TRAVEL to SRI LANKA – Tips and Information Guide (2023)

Everything you need to know about travel to Sri Lanka, with tips, information and travel guides for 2023!

There’s a certain reason why Sri Lanka is known as the ‘pearl’ of the Indian Ocean and to experience Sri Lanka, you’ll probably have to just go and check it out for yourself, but before you go you might want to read this article for a bit of inspiration before jetting off to one of the most stunning tropical paradises in the world. Sri Lanka!

From Colombo’s bright lights and wafts of fragrant spices, Colombo clashes with the warm waves of the Indian Ocean making it the perfect place to begin exploring the formerly known country of ‘Ceylon’.

Whether you have 1, 2 or 3 weeks to explore Sri Lanka, the amount of activities you can do within a short space of time is crazy!

Don’t miss our brand new article on the  best things to do in Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Here’s the basic information about travelling to Sri Lanka that will give you a general idea about the country.

General Information

  • Capital:  Colombo
  • Other Main Cities: Kandy, Galle, Trincomalee
  • Currency:  Sri Lankan Rupee
  • Language:  Sinhalese and Tamil
  • Population: 22 million
  • Area:  65’610 sq. km
  • Electricity Voltage:  230 Volt at 50Hz. If you have 110 volt appliances, you need an voltage adaptor otherwise you’ll burn out the item you are using.
  • Electricity Sockets:  Plug type D (three round pins) or G (three rectangular pins)

How to Get to Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Air offers daily flights from Melbourne to Colombo which takes around 11 hours. Be sure to check out the article on my experience with Sri Lankan Air !

By air is the only way at the moment for how to get to Sri Lanka. The main international airport Bandaranaike is a major international hub therefore flights come from all over the world.

Visa Requirements for Sri Lanka

Visas are required on entry to Sri Lanka and can be obtained at Bandaranaike International Airport or through https://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/center.jsp?locale=en_US which is the Electronic Travel Authorisation System.

Visa prices vary depending on what purpose you are visiting the country by i.e. leisure, business, conference.

Why Go to Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka has had a very rough past, which has only in the recent 10 years halted giving the country a complete fresh start. Today most of the country has become accessible to foreigners.

Sri Lanka is well known for its surf breaks with pristine beaches and coconut palms, and the fame is for good reason.

That’s why most people go there, but to truly understand what Sri Lanka is about, you’re going to need to get a vehicle and head to the countries heart.

Colombo wasn’t Sri Lanka’s first capital, in fact it was Anuradhapura (Anu-rad-ha-pura) back in 380 BC located in the Northern Central region where Buddhist culture is the strongest.

There are 2 good reasons to go to Sri Lanka and I could probably name a whole lot more, but there are 2 particular things that revolve around one another and that is food and a smile.

No matter where you are in Sri Lanka, you are bound to get a wave and smile from the locals and if you are lucky enough, sitting down and enjoying a spicy meal with an extra serve of sambol you are bound to crack a smile.

I have been to a lot of countries throughout the world but the people of Sri Lanka are by far the friendliest you will ever come across on your travels.

What to Expect in Sri Lanka?

When you travel to Sri Lanka for the first time you probably won’t know what to expect. Well there’s a million things that may be different to what you are used to at home, but ultimately there’s just two big things you need to know about.

Weather – Anywhere near the equator you can expect high humidity, monsoon rains and frequent thunderstorms and you’re not wrong, these are very common in Sri Lanka almost everywhere you go.

The country has 3 monsoon seasons so picking the right time to go travelling in Sri Lanka may prove to be slightly difficult.

Rain can be your best friend cooling you down when humidity peaks but if you get too much roads frequently get cut off due to swelling creeks, rivers and paddy fields.

Roads – Having travelled extensively in a whole bunch of Asian countries, Sri Lanka by far has the best roads I’ve encountered, especially from Colombo through Negombo, Kurunegala to Anuradhapura.

Travel Itineraries Suggestions for Colombo in Sri Lanka

Colombo serves as the gateway to the rest of Sri Lanka as it’s the only port where you can enter and exit the country.

Colombo has a certain charm about it with its mix of old and new architecture which pushes right to the edge of the Indian Ocean. As soon as you cross the shore, it happens before your eyes with trains full of commuters zooming up and down the coastline as wave’s crash precariously below the train tracks.

The closer you are to the shores of the Indian Ocean, the more you are going to witness newer infrastructure so why not opt for the opposite and grab a trishaw to Fort where colonial infrastructure becomes the main attraction.

If you are truly looking to experience Colombo, Pettah is the place to go. Pettah bazaar is a bustling 24 hour market where literally everything is bought, sold and repaired.

Cinnamon Gardens are located a few kilometres in land from Colombo’s centre where things are a bit more stylish compared to places such as Pettah. Cinnamon Gardens was once as the name suggests, an orchard of cinnamon however today there are more buildings than cinnamon plants.

If you are in the gardens be sure to visit the National Museum to gain some insight into the country’s history before heading off on an adventure, it will help you understand what Sri Lanka is all about.  

One of the most interesting places in Colombo is Galle Face Green,  which is a long patch of grass running parallel to the ocean shore.

This is where games of cricket are constantly happening with the occasional ball being hit for 6 into the sea as the sun sets low over the Indian Ocean.

Galle Face Green is also a great place to sample some of Sri Lanka’s best street food such as Kotthu .

A little bit further south, trains frequently zip along a narrow section of coastline with local commuters hustling for a spot by the trains doors.

Transport in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is quite easy to get around in terms of transport available, however if you are considering driving yourself or hiring a trishaw, you may want to think again.

Roads in Sri Lanka are relatively quiet in comparison to places such as India and Nepal but the road rules are still quite hectic.

Trains are a good way of getting around especially if you are heading from Colombo to Kandy or down south to Galle but expect the trains to be packed to the doors.

If you are travelling around Colombo, taxis are cheap but be sure to agree on a price before leaving.

Top Places to Visit in Northern Central Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is known for its epic surf break and pristine beaches but to truly discover Sri Lanka’s rich heritage, you’re going to need to head to the Northern Central Region which is some 6 hours away.

Northern Central’s history extends right from the time that the first people crossed from India to what is now known as ‘the pearl’ of the Indian Ocean.

With multiple capital cities being formed in the Northern part of Sri Lanka, a strong history has developed with many of these ruins becoming World Heritage Sites.

The Northern Central is known for its ancient cities and if you haven’t been to Sri Lanka before, you may want to continue reading this article!

Despite what publications like Lonely Planet say about Dambulla being a ‘town of no interest, cursed by heavy traffic’, they would be very wrong to judge such a diverse and wonderful place by calling it so.

Dambulla is surrounded by massive granite formations which are covered in lush vegetation creating a unique backdrop.

Dambulla is the epicenter to surrounding temples such as the Cave Temple but it is also home to one of the busiest fruit and vegetable trade centres at the Dambulla Produce Market which is so crucial to the local economy.

Everything from bananas, mangoes and potatoes to imported onions from Pakistan are sold at wholesale prices here with businesses bargaining for the best prices before carting off the produce to Colombo.

Locals in Dambulla are some of the friendliest people you will meet even those who are hauling bags of potatoes, they are more than happy to stop and have a chat!

Habarana is only a very small town that stretches north to south along a stretch of road but it has proven to be a lot more than that.

Habarana is the place to base yourself if you plan to go on safari to Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park.

One of the best places to stay in Habarana, is Cinnamon Lodge which is a widespread hotel bordering a large lake home to over 100 different species of birds and the odd cute but pesky monkey(s)!

Cinnamon Lodge is all about sustainability as it is located in a fragile environment therefore everything you eat comes directly from Dambulla market or is grown on the grounds of the hotel.

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dating back to the first century BC, one of the coolest places to visit in Sri Lanka is the incredible structures inside the Rocky Temple of Dambulla.

Filled with a huge number of Buddha statues, the caves you can wander through will be sure to impress you. Don’t miss the peculiar reclining Buddha, which is claimed to be in parinirvana, or nirvana after death, and is a massive 14 metres long!

Yapahuwa Rock Fortress

Yapahuwa is a beautiful granite geological feature that used to be used as a fortress. Stretching 200m from the fertile ground beneath it, it was in use as far back as the 13th century.

It’s a lot more than simply an old, historic ruin though. Yapahuwa offers an insight in how the kingdom of King Buvenekabahu’s home would have looked like all those years ago.

No matter whether you are ascending or descending Yapahuwa, a trip to the summit can be quite difficult. The steps are steep and there’s water flowing down the rock, making the granite slippery.

It’s completely worth the effort of climbing though, and the panoramic views of the Sri Lankan countryside will leave you in awe.

Plus Yapahuwa isn’t as popular as some of the other main attractions in the country like Sigiriya, so there’s a good chance you’ll have the views all to yourself.

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa, the former 11th century capital city when King Vijayabahu 1 was ruler, is only a 45-minute drive from Habarana, so there’s really no reason not to visit it when you travel to Sri Lanka.

Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its popularity grows every year with people who come to this beautiful country from overseas.

It’s quite a large site, spread out over a vast expanse of land, so the best way to explore it all is to rent a bicycle rather than trying to walk everywhere.

The 5 sections of Polonnaruwa are separated into the Royal Palace, the Northern Group, the small Southern Group, the Quadrangle and the small Island Park, with a bunch of other ruins found elsewhere on the site.

Don’t miss exploring the Polonnaruwa Quadrangle, which is one of the highlights of this place thanks to the way the structures are built around each other.

Vatadage is the one not to be skipped, and is arguably the most impressive feature with its dilapidated walls, circular relic house and two terraces that surround the Buddha.

Anuradhapura

One of the country’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the famous Anuradhapura is best known for being home to   a relic of the sacred Buddha’s tooth, which is encircled deep within the city.

The  Abhayagiri Dagoba  (dagoba means stupa) used to stand over 100m tall, but it has fallen apart over the years to be much lower than this today.

Another of the main dagobas here is  Jetavanarama,  which is quite similar to  Abhayagiri.  Jetavanarama was made with over 90 million bricks, which makes it one of the largest man-made structures on earth from its era, with only the Great Pyramids of Egypt beating it out.

While you’re here don’t miss out on  Sri Maha Bodhi,  the most sacred of all Buddhist monuments in Sri Lanka. This is the oldest Bodhi tree in all of Asia, with estimates putting it at over 2000 years old.

It’s found in the centre of the temple so nobody can touch it, but the branches spread right out over the temple walls so if you’re really lucky you might see one of the sacred leaves falling from the sky.

Sigiriya Rock

By far the most popular place to visit in all of Sri Lanka’s northern central region is Sigiriya Rock, also known as Lion Rock.

Here you’ll find busloads of visitors heading to the old stronghold of Sigiriya, which used to be under the rule of King Kassapa in the 5th century.

Don’t let the sheer number of tourists put you off – it’s well worth dealing with the crowds for as it is seriously of of the most impressive sites in the entire country.

There’s a cool stairway that takes you right to the top of the rock, so if you’re scared of heights at all maybe sit this one out.

You definitely can’t miss the two giant lion’s feet at the base of Sigiriya, and the feet act as a passage to the top of the fortress.

The views from the summit are, as expected, awesome.

Ritigala Ancient Monastery

Ritigala is a very special place in Sri Lanka, and its location makes it even more so, with the 4th century ruins being in the heart of the Ritigala Nature Reserve and boasting a number of turquoise creeks flowing right by.

The reason most people visit this monastery is to hike to the Ritigala Peak, but before you start you need to take a 30-minute Jeep ride from the main road and deep into the forest.

Today this is where monks of all ages and levels come and live during their practice.

A track flows from ruin to ruin, and eventually finishes up in a dead end which is a wonderful place to simply kick back and soak up the ambiance of Ritigala.

Accommodation in Northern Central Sri Lanka

Cinnamon Hotels based in Habarana is the perfect place to relax all while being closely positioned to all of the main attractions in this part of Sri Lanka.

Be sure to read my review of the Lodge in Habarana !

Staying Safe in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka endured a terrible past but don’t let that put you off going to truly one of the most beautiful places in Asia.

The people of Sri Lanka are so friendly and will offer to feed you and put you up for a night. However if you do run into trouble, embassies and consulates are located in Colombo so be sure to know their location and contact number if you do encounter problems.

Always keep your belongings close including your passport, camera gear and money.

Travel Packing List

Sri Lanka is a very hot and humid place which endures a daily down pour of rain almost everywhere. If you have forgotten an item, it will be easy to purchase once in Sri Lanka.

Here are a few items I highly recommend:

  • Breathable shirts
  • Shorts that cover the knees (especially good for visiting temples)
  • Swim shorts
  • Hiking shoes
  • Sarong (always comes in handy)

Tips for Travelling in Sri Lanka

Here are some of my best tips when it comes to travelling in Sri Lanka, and especially in the Northern Central region.

Etiquette When Visiting Temples in Sri Lanka

One of the things that we as visitors need to respect when visiting a foreign country is local law. Temples and stupas in Sri Lanka require both men and women to have covered shoulders and covered knees so make sure to bring long pants and a t-shirt.

When walking inside a temple, please remove your shoes and your hat before entering and refrain from speaking loudly.

When visiting a stupa it is customary to walk in a clockwise direction otherwise known as circumbulation.

Visiting Rock Formations

Visiting rock formations such as Ritigala, Yapahuwa and Sigiriya are to some locals considered to be a sacred place, so please respect that by wearing appropriate clothing and avoid such gestures like “celebrating when getting to the top of the rock”.

You are not there to ‘conquer’, you are there to respect that place’s cultural values. Please be respectful toward the people of this beautiful country.

Get Familiar with the Local Currency

I can never stress how important it is to be accustomed with the local currency. I always take a small writing book with me with currency conversions to ensure I know how much I am spending.

Don’t Drink Tap Water

Tap water in Sri Lanka can make you quite sick so be sure to stick to bottled water. Another good tip to save using bottled water is to ask if the hotel has purified water to which your bottle can be refilled.

Carry Toilet Paper

Northern Central areas especially when visiting places such as Ritigala, toilet paper is one thing that you will not find. Carry a spare roll just to be safe.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will save you big time and your pockets if you find yourself in a hospital. Get insurance before you leave your home country and know how to contact your insurance provider in the case of an emergency. Read our guide all about travel insurance here.

Always ask permission when taking photos of people. If they say ‘no’ please respect that. If you see a military checkpoint, bridge or dam DO NOT take a photo unless you want your camera smashed on the ground. Places like Sigiriya have photo sensitive sites and if you are told not to take photos, I’d advise not to.

Here’s our tips for travel photography.

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Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Published: December 6, 2023

A bright blue sky over the Nine Arches bridge going through the jungle in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was a wonderful surprise. I didn’t know what to expect going into my trip, but I ended up loving every bit of it.

It is a divided country, with the south dominated by Buddhist Sinhalese and the north by Hindu Tamils. After the British left in 1948, the Sinhalese controlled the government and enacted a series of laws that limited Tamil participation in society. Eventually, Tamil protests escalated and a 26-year civil war ensued, only ending in 2009.

Though it has been some time since then, Sri Lanka is still very much recovering — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. In fact, my time there was especially memorable due to my experiences meeting and getting to know the incredibly friendly locals. No matter where I went, Sri Lankans welcomed me with kindness and open arms.

Traveling around Sri Lanka is relatively easy and very budget-friendly. English is widely spoken, so once you get used to the chaos, it isn’t too difficult to get around.

With that in mind, here’s my Sri Lanka travel guide so that you can save money, have fun, and make the most of your visit to this beautiful country!

A note on prices and currencies : Costs for attractions in this guide are in USD, while costs for restaurants and accommodations are in LKR. This is to most accurately represent the currency in which you will see prices. Foreign visitors are charged a different price from locals at most attractions, quoted in USD. Registered tourist establishments are required to accept only foreign currency from nonresidents, as part of a governmental scheme to build up the country’s reserves of stronger currencies.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around

How to Stay Safe

  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Sri Lanka

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Sri Lanka

The lush hills of a tea plantation in Sri Lanka

1. Tour a tea estate

When the British colonized the island in the early 19th century, they quickly realized that the central highlands had the perfect climate and topography for growing tea. One of the largest, lasting impacts of colonialism is that a significant portion of the country is still covered in tea plantations or estates.

The town of Hatton is known as the tea capital of Sri Lanka, as it’s the central point of a few regions where the plant is still plucked by hand (and one of the few places in the world where this still occurs). Going on a plantation or factory tour is a great way to learn about this integral part of the country’s economy and culture. Tours are often free, though if there is a fee, it’s only around 250 LKR. Tours usually include a tea tasting at the end.

2. See the wildlife at Yala National Park

This is Sri Lanka’s second-largest and most popular national park. It’s well known for its abundant wildlife, especially the elephants and leopards that make their home here. In fact, it’s the best place in the world to try to spot leopards, as it has the highest density of them! The area is culturally significant as well, with two important Buddhist pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, located within the park. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit these sites each year. While a guide isn’t required to enter the park, joining a safari led by an experienced local guide is the best way to experience Yala, as you’ll be able to ask questions as they point out animals to you. Safaris are quite affordable too, starting at just 8,600 LKR.

3. Hike Sigiriya Rock

Also known as Lion’s Rock, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the country’s most famous tourist attraction. In the fifth century, Sri Lankan ruler King Kashyapa decided to build his fortress on this massive column of granite rock. While it was abandoned shortly after his death, its remote location meant that the palace remained untouched over the centuries, and today it remains a fascinating example of ancient urban planning.

You can hike to the top for stunning views over the lush landscapes below; it takes an hour to walk up, as it’s single file all the way. As it’s one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka, you won’t have this place to yourself. Get there when it opens at 6:30am to avoid huge lines. If you are there after 10am, the crowds are so overwhelming, it’s not worth visiting. Admission is $30 USD ( guided day trips from Kandy that also include visits to the cave temples of Dambulla are $70 USD).

Pro tip: if you’re on a budget, climb Pidurangala Rock instead. It’s much cheaper (500 LKR), plus you’ll actually get views of Sigiriya Rock itself! (Just note that the trail does involve some scrambling at times, while the trail to the top of Sigiriya is steep but easier, with metal steps and staircases.)

4. Take the train

The British built the Sri Lankan railway system in 1864 to transport tea and coffee from plantations to Colombo, where these goods were then shipped out internationally. The train lines are still in use and provide a scenic way to explore the country. There are three main lines, but the ride from Kandy to Ella is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the world. It lasts seven hours and takes you through lush mountains, tropical forests, and endless tea plantations; the picturesque 20th-century Nine Arches Bridge is on this route as well.

If you’d like to take this journey, it’s best to book with a travel agency in advance as seats sell out quickly. Just adjust your expectations regarding timeliness and speed. Don’t be in a hurry when riding the rails in Sri Lanka!

5. Visit Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura was the very first capital of Sri Lanka and remained so for around 1,300 years. Today, many of the old ruins still survive and have been restored to their former glory. This archaeological complex and UNESCO site contains many of Buddhism’s holiest places, including Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, the fig tree where it is believed that the Buddha himself obtained enlightenment. It’s also home to Jetavanaramaya Dagaba, which at 122 meters (400 feet) is the world’s tallest stupa. Most people either rent a bicycle or hire a tuk-tuk to take them around the complex. Admission to the five main temples is $25 USD, though there are many smaller temples and sites that are either free or just a couple of dollars.

Other Things to See and Do

1. visit kandy.

The country’s second-largest city was also the last capital of Sri Lanka’s monarchy, the Kingdom of Kandy, which arose in the late 16th century and resisted both Dutch and Portuguese rule before finally succumbing to British colonization in the early 19th century. Kandy is known for its well-preserved historic colonial center (now a UNESCO site), as well as the Buddhist shrine the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (supposedly an actual tooth of the Buddha). Many visitors come here because it’s the starting point for the scenic train to Ella, but make sure to spend a few days exploring the bustling streets, enjoying Kandy Lake, and wandering through the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya, the nation’s biggest and most impressive botanical garden.

