Staying Fit in Sri Lanka

Image of shoes on hiking in Sri Lanka

Be a Healthy Backpacker in Sri Lanka

I think Sri Lanka is the new Bali. Actually, I prefer it to Bali, but let’s keep that secret between us.

It is a beach-lovers paradise and yoga shala’s are scattered around the country. If hiking is your thing, go to the central highlands for cooler temps and get outdoors. If you are a foodie, it’s even better – the food is healthy!

You can even travel worry-free as a vegetarian and even the vegan. Since most of the population is Muslim, Jain, or Buddhist vegetarian food options are everywhere. Therefore, the cooks grew up respecting food. They even cook using separate utensils when preparing a dish!

Moreover, Sri Lanka has tons of sight-seeing to keep you moving. From surfing, to yoga, and hiking, the health conscious has no excuse. If you are looking for an interesting culture and a place to keep your body fit, I recommend traveling to Sri Lanka.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity…

I get it. Backpacking and fitness is not an easy mix. As a traveler you probably stay in budget dorm rooms and are moving from place to place. This means you don’t have access to a consistent gym or a private room with enough space to workout.

So, how can you commit to your body?

Personally, I have committed to three things to keep my body feeling good:

  1. setting monthly fitness goals
  2. eating well daily
  3. consuming a lot less alcohol

Below are some tips to the long-term or short-term backpacker who wants to travel and live a healthier lifestyle. And doing so as cheaply as possible.

Travel and Say Fit (setting monthly fitness goals)

I am an active person and if I don’t have time to sweat it out, I go mad. So, knowing we would be in Asia for 5-6 months we decided to spend one month training a Muay Thai gym in Thailand. It’s the best place in the world for it! Although it is not for everyone. But, find your niche. Are you a yogi? Take two weeks to detox and practice.

Are you constantly traveling and living in hostels for a month? Go for an introductory run to see the area. Or how about setting daily goals for one month: 30 push-ups a day, every day! Give it a try and keep yourself accountable.

Staying in hostels that offer yoga is a nice option to get a little fitness in. If my direct hostel doesn’t offer one, I use to find a hostel or accommodation with a gym nearby. Check the prices and see if they offer any discounter for first-timers.

Another option is pre-bugeting. I anticipated some of my savings going directly to a yoga studio in Sri Lanka. I also set aside some money for Muay Thai in Thailand. Work them into your budget ahead of your trip.

For cheaper workout’s, do it yourself & set monthly fitness goals. During the month of February I decided to enlist in BuzzFeed’s squat challenge. Why not? My dorms worked just fine (sometimes people joined in!). Buzzfeed also had a push-up challenge if you wanted to work on upper body strength instead of that booty. Or why not do both?

Excuses, Excuses… no way!

I know a few days would be all-day transportation days and it wouldn’t be easy to fit these in. Some days I would be sore or just lazy.

So counting two days off, I recommend committing to five days a week for the challenge. Hold yourself accountable. Enlist a friend back home agree to do the same thing!

Since these are workout habits you can keep anywhere, I recommend just starting and once you get in the habit you’ll want to do more.

As for Staying Healthy in Sri Lanka..

When visiting towns in Sri Lanka, try working in some work-outs during your stay. Find a few days to surf on the beach, do some hiking in the central highlands, or spend a week at a yoga retreat.

And don’t forget you are what you eat. Keep your food nutritious. Chips and alcohol are fun and tasty, but your body won’t feel so great afterwards. Someone told me, “when you drink you are stealing happiness from tomorrow.” So, decide what is most important for you and stay consistent.

Below are my top three tips to keep your body active and your gut feeling good in Sri Lanka.

  1. Active Activities & Sight-Seeing Fitness – plan some hiking, surfing, or sports into your travels
  2. Seeking out a Yogi – take yoga classes/join a yoga retreat
  3. Eating is 90% of dieting – eat healthy consistently

Active Activities:

Hiking in Sri Lanka

Image of Mountains and Lake from Adams Peak
A view of the nearby lake from the top of Sri Pada

Adams Peak (Sri Pada):
What is it? A pilgrimage and thousands of steps to a magnificent view
Difficulty Level: extremely difficult (but worth it) takes between 3-7hrs to complete depending on how busy it is. It took us 2.5hrs to top
Cost? FREE!

Image of hiking in Sri Lanka
Walking past tea plantations to the top of Ella’s Peak

Ella’s Peak:
What is it? A beautiful short hike from Ella town, offering fantastic views of rice paddies, tea plantations and the surrounding mountain range
Difficulty Level: moderate – takes about 3-4hrs rt
Cost: FREE!
Read my guide here to Hiking Ella’s Peak

Image of Liptons Seat, Sri Lanka
Image of Sir Thomas Lipton at the top of Lipton’s Seat

Liptons Seat:
What is it? A statue of Sir Thomas Lipton in his tea plantation, the top of the “peak” offers an amazing viewpoint
Difficulty Level: easy – but takes about 2hrs to walk on paved road to top
Cost: under $5

Surfing Unawatuna
Surfing Unawatuna at sunset

Surf your Heart Out:
Spend a week surfing from Galle to Aragum Bay. Board hires start at 5$ and lessons for 20$.

For the Yogi’s:

Most hostels and hotels offer yoga since they know it draws tourists and backpackers. However, if you want to find the best, here are two amazing yoga studios not to miss.

Image of granola bowl in Sri Lanka
After Prana Lounge stop at Cafe Kumbuk for some fresh and nutritious foods. This is a house granola bowl with fresh fruit and coconut milk, we absolutely adored this cafe

Prana Lounge, Colombo: A Great space with more than one room for yoga so you can choose from multiple classes. The staff is so helpful, you have shower facilities, they offer some rooms for committed yogi’s and there’s an amazing space next door serving up food and with great wi-fi.

Image of Sri Yoga Shala yoga Studio
Sri Yoga Shala studio in the jungle, Unawatuna

Sri Yoga Shala, Unawatuna: A yogi’s oasis. Set in the forest is a massive shala where you practice with the noises of the jungle. You will probably hear the monkeys, birds, and trees swaying, and it helps to put you into a soothing trance.

Eating well in Sri Lanka

In my opinion, the most important aspect of your health is what you put into your body. You won’t feel good if you’re sustaining your body on snacks and carbs all day. Try more vegetables, try an avocado smoothie, get energy and electrolytes from a king coconut.

I wrote a blog post on food in Sri Lanka. Read my guide to eating in Sri Lanka with some of our favorite dishes here.

So, if you are backpacking Sri Lanka and wondering if it’s an easy place to stay healthy — you got it.

The food is the easy part because Sri Lankans know how to cook! They’ll usually use homegrown or fresh ingredients good for your gut. The hard part will be daily workouts.

Stay consistent and get into a routine. Your body will feel better if you eat well and workout instead of backpacking on the beer and snacks diet.

I absolutely fell in love with Sri Lanka and I hope you will too. Happy and healthy traveling! 


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My adventures and ramblings through Europe, Australia, and now back the United States. I generally write from daily inspirations or from random thoughts.


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