Sri Lanka: detailed travel guide

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Sri Lanka: detailed travel guide

Sri Lanka is a small island state located in South Asia near the Indian subcontinent. The country received its modern official name – the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972. Previously, the state was known as Ceylon. The official capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. In fact, the capital functions are performed by the largest city in the country – Colombo.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

The population of Sri Lanka is 21.6 million inhabitants. Sinhalese and Tamils ​​dominate among the nationalities. The most common religion is Buddhism, which is followed by the majority of Sinhalese. In addition, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are widespread in the country. The form of government in Sri Lanka is a semi-presidential republic. Administratively, the country is divided into 9 provinces – Central, North-Central, North, North-West, West, South, East, as well as the provinces of Sabaragamuwa and Uva.

The main sectors of the economy are agriculture, textiles and precious stones. The tourism industry has been gaining momentum lately. The most popular holiday destinations in Sri Lanka are the resorts of Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Wadduwa, Beruwela and Kalutara.

The most developed sport is cricket. The state pursues an active foreign policy, Sri Lanka is a member of well-known international organizations – the UN (United Nations), IMF (International Monetary Fund), ADB (Asian Development Bank) and others.

Climate and weather in Sri Lanka

The climate in Sri Lanka is warm and humid. The temperature is very even, without sharp fluctuations throughout the year. The difference between the warmest and coldest months is only 2-3 degrees Celsius. The average monthly temperature usually does not exceed 30 degrees. The seasons here differ in the amount of precipitation. Most of the rain falls in summer. The coastal regions of Sri Lanka are the most comfortable for living. In large cities located inland, the weather is hot and humid. The average water temperature in the Indian Ocean around the country is 27 ° C, it differs from the air temperature by only a couple of degrees.

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa

Cooler temperatures can be found in the mountainous regions of Sri Lanka. The town of Nuwara Eliya is located at 1884 meters above sea level. The local average annual temperature is 18 ° C. In cold weather at night, the thermometer can drop to an unprecedented level in Sri Lanka of 10 ° C. Such “frost” forces the owners of local hotels and hotels to use heating devices, which are turned on in the evening and at night. It will be useful and pleasant for tourists to know that it usually rains in Sri Lanka at night. Therefore, rest at the resort should not be overshadowed by precipitation. An even and favorable climate throughout the year allows vacationers not to think about choosing a month for a vacation in Ceylon. Here locals and tourists feel comfortable at any time of the year.

The rainy season in Sri Lanka

It is quite difficult to understand how the climate in Sri Lanka is changing famously the first time, so you need to be careful with its features. The island is dominated by an equatorial climate, a distinctive feature of which is the division into two seasons: dry and rainy.

Beach in Sri Lanka

Beach in Sri Lanka

In addition, the Central Mountain Range rises in the middle of the island, creating a “rain shadow” for the southwestern part of Sri Lanka. This is the so-called “wet zone” of the island, where the southwestern monsoons go from May to September. They are formed in the Arabian Sea and a large wall of warm humid air is moving towards the island. At the same time, due to the mountain range in the rest of the country (and this is three quarters of the island) at this time it is more or less dry. These three quarters are in the eastern and northern parts of the country, where the average annual precipitation is 1200–1800 mm. For comparison, in the southwest this figure is much higher – from 2540 to 5080 mm per year.

The north and east of the country are influenced by the northeastern monsoons, which prevail here from November to February. Most of the cyclones that form in the Bay of Bengal hit Bangladesh and the coast of India, but Sri Lanka also sometimes gets it, even despite some distance.

The rainy season in Sri Lanka is characterized by heavy and short (about 15 minutes) showers, most often at night. The main disadvantage for vacationers in such a situation is the strong wind, which forms large waves in the ocean, so it is better to part with dreams of a calm and safe swimming at this time.

The winter and autumn months on the island are characterized as inter-monsoon periods, when there are no heavy monsoon rains, but at the same time the so-called “zenital rains” often occur in the equatorial regions. Thus, the best time to relax in the tourist-attractive south-west is winter, and, accordingly, in the north and east – summer.

Cities and regions

Provinces of Sri Lanka

  • Central
  • North-Central
  • Northeastern
  • North
  • Sabaragamuwa
  • South
  • Uva
  • Western

Sri Lanka cities

There are many cities and towns in Sri Lanka. Below is information about the cities most interesting for tourists.

Colombo

Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka, which is actually the capital of the country, located in the Western province of the state. Colombo is the center of business, trade and culture. The population of the city is 740 thousand inhabitants, and the agglomeration (together with the suburbs, including the formal capital of Sri Jayawardenepura Kote) – 2 million 250 thousand inhabitants. In Colombo, industry and high-tech manufacturing are booming. The local port is one of the largest in the Asian region.

Interestingly, many areas have a specific professional focus. This division has arisen since ancient times. In Colombo there is an area of ​​artisans, poor people, merchants, etc. Of course, today such a classification is gradually becoming obsolete, but it is still largely relevant. A large international airport is located 30 kilometers from Colombo. The city is culturally and religiously developed – it has its own university, observatory, religious institutions for various confessions.

