Batticaloa – Travel Guide to The Land of the Singing Fish

Last Updated on by Teddy

Beaches connect us to Mother Nature, ourselves, and a fresh perspective. Fortunately, Batticaloa—the land of the singing fish—is the ideal location to provide that experience!

The beaches in this peaceful town are pristine, with fine white sand and a quiet ambiance. If you listen at night, you can hear fish singing from a nearby lagoon. Seriously! The beach also offers safe swimming and exciting water sports such as snorkeling and diving.

Batticaloa is the ideal vacation for people who want to explore religion, culture, and the beauty of Mother Nature. Food lovers will also love the unique blend of flavors in this culinary hotspot.

Things to Do & Attractions

1. Kallady Beach

Kallady is one of the most virgin beaches in Sri Lanka! This a perfect place to relax and unwind. Its long, uncrowded beachfront is ideal for sun bathing and long walks. The sea can be rough however, so swimming is not recommended at all. The sunsets here are amazing.

  • Duration: 1-3 hours
  • Location: Batticaloa

2. Batticaloa Lighthouse

The Batticaloa Lighthouse is less than five kilometers away from Batticaloa City. The lighthouse was built in the early 20th century and has a whitewashed appearance. You can see some picturesque views of Kallady lagoon and the sea__–. Swimming in the adjacent, calm waters is the main attraction. A boat trip to Batticaloa Lighthouse is also highly recommended! Unfortunately, you cannot go inside the lighthouse. 

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Location: Bar Road, Batticaloa

3. Batticaloa Fort

An interesting getaway destination, the Batticaloa Fort was built in the 1600s by the Portuguese, and was later capture by the Dutch, and later the British. You can see the Kallady Bridge from here. The fort still houses many government offices, but there is a small museum displaying some intriguing items.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: Court House Road, Batticaloa

4. Batticloa Gate

A pleasant-looking and historically important piece of architecture located within the Mahatma Gandhi Park. Take a stroll through the park and go see Batticloa Gate which was built as a connecting point between Puliyantivu Island and the mainland. This is the same location where Reverend William Ault, the first Methodist missionary to these parts, landed in Batticloa in 1814. A small yet beautiful statue of Reverend William Ault stands adjacent to Batticloa Gate. Batticloa Fort is not far from here.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: Batticaloa

5. Batticaloa Clocktower

This is the oldest clock tower in the region, and is a landmark of Batticaloa. The design is a mix of architectural styles, and is worth a look if you are in the area.

  • Duration: Less than half an hour
  • Location: Batticaloa

6. St. Mary’s Cathedral

The vibrant blue of this local church makes it stand out from its surroundings. It was built more than two hundred years ago and has unique architecture. The interior has a calm and peaceful atmosphere. The church is not far from the main bus and train station.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: Batticaloa

Foodies Guide

Best Food Experiences

1. Seafood curries at Riveria resort

If dining by the pool with serene views of Kallady Bridge and the lagoon doesn’t make you feel like in heaven, we don’t know what would. The local cooking of the fresh catch of the day is what Riveria resort is famous for. Gorge on the prawn and crab curries and their devilled dishes of fish and cuttlefish – straight from the ocean in a place that has an old-fashioned charm. The restaurant has a large choice of Sri Lankan and western food but when in Lanka, eat as the Lankans do! There’s no place as good as Riveria for the amazingly fresh seafood of the best quality that you get at affordable prices.

2. Chicken and fish burgers at Café Chill

Known as the Land of the Singing fish, Batticaloa is a major city of the Eastern Province. Known as Madakalapuwa before its Portugese modification to ‘Batticaloa’, the place is famous for its beef preparations, seafood and a wide array of fresh juices at every possible eatery in town. For some good non-vegetarian burgers, head to Café Chill – a rustic little café where you can chill and gorge on the yummiest chicken and fish burgers with fab coffee, tea (including herbal varieties), and juices.

The place has a relaxing vibe to it and the owners are really nice. The juices are fresh and delicious and the food is great. The chicken and fish burgers are served on chopping boards with crispy fried. Team it up with a fresh juice from their menu and you are set.

3. Beef Samosas at Gadaby Rest Inn

Just five kms from Batticaloa, happiness costs just Rs25-30. How, you may ask? The Muslim-dominated area of Kaththankudy offers the best beef samosas for as much as Rs 25. Gadaby Rest Inn is just one place where you can find a pretty good version of the treat packed with flavor and full of beef. If you find yourself travelling through the East Coast, this spot is great for a tea stop. Their perfect is not too thick on the crust, and t4ender from the insides, loaded with plenty of filling to give you a heavenly taste. Gadaby does really well in all these regards, and, you can easily hammer 10 of these in one sitting. It’s got a great savoury, spicy kick to it and just enough onion to give it a contrast in texture.

Where to Eat

From local seafood to mouthwatering veggies, satiate your palate at some of the finest restaurants in Batticaloa!

We have here some of our trusted places in Batticaloa, ranging from budget to plush, to get your grub on.

1. Riveria Resort Restaurent

New Dutch Bar Road, Kallady, Batticaloa | +94 652 222 164 | www.riviera-online.com/dining

One of the plush restaurants in Batticaloa, this place offers freshly prepared food. Their ambiance is just about perfect. You can enjoy a cold beer, dip your feet in the lagoon waters and wind down while you wait for your food to be prepared. Their Crab curry is much raved about, and is a must have if you are ever lucky enough to drop in at this gorgeous restaurant.