2. Explore Ella

If you take Sri Lanka’s most scenic train ride, you’ll end up in the town of Ella, which, though small, is a popular destination. Even if you don’t take the train to get here, the iconic Nine Arches railway bridge is one of the biggest attractions in the entire country. You can get to the lookout by hiking through the forest, and then waiting for a train to go by if you want that iconic “Sri Lankan postcard” shot. Other things to see and do here include traversing the surrounding rainforests to see stunning waterfalls, hiking Little Adam’s Peak or Ella Rock, and visiting the endless tea plantations.

3. Travel up north

After decades of war, the north has a legacy of destruction that has yet to go away. For that reason, most travelers focus on the southern half of Sri Lanka, with its plentiful hiking and charming beach towns. But seeing the north gave me a more nuanced perspective on a portion of the country without hordes of other tourists. In fact, in my time there, I saw only four Westerners.

As the area is mainly Hindu, you’ll find lots of beautiful temples here, including the impressive Nallur Kandaswamy in Jaffna. The north also offers beautiful yet uncrowded beaches, a plethora of tranquil islands to explore, and delicious food with a strong southern Indian influence.

4. See the temples

Sri Lanka has an astonishing number of impressive temples. Everywhere you go, there’s a beautiful temple! Some of the most famous include Temple of the Tooth (in Kandy), Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam and Gangaramaya (both in Colombo), Dambulla Cave Temple (in Dambulla), and Nallur Kandaswamy Temple (in Jaffna).

When visiting, be sure to dress appropriately, as these are active places of worship. Also, bring flip-flops to temples, since you’ll have to take your socks and shoes off before going inside. Entrance fees range from free to around $10 USD.

5. Take a cooking class

While I didn’t know much about the country’s food before arriving, I quickly became hooked on the delicious curries of Sri Lankan cuisine. Colombo Cooking Class offers three-hour sessions in which you make 10 dishes, including curries, coconut sambol, and papadam. The class takes place in the owner’s home, and it really feels like you’re learning to cook with a friend! The cost is around 20,000 LKR.

6. Hit the beaches

Since it’s a huge island, Sri Lanka’s coastline spans over 1,340 kilometers (830 miles), meaning there are countless beaches to enjoy. There are white-sand shores to stroll on, coral reefs perfect for snorkeling, picturesque sunsets to admire, and breaks great for surfing. No matter what you’re into, there’s a beach for you in Sri Lanka.

Arugam Bay and Mirissa Beach are some of the most well known, mainly as world-famous surfing destinations, but they both have nice beach towns to visit even if you don’t surf.

7. Day trip to Galle

Founded in the late 16th century by the Portuguese and later conquered by the Dutch in the mid-17th century, Galle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a beautifully preserved old fort town that’s worth a visit. A visit here is best spent just wandering around, admiring the Dutch colonial buildings, walking the perimeter of the old fort, shopping at the artisanal craft stores (or taking a workshop to learn how to make jewelry in the traditional style ), touring the National Maritime Museum, and eating fresh seafood.

But as that’s about the extent of what there is to do, I recommend visiting Galle as a day trip from Colombo rather than staying overnight. It’s super easy, as you can take the train directly, which takes about two hours.

8. Climb Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak is Sri Lanka’s most sacred mountain and an important pilgrimage destination. Hindus and Buddhists believe the mountain is the footstep of Shiva and the Buddha, respectively, while Muslims and Christians revere it as the first place Adam stepped on earth after his ousting from the Garden of Eden.

But even if you aren’t religious, trekking to the top of Adam’s Peak is a rewarding experience for both the challenge of the ascent and the magnificent views. It is a steep climb, with over 5,000 steps to get to the top, though there are many teahouses to stop at along the way. Most hikers start their climb from the village of Dalhousie around 2am in order to reach the top by sunrise. Depending on your fitness level, the entire journey takes around 5-7 hours.

9. Go whale watching

While countries like Iceland get all the press for whale watching, Sri Lanka is actually one of the best places to view these awe-inspiring creatures. Many species — including the blue whale, the largest animal on earth — migrate annually around the southern tip of the island, swimming closer to shore here than anywhere else in the world.

Mirissa Beach is the best place to depart from, and there are many operators offering tours. Be sure to go with a company that adheres to responsible international whale watching standards, which include stipulations like not getting too close, not feeding the whales, etc. I recommend Raja and the Whales, where an adult ticket is around 20,000 LKR.

10. Explore Colombo

As the country’s capital and location of its major international airport, you’ll undoubtedly be flying in and out of Colombo. This busy city is a bit of everything, with modern cafés and bistros right next to traditional Buddhist and Hindu temples. It’s worth spending a couple days here, getting your bearings and enjoying the cultural offerings.

Sri Lanka Travel Costs

A group of elephants standing in a stream in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is cheap to visit. Even when you splurge, it’s not that expensive, especially if you stick to delicious local cuisine, travel on trains and buses, and don’t go crazy with your accommodation.

Accommodation – There is a lot of cheap accommodation throughout the country (and a growing number of hostels), though they’re really basic, with just a fan, mosquito net, and shower. At 2,000-4,000 LKR per dorm bed, you can’t go wrong though. Private rooms in hostels start around 6,500 LKR.

Guesthouses are more plentiful and affordable, with private rooms that have an en-suite bathroom starting at 5,000 LKR per night. Two-star budget hotels start around 8,000 LKR. In both cases, you’ll usually get free breakfast and Wi-Fi too.

You can find some unique Airbnbs in Sri Lanka, though they tend to be pricey. Prices range from 7,000 LKR per night for tree houses and cabins to 25,000 LKR and up for villas and larger properties. Most of the midrange options on Airbnb are hotels and guesthouses.

Food – Incredibly flavorful and packed with fragrant spices, Sri Lankan food is influenced by the culture and cuisines of foreign traders from all over the world. Middle Eastern, Indian, Portuguese, and Dutch flavors are particularly common due to trading routes and the country’s colonial history.

Cinnamon and black pepper are the two most important spices, though cardamom, pandan leaf, and lemongrass feature heavily too. Sri Lankan cuisine can be quite spicy, and dozens of types of peppers are grown and used on the island.

And, as an island nation, it should come as no surprise that fresh seafood plays a major role in many Sri Lankan dishes. Maldives fish (cured tuna produced in the Maldives) is a staple flavoring element. Coconut and rice are also two ubiquitous ingredients that you’ll find on the table at every meal and part of many street snacks.

Popular dishes include various curries (including fish, crab, or lentil), biryani (meat, fish, or vegetables cooked with rice and seasoned), pittu (cylinders of rice flour mixed with grated coconut), kiribath (rice cooked in coconut milk), roti (flatbread made from wheat flour), wattalapam (rich pudding made with coconut milk, jaggery, cashews, eggs, and spices), kottu (roti, meat curry, scrambled egg, onions, and chilies, chopped together with a cleaver on a hot griddle), appam (a thin pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk), lamprais (rice cooked in stock, accompanied by meatballs, and baked in a banana leaf), breudher (a Dutch holiday biscuit), and bolo fiado (Portuguese-style layer cake).

Besides being delicious, food is also really cheap here. At a casual traditional restaurant, starters and snacks like roti or dosa are 240-550 LKR, while biryani costs 450-900 (depending on the meat chosen), and a typical curry dish costs 550-950 LKR. A fast-food combo meal is 750 LKR.

At restaurants with table service or for a more “Western” meal, a pizza is 2,500-3,500 LKR, a pasta dish is 1,500-2,200, and a burger is around 1,100-1,500 LKR. At an upscale restaurant, fish or crab curry is 3,500-4,000 LKR, while a chicken or vegetable curry is 1,000-1,500 LKR.

A bottle of water is 100-150 LKR, a cappuccino is 600 LKR, and a beer is around 500-600 LKR, though don’t expect too many chances to drink alcohol. Outside the coastal touristy beach towns and the capital of Colombo, there isn’t much nightlife or opportunity to drink. While you can always crack a beer at your guesthouse, Sri Lanka isn’t home to a big drinking/nightlife culture.

Some of my favorite restaurants were Balaji Dosai and the Slightly Chilled Bar in Kandy; Ahinsa in Sigiriya; and Upali’s and the Ministry of Crab in Colombo. The last one is an expensive seafood restaurant, but the food is delicious! Sri Lankan crab is famous worldwide — and gigantic. It’s not cheap, but sometimes you just have to treat yourself.

Backpacking Sri Lanka: Suggested Budgets

On a backpacking budget of 9,700 LKR per day, you can stay in a hostel, eat cheap meals like street food (with limited drinking), use public transportation to get around, and do free activities like walking tours, hiking, and hanging out at beaches.

On a midrange budget of 18,000 LKR per day, you can stay in a guesthouse or private room in a hostel or Airbnb, eat out for most meals, drink more, take taxis to get around, and do more paid activities like museum visits or whale watching.

On an upscale budget of 35,000 LKR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel or private Airbnb, eat out pretty much anywhere you want, drink at the bar, rent a tuk-tuk or car to get around, and do as many guided tours and activities as you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in LKR.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Sri Lanka is very affordable, but there are still plenty of ways to help keep your costs low. Here are my top money-saving tips for traveling in Sri lanka:

  • Get your visa in advance – You’ll need to get a visa for entry into the country. You can do this either online starting three days before you arrive, or upon arrival. It’s slightly cheaper if you do it ahead of time, plus you’ll skip the lines at the airport.
  • Eat the local food – Outside of the major cities of Colombo and Kandy, you won’t find many non-Sri Lankan or non-Indian food options. What you do find is overpriced, subpar Western food that’s more often than not a chain. Skip it and stick to the local cuisine.
  • Bring a water bottle – You shouldn’t really drink the water in Sri Lanka. And since the weather here is really hot, you’ll need to buy a lot of bottled water to stay hydrated (you’ll probably spend 300 LKR per day on plastic bottles of water). Instead, bring a reusable water bottle with a filter instead to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as its bottles have built-in filters to ensure that your water is always clean and safe.
  • Stay with a local – Couchsurfing is a great way to save money on accommodation while also getting some insight from residents. You might have better luck in the larger cities, but be sure to request early, as they also see the most requests.
  • Visit in off or shoulder seasons – Visit during monsoon season or shoulder season to save money. Even though you will experience some rain, it doesn’t rain 24/7, and you’ll still be able to get out and explore.

Where to Stay in Sri Lanka

Guesthouses are the most common and affordable option in Sri Lanka, though there is a growing number of hostels here too. Here are my recommended places to stay around the country:

  • C1 Colombo Fort (Colombo)
  • Palitha Home Stay (Sigiriya)
  • Jaye’s Home Stay (Kandy)
  • Backpacker Galle Hostel (Galle)

How to Get Around Sri Lanka

Tuk tuks and buses on a road lined with palm trees in Sri Lanka

Bus – This is the cheapest and most widely used way to get around the country, though it can be a very crowded and at times harrowing experience. There are two types of buses: red Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) buses that are run by the state, and blue, pink, or green buses that are run by private companies. Private buses tend to be more crowded, as there are more seats, and drivers try to cram on as many passengers as possible.

Since you’ll most likely be flying in and/or out of Colombo, the blue Colombo Express Bus is the cheapest and easiest way to get from the airport to the city center. It’s just 110 LKR (the same price as the regular bus), leaves every 30 minutes (5:30am–8:30pm), and takes about an hour. In town, it stops at (and leaves from) the Central Bus Stand, Pettah Fort, and Colombo Fort Station. Alternatively, a taxi is about 2,700 LKR.

Tuk-tuk – All throughout Sri Lanka, you can hire drivers cheaply. Any tuk-tuk driver will let you hire them for the day, for around 10,000 LKR. Moreover, they are pretty honest — except in Colombo, where they may try to scam and overcharge you. Elsewhere in the country, you’ll get a fair deal, so there’s no need to try to bargain hard.

Ridesharing – Uber is available only in Colombo and is often more expensive than taxis, especially during rush hours. PickMe is a local taxi-hailing app that you can also use to hire tuk-tuks.

Train – Train travel, while slower, is the most scenic and culturally immersive way to get around Sri Lanka (plus, the island is so small that taking an expensive short flight doesn’t make sense). Sri Lanka Railways runs all trains, and you can find schedules and make reservations on its website.

There are a variety of classes from which to choose: first, second, third, and reserved or unreserved (third class doesn’t have reserved seating and doesn’t sell out). Seat reservations can only be made up to 30 days prior to departure.

Some typical train routes and their approximate prices include the following:

  • Colombo to Jaffna (7–8 hours): 2,250 LKR
  • Jaffna to Anuradhapura (2.5–3.5 hours): 1,600 LKR
  • Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (3.5–4 hours): 2,500 LKR
  • Colombo to Galle (2 hours): 1,600 LKR

For more details on train travel in Sri Lanka, I recommend The Man in Seat 61 . It’s the best resource for train travel information.

Flying – As Sri Lanka is a relatively small island, flying domestically doesn’t make much sense. There is only one airline that even offers domestic routes (Cinnamon Air) and those are expensive, starting at 77,000 LKR for a 30-minute flight. Skip the flights.

When to Go to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is effected by two different monsoon seasons, so if you want the best weather during your trip, you’ll want to keep that in mind.

If you want to visit the beaches in the south and west, go December through March. April to September is best for visiting the north and east.

The good news is that temperatures stay fairly consistent throughout the year. Coastal regions generally have average temperatures of 25-30°C (77-86°F) while in the highlands you can expect an average of 17-19°C (63-66°F).

While there is a lot of rain during monsoon season, it doesn’t rain 24/7 so you can still enjoy the country. But no matter when you visit, make sure to bring a rain coat just in case.

Sri Lanka is a safe place to backpack and travel — even if you’re a solo traveler. Violent attacks against tourists are rare. Petty theft is the most common type of crime, especially around popular tourist landmarks. Always keep your valuables out of reach on public transportation, in crowds, and at the beach, just to be safe. A little vigilance goes a long way here since most thefts are crimes of opportunity.

The main scam to watch out for is paying the “tourist tax” (elevated prices for travelers). If you’re worried about others, read this blog post about major travel scams to avoid .

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe, though verbal (and at times physical) harassment unfortunately occurs more often here than in other countries. It’s a good idea to dress conservatively and avoid walking around alone at night.

Other issues that you may encounter involve civil unrest and the current economic crisis. Stay aware of any demonstrations that may be occurring (usually in Colombo). While they are generally peaceful, like anywhere, there is the potential for these protests becoming violent. Steer clear to avoid getting caught in the middle.

Also be aware that shortages of supplies are common, and fuel is currently being rationed. If you need medications, bring a full supply with you.

Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

If you do experience an emergency, dial 119.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. It protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancelations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong unexpectedly. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Sri Lanka Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Sri Lanka Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Sri Lanka travel and continue planning your trip:

The Ultimate Guide to Sri Lanka: Costs, Itineraries, and Favorites

The Ultimate Guide to Sri Lanka: Costs, Itineraries, and Favorites

Sri Lankans: Making a Stranger Feel Like Family

Sri Lankans: Making a Stranger Feel Like Family

How to Plan a Trip to a Place You Know Nothing About

How to Plan a Trip to a Place You Know Nothing About

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Travel World (Pvt) Ltd was established in 1984 and is an IATA accredited travel agent based in Sri Lanka. The company is also accredited by JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) owing to its broad ranging Japanese clientele, particularly during the early days since its inception. Additionally, Travel World is a fully licensed member of the TAASL (Travel Agents Association of Sri Lankan) whilst also holding a fully fledged Tourist Board and Civil Aviation Authority authorization. We specialize in providing a comprehensive travel solution which takes into account all aspects of the travel process for both corporate and leisure travelers. Travel World is the brain child of Mr. Saman Premakumara - a pioneering veteran in the travel trade. Conveniently located within the central business district in Colombo, our dedicated staff who are on call 24 hours, 365 days of the year are available anytime for flight information, ticket purchasing, hotel reservations, visa assistance or as consultants in the planning of your next holiday.

Having extensive experience working with airlines represented in Sri Lanka, we act as direct agents to all airlines, being the recipient of several accolades since its inception. Our personal relationships with all airlines position the company ideally for resolving passenger issues in addition to regular ticket booking and issuance. All in all, our capabilities equip us to be a trusted advisory and partner for our customers and suppliers. Our philosophy is to create continuous and sustainable value to our existing and potential customers while upholding the highest levels of performance and service standards.

"To be identified as a premier travel solutions provider with superior customer service offering a personalized yet professional experience"

"To exceed client expectations and over deliver on our service and customer value creation promises. To offer a memorable customer experience by being efficient, cognizant and reliable."

Saman Premakumara

Saman Premakumara

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  • Pioneering veteran of the travel industry, he is two time President of the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL)
  • Past Director of United Federation of Travel Agents Association (UFTAA) for the Indian Subcontinent region
  • Prior to founding TWL, was Manager Aviation and Travels at Upali Group, Sri Lanka
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Passenger train crossing the nine arches viaduct near Ella, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka ranked top country for travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet

Improved train services mean it’s easier than ever to explore Sri Lanka but campaigners warn a surge in tourism could ruin its natural beauty

Almost 10 years after the end of its civil war, Sri Lanka has been named the best country in the world to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet. Better transport links, new hotels and a growing number of activities were cited as the reason the south-Asian island was chosen for the top spot in the guidebook publisher ’s annual Best in Travel awards .

“Already notable to intrepid travellers for its mix of religions and cultures, its timeless temples, its rich and accessible wildlife, its growing surf scene and its people who defy all odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict, this is a country revived,” says Lonely Planet author Ethan Gelber in the Best in Travel 2019 book, published today.

“Unmissable experiences” include wildlife, such as the 300-strong elephant gathering at Minneriya national park , thousand-year old Buddhist monuments, and hiking and train travel through the Hill Country’s tea plantations.

Tourist visits to Sri Lanka have increased dramatically since the end of the 26-year conflict, from 447,890 in 2009 to an all time high of 2.1 million last year, a figure the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority hopes to double by 2020. Renovations made to the rail system have opened up Jaffna and much of north for the first time since 1990 – an area that was previously considered too dangerous for tourists. The scenic rail routes in Sri Lanka are now widely thought to be some of the best in the world. Motorways have also been built as far south as Matara, and the number of domestic flight routes has increased in recent years, too: for instance, from the capital Colombo, on the west coast, to Batticaloa, on the opposite side of the island, in 45 minutes.

There has also been a huge investment in new visitor accommodation : from homestays to high-end eco retreats – such as the Wild Coast Lodge’s cocoon-like buildings in Yala national park. Major international hotel chains, including Shangri-La, Mövenpick, Sheraton, and Grand Hyatt, are all opening new properties.

The beach near Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s surf scene has been steadily growing, as more of the coast has become accessible, and tour operators are now offering jungle hiking, alongside yoga breaks with traditional Ayurveda treatments. There are also plenty of free attractions, including colourful puja rituals on the clifftop of Koneswaram Kovil in Trincomalee in the north east; Colombo’s main market of Pettah; and the fortified walls surrounding the colonial old town of Galle in the south.

While the ratio of tourists to residents is relatively low compared with countries where overtourism is now a major issue, some conservationists have expressed concern over the speed of development in certain areas.

“Tourism is a major income generator for the country. Unfortunately, much of our tourism is focused on numbers of tourists [rather than] the investment they make in the country,” says Asha de Vos, marine biologist and founder of Sri Lanka-based conservation organisation Oceanswell .

“To accommodate the numbers, we are building more hotels and infrastructure and taking over natural spaces. The pressure on our wildlife and cultural sites is immense and destructive. The over-development is ongoing and unending – and because of the lack of coordination and planning, many hotels lie empty. So while tourism has its positives, if done haphazardly and without planning you destroy the very resources that draw people in.”

De Vos says development is affecting coastal areas and national parks in particular, where capacity is being exceeded in peak season and has led to an increase in pollution from rubbish not being disposed of properly.

She believes tourism in Sri Lanka can be beneficial but says the government needs to regulate, educate, have a longer-term vision and protect areas from over-development. “Sustainability should be at the core of any tourism product that is created.”

Human rights charities have also criticised large-scale tourism developments for their negative impact on local people .