The tourist center is located in the northern part of the city – Fort. Hotels, hotels, shops, restaurants and other entertainment establishments are concentrated here. The main attractions of the city are Galle Face Green Park, National Museum, Museum of Local Lore, Presidential Palace and Independence Square. In the suburb of Komlombo, you can visit one of the largest zoos on the continent – Dehiwala Zoo.

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is the regional center of the North-Central Province of Sri Lanka. The city is named after its founder, the Indian prince Anuradha. Population – 50,000 inhabitants. The most developed economic sectors are agriculture and handicrafts. The air temperature is warm and favorable throughout the year, the climate is characterized by high humidity. The city is famous for its sights: in Anuradhapura, the remains of ancient temples, monasteries and other cultural monuments have been preserved. Among the most famous sites are the Ruanveli and Thuparama stupas, the Abhayagiri and Isurumuniya monasteries, and the famous Aukana Buddha statue located near the city.

Kandy

Botanical Garden in Kandy

Botanical Garden in Kandy

Kandy is one of the oldest Sri Lankan cities. It is located in the central part of the country. The city was formerly known as Senkadagalapura. The population of Kandy is more than 150 thousand people. The city is one of the sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and in the past it was the capital of ancient Ceylon. The most significant cultural monument is the Dalada Maligawa Temple. The Sacred Tooth of Buddha is located here, and this famous artifact has become a pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Every year, Kandy becomes the site of the popular Esala Peraher festival, at which time the famous relic is brought to the public. For ten nights in a row, a procession with the participation of elephants takes place in the streets, accompanied by ethnic music, fakirs and other local attributes. The suburb of Kandy is home to the largest botanical garden on the continent. It contains many rare species of tropical plants. In the vicinity of Kandy, there is a unique Spice Garden.

Negombo

Negombo is a small town located 40 kilometers from Colombo. The resort has a nickname “Little Rome”. The fact is that Negombo is the unofficial center of Christianity in Sri Lanka. The city is quite developed, shops, restaurants, rental offices and other services are literally on every corner. Local beaches are deserted, so they are popular with lovers of a quiet and relaxing holiday. True, most tourists use Negombo only as a transit point for a day or two, and then head to other resorts. Nevertheless, the city has a lot to offer and show to holidaymakers. The most popular pastime is fishing. Local villages have long been famous for their fishing. The most significant sights are the remains of a Dutch fort and a Buddhist temple in Kelaniya, which is 10 kilometers from Negombo.

Sri Lanka Resorts

Sri Lanka is an island where people go to rest all year round. Beach holidays, swimming in the Indian Ocean, trips to exotic places, complete relaxation, meetings that will be remembered forever, authentic village life, age-old traditions – one way or another, this is what is expected of the island.

The main question that tourists who are going on vacation to Sri Lanka ask themselves is which resort to choose? Indeed, there are many good places here, each with its own character and flavor. So, Hikkaduwa gathers surfers, divers and young people on its beaches. Bentota is focused on demanding tourists, Kogalla – on independent and on those who have arrived for the “wintering”, etc.

The best resorts in Sri Lanka are described below. Additionally, you can read about Sri Lankan beaches.

Bentota

Bentota is a popular beach resort in Sri Lanka. This romantic destination is popular with young families and adventure seekers. To services of tourists – a full range of services designed for any budget. The resort will appeal to fans of outdoor activities: the most popular Ceylon water entertainment center “Confifi Marina” is located here. Vacationers will be able to ride a boat, water ski, scooter or dive. The club also organizes excursions and boat trips.

Beruwela

Mackwoods tea plantations

Mackwoods tea plantations

Beruwela is a resort located in the south-west of the country, not far from Colombo. This place will appeal to tourists who prefer a beach holiday. However, lovers of a more active lifestyle also find something to entertain themselves. Large hotels have sports facilities – golf courses, tennis courts, and traditional water activities on the beaches. Along the coastline of the resort, there are several hotels of different classes for people with different income levels. The main attraction of Beruveli is the ancient Kechimalai mosque, to which thousands of Muslims from all over the world make pilgrimages every year.

Wadduwa

Wadduwa is another Ceylon resort located near Colombo. The visiting card of this place is gorgeous coconut trees and amazing sandy beaches. The resort has a developed infrastructure. A large number of hotels, shops, restaurants and cafes are concentrated here. There is a popular diving center on Wadduwa. Diving enthusiasts will be able to fully appreciate the beauty of the local ocean depths. Just a few kilometers away is another resort town – Kalutara, famous for the Buddhist temple Gangatilaka Vihara.

Kalutara

Kalutara is a resort town on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. For centuries, the resort has been famous for its spices and spices. Little Kalutara during her history had a chance to be under the yoke of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialists. Nevertheless, today the place has become one of the most modern and dynamically developing Sri Lankan resorts. The local brand name is delicious and juicy tropical fruits that are stacked in baskets created by local craftsmen using their own method. However, the famous Kalutar spices are still respected all over the world. The main attractions of the resort are the Gangatilaka Vihara Stupa and the February Navam parade.

Kogalla

Kogalla is a small but famous Ceylon resort. The relative distance from civilization (more than 100 kilometers to Colombo) attracts tourists here who dream of taking a break from the hustle and bustle of large cities. On the other hand, Kogall has all the necessary infrastructure, including golf courses, diving centers, tennis courts and other entertainment. Not far from the resort is the town of Polonnaruwa. It is known for the fact that the remains of the legendary palace of the state of the ancient Sinhalese have survived on its territory. Other historical monuments include the Watadage Temple and giant Buddha statues carved into the rocks.

