Table of Contents
- Ten recommendations for visitors to Sri Lanka for the first time
- Getting around in Sri Lanka
- Relax rather than lose your mind
- Treat yourself
- Go north to escape the traffic.
- Be mindful of the food
- Consider Colombo
- Plan according to the seasons.
- Make the most of your financial assets
- Be aware of cultural conventions
Ten recommendations for visitors to Sri Lanka for the first time
Because of its enticing combination of breathtaking beauty, incredibly friendly people, and British colonial history, Sri Lanka is a very alluring travel destination. Since Sri Lanka has seen some challenging times in the past, 2023 is a fantastic year to visit. For those visiting Sri Lanka for the first time, here are some travel recommendations.
Getting around in Sri Lanka
Even though there are many transport options and the infrastructure is improving, navigating this modestly sized country with its tiny roads and engine-testing inclines can be a little challenging at times.
In the Hill Country, it’s fairly common to waste time. Whether you’re travelling by bus, tuk-tuk, or rail, you should expect to move between tea plantations at a pace of between 12 and 15 miles per hour. For many tourists, renting a car in Sri Lanka with a driver will be an excellent choice. Serendipity Tours can help you make all of your travel plans, including private transport, tours, accommodation, and more, by connecting you with an experienced local in Sri Lanka.
Relax rather than lose your mind
Apart from Colombo and a few coastal towns, dorm-style hostels are rare to find. Family-run guesthouses are far more common. This makes it easier to socialise with locals but makes it more difficult to make friends when travelling alone.
The island of Sri Lanka is a popular honeymoon location as well. There are beach bars scattered along the east coast at Arugam Bay and the west coast in Hikkaduwa, but these are relaxed places, and many close in the off-season, so don’t expect a nightlife to rival Bangkok’s Khao San Road.
Because Ayurvedic medicine is still practised according to its ancient traditions, Sri Lanka is the ideal destination if you want to get away from it all, go on a retreat, and use yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic therapies to achieve a state of ecstasy.
You can spend extra Sri Lankan rupees at a number of recently constructed, luxurious hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka. The island is already home to well-known international brands like Aman, and Shangri-La operates two hotels there: one in Hambantota and one in Colombo. It’s the little, locally owned luxury hotel companies that you need to be wary of.
Go north to escape the traffic.
The country’s Northern Province, once off-limits, is a terrific destination to venture off the beaten path. Once a bastion of the Tamil Tigers, it was among the last locations on the island to reopen to tourists. It hasn’t experienced the same surge of international visitors or given in to the same flood of hotels, resorts, and other developments.
If you want to find remote temples, empty golden beaches, and historic places, travel north. Experts at Serendipity Tours and Travels, put together the “Jaffna and Western Sri Lanka” sample itinerary, which is a decent example of what to do in Jaffna and the surrounding area. The best part is that, like all of our sample itineraries, it is fully adaptable to your preferences. You only need to select “Modify this itinerary” in order to speak with our experts directly.
Be mindful of the food
While you’re there, make the most of Sri Lanka’s delicious food offerings. Still, figuring out where and when to find the excellent stuff may prove trickier than you anticipated. The standout item is the bowl-shaped hoppers, which are savoury rice flour crêpes that are often only served in the early morning or late afternoon. Rice and curries are provided for lunch, whereas kottu rotty—chopped flatbread stir-fried with eggs and vegetables—is only served at night.
Even those who are used to Asian cuisine may be surprised to hear that the best places to eat are little guesthouse kitchens rather than a lot of street food vendors.
Once in Colombo, spend the night in the capital (see next point) and go on a small-group excursion to experience some of the delicious native food. You will be guided through all of the options and tastes by a local guide.
Colombo is becoming more than just a destination, with its restaurants, boutique stores, rooftop pubs, and jazz clubs garnering recognition on a global scale. Though there are many places to see in Colombo, the capital is a great place to simply settle down and experience local life.
See families on Galle Face Green flying kites at dusk. After that, cheer on the national cricket team at R. Premadasa Stadium or observe grandmothers bargaining with sellers at Pettah Market while wearing brightly coloured saris. Take tuktuk rides, visit markets, and make stops along the way for some delicious street cuisine. You may see Sri Lanka’s culture and way of life in addition to the city on a private tour of Colombo’s hidden gems.
Plan according to the seasons.
Remember that the seasons can provide a variety of experiences, even if the monsoon rains don’t deter you from exploring. For instance, Buddhist pilgrims congregate at Adam’s Peak between December and May, which is considered the best time to travel to Sri Lanka, so if you’re anxious to climb, go there then.
It is still possible to reach the peak outside of these months, but the many tea shops that line the path will be closed. Furthermore, instead of climbing the mountain with hundreds of excited locals, you’ll be climbing it with a small group of outsiders, which means that a lot of the camaraderie and energy among climbers are gone.
Sri Lanka provides a plethora of fun activities in addition to its well-known beaches, tea plantations, and stupas. Try exploring the Knuckles Mountain Range, surfing Arugam Bay, or white-water rafting the Kelaniya Ganga at Kitulgala. Cycling-themed vacations are becoming more and more common. Why not put them all together to make a unique adventure holiday in Sri Lanka? Seerendipity Tours has included cycling, hiking, and trekking in their sample itinerary for those who enjoy outdoor activities. Alternatively, just spend a day cycling through Colombo’s rural districts.
Make the most of your financial assets
Sri Lanka is still reasonably priced for a vacation, even with rising rates. For everyday items like tea and toothpaste, visit stores in big cities to make sure you’re not paying too much. All you have to do is glance at the packaging in corner stores in smaller cities; the price is usually posted next to the initials “Rs.” (which stand for rupees).
Be aware of cultural conventions
India and Sri Lanka are vastly different from one another, despite being only 18 miles away by water at their closest point. Sri Lanka appears to lead a considerably slower lifestyle than its neighbour. Therefore, Sri Lanka is the best choice for everyone who is interested in India but also terrified of it.
Even though it’s usually preferable to cover up—and even necessary in places of worship—wearing shorts and vests is unlikely to cause much of a stir with the locals, who rarely seem to notice when people from the west arrive.