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The Ultimate Sri Lanka Travel Guide For A Perfect Holiday

     

A hidden world of spice and tea plantations, reclining Buddhas, Kandyan drummers and elephants, Sri Lanka is the perfect place to satiate the wanderlust in all kinds of travellers. With beautiful beaches, high mountains (over 2000 m), tropical forests, tempting climate, welcoming people and lots of animals like wild elephants, leopards, sea turtles dolphins and whales, Sri Lanka is so green that sometimes it feels like one big tropical rainforest national park. No matter where you go in this island country, the music of birds chirping will be your alarm clock.

Where is Sri Lanka?

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Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is located in South East Asia having a maximum width of 139 miles (224 km) and a maximum length of 268 miles (432 km) with a total area of 65,610 square kilometres. This island country is lying in the Indian Ocean and separated from peninsular India by the Palk Strait.

Key Notes Of Sri Lanka

Population: 22 million (2012)

Capital: Colombo

Language: Sinhala 74% (official and national), Tamil 18% (national), other 8%; English is commonly used in government and spoken competently by about 10%

Religion: Buddhist 70%, Islam 8%, Hindu 7%, Christian 6%

Currency: Sri Lanka rupee

Time zone: UTC+5:30

Drives on: Left

Visa is on-arrival and ETA is also available. For more Sri Lanka Visa related information, click here.

Places to Visit In Sri Lanka

Kandy

The Ultimate Sri Lanka Travel Guide For A Perfect Holiday-2 Known as Sri Lanka's cultural capital, Kandy withstood the Portuguese and Dutch for three centuries and was the capital city of the last Sinhalese kingdom, which at last tumbled to the British in 1815. Coming to things to do in Kandy, you can start with exploring the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, walk around Kandy Lake, breathe in the fragrance of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, brush up on history at The National Museum of Kandy or light a candle at Kandy Devales. This place is the perfect amalgamation of different things at one place, exactly what a traveller seeks!

Location: Nearest town is Colombo at a distance of 117 km

Travel tip: Explore Kandy on a tuk-tuk for cheap travel options.

Colombo

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The capital city of this island nation, Colombo has also been the commercial capital of Sri Lanka for around 2,000 years when its large natural harbour made it popular with old trades from Italy to China. Ruled over by the Portuguese and then British colonists, Colombo is a famous tourist destination. One of the most popular attractions in Colombo is Galle Face Green, a strip park along the Indian Ocean. Don't miss Gangaramaya Temple, which is known for its mix of ethnic architectural styles. Moreover, there are many places to eat in Colombo which will satiate your taste buds.

Location: Nearest town is Bentota at a distance of 82 km

Nuwara Eliya

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One of the most beautiful sections for natural beauty, Nuwara Eliya is one of the most opted places to visit in Sri Lanka. Why wouldn't it be?

Immersed in miles and miles of tea leaves, tea gardens in Nuwara Eliya are endless, or you can say moulding into each other.

Ceylon Tea is famous all over the globe, and here in Nuwara Eliya, you can visit the tea plantations, see how tea is made at the factories and even enjoy some tea tasting at one of the large estates. Sounds good?

The best way to get the overview of this place is by train travel from Kandy to Ella or Ella to Kandy. It is no ordinary ride!!

Location: Nearest town is Kandy at a distance of 79 km

Bentota

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The coastal town of Bentota boasts magnificent stretches of golden sand. While there are numerous resort hotels, the beach itself is clean, and palm trees mainly hide the buildings. Sunsets are spectacular here, and it is both relaxing and peaceful to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Moreover, Turtle hatcheries over here serve as a major attraction. Famous as a centre of Chaplon tea production, the plantations and old estates here date back to the British colonial era, and bare the hallmarks of British colonial design.

Location: Nearest town is Colombo at a distance of 82 km

Ella

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Ella is a charming little town encompassed by mountains amidst Sri Lanka. It is indeed a beautiful place to relax at. May it be an occasion to take a break from your bustling regular schedules or to feel the adrenaline surge in your body, Ella is unquestionably the perfect area. There are numerous activities you can do, varying from riding on mountain bikes to hiking and to visiting breathtaking and scenic areas. Do not miss out on Kandy to Ella train journey when in Sri Lanka.

Location: Nearest town is Nuwara Eliya at a distance of 57 km

Yala National Park

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Situated in the southern piece of the nation, Yala National Park is home to more than 40 assortments of the warm-blooded animal and more than 200 bird species. Everything from wild pigs to elephants, to large felines and considerably higher, Yala National Park is especially prevalent as it offers the opportunity to see a standout amongst the most excellent enormous felines, the Leopards.

Numerous guests to Sri Lanka will pick Yala as they do not just need to see elephants, flying creatures, bison and so forth. However, they genuinely need to look at one of these magnificent felines in nature! Are you one of them?