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is a famous resort in the mountains of Sri Lanka. The place is known as one of the few cool islands in sultry South Asia. Numerous local waterfalls are popular with tourists. Other attractions worth noting are the extraordinary architecture of local buildings in the British style. The main places for recreation are the magnificent modern golf complex, Victoria Park, the picturesque Lake Gregory and the racetrack, where horse races take place every spring.

Mount Lavinia

Horton Plain

Horton Plain

Mount Lavinia is a popular Sri Lankan resort located just a few kilometers from the country’s capital. The place is a fairly large commercial, industrial and economic center. The population of the city is 155 thousand inhabitants. Tourists especially note the local wide sandy beaches. The resort has several modern hotels. The main attractions are the Dehiwela Zoo, which is home to more than 300 species of animals and the giant Bolgoda Lake with a rich flora and fauna.

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa is a resort town located in the south of Sri Lanka. This city is considered a Mecca for diving. Unusually beautiful local coral reefs and other inhabitants of the underwater world attract tourists from all over the world. Coral became the unofficial emblem of the city. In addition, there is a coral reserve in the city. Other attractions include a Buddhist temple and a large, beautiful lake.

What to see in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka’s attractions abound in variety. The island is home to a huge variety of cultural sites, nine of which in 1978 were included in the UNESCO program for the restoration and conservation of ancient monuments. All the most significant sights of the island are located in the so-called “cultural triangle” – the territory between Anuradhapura (the ancient northern capital), Polonnaruwa (the eastern capital of the country) and Kandy (the capital of the last independent Sinhalese state in the center of the island).

Anuradhapura

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa

The ancient city of Anuradhapura is located 200 kilometers from Colombo. Archaeologists believe that this settlement was founded in the 5th century BC. e. Anuradhapura is an object of not only cultural but also religious heritage. The Bo tree and the seven dagobas are considered one of the main shrines in the Buddhist world. According to legend, the Bo-Tree is an appendage of the Budha Goya tree, which is known for the fact that it was under it that the Buddha’s epiphany took place. Dagobas are a place where the holy relics of Buddha are kept, or they were built in honor of significant historical events. The most famous is the Ruvanovelli stupa or the Great Stupa. The diameter of the base of this structure is over 80 meters. It is known that it was built in the 2nd century BC. e.

Mikhintale

The small town of Mihintale is located just a few kilometers from Anuradhapura. The place is remembered by the fact that here, for the first time in Sri Lanka, missionaries who preached Buddhism appeared. Mount Mahinda is named after the first Buddhist preacher on the island. A staircase of 1,840 steps leads to a whole complex of various structures. Among them are a stupa with the relics of Mahinda, a statue of Buddha and a stupa with a Buddhist temple functioning in our time.

Polonnaruwa

The city of Polonnaruwa is famous for being the capital of Sri Lanka in the Middle Ages. There is a whole complex of ruins of ancient temples, palaces and other structures. The most significant attraction is the Gal Vihara Temple. Of particular interest are the Buddha statues carved right into the rock. All four monuments are captured in different poses and look very natural. In addition, there are many other attractions in the city. Among them are the Archaeological Museum, the Parakramabahu Sea, the South Monastery, the Parakramabahu Garden, the Nissankamalla Council of Ministers Building and the huge complex – the Ancient City.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a legendary historical complex located on a high cliff. The main attraction is a unique giant gallery with frescoes depicting naked girls. The scale of the paintings amazes the imagination – the Sigirian motifs are located in a space 140 meters long and 40 meters high. From another cultural monument – a giant rock image of a lion above the “Sigiriya gate”, only the lower part with the paws of the beast has been preserved.

Dambulla

Dambulla

Dambulla

Not far from Sigiriya there is a popular place among tourists – Dambulla. Vacationers from all over the world come here to see the legendary cave temple. It contains a huge collection of Buddha statues, as well as a panorama of frescoes depicting the main moments of the life of the great prophet. The temple consists of 5 grottoes – Devarajalena, Maharajalena, Maha Alut Viharaya, Pachchim Viharaya and Devan Alut Viharaya.

Aluvihara

The famous Temple of Aluvihara is located 30 kilometers from Kandy. Originally it consisted of 13 caves, some of which have survived to this day. Each of the grottoes has its own special purpose. According to an old legend, for example, the Aloka Vihara cave was illuminated by the gods and is the abode of the god Shakra.

Aukana Buddha

The statue of Aukana Buddha is one of the most beautiful monuments to the enlightened one in the world. Aukana is located 50 kilometers from the ancient capital – Anuradhapura. Experts note the naturalism and perfectly preserved proportions of the sculpture. And this is despite the rather big size – the height of the monument reaches 13 meters.

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Gardens are located a few kilometers from Kandy. It contains a huge number of representatives of the flora. The botanical garden is considered to be one of the best on the continent. More than 750 species are presented in the collection of indoor flowers alone, and there are almost 100 species of decorative orchids. Interesting and a kind of “walk of fame”, consisting of trees that were planted by famous people. Our compatriots, Emperor Nicholas II and the world’s first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, also managed to be noted in this matter. In addition to plants, representatives of the animal world have also chosen the garden. Monkeys and flying foxes can be found everywhere.

