Srilanka – Things to know before you go!

Srilanka – Things to know before you go!
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Things to know before visiting Sri Lanka

If you are at the planning stages of your trip this article is exactly what you need. My blog will be really helpful for all the information needed regarding Sri Lanka through below topics:

  • Best way to reach Srilanka
  • Visa formalities
  • Best time to visit
  • Local currency
  • Widely spoken language
  • Expenses and Budgeting tips
  • Packing list for Sri lanka

How to get to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka being an island country, the best and easiest way to reach here is by flight.  Colombo International Airport is the main airport for the international travel. I always refer to skyscanner.net for the cheapest flight options available.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Weather is pretty complex despite the island’s small size and the weather in Sri Lanka will be different depending on which part of the island you’re visiting. The good news is  that Sri Lanka is a year-round destination. It can be visited at any time of the year as the weather here totally depends on the cities. Some cities are cold throughout the year like Kandy. In Colombo it is either hot or rainy. So the best way is to plan a visit according to the places of interest.

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/trains-srilanka/

When you travel from one city to another the world around you can change drastically. Simply moving 30 kms down the road can feel like you have traveled to the other side of the country. The weather in Sri lankan cities will rarely be dramatic as there are not many season changes. Do check the weather in different cities while booking your travel.

Visa for Srilanka

There is an update from August 2019 on the Srilankan visa system. Citizens of several countries can now obtain a FREE 30 Day visa on arrival  between 1 August 2019 and 30 January 2020.

You can either apply for Srilankan visa from their official website www.eta.gov.lk. Alternatively one can get the tourist visa for $30 for a stay up to 30 days.

There is also an option to apply and pay for your visa on arrival in Colombo. It is cheaper to do so online before landing and I personally prefer doing my visa before traveling to prevent any delays or issues on arrival at the airport.

Sri Lankan currency

Approx. rate of exchange to Srilankan currency is mentioned below for exact amount check: https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/

GBP: £1 = 220 r
USD: $1 = 176 r
EUR: €1 = 200 r

Sri Lankan language

Majority of population in Sri Lanka follow Buddhism. The official languages in Sri Lanka are Sinhalese and Tamil. English language is widely spoken and understood.

Health information

It is always advisable to take some precautions and measures to avoid any health issues while you are visiting another country.

Make sure to go through the advisories issued by the government. I advise to check online about any warning issued or any current disease prevailing in the region.

The CDC and WHO recommends some necessary vaccines for Sri Lanka like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid. A travel insurance comes in must while visiting Sri lanka.

Expenses in Srilanka

Sri Lanka was the best country for budget travelling that I have ever visited. Even I was surprised at how little I needed to spend there. Lets have a look at typical expenses in Srilanka.

Accommodation 

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that offer accommodation for all budgets. It has Dorm rooms, home stays, private rooms in 5* hotels and villas in luxurious resorts. There are lovely water facing properties which are decently priced in off season.

Dorm rooms’ average at 20 USD per night but you can expect to get a double or twin room for twice that price.

A double room in a decent guest house or homestay starts from approximately 35 USD.

A luxury resort accommodation with a pool or beach view is priced at around 100 USD.

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/resorts-in-srilanka/

Transportation 

Public transport in Sri lanka is really cheap. Buses and trains are a cheap option to travel around with most journeys costing less than 12 USD. Presuming you are taking public transport then your transportation costs are going to be next to nothing.

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/transport-in-srilanka/

One can also take intercity private taxi for around 300 USD or pre book it for the entire trip.

Food in Srilanka

Being a vegetarian I enjoyed eating local food. There are many types of vegetarian dishes to try in Srilanka which are pocket friendly. Most meals will cost you anything less than 15 USD.

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/dosa/

For non-vegetarian food you can expect to pay around 25 USD. For a more Western meal, the cost goes higher. There are not many international food joints in small cities so its better to get familiar with local vegetarian cuisine.

A veg curry with rice is about 8 USD where as a Masala dosa is around 5-7 USD.

Local excursions

Prices for attractions range from extremely high to free. For example for the safaris in Yala you can expect to pay around 300 USD. The Lion’s Rock in Sigiriya one pays around 150 USD.

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/lionrock/

Sri Lanka does have some amazing temples and parks for free to visit for tourists.

Climbs like Ella Rock or Adam’s Peak are free to enter and can be an amazing experience during your time in Sri Lanka.

