Video Credit : Lonely Planet
A hidden gem in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a stunning country, which boasts of a rich history, ancient culture, countless beaches and lush tropical landscape.
If you are looking for a unique vacation destination without the mad crowds, this is where you should head off to.
“Sri Lanka is an island that everyone loves at some level inside themselves. A very special island that travelers from Sinbad to Marco Polo dreamed about.” - RomeshGunesekera
The island nation of Sri Lanka is a stunning tropical paradise. With beautiful balmy beaches, lush green rainforests, a respectful culture and rich history, this country is the up and coming destination in Asia.
Its bright sunny weather and breathtaking destinations make it an extremely Instagram perfect place. The culture of Sri Lanka is incredibly unique and the locals are simple, friendly and kind.
It is still largely a hidden gem and hence, you will be able to enjoy an amazing vacation without the commercialization of popular tourist spots. Here are some important things to know before going to Sri Lanka.
1. Apply for visa in advance
Other than the nationals of three countries, Seychelles, Maldives and Singapore, everyone visiting Sri Lanka requires a visa to enter the country. To promote tourism in the country, the Sri Lankan government has introduced free visa at zero cost for the residents of a number of nations recently.
However, they would still need a visa to enter. It is better to apply online in advance. However if you do qualify for visa on arrival, make sure you keep some time in hand for the procedures.
2. It is safe to travel
Despite its turbulent past which ended definitely not very long ago, Sri Lanka is largely safe to travel. Other than minor risks one can run anywhere in the world, tourists in this country are treated like revered guests.
It is a great destination if you are a solo female traveler as well. There is only one caution which you should follow and that is not to engage yourself in any political activity or protests here.
3. Get your currency changed in the country
When traveling to Sri Lanka, it is best to carry dollars on you, which you can get changed into Sri Lankan Rupee at one of the many moneychangers of the country. Since their currency is not a very common one, chances are that money exchange companies in your country will charge you a higher rate than that you can get in Sri Lanka.
4. You might experience some rain
Sri Lanka is a tropical country. The weather is warm to hot all year round. Although it does technically have a monsoon season with heavy rains, expect light to heavy downpours of short duration during the evenings or afternoons.
5. Animal sightings are common
It is not uncommon to have your way blocked by a stray cow, peacock, monkey or even an elephant crossing the road. While it is not common in the urban centers, you will come across this while traveling through the forested areas of the country.
The nation respects its forests and wildlife immensely and hence, wildlife sighting is not uncommon in the protected jungles. Do not panic or yell, simply wait it out and let them cross.
6. Skip the spa and go for Ayurvedic treatment
Nothing is more relaxing than a nice soothing spa at the end of a hard day of traveling. However, in Sri Lanka, skip the spa and go for Ayurveda. When it comes to Ayurveda Retreat Sri Lanka is simply amazing. Book yourself an appointment for rejuvenating Ayurvedic massages, facials, and hair and body treatments.
7. Start with ample time in hand
Traffic jams are quite common here as the roads can be extremely busy. Therefore, it is a good idea to start with ample time in hand. Make use of its extensive railway system whenever you can to avoid traffic congestion.
The scenery along the railway lines is breathtaking. Driving here might be a little crazy experience so observe the roads for a day before you rent a car.
8. Stay hydrated while traveling
Sri Lanka is a tropical country with hot and humid climate, which leads to a lot of perspiration. Therefore, keep yourself hydrated at all times. Tap water is not safe for consumption so it’s better to stick to bottled water. Carry your bottle around while traveling. If you feel sick at any moment, drink some ORS for instant hydration.
9. Dress appropriately
Sri Lanka is largely a conservative religious country. While there is no exact dress code, it is respectful to stay a little covered up if you are visiting temples or smaller villages off the popular tourist places and urban centers.
Swimwear and bikinis are acceptable on the beach but you should cover up while returning, if your route goes through a village or inhabited area. Take off your shoes and hats before entering a place of worship.
10. Opt for local cuisine
Many restaurants in the city will offer you a multicuisine fare on their menu, however it is best to opt for the local Sri Lankan food. It is the freshest and most authentic food you will get. The international food might not be what you are used to as it is often modified to suit local tastes.
11. Carry ample cash
While a number of establishments take card payments, you will need cash for smaller establishments and street shopping. It is safe to carry ample cash on you so that you do not run short of money, in case there is a link failure and card payment doesn’t work. There are ATMs you can withdraw money from, with a little extra surcharge for the transaction.
12. Carry common medicines
Always carry common medications that you might need as the brand names are different and it can be confusing trying to buy medicines in a foreign country. If you need to use, carry or buy any prescription drugs, make sure you have the doctor’s prescription, which, can be produced if needed.
Thus, to come to a conclusion…
Located between Southeast Asia and India, the island nation of Sri Lanka is indeed a hidden gem. With its warm weather and warmer people, amazing food and respectful culture, you will feel welcomed every second of your stay.
It has a unique culture and history, which contributes to making the country so different from its neighbors. Experience the beauty of Sri Lanka first hand, and you will be left with memories of a lifetime!