FROM COLOMBO TO ANURADHAPURA
After the unforgettable time spent the last month traveling and sailing the Philippines, it was time to take the plane again in the direction of Sri Lanka.Finally, my desired time had come. I was already flying to Sri Lanka planning how to go to Anuradhapura from Colombo.
I have to admit that the islands I was coming from were a pleasant and an unexpected surprise, as I discovered many off the beaten path places and friendly people in the Philippines (from Siquijor to Port Barton and Coron, and even in the “most touristic” village of El Nido).
As I am not used to that kind of beach life for so long, I was really feeling the need of returning to more spiritual and sacred experiences. That’s the reason why I was really looking forward to arriving in Sri Lanka. And that’s why I was not visiting Colombo when I landed late in the evening.
Where to stay in Colombo Airport area.
TIP: If you are looking for a one night hostel, nice, cheap and well located to go to Anuradhapura early the next day, take a look at the Hangover hostel. It was really a total win. Close to the airport (not in Colombo city) and next to the main road where you can take the bus to Anuradhapura. This way you can avoid the transport from the airport to Colombo city centre (35km).
How to go to Anuradhapura
After a good sleepy night, the adventures were about to be started. I was really excited to interact with the locals and find out how they would welcome me in this new country. So after the breakfast in the morning, time to get the backpack and go directly to the main road, to take a bus in the route 04 heading to the north…
You only need a few hours in the country to realize that its people are super nice and friendly and they want to talk to you and know your history behind the backpack. Happiness again.
Arrival to Anuradhapura
After 5/6 hours your bus should arrive at Anuradhapura, and you can walk near the New Town to find a place to sleep.
TIP: I stayed in Shalini hotel, which I recommend you so much, because it is quite cheap, charmy and nice. But the most important is that the tour guide Rameez, besides being a transparent, honest and nice person, can take you to both Mihintale and Anuradhapura while he guides you to all interesting places in the area.
He has an impressive knowledge of many interesting facts and the history of the cities, buddhist religion and the temples, so that you will be able to appreciate your tour and imagine how life was many centuries ago in two of the most ancient and sacred cities in Sri Lanka.
Don’t miss Mihintale!
The main city and the most visited one is Anuradhapura, but 13km east you can find Mihintale, which some people skip for being in a rush and force themselves to choose (which you should always avoid when traveling).
TIP: I totally recommend you to visit Mihintale the same evening you arrive, which is located in a beautiful hill and it’s where the presence of buddhism was started in Sri Lanka. Caves, stupas, monasteries, a buddha statue, monkeys everywhere,…You can do the visit in a couple of hours.
Day 2: Anuradhapura.
The second day, it’s a better idea to visit Anuradhapura early in the morning, to avoid other travelers (although it’s not too crowded) and enjoy the ruins and the stupas which are spread in a much more bigger area. It can take you half a day to visit properly the zone.
I was so lucky during my visit that Rameez took me to the future biggest pagoda which is under construction. We entered the impressive construction, and I was able to collaborate to build a sacred Buddhist and take merits, which is so important in Buddhism to have a better reincarnation in the next life or, who knows, maybe reach the nirvana.
After 2 intense first days in Sri Lanka, I was already totally immersed in the flow of their hospitable people. I was feeling alive and truly connected with humanity and the universe again.
Yes, that’s why we travel! It’s not only about visiting monuments and taking pictures.
Next stage: Polonnaruwa.
TIP: If you took my advice of getting up early and visit Anuradhapura in the morning, you will be able to take a bus the same day to Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient city in Sri Lanka. I will tell you more useful tips about this beautiful place in my next post.