Sri Lanka travel guide
Sri Lanka is a vibrant country located in South Asia, renowned for its beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and stunning landscapes. The country’s rich culture, diverse wildlife, and vibrant traditions make it a popular destination for travelers. With its bustling cities, verdant tea plantations, and breathtaking national parks, Sri Lanka is a place you should add to your bucket list.
If you plan a solo trip to this wonderful country, the Sri Lanka travel guide can help you plan your journey. As a safe country to travel to, you can easily explore the country without needing a travel agency. Communication with locals is relatively easy as English is widely spoken, making it easier to navigate your way around. Here are some tips to make your travel planning a success.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
Firstly, you’ll need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can apply for one online; the cost is $35 and is valid for 30 days. Secondly, travel insurance is essential; only travel with a valid policy. Also, vaccinations are a personal choice, but you should consult your doctor before deciding.
When you arrive in Sri Lanka, you can get a free local SIM card at the airport or buy one for around LKR399 ($2.75) for a 4GB data package. ATMs are also available in most cities and towns, making it easy to withdraw cash.
GUIDE TO GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with a rich culture and breathtaking landscapes. From the bustling city of Colombo to the lush tea plantations in the highlands and the pristine beaches in the south, there is so much to see and experience. If you plan a trip to Sri Lanka, knowing how to get around the island is essential. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various transportation options for Sri Lankan travelers.
Your first mode of transport in Sri Lanka will likely be from the airport to your hotel or accommodation. A few options are available, but the cheapest is the bus. Buses run every 30 minutes, and the fare is only 110 rupees (USD 0.75). If you have a lot of luggage, there are better options than a tuk-tuk, as it can be expensive. Instead, consider taking the train, which is the cheapest option, with prices starting at just 30 rupees (USD 0.20).
Transport Around the Island
Getting around Sri Lanka can be confusing initially, but it’s relatively easy once you get the hang of it. The island has an extensive public transport network that can take you almost anywhere you need to go. Buses and trains are the most common modes of transport, but you can also hire a tuk-tuk or a car with a driver.
If you’re on a tight budget, traveling by bus is the cheapest option. Buses are frequent and cheap but can be overcrowded, especially during rush hour. If you want a more comfortable ride, consider buying a more expensive ticket with air conditioning and a guaranteed seat. A bus ride in Sri Lanka is an experience, as they often play local music and have colorful decorations and religious symbols. It’s a great way to get a feel for the locals’ everyday life and see the beautiful scenery.
Another popular mode of transport is the train. The train network in Sri Lanka covers most of the island. Train journeys in Sri Lanka are famous for their stunning scenery, and the Kandy to Ella route is one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys. You can enjoy the view from the observation car, which is available on most trains. However, if you want to be sure of a seat, avoid buying a 3rd class ticket, as seats cannot be reserved. On train journeys, vendors sell food and drinks so you won’t go hungry or thirsty during the ride.
A tuk-tuk is a three-wheeler and a convenient and comfortable way to travel locally in Sri Lanka. It’s perfect for short distances or if you want to explore a specific area. The usual price for a tuk-tuk is around $20 if you hire a driver for a day. However, you can always negotiate a fee to get a fair deal. If you’re only going a short distance, such as up to 3 km, it should cost you at most 100 rupees.
Renting a Car with a Driver
If you’re uncomfortable traveling by bus or train, you can arrange for transportation and day trips with your hotel or guesthouse or directly with drivers. Renting a car with a driver is a popular option among tourists, as drivers are often knowledgeable about Sri Lankan culture and heritage sites. It’s best to arrange a meeting with the driver before paying any money to ensure they speak proper English. Renting a car with a driver can cost around Rs 9000 daily and is an excellent way to explore the country at your own pace. The driver can take you to off-the-beaten-path destinations and give you insights into local culture and customs. You can also stop wherever you want, take photos, and explore the beautiful countryside.
When renting a car with a driver, clarify the terms and conditions with the rental company before paying. Some rental companies may not include fuel, tolls, or other expenses in the rental price, so it’s essential to be aware of these additional costs upfront. It’s also a good idea to read reviews of rental companies online and choose one with a good reputation and positive feedback from other travelers.
Sharing a taxi or car
If you’re on a budget, sharing a taxi or car with other travelers can be cost-effective. Many hotels and guesthouses can help you arrange shared transportation with other guests. This way, you can split the cost and make new friends.