Location: Nearest town is Nuwara Eliya at a distance of 102 km

Open Hours: 6 AM to 6 PM

Wildlife Safari Cost: 4500 LKR (1950 INR) for a three-hour safari

Want a detailed tour guide of Yala National Park? If yes, click here.

Sigiriya Rock

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Built by King Kasyapa around 1600 years back, Sirigiya Fortress is a massive compound is shielded by two moats and three ramparts. Do you know that this place was once known as the private residence of King Kasyapa? Yes, it's true.

From its waterways and ponds that are placed right at the summit, to the frescoes and mirror wall leading to it, it's a local and international favourite. If you are planning to visit this place, head early morning or late in the afternoon.

Location: Nearest town is Dambulla at a distance of 18 km

Open hours: 7 AM to 5:30 PM (last entrance at 5 PM)

Entry fees: 4650 LKR (2100 INR)

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

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Home to 100 or even more elephants, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is the perfect place to bond with giant yet soft-hearted creatures. This orphanage will offer you a chance to see baby jumbos wondering around their cramped foster home or bottle fed and bathed by their human foster fathers. A place you will enjoy and never forget. Most orphans are accustomed to their curious human visitors are harmless. So, go and make new friends in Sri Lanka!

Location: Nearest town is Colombo at a distance of 90 km

Open Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Fees: 300 INR (For Indians)

*If you want to explore the civil war history of Sri Lanka, Jaffna will be the perfect spot for you.*

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Treat yourself with Beach Therapy

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Golden sand beaches dotted with coconut trees scattered around the coastal belt, Sri Lanka is a destination perfect for beach lovers to get some natural tanning. Whether you are seeking a loud and fun beach experience filled with partying and adventure sports or a peaceful hideaway to relax, Sri Lanka has an option for you.

You can head to Mirissa Beach on South coast for whale watching, Arugam Bay beach on South East Coast for surfing, Hikkaduwa on South West coast to witness the beautiful corals and party vibes. Nilaveli, Pigeon island and Tangalle are some of the most popular beach spots to promise you a beach for yourself.

Train Travel

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Train travel in Sri Lanka is relatively cheap; the route is standard for both slower trains as well as newer ‘blue’ trains, which are slightly faster. Moreover, the scenes which it offers throughout the journey are breathtaking as you get to see the stunning mountains and vivacious valleys in Sri Lanka’s interior.

Well, it doesn't end here as Sri Lanka's train ride is known as one the world's most scenic train ride. 'World's Most Scenic Train Ride' is a big claim, agreed but one journey from Kandy to Ella or Ella to Kandy will surely make you agree why is it so!

Want to read about a personalised Kandy to Ella train travel experience? If yes, click here.

Hike Adam's Peak

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Abode of religious and historical sites, Sri Lanka is the best place to discover the heritage while falling for the natural beauty. One of such places is Adam's Peak whose top is considered holy by many religions including Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and the Veddas. There is a large rock with a sizeable imprinted foot that is believed by many religions to have belonged to a significant person which makes this island cum hill country a must-see for the religious.

Wildlife Safari

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The jewel of India Ocean is known to be the best place to spot Leopard, Elephant, Sperm Whale, Wild boar and Blue Whale, the big 5 of Sri Lanka in the world. Due to the geographical advantage, Sri Lanka offers you sights of migrating birds.

Take a safari to the Yala national park to spot leopards while if you want to feel closer to elephants, head to Udawalawe national park.

Diving & Snorkelling

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Sri Lanka first got noticed a diving destination when blue whales were regularly sighted of the coasts. The country has become a popular destination among international divers and is a serious competitor to its neighbour, the Maldives. The water temperatures are constant between 25°C to 30°C while best time for diving on the western and southern coasts is from November to April, and the eastern and northern beaches offer the best diving conditions from April to September.

Hot Air Balloon Ride In Dambulla

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Have the perfect bird view of the island nation as you soar above the clouds while gazing down at the natural beauty of Sri Lanka in Dambulla. Flying over the jungle you may see elephants roaming freely, different species of birds, even leopards chasing the pray, water buffaloes standing in the paddy fields and monkeys swinging from the trees. Hot air ballooning over the island country will prove to be one of the most memorable experiences when exploring the Jewel of Indian Ocean.

Price: 13000 INR for adults & 11000 INR for child

Ballooning season: November to April

Travel Tip: Do visit Dambulla cave temple also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, which is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka.

White Water Rafting in Kitulgala

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Kitulgala is a beautiful town situated in the west of Sri Lanka. Located in the Wet Zone of the country, it is one of the wettest places on the island and the ideal location for water-based adventure sports. In the past, Kitulgala was used as a location in the filming of the Academy Award-winning film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’. In more recent times though, it is renowned as an adventurer’s paradise and most famously for white water rafting.