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel lists the top 10 countries, cities and regions alongside other travel experiences for the year ahead, ranked by the staff of Lonely Planet, including editors and contributors from around the world. Germany is rated second in the countries list, with a nod to the centenary of Bauhaus next year, and Zimbabwe – where tourists are starting to return after the resignation of Robert Mugabe – comes in third. In fifth position is Kyrgyzstan, which has 2,700km of newly-marked trekking routes. Copenhagen, Shenzhen in China and Nova Sad in Serbia were named as the best cities to travel to in 2019, while top trends include dark-skies tourism (with an increase in people stargazing and solar eclipse trips) and electric road trips, thanks to a rise in the number of car-rental companies offering alternatives to petrol and diesel vehicles.

For the full list of winners, visit lonelyplanet.com

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Jamie Hergenrader is the Commerce Director of the Travel Group at Dotdash Meredith where she leads the content strategy of product reviews and recommendations for the company's travel brands. She joined the company in 2018 and has nearly a decade of experience writing and editing for travel and lifestyle publications.

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Sri Lanka’s rich culture and history, gorgeous landscape and scenery, and plentiful wildlife-spotting opportunities are the main reasons the country tops many travelers’ bucket lists. And due to its relatively small size, many of the best attractions and destinations are within only a couple of hours of each other. In one day, if you’re on a tight schedule, you could spend the morning at one of the country’s eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, go on a safari in the afternoon, and then in the evening, relax and enjoy a cup of tea from one of the hill country plantations. Or, with more time, allow the opportunity for spontaneous exploration—road tripping throughout the country offers scenic views almost everywhere, and you might pull over for an elephant sighting or two along the way!

 Jamie Hergenrader

Kandy, a major city in Sri Lanka’s hill country, is one of the most popular tourist destinations and one corner of the country’s Cultural Triangle. It’s surrounded by mountains of rainforest and tea plantations and is home to a beautiful lake within the city. Visit the Temple of the Tooth, a sacred temple that houses Buddha’s tooth; wander the city’s colorful streets, and admire the architecture while sampling food from the many street vendors; walk around the lake for scenic views of the lake itself and also the colorful buildings that dot the hillsides around it; and make the quick drive outside of the city to the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens to visit its orchid house and its spice garden, the latter of which will take you on an olfactory tour of the country’s native spices. 

This massive rock formation is not only a breathtaking sight to take in as you approach, jutting up from the flat lands that surround it but also a place of cultural and historical significance. The UNESCO World Heritage site was a fort and palace that dates back to the fifth century. A network of winding staircases and paths will lead you to the top of the rock if you’re game to do the 1,217-step climb. Along the way, you’ll get panoramic views of the valley around you, you’ll pass ancient paintings by monks on the rock walls, and learn about the kingdom that once called this rock home. If you plan on making the entire climb (which we highly recommend), arrive at the park at opening time—you’ll avoid the afternoon heat and beat most of the crowds.

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura, one of the three corners of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle and the current capital city of the North Central Province, was the first ancient capital in Sri Lanka, thriving for more than 1,300 years until it was abandoned in 993. Tourists visit this UNESCO World Heritage site to explore the well-preserved ruins and significant Buddhist history. Several dagobas, distinctive dome-shaped memorials, remain in the city, one of which is said to house Buddha’s collarbone. Another important site is the Bodhi tree found in the Mahamewna Gardens —it’s the oldest known human-planted tree in the world, and it grew from the southern branch of a sacred fig tree in India, the tree under which Gautama Buddha was said to have gained enlightenment.

Polonnaruwa

Jamie Hergenrader 

The third corner of the Cultural Triangle , Polonnaruwa became the second capital after Anuradhapura was abandoned. Like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is a draw for visitors interested in touring the city’s history and ruins, including those of the royal palace and other royal spaces, the quadrangle (a raised, walled-off area of monuments and Buddha statues), and dagobas. You’ll undoubtedly spot many monkeys (toque macaques) in the area, and that population of native, endangered monkeys was featured in Disney’s nature documentary, “Monkey Kingdom.” 

Yala National Park

Yala National Park, located along the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, is the most visited national park in the country, primarily because of the chance to spot the leopards in the area—it is home to one of the largest concentrations of leopards in the world. (The land became a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and then a national park in 1938.) Although it comprises five blocks, only two of them are open to the public for safari to preserve and protect the majority of the land. Between February and July is the best time to visit; during these months, the lower water levels bring more animals out in the open searching for water. However, the park can get crowded in these peak months, and higher traffic through the park can lessen your chances of spotting one of the elusive leopards. Even so, you’ll still have the opportunity to see elephants, crocodiles, and water buffaloes.

Minneriya National Park

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

Sri Lanka has plenty of safari opportunities, but Minneriya National Park is known for having the world's largest gatherings of Asian elephants. Previously an elephant sanctuary, the land was converted to a national park in 1997, and Asian elephants still freely roam the grounds in large herds. While you'll likely get a glimpse of several whenever you visit, the dry season from June to September is the best time to visit. This is when the elephants (sometimes as many as 300) will congregate around the reservoir. It might be most famous for these elephant sightings, but the park is also home to more than 170 species of birds, leopards, monkeys, and other wildlife.

Many tourists skip Colombo to set off for the country’s beautiful nature destinations, but the capital city deserves some of your time . Colombo comprises several distinct neighborhoods that showcase the old and new—from ancient temples and colonial architecture to modern skyscrapers and city parks. It’s easy (and recommended) to wander and simply take in the sights as you go. One impressive architectural sight you won’t be able to miss is the Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid (also known as the Red Mosque), a red and white mosque in Colombo’s Pettah neighborhood. Admiring it from the outside is intriguing enough, but if you want to go inside, ensure you’ve dressed appropriately; women need to cover their hair, arms, and legs. 

This fortified old city on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka is another of the country’s impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the best things to do is walk along the fort’s ramparts that give you a view out to the water and inward toward the fort and city. You can also take a self-guided tour of the fort to learn about its history and architecture. Although the fort is the main attraction for visitors to the area, Galle is a prime destination for shopping as well; wander the pedestrian-friendly streets to check out the many art galleries, upscale markets, and boutique stores selling clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, and home goods.

Nuwara Eliya

Tea is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest exports, so a trip to the rolling hills of tea country is well worth your time. Nuwara Eliya boasts hundreds of acres of tea plantations and several tea production facilities you can visit to learn about the entire tea-making process, from planting to picking and steeping at home. Once you’ve had your fill of tea, be sure to explore the other gorgeous surroundings of Nuwara Eliya, such as the manicured and well-maintained Victoria Park, Lake Gregory for a day on the water, or a lakeside picnic, or the beautiful, 350-foot tall Ramboda Falls.

As one of the main beach destinations in the country, Mirissa attracts those looking for a laid-back, leisurely vacation of days lounging on the sand and nights out on the town. Among the gorgeous beaches in Mirissa, Mirissa Beach and Secret Beach are two of the best for their beauty and seclusion, but neither one gets too crowded. If you’d rather be out on the water, Mirissa is a surfer’s paradise, especially from October to April, and it’s also a popular destination for whale watching tours to spot blue whales. After a day in the sun, hit some of the casual but lively restaurants and bars, some of which are right along the beach, making them a perfect setting for a sunset cocktail. 

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Sri Lanka travel guide

Southern India meets Buddhist Asia; Sri Lanka is a land of ancient ruins and religious relics, palm-fringed beaches and colourful reefs, balmy rainforests and local legends.

With memories of civil war receding, and a new government intent on healing the scars of the past, this sun-kissed island nation looks set to regain its position as the holiday capital of the Indian Ocean.

Life in Sri Lanka is dictated by the sea. Monsoon winds create the seasons, rainbow-coloured fishing boats deliver the bounty of the Indian Ocean to the nation’s tables and tropical surf washes endlessly against the island’s golden beaches. For many, this is the perfect introduction to the Indian Subcontinent.

While Hinduism holds sway in nearby India, Buddhism dominates Sri Lanka. Ancient temples and enigmatic dagobas (stupas) enshrine relics of Buddha, shaded by saplings taken from the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. At times, Sri Lanka’s Hindu, Christian and Buddhist minorities have struggled in the face of Buddhist domination, but it has shaped this island nation for millennia.

Across Sri Lanka, the ruins of ancient cities emerge from the jungle, while the remnants of Indian, Portuguese, Dutch and British settlements add to the delightful mishmash of historic architecture. Perhaps the most evocative monuments are Sri Lanka’s ancient monasteries, which are still major centres for pilgrimage and devotion, particularly during the island’s epic festivals.

In the Hill Country, the centre of the British occupation, colonial-era trains still wind their way through tea plantations and cascading paddy fields, but this highly populated little island is far from frozen in time: the coastline is peppered with modern resorts, beach bars, bronzed surfers and boutiques full of designer swimwear.

Elsewhere the forests of Yala, Udawalawe and other national parks teem with monkeys, leopards and wild elephants, while sea turtles, dolphins and blue whales can be spotted around the coast. Not bad for an island similar in size to South Carolina.

65,610 sq km (25,332 sq miles).

20,995,130 (UN estimate 2018).

335 per sq km.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe since 2022.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardene since 2022.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO ) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice . 

Before you travel 

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes: 

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks 
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated. 

Travel insurance 

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance . Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency. 

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel. 

The authorities in Sri Lanka set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK . 

COVID-19 rules 

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Sri Lanka. 

Passport validity requirements 

To enter Sri Lanka, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the day you arrive. 

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.  

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen. 

Visa requirements 

Tourist visas are normally valid for 30 days. If you overstay your visa you could be fined or detained by the police. 

You must follow the guidelines for tourists issued by Sri Lanka’s Immigration and Emigration department . 

Applying for a visa 

You can get and pay for a Sri Lanka ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’ (ETA) online , a few days before you arrive. You should get your approval notice within 24 hours, and you can use this to enter Sri Lanka. 

It is also possible to apply for a 30-day tourist visa on arrival if you land at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. However, the Department for Immigration strongly advise visitors to apply for an ETA before entry to Sri Lanka, as the approval of an arrival visa cannot be guaranteed. An arrival visa costs 60 US dollars, which is 10 US dollars more than the ETA.

You can complete an online arrival form 3 days before arriving in Sri Lanka. The service is free and may save time when you arrive.

If you want to stay for more than 30 days, up to 180 days, you need to apply online as you cannot apply on arrival. 

If you want to extend your visa, contact the Immigration and Emigration department . 

You do not need a visa if you’re travelling through Sri Lanka by air, as long as the connecting flight is within 24 hours of your arrival. Check with your airline about transit times. 

Vaccination requirements  

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Sri Lanka’s guide . 

Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Customs rules 

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Sri Lanka . You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. 

Taking money into Sri Lanka 

Most major banks allow Visa and Mastercard cash withdrawals. There are ATMs in major towns and cities, but not all accept international cards. 

You cannot transfer money without an exchange control permit issued by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka . 

Some travellers have reported problems using cards on arrival in Sri Lanka when their bank’s automated fraud protection system blocks transactions. Inform your bank in advance of your intended travel arrangements. 

Terrorism  

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times. 

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad . 

Terrorism in Sri Lanka 

Terrorists are likely to try and carry out attacks in Sri Lanka. 

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as hotels, tourist sites and places of worship. Avoid crowded public places, large gatherings and demonstrations, and follow the advice of local authorities. 

On Easter Sunday in April 2019, more than 250 people, including 8 British nationals, were killed in terrorist attacks against 3 churches and 3 hotels in Sri Lanka: in Colombo, Negombo and in Batticaloa. 

Security was stepped up across the island. The Sri Lankan authorities made a number of arrests in relation to the attacks. 

Political and economic situation 

In 2022, large-scale protests resulted in violence, injuries and loss of life.

Protests, demonstrations, roadblocks and violent unrest can happen anywhere across the island at short notice, and security authorities may use tear gas and water cannons against protesters. The authorities may impose restrictions, including curfews, with little or no notice. 

Avoid demonstrations, political protests or large gatherings. Monitor local media and sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated . 

Sri Lanka’s economic situation may limit the availability of some products, including food and medicines. Hospitals and other medical services may also be affected. There may be occasional power cuts.

If you have a health condition, speak to your healthcare provider before travelling to Sri Lanka. Make sure you have adequate supplies of any medicines you need with you. 

Protecting yourself and your belongings 

There’s been an increase in incidents of low-level opportunistic crime because of the current economic situation. Store your belongings as safely as possible to avoid thefts from hotels and guesthouses and minimise the number of personal items you carry with you.  

On the street, criminals may ride past on mopeds or motorbikes and try to snatch your bag. Take care of your passport and money by keeping them in a body-belt. Carry bags on the side of you that is furthest from the road and do not place bags in the front basket of bicycles. 

If your bag has a shoulder strap, do not wrap the strap around your arm or shoulder and do not try to hold on to your bag. People have been injured by being pulled to the ground by their bag straps. 

Violent crimes against foreigners are rare. Gun crime is not uncommon, but usually it is due to a dispute between different criminal groups. 

Using bank cards safely 

Credit card fraud is common. Do not let your card out of your sight during transactions. Only use ATMs attached to banks or major hotels.  

Drink spiking 

Visitors have reported spiked drinks in bars and restaurants in southern beach resorts after accepting drinks or food from strangers or leaving drinks unattended.

Sexual assault 

Women continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by men, ranging from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to physical advances and sexual assaults. 

Incidents can happen anywhere, but the majority of reported cases take place in crowded areas including: 

  • bus and railway stations, or on buses 
  • sporting events 
  • tourist sites 

Take care when travelling alone or in small groups, and consider carrying a personal alarm. 

Laws and cultural differences  

Personal id .

You must carry an official form of identification at all times. Your passport is an acceptable form of identification. If you do not have it with you and are stopped or detained by the authorities, ask them to contact the British High Commission. 

Alcohol laws and bans 

You could be fined if you ignore instructions not to drink in certain public areas. 

Alcohol is not usually available on religious holidays. Drinking in public on these days could be culturally insensitive. Check locally for dates of religious holidays of when this would apply. 

Smoking and e-cigarette bans 

You could be fined if you ignore signs not to smoke in certain public areas. 

Detention and prison sentences 

There are severe penalties for drug offences, terrorism and all other serious crimes. You could be held without charge indefinitely. If convicted, you may face a lengthy jail sentence. 

If you’re arrested under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, you could be detained without charge awaiting a trial date.  

Using cameras, binoculars and drones in secure areas

Do not fly drones near, use binoculars to look at, or take photographs of: 

  • military bases 
  • government buildings 
  • vehicles used by VIPs  

Check how to register and operate drones with Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority . 

LGBT+ travellers 

Same-sex relations are illegal, but the FCDO is not aware of any prosecutions. 

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers . 

Laws on clothing 

Nude or topless sunbathing is not allowed. 

Sri Lankan attitudes to informal styles of dress are generally relaxed, but women travelling alone may feel uncomfortable if not dressed modestly. If you enter a Buddhist temple: 

  • cover your legs and shoulders 
  • take off shoes and hats 

Disrespecting Buddhist images and artefacts, or making offensive remarks about religion, is a serious offence and can lead to arrest. If you have visible tattoos of Buddha, you can been refused entry to Sri Lanka or face deportation. Do not pose for photographs standing in front of a statue of Buddha. 

Some Sri Lankan animals can be dangerous. If in doubt, follow advice from authorised guides or local authorities. Wild elephants and crocodiles will attack humans on occasion. Though not common in populated areas, venomous insects and snakes are found in many parts of the country. Feral dogs are common and sometimes carry rabies. 

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism  

Swimming safety .

Many beaches in Sri Lanka have dangerous surf or rip tides at certain times of the year. Seek advice from your hotel or tour operator before going in the sea. 

Transport risks  

Road travel  .

You need a 1949 International Driving Permit and a Sri Lankan recognition permit to drive a hire car or motorcycle. 

You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. Find your nearest post office branch  that offers this service.  

Before you start driving, take your UK driving licence and your IDP along with 2 passport photos to the office of the Automobile Association of Ceylon at 40 Sir Mohomad Macan Markar Mawatha, Colombo 00300, to verify your documents and get a recognition permit. Your hire car company may be able to help with this. 

Road safety 

Some roads, particularly in more remote areas, may be in poor condition. Driving is erratic and there are frequent road accidents, particularly at night. Pedestrians and animals often appear in the road without warning. Riding a motorbike can be particularly dangerous.

If you have a collision, stay at the site of the accident with your vehicle as long as it is safe to do so. If it is not safe or if you feel threatened, report to the local police station. 

There are still security checkpoints on main roads in parts of the country. Follow the instructions of the police or army officers on duty. Security forces have opened fire on vehicles that have not stopped when asked. Roads around government and military sites in Colombo are often closed for security reasons, such as access for VIP convoys. 

Public buses are often driven fast and rarely give way. They are often poorly maintained. There have been serious bus accidents in recent years. Tourist buses are usually driven more professionally and safely, but standards can vary. 

You can book taxis using local and international taxi apps. There is less availability outside tourist areas. Motorised rickshaws (tuk-tuks) are available for hire in towns and villages. Agree a price before you set off or look for one with a working meter.

There are occasional reports of harassment, particularly of female travellers at night. Change to a different tuk-tuk or taxi if you have any concerns about the driver or their standard of driving. 

You may have difficulty getting a taxi or tuk-tuk if there are fuel shortages. There may be limited or no service during curfews. 

Rail travel 

When travelling by train, make sure you stay within the train carriage while the train is moving. There have been fatal accident when visitors have hung out of open doorways or windows of trains. Take care of your personal possessions at all times. There have been incidents of theft and pickpocketing. 

Sea travel 

You need prior permission to enter Sri Lankan waters and the security zones in coastal areas. 

The threat of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces is that all sailing yachts under their own passage should stay out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom.

See more advice on piracy and armed robbery at sea . 

Extreme weather and natural disasters 

Monsoon rains can cause flooding in many places in Sri Lanka. Floods can cause widespread displacement of people, injuries and occasional deaths. Heavy rains and landslips can also lead to road closures and affect local transport links. 

Monitor Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre and the Sri Lankan Department of Meteorology for updates and follow local advice. 

Tropical cyclones 

There is a risk of tropical cyclones. Monitor Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre and the World Meteorological Organisation for updates. 

Northern Sri Lanka

There is a visible military presence across the north. Follow local advice and instructions from the security forces and take seriously warning signs about landmines.

Jaffna Peninsula

Operations to clear mines continue, particularly in the heavily mined area towards Elephant Pass. However, apart from High Security Zones, there is free movement with fewer checkpoints.

Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya

There is a visible military presence. There was severe war damage to property throughout the northern region so accommodation options and infrastructure are limited. Follow any local advice about signs warning of mined areas.

Eastern Sri Lanka

De-mining and clearance operations are ongoing in parts of east Sri Lanka. There are several areas, primarily former military and police locations, that continue to be marked as minefields. Follow the instructions of the local security forces and look out for signs warning of landmines. Do not leave the roads or cleared footpaths and, if in any doubt, contact the local security authorities for advice.

Before you travel check that: 

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need 
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation 

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant. 

Emergency medical number 

Dial 011 2691111 and ask for an ambulance. 

Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Vaccinations and health risks 

At least 8 weeks before your trip check: 

  • the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Sri Lanka guide  
  • where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page  

All regions of Sri Lanka experience outbreaks of the mosquito-borne dengue fever. Take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes . 

Medication 

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. 

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro . 

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad . 

Healthcare facilities in Sri Lanka 

Sri Lanka’s economic situation may limit healthcare services. Public hospitals may face shortages of imported medicines and medical equipment. Private hospitals are likely to have better supplies. Fuel shortages and power cuts may affect hospital and other medical services. 

Emergency medical treatment outside main cities is not readily available and you may have to be brought to Colombo for treatment. Treatment in private hospitals can be expensive and the options for repatriation to the UK or neighbouring countries in an emergency are limited and very expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. 

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Sri Lanka . 

COVID-19 healthcare in Sri Lanka 

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be expected to isolate for 7 days in line with this guidance from the Government of Sri Lanka . 

Travel and mental health 

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health . There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro . 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO ) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel. 

Emergency services in Sri Lanka 

Ambulance: 011 2691111 or 1990 

Fire and Rescue: 111 

Police: 118/119 

Emergency Police Mobile Squad: 011 5717171 

Tourist Police: 011 2421052 

Contact your travel provider and insurer 

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do. 

