Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation, south of India, in South Asia’s Indian Ocean. Despite the political unrest, Sri Lanka continues to be a popular tourist destination. Sri Lanka’s ancient capital city, Anuradhapura, has ruins dating back more than 2,000 years. The diverse landscapes ranging from tropical rainforests to vast tea plantations and sandy beaches are a huge draw for travelers, not to mention the buddhist temples, rolling surf and the wildlife, particularly… elephants!
SRI LANKA TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Explore where Sir Thomas Lipton launched his tea empire in the Hill Country’s Haputale Mountains. Nuwara Eliya is a city in the hill country of the Central Province of Sri Lanka and is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s booming tea industry. I’m more of a PG Tips girls myself but don’t let the brand of your preferred tipple stop you from taking a tuk tuk up to Lipton’s seat which was his favorite place to sit and admire his vast tea estate. You can also watch the tea pickers and take random tea samples home. Lipton’s great for cookie dunking so… stock up!
Count A Leopard’s Spots
The island of Yala’s southern coast is the place to spot a leopard in Sri Lanka although they can be found in a number of the national parks too. How do I know you’ll probably spot one in Yala? Because you will, trust me.
Sigiriya is a ruined, fortified fifth century city, with a royal palace, monastery and some exquisite frescoes, in the central province of Sri Lanka. Not only is the rock fortress Sigiriya one of Sri Lanka’s seven world heritage sites dating back to the 5th century AD it’s also home to some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Worth a visit and the climb? I think so!
Kandy is a large and very pretty city in central Sri Lanka, surrounded by mountains and a bio-diverse rainforest. The city’s heart is Kandy Lake but most people visit Kandy for it’s famous elephant orphanage. While you’re there visit sacred Buddhist sites such as the Temple of the Tooth shrine which is celebrated with the grand Esala Perahera annual procession.
Discover Untouched Islands
Get your Captain Cook on and discover the tiny islands just off Sri Lanka’s most northern tip. The largest of these untouched islands is called Neduntivu and is home to about 3000 people and a herd of wild horses. There are no hotels so if you want to stay the night you’d better make friends with a local!
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SRI LANKA TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Sinhala is the Tamil New Year that falls in April and is the most important cultural celebration of the country. The harvest season comes to an end and a new year begins with this festival. Sri Lankans enjoy a long holiday and the traditional food kokis is enjoyed in every household.
Vesak marks the celebration of the birth, enlightenment and the death of Lord Buddha. It is among the most important festivals for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. People of all faiths get together in the streets which are decorated with lanterns and eat and drink.
Kandy and Kataragama celebrate the Esala Festivals in the month of August. The Esala festival in Kandy is called Dalanda Perahera, and a large parade is performed with the best dancers and musicians in the country performing with decorated elephants. The Kataragama Esala is celebrated to honor Lord Kataragama, and the devotees walk on fire and display self-penance to show their respect to the deity.
SRI LANKA BASICS
Language: The two key languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil with the majority of people speaking Sinhala. Many people speak English, but you might have a hard time communicating with some of the locals.
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee.
Visa: Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Sri Lanka is required (which depends on the country you’re from) and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: Sri Lanka operates on a 230 V supply of electricity with a frequency of 50 Hz. Plug types D and G are associated, where type D has three round pins arranged in a triangle whereas type G has three rectangular pins arranged in a triangle. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Sri Lanka: Check price on Amazon
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Sri Lanka are listed below.
Rice and Curry: This is go-to dish of Sri Lanka. Locals are fond of curries, and they are everywhere. Curry is prepared using lentils and different vegetables and lots of spices to make it flavorful, which is then served with a heap of rice.
Hoppers: Hoppers are a Sri Lankan specialty and are thin pancakes that are crispy on the edges. They are made of fermented rice flour, coconut water and coconut milk. You will come across a number of shops selling different varieties of hoppers throughout Sri Lanka. Hoppers are usually sweet, but the classic version is salty.
Kottu: This is a Sri Lankan dish made of roti, veggies, oil, and chicken or egg. The bread is finely chopped and lots of cheese is grated on the top.
String Hoppers: This noodle dish is one of the most popular Sri Lankan breakfasts. The noodles are made of rice flour and then given the shape of noodles which are finally steamed. These are served with dahl, sambal, coconut milk, and curry.
Devilled Dishes: Originally, this is a Chinese dish but it has gained immense popularity in Sri Lanka. Chicken, fish or prawn is served with lots of tomatoes, onions, peppers and chilli’s. Sweet and a sour sauce is added and the protein is usually deep fried.
Sri Lanka is a very affordable place to visit.
Finding excellent accommodation in Sri Lanka is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget. Hostels and dormitories make travel to Sri Lanka affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? Click here for all the best places to stay and current pricing deals!
Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Sri Lanka will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Sri Lanka can cost less than $30 dollars. If you’re looking for accommodation that includes western amenities and comforts then there will be more options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like the city of Colombo. If you’re traveling to Sri Lanka during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up. Sri Lanka is a very popular year-round destination you know!
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Sri Lanka. However, if you are backpacking in Sri Lanka or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in South Asia very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SRI LANKA
The best time to visit Sri Lanka for warm, dry and sunny weather is between October and March. As Sri Lanka heats up in April and May travel prices begin to drop and you can get some excellent value trips if you don’t mind the high humidity and thunderstorms. Monsoon season arrives in May and ends in September and if you’re visiting Sri Lanka during this time expect a lot of torrential rain. The hottest time of the year is in May and June when temperatures can reach 100 degrees, most travelers choose to visit Sri Lanka during the winter between October and March.
SRI LANKA TRAVEL BUDGET
Sri Lanka is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Sri Lanka really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $25 to $40 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $40 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $100 to $200 plus a day.
- Budget: $10-35
- Mid-range: $35-$80
- Splurge: $80+
Meal For One
- Budget: $3.00-$10.00
- Mid-range: $10-$35
- Splurge: $35+
IS SRI LANKA SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to Sri Lanka. Pick-pocketing, bag-snatching and other scams to take advantage of tourists are common. Female travelers should be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of Sri Lanka are dangerous so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on many years of solo travel in South Asia I would never leave home without travel insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Sri Lanka trip.
GET YOUR VISA
SRI LANKA FLIGHT DEALS
SRI LANKA TOURS & ACTIVITIES
Packing for a trip to Sri Lanka, like most other places in South Asia, is a breeze.
You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Sri Lanka and it’s always best to travel light whenever possible. That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our fabulous finds with you. Shop our top picks of travel accessories, luggage, clothing, cosmetics, shoes and tech. Or just hop straight on over to Bunny Bling … YOU SRI LANKA JETSETTER!
In Sri Lanka’s larger cities like Colombo you’ll see a lot of young Sri Lankan women wearing western style clothing however people in smaller towns and villages still dress traditionally. So if you’re traveling to Sri Lanka then it’s necessary to pack clothing that’s lightweight, breathable and conservative. Be prepared for the occasional cool evening depending on the month you visit and pack a warm sweater just in case. If you’re visiting during the wet season bring a rain jacket and an umbrella. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need in the larger cities such as Colombo.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Sri Lanka include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
Last but not least and perhaps the most fun part of the trip planning journey is packing!
If you’ve found your Sri Lanka travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost, kinda, nearly) perfected.
Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.