Elephant nursery

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

In 1979, an elephant nursery was opened in Pinavelle. Little elephants are looked after here. When young individuals grow up, they are sent to jobs that require enormous physical strength or to zoos for adult elephants. The best time to visit the nursery is during feeding. You can watch the elephants being fed milk straight from the bottle at close range.

Trincomalee

The city is located in the northeast of Sri Lanka. Trincomalee is known for the fact that it was the base of the British fleet until the 50s of the last century. Today the city attracts tourists with many attractions – a seaport, hot springs, a coral island, a naval museum. Interestingly, spiritually, the place has become a stumbling block for Hindus and Buddhists. The fact is that in the vicinity of Trincomalee there are objects of value for the representatives of these two religions – the Buddhist temple of Giri Kanda and the Hindu Koneswaram Kovil. Thus, in the area there are quite strong contradictions between the Sinhalese professing Buddhism and the Tamils ​​adhering to the Hindu religion.

Batticaloa

In this place in the east of Sri Lanka, you can witness a unique spectacle – the “performance” of singing fish. From mid-spring to early autumn, the marine life arranges unique concerts. True, you can hear the “concert” only in calm and calm weather – the sound is very much muffled by the water. The city of Batticaloa is also famous for its unique architectural structure – the Dutch port, built in the 17th century.

Arugam Bay

It is immensely popular with water sports enthusiasts coming to Arugam Bay from all over the world. The sports season here begins in spring and lasts until late autumn. Every year Arugam Bay hosts the World Surfing Championship. At this time, the best surfers from different countries come to the island. In addition, the diverse flora and fauna of the underwater world of the bay attracts diving and snorkelers.

Hakgala Botanical Garden

A few kilometers from Nuwara Eliya in 1860, the Hakgala Botanical Garden was created, which is still popular with tourists. In this place, you can see very exotic tree species – English oak, cypress, camphor tree and others. The local collection of ferns and orchids is especially colorful. In the garden itself you can find not only unique plants, but also rare animals. Most of all tourists admire the funny bearded monkeys.

Horton Plateau

Horton Plains

Horton Plains

The Horton Plateau has become home to exotic insects, birds and plants. But the main attraction is the animals – jackals, leopards, deer, roe deer and monkeys. Even elephants used to live here. In addition, the Horton Plateau is known for its multi-meter vertical cliff with the symbolic name “End of the World”. It offers stunning views of the ocean and surroundings.

Adam’s Peak

Mount Adam is one of the highest in Sri Lanka, its height is 2240 meters. Many legends are associated with this place. Adam’s Peak is considered sacred to all major religions – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. There is a footprint on the top of the mountain, which is similar in shape to a human, but its length (160 centimeters) makes one doubt that the footprint was really left by one of the people. Someone considers this imprint to be just a unique natural phenomenon, someone proves the version of falsification, and someone sincerely believes that the imprint was left by the first person on Earth. One way or another, in order to touch the lips to the artifact, thousands of representatives of various religions travel to Sri Lanka every year.

Tea plantations

Ceylon tea has been known since ancient times for its taste. Long traditions and recipes are preserved in the modern production of this wonderful drink. Today Sri Lanka ranks first in the world in the export of tea. Plantations are located in the central part of the country. You can visit them during excursions, see with your own eyes how the famous Ceylon drink is grown and even taste a cup of real local tea.

National parks

While vacationing in Sri Lanka, you can visit natural parks with unique flora and fauna. Protected and park areas make up almost 15% of the country’s territory. Going on such excursions, you can see elephants, leopards, peacocks, pelicans and other exotic animals.

National parks of Sri Lanka: Mineriya, Sinharaja, Bundala, Yalla, Udawalawe, Vilpatu, Vasgamuva.

Waterfalls

The mountainous Sri Lankan rivers are famous for their waterfalls. There are more than 100 waterfalls in Sri Lanka. The most famous are the Veil of the Bride and Bambarakanda. The first one is over 212 meters high and is one of the highest single-jet waterfalls on the planet, and the second, with a height of 241 meters, is the highest waterfall on the island.

Pigeon Island

Safari in Yala

Safari in Yala

Coral Island Pigeon is one of the main natural attractions of Sri Lanka. It is located near the town of Trincomalee. On one side of the island there is a unique white coral beach, and on the other – a coral reef line. Pigeon Island is uninhabited, there is no infrastructure, but tourists can be found here during the daytime. Hotels nearby offer speedboat or boat rental to Pigeon.

Turtle farm

In the small Sri Lankan town of Kosgoda, there is a unique turtle farm. Turtles in Sri Lanka are on the verge of extinction, so the country has adopted a state program to protect these animals. Within the framework of this project, several nurseries were created for representatives of an endangered species. In Kosgoda, young individuals are raised and adults are treated. When the turtles are fully prepared for independent life, they are released into the wild. In the nursery, you can watch these unique animals, get acquainted with different species and watch the process of their “growing”.

