Officially, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the South Asian island is often referred to as the ‘pearl of the Indian Ocean’. Although small in size, it is rich in culture and full of history. Whether you are looking for breathtaking natural beauty, sandy beaches, or flavorsome food, Sri Lanka has it all. You will have a chance to explore jungles, visit tea plantations, see beautiful temples, and much more. So here are some things to know and places to see if you decide to make it your next travel destination.
Things to Know
1. Expect Warm Weather Most of the Time
For most of the year, the average temperature throughout the country is about 28 degrees Celsius, but the best time to visit the island will mostly depend on where you will go. January to March is best for the central hill region, May to September for the northeast, and December to April is best when visiting the southwest region.
2. Exchange Currencies Inside the Country
The official currency is the Sri Lankan rupee and since it isn’t major, you are more likely to get better exchange rates once you are in the country. Major credit cards are accepted and there are ATMs widely available. Keep in mind that there is a limit of Rp5,000 if you decide to bring in cash.
3. Get a Visa Before Your Trip
You cannot enter the country without a visa and you can get it at the port of entry upon arrival. However, it is advisable to obtain it before your visit which can easily be done online. Once you have filled all the necessary information, it usually takes 2 days for it to come through. You can visit https://visit-sri-lanka.net/ for more information.
4. It is Easy to Get Around
Trains are generally less crowded than buses and are the cheapest way to get around the island. They are also the most fun since they are full of friendly locals who are always willing to help. When in a city or town, tuk-tuks are the best and cheapest way to get around.
Things to See or Do
1. Visit Sigiriya
Climbing one of the country’s seven World Heritage Sites will give you a chance to see magnificent ancient ruins, landscaped gardens, and ponds. Also called Lion’s Rock, it is a fortress that served as a palace and a Buddhist monastery in the past and is one of the best ancient places to visit in Sri Lanka.
2. Enjoy Wildlife at the Yala National Park
The Yala National Park, on the southern coast, is the number one sanctuary for the country’s top predator – the leopard. Home to the highest number of leopards in the world, it is also a haven for aquatic birds and elephants.
3. Explore Polonnaruwa
This is another World Heritage Site that served as the island’s capital hundreds of years ago. Due to being a commercial and religious hub in the past, the town is home to numerous well-preserved tombs, statues, and temples. If you are looking to see fine examples of ancient art and architecture, this is the place to go.
4. Taste Delicious Local Cuisine
The street food in Sri Lanka is delicious and rice is considered to be the most important part of a meal. Being surrounded by the sea provides seafood that is always fresh and delicious and some must-try dishes include Jaffna Crab Curry, lamprais, pol sambol, Squid Curry, and polos.
Keep in mind that you join the locals and eat using your thumb, index, and middle finger of your right hand. It is expected for you to wash your hands before and after the meal, but you can always ask for cutlery if you don’t like the idea of eating with your hand.
Visiting Sri Lanka offers a truly beautiful, cultural, and authentic travel experience, full of picturesque scenery, historical sites, rich culture, and extremely generous people. There are so many things to see, do, and experience, making it a destination that should be on any traveler’s bucket list.