Yes, we’re Couchsurfing. And yes, this is definitely a budget trip. But every now and again we are blessed with meeting some fantastic hosts who own hostels/hotels and out of the kindness of their hearts, let us stay for free. I would like to do my part by promoting these businesses, as these people have become my friends. They have put their sweat, blood, and tears into their dreams and made them their livelihood. It’s the least I could do. So here they are, in the order which I stayed …. *drum roll*
#1 Raja’s Guest Home. Okay, (due to some schedule changes) I was actually a paying guest here, but Raja’s story touched my heart. He was such a kind man – everyone who passes through Weligama should check out his place! This small guesthouse is situated between two main roads, Matara Road and Weligama Bypass. A short and convenient walk to the bank, local stores, restaurants, and of course the beach! Raja has put his whole life into his business. After the Tsunami hit in 2004, he had to work even harder to make all the necessary repairs and upgrades needed to keep his quant little guesthouse in tip top shape. Most evenings he can be found sitting around with a few of his friends and staff blasting Pink Floyd and sipping on a local favorite, Coconut Arrack. He’s a fabulous cook and will offer to prepare meals for you during your stay for a small fee (always worth it!). He was extremely accommodating during our time there, offering to arrange transportation as well as letting us borrow an umbrella when we unexpectedly got caught in a monsoon. Raja was wonderful, and if I ever find myself back in Weligama, I absolutely plan on visiting his guest home again.
#2 Elephant Shed. The Elephant Shed hostel is located in downtown Kandy, not far from the city center. It’s within walking distance from the lake, Temple of the Tooth, Big Buddha, as well as the bus and rail stations. A relatively new hostel and very clean, it’s tall and narrow with four flights of stairs separating the lobby, girls dorm, boys dorm, and on the fourth floor you’ll find the toilets/showers and kitchen. Each bed has its own power outlet and lamp, which definitely comes in handy. There is a great view from the kitchen where you can enjoy your morning tea or coffee looking out at the surrounding mountains, or delight in a meal at night with Big Buddha lit up on the mountain top in the distance. No hot water (which isn’t really needed in this climate) but there is free WiFi and very friendly staff!
#3 The Backpackers Vibe. This hostel is only 2km away from the city center. I preferred to stay here because it was a bit quieter and secluded and still only a 15-20 minute walk to the lake, city center, and Temple of the Tooth. The owner is super chill and laid back and showed us a great time. The staff will arrange tours as well, including water rafting in Kithulgala, Lion Rock, and Dambulla Cave Temple. The hostel is relatively new, very clean, offers hot water, free WiFi, and a full service kitchen. For several months after opening, The Backpackers Vibe was rated the #1 hostel in Kandy on TripAdvisor. Many, if not all backpackers who stay here, write on the walls with colorful markers, littering them with artwork, inside jokes, and affectionate comments, creating a public account of the many diverse memories made here. The Backpackers Vibe was definitely a highlight of my stay in Kandy!
#4 Tea Heights is conveniently situated in Kaddugannawa, between Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth and Rambukkana’s Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage, making these two tourist attractions an easy day trip away. Hillary and I were graciously allowed to stay for a few days before its grand opening and loved it. Just imagine waking up among the tree tops, captivated by a 360 degree view of the lush forest and tea fields that central Sri Lanka is known for. There is a restaurant and chef on the premises, as well as hot water and WiFi. Oversized bean bags are scattered about for the optimal lounging experience. Although it’s a bit far for a comfortable walk from the bus/train station, the staff provide transport for their guests and will arrange a pick-up time from the Kaddugannawa junction (which is a service included in the price). Be sure to check out the serene Tea Heights if you’re ever in the area!