Backpacker’s Guide: Where to go and where to stay in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is a wonderland of history, where human civilization dates back thousands of years, there is so much to see and do that it can be overwhelming.

This is a short and wonderfully incomplete list of amazing places to stay and see in Sri Lanka, including the best hostels near backpacking locations, ruins, temples, and great places to visit.

Where to stay in Kandy

Kandy is home to one of Buddhism’s most important icons, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple in which it’s housed (Sri Dalada Maligawa) is worth the visit alone, but that’s just the beginning. There is the Dambulla Cave Temple (AKA The Golden Temple), and Gadaladeniya Vihara, one of the largest rock temples in Sri Lanka.

Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) is a sacred Buddhist site for the “footprint” that’s near the summit. The footprint, believed to have been made by the Buddha, measures 5 ft 11 in (1.8 meters). Also known as Butterfly Mountain for the thousands of butterflies that make this mountain their home. It’s a three hour drive from Kandy so be sure to plan your visit in advance, and remember that the mountain is inaccessible during the wet season, which usually runs from April to November.

The Kandy City Monkey – Located at no 77 Aniwatta Road, the Kandy City Monkey is a great hostel at a great price, as little as $5USD. Reviews say that it’s very clean and roomy.

The Elephant Shed – For as little as $7USD, you can stay in this hostel that is “a great backpacker hostel.” Located at 26/1 Wadugoapitya St., it’s perfectly located to take in the city and the surrounding sights.

Where to stay in Unawatuna

Unawatuna is a wonderful beach located on the southern tip of the island. Although many structures were destroyed by the government for being illegally built, there are still many places to stay and miles of gorgeous beaches to walk on.

In the woods near the town is the Japanese Peace Pagoda that has a stupa with ocean views. Across the bay, you can see 300-year-old fortresses built by the Portuguese and Dutch.

Unawatuna Backpacker Lodge – For as little as $20USD per night, you can stay at this clean, well-appointed hostel. The rave reviews of visitors recommend it as the perfect place to stay. The owners are friendly and the town awaits your explorations.
HU Peritos Hostel – Another hostel with impeccable reviews. Phrases like “nice vibe” and “good gastronomy” indicate how wonderful this hostel is to stay at. Located minutes from the shops, the beach and lots of restaurants, this is a perfect place to stay in Unawatuna.

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s greatest gems. After centuries of colonial rule and decades of internal strife, Sri Lanka is now a peaceful and wonderful place to visit and explore. The rich history of Buddhism, Hinduism, European, and Indian cultures makes this a unique crossroads in the Indian Ocean. The hostels in this island nation are a source of pride for the owners and a gift to visitors from all over the world.

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