Nine Arches Bridge

Sri Lanka – The tear-shaped island nation, the former name before 1952 is Ceylon, this is the 27th country I have the opportunity to visit, and is also home to the premium black tea of Lipton, Dilmah which famous all over the world. International tourists often combine the Maldives and Sri Lanka in one trip due to the two countries are quite close together. However, if you want to explore more deeply the culture and natural scenery of this country, you should spend at least 7–15 days! So, what to do and how to spend 7 days in Sri Lanka perfectly? Let’s check out our suggested the best 7 day Sri Lanka itinerary (7 days in Sri Lanka itinerary, seven days in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka itinerary 1 week, Sri Lanka travel itinerary 7 days) including the very details itinerary from what you need to know before you go, how to get there, best places to visit, top things to do, what to eat, where to stay… to find out the answer!

nuwara-eliya sri lanka
Riding beside the tea plantations, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
elephant-shower-kandy
Elephant Bath at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
harvesting tea
Harvesting tea leafs
anuradhapura-header-1
Anuradhapura city, Sri Lanka
Two young boy cycling on the street of Kandy city
Tea at Pedro's Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Tea at Pedro’s Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
The best 7 day Sri Lanka itinerary: 7–day road trip itinerary through 6 cities – towns in Sri lanka: Negombo (Airport) – Colombo (Capital) – Galle – Ella – Nuwara Eliya – Kandy – Negombo. | 7 days in sri lanka

Sri Lanka travel itinerary 7 days: Things to know before you go

Time zone & Temperature

The timezone of Vietnam is 2 hours faster than Sri Lanka. The average temperature in Sri Lanka ranging around 27 degrees Celsius. And in some high hill cities like Nuwara Eliya, the day I came in early August, the cold wind blew people away, the weather was just like in Dalat.

nuwara-eliya view-from-train-kandy
Nuwara Eliya Tea Plantations, Sri Lanka | 7 days in sri lanka

The best time to visit Sri Lanka

This is a hot tropical monsoon country all year round, but temperature, rainfall and weather vary from region to region. Depending on your route, there will be the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

Lighthouse in Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
Lighthouse in Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
fishing on stilts in sri lanka
Stilt fishing, a “specialty” of Sri Lankan
  • The west coast (like Chilaw), the south (like Galle), the capital Colombo in southwest and hilly: From December – March is the best time to visit Sri Lanka.
  • If you plan to explore the east coast, the best time is: April, May – September.
  • July – August: Is the festive season in Sri Lanka. I chose to go in early August because of the Kandy Esala Perahera Buddha Tooth Procession (the Festival of the Tooth) – the biggest street festival in the ancient city of Kandy.
  • October – November: Should be avoided because this is a monsoon period, the weather is very erratic and severe floods and thunderstorms can happen at any time.
Kandy Esala Perahera Buddha Tooth Procession
Yala National Park
Barefoot, Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka | Photo Credits: Barefoot, Sri Lanka
A restaurant and antique shop in Galle
The Buddhist Country

4G Sim Card

In Sri Lanka, there are a few major telecom providers such as Airtel, Mobitel, Dialog … However, I chose Dialog because I saw many good reviews online and Dialog’s counter is also the busiest counter in the Sim selling area. The price for 10GB data (6GB anytime + 4GB night time) + Rs.600 international calls + SMS + Domestic calls, Rs.350 SMS (2019) is 1,299 Rupees (about $17.32). Wifi at the Sri Lanka hostel / hotel which I stayed is extremely slow, unstable, so it is best for you to buy one Sim for each person to access the network and communicate with each other. You also can book this sim in advance via Klook.

Sri Lanka 4G Sim Card of Dialog for tourists. The package price is about $17.32 for 10Gb of data, international & domestic calls.

4G SIM Card (CMB Airport Pick Up) for Sri Lanka

Money exchange

Sri Lankan Rupee

You can exchange Vietnamese money into USD and bring to Sri Lanka to exchange Sri Lankan Rupee (Rupee is the currency of Sri Lanka), you can exchange it at the airport or the currency exchange shops in the city of Colombo, all are Okay (there are many such shops on Galle Road). The exchange rate at the airport is USD1 = 174.8 Rupees (August 2019). You remember to exchange both odd and even money for convenient spending. I exchanged about 10 million VND for 7 days in Sri Lanka but still had more than a million to bring home even though I spent a lot for sightseeing, food and drink.

