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Updated by Hiru Piumwardena on Jul 12, 2019
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10 Useful Tips for Visiting Sri Lanka during Your Next Holiday

This beautiful little island just off the tip of the Indian Subcontinent is a famed tourist destination unlike any other. It’s a wonderful destination for a family trip, a solo jaunt or a fun vacay with your friends. If this is your first time visiting, you might want to consider a few tips:

1

Know Your Destinations

Sri Lanka has a little bit of everything: ancient ruins, tropical jungles, arid plains, mountain hikes, skyscrapers & night life, surfing and other beach sports – the works. You need to do your research beforehand and lock down where you want to go or you’ll waste precious time being side tracked by more things to see than you’ve time for.

2

Travel and Transport

The best way to get around is to hire a car & driver if you can afford it or you can take public transport. The trains run through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country but tickets can be hard to get; buses are easier but insanely crowded. It’s all part of the experience though, so try to enjoy as much as possible.

3

Budget Control

The best thing about Sri Lanka is that you can do the budget route if you want with plenty of B&Bs, cheap transports & places to eat or splash out and go full luxury. Decide early what you’d like and book your accommodation, travel routes and plans accordingly. That way, there won’t be any surprises once you land.

4

Time to Relax

For your first time, don’t rush it – take things slow & easy. Book yourself a peaceful resort somewhere in the hills, simply breathe in the crisp air and soak up the gentle sunlight. Hang out at a beach and surf till your hair is stiff with salt spray. Hire a scooter and explore the paddy fields of the local villages. Have a meal of rice & curry with your fingers.

5

Indigenous Culture

The best Ayurveda hotel in Sri Lanka will offer a full consultation, a customized exercise, diet and treatment plan plus yoga sessions to help you feel rejuvenated. Don’t miss this unique Sri Lankan experience! You can find Ayurvedic practitioners in many luxury hotels as well as in government funded or privately run hospitals.

6

Spicy Life

Food is the most important thing to try in Sri Lanka. Kottu is a no-miss rotti-like street food available after 6pm. Most Sri Lankan food is spicy with chilli used liberally so if you aren’t a big fan, ask the restaurants, cafes and hotels to go easy on it; most places will accommodate you. But half the fun is daring each other to try all the various dishes so bon appetite!

7

Pack for the Weather

Sri Lankan weather can be crazy, with rain, shine & wind all happening on the same day. Bring water-proof shoes, a windbreaker or jacket and invest in a raincoat – or get an umbrella. The forecast helps you plan for long trips but it’s not always reliable because weather conditions are different from city to city, as you’ll find out when you travel around.

8

Sun Protection

Never go anywhere without applying sun screen in Sri Lanka. Even on cloudy days the sun will burn you and tanning is not an excuse for you to go bare skin. Avoid being outside from 10AM to 3PM when the sun is the hottest, or wear cotton, long sleeved tops to prevent burning.

9

Safety First

Sri Lanka is a friendly country, but it’s always good to be safe. Avoid being out after dark except in cities and keep firm hold of your luggage. Don’t trust the various ‘guides’ who offer deals & discounts – they are working on commission. Always keep someone informed of your whereabouts because cell reception can sketchy here & there. And of course, get all the vaccinations necessary before flying down.

10

Retail Therapy

Designated souvenir shops can be a bit pricey but those with the local tourist license are reliable. Watch out for the little tourist traps everywhere because they will quote exorbitant prices that you will have to bargain down. Try & leave the majority of your shopping for the end, when you can do a quick round of the shops in a city & get everything you need in one go.