Sinharaja rain forest

Sinharaja rainforest is one of the few remaining on Earth. Among the wild thickets of ferns, lianas and horsetails, there are several species of animals that cannot be found elsewhere on our planet. The jungle of Sri Lanka has managed to preserve its pristine beauty. The rain forest is on the list of objects protected by the UNESCO foundation. Of course, it is better to go to the forest with an experienced guide, who can be hired here for a nominal fee.

Vedda tribe

Ancient tribes still live in the interior of the island. The most famous of these is the Vedda tribe. Currently, several hundred Vedda families continue to lead a primitive lifestyle, not succumbing to the temptations of the benefits of civilization. These people feed on what they get from the hunt, and the fire is made with stones. Men of clothing only wear loincloths. The Vedas are very willing to make contact with tourists and are happy to demonstrate their customs and rituals.

What to do in Sri Lanka

Water sports

Comfortable weather throughout the year, amazingly clear water and the beauty of the underwater depths of Sri Lanka attract many outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa

Diving – scuba diving, snorkeling, fins and other equipment. The Indian Ocean, in addition to the most beautiful marine life and underwater reefs, holds many secrets and mysteries. Diving near wrecks and underwater caves sharpens the senses and makes diving in Sri Lanka an unforgettable experience. Sri Lankan diving centers have modern gear and equipment, and are scattered around the perimeter of the island. When planning a diving holiday, the travel time should be considered. The fact is that diving centers located in the southwest of Sri Lanka are open from mid-autumn to mid-spring, and in the northeast from early spring to mid-autumn.

Snorkeling also allows you to contemplate the splendor of the underwater world, but only at shallow depths: snorkeling requires only a mask, fins and a snorkel. The purity and transparency of the Sri Lankan waters easily allows you to engage in this exciting activity, because the underwater delights are visible at a depth of several meters.

Surfing – riding the waves using special boards. Surfers have chosen many areas of Sri Lanka. The scenic landscape, relaxed resort atmosphere and of course the good high waves make the island ideal for this sport.

Windsurfing is riding the waves with a board equipped with a sail. This sport can be practiced in Negombo, Trincomalee, Bentota. Equipment is rented in specialized rental centers. Some hotels specialize in windsurfing and offer tourists all the equipment they need. The gathering place for experienced athletes was the bay – Arugam Bay.

Ayurveda

Traditional treatment in Sri Lanka is very developed. Especially popular is the direction of Ayurveda, which means the science of life. This is a whole range of traditional methods of treatment, including aromatherapy, relaxation, meditation, massage, healthy eating. Ayurveda implies a comprehensive improvement of the body, and not only treatment of diseased organs. The most important thing is that this direction has no side effects and contraindications. All medical products are completely made from natural ingredients. Several hotels in Sri Lanka offer to combine rest with Ayurveda treatment.

Ecotourism

All over the world ecotourism has become a popular holiday destination for a long time. Recently, this type of recreation has begun to gain popularity among our compatriots. Tours to Sri Lanka are distinguished by a wide variety of ecotourism offers. The choice of vacationers – rafting on mountain rivers, off-road driving on rough terrain, riding on elephants, mountaineering and other original excursions.

Camping and safari

For tourists who are tired of the comfort of modern hotels and who want to join the natural world, a special excursion program is offered in Sri Lanka with accommodation in tent camps in national parks. The tour program is made taking into account the individual wishes of the tourists. Tourists independently choose parks to visit and other criteria for recreation. Among the latter are the comfort of the tent rooms, the number of days on the tour, the purchase of additional excursions. The standard program is designed for 9 days, during which all the main national parks of the country are visited. All the necessary living conditions and three meals a day are provided in the camps.

Agritourism

Agritourism is the best holiday destination for those who want to get acquainted with the peculiarities of Sri Lankan life from the inside. Tourists can not only live in the usual conditions of a Ceylon village, but also take part in agricultural work, as well as take care of pets. As part of agrotourism packages, vacationers get acquainted with the local culture, customs, learn to cook national dishes.

Fishing

The coastal waters of Sri Lanka are replete with the number of fish and other representatives of the underwater world living there. Planktonic saturation attracts a wide variety of species – from tuna to sharks. Sightseeing fishing usually starts early in the morning. Tourist groups take out fishing several tens of kilometers from the coast. Vacationers are accompanied by experienced local fishermen, and all the necessary equipment is included in the price of the excursion.

River safari

The so-called bot safari is very popular on the island. This is a 3-hour river boat ride. During the tour, you will be able to meet many exotic birds and animals. Moving away from civilization by boat, you can find more and more interesting and unusual – small islands of land, aboriginal settlements and unique vegetation. Local guide services will cost only $ 20.

Helicopter excursion

The opportunity to take a helicopter ride has appeared quite recently. This is a very expensive entertainment, but there are still people interested. The helicopter base is located 15 kilometers from the capital of Sri Lanka. From here, you can fly to almost anywhere in the country. The maximum number of tourists in the cabin of one helicopter is four people. The most popular excursion to Sigiriya will cost $ 2,000 for a helicopter, in addition, you will have to fork out another $ 112 for each hour of waiting for the helicopter.

Hot air balloon flight

Another excursion that allows tourists to admire the amazing Sri Lankan landscapes from a bird’s eye view. Air walks are made only in weak, safe weather for flights. The standard duration of the excursion is one and a half hours, and the cost is approximately $ 1000 for the entire group, the number of which cannot exceed four people.

