Sri Lanka travel guide for travelers from worldwide planning Sri Lanka tours.

Things you must know before travelling to Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka Travel Guide

To most outsiders, the country's chief claim to fame is that it is one of the world's largest tea producers; however, to those who've dug a little deeper, it's a destination with gorgeous beaches, stunning mountain scenery, great food and a vibrant and colorful culture.

Sri Lanka - formerly known as Ceylon - is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean region of South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature's beauty remains abundant and un-spoilt.

Few places in the world can offer the traveler such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location. Within a mere area of65, 610 kilometers lie 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometers of coastline - much of it pristine beach - 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, to a culture that extends back to over 30,000 years.

Colombo is the capital city and though it's primarily used as a launch pad for visiting less frenetic and more picturesque locations, it has its own unique character and charm plus its fair share of interesting attractions. For beach holidays, Negombo and Bentota are arguably the best options on offer; certainly in terms of natural beauty and tourist amenities, few other destinations are as blessed. For sightseeing enthusiasts, the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are absolute must-sees, while for outdoor enthusiasts, Nuwara Eliya is the ideal place to enjoy a couple of days of activity.

This is an island of magical proportions, once known as Serendib, Taprobane, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and Ceylon. Discover refreshingly Sri Lanka!

Weather In Sri Lanka   - When To Go

Sri Lanka's climate is tropical and across the year it experiences high humidity and warm temperatures, hitting averages of around 27ºC. The hottest month is May and can bring temperatures in the low 40s, making it a little uncomfortable for visitors, so probably the ideal time to visit is January when it's cool and dry. Monsoons arrive between May and August and again from October to January but are not severe enough to prevent tourist activities.

Places to visit and travel destinations in Sri Lanka

Colombo:

The nation's capital city is not generally considered one of its chief tourist destinations; however, many visitors stop there for a couple of days prior to or following a holiday at a Sri Lankan beach resort. The city is fairly chaotic by all accounts and its madness can challenge even seasoned travelers but those who persevere will find a colourful metropolis with a range of attractions. The National Museum, established in 1877, is considered one of the city's must-sees, while Pettah, the bazaar district, is perhaps the best place to experience local life at its most raw and traditional. For family visitors, the Zoological Gardens with its extensive collection of animals, birds, reptiles and fish is a popular option. With an extensive selection of eateries on hand, dining in the city is considered a highlight of any visit.

Anuradhapura:

This was the country's first capital and was the island's ruling city for over a thousand years from 380 BC onwards. The remains of this ancient city are considered to be one of the county's greatest attractions and its magnificent palaces, temples and stupas are indicative of the civilized nature of the Sinhalese people who built them. The complex is home to several key attractions, including the Jetavanarama Dagoba building and the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha is alleged to have gained enlightenment. At a little over 125 miles from Colombo, Anuradhapura can be visited on a long day trip but an overnight excursion is a better option.

Polonnaruwa:

In the same vein as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is an ancient city occupying a pretty lakeside location offering visitors views of temple and palace remains dating back to the Indian Chola dynasty of the 11th century. The remains are remarkably well preserved and as the city is somewhat smaller than Anuradhapura, its attractions can be experienced on an overnight trip. Polonnaruwa is 135 miles from Colombo.

Nuwara Eliya:

The 'City of Light', as its name translates, is just 110 miles from Colombo and hence a popular weekend getaway for residents of the capital. The destination was developed originally as a holiday resort for members of the British Empire, its natural beauty being its main draw then and even now. Visitors can enjoy some stunning mountain scenery while participating in activities such as trekking, bird watching, horseback riding, golf and boating. A trip to Horton Plains National Park and a hike up the Pidurutalagala Mountain are both considered essential to see the best of the resort's aesthetic qualities.

Negombo:

Located on the west coast of the country and reached easily from the capital, this is one of Sri Lanka's most popular coastal holiday destinations. The pretty beach resort is built on the foundations of the local fishing industry and promises a mixture of modern tourist facilities and traditional charm. There are various places of interest to stop at on a sightseeing tour, among them the Kelaniya Buddhist Temple, Angurukaamulla Temple, Dutch Fort Gate and Dutch Canal. The chief appeal of the area however, is its gorgeous beaches and the opportunities they offer for relaxation and water sports.

Kandy:

Situated in the country's highland area, Kandy is a destination popularly hailed as Sri Lanka's cultural and spiritual capital. The town is best known historically for being the last stronghold of the Kandyan empire, so it has experienced plenty of interesting events in its past, with the legacies of some still evident in its contemporary culture. The town is a fascinating place to wander around and a sightseeing attraction in its own right, however the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Temple of the Tooth is possibly the area's biggest draw card and its most photographed landmark. Kandy is four hours away by train from the capital Colombo.

Sigiriya :

Sri Lankan architectural tradition is well displayed at Sigiriya, the best preserved city centre in Asia from the first millennium, with its combination of buildings and gardens with their trees, pathways, water gardens, the fusion of symmetrical and asymmetrical elements, use of varying levels and of axial and radial planning.

The Complex consists of the central rock, rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded by two moats and three ramparts.

The plan of the city is based on a precise square module. The layout extends outwards from co-ordinates at the centre of the palace complex at the summit, with the eastern and western axis directly aligned to it. The water garden moats and ramparts are based on an 'echo plan' duplicating the layout and design on either side. This city still displays its skeletal layout and its significant features. 3 km from east to west and 1 km from north to south it displays the grandeur and complexity of urban-planning in 5th century Sri Lanka.

Other Sri Lanka highlights: visitors with extra time on their hands might want to spend a few days on the beaches of Bentota, Unawatuna, Negombo or Alankuda beach, Kalpitiya.

Sri Lanka hospitality - Eat, Drink, Sleep

Food and Eating Out:

Eating out is undoubtedly an integral part of the whole Sri Lankan holiday experience, with the country's rich coconut milk-based curries flavored with aromatic spices, sure to please the palates of any adventurous diner. Large towns and cities such as Colombo and Kandy offer both local fare and international cuisine, while smaller destinations typically offer traditional dishes only. Meals are invariably washed down with a cup of the finest Ceylon tea.

 Entertainment and Nightlife:

Nightlife is a mixed affair with some destinations catering to the local love of gambling and offering casinos as their chief evening entertainment venues. The large hotels in the popular beach resorts have bars and often nightclubs also. Karaoke bars are also a big thing. A glass or two of toddy (coconut milk beer) or arrack (distilled coconut milk beer) is sure to get your night off to a good start.

Accommodation:

  Hotel choices are plentiful in the popular beach resorts and bigger cities and range from two to four and five-star establishments. Wander off the beaten track and your accommodation options are drastically reduced and you may be forced to accept something fairly no-frills. Big names such as Hilton, Holiday Inn and Regency can be found in the capital.

Sri Lanka Flights – Flying To Sri Lanka

At present all flights to Sri Lanka fly to Colombo airport. The second new International airport situated at Weeravila, they do not do the Operations yet.

Your best strategy is probably to fly from Europe, but with a stop-over in the Middle East on-route, if you are looking for the cheapest option.

For the most convenient option (after direct flights) , many regional airports fly to the Middle East now. So fly to Dubai, Doha, or Abu Dhabi from your regional airport and continue from there.

Sri Lanka Map
Visa Process to Sri Lanka