Currency exchange shop in Colombo

Sri Lanka itinerary 1 week: How to get to Sri Lanka?

From Hanoi / HCMC (Vietnam) – Colombo (Sri Lanka)

Because there is no direct flight, so all flights are connecting flights (transit flights) in Kuala Lumpur / Singapore / Thailand, the low-cost airlines and the best service can be mentioned Air Asia, Malindo Air, Malaysia Airlines, … I booked in advance, the airfare about $256.78. Normally, it ranges from $235.38 to $299.57 (2019).

Airasia-flight-to-Langkawi-tours-eagle-island
You can travel to Sri Lanka by taking the flight of cheap carriers like Air Asia | 7 days in sri lanka

Getting from Bandaranaike International Airport to Colombo city

Bandaranaike International Airport is located in Negombo, quite far from Colombo, about 33km. I had the opportunity to try the 2 most popular travel options are: taxi and bus.

Bandaranaike International Airport | 7 days in sri lanka

Private City Transfers for Colombo and Surrounding Areas

Taxi

At the outside of the exit gate of the airport, I see many car rental brands, and taxis of many travel agencies transport into the city. Our group arrived quite late at 11 PM, so we wanted to take a taxi to the hotel to avoid the danger. The group of 4 people share money is not expensive. Taxi price ranges from 2.700 – 3.000 Rupees. Calculated less than $5 / person.

At the exit gate of the airport, there are many travel agencies that let you rent a taxi from Bandaranaike International Airport to Colombo city center.
Taxi is a beautiful and new 4-seater car. On the way to the city, the driver also offers a car rental service by day at a cheap price of 40 USD / day / car.

Bus

Bandaranaike International Airport is quite small, after get out of the hall, you go straight across the road, look to your left hand side to see the bus stop. There are 2 types of bus: The large public bus number 187 and small bus with air-conditioner with the fare is very cheap, only Rs.120 but quite disorder. The driver assistant charged a double fare of Rs.300 to stealing from foreigners. Forturnately, I already knew the real price, so I only paid half price 150 Rupees / person (less than $2 for the 33km of journey). Traveling solo or a group of few people I find this ride very convenient but also cool. The bus will drop off at the bus stop opposite Colombo Fort Railway Station – downtown. From here you can take a tuk tuk to your hotel.

Small air-conditioned bus runs in two directions continuously from Bandaranaike International Airport – Colombo city.

Private transfer service: In addition, you can rent a private car from Klook to getting to city from the airport, it’s convenient, fast: Private Bandaranaike International Airport Transfers (CMB) for Colombo.

7 days in Sri Lanka itinerary: How to getting around Sri Lanka?

I have tried the 2 most popular ways of traveling are: Train & Car Rental: Renting a car, our group rents for 40USD/day/car. However, I do not recommend, the reason I will write in another post. Below is my traumatic experience of buying train tickets :))

Sri Lanka streets

In Sri Lanka, the most famous thing is its super cheap trains with only $1.16 – $1.28/hundred km, I saw some visitors review the price of first class ticket – 2nd class ticket – 3rd class ticket is not much different ??? Okay, so for the last trip when returning from Kandy back to Colombo, I gleefully went to the train station to book tickets, but at that time I was shepherded @[email protected] I was eagerly waiting in line to buy tickets with some Sri Lankans, the man who sold the ticket watched me and tell me move to another row to line up, send me the first class ticket, with Royal Saloon, priced at Rs.1600 (about ~$21.30), then I was dumbfounded.

The train
Train is the best way to getting around Sri Lanka
Inside a crowded train

Recalling “Oh shit! Why did my friends only pay some dollars but I was charged over $20, why, why :)))“. Okay! It’s fine, haha, no matter, many bloggers have written about the experience when standing on the train throughout the journey with a 3rd class ticket it is. I review the first class compartment for ~$21.30 (it is not expensive compared to the service received. After this experience, I have to admit that Sri Lankans are extremely like making money from white tourists or people who look like as tourists like me :)))

A train station
A worthy experience when the train passing through the tea plantations.