Kutilgala’s breathtaking scenery and dazzling array of birds and animals sets the perfect backdrop for the thrilling outdoor activities it has come to represent.

Read a personalised experience of white water rafting in Kitulgala to have a better overview of the place and the activity!

Turtle Hatchery

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With a vision to protect the turtles from extinction, Turtle Hatchery was started by the Sri Lankans as earlier the fishermen collected and sold the turtle’s eggs to highest payer. But since the commencement of the Turtle Hatchery these eggs were fed and cared for until they were 2 to 4 years old. If you are an animal lover, you can go to this place and love these beautiful and one of a kind creature.

Have Lip-smacking Sri Lankan Food

The Ultimate Sri Lanka Travel Guide For A Perfect Holiday-18 Yes, we know that Thai cuisine is world-renowned but Sri Lanka is about to overtake this in the near future. Why? Sri Lankan food is truly a reflection of its people – it features a unique blend of Indian curries, oriental spices and European herbs. How about Dhal Curry, Egg Kottu, Ulundhu Vadai or delicious Samosas?

How to reach Sri Lanka?

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By Flight: The easiest way to reach Sri Lanka is by taking a flight from India and reaching there probably on the same day of your departure. Sri Lanka has a busy international airport, and it is called the Bandaranaike Internal Airport. Located in Colombo, Sri Lankan flights from the major countries of the world arrive here. There are flights from India, Europe, Asia, Middle-East and Australia to Sri Lanka. However, as congestion increased, there was a need to tackle the increased air traffic and provide better immigration to tourists. That’s why the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport was inaugurated in 2013 to cater to the increasing demand of tourist influx. The airport is located in the Mattala town in the southernmost region of the country. However, the airport soon witnessed very less patronage and only a few flights from the Middle-East fly to this airport. Due to this, the airport is known as the emptiest international airport, making the airport in Colombo prominent among tourists. Flights from Indian cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, are aplenty with major airlines plying day in and day out. For better understanding, check out the table for the average cost per person from different airports and their respective durations. Frequent Flight Names: Air India, Jet Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines, Spice Jet and Vistara Biggest Airport: Bandaranaike International Airport Your comfort, your choice!

By Sea: There used to be ferry services from Chennai to Colombo that carried tourists from one country to the other at economical rates. However, the facilities were suspended indefinitely in 2011 for various reasons. Now, there are just a few ships that operate from Mumbai port that take you to Colombo on a luxurious cruise-liner. The 7-day cruise departs at Mumbai and reaches Colombo, taking you to all the essential destinations like Kandy and Nuwara Eliya along the way. The prices depend on the luxury class you intend to travel in and also feature a few adventure and water sports during the cruise. The packages also feature many live shows and entertainment options on board and feature a fixed itinerary with preplanned places to see and things to do. Though cruise ships are fun, the best way to reach Sri Lanka is by taking a direct flight from the Indian cities. Since the seas also get violent during storms and monsoons, it is best to go for flights when you are looking for a fun holiday.

Where to Stay in Sri Lanka?

Hotel Thilanka, Kandy: The 4-star wonder provides guests with luxurious accommodation and the best hospitality at an affordable price in Kandy. The rooms in the hotel are well furnished and equipped with all necessary amenities.

The Steuart by Citrus, Colombo: The Steuart by Citrus embodies the essence of true Scottish style. The hotel comprises of fifty rooms, situated on eight floors, embedded by history dating back to 1835; The Steuart by Citrus takes you on a brief journey into colonial Ceylon.

Citrus Hikkaduwa, Hikkaduwa: It is the place where guests are gods and service with a smile is devotion. The resort offers spacious rooms, multi-cuisine restaurant and superb hospitality.

Oak Ray Ella Gap Hotel, Ella: The hotel is enriched with luxury rooms, multi-cuisine restaurant, 24x7 room service and lush green lawn area. It is where you will leave behind the hustle and bustle of daily lives and merely revel and rejuvenate in the lap of unsullied nature.

The Tea Cottage, Nawalapitiya: It is a luxurious boutique resort located in the midst of Greenwood Estate Nawalapitiya, spanning over 200 acres of lush green tea plantation, 2750 feet above sea level in the central highlands of Sri Lanka.

The River House, Balapitiya: Set on the banks of the Madhu Ganga, The River House Balapitiya is a romantic escape that offers 5 unique suites on 13 acres of lush tropical garden.

Want to enjoy a laidback yet adventure filled Sri Lanka holidays? Well, Shoes On Loose can help you with it as we have many amazing Sri Lanka Tour Packages exclusively designed by our dedicated travel expert with in-depth knowledge about the destinations.

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