Refunds and changes to travel 

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first. 

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans , including: 

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider 
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim 

Support from FCDO  

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including: 

  • finding English-speaking lawyers or funeral directors in Sri Lanka 
  • dealing with a death in Sri Lanka   
  • being arrested or imprisoned in Sri Lanka   
  • getting help if you’re a victim of crime   
  • what to do if you’re in hospital   
  • if you’re affected by a crisis , such as a terrorist attack 

Contacting FCDO  

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated. 

Help abroad in an emergency 

If you’re in Sri Lanka and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Colombo . 

You can also contact FCDO online .  

FCDO in London 

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad. 

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours) 

Find out about call charges  

Risk information for British companies  

The  Overseas Business Risk service  offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks. 

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Travel Advisory September 5, 2023

Sri lanka - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued after periodic review with updates to protest information. 

Exercise increased caution in Sri Lanka due to civil unrest , and terrorism.

Country Summary: Protests over the economic and political situation in Sri Lanka could erupt at any time. In some instances, police have used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters. U.S. citizens are reminded to avoid all gatherings, even peaceful ones, that could turn violent with little or no warning.

Terrorist attacks have occurred in Sri Lanka, with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, hospitals, and other public areas.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in remote areas. 

 Read the  country information page . 

 If you decide to travel to Sri Lanka: 

  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues. 
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities. 
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information. 
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds. 
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program  ( STEP ) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter . 
  • Review the  Crime and Safety Report  for Sri Lanka. 
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist. 
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest  Travel Health Information  related to your travel. 

Embassy Messages

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Quick Facts

Must be valid for six months from expected date of departure from Sri Lanka.

One page required for entry stamp. 

Required for yellow fever if arriving from an infected area.

Foreign currency over USD 15,000 must be declared.

If exiting with foreign currency over USD 5,000, the full amount brought in or acquired in Sri Lanka must be declared.

Embassies and Consulates

U.s. embassy colombo.

210 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka Telephone: +(94) (11) 202-8500 Fax: +(94) (11) 243-7345 Email:  [email protected]

Destination Description

Sri Lanka is a presidential parliamentary democracy with a developing economy. Sri Lanka's beaches, hill country, and archaeological sites attract visitors from around the world. Tourism continues to increase. The capital city of Colombo, the Cultural Triangle (Dambulla, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa), the cities of Kandy and Galle, and many southern beach towns have good tourist facilities, and the roads connecting many of those destinations are generally good and improving.

On May 18, 2009, more than 26 years of conflict ended with the Sri Lankan government defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). During the war, the LTTE had a history of attacks against civilians, though none were directed against U.S. citizens. There have been no terrorist attacks since the end of the conflict, and the government has authority throughout the island. The LTTE remains on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. Visitors can travel to all provinces; former prohibitions on visiting some provinces no longer exist.

Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka must have either an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) or a visa to enter Sri Lanka. 

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for purposes of tourism or transit require an approval notice from Sri Lanka’s  Electronic Travel Authorization System , onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. The  Electronic Travel Authorization System  is available online or at the port of entry.  Visitors are strongly urged to use the online system to avoid lengthy delays at the port of entry. The online application, fees, and other relevant information are available  here .  This travel authorization allows entry for up 30 days.   

Sri Lankan regulations define tourist travel as sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, receiving medical treatment including Ayurvedic and yoga, and participating in sporting events, competitions, and cultural activities. Foreigners entering Sri Lanka on a tourist visa cannot convert their visa to a non-tourist one, and risk deportation if they engage in other activities without the appropriate visa.

Transit passengers are defined as foreigners who expect to enter Sri Lanka and remain for a period not exceeding 2 days while waiting for onward travel. Passengers who do not cross Sri Lankan immigration lines, but who transfer between flights inside the airport, are defined as transfer passengers and do not require an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) approval or a visa.   

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for short-term business activities such as participating in business meetings, engaging in business negotiations, or attending conferences and workshops are required to obtain a business ETA.   Business ETAs are not available online. Business travelers must obtain travel authorization either from the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before arrival in Sri Lanka, or at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.  

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for religious or volunteer work or for local employment must obtain entry visas from the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before arrival in Sri Lanka. These visas are not available at the port of entry or through the online system.

All visitors staying beyond the expiration date of their visa must obtain a visa extension from the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo and pay the relevant visa fees.

Travelers must have yellow fever and cholera immunizations if they are arriving from an infected area. A yellow fever vaccination certificate must also be obtained by all passengers over the age of one who have traveled through the following African and Latin American countries within nine days immediately preceding entry to Sri Lanka:

African countries – Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, , Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

South American countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Specific inquiries regarding entry and exit requirements should be addressed to the  Embassy of Sri Lanka , 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 483-4025, fax (202) 232-7181. Contact the Sri Lankan Embassy by  e-mail ; the Sri Lankan Consulate General in Los Angeles at 3250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2180, Los Angeles, CA 90010, telephone (213) 387-0210, fax (213) 387-0216; or the  Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations  in New York City, #630 3rd Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 986-7040, fax (212) 986-1836. There are several honorary Sri Lankan consuls general and consuls in the United States. Visit the  Embassy of Sri Lanka website  for current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan law allows immigration officials to refer visitors and foreign residents to a physician for examination if a public health risk is suspected. In practice this is a rare occurrence, but travelers should be aware that Sri Lankan law allows for the denial of entry to any foreigner who, upon referral from an immigration officer, is certified by a physician as posing a public health risk. Travelers who refuse a medical examination under these circumstances may be refused entry. Please verify this information with the  Embassy of Sri Lanka  before traveling.

Information about  dual nationality  or the  prevention of international child abduction  can be found on  the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website . For further information about customs regulations, please read our  Customs Information page . 

Safety and Security

The Sri Lankan military continues to maintain a significant presence in the north. The system of military roadblocks and checkpoints has largely been dismantled except in the vicinity of military installations and assets known as “high security zones” (HSZ). Although the government and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue operations to locate and dispose of landmines in the north, a number of areas are still mined. Landmines and unexploded ordnance are still found in parts of the Northern, Eastern, and North Central Provinces, particularly in Ampara, Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Polonnoruwa, Trincomalee and Vavuniya. As of April 2016, the government’s National Mine Action Center estimated 54 km 2 remained to be surveyed and/or cleared in these ten districts.  Travelers in these areas should stay on main, heavily traveled roads, and never walk in forested or agricultural areas or in abandoned properties. Travelers should make themselves aware of, and able to recognize and avoid, any area cordoned off for landmine clearance. Travelers should not touch anything that resembles a landmine or unexploded ordnance and should notify local police if they see something that resembles a landmine. 

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Sri Lanka should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow prudent security practices. Travelers should avoid political rallies, public demonstrations, military installations, and closed areas of HSZs.

Demonstrations in Colombo are a regular occurrence. Most demonstrations are peaceful, resulting only in traffic congestion; however, some have ended in violence between the protesters and police or opposition groups. While the majority of demonstrations are related to internal Sri Lankan politics, protests directed toward western embassies and international organizations are not uncommon. Demonstrations can occur with little or no advance notice. Even those intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Travelers should check the U.S. Embassy Colombo website for possible updates, enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive e-mail messages or cellular phone short message service (SMS) texts about impending demonstrations and monitor media coverage of local events. Travelers should remain aware of their surroundings at all times, review their personal security plans, and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Sri Lanka occasionally experiences heavy rain fall due to depressions around the island. Heavy rainfall has resulted in flooding in low lying urban areas and near rivers. Landslides have occurred during and after heavy rains in Colombo, as well as Central, Western, Sabaragamuwa, and other Provinces depending upon prevailing weather conditions.  

Crime: There is an elevated criminal threat in Sri Lanka. Most violent crime occurs within the local community. However, reports of violent crime, sexual assaults and harassment directed at foreigners have been increasing in recent months. Police response to assist victims can vary from a few minutes to hours, even in the tourist areas, and particularly in remote areas.

Organized and armed gangs are known to operate in Sri Lanka and have been responsible for targeted kidnappings and violence, although there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. citizens are at particular risk. A British national was killed and a Russian national sexually assaulted and beaten during a violent attack by a gang in a tourist resort in the southern beach town of Tangalle in December 2011. The Sri Lankan justice system can be slower than in the United States and there are a number of outstanding cases of crimes against foreign nationals.

U.S. citizens are advised against travel on public buses in Sri Lanka, as passengers can be targets of criminal activity and bus drivers do not consistently obey driving regulations.

Travelers, especially women, should consider travelling with other people when possible. Western women continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by groups of men. Such harassment can occur anytime or anywhere, but most frequently has taken place in crowded areas such as marketplaces, train stations, buses, public streets and sporting events. The harassment ranges from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to physical advances, and sexual assaults have occurred as well. While most victims of sexual assault have been local residents, an upswing in sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas in the southern beaches underlines the fact that foreign women should exercise vigilance.  

Routine petty crime, especially thefts of personal property and pick-pocketing, is not uncommon if the traveler does not take appropriate safeguards. Street hustlers or “touts” are common around hotels, shopping centers, and tourist sites. Credit card fraud is frequent and can happen in any establishment, or when paying online. Sri Lankan law enforcement have uncovered foreign rings of criminals using “false fronts’” and “pen camera devices” to clone bank cards and steal personal identification numbers at ATM machines in Sri Lanka. Travelers should consider paying in cash whenever possible, and should carefully review billing statements to ensure that purchases displayed on their credit card statements are accurate. Consultation with personal credit card security advisors is encouraged for travelers to develop a protection plan that is best for your travel to Sri Lanka.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to always carry their U.S. passports while in Sri Lanka. U.S. citizens of Sri Lankan origin may be subject to additional scrutiny upon arrival and while in the country.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Sri Lanka is 119. This number only contacts the police and does not provide access to emergency medical services. Although the number is answered 24 hours a day, police responsiveness may vary.

Victims of Crime:

  • U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy. 
  • The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Maldives is 119.  Note: This number is only for the police, not for emergency medical services.
  • Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on  help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on  victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism:  The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. If you break local laws in Sri Lanka, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you travel. 

In places like military checkpoints, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. When transiting Sri Lanka, ensure your luggage does not contain prohibited or restricted items, such as weapons, ammunition, explosives, gold, narcotics, and pornography, among other items. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit but still illegal in the United States. 

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sri Lanka are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Under the Cultural Prosperity Act and the Antiques Ordinance, the unlicensed export of antiques from the country is considered a criminal act.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad  and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification : If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage  for further information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Sri Lanka recognizes limited  dual nationality . For further information, please contact the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Consulate General in Los Angeles, or the Sri Lankan Mission to the United Nations in New York City.

The Sri Lankan police still maintain several checkpoints throughout the country. U.S. citizens are advised to carry identification such as their passports with them at all times while in Sri Lanka. Photography is prohibited in designated high security zones and near many government facilities such as offices and military installations.

U.S. citizens who arrive by yacht or private boat should be aware that all marine harbors are high security zones. Travelers arriving by sea should be prepared for Sri Lankan Navy officials to inspect their vessels and should always wait for radio clearance before coming into port. 

Religious Laws:  Tourists should be mindful of restrictions and observances when planning to visit any religious establishment, whether Buddhist or Hindu temples, mosques, churches, or other locations considered sacred by the local population. Posing for a photograph with your back to a statue of Buddha is a serious offense in Sri Lanka, punishable by a fine or arrest. Travelers should also be cognizant of displaying religious imagery, including tattoos of Buddha, while traveling to and transiting within the country, as foreign nationals have been arrested or denied entry to Sri Lanka due to such tattoos.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See our following webpages for details:

  • Faith-Based Travel Information
  • International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
  • Human Rights Report   – see country reports
  • Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
  • Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad

Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers .

Students:  See our  Students Abroad  page and  FBI travel tips .

LGBTI Travelers: See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Sri Lanka, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The Sri Lankan Supreme Court has directed that steps be taken to provide easy access for persons with disabilities to public buildings. Although there are regulations on accessibility in place, lack of wheelchair access in most buildings limits access for people with disabilities. Potholes and sidewalks in poor repair can make movement very difficult. The road network in Sri Lanka is improving, but many roads remain in medium to poor condition. Sidewalks and road crossings in most major towns tend to be congested with vendors, stray dogs, and groups of people loitering on street corners. 

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.  

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage . 

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

Medical Facilities: There are six large hospitals in the Colombo area, including four facilities with emergency trauma service: Asiri Surgical Hospital; Lanka Hospital; Central Hospital; and the government-run National Hospital. Medical facilities outside Colombo are limited. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of private physicians available on the Embassy  website . The availability of medical supplies is uneven; therefore, travelers should carry any special medications with them. Serious medical conditions do require evacuation to the United States or to a nearby country with more advanced medical facilities, such as Thailand or Singapore. Neither Thailand nor Singapore requires U.S. citizens to have entry visas.

Several mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Japanese encephalitis are present in Sri Lanka. Dengue fever, in particular, is widespread in Sri Lanka’s Western Province, where the capital Colombo is located. Adequate mosquito protection is strongly advised. See the section on Entry/Exit Requirements (above) for information on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Travel and Transportation

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:  While in Sri Lanka, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Vehicular traffic in Sri Lanka moves on the left (British style). Traffic in Colombo can be congested. Narrow two-lane highways, overloaded trucks, poorly driven buses, and a variety of conveyances on the road, ranging from ox carts and bicycles to new four-wheel-drive vehicles, make driving dangerous. Unexpected road blocks and one-way streets are common and may not be clearly marked. Many visitors hire cars and drivers for long trips through the country. Individuals who choose to hire three-wheeled vehicles (“tuks” or “three wheelers”) should use metered vehicles or negotiate prices beforehand to avoid confrontations upon arrival. If you are renting a vehicle, you should specifically request one with working seatbelts.

Heavy rains sometimes cause flooding which can make roads inaccessible for several days and bring with them the risk of landslides.

Please refer to our  Road Safety page  for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the  Sri Lanka’s national tourist office .

Aviation Safety Oversight:  As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the  FAA’s safety assessment page . 

For additional travel information

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • See the  State Department’s travel website  for the  Worldwide Caution  and  Travel Advisories .
  • Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook .
  • See  traveling safely abroad  for useful travel tips.

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Sri Lanka . For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA ) report.

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Hello Again Sri Lanka

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Despite its small size Sri Lanka boasts of one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world whether in plants or animals and is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. Of the ninety-one species of mammals found in Sri Lanka Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes engages the majority of the attention of wildlife enthusiast. Yet the rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, who according to IUCN clarifications are endangered due to habitat loss. Meanwhile the ocean around Sri Lanka is home to large families of cetaceans including the mighty blue whales, sperm whales and lively dolphins. Altogether 26 species of cetaceans rule the waters surrounding the country, making it one of the best locations for whale and dolphin watching.  

Despite the mighty elephants and rare amphibians found in the country birds are the glory of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Boasting nearly 433 bird species of which 233 are resident Sri Lanka holds 20 endemic species while another 80 species have developed distinct Sri Lankan races, compared to their cousins in Indian mainland.

Although less celebrated, Sri Lanka has one of the richest diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 106 species of amphibians of over 90 of which are endemic. The country has long claimed to have the highest amphibian species density in the world with a high concentration in the Sinharaja rainforest.

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  • 18 Amazing And Most-Visited Sri Lanka Tourist Places For Your 2024 Trip

23 Mar 2023

Do you want to leave behind all your work deadlines and travel to a distant land far away from all maddening rush? Are you looking to relax lazily on a hammock? Do you want to let go of all anxieties? Well, then a trip to Sri Lanka is all that your ultimate healer. With its pristine beaches, mosaic landscape and picturesque topography, Sri Lanka has so much to offer. So back your virtual bag and let’s run through the best Sri Lanka tourist places .

Before we move forward with this blog post, let us first get an idea of the essentials. Sri Lanka boasts of some of the world’s best beaches, and the interiors of the island nation also have a lot to offer. Here are some of the must-see tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.

18 Best Sri Lanka Tourist Places 

While planning your next vacation to this serene country, do check out these amazing Sri Lanka tourist places . Here is a complete list of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka where one can enjoy a great time away from the hustle-bustle. 

  • The Dambulla Cave Temple – The Largest Temple Complex In Sri Lanka
  • Yala National Park – Home To A Host Of Wildlife And Birds
  • Arugam Bay – Turquoise Heaven For Adrenaline-Junkies
  • Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa – Ruggedness Amidst The Greenery
  • Galle – A 16th Century Marvel
  • Jaffna – Peep Into The Past
  • The Commonwealth War Cemetery At Kandy – Remember The Brave Martyrs
  • Temple Of Tooth At Kandy – Treat To The Eyes And Soul
  • Nuwara Eliya – Get Closer To Pristine Nature
  • Trincomalee – An Unmissable Beach Getaway
  • Polonnaruwa Sacred City – Explore The Golden Past Of Sri Lanka
  • Anuradhapura – The Greatest Monastic City Of Ancient World
  • Nine Arch Bridge – Bridge In The Sky
  • Mihintale – The Birth Place Of Buddhism
  • Udawalawe National Park – Must-Visit Place For Wildlife Enthusiasts
  • Ravana Falls – Enjoy The Impressive Sight Of The Magnificent Fall
  • Adam’s Peak – An Important Pilgrim Site
  • Mount Lavinia – Popular Neighborhood

1. The Dambulla Cave Temple – The Largest Temple Complex In Sri Lanka

Dambulla-Cave-Temple_23rd oct

The most popular among the best places to visit in Sri Lanka is the Dambulla cave temple . It tops the Sri Lanka tourist destinations. The largest temple complex in Sri Lanka, its statues and paintings date back to the 12th Century AD. The temple complex has five rooms of different sizes; all rooms have Buddha in a different position looking calm and peaceful. The temple is built on a black rocky mountain which serves as a nice contrast with the white walls of the temple. Don't miss the view from the top. The temple can be easily accessed from both Colombo and Kandy.

Famous For: Historic significance Things To Do: Architectural tour, Sightseeing

Must Read: 31 Reasons Why You Should Never Visit Sri Lanka For A Vacation!

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2. Yala National Park - Home To A Host Of Wildlife And Birds

Yala-National-Park-in-Sri-Lanka_23rd oct

Missing Yala National Park while Sri Lanka sightseeing might bring regret to wildlife lovers. It is home to a host of wildlife and birds you are bound to run into a group of elephants bathing in streams, tossing their trunks wildly or leopards nestling lazily on tree branches. You could opt for the safari drives or a nature trail among the thick green foliage of the forest. Some tourists also camp at Yala and enjoy a barbeque under the stars. With so much to see and do here, Yala is indeed one of the best tourist places in Sri Lanka . Yala is the perfect place to try your hand at wildlife photography.

Getting to Yala National Park is quite simple. All you will have to do is drive down to the Park from Colombo. Another way is by taking a bus to Tissamaharama.

Famous For: Wildlife, Flora & Fauna Things To Do: Wildlife Safari, Trekking Location: Katagamuwa, Yala, Sri Lanka Timings : 6 am to 6 pm

3. Arugam Bay - Turquoise Heaven For Adrenaline-Junkies

A professional sea surfing at Arugam Bay on a Sri Lankan beach

Sri Lanka has a coastline of over 1600 km and is ideally suited for windsurfing, speed boating, and other water sports. Arugam Bay has azure skies and slanting coconut trees. If you are looking to surf in turquoise waters, Arugam Bay must be in your list of must-see tourist places in Sri Lanka . It is on the southeast coast around 320 km from Colombo.

It is the ideal place to sip coconut water, take in the scent of jasmine and allow the southern sun to tan your skin.

Besides Arugam bay, other beaches among best places to visit in Sri Lanka are Unawatuna in the South; and Tangalla again in the south around 195 km south of Colombo.

How to get there- Colombo has an international airport and is strategically located. So if you fly to Colombo, you are pretty much in close proximity to the best beaches.