Overall, Sri Lanka offers various transportation options for travelers to explore the country. From buses and trains to tuk-tuks, rental cars with drivers, and shared taxis, there is a transportation option for every budget and travel style. Whether you travel like a local or explore at your own pace, you can find a transportation option that suits your needs.
ACCOMMODATION IN SRI LANKA
Finding suitable accommodation is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Sri Lanka, a beautiful island country in South Asia, offers various accommodation options for travelers of all budgets and preferences.
From beachside resorts to rustic guesthouses, there is something for everyone in Sri Lanka. The island boasts excellent luxury hotels and resorts with world-class amenities such as swimming pools, spas, and private beaches. These luxurious accommodations are perfect for those who want to indulge in the finer things in life and enjoy a pampering holiday.
For budget-conscious travelers, Sri Lanka has numerous guesthouses and homestays that offer affordable and comfortable lodging. These are perfect for travelers who want to experience the local culture and connect with the local people. These accommodations offer a unique experience and are an excellent opportunity to meet new people and learn about the local way of life.
Sri Lanka’s accommodation options cater to every kind of traveler, whether you are a solo traveler, a couple, a family, or a group of friends. Whether you want to splurge on a luxurious resort or save on budget-friendly lodging, Sri Lanka has it all. So, start planning your trip to Sri Lanka today and choose from the many accommodation options to make your trip memorable.
FOOD AND DRINK IN SRI LANKA
Regarding food and drink, Sri Lanka has a unique cuisine that will tantalize your taste buds. Sri Lankan food is known for its spiciness, thanks to the essential use of a wide range of spices. Whether you’re vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of options. Most meals are made with vegetables; you can enjoy delicious fruits and seafood from the Indian Ocean.
While in Sri Lanka, it’s essential to be cautious when it comes to drinking water. Tap water is unsafe, and purchasing bottled water with the Sri Lanka Standard Institute (SLS) label is recommended to ensure the highest quality water. A bottle of water costs LKR60-70 (US$ 0.40-0.50). However, if you’re looking for a refreshing local drink, try thambili, fresh coconut water available everywhere in Sri Lanka.
WHAT TO EAT IN SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka should be on your bucket list if you’re a foodie who loves exploring new cuisines and trying out local dishes. The country’s cuisine is influenced by its history, geography, and diverse population, including Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor,and Malay communities. The result is a tantalizing array of flavors and spices that will leave you wanting more.
One of the most popular meals is rice and curry, a dish where rice is served with various side dishes like vegetables, fish, or chicken. In Sri Lanka, you’ll find a range of restaurants catering to different budgets, with meals costing anywhere from $2-3 USD for simple dishes like dosas, kottu, rice, and chicken and up to USD 5 for table service.
The local’s favorite well-known dish is dosa, a thin, layered rice batter pancake made with rice and black gram. It’s often served with spicy coconut chutney and sambar, a lentil soup. You’ll find this dish all over Sri Lanka, from street vendors to high-end restaurants.
Another must-try dish is kottu roti, a popular street food made from shredded roti bread, vegetables, egg, and meat, all stir-fried with spices on a hot griddle. It’s a unique Sri Lankan dish, and you’ll often find it being cooked and served up right in front of you.
Coconut Sambol is a spicy dish with fish, chilies, ground coconut, and lime juice. It’s a great accompaniment to any meal, adding flavor and spice to your taste buds. Lamprais is another Sri Lankan specialty, rice cooked in curry and served with meatballs. The dish is then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed to create a flavorful, aromatic package.
If you’re looking for something different, try Pittu, made from flour and coconut and shaped into cylindrical tubes. It’s a popular breakfast dish, and you can find it being served at many roadside stalls. String hoppers are another Sri Lankan staple, consisting of steamed rice noodles often eaten with curry or sambal.
Lastly, Hoppers are pancakes made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk. They’re crispy on the edges and soft in the center and can be eaten plain or stuffed with eggs or meat. Hoppers are a must-try dish in Sri Lanka, and you’ll find them served in most restaurants and cafes.
Sri Lanka’s cuisine is a melting pot of flavors and spices that will delight any foodie. From dosa to hoppers, there’s something for everyone to try and enjoy. So next time you’re in Sri Lanka, try some of the local delicacies and savor the unique tastes and aromas this beautiful country has to offer.
