Sri Lanka: Things to know before you go

Much has been said about the most underrated travel destination of South Aisa – Sri Lanka. I am sure you might have gone through a lot of travel blogs but before you even decide to go, there few things that you must know which might be a deal maker or breaker.

Are the points which I am going to talk about relevant for you? Well, I did not cover Sri Lanka as a backpacker or as a luxury traveller, I did a road trip with friends and if you are planning the same, these points will be helpful:

Don’t plan to travel via public transportation – take a self-drive car

Buses are uncomfortable and drivers are reckless. Trains are limited. Self-drive cars are the way to go. Sri Lanka has no domestic production of cars and all vehicles are imported, so you will get all kinds of cars which are usually not available in the subcontinent. (Side Note for Indian: Indian driving license are not valid in Sri Lanka. You will have to take an International Driving Permit from your local RTO). Make sure the IDP has Sri Lanka listed as one of the valid countries

Sri Lanka has two monsoons

The northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka have wind and rain between October and January, while the southern and western regions receive monsoon weather between May and September. December through March is considered the peak tourist season

Money Exchange

Carry USD only and get it converted from the bank counters at the airport.

Colombo airport is not very traveller friendly
  • No loungers and the chairs in the arrivals lounge have armrests.
  • It is 35 KM from Colombo city with no economical mode of travel. The best option is the fixed price taxi desk inside the terminal.
  • There is free wi-fi but the speed was very bad. The best option is to buy a local sim
  • No budget hotels near the airport
Avoid Sigiriya, Anuradhapura and Yala National Park

If you are a traveller from India or planning to travel India, you can avoid Sigiriya, Anuradhapura and Yala National Park: These are lovely places but you will find lot more of similar places in India. Yala national park is a very costly affair.

Whale watching is a must – hire a speed boat

In continuation of the above point, whale watching is unique to Sri Lanka in the continent. Try and hire a speed boat – chances of whale spotting will be a lot higher and you will also save on time. Speed boat is usually 3 times costlier for a group of 6-7 passengers

Food in Sri Lanka

It is mostly similar to that of India. The folk there have mastered the art of making curries and daal (pulses). You will find plenty of South Indian food: Kotthu roti, hopper (appam ++), dosa, vada etc. If have to be little honest, I think the Indian versions are tastier.  Continental and western food options are limited and overpriced. Stick to local.

Drinks in Sri Lanka

Beer is relatively costlier and so are wine and hard drinks. These can be easily procured from superstores though. If you are looking for nightlife, you are in for a disappointment.

Buy the local tea

It is really good. I find it better than what I found in Darjeeling. Buy it from Melsna store in Kendy.

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