Sri Lanka information / Top Tips Visiting Sri Lanka

Good knowledge when visiting Sri Lanka

Amazing Sri Lanka

It’s really no wonder that Sri Lanka has become one of Asia’s most sought-after destinations. Read on and find out why.

History, culture, wildlife, food and activities from the lush hill country to its palm tree beaches and awesome people.

There is something for everyone on this delightful and happy tear drop shaped tropical island that is full with bucket list attractions, wonderful and mysterious beaches with enough scenery to last for at least a few months expeditions.

The island has now fully recovered after a distant war, this lovely island is well and truly back on every traveler’s list of “must visit” holiday destinations.

Previously a backpackers dream, there are now a plethora or local and expat operated boutique hotels and five star hotels from the world famous chains.

Here are some “Top Tips” to know before visiting. So have a read before you head on to search for an amazing travel deal, find out a little more about this fascinating place. Then get yourself on a plane and explore for yourself.

You can explore on your own or save time and money by letting us take the strain and sort out your itinerary. Our carefully selected guides work for a fixed fee and take you direct to where you want to go and see what you want to see.  We make your itinerary as flexible as you wish. Choose a VIP package or a explorer package – the choices are all yours.

You can mix and match thus enjoying some pampered rest time and also explore with our “off the beaten track” activities.

We delight in crafting a package for you.

Sri Lanka Weather and Climate

Si Lanka has two main seasons with about a month “change over” between them.

Summer sees the prominent wind coming from the south west which makes the east coast ideal for surfing and watersports holidays. This leaves the south west coast more “tourist free” and you can have some great deals especially with the coastal river safaris and taking your time to explore the coastal towns – each with their own character and attractions.

Winter sees the prevailing wind from the north east, which allows the south west coast to shine with watersports and beach activities. Hikkaduwa’s famous party season is on the beach for all of the winter!. The offshore winds clear the under ocean viability making for some great diving.

The northern hemisphere summer “Yala monsoon” brings onshore winds to the south west coast of the island from April through to September.

The winter “maha monsoon” blows on the east side of the island from November through to March.

The south west coast usually sees the rainy season for a few weeks between mid October and mid November. This is a great time to see thunder storms in between sun bathing sessions.

The religious calendar has a part to play on some of the country’s attractions. Adam’s Peak, for example, becomes the site of a massive pilgrimage between December to May. At this time you can visit one of Sri Lanka’s most important religious sites at its most atmospheric, as well as embark on a pretty impressive climb, with awesome photography opportunities.

Each month there are special days called “poya days” where various religious ceremonies can be experienced. Otherwise, the tourist hotels carry on as normal.

Sri Lanka Transport

Enjoy the variety of amazing transport modes.

Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. An impressive rail network dating back from the British days when tea had to be brought down from the mountains to the ships in harbour.

Sri Lanka’s famous blue train is on most travelers to-do lists. Remember pictures of excited backpackers riding on door thresholds for hours on end whilst they enjoy unparalleled vistas of lush green mountain valleys  passing through numerous tea plantations. This is like no other place on earth.

Buses are the most economical in terms of price and travel time saved.

Buses come in two main forms. There are the intercity buses which operate an express service, for example from the capitol Colombo to the unofficial capitol of “down south” Matara. This route takes the new highway through the middle of the country. Journey time is about 2 hours. The scenery is mainly lush green valleys and occasional tea plantations.

Airport buses are in two forms, A few buses as mentioned above, go direct to Matara from the airport. Otherwise you catch the airport “shuttle” bus which takes under an hour to the main bus stand in Colombo. This bus service is about every 15 minutes in the daytime. From Colombo main bus stand , you have a variety of choices to the main towns.

The local buses are an experience in themselves, brightly lit and decorated in amazing colours. Packed with local people listening to Sri Lankan “Bob Marley” music videos. There are no timetables as such, you just wait by the roadside bus stops where the locals are waiting. And you just hop on – when a bus comes. They are normally very frequent. Baggage – is what you can carry – there is not much space.

Tuk Tuk’s are very popular for local trips – the great advantage is traveling in the open air with unobstructed views. When you stop in traffic, you get to smile and nod at the ever friendly locals. Price is negotiable – very negotiable – so arrange a fixed price before you get in. A few will have a meter – like in Colombo. The other advantage of the Tuk Tuk is that when you are travelling, if you see something you like – you can ask the driver to stop whilst you shop of take photos.

Scooters are available – check what the real situation is with insurance and what licence you need!