Famous For: Seashore Destinations Things To Do: Surfing, Snorkeling Flight Charges from India: INR 15,000 for an adult if booked two months in advance Best beaches around Colombo: Benota, Mirissa, Koggala, Trincomalee, Pasikudah, Unawatuna, Tangalla and Arugam Bay Best time to visit: Between November and March Best Hotels to stay: Weligama Bay resort, The Fortress Resort Galle, Palace Mirissa, and Number One Mirissa

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka In August: A Guide To Treat Yourself With The Magic Of Monsoon!

4. Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa - Ruggedness Amidst The Greenery

Sigiriya is one of the popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya or the mount of remembrance is a World Heritage Site and one of the most stunning places to see in Sri Lanka. This giant formation of rock rises out of nowhere towering over everything in its vicinity. It is quite a climb to the top but once up there you will get to see a panoramic view of the nearby sights and the Sigiriya fort. The rock fortress is a slice of history perched on a rock and is really worth a visit.

Not much is heard and said about Polonnaruwa, but this ancient city is no less than the Petra of the south. A gem among Sri Lanka tourist attractions, this ancient ruined city stands amidst its erstwhile sturdy columns and architecture. The best way to explore this ancient city is to hire a bike and zoom around the ruins. The site is well maintained and is a telling example of Sri Lankas history and culture. Polonnaruwa can be easily accessed via Sigiriya. You can take a tuk-tuk or a bus from Sigiriya. Or you can take a bus from Dambulla to Polonnaruwa.

Best Hotels to Stay: Jetwing Vil Uyana, Camelia Resort and Spa, Hotel Sigiriya, Camellia Resort and Spa, and Lal Homestay

Suggested Read: Ramayana Tour In Sri Lanka: Exploring The Religious Trail In The Island Nation

5. Galle - A 16th Century Marvel

Galle-Fort_24th oct

Galle is an important city in Sri Lanka and is a one-stop destination wherein you can take in all sights and sounds. One of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka is the Galle Fort. The Galle Fort area has wide cobblestoned roads and a number of eateries and cafes. Try and catch the sunset while you are there. There are a number of trinket shops and galleries that you can visit. It is among the most visited places in Sri Lanka. 

Another picturesque destination for sightseeing in Sri Lanka is the Japanese Peace Pagoda. Quite close to the Unawatuna beach, it is a white dome of serenity.

Best Hotels to Sty: Jetwing Lighthouse, Amangalla, Tamarind Hill, Apa Villa Thalpe, and The Fortress

6. Jaffna - Peep Into The Past

Jaffna fort is one of the key tourist spots in Sri Lanka

Although a bit crowded, the temple Nallur Kovil is a nice pick among the best places to see in Sri Lanka. Another place of interest is the Jaffna Fort. This fort is in the center of the city and is a tourist hub. If youre in Jaffna, you cannot miss the Nagadipa Purana Vihara, the temple can be accessed by boat. One of calmest among Sri Lanka tourist attractions, the temple is surreal and a wonderful place to meditate.

Best Hotels to Stay: PJ Hotels, and Morgans

Suggested Read: 19 Photos That Will Make You Wish You Were In Sri Lanka Right Now!

7. The Commonwealth War Cemetery At Kandy - Remember The Brave Martyrs

The Commonwealth War Cemetery in Sri Lanka

Yes, a weird one in the list of best places to visit in Sri Lanka, the war cemetery is well maintained and the grounds are well kept. Overall it is a very humbling experience. This cemetery is hard to find without a guide, but once you get there, it is worth the effort.

Location: Kandy, Sri Lanka Timings: 7 am to 4 pm

Suggested Read: 30 Best Beaches In Sri Lanka 

8. Temple Of Tooth At Kandy - Treat To The Eyes And Soul

Temple of Tooth in Kandy

The temple of the tooth is again a popular one among tourist places in Sri Lanka. This temple in Kandy is iconic because of the history attached to it. With a quaint setup and interesting artifacts, this temple is worth a visit.

Location: Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka Timings: 5.30 am to 8 pm

9. Nuwara Eliya - Get Closer To Pristine Nature

The lush green hill station of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya is most famous for its tea gardens and scenery. It is a perfect place to visit for a romantic vacation or for someone who is looking for a relaxing trip. With misty clouds, lush green sloping hills and a train that looks that it has come out of the Harry Potter films, Nuwara Eliya is a hilly paradise and another great addition to Sri Lankas tourist attractions. The popular places to visit in Nuwara Eliya include Victoria Park, Bale Bazaar, Moon Plains, Ramboda Falls and St. Clair’s Falls.

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka Travel Tips: 21 Dos And Don’ts For A Memorable Vacation

10. Trincomalee- An Unmissable Beach Getaway

The beautiful beach at Trincomalee in Sri Lanka

Trincomalee, among many similar Sri Lanka tourist spots, is blessed with a beautiful beach. If you are up for an underwater diving tour, then SLDT (Sri Lanka Diving Tours) will give you the best experience. Besides water sports, there are also many temples and beaches in Trincomalee. There's also a war cemetery which is surrounded by lush gardens, which makes it one of the best places to see in Sri Lanka.

11. Polonnaruwa Sacred City – Explore The Golden Past Of Sri Lanka

Pollonnaruwa

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This city was once the ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka and walking into this still gives a feeling of the Golden Age. Inside one of the most popular Sri Lanka tourist spots, there are still ruins of palaces, shrines and stupas which makes it one of the top tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. All these landmarks give closure to the historical remains which hold a glorious past. This place has a lot to explore and gives a peek to the golden past of this side of Sri Lanka. It is among the best Sri Lanka tourist places. 

Main Highlights: One shouldn’t miss witnessing the statue of Parakramabahu I who ruled during the golden age. Alongside that one can also see the magnificent view of the Lotus Pond which is made in lotus-shaped petals and built on 4-tiers.

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka In January

12. Anuradhapura – The Greatest Monastic City Of Ancient World

Anuradhapura

This is one of the top Sri Lanka tourist spots which is also claimed to be one of the world heritage sites. The place gained its importance after the arrival of the Bodhi Tree which is also called the “tree of enlightenment”. The place protects the tree and keeps it away from the wild elephants during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rangasingha.

Best Time To Visit: April and September Location: It is approximately hours from Anuradhapura-Padeniya highway Price: $25 (INR – 1781)

13. Nine Arch Bridge – Bridge In The Sky

bridge in sri lanka

Nine Arch Bridge is also called the Bridge in the sky and is among the iconic Sri Lanka tourism places . It is in the small mountain town of Ella and offers visitors with splendid view of the surrounding area which comprises of lush greenery and tea fields. What makes the bridge unique is that it is made up of stone, brick and cement. There is no use of any steel. It is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for a memorable holiday. 

Best Time To Visit: Sunrise

Suggested Read: Ekansh’s Anniversary Trip To Sri Lanka In April Was A Bouquet Of Beautiful Memories

14. Mihintale – The Birth Place Of Buddhism

Mihintale, monastic city of Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Mihintale is among the top Sri Lanka tourist attractions . It is a birth place of Buddhism attracting hundreds of pilgrims to this site every year. It is a mountain located near the town of Anuradhapura where you can visit many religious and historical structures. 

Suggested Read : Keep This Ultimate Sri Lanka Honeymoon Guide Handy For Your Tropical Vacation

15. Udawalawe National Park – Must-Visit Place For Wildlife Enthusiasts

Udawalawe National Park Cover

Udawalawe National Park is a must-visit place for wildlife lovers. It is one of those few places where elephant sightings are quite frequent. Not only elephant, you get a chance to get a glimpse of many animals including peacocks, water buffalo, crocodiles, jackals, monkeys and deer. For the best experience of this top attractions in Sri Lanka , take a safari early morning when the animals are most active. 

Location : Udawalawa, Sri Lanka Timings: 6.00 AM to 6.00 PM

Suggested Read: 45 Best Places To Visit In Colombo

16. Ravana Falls – Enjoy The Impressive Sight Of The Magnificent Fall

A shot of the Ravana Falls in Ella region in Sri Lanka

The beautiful Ravana falls is one of the famous Sri Lanka attractions . The majestic and magnificent fall is an impressive sight especially during the rainy season. Located on the main road to Ella, it is a common stop for the visitors during their journey. During the hot summer months, the falls are used for bathing. It is among the most stunning waterfalls in Sri Lanka.

Location : Colombo – Galle – Hambantota – Wellawaya Rd, Ella 90900, Sri Lanka Timings: Open 24 hours

Suggested Read:   Top 10 Things To Do In Kandy For Couples That Assure Ultimate Fun In Sri Lanka!

17. Adam’s Peak – An Important Pilgrim Site

sri pada sri lanka

Adam’s Peak is another famous tourist attractions in Sri Lanka . The topmost point of the peak has a footprint cast in stone which has spiritual significance to different religions. Many pilgrimage trek to the top on full moon nights. Most of them also start hiking around 3 AM to reach the summit by sunrise for a splendid view. It is also one of the most popular honeymoon places in Sri Lanka .

Location: Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka

18. Mount Lavinia – Popular Neighborhood

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Image Credit: honeplus for Wikimedia

Mount Lavinia is one of the most romantic tourist places in Sri Lanka . It is popular among the tourists for its vibrant nightlife and Golden Mile Beach. On your visit to this place, make sure to stay at the deluxe Mount Lavinia Hotel for an amazing experience. Located centrally, enjoy the gorgeous view of Colombo’s skyline and have the best seafood at Mount Lavinia beach and a lot more. This is one of the Sri Lanka tourism places you must not miss. It is also surrounded by some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka . 

Timings: 7 am to 7 pm

Suggested Read:   Koggala Beach: An Ultimate Guide To Explore This Hidden Paradise In Sri Lanka 

Best Time To Visit Sri Lanka

Best Time To Visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka doesn’t experience extremes when it comes to weather conditions. The best time to visit Sri Lanka depends upon the region you’re keen to visit. December to March is the perfect time for visiting most of the country (Highlands, West Coast, and South coast). May to September is ideal for visiting the Eastern Coasts.

Further Read: Beyond Thailand: 10 Alternate Travel Destinations in Asia

If you want to make a trip abroad and benefit from the exchange rate, then book your trip to Sri Lanka. So pamper yourself and indulge your senses in the rich heritage and diverse beauty by visiting these top Sri Lanka tourist places. 

Disclaimer: TravelTriangle claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on TravelTriangle, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

Please Note:  Any information published by TravelTriangle in any form of content is not intended to be a substitute for any kind of medical advice, and one must not take any action before consulting a professional medical expert of their own choice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sri Lanka Tourist Places

How safe is sri lanka from the coronavirus epidemic.

The Sri Lankan government and the tourist department are taking strict measures to curb the situation related to the Coronavirus outbreak. Visa-on-arrival has been prohibited to tourists from China and screening tests are in effect at the international airports.

What are the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka?

There are various places in the country of Sri Lanka that are considered to be quite beautiful. Some of them are: 1. Polonnaruwa 2. Yala National Park 3. Temple of the Tooth Relic 4. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage 5. Adams Peak 6. Nuwara Eliya 7. Beira Lake

What is Sri Lanka famous for?

Sri Lanka is known for its culture. There’s a lot to explore and experience in this country. You can even go shopping at this place for a great experience. You can buy gems, tea, fabrics, handicrafts, antiques, ceramics, leather products, and more.

How many days are enough for Sri Lanka?

To cover maximum places in the country of Sri Lanka during your vacay and make the most of it, you need to plan a trip for at least 5 days and 4 nights.

What are the best Buddhist places in Sri Lanka?

The best Buddhist places in Sri Lanka are Mirisawetiya Stupa, Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, and Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara.

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The famous Stilt fisherman of Sri Lanka | Richard I'Anson

Sri Lanka is a compact island nation that packs a serious punch: palm-studded white sand beaches, virgin rainforest and lush forested highlands, World Heritage sites and ancient cave-temples, vibrant culture, incredible food, constant festivals and a deeply spiritual and welcoming people.

Visit the sacred city of Kandy for ancient architecture and Buddhist relics; see magnificent palaces, monasteries and the sacred Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura; and walk among temples, tombs and monuments in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.

Savour the spicy, aromatic flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine; shop for colourful textiles, leatherwork and handicrafts in busy markets; and unwind among the coconut palms on Sri Lanka's endless tropical beaches.

Explore the lush forests, rock-top temples and sacred peaks of the Central Highlands; journey by bike through the scenic tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya; and head to the Yala National Park to see exotic wildlife including the majestic Sri Lankan elephant.

Marvel at the lion-shaped palace of Sigiriya, dramatically perched atop a colossal rock; explore the 2,300-year-old Buddhist cave-temples of Damballa; canoe down the jungle-clad Kalu River; and hike the 5,500 steps to the top of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka's holiest mountain.

It's easy to make your way around, safe and affordable, uncrowded, exciting, relaxing and utterly photogenic. Check out our unique program of itineraries and start planning your Sri Lankan adventure.

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The reclining Buddha statue at Polonnaruwa | Richard I'Anson

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Polonnaruwa

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Tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya

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Adam's Peak

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Our all inclusive approach

Our trips offer exceptional value for money featuring good quality, centrally located hotels and expert leadership. We aim to incorporate as many inclusions as possible in the tour cost such as most meals, entrance and permit fees, transfers and excursions.

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Authentic experiences

From the palm fringed west coast to the beaches of the south and the rolling hill country, our adventures encompass the highlights of Sri Lankan culture. For those eager to explore under their own steam, our cycling itineraries allow you to discover this unique land at handlebar level with the comfort of a support vehicle.

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Our guides in the field will make your Sri Lanka adventure special. Their professionalism and expertise will shine through as they share their knowledge of local highlights, the country's history and the most authentic restaurants and shops with you.

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Leaders in responsible travel

Responsible travel practice is at the heart of every program that we offer in Sri Lanka. When you book one of our adventures you're supporting true sustainability in the protection of local communities, natural environments and wildlife.

'No' to elephant rides

We advocate against the practice of riding on the back of an elephant as part of a tourism experience and as such, we do not include elephant rides in our Sri Lanka itineraries. In the interest of public safety and animal welfare we also discourage travellers from partaking in such activities outside of our itineraries.

Leave No Trace

We operate our itineraries following the principles of Leave No Trace, ensuring that we take out all waste that we bring in and more where possible.

Child safe tourism

Children working and living in tourist areas are especially vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. We protect vulnerable children by adhering to our Child Protection Code of Conduct.

In cities or large towns you will be accommodated in 3 to 4 star properties that are centrally located, atmospheric and reliable.

Enjoy our fully supported camping in quality two person tents erected in scenic wilderness.

A custom made itinerary is the ultimate way to see the world how YOU want. They are created especially for you, giving you complete freedom to choose what you want to see, where you want to go and when you want to do it. If you love our current itineraries but want to customise it privately as a couple, a group of friends, family, club, business or school, you have the freedom to add or remove as many elements as you like to suit the interests of your group. Alternatively, you can start with a blank canvas and create a new and exciting itinerary from scratch! Our well-travelled consultants can give you firsthand suggestions and eliminate any uncertainty with trip planning to ensure you maximise the quality of your experience and get truly off the beaten track. Simply email, phone or visit us to start planning your dream adventure.

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Anuradhapura Dagoba stupa, Sri Lanka&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Gesine Cheung</i>

Unwind among the coconut palms on Sri Lanka’s endless tropical beaches

Experience Sri Lankan culture in living colour at one of the many religious festivals

Explore the lush forests, rock-top temples and sacred peaks of the Central Highlands

See majestic palaces, monasteries and the sacred Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura

Visit ancient architecture and Buddhist relics in the sacred city of Kand

Marvel at the lion-shaped palace of Sigiriya, perched atop a colossal rock

Walk among incredible temples, tombs and monuments in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa

Walk through the 2,300-year-old Buddhist cave-temples of Damballa

Enjoy exotic charm and colonial architecture in the fortified city of Galle

See the majestic Sri Lankan elephant in the wild, in one of the country’s lush wilderness areas

Shop for colourful textiles, leatherwork and handicrafts in Sri Lanka’s bustling markets

Try a cooking class or simply sample as many Sri Lankan dishes as you can

Amazing views from upon Mihintale&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Alex Robertson</i>

Sri Lanka is very much a tropical country, with distinct dry and wet seasons and a generally warm and humid climate. This is caused by the island’s equatorial tropical latitude and the influence of the northeast and southwest monsoons, in which alternating wet/dry periods are caused by the seasonal reversal of prevailing winds.

Elevation and rainfall are the two key factors in Sri Lanka’s daily and seasonal climate variations, and your experience of Sri Lanka’s different seasons will depend largely on your location on the island. It’s never really a bad time weather-wise to visit Sri Lanka; you just need to know which side of the island to head to.

The southwest monsoon brings rain and winds to Sri Lanka’s southwestern regions between May and September, and a dry season between December and March. The northeast monsoon brings a dry season to the northeastern regions between May and September, and rain and winds between October and January. The crossover period from October to mid-November can see rain and thunderstorms across the whole island. Despite the seasons, the humid coastal plains of the southwest (Wet Zone) receive much more reliable rainfall that the more arid plains of the north, east and south (Dry Zone).

The driest and best months to visit are generally Dec-Mar for the southwest and hill country, and Apr-Sep for the northeast and ancient cities.

There is negligible variance is annual temperature ranges in all but the Central Highlands region, where elevation moderates the tropical climate and you will experience milder conditions and wider daily and yearly temperature ranges.

In Colombo, average daily temperatures range from a minimum of 22.3°C (72°F) to a maximum of 30.9°C (88°F) in January, to a minimum of 25.5°C (78°F) to a maximum of 30.4°C (87°F) in June.

In Kandy, average daily temperatures range from a minimum of 18.4°C (65°F) to a maximum of 28.3°C (83°F) in January, to a minimum of 21.4°C (71°F) to a maximum of 28.4°C (83°F) in June.

In Anuradhapura in the central-north, average daily temperatures range from a minimum of 20.9°C (°F) to a maximum of 29.6°C (°F) in January, to a minimum of 24.5°C (°F) to a maximum of 34.3°C (°F) in April.

In Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands, average daily temperatures range from a minimum of 9°C (48°F) to a maximum of 20°C (68°F) in January, to a minimum of 11.4°C (53°F) to a maximum of 22.8°C (73°F) in April.

Time in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is +5 and a half hours ahead of UTC/GMT

Sinhala (74%); Tamil (18%); Other (8%)

Sinhala is Sri Lanka’s official language, and both Sinhala and Tamil are national languages

Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language, is the mother tongue of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority. The low-caste Rodiya community uses a distinct dialect of Sinhala called Rodiya

Tamil, a Dravidian-root language, is spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Moors, with Moors sometimes using a Tamil dialect that is tinged with Arabic

English is commonly used in government and is referred to in the constitution as the link language between Sinhala and Tamil. Approximately 10% of Sri Lankans speak English

Other languages include Arabic, which is used in religious contexts by Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, Sri Lankan Malay and Sri Lankan Portuguese Creole

Sri Lanka’s indigenous Vedda people had their own tongue, Vedda language, which is now thought to be extinct

Sri Lankan Rupee

We recommend that you take US dollars with you as it is readily changeable.

American Express, VISA and MasterCard are accepted at hotels and in larger stores for retail purchases.

International Dialing Code

Type D plug

Electricity in Sri Lanka is 230 Volts, at 50 hertz. The most common pin types are D (3 pin round) and G (UK – 3 prong).

Travellers from AU, NZ, CA, US and UK can get and pay for a Sri Lanka ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’ (ETA) online, a few days before you arrive. You should get your approval notice within 24 hours, and you can use this to enter Sri Lanka. You can apply here at the official website of the Department of Immigration and Emigration www.eta.gov.lk.

It is also possible for travellers from AU, NZ, CA, US and UK to apply for a 30-day tourist visa on arrival if you land at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. However, the Department for Immigration strongly advise visitors to apply for an ETA before entry to Sri Lanka, as the approval of an arrival visa cannot be guaranteed. A visa on arrival costs 60 US dollars, which is 10 US dollars more than the ETA.

Travellers from AU, NZ, CA, US and UK can complete an online arrival form 3 days before arriving in Sri Lanka. The service is free and may save time when you arrive. If you want to stay for more than 30 days, up to 180 days, you need to apply online as you cannot apply on arrival.