The first-class cabin with cool air conditioning, TV with Captain Marvel movie on, electric charger, snacks for guests including sandwiches + cakes + delicious fried chicken cakes. The staff know English extremely dedicated take care. I went alone on this trip, so I felt safer because almost all tourists and some passengers looked quite polite, not as hustle as other cabins.

The first class compartment costs $21.30 for the Kandy – Colombo route.
There are snacks to serve guests here, the staff speak English well, extremely enthusiastic. Sipping milk tea while watching the beautiful nature in Sri Lanka is a worthwhile experience.

Getting around and in the city

Tuk-tuk

The cheapest and most popular way is to rent a Tuk-Tuk. In my experience, I will check on Google Maps first to see how far the distance between 2 points is. Then depending on the situation that bargain price is about 150 – 200 rupees for a distance of 1 – 2km (in Galle, Kandy). In the city of Colombo, the price will be a bit more expensive. If possible, ask the hotel receptionist to book Tuk Tuk is the best.

Traffic in Sri Lanka | sri lanka travel itinerary 7 days

Best 7 day Sri Lanka itinerary: Where to stay?

Hotel in Colombo: Island Hostels Colombo

See the review and photos of the hotel on Booking.com, I really like it, the dorm room looks quite clean, plus a swimming pool and the green garden is very eye-catching. Price is only $7.30/bed. However, the minus point is that the swimming pool is only taken photo to show, but the water is very dirty and cannot swim. The water in the vase near the reception counter also charges a fee, they also not selling tours to visit a few nearby places @[email protected] Almost only selling accommodation services, not paying attention to other accompanying services. (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Island Hostels Colombo

Homestay in Galle: Dreamers Arc Hostel Galle

Rated 8.4/10 points on Booking.com, it is located in a small deserted alley, quite close Galle Fort (fortress area, old town is the main sightseeing place in Galle). The dorm room is clean, but there is no air conditioner, quite simple. The plus point is that the couple owner are very friendly and attentive. In addition, here also has Sri Lankan traditional clothes for rent to go to Galle Fort to take pictures for 250 Rupees/set. (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Dreamers Arc Hostel Galle

Hotel in Ella: Ella City Grand

The room view overlooking the hill, located in the heart of the crowded center of the town, surround by many shops, restaurants. Spacious bathroom, free delicious breakfast. (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Ella City Grand

Hotel in Kandy: Blue Pillars

Blue Pillars hotel with ratings 9.3/10 points on Booking.com located about 1.5km from the center, on the hill, it is cool and quiet. Rooms are clean, cute decorated with a restaurant on the top floor with a very nice view. The minus point is that it’s difficult to move, every walk is like trekking :)). Price is about $40/double room/night. (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Blue Pillars | sri lanka travel itinerary 7 days

You can find more, check rates, availability & book for hotels in Sri Lanka on Agoda.com or Booking.com or Airbnb.com.

So, what to do in Sri Lanka for 7 days? Below are the sample itinerary 7 days in Sri Lanka, 7 days in Sri Lanka itinerary, Sri Lanka itinerary 1 week) for you refer to

7 days in Sri Lanka itinerary — Day 1: Colombo

Arrival at the airport it was 11 PM. We took a Taxi to Island Hostel Colombo for a rest for early travel tomorrow.

Colombo Airport

Best 7 day Sri Lanka itinerary — Day 2: Colombo – Galle

Morning: Rent the exact taxi that take us from the airport to Colombo last night to take a Road Trip with the price of USD40/day/car including gasoline, accommodation, food for the driver. The first trip is Colombo – Galle.

On the way, we stop by to visit Madu River Boat Safari: watch the local birds, reptiles, visit the workshops where peel cinnamon bark to make tea and cinnamon powder, drink coconut water at King Coconut in the middle of the river … This coconut water is quite bland, not as delicious as Vietnamese coconut.

Drink fire coconut water in the floating bulgalow. | sri lanka travel itinerary 7 days
Visit a craft workshop that peels and grinds cinnamon bark to make tea and cinnamon powder. Cinnamon tea is delicious and smells good.
Take picture with Sri Lankan boat man. | sri lanka travel itinerary 7 days

Arrived in Galle in the afternoon, rested, ate, and walked.