Pre arranged airport pickups are the best options for most tourists, especially for first time visitors. After your flight, you want a simple journey to your destination. “Good Hotels Sri Lanka”  and “Sri Lank Island Tours” are “obviously” more than happy to arrange airport pickup for you and your guests.

Sri Lanka – Cash or card?

Make sure you have enough paper money for small items such as Tuk Tuk’s, train, bus fares, small eats – the local favorite. Small hotels will appreciate US Dollars. Bigger hotels accept cash or card. Money changers are in every high street. Shop around for the bets deal. You can get started with some local money on arrival at the airport, after passing through customs and getting your baggage.


Sri Lanka Appropriate Dress

Visits to temples should be appreciated for what they are. Sensible clothing covering upper arms and legs are obvious. Avoid dark colours – white is perfect.

Sri Lanka has so many Buddhist and Hindu temples that can be visited by visitors. Please follow the local customs to show respect, including not standing with your back to Buddha, not wearing any footwear inside the grounds, remember to cover your shoulders and knees. During Full Moon Poya Holidays, people dress entirely in white.

Beach wear is international, remember to cover up appropriately when leaving the beach to go for a snack or shopping.

Evenings are best suited for covering legs and arms – protect you from the bugs!



Sri Lanka On Safari

Elephant and safari at Yala National Park in Sri Lanka
photo credit: jcarillet via iStock
Sri Lanka is one of the best places to go on safari outside of Africa and there are numerous national parks to choose from. It’s worth doing a bit of research to decide which one is right for you and plan your trip accordingly. Love elephants? Then make it Udawalawe National Park. Want to bird watch? Then visit Bundala National Park. A bit of everything? Then go to Yala – the country’s most famous national park, due to its dense leopard population.

Yala is best done as a one dya tour. this will increase your chances of spotting the park’s famously elusive leopards and gives a much more leisurely experience to enjoy all that this wonderful national park has to offer.


Beach Party Time

The party scene is pretty much centered on the coastal towns of Arugam Bay during the summer and Hikkaduwa in the winter. The big cities like Colombo have backpacker-style parties, this a more reasonable party scene compared to excesses in Asia – so you will not find Full Moon style parties here. You will enjoy a much more chilled atmosphere where people focus on enjoy rather than drunken stupor.



Up Country Ella & Worlds End

The hilltop town of Ella makes for a great base to explore the surrounding hill country. It is definitely Sri Lanka’s most tourist-friendly mountain towns. The high street is filled with trendy backpacker bars, restaurants and guesthouses all surrounded by awesome scenery.

The 3 most popular attractions – Nine Arch Bridge, Ella Rock and Mini Adam’s Peak – will involve a fair bit of treking so good footwear is recommended – however many tourists seem to manage with flip flops or sanleds. Take one of our knowledgeable guides and enjoy the experience rather than being frustrated by the “directions” of a helpful local, whos knowledge may be less than their willingness to please you.

If you fancy a full day trek – and it is a trek – then you should consider “The Worlds End”


Sri Lankan Helpful Drivers

Many drivers will offer to accompany travellers the whole trip if possible – why not – they have a guaranteed customer for a week.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, make sure you go where you want to go. Some drivers will be encouraging you to make some extra stops along the way. If you really want to delay your journey, then do so on your terms, it is very tempting to visit the spice garden, herbal remedies, sculptures, clothes shops, tea rooms and Ayurveda treatments.

If you are offered unplanned stops, you can always tell your driver you’ve already visited one – thank you.

Sri Lankan Friendliness and Politeness in Abundance

Sri Lankans in general are outstanding in the friendliness and are so polite. Busy tourist centres will always be what they are, so venture a little off the beaten track and discover real Lankans.  As a seasoned traveller you will naturally be somewhat cautious  when being bombarded by street sellers offering to be your friend and sell you the earth whilst travelling. However, in Sri Lanka, most people that you meet outside of the “tourist scene”  will be genuinely interested in you and your life. Where are you from, are you married, how many kids do you have etc – they really want to be friendly. You will have a more enriched experience if you engage in some initially “guarded” conversation. You can always become more open and ask some questions yourself when you develop a “good feeling” and trust.

For sure there are scam merchants just like anywhere else trying to sell you something, they probably do need the money for their families. However showing the same interest back will open you up to some incredible experiences and allow you to learn even more about this wonderful place, it’s culture and it’s people.

Pack your camera, jump on a plane and let the adventures begin!