Please ensure that your passport has an expiry date of greater than 6 months during your visit to Sri Lanka.

Your safety is our number one concern. Our safety track record is exemplary thanks to careful management and thorough consultation with local partners. Our industry leading risk management procedures have become a skill that we continue to refine. Our leaders in the field are highly trained and have safety as their number one priority. Expert leaders, risk assessments, quality inclusions and your financial security all come standard when you travel with us.

Please refer to our Travel Advisory page for updates on recent events, travel warnings and advice.

We strongly recommend that all clients take out travel insurance at the time of booking to cover against sickness, accident, loss of baggage, unexpected alterations to travel arrangements and travel disruption, emergency evacuation, cancellations, etc. Insurance information is enclosed with your pre-departure information. Please contact us if you would like to obtain a quote for your trip duration.

We suggest that you consult your doctor, local government inoculation centre or a travel medical specialist in order to get the most current advice regarding vaccination requirements.

Money and valuables should always be stored safely when travelling. Keep your passport with you at all times and do not leave it in your main luggage. You will need it to change money and check into hotels. Where safety deposit boxes are available, we recommend that you use them. Keep jewellery and valuables to a minimum.

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An Amazing Getaway: A Two Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

S ri Lanka is becoming one of the top tourist destinations in Asia, with the island nation drawing over one million tourists in 2023. It’s a stunning island filled with natural beauty, a vibrant culture, and savory cuisine. If you’re looking for your next travel destination, you can’t go wrong by creating a Sri Lanka itinerary for your next adventure.

You’ll find many fun and memorable things to do in Sri Lanka, and the best way to ensure you have time for each is by using a Sri Lanka travel guide.

The good news is you’ve uncovered this in-depth itinerary for your adventure to Southern Asia. Continue reading to find the best restaurants and Sri Lanka resorts for your next vacation today!

Kandy: Days 1-3

Kandy is one of the top destinations to see when visiting Sri Lanka. It’s a city filled with history and plenty to see and do during your stay. It’s best to spend at least two days in Kandy to try the best restaurants and indulge in the local culture.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic is one of the holiest Buddhist temples on the planet. When you arrive in Kandy, it’s a must-visit spot surrounded by impeccable gardens. The location also provides an opportunity to explore the city center.

The Sigiriya is another place to consider when planning your day trips. The UNESCO World Heritage site is a popular tourist attraction for those who stop in Kandy. The ancient city is on top of an impressive rock, which you can climb to enjoy views of the city and surrounding countryside.

Nurawa Eliya: Days 3-5

Nuwara Eliya is another picturesque destination to add to your Sri Lanka itinerary. The town translates to “Little England,” and the journey from Kandy provides scenic views of the natural terrain. Ensure you layer your clothing, as Nurawa Eliya has a cooler climate than other destinations on the island.

It’s an excellent destination for travelers seeking nature and tranquility. One of the top things to do around Nurawa Eliya is to visit the tea plantations in the region. Horton’s Plains National Park is another must-add location for Sri Lankan day trips into nature.

Consider staying at the Heritance Tea Factory during your time in Nurawa Eliya. You can Explore Sri Lanka while enjoying pools, spas, and delicious food.

Ella: Days 5-7

Your journey to Ella will take you to the central highlands of Sri Lanka. It’s another natural destination perfect for hikers and nature lovers. Ella is also surrounded by more tea plantations where you can explore and learn more about the teas produced on the island.

It’s best to take the train, as it’s one of the most incredible train rides on the planet. Take time to observe your surroundings as you ride on the train. The beauty of the rolling hills and endless tea plantations creates a unique and memorable experience.

Diyaluma Falls is perfect for a day trip after arriving at Ella. It’s the second-highest waterfall on the island. Bring a bathing suit to enjoy the relaxation of the waterfall’s pools after the hike to arrive there.

Tangalle: Days 7-10

While the nature and tea plantations of the central highlands make for a stunning adventure, the southern region of Sri Lanka provides much to enjoy during your stay. It’s a part of the island most famous for its beaches. If you’re a beach lover, it’s the part of your Sri Lanka itinerary where you’ll fall in love with the island.

The beaches are pristine and dotted with small towns that add to the travel experience. Tangalle is one of the top beach towns on the southern coast, and it should be a priority destination on your Sri Lanka itinerary. You’ll find local attractions to check out when you need a break from swimming in the ocean or lounging on the beach.

Galle Fort is a remarkable place to visit during day trips. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with museums with local artifacts, an art gallery, and some of the best places to eat in Sri Lanka.

Hiriketiya: Days 11-12

If pristine beaches are your thing, Hiriketiya should be your next Sri Lanka itinerary stop. The beaches and waves provide the perfect setting for a snorkeling adventure. Pack the sunscreen and indulge in the impeccable sea life.

Picturesque green hills surround the primary bay in town, and the water is a perfect and clear blue. The colorful reefs offshore make for a unique experience if you want to explore a different type of nature.

Consider taking a tuk-tuk to Unawatuna if you want to taste Sri Lanka’s beach nightlife. It’s a festive town providing ample opportunity to party on the beach with locals and other travelers. Check out the markets for more value for your time on the southern coast.

Mirissa: Days 13-14

The last stop on your Sri Lanka itinerary should be Mirissa. Mirissa is a beach town with stunning beaches lined with palm trees for shade when you want to relax and read on the beach.

It’s also one of the best places to go whale watching while in Sri Lanka. If you time your trip right, you could see dozens of whales during your tour. You’re in for a unique experience watching these whales in their natural habitats.

If you love seafood, some of the best places to eat in Sri Lanka are in Mirissa. Your tastebuds will have a blast with fresh fish and other seafood options. Devilled prawns are the go-to option in this part of the country.

Create Your Sri Lanka Itinerary Today

Planning a trip to Sri Lanka is an excellent way to explore more of the world while diving into new and welcoming cultures. The central highlands are the perfect place to find things to do in Sri Lanka revolving around nature and history. The southern coast is home to quaint beach towns with some of the best places to eat in Sri Lanka.

Making travel plans is stressful, but you don’t need to plan your next adventure alone. Read our Travel content for guides and the best tips to enjoy a memorable vacation today!

This article is published by NYTech in collaboration with Syndication Cloud.

An Amazing Getaway: A Two Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

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Solo Travel in Sri Lanka: Complete Guide (2024)

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Solo travel is a liberating and empowering experience that allows individuals to embark on self-discovery and exploration. Sri Lanka, known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” offers a perfect destination for solo travellers seeking adventure, cultural immersion, and natural beauty. This article will delve into the benefits of solo travel, safety tips, must-visit destinations, cultural experiences, outdoor activities, accommodation options, local cuisine, transportation, budgeting, interacting with locals, solo travel tips for female travellers, and sustainable travel practices in Sri Lanka 2024.

Benefits of Solo Travel in Sri Lanka

Self-discovery and personal growth.

Solo travel in Sri Lanka offers a unique opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth. Exploring the vibrant cities, serene beaches, and lush landscapes of Sri Lanka alone allows you to delve deep into your thoughts and desires. You can connect with the rich history and culture of the country, embark on adventures, and uncover hidden treasures that resonate with your interests.

Freedom and Independence

Solo travel in Sri Lanka provides unparalleled freedom and independence. You can create your itinerary, deciding where to go, what to see, and how long to stay at each destination. You can embrace spontaneity, wander off the beaten path, and explore the hidden gems of Sri Lanka at your own pace. This freedom allows you to immerse yourself in the island nation’s wonders fully.

Flexibility in Itinerary

Travelling alone in Sri Lanka allows you to design your itinerary according to your preferences and interests. Whether you want to spend more time in the cultural triangle, embark on a wildlife safari, or relax on pristine beaches, you can tailor your journey to suit your desires. The flexibility allows you to make the most of your time in Sri Lanka and create unforgettable memories.

Enhancing Self-Confidence

 Solo travel in Sri Lanka is an excellent way to improve self-confidence. Navigating through bustling cities, interacting with locals, and immersing yourself in new experiences all build self-assurance. By successfully handling challenges and embracing the unknown, you gain a more profound belief in your abilities and become more self-reliant.

Stepping out of Comfort Zone

Solo travel in Sri Lanka pushes you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace new experiences. Whether hiking to the summit of Adam’s Peak, engaging in water sports along the stunning coastline, or exploring ancient ruins, you’ll find yourself venturing into exciting territories that broaden your horizons. Embracing the unfamiliar helps you grow as an individual and expand your perspectives.

Cultural Immersion

Travelling alone in Sri Lanka allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s rich cultural heritage. From visiting ancient temples and UNESCO World Heritage sites to attending traditional festivals and interacting with locals, you can better understand Sri Lankan culture and traditions. Engaging with the warm and welcoming locals provides unique insights and enriches your travel experience.

Connecting with Locals

Solo travel in Sri Lanka presents numerous opportunities to connect with locals on a personal level. Sri Lankans are known for their hospitality and friendliness, and travelling alone makes it easier to establish meaningful connections. Whether sharing a meal with a local family, joining a community project, or participating in cultural activities, these interactions create lasting memories and foster a genuine appreciation for the local way of life.

Embracing Solitude

Travelling alone in Sri Lanka allows you to embrace moments of solitude amidst the captivating beauty of the country. Whether meditating in a tranquil temple, strolling along a secluded beach, or hiking through lush tea plantations, these solitary moments offer a chance to reflect, find inner peace, and connect with your surroundings on a deeper level.

Learning to Trust Yourself

Solo travel in Sri Lanka requires you to make decisions, solve problems, and navigate unfamiliar situations independently. You develop a sense of self-trust and self-reliance as you face and successfully overcome these challenges. Learning to trust your instincts and judgment while exploring Sri Lanka translates to increased confidence and resilience in all aspects of your life.

Empowerment and Liberation

Solo travel in Sri Lanka empowers you to control your experiences and make choices based solely on your desires. It liberates you from the constraints of societal expectations, allowing you to embrace your individuality and travel on your terms. This sense of empowerment carries over into other aspects of life, fostering a spirit of independence and autonomy.

Pushing Personal Boundaries

Travelling alone in Sri Lanka encourages you to make your boundaries and challenge your limits. Whether it’s conquering a fear of heights while hiking to breathtaking viewpoints, trying adventurous water sports, or exploring remote corners of the island, solo travel pushes you outside of your comfort zone and helps you grow as an individual.

Creating Unforgettable Memories

Solo travel in Sri Lanka often leads to some of the most memorable experiences of your life. Without the distractions of companions, you can fully immerse yourself in the present moment, savouring the island’s sights, sounds, and flavours. From witnessing stunning sunsets on golden beaches to exploring ancient ruins and encountering diverse wildlife, these unique and cherished memories become a part of your personal story, forever treasured.

Deepening Self-Awareness

Solo travel in Sri Lanka offers an opportunity for introspection and self-reflection. Being in a new environment and experiencing different cultures and perspectives can help you better understand yourself and your place in the world. It allows you to reflect on your values, priorities, and aspirations, leading to greater self-awareness.

Building Resilience

Traveling alone in Sri Lanka inevitably comes with its share of challenges and obstacles. However, overcoming these challenges helps build resilience and adaptability. It teaches you to be resourceful, problem-solve, and stay calm in unexpected situations. The strength you develop through solo travel can positively impact various areas of your life.

Discovering Hidden Talents and Interests

Travelling alone in Sri Lanka allows you to explore new activities, hobbies, and interests without any external influences. You may discover hidden talents, develop new passions, or gain insights into your interests. Solo travel provides a space for self-discovery and engaging in activities that genuinely resonate with you.

Embarking on a solo travel adventure in Sri Lanka offers numerous benefits beyond the destination. It allows you to grow, create lasting memories, and develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your world. So, embrace the freedom, embark on a journey of self-discovery, and let the enchanting beauty of Sri Lanka captivate your soul.

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Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

Solo travel in Sri Lanka can be a safe and rewarding experience if you take certain precautions and stay alert. While the country is generally considered safe for travellers, it’s always important to prioritize your safety. Here are some detailed safety tips to keep in mind when embarking on a solo adventure in Sri Lanka:

Research the Local Customs and Traditions

Before your trip, take some time to research the local customs and traditions of Sri Lanka. Understanding and respecting cultural norms will help you blend in better and prevent any unintentional misunderstandings. In addition, familiarize yourself with basic greetings, appropriate dress codes, and local etiquette to show respect for the local culture.

Share Your Itinerary with a Trusted Person

Always share your travel itinerary with a trusted family member or friend. Please provide them with details of your accommodations, transportation plans, and any activities you have planned. Then, they will have the necessary information in an emergency or if someone needs to reach you.

Stay Vigilant and Trust Your Instincts

While exploring Sri Lanka, staying vigilant and trusting your instincts is essential. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid isolated areas, especially at night. If something feels off or uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation. It’s better to prioritize your safety and find alternative options.

Choose Reputable Accommodation Establishments

When selecting your accommodations, opt for reputable establishments with positive reviews. In addition, look for places prioritizing security measures, such as 24-hour reception or security personnel. This will give you extra safety and peace of mind during your stay.

Use Reliable Transportation Services

When travelling within Sri Lanka, use reliable transportation services. Choose licensed taxis, reputable car rental companies, or reliable ridesharing services. If you’re taking public transportation, be cautious of your belongings and keep them secure. Avoid sharing personal information with strangers during your journeys.

Be Cautious with Your Valuables

Always secure your valuables, such as passports, cash, and electronics. Consider using a money belt or a secure bag to keep your belongings close to you. Be discreet when handling money or displaying expensive items to minimize the risk of theft or attracting unnecessary attention.

Stay Informed About Current Events

Stay informed about the current events and any potential travel advisories in Sri Lanka. Check the official travel websites of your home country or consult with local authorities to ensure you have the latest information. This will help you make informed decisions regarding your travel plans and destinations.

Respect the Ocean and Follow Beach Safety Guidelines

If you plan to enjoy Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches, respecting the ocean and following beach safety guidelines are important. Listen to warning signs and lifeguards’ instructions, and avoid swimming in rough conditions or areas with strong currents. Always prioritize your safety while enjoying the coastal beauty.

These safety tips can enhance your solo travel experience in Sri Lanka and ensure a smooth and secure journey. Remember to stay alert, trust your instincts, and respect local customs and culture. Solo travel can be a transformative experience, and with the proper precautions, you can create lasting memories in the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.”

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Best Times to Visit Sri Lanka

When planning your solo trip to Sri Lanka, it’s crucial to consider the best time to visit, as the climate can vary across different regions of the country. Sri Lanka offers year-round opportunities for exploration, but understanding the seasonal patterns will help you make the most of your visit. So let’s dive into the specific seasons for the down south and east coast regions of Sri Lanka:

Down South Region

The down south region of Sri Lanka , including popular destinations such as Galle , Mirissa, and Tangalle, experiences a slightly different climate than other parts of the country. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons in this region:

Dry Season (November to April)

From November to April, the down south region experiences pleasant and sunny weather during the dry season. This is considered the peak tourist season for this part of Sri Lanka, as the beaches are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and engaging in water sports. The sea is usually calm, allowing you to enjoy snorkelling and diving adventures. It’s important to note that this period coincides with the winter months in many Western countries, making it an ideal time for travellers seeking respite from the cold.

Intermonsoonal Season (May to June, September to October)

The down south region experiences inter-monsoonal seasons during May and June, as well as September and October. These transitional periods bring occasional rain showers but are typically short-lived and followed by sunny spells. The advantage of visiting during these months is that you’ll find fewer crowds and better deals on accommodations and activities. Nevertheless, it’s worth packing an umbrella or rain jacket to be prepared for sporadic showers during your exploration.

East Coast Region

The east coast of Sri Lanka, including destinations like Trincomalee , Arugam Bay, and Pasikudah, has its distinct weather patterns. Here’s what you need to know:

Dry Season (May to September)

The dry season on the east coast occurs from May to September, making it the prime time to visit this region. You can expect plenty of sunshine, minimal rainfall, and calm seas during these months. The beaches on the east coast are renowned for their pristine beauty, and this is the perfect time to indulge in water activities such as surfing, snorkelling, and diving. However, it’s worth noting that due to its popularity, the east coast can get crowded with tourists during the peak dry season.

Intermonsoonal Season (October to November, February to April)

The inter-monsoonal seasons on the east coast fall between October and November, as well as February and April. You may experience occasional rain showers and slightly rougher seas during these periods. However, the showers are usually brief, allowing you to continue exploring the region. This is an excellent time to visit if you prefer a quieter atmosphere and want to avoid the crowds.

Understanding the distinct seasons of the down south and east coast regions of Sri Lanka will help you plan your solo travel adventure accordingly. Whether you’re seeking vibrant beach life or a more tranquil experience, Sri Lanka offers a range of options throughout the year. Consider your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in when deciding the best time to embark on your solo journey in this beautiful island nation.

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Must-Visit Destinations in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a treasure trove of captivating destinations that offer a diverse range of experiences for solo travellers. From ancient historical sites to scenic coastal towns and lush green landscapes, here are some must-visit destinations to include in your solo travel itinerary:

Located on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, Galle is a charming city that seamlessly blends colonial charm with a vibrant local atmosphere. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Galle Fort , wander through narrow cobblestone streets, and admire the Dutch and Portuguese architecture. The fort offers breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and houses quaint cafes, boutique shops, and art galleries. Places to visit in Galle 

As the capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo is a bustling metropolis that showcases the country’s vibrant culture and modern development. Visit the bustling Pettah Market, admire the stunning Gangaramaya Temple , and explore the National Museum to glimpse the island’s rich history. Enjoy a sunset stroll along Galle Face Green , a famous seaside promenade, and savour delicious street food. Places to visit in Colombo 

Mirissa is a must-visit destination on Sri Lanka’s southern coast if you seek idyllic beaches and a laid-back coastal vibe. Spend your days basking in the sun on palm-fringed beaches, enjoy water sports such as snorkelling and surfing, and embark on a memorable whale-watching excursion. Mirissa offers a range of beachside restaurants and bars where you can unwind while enjoying stunning sunsets. Places to visit Mirissa and Things to Do 

Nestled amidst the misty hills of Sri Lanka’s central highlands, Ella is a picturesque town known for its breathtaking landscapes and hiking trails. Explore the stunning Ella Rock, hike to Little Adam’s Peak for panoramic views, and visit the iconic Nine Arch Bridge. Ella’s laid-back atmosphere and lush tea plantations create a serene ambience perfect for solo travellers looking to connect with nature. Places to visit in Ella 

The cultural capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy, is a city that immerses you in the country’s rich traditions and religious heritage. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic , which houses a sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, and witness captivating cultural performances at the Kandy Cultural Show. Explore the Royal Botanical Gardens , stroll around Kandy Lake, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding hills. Places to visit in Kandy 

For surf enthusiasts, Arugam Bay is a paradise on the east coast of Sri Lanka. Known for its world-class waves, this laid-back beach town attracts surfers from around the globe. Whether a beginner or an experienced surfer, you can catch exhilarating waves and soak up the sun on pristine sandy beaches. Arugam Bay also offers a vibrant nightlife scene and a chance to connect with fellow travellers. 

Situated on the northwest coast, Kalpitiya is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of pristine beaches and stunning marine life. It’s an ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Enjoy kiteboarding or windsurfing in the turquoise waters, go dolphin and whale watching, and explore the vibrant coral reefs through snorkelling or diving excursions. Kalpitiya’s tranquil atmosphere and untouched beauty make it a memorable stop on your solo journey. Places to Visit and Things to Do in Kalpitiya 

Anuradhapura

For history buffs, Anuradhapura is a must-visit ancient city that showcases Sri Lanka’s rich historical and cultural heritage. Explore the sacred Bodhi Tree , which is believed to be the oldest recorded tree in the world, and marvel at the grandeur of ancient stupas and ruins. Anuradhapura offers a glimpse into the island’s ancient civilizations and provides solo travellers with a serene and spiritual experience. Best Places to visit in Anuradhapura

Located in the northern part of Sri Lanka, Jaffna is a city that has gradually opened up to travellers after the end of the civil war. Explore the historic Jaffna Fort , visit the colourful Nallur Kandaswamy Temple , and sample delicious local cuisine influenced by Tamil traditions. Jaffna’s rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality offer a unique perspective on Sri Lanka’s diverse identity. Best Places to Visit in Jaffna 

Habarana is a gateway to some of Sri Lanka’s most famous ancient sites in the heart of the Cultural Triangle. Visit the awe-inspiring Sigiriya Rock Fortress , which offers panoramic views from its summit, and explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, known for its well-preserved ruins. In addition, Habarana’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring the region’s cultural treasures. Habarana Travel Guide 

Nuwara Eliya

Nestled in the misty mountains, Nuwara Eliya is often referred to as “Little England” due to its colonial architecture and tea plantations. Enjoy the cool climate, visit tea factories to learn about tea-making, and take a scenic train ride through the lush green landscapes. Nuwara Eliya’s picturesque setting and charming atmosphere make it a perfect retreat for solo travellers. Best Places to Visit in Nuwara Eliya.

