #22
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

What a lovely travelogue
Ninja you would be the best person to answer this, would you recommend a cycling trip in Sri Lanka?

If yes what should be the route for a 4-5 day riding holiday on cycles?
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Old 18th January 2022, 03:12   #23
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

I have extended family living in Colombo for the last 40 years and have not made the trip! After reading and looking at the pictures above, I have to go now.

Those railway stations are a reminder of what stations on Indian Railways once looked like, back in the 1980's and even up to 2000. Quite a different story today where major junctions and locations of interest are being spruced up to attract more folks to take a train.
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Old 18th January 2022, 05:12   #24
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Default Re: Backpacking Sri Lanka - A Covid Escapade!

Quote:
Originally Posted by catchjyoti View Post
This was an amazing trip that is well documented in this travelogue!
Thank you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sukhbirST View Post
. The photographs were really good with some perfect shots at various angles.
Thank you. Hope you are able to do your trip soon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverado View Post
would you recommend a cycling trip in Sri Lanka?

If yes what should be the route for a 4-5 day riding holiday on cycles?
Oh definitely, it's a great country for cycling. Easiest option would be to do coastal route Colombo/Negambo - Galle - Matara (~200 kms), stopping by the numerous beaches.

If you have the energy to do elevations, then Colombo - Kandy stretch makes a better sense.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
I have extended family living in Colombo for the last 40 years and have not made the trip! After reading and looking at the pictures above, I have to go now.

Those railway stations are a reminder of what stations on Indian Railways once looked like, back in the 1980's and even up to 2000. Quite a different story today where major junctions and locations of interest are being spruced up to attract more folks to take a train.
Interesting to hear that. I guess there's a good story behind each of the changes. The infrastructure still needs a long way to go, and would require a lot of investments for sure.

Also we met and spoke to several Tamilian folks who had left India decades ago (or generations ago) and were wanting to do a trip back home since long.
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