Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Continent: Asia
Region: South Asia, Asia
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Sri Lanka Travel Essentials

Ideal Duration: 7-10 days for exploring Colombo, Kandy, and Sigiriya; longer for a more relaxed exploration of beaches and historical sites

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)

Best Time: December to March (Dry season for most regions) Read More

Visa Policy for Indians: ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) required

Visa Policy for Other Nationals: ETA required for many countries

Getting In Sri Lanka: Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo Read More

Getting Around Sri Lanka: Buses, trains, tuk-tuks, rental cars Read More

Budget for Food & Drinks (per day): USD 10 to USD 20 for budget travellers, USD 20 to USD 40 for mid range travellers and USD 50 and above for luxury travellers

Accommodation Cost (per night): Budget Accommodation USD 10 to USD 20, Mid-range Accommodation USD 30 to USD 70, Luxury Accommodation USD 100 and more

"A Land Like No Other"

Sri Lanka Tourism

Sri Lanka is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean known for its spectacular beaches, thousand-year-old Buddhist temples, abundance of wildlife, and rich archaeological history. The plethora of water sports, breathtaking sunsets, sprawling tea gardens, and mouth-watering Sri Lankan food will surely make you fall in love with this gorgeous place. 

The island's coastline stretches for approximately 1,340 kilometers (832 miles) and is dotted with palm-fringed beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs. Additionally, the island is known for its marine life, and visitors can enjoy whale watching in Mirissa or diving and snorkeling along the stunning coral reefs. The beach towns of Weligama, Hikkaduwa, Bentota, and the scenic fort city of Galle are perfect for a laid-back vacation.

Colombo is Sri Lanka's capital and usually the entry to the island nation offering many attractions including temples, gardens, malls & casinos and a brilliant nightlife.  

Kandy, the spiritual capital of Sri Lanka is famous for the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most sacred Buddhist places in the world. Nearby Dambulla Cave Temple is another UNESCO world heritage site which displays over 150 priceless Buddha statues, intricate sacred cave paintings, and huge murals. It is Sri Lanka's best-preserved Buddhist shrine within ancient caves.

Ancient cities like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya are UNESCO World Heritage Sites dotted across the country that showcase impressive archaeological ruins, including towering stupas, ancient palaces, and intricately carved temples. The Cultural Triangle, encompassing these destinations, is a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

As a biodiversity hotspot, Sri Lanka has several national parks and wildlife reserves, including Yala National Park, Wilpattu National Park, and Udawalawe National Park.

The scenic tea plantations of Sri Lanka are also major attractions. The hill country, particularly around Nuwara Eliya and Ella, offers picturesque landscapes of rolling hills covered in neatly manicured tea bushes. Take scenic train rides through these tea-covered hills and indulge in high-quality Ceylon tea while enjoying breathtaking views. 

Sri Lanka is renowned for its Ayurvedic practices and wellness retreats. Pamper yourself with Ayurvedic treatments, yoga, meditation, and spa therapies. Immerse yourself in Sri Lanka's vibrant culture by participating in cultural activities such as traditional dance performances, learning to cook Sri Lankan cuisine, visiting local markets, and interacting with friendly locals.

Must Know Before You Travel to Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka has stabilized since the widespread shortages and large demonstrations and protests in mid-2022. 
  • Opening Time: Most businesses are open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Many museums shut on Fridays, while Hindu temples stay open from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Buddhist temples generally stay open from dawn until dusk or later.
  • Poya (full moon night): Buddhist full moon holiday, which occurs once a month. Most shops and businesses are closed, and the sale of alcohol and meat is prohibited. Also expect less public transportation, especially buses. 
  • Photography: Many stilt fishermen and tea pickers expect to be paid for photographing them. Posing with images of Buddha is not allowed. Also, photography is not permitted inside Hindu temples.
  • Carrying coral, shells, or other protected marine products from Sri Lanka is prohibited.
  • Scams: Stay away if a stranger offers to ship you a parcel of tea or invite you to a special elephant festival
  • Weather: Even though Sri Lanka is a relatively small country in size,  some of the destinations experience different rainy months. Read more about Sri Lanka's weather
  • Contrary to a common assumption that Sri Lanka closely resembles India, there are unique distinctions that make Sri Lanka a truly distinct destination. While both countries share geographical proximity, Sri Lanka boasts a rich tapestry of culture, religion, and culinary traditions that set it apart. The serene beaches of Sri Lanka are some of the finest in South Asia. Even accommodation options in Sri Lanka are not only affordable but also easily accessible. There is also lower crowd density at many sites across Sri Lanka as compared to India. Here are more reasons why Sri Lanka is not like India.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

The best time to visit Sri Lanka is generally from December to March, marking the dry season in most tourist parts of the country. However, Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, with April/May to September being the ideal time to explore the East Coast of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka experiences two different monsoon seasons at different times. So, it implies that where one part of the country is wet, the other can be dry simultaneously.