Golf

This game began to develop in Sri Lanka in the 19th century. To date, the country has created several high-quality golf complexes that meet international standards. Beginners will also be able to enjoy the game: there are special individual and group lessons for beginners in golf clubs.

Sri Lankan wedding

Newlyweds from all over the world are increasingly choosing Sri Lanka as their wedding venue. The ceremony is held according to local traditions – the bride and groom dress in bright national costumes, the procession is accompanied by elephants and drumming, young men and women in colorful dresses are dancing nearby. After exchanging rings, the newlyweds give each other a taste of rice cooked in coconut milk and wash it down with water. This ritual symbolizes the future mutual care of husband and wife. There are a number of other traditional wedding ceremonies – tying the little fingers of the bride and groom with golden thread, breaking a coconut to sprinkle milk on the newlyweds’ clothes and lighting an oil lamp together. The cost of the ceremony should be discussed in advance with the organizer. The amount will vary depending on the number of services selected. But on average, you can keep within $ 1000.

Sri Lanka beaches

Sri Lanka beaches

Sri Lanka beaches

Sri Lanka boasts stunning sandy beaches that stretch for 1000 km along the entire coast of the island. When swimming in the ocean, you should be careful: deep currents are quite dangerous, and besides, you can get cut by pieces of coral. Topless sunbathing in Sri Lanka is not accepted.

The resorts offer all kinds of water sports: diving, surfing, yachting, snorkeling, sailing.
There are 2 beach seasons on the island: north winds blow from November to March on the west and south coasts, the sea is calm and the weather is comfortable. From April to October, the western monsoon blows, so beach weather sets in on the east coast.

Getting around the country

Bus

Sri Lanka Bus

Sri Lanka Bus

The buses are often packed with passengers and are very uncomfortable, but they can travel the entire island for almost nothing, for a few dollars. There are AC-class buses with air conditioning and guaranteed seats, they will cost twice as much.

Bus stops are bustling, especially the larger ones, but almost everyone will be happy to practice their English and help.

Private and municipal buses run in the major cities of the country. The fare in them is about the same. Public transport in Sri Lanka is one of the cheapest in the world.

A train

It is convenient to travel between Sri Lankan cities by train. From the capital, you can get to any destination for no more than 300 rupees. Passengers have the opportunity to choose their own class of carriage with a suitable level of comfort. Sri Lanka has an extensive rail system serving all major cities on the island except the north and east.

Trains are more comfortable and more colorful than buses, and thanks to the winding railway in the mountains, the railway network in the mountainous part of Sri Lanka is very picturesque, especially on the Badullu-Nanu Oya line. If possible, it is better to sit on the right side of the train for the best views. For tourists who want to see the local views, there are special excursion cars with large windows.

Tuk-tuk

The most popular transport in Sri Lanka is a small scooter with a cab called “tuk-tuk”. They are unusual for us, but Sri Lankans regularly use them for everyday travel. A tuk-tuk is much cheaper than a regular taxi, the average price per kilometer is 15–20 rupees. Tipping is not customary in Sri Lanka.

Taxi

A more traditional form of transport will cost about 50% more. For a kilometer of travel, you will have to pay about 30 rupees. If the taxi is not equipped with a meter, then the cost of the trip should be agreed in advance. You can “catch” a taxi driver right on the street or call him by phone.

Car rental

Street road in Sri Lanka

Street road in Sri Lanka

The country has a well-organized transport system, but it will be greatly surprised by two things – left-hand traffic and the possibility of the proximity of animals driven by farmers and cars on the road.

With a driver

The car itself is often provided free of charge, and money is paid to the driver for his services. Some drivers / guides have a state license to carry out their activities, some of them are extremely knowledgeable and speak several languages, specialize in the history and culture of the country. For those who go to see historical sites and nature reserves, they will tell about the environment.

Without driver

Those who are not embarrassed by the oddities of traffic in Sri Lanka can rent a car for independent travel. The standard rate is Rs 2400 per day. This amount includes the mileage of 80 kilometers, and for each additional kilometer you will have to pay 8 rupees.

Aircraft

Air carrier “Aero Lanka” operates domestic flights on the directions of Colombo-Ratmalata, Colombo-Jaffna and Colombo-Trincomalee.

Languages for communication

The main language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala, the second language is Tamil. English is used in government and tourism. Don’t expect the entire population to speak English fluently everywhere. It is much more common in beach and tourist areas. Most people in rural areas do not know English at all except for a few simple words.

  • Sinhalese: The Sinhalese greeting is “aayuBowan”, which literally means “stay longer”; thanks in Sinhalese is “stuti”;
  • Tamil: The Tamil greeting is “Wanakkam”; thank you – “nanri”;
  • Arabic language (Lankan Moors): when meeting with a Muslim, it will be polite to say “Assalama Aleikum”; thanks sounds like “jazz-ka alla”.