Shopping

Srilanka is a hub for garments trading. Srilanka has everything from beautiful sarees to good quality party wear dresses and day to day clothes.Some of my favourite shopping destinations were  House of fashions, Uptown – Liberty plaza and odel.  House of fashions is one of the good places to shop from without being really pricey.

Travel around in Sri Lanka

The best way to explore the country is to hire a local taxi and driver. All good hotels have accommodation and parking facilities for accompanying drivers, so during your trip you need not to worry that where the driver will stay or park.

One can also commute through buses and trains that majorly includes routes like Negambo, Galle and there also a direct route to Colombo to Kandy. One can also take tuk-tuk to travel within the city.

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/tuktuk-srilanka/

For budget travelers, I suggest you use local transport where ever possible. Make sure to check train timings before at least one day before so that you don’t miss the train.

The trains are generally crowded in Sri Lanka. I suggest you take at least a second class ticket if not first class while traveling on the train.

While traveling on a local bus, get a ticket for an additional seat if you have luggage with you. Lock your bags for sure while using public transport as a precautionary measure.

Another misconception of Sri Lanka, is that it will be quick and easy to get around. It may be an island but roads are narrow and trains run slowly. It takes time to get around Sri Lanka. Don’t make the mistake of trying too much in especially on your first trip to Sri Lanka. A few kilometers may easily take an hour or so.

What to Pack for Srilanka

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/srilanka-travel-guide/

As I mentioned earlier there are not many season changes in Srilanka but weather is different in different cities. For example hill stations like Kandy and Nuwara Iliya are colder as compared to Colombo. Below are some essentials that you must pack while visiting Srilanka.

Clothes

You must have warm clothes for the colder highlands. Incase you are majorly planning to stay around Hill stations. As the temperature varies in different places cotton clothing too is very essential while visiting any tropical country.

I also recommend carrying white covered clothes for the temple visits. Though there is no strict rule but Buddhist temples are to be visited in white clothes. I realized it while I visited tooth relic temple, all people were in white dresses. My driver told me all Srilankans wear white clothes while going temple as white symbolizes purity.

Beach clothes

Since you are visiting an island with lovely beaches, beach clothes are essential to pack. Srilankan beaches generally have high tides. Unless you are a good swimmer don’t get close to the water but you can of course have a tan on the tides

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/beachin-srilanka/

Mosquito repellent

There are lots of mosquitoes in Srilanka and they are more in the evening as compared to day time. The foremost thing to carry is a mosquito repellent to avoid any strange sting to welcome you.

Travel Sunscreen

Srilanka has some of the beautiful beaches. One can relax or surf based on the preference. Most of the excursions are open air too. Sun is not good for long hours but at times it’s unavoidable. Keep sunscreen handy in case you do not want to see yourself tanned.

Hand Sanitize

It is a country that has an abundance of wildlife, from monkeys in the cities, to elephants in the nature parks. It is a nation of people so friendly and welcoming. Moving from one town or city to another through public transport you will not find restrooms easily. All these places you will require a hand sanitize to maintain the hygiene.

Fold able water bottle

This is a must pack thing especially if you are travelling to Srilanka with kids. Outside or tap water is not suitable to drink. So water is to be bought every time you need it other then the complimentary water from the hotel. Being a tropical country one gets thirsty very often in Srilanka. Make sure to carry a water bottle with you wherever you go in case there are no shops selling mineral water nearby. A fold able one is recommended so that it doesn’t  feel heavy in the bag.

Sun glasses & Hat

When its sunny in Srilanka its pretty Sunny. Its always good to have eye shades and a hat to save you from UV rays during the days.

https://www.outdoorswithnaina.com/srilanka-things-to-know-before-you-go/srilanka-travel-tips/

 

Sri Lanka may look pretty small on the map, but it offers a lot of great things to do. Sri Lanka has something for everyone whether it’s the gorgeous beaches, Wildlife parks, stunning hill stations, beautiful countryside or the culture.It’s a place which is turning up on more and more people’s travel bucket list and it’s easy to see why.

Hope you found information in my blog useful to plan your trip to Srilanka. Please share it with your friends and let me know if you have any feedback or you want me to write on any specific topic related to Srilanka.

Cheers!!

Naina

A wanderlust follower who believes travel broadens your horizons. I love to explore new places & beauty of nature as it fuels life into my soul.

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