SHOPPING IN SRI LANKA
When shopping in Sri Lanka, there is truly something for everyone. From bustling markets to high-end boutiques, the island nation offers many unique products that delight any shopper.
One of the most prominent features of Sri Lankan shopping is the prevalence of handmade crafts. You’ll find it all here whether you’re looking for intricate wood carvings, handwoven textiles, or beautiful pottery. The bustling streets and local markets are full of vendors selling everything from jewelry and clothing to decorative items and traditional musical instruments.
But what distinguishes Sri Lanka from other shopping destinations is its reputation as a world-renowned producer of precious stones. The island has a rich history of gemstone mining, and today it remains one of the top producers of sapphires, rubies, and other high-quality gems.
Visitors to Sri Lanka can explore gemstone shops and markets to find unique jewelry pieces and other items made from these beautiful stones. And for those particularly interested in the gemstone trade, there are opportunities to visit gem mines and even attend workshops to learn about the various techniques used to extract and process these precious stones.
Of course, a shopping trip to Sri Lanka would only be complete with sampling some of the island’s delicious fruits. From juicy mangoes and pineapples to sweet bananas and papayas, a wide variety of fresh produce is available throughout the year. And for those feeling adventurous, there are also some unique local fruits, such as the spiky and pungent durian or the tangy and sour tamarind.
Whether looking for beautiful handicrafts, precious gems, or delicious fruits, Sri Lanka is a shopper’s paradise that will leave you with plenty of memorable souvenirs to take home.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise with a lot to offer for tourists, from stunning beaches to ancient temples and lush green tea plantations. However, the country’s climate can be unpredictable, with two monsoon seasons causing significant variations in weather patterns across the island.
The southwest monsoon season usually brings rain to the island from April to September. During this time, the west and south coasts experience heavy rainfall and strong winds, making it less than ideal for beach activities. However, the east coast remains dry and sunny, making it the perfect time to visit for those who want to enjoy the beaches and watersports activities.
On the other hand, the northeast monsoon season brings rainfall between November and March, causing the opposite effect on the island’s weather patterns. During this time, the west and south coasts remain dry and sunny, providing the perfect opportunity for beach activities, while the east coast experiences heavy rainfall.
If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka, it’s essential to know when the best time to visit is to make the most out of your journey. Be sure to pack appropriately, with lightweight and breathable clothing and mosquito repellent, as the humidity and mosquito population can be high. Also, remember that specific religious sites require visitors to cover their legs and shoulders, so pack accordingly.
In summary, the best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on what activities you plan on doing and where you plan on going. The months of December to March and July to August are generally considered the best time to visit for those wanting to enjoy the beaches, while those interested in cultural and historical sites may wish to avoid the peak tourist season and see during the shoulder seasons of April to June and September to November.
VISITING RELIGIOUS SITES
Sri Lanka is a country with a rich cultural and religious heritage. With ancient temples, shrines, and stupas scattered throughout the country, visiting sacred sites is an important aspect of any trip to Sri Lanka. However, respecting the local culture and customs is essential when visiting these sites.
One of the most important things to remember when visiting religious sites in Sri Lanka is to dress appropriately. As a mark of respect, men and women should cover their shoulders and legs when entering temples, shrines, or other holy sites. Removing shoes when entering these places is also customary, so wearing comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off is essential.
In addition to dressing appropriately, it is also essential to maintain a respectful attitude towards the culture and beliefs of the locals. Take care not to disturb any offerings or rituals, and be mindful of the volume of your conversations. Learning about the customs and traditions of the specific religious site you visit before you go is also a good idea, so you can better understand and appreciate its significance.
Another important aspect to remember is that some religious sites in Sri Lanka have separate areas for men and women. So be sure to follow any guidelines or instructions posted at the entrance.
Visiting religious sites in Sri Lanka can be an enriching experience. You will have the opportunity to witness some of the country’s most important cultural and historical landmarks and learn about the local religious practices. By being respectful and mindful of the customs and beliefs of the locals, you can ensure that your visit is positive and meaningful.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with much to offer solo travelers. With its beautiful beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and friendly locals, it’s a destination you’ll never forget. Following the tips in this guide, you can quickly and confidently plan your trip to Sri Lanka.
Hope Sri Lanka travel guide will help you plan your trip. To read more about Sri Lanka, click HERE.