4. Sunshine ($$)

136, Trincomalee Road, Batticaloa

What’s a vacation without some sunshine? This eatery is famed for its wide range of dishes from all over the world, and what more, they are tasty too. The air conditioning is a mighty help after a hot day gallivanting about town, and if you want delicious food at a reasonable price, this is a must visit.

5. 15 Lady Manning Drive ($$)

15, Lady Manning Drive, Batticaloa

Experience home cooked, authentic Batticaloa style meals at this restaurant. Their locally sourced ingredients give it a Sri Lankan touch and a must have is their seafood dishes. Famed for their prawn curry, this is a must go to if you crave some amazing seafood cooked in aromatic spices.

6. Sri Krishna Café ($)

61A, Kannaki Amman Kovil Road, Batticaloa

The one cheap stop for vegetarian food in Batticaloa, this is a well-known eatery that caters fresh and delicious South Indian and Sri Lankan food. Located right near the local bus stand, this is a good place to drop by as soon as you enter town and energize yourself for the long day ahead.

7. Cafe Chill ($)

Pioneer Road, Batticaloa

A life saver if you’ve been out and about town in the heat, this place lives up to its name, and let’s you chill. A laid-back ambiance and positively calming vibes with great food is what you get here. Their burgers are much raved about and their cold drinks are a welcoming sight on any hot day.

Or check our complete list of Batticaloa’s best places to eat for more delicious options. Need even more fine dining options nearby? Check our restaurant guide for Pasikudah and Kalkudah.

Where to Sleep

There are a myriad of accommodation facilities available for tourists at Batticaloa. Here are some options:

1. Riviera Resort

The Riviera Resort is a relaxing and welcoming family run guesthouse located on the eastern coast, and is known for its modern amenities.

2. Hotel Bridge View

All twenty one rooms of the hotel are equipped with air conditioning and comfortable beds.  The hotel is clean, affordable, and serves delicious seafood!

3. Hamsaam Villa

The Hamsaam Villa is a small but welcoming guesthouse at Kallady, just five minutes drive from Batticaloa. It’s also very close to Passikudah beach and lagoon. A perfect stay for tourists seeking budget accommodation.

4. Hotel Nirutha

This small hotel has all the facilities like air conditioned rooms, free WiFi, conference rooms, a banquet room, restaurant, and karaoke. This is a higher priced hotel for guests seeking more luxury options.

5. Kathir’s Villa

Kathir’s Villa is famous for the Fountain of the Screaming Fish, huge murals narrating Batticaloa’s history. It also has an auditorium and a library. The rooms are cool with comfortable beds and private bathrooms.

Shopping Guide

Souvenirs from Batticaloa are items such as leather and artisan textiles. You may also find items made from recycled materials. Prices quoted may be high for the item so make sure you do your research before buying. You can haggle with sellers but please remain polite, and do not feel obliged to buy anything.

When to Go

Best time: May to July.

Time to avoid: October to January due to monsoon season.

Dress Code

Sri Lanka has a modesty dress code so it is advised that you follow this guidance. Away from beaches both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. Carry a kimono or shirt with you to make it easier for you to cover up. If you are visiting religious sites you should make sure to follow the guidance given, and you will also have to remove your hats/caps/headcovers as well as footwear at temples.

Getting-In and Around

Batticaloa is well connected with many important Sri Lankan cities. You can get in and around the city using a variety of methods.

Colombo: You can take a five and a half hour taxi to Batticaloa. It is cheaper to take a train from Fort station to Batticaloa station – but this will take almost nine hours. Bus is also an option but is the least comfortable.

Airport or Negombo: You can take a bus/taxi to Colombo Fort station and take the train from there to Batticaloa station; the complete journey will take around ten hours.

Galle: You can take a bus from Galle to Baticaloa (with a transit in Colombo), and the journey will take just over ten hours, Alternatively, you can take a train from Galle to Colombo Fort and then from Fort Station you can take the onwards train to Batticaloa Station.

Kandy: You can take a taxi which will take three and a half hours. There are direct buses from Kandy as well which will take about five hours.

Ella: You can take the train fro Ella to Batticaloa Station but will take over eighteen hours. The bus from Wellawaya to Batticaloa bus station is quicker taking less than six hours. A direct taxi takes about four.

Dambulla: A direct taxi to Batticaloa will take about three hours. Alternatively, a bus will take about four hours.

Budget

There are a lot of accommodation options available in the area. At the budget price point you can expect to pay from $10-40 for a room. Higher priced rooms are available from $80+. There are lots of eateries and restaurants where you can get dishes from as little as $5-10. The local cafes have some good snacks and drinks too. For fresh seafood items you will have to pay more.

If you love beautiful beaches, or have always wanted to hear a fish singing, then clearly you need to stop here at Batticaloa! Whether you enjoy all the exciting water sports, shopping for handicrafts, or exploring history at St. Anthony’s Church and Batticaloa Gate, you’ll find something to occupy your time. The local restaurants abound with delicious regional and international cuisine. Whether you want a resort, or simply a place to crash at the end of a fun day, there’s all kinds of accommodation options here for you.

Come to Batticaloa! The singing fish can’t wait to meet you.