Sri Lanka itinerary 1 week — Day 3: Galle

Morning: Breakfast with Sri Lankan style dishes as indigenous people. There are many small pastry shops, Tea House / Tea Room. The price is very affordable. I chose a restaurant near the market and the Homestay, I felt that the cake I tasted like European cakes, and the watermelon juice, they added a little salt so it was a bit salty. Sitting on the sidewalk, watching the street and observing how people live, start a new day, feel very relaxed.

Simple breakfast with some cakes, watermelon juice.

Galle Fort is an ancient fortress built in the 16th century (1588) by the Portuguese, then invaded by the Dutch (1649) and they built other buildings. This is the most typical example of architecture built by Europeans in South Asia, recognized by UNESCO as world cultural heritage. Inside the fortress are the paved roads, clothing shops, restaurants, cafes, souvenirs, gems stores… so, you can walk for hours watching the sea, shopping and eating for hours without getting bored. Although compared to Hoi An, Penang .. this place is much quieter and deserted.

Inside the Galle Fort.
Inside the Galle Fort. | sri lanka travel itinerary 7 days
Streets of the Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
Streets in the Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
A coffee shop in Galle Fort | sri lanka travel itinerary 7 days
Funky Shop in Galle Fort
Funky Shop in Galle Fort
| sri lanka itinerary 1 week
Pedlar’s Inn Pizzeria – One of the top rated restaurants, with nice location and good food in the old town of Galle Fort.
Old town of Galle Fort with many cute, creative decorative corners. | sri lanka itinerary 1 week
The lighthouse

Afternoon

Jungle Beach: Called the jungle beach because to get to this beach you have to take a trekking short through a part of the forest. In general, the beaches in Sri Lanka is still quite pristine, the service is sketchy, the whole section of the coast has exactly 1 small bar, the water color is not blue. If you have a lot of time, want to find a corner to chill and rest, coming here you will feel comfortable because its deserted, with few tourists coming back and forth.

Jungle beach, Galle, Sri Lanka | sri lanka itinerary 1 week

Unawatuna Beach: Because I spent a lot of energy to getting here, I also take advantage to went to a nearby beach to see if there is more. There are very few foreign tourists at Unawatuna Beach, mostly indigenous people, so I was a little scared. I travel alone again, so I only took some pictures and then return. This place has many restaurants, the beach is also smoother and more beautiful than Jungle Beach.

Unawatuna Beach, Galle, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka travel itinerary 7 days — Day 4: Galle – Ella

After spent 2 nights in Galle, we felt satisfied and so on the morning of Day 4, we went to Ella. I don’t think we could pass through a terrible and winding mountain road like this. The car was hitting 2 sides continuously like playing roller coaster, maybe going by train will be better? Before, I feel very strong and confident in the ability to “throw around” but now I have to lie flat in the car, fortunately not vomiting.

Ravana Falls, Ella: About 6.5km from the town center, takes 20 – 30 minutes by tuk tuk. This is also one places you should come in Ella. The waterfall is high but there are many gentle sections that attract backpackers to bathe. At the foot of the waterfall, a number of shops selling snacks such as boiled corn, mangoes … immediately serve hungry customers.

Ravana Falls, Ella | sri lanka itinerary 1 week

Afternoon: Arrived in the town of Ella: The temperature in Colombo and Galle is getting hot but in Ella, it becomes cool and refreshing. In the center of the town is many shops, services in an area of 2 sq. km. There are many restaurants, cafes, tea shops, souvenirs …

The town of Ella, Sri Lanka | sri lanka itinerary 1 week

Seven days in Sri Lanka — Day 5: Ella

Ravana’s Cave – on the way to Ella Rock: Considered as a sacred cave built in the reign of King Walagamba, with ancient drawings on the cave … But when I got there, it was just a dark cave, nothing more :)). The only plus point is that the scenery on the trekking trail is very beautiful and peaceful. Walking around here, you can feel the slow pace of life of the people of this town. I only came to Rawana cave because I went to with my friends who was afraid to climb, but I encourage you to come here to try a little more to reach Ella Rock, which will be much more majestic.

Ravana Cave | best 7 day sri lanka itinerary
The scene and Ravana’s Cave, located near the path to Ella Rock, Sri Lanka.
Ella Rock | best 7 day sri lanka itinerary

Demodara Nine Arches Bridge: This is one of the most beautiful places in the trip. It takes 30 minutes on foot from the town.

