Few islands in the world offer the diversity that exists in Sri Lanka; from ancient cities to rich religious festivals, colonial memories to rolling tea plantations and some of the best beaches in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka intoxicates its visitors with a potpourri of cultures, religions, races, customs and sheer natural beauty.
Yala National Park
One of our favourite National Parks, Yala is located in south east Sri Lanka and home to many animals including Leopards, Elephants, species of birdlife, flora and fauna. Enjoy game drives as you traverse forest, grassland and lagoons.
Visit the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya including the water gardens, frescoes, mirror wall, and the stunning Lion Rock rising 200 metres above a forested plain. The walk up is worth it as you can see rock carvings along the way and the view from the top is fantastic!
Visit five separate caves which contain about 150 stunning Buddha statues and paintings. These are some of Sri Lanka’s most important and evocative religious art. Buddha images were first created here over 2000 years ago, and over the centuries subsequent kings added to and embellished the cave art.
Famous for its tea trails, set in the heart of ‘tea country’, Hatton is accessible by train and it is worth the journey to get there! Explore the immaculate tea trails, learn about the production of tea and enjoy the unspoilt beauty of this pristine area.
Galle A coastal city south of Colombo, Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the perfect place to explore on foot. Set along picturesque coastline Galle is known for its colonial architecture, churches and museums.
Sri Lanka’s climate is rather complicated for such a small country, due to the fact that the island is affected by two separate monsoon seasons.
Low season is between May and August when the weather in the North and East is best during this time. The Yala monsoon season brings rain to the south and west coasts plus the Hill Country.
The shoulder season of April and September to November offer the best odds for good weather countrywide. New Year’s celebrations in mid-April cause transport to fill beyond capacity.
High season is between December to March where the Hill Country plus west- and south-coast beaches are busiest – and driest. With beds in demand, prices peak. The Maha monsoon season (October to January) keeps the East, North and Ancient Cities wet.
I loved exploring the ancient sites in Sri Lanka. Their temples can only be described as legendary! Sigiriya or Lion Rock was a highlight for me. From the top (after climbing too many stairs to count!), you are rewarded with spectacular views over the ancient city. The ruins at Polonnaruwa are fascinating, with ancient sculptures of Buddha cut into granite stone dating back to the 12th century. A trip to Sri Lanka is not complete without a visit to Kandy, nestled in the foothills of tea country.
An evening tour to the Temple of the Tooth to witness the Puja ceremony is a must. A true highlight was a visit to Pedro Tea Estate to learn how tea is produced – what a process! Driving through the winding roads to reach the estate, you are rewarded with stunning views of rolling hills, dotted with colourfully dressed tea pickers hard at work. Concluding the day with a cuppa tea was the perfect end to a wonderful tour.
Currency The Sri Lankan currency is the rupee
Language Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka. English is widely spoken.
Why we love it Sri Lanka is spectacular, it’s affordable and it’s still often uncrowded. Now is the best time to discover it. Distances are short. We love that you can see the sacred home of the world’s oldest living tree in the morning (Anuradhapura) and stand awestruck by the sight of hundreds of elephants gathering in the afternoon (Minneriya). Spend your days discovering the beaches, visiting 2000-year-old temples, strolling through mellow villages and delight in the beautiful birds and wildflowers.
Weather – There is usually good weather somewhere on the island, at most times of the year. The best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September. Temperatures remain fairly constant year-round. Coastal and lowland areas enjoy average daytime temperatures of around 26–30°C (often climbing up well into the 30°Cs during the hottest part of the day). Temperatures decrease with altitude, reducing to a temperate 18–22°C in Kandy, and a pleasantly mild 14–17°C in Nuwara Eliya and the highest parts of the island – nights in the hills can be quite chilly, with temperatures sometimes falling close to freezing.
Social customs and quirks Sri Lankans place great emphasis on manners, you’ll see this exemplified by the fabulously courteous staff at top-end hotels. Sri Lankans are very proud of their island, its national achievements and (especially) their cricket team. “Sri Lanka good?” is one of the questions most commonly asked of visitors. Public physical displays of affection in public are also frowned upon – Sri Lankan couples hide behind enormous umbrellas in the quiet corners of parks and botanical gardens. You should eat and shake hands with people using your right hand.
All visitors to Buddhist and Hindu temples should be appropriately dressed. In Buddhist templesthis means taking off shoes and headgear and covering your shoulders and legs. The same shoe and dress rules apply in Hindu temples, with a couple of twists. In some, non-Hindus aren’t permitted to enter the inner shrine; in others, men are required to take off their shirt before entering, and women are sometimes barred entirely.
Finally, you should never have yourself photographed posing with a Buddha image (that is, with your back to the image).
Health* There are currently no health requirements to enter Sri Lanka
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.
Thank you for arranging a fabulous trip. If I tried to pick out the highlights, I'd just about list the entire itinerary! Apart from seeing the south western part of the country, we were specifically interested in our ancestors former homes and tea plantations and we were very successful in finding those. All the hotels were great.
The planned activities were excellent and in particular the guides - Juliet Coombe in Galle, and the boatman on the Kapu Ela River. The driver/guide on our three game drives at Udawalawe was amazing - his knowledge and what he could spot was incredible. Sri Sivalingam in Colombo was so interesting and informative. However, the absolute gem on our trip was our driver/guide Udaya! He is exceptional - pleasant, courteous, a superb driver (I get horribly nervous on winding mountain roads, but at all times felt fully confident of his driving). Nothing was ever a problem or difficult for him, especially when we were trying to find remote plantations. He was informative but never intrusive, always bright and cheerful - we couldn't have had better - he was wonderful! So many thanks to everyone who had a hand in the organisation of our trip - we both thoroughly enjoyed it.