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Backpacking

From the laid back, mellow vibes and calm ripples of the serene coastal beaches to the daunting mountains draped in lush greenery and teeming with endemic flora and fauna and the timeless religious traditions unique to the country and adventures like no other, Sri Lanka has become the ideal destination for those hardcore backpackers looking for a unique travel experience.

Located in the Indian Ocean, the teardrop shaped island is famed for not only luxurious travelling, but also for its appeal to budget friendly travellers looking to get a hands on experience of what the country has to offer. As a result, the country has geared itself to tourists following budget holidays, compact itineraries and willing to rough it out to learn, understand and witness the century’s worth of heritage, breathtaking vistas of nature and chilled out coast.

As the demand for budget holidays are increasing, the Paradise Island has replied in kind with the establishment of a number of budget accommodation options around the country. Be it in the coastal, the luscious hill country, the emerging north or the heritage clad Cultural Triangle, hostels, home stays, rest houses and even budget hotels are always there to give you shelter. Coupled with the friendly folk of the country that are willing to help you experience the country in all her glory, backpacking in Sri Lanka is an intuitive way of understanding the beauty of her people, history, culture and nature.

Interesting Facts

  • The Paradise Island’s status of being a backpacker’s haven stretches all the way back to the 1970s, when the commercial capital of Colombo, the little fishing hamlets in the southern coast of the country and the hill country, such as Hikkaduwa, Galle and Kandy proved to be idyllic locations to just chill out and bask in the natural bliss of the country.
  • Ever since the 1970s, backpackers ventured elsewhere in the island and discovered the scenic beauty of the east coast, namely; Arugam Bay and Trincomalee.
  • The increase in backpackers saw the increase in budget accommodation springing up across the coast and the hill country. Initially just regular rest houses, the accommodation quickly adopted a hostel concept to create the sense of fellowship and accommodate the increase of travellers.
  • Apart from Kandy, other parts of the central highlands such as Ella, Haputale, Hatton and Nuwara Eliya took a few years for backpackers to discover and in the 1990s up until the present, these places remain to be hotspots for backpackers to go sightseeing the countryside’s daunting mountains.
  • The same time saw the discovery of the Cultural Triangle cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla, as the cities enticed many a traveller to witness the country’s illustrious history and heritage.
  • Adding into the heritage of the country is its endemic fauna and flora that is signified by the many national wildlife parks, such as the Udawalawe National Park, Wilpattu National Park and the Yala National Park; the more prominent ones in the country.
  • More recently, the northern parts of Sri Lanka, namely Jaffna and Kilinochchi has seen an increase in backpackers, as a result of the end of the 30-year long Civil War and provides anyone who visits the places a background to the peace that has been bestowed upon the island.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The season for backpacking in Sri Lanka is yearlong and depends on where you are willing to explore within the Paradise Island.
  • It is important to be well prepared with the necessary equipment, however, do pack lightly, since hauling heavy luggage around the streets can be a quite a literal pain in the back. Therefore, a 44-65 litre backpack will suffice.
  • Although the country has a decent infrastructure in transportation, it is best to research beforehand, especially when it comes to train times and bus times.
  • For train times and fares, it is advisable to visit slr.malindaprasad.com
  • For bus times and fares, routemaster.lk and www.ntc.gov.lk will prove to be useful.
  • Safety comes first at all times, therefore it is highly suggested that you possess travel insurance and necessary medicine to negate any sickness.
  • Using of electronics, such as the smartphones, tablets and computers may be quite difficult in certain rural areas, therefore it is imperative that you bring along a universal adapter.
  • Should you forget to bring one, do purchase one from a local electronic store or supermarket.
  • For security reasons, it is important that you carry at least a photocopy of the information page of your passport when traversing through the streets of Sri Lanka.
  • Always keep your personal belongings such as wallet and identity close to you, especially in crowded areas.
  • Internet and Wi-Fi availability can be quite a challenge in rural areas, however, it is just enough to check your mails and stay up to date with social media.
  • Communication can be quite difficult as the English language is not the first language of the people of Sri Lanka; do learn a few phrases of the Sinhala language before travelling as it would prove to be very useful.
  • Traversing through the urban areas of the country will not be much of a problem, since many of the urban folk can speak English.
  • Always adhere to the rules, regulations and customs of the country.

Backpacking around Sri Lanka is considered by many to be an ideal way of experiencing the country. Every place you visit possesses some distinct feature from the rest, be it the people, culture, landscapes and or even the history. The Paradise Island never ceases to amaze.

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