Nine arches bridge, Ella Sri Lanka. | best 7 day sri lanka itinerary

7 days in Sri Lanka — Day 5: Nuwara Eliya – Kandy

Damro Tea Factory (Damro Labookellie Tea Centre): Here you can sample nearly 20 different teas, see the tea hills of Damro Tea factory, visit the processing factory, buy tea as souvenirs. In addition, on the 2nd floor also sells Lunch Buffet with Curry dishes, fruits, rice …

Damro Tea factory. The tea hills are foggy year round.
Try tea & cakes at Damro Tea. We bought the strawberries from the local farmers along the way. | best 7 day sri lanka itinerary
Damro tea plantations | 7 days in sri lanka itinerary

Address: A5, Nuwara Eliya 22200 Sri Lanka
Hours: 8:30AM–6:30PM

Visit the house of indigenous people in Sri Lanka: Because the hometown of the driver in Kandy, so he combined to visit his family and take us there to visit too. The Sri Lankan people in the countryside are as gentle and hospitable as the Vietnamese. We got them to offer milk tea, drink a bit like the Indian Masala Chai and draw Henna on our hands.

Drawing Henna on my hand

Esala Perahera Buddha Tooth Procession: This is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, starting at 8pm and ending at 10pm. The festival lasts more than ten days. Here, you can watch fire dance performances, music, street dance, and a herd of elephants parade with Buddha tooth relics in harmony with the vibrant atmosphere of the local people.

Esala Perahera is the biggest and most important festival in Sri Lanka. | 7 days in sri lanka itinerary

Sri Lanka travel itinerary 7 days — Day 6: Kandy

Visit the workshop of wood – gems stone – fabric

Gem and wood workshop in Sri Lanka | 7 days in sri lanka itinerary

Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic): The place where preserved the Buddha’s tooth relics.

Buddhist tooth temple Sri Dalada Maligawa, Sri Lanka

Address: Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka
Hours: 5:30AM–8PM

KCC (Kandy City Center): Entertainment and dining complex. Here you can try dishes from around the world such as Thailand, Italy, China, Sri Lanka …

Kandy City Center (KCC) with many restaurants, supermarkets, amusement zones.

Sri Lanka itinerary 1 week — Day 7: Colombo

Morning: Take the train from Kandy at 6am, 9am arrival at Colombo Fort central station.

Kandy to Colombo train | 7 days in sri lanka itinerary

Pettah Floating Market: This market close to the Colombo Fort train station. So as soon as I got off the station I hired Tuk Tuk to come here to visit. Although the introduction was quite attractive, I felt disappointed because there were only a few stalls open while the polluted odor of the canal was so that I could not breathe, so I had to move to another place earlier than expected.

The Pettah Floating Market, Colombo, with a river has a heavier smell than the To Lich river in Hanoi and the Nhieu Loc canal in Ho Chi Minh City combined.

Address: W E Bastian Mawatha, Colombo 01000, Sri Lanka
Hours: 8AM–10:30PM

Ministry of Crab: This is a very famous Crab restaurant in Colombo. But it was also near this area that I was cheated of money. There is a professional scammers guild wandering this area. I will confide more in another blog.

Ministry of Crab | 7 days in sri lanka itinerary
Giant mud crab

Address: Old Dutch Hospital Complex, 04 Hospital St, Colombo 00100, Sri Lanka
Hours: 12–10PM

Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Temple: This is a sacred site, one of the places visited by the Buddha when he arrived in Sri Lanka. Inside there is a very large reclining Buddha image.

Kelanjya Raja Maha Vihara Temple, Sri Lanka

Address: Peliyagoda, Sri Lanka
Hours: Open 24 hours

Take the bus back to Bandaranaike International Airport. End of the 7-day trip in Sri Lanka with many thrill experiences ^^. Total trip cost: $258.32 air tickets $387.489 spent along the way including road trip car rental, food, drink, sightseeing tickets… and lost about $25.86 being cheated on money, LOL.

Happy traveling!!

nuwara-eliya sri lanka train ride
Nuwara | sri lanka travel itinerary 7 days

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Sri Lanka you can refer to

ADAM PEAK sri lanka attractions things to do guide 2
Sunrise at Adam Peak.

Are you looking for more top things to do in Marina: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: My trip to Sri Lanka — Top 7 unique & best things to do in Sri Lanka. And check it out here.

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