You can make a trip to Sri Lanka into any type of holiday you want – beaches, cultural experiences, hiking, safari. A lot of what you end up doing will depend on the season – the great thing about Sri Lanka is that you can visit at any time of year and you will be able to get good weather somewhere! Use this website to determine the best areas to visit by selecting the month you’ll be there.
To do the island justice, and to enjoy all it has to offer, you should plan to stay at least two weeks (but to do it thoroughly, 4 weeks is better!)
A few pre-departure tips to take out some of the hard work:
- British and Australian plugs work here! We brought adaptors but didn’t need them as their sockets fit multiple styles (almost everywhere!)
- Visit your doctor or a travel clinic 2 months before departure to check what vaccinations you might need
- Bring sunscreen and tampons if needed – they can be tricky to find sometimes
- Bring insect repellent – while Malaria risk is very minimal, Dengue fever is around (it tends to be caught by mosquitos biting through the day – if you do get any fevers whilst in Sri Lanka go to A&E / a hospital for a blood test)
- There are some glorious train rides, so try and take one if you can but do book in advance (more than the day before)! Second class has open windows and is the better experience from all accounts. Reservation Method: Visiting Railway Stations from 30 days before the date of the journey. Visit this website for more
- Both bargaining and tipping (about 10%) are appropriate
- Get a visa online and make sure your passport has validity 6 months past your arrival date
- Zebra crossings do not necessarily mean cars will stop
- Self-drive, whilst possible, is very difficult – so it’s best to get around by train, bus or with a driver (each hotel will happily organise a transfer on to your next destination once you’re there, or alternatively if you’re moving a lot consider having a driver with you, lots of the hotels offer accomodation from drivers)
- If you have time between flights etc. stay in Negombo, which is a beach town close to the airport. Beach isn’t amazing but it’s become a fun town.
- Check out Yamu.lk for good reviews on food places. It’s run by Sri Lankans so is more authentic.
- Women, if alone, just be a little bit mindful of where you are, you may get a little bit of unwanted attention but generally nothing sinister. Out of respect for the locals, don’t do things like walk down the street in your bikini.
FOOD IN SRI LANKA
Now for some insights into the food! This list was started by a lovely Scottish couple we met (and fell in love with!).
- Hoppers – basically this is a fermented rice pancake shaped like a bowl – sounds ridiculous but is very special. Generally eaten for breakfast. Try and get a Jaggery hopper (sweet), they are amazing but can be hard to find.
- Kottu – chopped up rotti! Used in stir-fry sort of dishes
- Pol roti – flat bread made with coconut
- Kiribath – savoury breakfast dish (milk rice)
- String Hoppers – noodles that have been made from the Hoppers batter, usually eaten with curry
- Pittu – coconut and ground rice steamed, again usually eaten with curry
- Dried fish curry (Karola) – it’s pungent but tastes great if you like that kind of thing
- Pol sambol and lunu miris – you’ll get these condiments with a lot of the breakfast dishes – they are fab we had coconut and onion ones
- Curd – it’s buffalo yogurt and its eaten with cane sugar
- Woodapple juice (it shouldn’t be too sweet)
- King coconut – Sri Lankan version of coconut water that’s slightly sweeter than the normal stuff you get and it’s an orange coconut
Our trip to Sri Lanka was for a month. We tried to balance seeing a lot, whilst not moving around too much. We wanted to be able to unpack, and really settle in to each location, exploring at a slower pace than usual. Out Itinerary was as follows (also mapped out below):
- Landed in Colombo, drove to Galle
- Stayed just outside Galle at Kaju Green Eco Lodge for 3 nights
- Drove to Tangalle, stayed at Sen Wellness Retreatfor 5 nights
- Drove to Arugam Bay, stayed here for 8 nights (extended from 6)
- Drove to Nilaveli, stayed here for 5 nights
- Drove to The Cultural Triangle, stayed in Sigiriya for 4 nights
- Drove to Kandy, stayed just outside at The Hermitage by Edwards Collection Hotel for 3 nights
- Drove to Colombo and departed from there (would recommend 2 nights / 2 days here)