In English, Sri Lanka literally translates to ‘beautiful island’ and it’s quite easy to see why. Although it’s not the largest of islands, Sri Lanka is bursting with culture, beautiful golden beaches, stunning green scenery and lots of majestic elephants. There’s so much to experience in Sri Lanka, from exploring the island in a private car, taking curry cookery lessons at authentic homestays, relaxing on the gorgeous palm fringed beaches, taking a train ride through the beautiful countryside, or challenging yourself to a new adventure climbing the famous pilgrimage of Adam’s Peak. Read on to discover our top tips for enjoying a luxury vacation to Sri Lanka in style.
When to Visit
Sri Lanka really is a destination that can be visited at any time of the year, although it’s important that you know which parts of the island are best to visit at certain times of the year. Sri Lanka is located near the equator, and enjoys a tropical climate with two monsoons. The southwest monsoon, known as ‘Yala’, blows from the middle of May to late September from the southwest, and the ‘Maha’, the northeast monsoon, blows in the opposite direction between the months of October and November.
During the Yala monsoon, the weather is at its best around the east coast in areas such as Trincomalee. If you are planning on visiting Sri Lanka at a time when the Maha monsoon is blowing, the west coast will be enjoying the best weather.
Visa and Passports
When travelling to Sri Lanka it’s important that you’re clued up on matters regarding visas and passports in order to avoid running into any difficulty when travelling. Before travelling to Sri Lanka, you will need to apply for a visa online beforehand through the Electronic Travel Authorization [ETA].
You can do this up to ninety days before you depart, and individual applications cost around thirty dollars. Visas are valid for up to thirty days, however if you are planning to stay in Sri Lanka for a longer amount of time you will be able to extend your visa at the Department of Immigration in Sri Lanka.
The local currency in Sri Lanka is the Rupee which comes in denominations up to 5000, so when shopping it’s a good idea to carry change for making any smaller purchases. Almost every hotel in Sri Lanka will allow you to exchange money, however for cheaper rates it’s recommended that you exchange money at a reputable bank. You may be able to exchange money before you depart, however once in Sri Lanka you will find a number of reliable banks that will allow you to exchange more money if needed. Large shops, restaurants and hotels in Sri Lanka will also usually allow the option to pay by Visa or MasterCard.
Giving tips is normal practice in Sri Lanka, and tips tend to make up a large part of many employees’ salaries. It is recommended that you use discretion when tipping for services in hotels and restaurants and your drivers or tour guides.
Since public transport is not particularly easy to use in Sri Lanka, the most recommended method of transport in Sri Lanka is to use a private car with a driver. There are a number of car hire companies that will allow you to do so, or you could book a private car as part of your holiday package.
If you decide to travel to Ella, you’ll be most likely to do so by a train ride through the countryside. This train ride is well known as one of the most beautiful journeys through Sri Lanka, and if you purchase a second class ticket you’ll be able to travel with the local people and learn more about the culture. If you’d also like to visit the Maldives during your trip to Sri Lanka, this can be done by a sea plane trip which takes around one and a half hours.
Things to Do
Sri Lanka is home to a number of beautiful beaches from wide golden coastlines lined with colorful painted fishing boats to tiny, turquoise bays with soft white sands with a backdrop of lush green palm trees. For the more adventurous, Sri Lanka also offers a number of fantastic treks and nature walks where you can see the amazing wildlife on the island from herds of wild elephants, exotic birds, monkeys, and even leopards.
Have you visited Sri Lanka before? Do you have any top tips for other travelers that you’d like to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.