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Sri Lanka Tourism And Travel Guide
27° C / 80.5° F
December to February
7 to 14 Days
Bandaranaike International Airport
Sri Lanka is a country of great diversity, both in landscape and in culture. With a history exceeding over 2000 years, every city has numerous stories of historic significance attached to it. Sri Lanka has many picturesque beaches, lagoons, mountain ranges, tropical forests and wildlife complementing its colourful culture. When planning a trip to Sri Lanka one should keep in mind the sheer size of the island; and it would be best if the trip is a long one. Here is a Sri Lanka tourism and travel guide to help design your dream vacation.
How To Reach
Sri Lanka has been an important destination for a very long time, thus establishing an efficient transport system to the island. The easiest and most cost effective way to reach Sri Lanka is to fly to Colombo and then take a train to other inland destinations. Indian travellers can note that visas are available on arrival.
The Bandaranaike International Airport, located in Colombo is the most used airport and Sri Lankan Airlines is currently the most used flight service to reach Colombo. They have services to major cities in Asia, Europe and Australia. There are a number of private flight services from India as well. These flights leave India from all major cities quite regularly.
Travelling by sea to Sri Lanka can be quite an experience, but it is one that will be expensive. There are a number of cruises leaving Mumbai depending on the weather, that stop in various cities in Sri Lanka. These cruises usually last for a week or so.
Within the cities, transportation is quite easy. There are the local taxis, the tuk-tuks and buses. Train and bus services are available to travel to other cities. Most such services are centred in Colombo. Colombo is also connected to the rest of the island by the renowned Fort Railway Line, used extensively for inter-city travel within Sri Lanka. The rail lines in this island nation are well laid-out and trains are a pretty good way to travel.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The climate of Sri Lanka is heavily influenced by the Monsoons, since the temperature remains more or less constant throughout the year. There are two major monsoon seasons, one affecting the south western coast and another affecting the north eastern coasts. Since most tourist locations are either on the southern or western coasts the best time to visit would be from the months between December and February.
Yala Monsoon Season (Mid-April to September):
This is the more severe of the two monsoon seasons. These months are accompanied by heavy rain and the atmosphere is usually humid. The temperatures at the coasts average on 30°C.
First Intermittent Monsoon Season (October and November):
This is a season of unpredictable weather conditions. There can be heavy torrential rains depending on the oceanic conditions. This is a season often avoided by tourists for its inconsistency.
Maha Monsoon Season (December to February):
This season brings with it mostly dry and cold winds from the North West. During these months even coastal regions find a drop in temperatures, averaging at 25°C during the day. This season sees an huge influx of tourists and can be described as the best time to visit the popular parts of the country.
Second Intermittent Monsoon Season (March to Mid-April):
This season can also have torrential rains, but it is less severe. However, the season does experience hot and humid weather conditions.
Things To Do
Sri Lanka has a variety of options to pick from for people of all interests. Here are a few of the most popular tourist activities that Sri Lanka offers.
Monasteries and Temples:
The Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Asia. There are many other monasteries spread throughout the island. A fine example is the Dambulla Cave Temple, a temple carved into a rock that houses beautiful paintings and sculptures.
Forts from different historic timelines can be found dispersed throughout Sri Lanka. There are forts from as early as the 5th century. The Sigiriya Fortress built into a massive rock structure is an example from this period. From the colonial period, there are a number of Portuguese and Dutch forts. Galle fort at the bay of Galle and Star Fort near Colombo are the more prominent ones from this period.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling:
Many beaches in Sri Lanka are fit for Scuba Diving and Snorkelling, but the most popular among them is at Hikkaduwa. Some beaches also have clusters of corals decorating the sea bed.
This much sought after water sport has centres in many of the popular beaches. The best beaches for surfing are at Weligama, Hikkaduwa, Arugam and Bentota. Kalpitiya Lagoon offers kite surfing training for the more adventurous lot. Everything starting from training to equipment will be provided by the centres.
Trekking and Rock Climbing:
Sri Lanka’s Knuckle mountain range is home to some of the best trekking routes. These should take about a whole day usually, so a night's stay at camps in the forest is usual. Some well-known treks include summiting Adam’s Peak, Trekking through tea-estates like Bogawantawala etc. If you feel like rock climbing then no location is as challenging as the waterfalls at Bambarakanda.
Perhaps the most exciting of all, whale watching at Marissa Fishery Port is a cruise that starts at Galle. Blue whales and dolphins are the most spotted beasts, though the port is also home to other varieties like sperm whales and killer whales.
Most Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks like Udawalawe and Yala National Parks offer Jeep Safaris. Leopard and Elephant sightings are the highlights of these safaris. Udawalawe National Park also offers elephant safari.
Sri Lanka has as many eateries as it has trees. These may scale from high end restaurants and international food franchises to cheap eateries and street food with a mainly local crowd. All highways are also dotted with a large number of restaurants. If you are curious about the cuisine, one dish you must try is the kottu roti. This is a slightly spicy dish that has a variety of Sri Lankan bread mixed with vegetables and meat. Another trending Sri Lankan food is kiribaath, a sort of pudding made out of Rice and milk. Besides their plethora of tropical cuisines they are also blessed with mouth-watering tropical fruits, of which the orange coconut tops the list. Its extra ordinarily sweet water is welcome refreshment to the heat of the island.
There are quite a few local markets strewn about in Sri Lanka but there a few favourites among tourists, namely Good Market, Pettah, Jaffna Market, Central Market in Kandy and a few more. The items to look out for include Sri Lanka’s famed tea leaves, herbs and oils, spices, tropical fruits, clothes and of course jewellery.
The speciality at Good Market is its organic produce. Though the market may seem smallish, they do have quite a variety of items. Jaffna Market at the northern province of Sri Lanka is famed for its sweets. Pettah and the central market at Kandy are known for being shopping centres where the locals get their goods. They deal with almost all the above mentioned specialities. For those who are staying for a long duration, the Negombo Fish Market is a must visit for its great variety and cheap prices.