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Sri Lanka

Destination Guide: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, often referred to as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is a mesmerizing island nation that boasts an incredible diversity of landscapes, from lush rainforests and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. It’s a haven for adventurers, culture enthusiasts, families, and couples alike, offering a rich tapestry of experiences that promise to captivate and enchant.

Highlights & Must-See Attractions

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress: An ancient rock fortress and palace ruin, Sigiriya is famed for its Lion Rock, a testament to ancient urban planning.
  • The Sacred City of Anuradhapura: Explore the sprawling complex of ancient structures, towering dagobas, and crumbling temples at one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals.
  • Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Kandy): A pivotal site for Buddhists, housing the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha.
  • Galle Fort: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering a glimpse into the colonial past with its well-preserved fortifications and architecture.
  • Yala National Park: Embark on a safari to spot leopards, elephants, and a myriad of bird species in Sri Lanka’s most famous wildlife park.

Our Lesser-Known Favourites

  • Wilpattu National Park: Less crowded than Yala, Wilpattu offers serene landscapes and the chance to see leopards, elephants, and many bird species.
  • Jaffna: Explore the unique culture and cuisine of Sri Lanka’s northern capital, significantly different from the rest of the island.
  • Pidurangala Rock: Offers a less crowded, yet equally rewarding climb with panoramic views, including of Sigiriya Rock.
  • The Knuckles Mountain Range: A trekker’s paradise, offering a range of trails through diverse ecosystems.

Experiences Not to Miss

  • Train Ride from Kandy to Ella: This journey offers breathtaking views of tea plantations, lush forests, and rugged mountains, making it a must for travelers seeking to capture Sri Lanka’s natural beauty.
  • Ayurvedic Spa Treatments: Sri Lanka is renowned for its traditional healing practices, and an Ayurvedic spa treatment provides a relaxing and rejuvenating experience that immerses travelers in local wellness traditions.

Did You Know?

  • Sri Lanka was historically known as Ceylon, famous worldwide for its Ceylon tea.
  • The country has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites packed into a relatively small area.
  • Sri Lanka is one of the world’s top spots for whale and dolphin watching, especially off the coast of Mirissa.

Food and Cuisine

  • Rice and Curry: The staple dish, but each region offers its own unique twist.
  • Hoppers (Appa): A type of pancake made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk, often served with spicy sambols.
  • Seafood: Fresh catches along the coastal areas prepared in rich, spicy curries are a must-try.
  • Kottu Roti: A delicious street food made by stir-frying chopped flatbread, vegetables, egg, or meat with spices.

In general, be aware that “little spicy” in Sri Lanka equals “hot hot” in the Western world. For children, the surest is to ask for “zero spice”.

Practical Information

Best Season to Visit:

  • The best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the east coast offers the best weather from April to September.

Temperature:

  • Coastal areas: typically warm, around 27°C to 29°C.
  • Hill country: cooler, with temperatures around 15°C to 18°C.

Visa Requirements:

  • Most tourists can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online before visiting. For more info, check the government website or reach out to us! Good to know is that the e-visas are processed in a couple of days only.

Getting Ready for Departure

  • Local Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). ATMs are widely available, but carrying some cash is advisable for rural areas.
  • Culture & Dress Code: Modest clothing is recommended, especially when visiting temples and rural areas.
  • Language: Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Downloading a translation app can be helpful before leaving the wifi.
  • Electronics: Sri Lanka uses types D and G plugs. A universal adapter may be necessary.
  • Book: “Running in the Family” by Michael Ondaatje: This memoir offers a vivid portrayal of Sri Lanka’s cultural landscape, blending personal anecdotes with historical reflections. It’s an engaging read that provides a deeper understanding of the nation’s complex history and diverse society.
  • Local emergency numbers: Police: 119; Ambulance: 110.

Before embarking on your Sri Lankan adventure, consult our Ultimate Packing List to ensure you’re ready. When it comes to souvenirs, consider bringing back Ceylon tea, handwoven textiles, or beautifully crafted jewelry to keep memories of this enchanting island alive.