Peak Season: December to March is the best time to visit Sri Lanka on the western and southern coasts. These months are optimal for exploring beach destinations like Mirissa, Galle, or Colombo, and even the highland destinations of Ella and Nuwara Eliya. The temperature ranges from 25°C to 30°C on the coasts and 15°C to 18°C in the highlands, offering pleasant weather for outdoor activities.

Shoulder Season: April, September, and October constitute the shoulder season with fewer crowds, but it's not rainy during these months.

Off-Season: May to August is the off-season. Frequent showers and higher humidity can characterize the weather in the touristy southern coast. Travelers during these months may experience limitations in outdoor activities and sightseeing due to the rain. However, this is a very good season to explore the East Coast of Sri Lanka, such as Trincomalee, Arugam Bay, etc. with dry weather and clear skies. 

Top places to visit in Sri Lanka by month

Holidify's opinion on Travel to Sri Lanka

What's Great about Travelling to Sri Lanka?

  • Great beaches.
  • Religious and historical sites
  • Rich wildlife
  • Accomodation and transport are relatively affordable
  • Rich traditional values

What's Not So Great about Travelling to Sri Lanka?

  • Pickpocketing and small thefts are common
  • The Road network is not in the best condition in many areas
  • Liquor laws are strict in majority areas

Who should Travel to Sri Lanka?

  • Beach lovers
  • Cultural heritage and history enthusiasts
  • Honeymooners
  • Budget travellers

Read More on Sri Lanka Travel

Exchanging Money in Sri Lanka

MasterCard and Visa cards are widely accepted. We recommend caution when paying by credit card due to the potential for fraud. Major cities have ATMs, although not all will accept international cards. It is advisable to carry cash at hand while travelling.

Nightlife in Sri Lanka

Since the country is just growing out of the war, nightlife is still in its infancy. In the capital city of Columbo, the party culture is emerging with night pubs and bars, lounges and discotheques. Apart from that, in other places, most hotels have bars.
Read more about Nightlife in Sri Lanka

Shopping in Sri Lanka

Special purchases in Sri Lanka include handicraft items made of silver, brass, bone, ceramics, terracotta, and wood. Cane baskets, straw hats, reed and coir mats, spices, and tea have been highly demeaned among tourists. There are a lot of options, such as bazaars, markets, boutiques, and malls where you can shop.
Read more about Shopping in Sri Lanka

Reasons Why Sri Lanka is Different from India

  • Sri Lanka offers a compact island experience, allowing travelers to explore its diverse landscapes, from pristine beaches to lush tea plantations, within a relatively small area.
  • Sri Lanka boasts a rich cultural tapestry with influences from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. You can immerse yourself in the island's unique heritage by exploring ancient temples, participating in traditional festivals, and savoring authentic cuisine.
  • Sri Lanka's compact size makes it easy for tourists to explore its natural wonders, including lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife in national parks such as Yala and Wilpattu.
  • Sri Lankan cuisine delights the palate with its bold flavors and aromatic spices. Travelers can indulge in mouthwatering dishes such as hoppers, kottu roti, and fragrant rice and curry, experiencing a genuine culinary adventure.
  • Sri Lanka is home to ancient cities such as Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, which offer a glimpse into the island's rich history. You can explore well-preserved ruins, majestic stupas, and intricately carved temples.

Hygiene in Sri Lanka

Special precautions need to be taken for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Typhoid. Water, milk, fruits and other consumables must be safe and clean before consumption. It is advised to take comprehensive travel insurance. Hospitals are abundant, some hotels may have doctors, but medical practice standards are low compared to Western medicine standards.

Food of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan food is spicy, with rice and curry as staple food. But you can always ask for less spicy options when you are ordering your food. Thambili, the juice from King Coconut, is very refreshing. It's sold on the side of streets throughout the island.
Read more about Food of Sri Lanka

Top Hotel Collections for Sri Lanka

Photos of Sri Lanka

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FAQs on Sri Lanka

How to reach Sri Lanka from India?

Indians can reach Sri Lanka by air. A number of airlines fly daily from major cities of India to Colombo.


Your rating

Shreyas Kapoor

6 years ago
Sri Lanka is a very clean and a beautiful country. I visited Galle, Mirissa, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Sigiriya and Colombo in June. The beaches were quite empty (because of offseason), beautiful an (Read More)d clean. The mountains were mesmerising and the history related to the country was quite amazing. The train ride part from Ella to Kandy is a must take one. It offers you a combination of enchanting hills, tea plantations, splendid bridges and waterfalls.

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