Sri Lanka culture

Dambulla cave temple

Dambulla cave temple

The culture of Sri Lanka has managed to preserve many of its own ancient traditions, despite the fact that the European colonialists had a great influence on it. The country has managed to preserve traditional customs in many areas. Most of the ancient national works of art, one way or another, are associated with the dominant religion in the country – Buddhism. Painting, sculpture and architecture developed under his influence. Original dances and songs are also an important object of Sri Lankan culture. Cinema, radio and television are actively developing from contemporary art in Sri Lanka.

One of the main holidays for Sri Lankans is New Year. True, unlike our country, in Sri Lanka it is celebrated in April. There are many rituals associated with this event on the island, and of course it is not complete without the traditional chic fireworks.

The number one Sri Lankan sport is cricket. The national team in 1996 even became the world champion in this sport. In addition, American football, rugby and various martial arts are very popular. Among the latter are the Sri Lankan martial arts Cheena di, which was taught by Chinese monks, and Angampora, a fighting style using swords, daggers and other types of weapons.

Sri Lanka cuisine

Sri Lanka cuisine

Sri Lanka cuisine

National Sri Lankan cuisine has a lot in common with Indian, due to the geographical proximity of the two countries. Spices, spices, juicy fruits, seafood – all these elements are traditional in both countries. The basis of the daily diet in Sri Lanka is made from rice and curry. The latter, by the way, is not only seasoned with meat. On the island, side dishes, fish, vegetables and other specialties are served with curries.

Since the dishes of Sri Lanka and South India are very similar, many local restaurants indicate on the menu where the cuisine is from Sri Lanka and where is from South India. In addition, different regions have their own cooking options. Food is generally very cheap, with an inexpensive lunch costing about a dollar. Lunch can rarely cost more than ten dollars, except in the most expensive tourist-oriented places. Colombo has a large selection of high quality restaurants.

Coconut ingredients are often used in Ceylon cuisine – coconut juice, oil and shavings. There are many other dishes with other ingredients that are unusual for us.

  • String hoppers – Rice vermicelli rolled and steamed.
  • Umbalakada is a finely ground fish.
  • Hoppers are local rice flour pancakes made with coconut milk.
  • Bittara arra – pancake combined with scrambled eggs. For cooking, put a chicken egg in the middle of the pancake.
  • Hakuru arra – A treat similar to Bittara arra, but sweetened with coconut flakes.
  • Kiribath is a traditional white rice cooked with coconut milk.
  • Rotti is a regular curry flavored tortilla.
  • Pittu – made from water, rice flour and coconut. Also served with curry sauce.
  • Kottu Rotti – A blend of chopped unleavened rice cakes, vegetables and a choice of meat. This dish is found only in Sri Lanka, the most delicious Kottu Roti from street vendors, freshly prepared.

Beverages

In Sri Lanka, you should not drink tap water, it can be fraught with intestinal disorders. Buy plain bottled water from stores. But it is better to refuse to buy local milk altogether. Thanks to the Sri Lankan climate, it deteriorates very quickly, although it is quite expensive.

The traditional non-alcoholic drink among the Sri Lankans is Tambili, the juice from the royal coconut. Fresh can be cooked in front of your eyes right on the street, and it will cost less than sold in bottles.

Other local drinks include ginger oil and creamy soda. If you prefer the classic “Koku” or “Pepsi”, then you can buy them in almost any grocery supermarket on the island.

Beer in Sri Lanka

Beer in Sri Lanka

The most popular beers are Three Coins (brewed according to the Belgian recipe), Lion Stout (buttery with a chocolate flavor) and Lion Lager.

For those who prefer strong alcohol, we can recommend the local drink – Arrack. It usually costs about $ 4 a bottle and is often drunk with ginger beer. Quality depends on price, but Old Reserve is widely recommended for $ 7.50.

Shopping in Sri Lanka

Shopping in Sri Lanka is represented by both fairly modern shopping centers and traditional markets with all kinds of folk goods – from spices to clothing made from natural fabrics. Prices for goods of local producers are very democratic. Most of the opportunities for shopping, of course, are in Colombo, but the Sri Lankan outback, and even more so the tourist centers also have something to offer tourists in terms of shopping.

Communication

Telephone communications

Telephone communication is available in almost any hotel, but usually it is very expensive to call from the room. It is more economical to use special telephone cards and make calls from automatic machines or make calls from the nearest post offices. Cards in denominations of 100, 500 and 1000 rupees can be bought in supermarkets, kiosks and post offices. To call Russia, dial 007, area code and phone number.

Sri Lanka’s dialing code: +94

Useful phone numbers

  • Police (emergency call) 119
  • Ambulance and fire service nationwide 112
  • Colombo Police Number 43-33-44
  • Ambulance and fire service in Colombo 110

Internet

Cellular communications on the island are poorly developed and unstable. It will be possible to use a mobile phone only in the capital, as well as in large cities and popular resorts.

You can access the global network through Internet cafes located in large cities. In the hinterland of the country, getting access to the World Wide Web is very problematic.

Safety

Tourists going on holiday to Sri Lanka should follow a number of simple safety measures. You should be careful while walking in parks and reserves – look at your step, do not turn off the tourist path and use anti-mosquito products. If you are going on an excursion to the jungle, then before the trip, just in case, you need to take antimalarial pills. You need to be more careful with animals. There are often times when monkeys steal various things from unlucky tourists.

