See more pictures from our villages in Sri Lanka.
The best way to experience local culture is to visit villages with no travellers around
Take a couple of days off from your surfing holiday on the south coast and head to the rainforest to relax in the middle of tea plantations in Neluwa village. Here you can pick mangos, bananas and jack-fruit from your own backyard and enjoy a cup of tea in the verandah.
If you are more interested in Ancient cities, hopp off the bus in Alagollewa village and learn how to milk a cow or play Corona with locals. The famous Ritigala mountain and the ancient Ritigala city provide various day trip opportunities.
If you are inspired by Buddhist culture, the hidden valley of Hasalaka village near Rathna waterfalls is a good place to explore it. The rice fields surrounding the village are the base of the villagers’ livelihoods.
In Sri Lanka you can also observe fishermens’ daily life by staying in the village of Kalkudah on the east coast. Here you get to dive into the unique culture of Sri Lankan Tamils, a minority which, until a few years back, faced oppression for decades.
How to get there?
our villages are off the beaten path but not impossible to reach
- On the way from Sigiriya to Anuradhapura (or Mihintale), spend a few nights in the charming farming village Alagollewa, which is located right in between these two towns.
- Are you going to surf in Weligama or spend time in Mirissa? There's a good road from both of these coastal towns to Neluwa village and it only takes 75 minutes to get there by car. Neluwa is located on rainforest hills and you can be sure not to meet other travellers there.
- If you are going from Kandy to Ella, stop by in Hasalaka village right in the middle of the island two hours away from Kandy and three from Ella. Here you can have your own waterfall to bath in – which is one of the highest in Sri Lanka.
- From Hasalaka you can continue to Batticaloa on the east coast and only two hours away. From there you reach Kalkudah village in 30 minutes. If you didn't visit Alagollewa yet, take a night train back to Colombo and hopp off in Kekirawa which is 15 minutes away from Alagollewa village.
Good to know about Sri Lanka
Buddhist New Year Vesak in the beginning of May is a big festival in all our villages in Sri Lanka. Join the locals to temples to see the festivities.
Buddhist festivals revolve around the days of the full moon called Poya days. These are official public holidays, but also religious days when Sri Lankan Buddhists make offerings at their local temple and perform other religious celebrations.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated in autumn in some families in Kalkudah. It is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism. In 2017 the festival is on 18-19 of October.
As the village of Alagollewa is a Christian village, Easter and Christmas are special events and different from the rest of Sri Lanka. On Easter, tens of Christian pilgrims will wander to a nearby hill. Ask your hosts how to get to see this special event!
When thinking about the best time for your trip to Sri Lanka, it’s worth bearing in mind that the island is affected by two separate monsoons.
The best weather on the east coast, for instance in Kalkudah, is from end of April to September.
The strongest rains in the southwest are from May to September, and less strong rains, the northeast monsoon, take place usually from November to March.
Temperatures are around +30 C the whole year, but in the mountains they can go as low as +14 C.
Sri Lanka is a fascinating culture with its own customs, values and etiquette. Here are the most important ones to know before your trip.
As showers are usually outside, ladies have to wear a cloth around themselves during the whole procedure.
Use your right hand for eating. You can ask for a spoon but the food tastes better like this, trust us!
The local head-wobble means that the person agrees with you.
Alcohol is a taboo in these cultures so do not drink it in the village.
Women should cover their knees and shoulders while staying in the village.
Avoid kissing, hugging and cuddling in public.
How is it like?
This is what our travellers say
"In addition of meeting so nice and caring people (especially for our 1 year old daughter), we also met ourselves. Being in this so quiet and relax environment was for us a way to slow down and disconnect from the outside world. Being in this family who lives very simply but seems to be happy with one another helped us reconsider the way we live and consume, and how we interact with other people in our daily life. So, thanks to this family and to the people we met in the village for letting us see their life which in so many ways is very inspiring for us."
Laetitia and Tony, France, Visited Neluwa, near Sinharaja rainforest
"Staying with Duara in Kalkudah felt like if I was introduced to a friends friend. They were expecting me and arranged everything like agreed. Yet, it did not feel like I was anonymus guest, but a friend. The host and her relatives and neighbours liked to show their area and culture to me. It gave a very differently warm and safe feeling than being a tourist. All this despite limited common language. Food was also great! Even when something was missing (like towel and mosquito net at arrival) everything was arranged for the night and I have no complaints!"
Saara, Finland, Visited Kalkudah, on the east coast, near Batticaloa
"We got the most heartwarming welcome and company during our stay. Father, Silvester didn’t speak english at all, but that didn’t stop us joking and laughing. He even taught me how to climb in coconut tree! Just pick up activity you prefer: go fishing or swimming or hike on some mountain for the view or invite yourself to play volleyball with locals. We’re all missing those truly heartwarming people and definitely planning to go back there, if not sooner then later. I have been thinking that expression “life changing experience” is just some pretty words, but actually, maybe that’s the way I could describe our stay!"
Lauri and his family, Finland, visited Alagollewa, in Ritigala, near Sigiriya
Help! I still don't know which village to choose?
Don't worry, just send us message and explain what puzzles you. Elina from Duara will be in contact with you shortly. You can also email Elina directly at firstname.lastname@example.org