Polonnaruwa

As the second capital of ancient Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s rich history and archaeological marvels. Explore the well-preserved ruins of ancient palaces, temples, and statues that date back to the 12th century. In addition, Polonnaruwa’s UNESCO World Heritage site showcases the architectural and engineering prowess of the bygone era. Best Places to Visit In Polonnaruwa

Sigiriya, also known as the Lion Rock, is an iconic UNESCO World Heritage site that captivates visitors with its ancient rock fortress. Climb to the top of this massive rock formation and admire the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Explore the well-preserved frescoes, marvel at the intricate water gardens, and learn about this beautiful site’s fascinating history and legends.

These must-visit destinations in Sri Lanka offer a diverse range of experiences for solo travellers. Each destination has unique charm and allure, from historical sites and cultural landmarks to stunning natural landscapes and serene beaches. So embark on a solo adventure and create unforgettable memories in the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” Sigiriya travel Guide

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Cultural Experiences in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a country steeped in rich cultural heritage and traditions. As a solo traveller, immersing yourself in the local culture is an excellent way to connect with the island’s soul. Here are some subheadings highlighting the diverse cultural experiences Sri Lanka has to offer:

Temples and Sacred Sites

Sri Lanka has numerous temples and sacred sites with deep religious and historical significance:

  • Visit the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, where the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is enshrined.
  • Explore the ancient city of Anuradhapura, known for its magnificent stupas and ruins.
  • Take a trip to the Dambulla Cave Temple , a UNESCO World Heritage site adorned with intricate murals and statues.

These cultural landmarks provide insights into the spiritual traditions and beliefs of the Sri Lankan people.

Traditional Festivals

Participating in traditional festivals is an exhilarating way to experience the vibrant culture of Sri Lanka. First, witness the grandeur of the Esala Perahera in Kandy , a magnificent procession featuring traditional dancers, drummers, and adorned elephants. Then, celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, where locals engage in customs and rituals to welcome the new year. The vibrant colours, music, and dancing during these festivals create a truly immersive cultural experience. Also, Nallur Festival in Jaffna Region is a further famous month-long Festival. 

Historical Sites and Ancient Cities

Exploring the historical sites and ancient cities of Sri Lanka allows you to step back in time and appreciate the island’s rich past. Discover the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, marvel at the well-preserved ruins of Polonnaruwa, and wander through the ancient city of Anuradhapura. These sites offer a glimpse into the architectural marvels and advanced civilizations that once thrived in Sri Lanka.

Traditional Arts and Crafts

Sri Lanka is known for its intricate arts and crafts, showcasing the craftsmanship and creativity of the local artisans. First, visit traditional villages like Ambalangoda, famous for its mask -making industry, and witness the intricate process of creating these vibrant masks. Next, explore the handloom villages of Kandy and Matale, where you can observe weavers crafting exquisite textiles. Purchasing these unique handcrafted items supports local artisans and allows you to bring a piece of Sri Lankan culture home.

Cultural Performances

Immerse yourself in the rhythm and grace of Sri Lankan cultural performances. Attend a mesmerizing Kandyan dance show in Kandy, where skilled dancers showcase their talent in vibrant costumes. Experience the traditional drumming ceremonies, known as “geta beraya,” which add a captivating beat to cultural events and rituals. These performances offer a glimpse into the rich artistic traditions and folklore of Sri Lanka. Cultural Show in Colombo and  Cultural Show in Habarana further popular among travellers.

Culinary Exploration

Sampling the local cuisine is an integral part of experiencing the culture of any country. Sri Lankan cuisine is a compelling fusion of flavours and spices. Indulge in delicious rice and curry dishes, try street food like hoppers and kottu roti, and sip authentic Ceylon tea. Take a cooking class and learn to prepare traditional Sri Lankan dishes, allowing you to bring the island’s flavours back home with you. 15 Most Popular Street Foods In Sri Lanka.

Cultural Villages and Homestays

For a truly immersive cultural experience, consider staying in a traditional village or a homestay. Engage with the locals, participate in traditional activities like farming or fishing, and gain a deeper understanding of their way of life. You can forge meaningful connections and create lasting memories by staying in a cultural village or a homestay. One of the best villages tours is the Hirivadunna village tour near Habarana 

These cultural experiences in Sri Lanka provide a window into the island’s vibrant heritage and traditions. Embrace the opportunity to engage with the local culture, learn from the locals, and create unforgettable memories during your solo journey.

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Outdoor Activities for Solo Travellers

Regarding outdoor activities, Sri Lanka offers a wide array of thrilling adventures for solo travellers. Whether you seek adrenaline-pumping experiences or a chance to immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty, there’s something for everyone. Here are some subheadings that provide more details about the outdoor activities you can enjoy in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka’s coastline is a paradise for surfers, catering to all experience levels. Popular surf spots such as Arugam Bay, Hikkaduwa, and Mirissa offer consistent yearly waves. So whether you’re a beginner looking to take your first lesson or an experienced surfer seeking challenging breaks, the island’s surf scene has something to offer. Surfing Beaches and Seasons  

Scuba Diving

Explore the vibrant underwater world surrounding Sri Lanka through scuba diving. The crystal-clear waters teem with colourful coral reefs, tropical fish, and intriguing shipwrecks. Destinations like Hikkaduwa, Trincomalee, and Unawatuna provide excellent diving opportunities, where you can discover the wonders of the Indian Ocean up close. 100+ scuba Dive Spots In Sri Lanka

Embark on an exciting wildlife safari adventure in Sri Lanka’s national parks and reserves. Yala National Park , Wilpattu National Park , Udawalawa and Minneriya National Park are renowned for their abundant wildlife, including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, and various bird species. Join a safari tour and witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitats.

Bird Watching

Sri Lanka is a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting over 430 bird species, including resident and migratory birds. Bundala National Park, Kumana National Park, and Sinharaja Forest Reserve are some of the top birding spots. So grab your binoculars and spot a colourful array of feathered creatures amidst lush forests, wetlands, and coastal habitats. Best Bird watching Places in Sri Lanka

Kite Surfing

With its consistent winds and beautiful beaches, Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for kite surfing . Kalpitiya, located on the northwestern coast, is a popular spot for this thrilling water sport. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kite surfer, the strong winds and flat water provide an exhilarating experience for solo travellers.

Hiking and Trekking

Sri Lanka’s diverse landscapes offer ample opportunities for hiking and trekking adventures. From the misty hills of Ella and the Knuckles Mountain Range to the sacred trails of Adam’s Peak and the breathtaking trails of Horton Plains National Park, there’s a hike or trek for every level of fitness and interest. Best Places for Hiking and Trekking in Sri Lanka 

Water Rafting

For adrenaline junkies, white water rafting in Sri Lanka’s rivers is an exhilarating experience. Kitulgala , located in the central highlands, is the country’s premier rafting destination. Navigate through rapids and enjoy the breathtaking scenery as you conquer the gushing waters, creating unforgettable memories.

For a unique and breathtaking experience, consider hot air ballooning in Sri Lanka. Float above the scenic landscapes of Dambulla or Sigiriya and enjoy panoramic views of ancient ruins, lush greenery, and picturesque villages. The tranquillity and beauty of the surroundings from a hot air balloon will leave you with a memorable and awe-inspiring experience.

Explore Sri Lanka’s coastal beauty and pristine waters by indulging in a  adventure. Charter a yacht or join a sailing excursion to navigate the scenic coastline, discovering hidden coves, coral reefs, and tranquil bays. Enjoy the serenity of the open sea and soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Snorkelling and Whale Watching

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Sri Lanka and explore its underwater wonders through snorkelling . Put on your snorkel gear and witness colourful coral reefs and marine life. Additionally, the southern coast of Sri Lanka, particularly Mirissa and Trincomalee, offers the opportunity to spot magnificent whales and playful dolphins in their natural habitat. Whale watching in Sri Lanka

Immerse yourself in these outdoor activities during your solo trip to Sri Lanka, and let the beauty of nature and thrilling adventures create unforgettable memories.

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Local Cuisine and Food Experiences

Exploring the local cuisine is essential to any travel experience, and Sri Lanka offers a tempting array of flavours and dishes that will delight your taste buds. From spicy curries to mouthwatering street food, the country’s culinary scene combines aromatic spices and fresh ingredients. Here are some subheadings that delve into the local food experiences in Sri Lanka:

Rice and Curry

Rice and curry form the heart of Sri Lankan cuisine. This traditional dish typically consists of aromatic basmati rice served with various vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries. Each curry bursts with flavours derived from a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and curry leaves. Indulge in a delightful array of curries, including chicken, fish, beef, and various vegetable options.

Street Food Delicacies

Immerse yourself in the vibrant street food culture of Sri Lanka. Wander through bustling markets and street stalls to sample a range of delicious snacks. Try hoppers, a popular Sri Lankan breakfast dish made from fermented rice flour, which can be enjoyed plain or with various accompaniments. Next, relish kottu roti, a savoury dish made with chopped roti, vegetables, and your choice of meat or seafood, all stir-fried on a hot griddle. Finally, don’t miss out on the delectable savoury pastries known as “short eats,” available in various fillings such as fish, chicken, or vegetable.

Seafood Extravaganza

With its vast coastline, Sri Lanka is a seafood lover’s paradise. Indulge in abundant fresh seafood, including succulent prawns, flavorful crabs, and a wide range of fish. Sample delicious seafood curries, grilled fish marinated in spices, or opt for the famous Sri Lankan delicacy, deviled seafood, featuring a tantalizing blend of spices and tangy flavours. Whether you’re dining at a beachside restaurant or a local eatery, the seafood in Sri Lanka is a culinary delight not to be missed.

Traditional Sweets and Desserts

Satisfy your sweet tooth with Sri Lanka’s traditional sweets and desserts. Try “kavum,” a deep-fried sweet made with rice flour and treacle, or “kokis,” intricately shaped crispy cookies made from rice flour and coconut milk. Indulge in “wattalappam,” a creamy coconut custard infused with jaggery and spices, or relish the tropical flavours of “wood apple” and “king coconut” in refreshing juice form. Sri Lankan sweets offer a delightful finale to your culinary adventures.

Tea and Spice Plantations

Sri Lanka is renowned for its tea and spice plantations that dot the scenic landscapes. Take a journey to Nuwara Eliya or Ella, where you can explore tea estates and witness the process of tea production. Engage in tea-tasting sessions and learn about the art of brewing the perfect cup of Ceylon tea. Then, discover the aromatic spice gardens, where you can observe the cultivation of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and pepper. Immerse yourself in the scents and flavours that have made Sri Lanka a hub for spice enthusiasts.

Cooking Classes and Food Tours

Enhance your culinary experience in Sri Lanka by participating in cooking classes and food tours. Join a local chef who will guide you through preparing authentic Sri Lankan dishes, teaching you the techniques and secrets behind the flavours. Then, embark on a food tour to explore the bustling food markets, sample a variety of dishes, and gain insights into the local food culture from knowledgeable guides.

Sri Lankan cuisine offers a tantalizing journey for your taste buds with its bold flavours, aromatic spices, and diverse culinary traditions. Immerse yourself in the local food experiences, savour the rich flavours, and engage in the vibrant food culture that reflects the island’s heritage. From street food adventures to indulging in traditional dishes, Sri Lanka promises a delightful culinary exploration.

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Transportation in Sri Lanka

When it comes to getting around in Sri Lanka, several transportation options are available to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you prefer the convenience of taxis, the charm of train rides, the affordability of public transport, or the flexibility of tuk-tuks, you can easily navigate the country. Here are some subheadings that provide more details about transportation in Sri Lanka:

Train Travel

Travelling in Sri Lanka is a popular and scenic way to explore the country. The train network connects major cities and offers breathtaking views of lush landscapes, tea plantations, and picturesque villages. The observation carriages provide panoramic views, allowing you to soak in the natural beauty during your journey. Trains are known for their relaxed pace, allowing you to enjoy the scenery and interact with fellow travellers. A few of the popular Train travel journeys are Colombo to Ella , Colombo to Anuradhapura  , Seethawaka Tourist Train 

Taxi Services

Taxis are a convenient mode of transportation for those seeking comfort and privacy. You can hire taxis in Sri Lanka for short trips within cities or longer journeys between destinations. Using licensed taxi services or booking through reputable companies is advisable to ensure safety and fair pricing. Many taxi services offer standard sedans and larger vehicles to accommodate different group sizes.

Public Transport

Sri Lanka has an extensive public transport system that includes buses and trains, providing affordable options for travellers. Buses are the most common mode of public transportation, with routes covering various parts of the country. While buses can get crowded, they offer a chance to experience local life and interact with fellow passengers. Trains, on the other hand, are a popular choice for longer distances and scenic routes.

Tuk-tuks, also known as three-wheelers, are a ubiquitous sight in Sri Lanka and a unique mode of transport. These small, motorized vehicles are perfect for short distances and busy city streets. Tuk-tuks are a convenient and flexible option, allowing you to reach your desired destination easily. However, negotiating the fare is expected, so agreeing on the price before starting your journey is essential.

For those who prefer the freedom of driving themselves, car rental services are available in Sri Lanka. Renting a car allows you to explore at your own pace and venture off the beaten path. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with local driving laws and road conditions and consider the traffic congestion in major cities.

Ride-Hailing Apps

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and PickMe are gaining popularity in Sri Lanka, providing convenient and reliable transportation options. These apps allow you to book a ride using your smartphone and track your driver’s arrival. Ride-hailing services are especially suitable for airport transfers, city tours, and exploring urban areas.

Navigating Sri Lanka’s transportation system offers a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with locals, and enjoy the country’s scenic beauty. Whether you choose the old-world charm of train travel, the convenience of taxis, the affordability of public transport, or the excitement of tuk-tuks, each transportation mode has its unique charm and benefits. Select the option best suits your preferences and embark on a memorable journey through Sri Lanka.

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Budgeting for Solo Travel in Sri Lanka

Travelling solo in Sri Lanka can be affordable if you plan your budget wisely. You can enjoy a fulfilling experience without breaking the bank by considering your expenses and making conscious choices. Here are some subheadings that provide more details about budgeting for solo travel in Sri Lanka:

Accommodation

Accommodation options in Sri Lanka cater to various budgets, ranging from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to mid-range hotels and luxury resorts. Consider staying in budget accommodations or guesthouses that offer comfortable and clean rooms at affordable prices. Another option is to explore homestays, where you can stay with local families and experience their hospitality. Research and compare prices to find the best accommodation option that suits your budget.

Transportation

Transportation costs can be minimized by opting for public buses or trains, which are affordable modes of travel in Sri Lanka. Buses are the cheapest option, while trains offer reasonably priced scenic journeys. Tuk-tuks can be a convenient choice for shorter distances, but negotiate the fare in advance to avoid overpaying. If you prefer more comfort and flexibility, consider sharing taxis with fellow travellers to split the costs.

Sri Lanka offers a wide range of dining options to suit different budgets. Local eateries and street food stalls serve delicious and affordable meals, allowing you to experience authentic Sri Lankan flavours without spending a fortune. Look for local “rice and curry” spots or try popular street food dishes like hoppers and kottu roti. Additionally, purchasing snacks and fruits from local markets can be a cost-effective way to satisfy your hunger while exploring.

Sightseeing and Activities

Plan your sightseeing activities to make the most of your budget. Many attractions in Sri Lanka have entrance fees, so prioritize the ones that interest you the most. Opt for free or low-cost activities such as exploring public parks, visiting temples, and enjoying the natural beauty of the beaches and landscapes. Take advantage of affordable outdoor activities like hiking, walking tours, and beach activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the beauty of Sri Lanka without spending a lot.

Sri Lanka is known for its vibrant markets and unique handicrafts. While shopping can be a tempting activity, set a budget for souvenirs and be mindful of your spending. Look for local markets and small shops where you can find authentic handmade items at reasonable prices. Bargaining is common in markets, so don’t hesitate to negotiate for a better deal. Remember to prioritize quality over quantity and choose items that hold sentimental value.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Consider additional expenses such as travel insurance, visa fees (if applicable), and any vaccinations or medications you may need before travelling to Sri Lanka. Keeping some extra cash for emergencies or unexpected expenses is also advisable. By accounting for these miscellaneous expenses in your budget, you can ensure a smoother and stress-free journey.

With careful planning and budgeting, solo travel in Sri Lanka can be an affordable and enriching experience. Research and compare prices, make conscious choices, and prioritize your expenses based on what matters most. Finding a balance between cost-effective options and memorable experiences can create lifelong memories while staying within your budget.

Interacting with Locals

One of the highlights of solo travel in Sri Lanka is the opportunity to connect with friendly and welcoming locals. Sri Lankans are known for their hospitality and warm smiles, and engaging with them can enhance your travel experience. Here are some subheadings that provide more details about interacting with locals in Sri Lanka:

Embrace the Local Culture

Immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage by embracing the local customs and traditions. Respect the local dress code, especially when visiting religious sites, and be open to learning about and experiencing traditional practices. Sri Lankans take pride in their culture and appreciate visitors interested in understanding their way of life.

Learn Basic Local Phrases

Learning a few basic local phrases can go a long way in building connections with locals. Simple greetings like “Ayubowan” (hello) and “Thank you” in Sinhala, the predominant language, can instantly create a friendly atmosphere. Sri Lankans appreciate when visitors try to communicate in their language and are often delighted to converse.

Participate in Community Activities

Look for opportunities to participate in community activities or events happening in the area you’re visiting. Sri Lanka is known for its vibrant festivals, and joining in the celebrations can provide a deeper insight into the local culture and traditions. You can also consider volunteering for local initiatives, such as environmental projects or community-based tourism, which allow you to interact with locals while making a positive impact.

Ask for Recommendations

Don’t hesitate to ask locals for recommendations on places to visit, hidden gems, or authentic local experiences. Sri Lankans are generally proud of their country and love to share their knowledge. Whether it’s a recommendation for a lesser-known beach or a local restaurant serving delicious cuisine, locals can provide valuable insights and help you discover hidden treasures.

Engage in Conversations

Strike up conversations with locals you meet along your journey. Sri Lankans are known for their friendliness and are often happy to converse with travellers. Whether chatting with a vendor at a local market or conversing with your homestay host, these interactions can offer unique perspectives and create memorable connections.

Respect Local Customs and Traditions

Respecting local customs and traditions is essential when interacting with locals in Sri Lanka. Be mindful of cultural norms, such as removing your shoes before entering religious sites or showing respect during religious ceremonies. Observing and understanding these customs will earn you respect and contribute to fostering positive interactions with the local community.

Interacting with locals in Sri Lanka can provide a deeper understanding of the country’s culture, traditions, and way of life. Embrace the opportunity to connect with friendly Sri Lankans, learn from their experiences, and create meaningful memories. You’ll undoubtedly forge connections that enrich your solo travel journey by approaching interactions with an open mind, curiosity, and respect.

Solo Travel Tips for Female Travelers

Travelling solo as a female can be a rewarding and empowering experience in Sri Lanka. While the country is generally safe and welcoming, taking certain precautions is essential to ensure a smooth and secure journey. Here are some subheadings that provide more details about travel tips for international solo female travellers in Sri Lanka:

Dress Modestly and Respect Local Customs

Sri Lanka is a conservative country, and female travellers should dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or conservative areas. Opt for clothing that covers your shoulders and knees to show respect for local customs and avoid unwanted attention. Carrying a scarf or shawl can be useful for covering up when needed.