As in many other tourist areas, pickpockets should be wary of in Sri Lanka and valuables should not be left unattended. It is better for women not to be alone at night on the streets or on the beach. Over the past few years, there has been a slight increase in crimes against tourists, but these cases are rare.

Tourists are advised not to travel to areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). Some areas are mined and armed clashes are taking place in cities. Besides, military actions of the government are also possible. However, due to the large number of state checkpoints, it is extremely unlikely to get into the territory of hostilities by negligence. These areas are far removed from the places that tourists usually visit. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to see heavily armed soldiers on the streets, main thoroughfares and at the airport.

Before traveling to this country, it is recommended to get vaccinated against hepatitis, A and B, polio, and tetanus. If you are planning a trip outside the tourist areas, especially during the rainy season, you need to get vaccinated against typhus. Areas of Gampaha (eg Negombo), Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, and Nuwara Eliya, and the city of Kandy (but not the district) are considered malaria-free. In the rest of the country, there is malaria and most likely to get sick in Anuradhapura. During the dry season, during the day on the road, or traveling by train to Kandy (including trips to the Peradeniya Gardens) or to Nuwara Eliya, you should use DEET repellent, this should be enough. The risk of infection increases after sunset. Antimalarial prophylaxis ensures against infection when traveling north (especially to Anuradhapura), east, and southeast (however, some drugs are not available there).

Try to respect local cultural values. In temples, you cannot appear in shorts, short skirts, or in other too open clothing, and before entering the sanctuary, you must definitely take off your shoes. When buying jewelry and jewelry, do not forget to ask for a license to export the goods from the country, otherwise there may be problems at customs. On full moon days, alcohol is prohibited in public on the island.

Some traditions take some getting used to, especially Europeans

  • Like man
    Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth Relic

    Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth Relic

    y other Asian countries, Sri Lanka does not use toilet paper – alternatively, there is a hose or bucket of water near the toilet. If you prefer to use toilet paper, bring it with you, but throw it in the trash can, not down the drain. The places visited by tourists are Western-oriented and stocked with toilet paper. You can buy paper from Keells Super or Cargills Foodcity supermarkets.

  • When visiting temples, it is customary to take off your shoes and not wear revealing clothing (i.e., no miniskirts, off-the-shoulder tops, shorts, etc.). There is also a custom to take off your shoes when entering a house, but it is not as strictly observed as, for example, in Japan.
  • You should never touch the head of Buddhists, including children. The exception is hair cutting, etc., but you always have to ask permission. In order not to be mistaken, it is better to consider in advance all strangers as Buddhists (except for residents of Tamil areas).
  • You cannot turn your back to the Buddha statue or stand sideways to it if you are too close to it (observe how others behave). This also applies to photography. The statue can be photographed, but all people must face it.
  • Public nudity (including topless women) is not only unacceptable in Sri Lanka, but also prohibited by law. However, in some hotels owned by the Germans, an exception may be made in specially designated areas.
  • Despite the fact that tourists are allowed a lot, when shaking hands, transferring money and other small objects, etc., it is better to use your right hand. Of course, you can use both hands when carrying large and/or heavy objects.
  • Show respect for monks. There is no definite etiquette for Europeans, you just need to be polite. Always give them a seat on a crowded bus.
  • You cannot take pictures of objects protected by the state (neither inside nor outside), you cannot take pictures inside shopping centers and tea factories (outside you can). You should be especially careful in Fort, Colombo (excluding the coastal area). If an object is guarded by soldiers, it definitely cannot be photographed. You don’t have to rely only on special signs, sometimes they are old or they just don’t exist. For example, on one side of the bridge there may be a “No photograph” sign and on the other not.
  • Do not confuse Dravidians with Africans, do not call them “black”, no matter how dark their skin may be.

Where to stay

Standard hotels

Hotel in Sri Lanka

Hotel in Sri Lanka

Classic hotels with rooms ranging from 50 to 500 rooms. A suitable hotel in this class can be found for every budget. Because of their convenience, standard hotels are popular with families or large groups. The all-inclusive system is often used.

You can view conveniently structured information about the hotels of the island (amenities in the room and on the territory, photos of tourists and hoteliers, reviews from tourists who have visited the hotel and much more) in the “Hotels in Sri Lanka” section. You can also book a hotel in Sri Lanka.

Boutique hotels

Recently, hotels of this type have become more and more popular. Boutique hotels are small hotels with 3-15 rooms. The guests of such hotels prefer peace, comfort and tranquility, which are so lacking in large hotels. Boutique hotels are on average more expensive than usual, but they have their own unique look. Customers receive much more attentive service and support. The standard cost of renting a double room is $ 100- $ 250 per day.

Bungalow

Usually bungalows are small private houses, renovated and converted for the needs of tourists. Sometimes they have their own kitchen, maid or cook. Bungalow rental is not cheap, but if you are going to have a rest in a large company, then there is an opportunity to save money. The rental price is $ 100- $ 200 per day.

Villas

The villa is a luxurious home with a large number of rooms, all possible amenities and maximum comfort. They are usually rented entirely and are suitable for wealthy people. A villa, like a bungalow, is beneficial to rent for a large group of people, for example, several families. Average rental price is $ 300- $ 1000 per day. It varies depending on the level of the villa and the distance from the sea.