Travel guide to Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka is a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, which is located at the Southeast tip of India. Sri Lanka offers everything that a tourist wishes to see. High mountains, beautiful beaches, tropical forests and lots of animals like elephants, turtles, dolphins, and whales. Sri Lanka is the perfect place for water sport like diving, snorkeling, kiting and surfing. Most of the people living in Sri Lanka are Buddhist (70%) while 8% are Islam, 7 % Hindu and 6% Christian. Sri Lanka is moving forward very fast as the tourists explore the unexploited charm of this country. The beauty, culture, history of Sri Lanka is undeniably alluring.
Best time to visit Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka is a year-round destination. The best time to visit the West and the South coast is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September. One can also visit during the monsoons. The amazing weather, the fresh greenery, and no crowds make it an ideal Sri Lanka travel season.
Visa for Sri Lanka
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Unlike many other Asian countries, Sri Lanka does not offer visa on arrival. However, tourists can apply for an electronic visa or e-visa. An e-visa permits a double entry visa for 30 days. The fee for an e-Visa is $35 for all the countries but is only $20 for SAARC countries. India being a SAARC member country hence Indian travelers had to pay $20. For a longer stay visa, you can apply directly to the embassy. The process is hassle-free and not at all time-consuming.
eVisa fee for SAARC countries: INR 1,300/- ($20)
eVisa fee for other countries: INR 2,275/- ($35).
Flights to Sri Lanka
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Most flights arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport (airport code CMB) in Katunayake. If tourists use expressway then its only an hour’s drive from Colombo. Sri Lankan Airlines offer flights to Colombo from many destinations across the world, including a direct journey from Melbourne. From India Chennai, Madurai, Kochi, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, and Bangalore are having common route flight connectivity to Sri Lanka.
Accommodation in Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka offers a wide variety of accommodation options. It varies from luxury hotels to local-run homestays. the average luxury accommodation priced at $200-400, a private room in a typical luxury hotel normally begins at $100. The luxury accommodation options in Sri Lanka include Cinnamon Hotels and Jetwing Hotel. They are popular among extravagant tourists. Hostels are cheaper options for accommodation. Hostels are priced anywhere between $8-20. Apart from these options, there are many beachside cabana-style accommodation options and eco-friendly tree houses in the wild.
Eating and Drinking in Sri Lanka
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Being a tourist if you are searching for cheap food options then you should stick to family-run restaurants, street food stalls, and hole-in-the-wall eateries. You will get the Sri Lankan version of international cuisine such as Italian, French, or Bavarian. But in Sri Lanka, you might not get their authentic taste. Some upscale restaurants in Colombo are known for their authentic taste. In general Sri Lankan cuisine is punchy, red and spicy. In small places, a hearty meal will only cost you 200 LKR ($1.3) but, the same meal will cost you $30 in an upscale restaurant. The staple meal of Sri Lanka is rice and curry. Koththu is Sri Lanka’s famous food, it is a mixture of flatbread, fresh vegetables, eggs and any meat of your choice – chicken, beef, mutton, and seafood being most common.
If you love drinking, then in Sri Lanka try local Lion Beer. Arack – distilled from nectar drawn from the coconut flower – is the Sri Lankan specialty. Arrack is Sri Lanka’s local spirit, which is like rum and is made with coconut flowers. Drinking in Sri Lanka is expensive. The most popular local beer in Sri Lanka is Lion Lager and it costs 250 LKR ($1.5) if you buy it from alcohol shops.
Read more: Food items that you must try in Sri Lanka
Transportation in Sri Lanka
Like other countries, Sri Lanka too offers different modes of transportation for the convenience of tourists.
1. Public Buses
Public buses are not so comfortable. But Sri Lanka offers an efficient bus network. Private buses are too available. Some routes are covered by more comfortable, air-conditioned Volvo services.
Trains in Sri Lanka is the best option for traveling a long distance. Except for long weekends and school holidays which fall in April, August, and December, you will always find a seat on long-distance trains. For the pre-booking of railway tickets, tourists need to go to Colombo Fort Railway Station on the day you arrive and reserve your seats.
3. Tuk Tuks
You might be wondering over the name Tuk Tuks, but in Sri Lanka, Tuk Tuks are auto rickshaws. They are frequently used for shorter journeys (1km – 10km). In Colombo, most tuk-tuks have meters. Being a tourist, they might charge you more price, so please check the meter before boarding Tuk Tuk to avoid scams.
Activities in Sri Lanka
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1. Trails, Hiking, and Longer Treks
Hiking around the Ella, and the stunning mountains above 2000 meter are simply incredible. The mountain villages such as Ella and Haputale are having to breathe taking views. Some of the landscape needs trekking to explore, so hiring a guide is advisable. Railway treks are quite popular in some areas.
2. Swimming and Surfing
Mirissa and Weligama in the South Coast and Arugam Bay on the East Coast offers some of the World-class surf points. If you love to drive then hire a scooter (usually only around 10 USD per day) and enjoy driving around a South Coast. The south coast beaches are secluded and have powdery sand and blue waters.
3. Kite Surfing
Kalpitiya Peninsula and Mannar in Sri Lanka are some of the world’s top kitesurfing spots. During the summer months of May to October Sri Lanka have peak kite surfing season. December to March can be considered as the shoulder season for kite surfing. After the ending of the Civil War in 2009, Mannar is slowly opening up to tourism.
4. Wildlife Safaris
The wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka costs a few bucks, but when you will get immersed in the experience you will surely find it worth exchanging. The prices are usually for the whole jeep/vehicle, and if you are a couple or a single traveler, it might be wise to team up with fellow travelers to split costs. A jeep usually costs anywhere between 3000 – 4000 LKR ($19 – $25) for a safari in a popular national park.
Travel tips to Sri Lanka
As discussed earlier for hassle-free vacationing in Sri Lanka, apply for e-visa.
– Sri Lanka has zero-tolerance for tourists with Buddha tattoos.
– Sri Lanka is safe for female solo travelers. As a rule of thumb, dressing sensibly, befriending other travelers for the company and trusting your sixth sense will go a long way in keeping you safe.
– Most of the hotel’s tourists will find two kinds of plug sockets – one with round holes (type D / M) and the other with rectangular prongs, which can easily fit UK plugs (type G socket).
– When you are in Sri Lanka try the country’s local brew.
– Sri Lankan food is similar to South Indian food but with very mild differences.
– When you are traveling to Sri Lanka paly safe with your financial management. Carry US Dollars or Euros with you. As compared to International Standards most of the banks in Sri Lanka closes at 3:00 PM.
– If you’re traveling on a budget, then you should consider spending more time away from the beach towns.
– Tap water in Sri Lanka is safe for drinking, but being a tourist try bottled water, as tap water may contain some micro-organisms which may not be suitable for your body.
Broadly speaking, Sri Lanka can be divided into four zones – the beaches, the hill country, forests, and historical places. Sri Lanka tourism is characterized by its colonial architecture, and Buddhist temples, stunning beaches, and destinations like Colombo, Galle, Kandy, Yala National Park. Wildlife Sanctuaries with leopard and elephant populations are also some of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. From stunning beaches to wildlife reserves, Sri Lanka has everything to offer. So, you can enjoy all the aspects while vacationing in Sri Lanka.
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