Research and Plan Your Itinerary

Before embarking on your solo trip, research and plan your itinerary. Please familiarize yourself with the destinations you’ll visit, including their cultural practices and local customs. A well-thought-out plan will give you confidence and help you navigate the country more effectively.

Share Your Itinerary and Stay Connected

Share your travel itinerary with a trusted friend or family member back home. Provide them with details of your accommodation, transportation, and contact information. Regularly check in with them and keep them updated on your whereabouts. Staying connected will give you peace of mind and ensure someone knows your plans.

Choose Safe and Reputable Accommodations

When selecting accommodations, prioritize safety and choose reputable establishments. Look for accommodations with good reviews from other travellers, especially solo female travellers. Consider staying in well-known guesthouses, hostels, or hotels with a record of providing guests a safe and secure environment.

Avoid Isolated Areas at Night

While Sri Lanka is generally safe, avoiding isolated areas is advisable, especially at night. Stick to well-lit and busy areas, particularly when exploring unfamiliar places after dark. If you need more clarification about the safety of an area, seek advice from locals or your accommodation staff before venturing out.

Trust Your Instincts and Stay Vigilant

Trust your instincts and rely on your intuition throughout your journey. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself and seek assistance. Stay vigilant of your surroundings and be cautious of strangers who seem overly friendly or intrusive. It’s essential to balance being open to interactions and maintaining personal boundaries.

Seek Advice from Fellow Female Travelers

Take advantage of the knowledge and experiences of fellow female travellers who have visited Sri Lanka. Online travel communities, forums, and social media groups can be valuable resources for connecting with other solo female travellers and obtaining firsthand advice and recommendations.

When moving around Sri Lanka, opt for reliable and reputable transportation services. Use registered taxis or pre-booked transportation services rather than hitchhiking or accepting rides from strangers. If you choose to use tuk-tuks, ensure they are licensed and negotiate the fare in advance.

Be Mindful of Your Alcohol Consumption

If you choose to consume alcohol during your solo trip, do so responsibly. Excessive alcohol consumption can impair judgment and make you more vulnerable. Also, be cautious of accepting drinks from strangers, and always watch your drink to prevent tampering.

Connect with Other Travelers and Locals

Connecting with other travellers or seeking advice from locals can enhance your safety and overall experience. Engage in conversations with fellow female travellers you meet along the way, as they can provide valuable insights and tips. Locals can also offer guidance and recommendations while helping you navigate through the country.

Travelling solo as a female in Sri Lanka can be a transformative experience. You can have a safe and enjoyable journey by taking necessary precautions, being aware of your surroundings, and trusting your instincts. Embrace the opportunity to connect with the friendly Sri Lankan people, immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, and create unforgettable memories as you explore this beautiful island nation.

travel world sri lanka

Sustainable and Responsible Solo Travel

As a responsible solo traveller in Sri Lanka, you can minimize your environmental impact and contribute to preserving the country’s natural and cultural heritage. By adopting sustainable travel practices, you can ensure your journey enriches and benefits the local communities and ecosystems. Here are some subheadings that provide more details about sustainable and responsible solo travel in Sri Lanka:

Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations

When selecting accommodations, opt for eco-friendly options that prioritize sustainability. For example, look for hotels, guesthouses, or resorts implementing environmentally friendly practices, such as energy conservation, waste management, and water-saving initiatives. Supporting these establishments encourages responsible tourism and helps preserve Sri Lanka’s natural resources.

Support Local Businesses and Communities

One of the best ways to contribute to the local economy is by supporting local businesses and communities. Eat at local restaurants, shop at local markets, and engage in activities that directly benefit the local people. Doing so gives you authentic experiences, empowers local entrepreneurs, and contributes to the region’s socioeconomic development.

Respect the Environment and Wildlife

Sri Lanka is blessed with diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife. Therefore, respecting the environment and wildlife during your solo travels is crucial. Avoid littering, especially in natural areas and protected sites. Adhere to designated trails and follow guidelines set by national parks and wildlife reserves. Maintain a safe distance from animals and never engage in activities that may harm or disrupt their natural behaviour.

Practice Responsible Waste Management

Be mindful of your waste and practice responsible waste management throughout your journey. For example, refill a reusable water bottle to minimize plastic waste. Please dispose of your trash properly in designated bins or take it until you find suitable disposal facilities. Reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible to minimize your ecological footprint.

Engage in Community-Based Tourism

Participate in community-based tourism initiatives that provide direct benefits to local communities. Engaging in homestays, village tours, or cultural exchanges allows you to connect with the local people, learn about their traditions, and contribute directly to their livelihoods. These experiences foster cultural understanding and appreciation while supporting sustainable development.

Respect for local customs and traditions is essential when practising responsible solo travel. Familiarize yourself with the cultural norms and etiquettes of Sri Lanka, such as appropriate dress codes, behaviour in religious sites, and interactions with locals. Respect for local customs demonstrates cultural sensitivity and appreciation for the host community.

Conserve Water and Energy

Conserving water and energy is crucial for sustainable travel. Be mindful of your water usage, especially in areas where water is scarce. Take shorter showers, turn off lights and air conditioning when unnecessary, and use natural ventilation when possible. Small actions can make a significant difference in reducing your ecological footprint.

Learn About and Support Conservation Efforts

Take the time to learn about conservation efforts and initiatives in Sri Lanka. Support organizations and projects that preserve the country’s natural heritage, such as wildlife conservation, forest restoration, or marine protection. Consider volunteering or donating to these causes to contribute directly to conservation efforts.

Educate Yourself and Others

Continuously educate yourself about sustainable travel practices and share your knowledge with others. Encourage fellow travellers to be mindful of their environmental impact and promote responsible tourism. You can inspire others to make a positive difference by spreading awareness and advocating for sustainable travel.

Incorporating these sustainable and responsible travel practices into your solo journey can positively impact Sri Lanka’s environment, communities, and culture. Travel with a sense of responsibility and leave a legacy of conservation and appreciation for this beautiful destination.

1. Is Sri Lanka safe for solo travellers? Sri Lanka is generally safe for solo travellers, but it’s important to take common-sense safety precautions and stay vigilant.

2. When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka? The best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on the specific regions and activities you plan to engage in. Coastal areas are best visited from December to March, while the central highlands are ideal from April to September.

3. What are some must-visit destinations in Sri Lanka? Some must-visit destinations in Sri Lanka include Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Galle Fort, Nuwara Eliya, and Mirissa Beach.

4. What are the transportation options in Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka offers buses, trains, and tuk-tuks as transportation options. Buses and trains are affordable and allow you to interact with locals, while tuk-tuks provide convenience and flexibility.

5. How can female travellers ensure their safety in Sri Lanka? Female travellers in Sri Lanka should dress modestly, avoid isolated areas at night, and seek advice from fellow female travellers or locals. It’s important to exercise caution and follow common-sense safety practices.

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With eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites – from the jungle-ensnared Ancient City of Anuradhapura, to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve – there’s no shortage of things to do in Sri Lanka. Add to that list Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches, exotic wildlife and world-famous tea estates, and its allure becomes self-evident.

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Sri Lanka tourism soars in 2023 and growth expectation in 2024

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 Favorite

Sri Lanka

The year 2023 has proven to be a triumphant chapter for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, with a remarkable return to 1 million visitors by September and an anticipated total of 1.5 million visitors for the year.

Despite the economic challenges that loomed at the beginning of the year, including an economic downturn, dollar deficits, and commodity price hikes, Sri Lanka’s resilient government efficiently managed the situation, swiftly putting the nation back on its feet.

This positive turn of events has ushered in a reinvigorated tourism sector, with new airlines operating and improved airline connectivity. In September, a notable milestone was achieved as Sri Lanka welcomed its one millionth tourist arrival.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has demonstrated its competitive edge, especially when compared to regional counterparts such as the Maldives and India. The primary source markets driving this growth include the UK, Germany, France, and Russia. The positive trend continues, and Sri Lanka remains optimistic about surpassing its annual target of 1.5 million tourists by the year’s end.

At the World Travel Market (WTM), Sri Lanka is poised to unveil a new brand for tourism. “Check-in” campaigns have already begun, paving the way for a “thematic” campaign in 2024. The primary objective is to attract more visitors from key markets while championing sustainable tourism initiatives.

The Hon. Minister of Tourism, Harin Fernando, emphasized the paramount focus on creating a robust country brand through comprehensive rebranding, highlighting Sri Lanka’s unique assets. He expressed the importance of prioritizing key source markets through year-round digital and PR campaigns, with a particular emphasis on the UK.

The UK has traditionally been an important market for Sri Lanka, with British visitors drawn to the unique culture, historical sites, wildlife, diverse gastronomy, and tea plantations. Sri Lankan Airlines, the national carrier, is gearing up to expand its routes, connecting more UK cities and key destinations, providing travelers with convenient access to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has secured enhanced partnerships and collaborations in 2023, including country partner status with key travel associations such as ABTA and the ITAA, while maintaining a longstanding relationship with Antor. These affiliations strengthen Sri Lanka’s rapport with the UK travel trade and influential media outlets, further positioning Sri Lanka as a top travel destination. The country’s ongoing promotions and new initiatives aim to maintain a competitive edge and continue to attract visitors from around the world. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is poised for an exciting and prosperous 2024.

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The best ways to get around in Sri Lanka

Caterina Hrysomallis

Nov 4, 2023 • 6 min read

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Plan your travels around Sri Lanka with this guide to the country's network of trains, buses and roads © Max shen / Getty Images

Sri Lanka's landscape is impressively varied. Grand national parks are home to safari adventures, otherworldly coastlines circle the perimeter, and hilly tea country is at its heart.

With such versatility, there are many different transport options. It’s nearly impossible to define a singular "best" way to move around Sri Lanka . Rather, it depends on where you are, where you're headed and what you enjoy.

Domestic flight options are quite limited, which means the main contenders for transportation are trains, buses, tuk-tuks and private cars. We break down what you need to know about each.

Take a scenic train journey between major towns and cities

Sri Lanka's major cities and towns are extremely well-connected by train . Overall, it’s an easy, convenient and sustainable way to travel. Of course, sometimes the trains can be delayed – but isn’t that a risk almost everywhere? We suggest not giving in to cautionary calls on travel forums to avoid train travel due to delays, as you’ll absolutely be missing out. Trains offer some of the most efficient, relaxing and spectacular ways to get to a destination in Sri Lanka, plus they avoid pesky city traffic.

As the financial capital, Colombo is a transport hub from which trains spring off across the whole country. They travel east to the city of Kandy and down into Nuwara Eliya – a town in tea country. Northbound trains reach the cities of Anuradhapura and Jaffna .

Some train trips are so scenic, they’re an activity in themselves. The six-hour ride from Kandy to Ella , which weaves through seemingly endless tea fields, is right up there among the world’s best train routes . A recently renovated route from Colombo to the historical city of Galle conversely runs on the edge of the west coast, offering mesmeric views of the Indian Ocean.

There are three classes in Sri Lanka’s train system. First-class tickets might offer beds, otherwise, expect roomy seats with large windows that are perfect for gazing out of. You can reserve these seats, but don’t leave booking too late as they’re likely to sell out.

If you struggle with the heat, it’s worth knowing that first-class cabins are air-conditioned and second-class cabins usually have fans. First and second-class tickets are generally bookable from train station counters up to 30 days in advance. If you need a little more assistance, you can purchase these through a local travel agent. Third-class seats are not bookable, but first come, first served and those who do not get a seat will need to stand.

Colorful buses parked in a line

Where trains aren’t an option, look towards the buses

In Sri Lanka, buses fill the gaps train infrastructure can’t, connecting much of the country. There are both public and private buses to choose from.

If you have time to spare, are on a budget and do not experience motion sickness, public buses – that includes government-run Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and Central Transport Board (CTB) buses – are a good option. They are the most affordable transport option in Sri Lanka and, as such, there are no frills. They can be a wild ride – bumpy, often playing blaring music, with no air-con and the windows open.

If you experience motion sickness and are willing to pay a little more, opt for a private bus. They do vary in condition and age, however, they’re generally comfortable coaches or minibuses with air conditioning. Private buses provide more direct routes to attractions that are a little further away.

Tip for buying bus tickets:  Knowing where to find your bus and buy your tickets can sometimes be a scavenger hunt. At bus stations, there will most likely be an information office or desk where staff can guide you to the right departure point. If not, ask a local for help or check the destination signs on the fronts of the buses.

For both public and private buses, you usually pay the fare on board, either to the driver or the conductor. Some smaller private bus companies may sell tickets just outside the bus.

Take a tuk-tuk for short journeys

Tuk-tuks – motorized rickshaws – are a quintessential mode of transport, perfect for short distances. From major cities to small towns, you'll find tuk-tuks all over Sri Lanka. Discuss and agree the fare with the driver before you start your journey, then sit back to enjoy the open-air energy of your surroundings – especially the sounds and smells – unrivaled by any other form of transport.

Consider hiring a private car with a driver

The most convenient way of getting around Sri Lanka is by hiring a private driver. It allows you to have more control over designing a customized road trip itinerary .

The bonus with private drivers is the local knowledge they hold. You’ll be able to learn about Sri Lanka in a way you can’t necessarily on a larger tour. Some drivers will also recommend things to see , eat and do and perhaps take you to more hidden or local spots.

If you’re looking to hire a driver in advance, contact your accommodation for their local recommendations. Travel agencies will also be able to connect you with someone to suit your needs.

A young local man navigates his motorcycle up the single rural, uneven road in the small town of Deniyaya in Sri Lanka. The small road is surrounded by greenery.

Self-driving is not recommended

You can hire a car or a motorbike in Sri Lanka if you have an International Driving Permit, however it’s not a common choice for travelers. High traffic in cities and poor road quality in regional and rural areas mean it is safer for travelers to rely on public transport and local drivers, unless they are extremely confident and capable. If you are considering driving or hiring a motorbike, we’d recommend you do this in less traffic-dense areas.

Weather conditions can slow road travel

One thing to be mindful of is Sri Lanka’s two monsoon seasons . The northeast monsoon season is from September to March, while the southwest is from May to August. Heavy rain can slow down all kinds of travel, but especially road travel – posing a particular challenge to dirt roads, which might become full of puddles, washed out and unsafe to drive on. You’re better off relying on the trains during the monsoon seasons. The only trade-off is that some train windows are stubborn to close, so there’s a chance you might get a little wet.

It's also well worth researching whether your visit coincides with any festivals or days of significance. Certain places can see a major influx of visitors, increasing traffic on the roads and causing public transportation tickets to be in much more demand.

Accessible transport in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka continues to improve its accessibility, but the number of under-maintained roads and sidewalks without ramps pose challenges to travelers with reduced mobility. For wheelchair users, private cars and vans are the most suitable form of transport, given buses do not have wheelchair access – and only a very limited number of trains do. For additional information download Lonely Planet’s free Accessible Travel Guide .

This article was first published April 2021 and updated November 2023

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King Charles and Kate back home after surgeries

  • Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again later. More content below

King Charles III and Catherine, Princess of Wales, rested at their homes Monday after both left hospital following separate surgeries, in a double health scare for Britain's royal family.

Head-of-state Charles, 75, left the private London Clinic three days after undergoing prostate surgery.

The monarch, dressed in a suit and a black overcoat, waved to crowds as he and Queen Camilla, 76, emerged from the central London facility and got into a waiting car.

His departure came hours after Kensington Palace announced that his daughter-in-law Catherine -- whose husband is heir to the throne Prince William -- had also left the clinic after undergoing abdominal surgery earlier this month.

It is unclear when exactly the 42-year-old princess was discharged but her office said that she was making "good progress" at home at the start of a recuperation that could last months.

The pair's absence has created a frontline staffing shortage within the already slimmed-down monarchy, with William also postponing public engagements to be at his wife's side and Camilla left as the most visible working royal.

- Gratitude -

Charles, who became king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on September 8, 2022, has generally enjoyed good health, barring injuries from polo and skiing.

The palace announced on January 17 that he would have a "corrective procedure" for the benign enlarged prostate the following week, and he was admitted to the clinic last Friday.

In an update, it said Charles, who spent three nights at the hospital, had rescheduled forthcoming engagements "for a period of private recuperation".

It gave no update on his medical condition, although he was said to have been "doing well" at the weekend.

"His Majesty would like to thank the medical team and all those involved in supporting his hospital visit, and is grateful for all the kind messages he has received in recent days," a statement read.

Charles wanted to publicise his own case to raise awareness about the condition, which is common in men aged over 50 and affects urination.

Symptoms include a frequent need to go to the toilet and difficulty in fully emptying the bladder.

The announcement has prompted a surge in internet searches for the term "enlarged prostate" on the state-run National Health Service (NHS) website.

Catherine, meanwhile, was treated at the hospital nearly two weeks ago and has now returned home to Windsor, west of London, to continue her recovery, according to the Kensington Palace statement.

Kate and William sent a "huge thank you" to hospital staff, and said the family "continues to be grateful for the well wishes they have received from around the world".

At the time of her operation, Kensington Palace stressed that her condition was not linked to cancer, without elaborating.

- Tours scuppered? -

William, Charles's elder son, has postponed public engagements to be with his wife and to care for their three children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five, the palace said.

The surprise health threaten several overseas trips, according to media reports.

William and Kate had reportedly been set to travel to Rome in the coming months for their first joint overseas visit in two years.

There has also been speculation that Charles and Camilla would visit Australia this year.

Charles's sister, Princess Anne, 73, who recently went to Sri Lanka, is said to be ready to stand in for her brother at events in coming weeks.

The sudden shortage of senior working royals follows three years of upheaval.

Family patriarch Prince Philip died in 2021, then Queen Elizabeth II the following year.

Charles's younger son Prince Harry -- fifth in line to the throne -- and his wife Meghan quit their royal roles in early 2020 and relocated to California.

The elder of the king's two younger brothers, Prince Andrew, eighth in the line of succession behind William's three children and Harry's two, has also been sidelined.

That followed Andrew's disastrous handling of questions about his friendship with the convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and his decision to settle a US civil claim for sexual assault without admitting liability.

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Sri Lanka records lowest trade deficit in thirteen years in 2023

29 January 2024 04:50 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Full year deficit estimated at US$ 4.9 bn for 2023 compared to US$ 5.19 bn in 2022

The trade deficit or the negative balance resulting from trading merchandise goods between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world is estimated to have touched the lowest since 2010 due to sharply lower imports last year. According to the provisional data displayed by the Central Bank last week, Sri Lanka has exported goods valued at US$ 11.9 billion in the whole of 2023 while it has imported goods worth US$ 16.8 billion resulting in a deficit of US$ 4.9 billion in the trade account of the balance of payment in 2023.

This is in comparison to the US$ 5.19 billion deficit in 2022 and the US$ 8.14 billion deficit recorded in 2021, which was among many reasons for the economic predicament that followed in 2022. While the restrictions on imports first began in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic to preserve foreign currency in the wake of the loss of large-scale inflows from areas like tourism, such controls became more intensified in the second half of 2021.

This was the time when the country first started to feel the effects of the thinning foreign currency buffers by way of shortages in key commodities such as milk powder and the like which gave rise to an increase in their prices, due to big-ticket foreign loan repayments and higher imports amid rising global commodities prices led by oil put a severe strain on the balance of payment.

In 2021, Sri Lanka recorded an import bill of US$ 20.64 billion before it came down to US$ 18.29 billion in the following year due to a combination of policies aimed at suppressing imports to preserve the limited foreign currency. For instance, the officials brought in a slew of monetary, fiscal, and exchange policies aimed at containing demand in the economy, and thereby the demand for imports came in much lower in 2023 when their full effects were working their way through the economy.

However, as the economy is recovering from these policies as interest rates ease and the sentiments improve from their lowest levels, the officials expect a higher import bill and potentially a slightly higher trade deficit in 2024 which probably would be able to be offset by the strengthening services and current account inflows from tourism, remittances and other trade in services exports.

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