Don’t know if you noticed, but we’re glad to say that with the recent shift in cultural consciousness over the past few years, self love and female empowerment is now where it never could’ve been way back in the day. In the aspect of traveling, people are less judge-y about ladies going on solo female trips and heck, we are as capable as it gets. So for today’s blog we spoke to a fellow seasoned solo female traveler, Lola, on her recent trip to Sri Lanka to let you know how you can travel like a boss.
We asked: First things first, safety concerns.
Lola says: Always extensively plan your logistics from point A to point B, alongside a backup plan just in case something goes wrong. This is important to note because public transportation in Sri Lanka is pretty much scarce or limited in some areas. In that case, you might need to hire a private car or hop on a tuk tuk.
Don’t bang your hopes on trains too much either, because it can’t necessarily take you everywhere you need to go — so do keep an eye on the official railway site, to find out if there are any stops near the destination you’re heading towards.
Buses are aplenty but I would only recommend it for a short distance, especially if you’re carrying a lot of bags (also note that you might not even get a seat).
Avoid walking alone at night because the roads outside the city, even in some smaller towns, are not well lit. Find out from your hotel/hostel reception for nearby points of interest/landmarks in case of any emergency (eg. Hospital, Police Station).
We asked: How were the locals?
Lola says: To say that the locals whom I encountered were genuine and extremely nice is an understatement. I say that because I misplaced my phone and I was sure someone would’ve already stolen it. But, thank God, a group of staff at this particular cafe handed it back to me. Apparently another tourist found it and passed it to the cafe staff. But here’s the thing — my phone was buzzing with notifications the whole time, and the staff actually made an effort to contact my friends who appeared on my lock screen notifications through their own Instagram accounts. Consider my luck tier-one.
We asked: What’s a good length for a solo trip?
Lola says: About two weeks, because transportation isn’t as reliable and it’ll possibly take up a chunk of your time. My advice is to split your trip into two — south and north of Sri Lanka.
We asked: Spill the budget deets, sis.
I chose to splurge on my Accommodation — ‘cause a sis needs her beauty sleep. My budget was very much tied to how fast I wanted to get to a particular destination — so a chunk of it went to transportation. The quicker you want to get somewhere, the more expensive it is. The only expensive attraction was Sigiriya Rock — with an entrance fee of RM150 (not guided).
We asked: Did you feel socially anxious?
Lola says: Not at all. I think it’s very important for you to first read up about the socio-economic/political background of the culture there to identify the boundaries. They are welcoming and respectful of tourists and we must in return, be respectful to their customs.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, and it’s very interesting because Sri Lanka is a major destination for Buddhists to perform their sacred pilgrimage (be mindful of your dressing when entering religious sites). You also shouldn’t confuse the Sri Lankans as Indians in nationality as they are very proud of their identity.
We asked: What are the best places to go alone?
- Galle (time moves slow here and you’ll immediately be whisked away by its history).
The Galle Fort and Unawatuna are the main areas to visit in Galle — it’s complete with history, Dutch architecture, a coastal city with a combination of beach and culture.
- Ella (a backpacker’s heaven) — where you get to see the Nine Arch Bridge, the Ella Rock, witness the beauty of Diyaluma Falls, and more.
- Go glamping at Yala National Park — see the wild elephants, leopards, and be fully surrounded in good ol’ mother nature.
- Stay at any of the private tea bungalows between your journey from Kandy to Ella. Hatton or Nuwara Eliya is a good place to scout for potential places.
I stayed at Camellia Hills, Hatton (under Teardrops Hotel chain) where you’ll get your own personal butler service throughout your whole stay. Stays like these usually offer a full-boarding experience where food & drinks are catered 24/7. It’s a great experience because you stay within the premise of a tea estate and you literally wake up to the view of tea plantations right out front. Camellia Hills was great because we also had a view of the very serene and picturesque Castlereagh Reservoir, a result of a man-made dam.
- Sigiriya Rock — Hike on the biggest and oldest boulder on the island — it’s said to be the site of an ancient kingdom and the last monarchy there.
- Mirissa — Best for whale watching.
- Udawalawe National Park — see the wild elephants.
If you’ve never traveled alone, this is your time to shine.