Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon, also known as the ‘pearl of the Indian Ocean’, is a land that can dazzle and seduce you! If you are planning a solo trip to Sri Lanka, be prepared to explore stunning beaches, eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, about three thousand years of history, lush green panoramas, colorful fire twirling dancers, banana fritters, coconut pancakes, kottu rotti and much more!
Is Sri Lanka safe for solo female travelers?
Sri Lankans are very friendly and cooperative, always ready to smile at you even if you are a stranger to them. The predominant culture is Buddhism, which means the people are warm and welcoming, making it very safe for women to travel alone. The friendly locals are always impressed if you pay them a compliment or two; so keep that in mind when you converse with them. During your solo trip to Sri Lanka, you’ll be visiting cultural attractions that are the conservative kind. So do remember to dress appropriately at all times.
Places to stay in Sri Lanka for solo travelers
Sri Lanka is a small, yet beautiful island nation that can be explored in detail in just about three weeks. However, if your solo trip needs to be completed in a shorter duration, you can decide which areas you wish to cover based on your preferences.
Because the country is small in terms of area, you can choose about 4-5 locations to base yourself when planning a trip to Sri Lanka, and then set out to explore different tourist attractions from there based on your itinerary. Here are a few selected locations that would be ideal for a female solo traveler in Sri Lanka.
- Sigiriya, Dambulla or Habarana
Located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, these three neighboring small towns have some interesting hotels where you can stay during your solo trip. From here, you can conveniently visit the attractions in cities such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and the Minneriya National Park.
Kandy is the hill country capital of Sri Lanka. From budget hotels to boutique hotels, Kandy has a wide range of accommodation options with lovely views of the hills. The popular city itself has a lot to explore, including adventurous trekking tours in the Knuckles Mountain Ranges.
- Nuwara Eliya
Amidst the central highlands, a few days in Nuwara Eliya will make you feel like you are living in the British Colonial Era. Adam’s Peak, World’s End, Ella, and an abundance of tea plantations are easily accessible from Nuwara Eliya, also known as “Little England”.
A small, yet very popular town located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka is Mirissa. The gorgeous beach and active nightlife in Mirissa make it an ideal location for solo travelers in Sri Lanka. UNESCO sites Galle, Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve, and other popular attractions such as the Turtle Hatchery, water sports, Unawatuna beach, and everything else on the southern coast is just a short drive from Mirissa.
Ideally, Negombo would be the first stop after a long flight, due to its close proximity to the Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka. While Negombo itself has a popular Sri Lankan fish market and other Dutch era attractions to explore, the West Coast beaches of Chilaw and Kalpitiya are a few hours away from Negombo.
Being the trading hub of Sri Lanka, Colombo offers the best of urban living in Sri Lanka. From cinemas to malls to restaurants, parks, fruits and vegetable markets, temples, and ancient architecture, Colombo has much to explore!
Things to do for female solo travelers in Sri Lanka
- Visit the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Sacred City – Anuradhapura
If you were to choose one of these eight, Anuradhapura should be it. This ancient city has been the heart of Sri Lanka for many years and has preserved an impressive collection of buildings and Stupas. A glimpse of a 1000-year-old history can be seen in Anuradhapura.
- Ancient City – Polonnaruwa
After Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka and has also preserved impressive ancient ruins and archeological sites.
- Ancient City – Sigiriya
In addition to incredible views from the top of the Sigiriya Rock, you can also see relatively destroyed ruins of the palace and also an insight into the clever historic construction methods – especially how the water was pumped all the way to the top.
- Dambulla Cave Temples
Consisting of five intricate rock temples behind a massive Golden structure of Lord Buddha, this site boasts beautiful and intricate artwork inside the cave temples.
- Sacred City – Kandy
Home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy is a beautiful city surrounded by hills and a peaceful man-made lake in the heart of the city. Don’t forget to be blown away by one of the cultural dance shows taking place every evening.
- Galle Fortifications
Spend a day on the Dutch Fort town – Galle. Wander around the small streets, cute cafes, churches, and some fine dining options. Don’t miss breathtaking views of the sunset on the Fort ruins.
- Sinharaja Forest
A biodiverse national park, not too far from the southern coast, is one of the last remaining rainforests in the country and is a pleasure to explore on a solo trip to Sri Lanka.
- Central Highlands
Luscious tea estates, chilly weather, and mountains amidst clouds, the central highlands are a divine sight.
- Sacred City – Anuradhapura
- Surfing in Arugam Bay – one of the best beaches for surfing, located along the east coast of Sri Lanka.
- World’s End Point – a scenic reward after completing the nature trail at Horton Plains National Park.
- Early morning hike to Ella rock to enjoy the view from Ella Gap, which goes as far as the southern coast on a clear day!
- Adam’s Peak – for the young and fit solo travelers, the sunrise view from the sacred summit of Adam’s Peak is well worth the climb.
- Tea factory visit, tea plucking experience, and freshly brewed tea tastings.
- Wildlife Safari – although the options for wildlife encounters in Sri Lanka are plenty, Yala, Minneriya, Wilpattu, and Udawalawe National Parks are a few of the most popular rated in Sri Lanka Travel. Yala National Park boasts sightings of leopard, sloth bear, and water buffalo while the Elephant gatherings at Minneriya and Udawalawe National Park are a stunning sight!
- Kandy to Ella train journey – find your like-minded solo travelers via the most picturesque train journey, which is also an experience worth writing about. Don’t forget to try the ‘isso wade’ (prawn pakodas) sold by the vendors on the train.
- Stilt fishing – see if you can balance on the wooden rod in the ocean to get your catch. This is the traditional Sri Lankan method of fishing.
- Kitesurfing and dolphin watching in Kalpitiya.
- Whale watching in Mirissa.
- White water rafting in Kithulgala.
- Surfing and diving in Arugam Bay.
- Indulge in authentic roadside dishes such as rice and curry, kottu rotti, hoppers, string hoppers, pol rotti, and more!
- Shop till you drop in Colombo!
Tips for female solo travel in Sri Lanka
- Keep all the important documentation with you.
- Do not break the laws of the country.
- Do not entail in illegal activity.
- Follow strict dress code at Temples.
- Purchase a local sim card.
- Public transport such as buses, tuk tuks, and trains are safe for Sri Lanka travel.
- Interact with local people in a friendly manner while on your solo trip.