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Ultimate Guide To Your Sri Lanka Holidays

Tea estate nuwara eliya

Ultimate Guide To Your Sri Lanka Holidays

Sri Lanka holidays would be many people’s selection as Sri Lanka has transformed into a favourite holiday spot in Asia or even in the whole world. Cities as well as countryside often very clean and dominated by the natural green cover. The island has a very good road network system and transport system allowing you to get around Sri Lanka without any trouble during the sightseeing of your Sri Lanka holidays.

Today, the visitors to the island can see all the wealth and vibrant history of the island. The travellers will sense the unique conservative lifestyle and structure of the people. The visitors to the island are thrilled by the densely grown green canopy of the countryside and old buildings. Kandy is the cultural centre of the country and perhaps the most picturesque city in the country.

Sri Lanka is a place with twisting narrow alleys, Bustling market areas, Buddhist temples, and a large number of tourist hotels, where most travellers are anchoring for their Sri Lanka holidays. Sri Lanka is a relatively small country and easy to travel on well-developed transport options such as buses, trains, taxis, seaplanes. In Sri Lanka, you can reach any part of the country within several hours.

A walk along the coastal belt is a worthwhile expedition and good way to have an enjoyable afternoon. One part of Sri Lankan beaches (east or west) is always ready to accommodate beach holiday enthusiast during the year. So, take a look at the sri lanka weather, sri lanka rain eason and see where is it most suitable for the beach holidays before you head to the island.

Ceylon or Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka (about Sri Lanka) or Ceylon as it was called in 18’s is also called the pearl of the orient. This small island is an exotic heaven of palm fringes shore-line and crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean and blue sky. This teardrop-shaped island is situated just south of India. Therefore some people call it the teardrop of India.

Sri Lanka is an ideal holiday destination for travellers who love exploration and travel. Sri Lanka is a very peaceful country and ideal for a peaceful holiday, Sri Lanka is an ideal place for people who were trapped in routine for a long time and need to have a really really good break. After you spend few days of your Sri Lanka holidays you will be convinced that the island is amazingly diverse and interesting. And the country offers everything a traveller needs in a destination.

How big Is Sri Lanka?

The island is 65610 km2, the maximum width of the country is 225 km while it is only 425 km from north to south. The island is one of the best-known tropical holiday destinations in the world has a unique passionate environment. This small island is blessed with seven world heritage sites and 24% per cent of the country is covered by the upper canopy of the evergreen tropical forests. The island is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and white-coloured sandy beaches. Starting from the shoreline the elevation of Sri Lanka rises up to 2524 meters from the sea level. The highest point of  the island is located in the middle of the country, and it is known as Pidurutalagala.

Sri Lanka Holiday

Sri Lanka a cultural melting pot

The island has a vibrant culture and tradition that enriched with a large number of ethnic identities. Traders, colonizers, invaders, travellers, were the main contributors to the Sri Lankan culture. Sri Lankan shores were visited by Greek, Chinese, Indian, Arabs, Persian, Portuguese, Malays, Dutch and British. They came here at different periods and country has inherited some disadvantages as well as advantages from their stay.

The island is an ethnic melting pot and it has many different cultures, religions, tradition and customs. But the Sri Lankan culture is identified as Sinhalese Buddhist culture and national languages are Sinhalese and Tamil. English is the third most popular language on the island and the majority of the people are capable of conversing in English. If the travellers can converse in English there is no barrier for them to go around the country in solo.

Buddha statue

History

As per the legend, first settlers in the island were two tribal folks namely Yaksas (demons) and Nagas (snakes). Archaeological pieces of evidence suggest that they were occupying the island during the Stone Age. Later these Stone Age settlers have spread to other parts of the country. But with the arrival of Sinhalese in the 5th century BC, native tribal folks had become a lesser important ethnic group. Due to the influence of Sinhalese, which makes the majority of the population today, tribal folks had retreated into southern parts of the mountain range. Today a fraction these Stone Age inhabitants are living in the area called Dambana and they are called Weddas. Local tour companies are including the Weddas territory in Sri Lanka holidays on request of the clients. Don’t forget to ask your tour operator to included dambana in your Sri Lanka holidays,  if you wish to explore the life of Sri Lankan aborigines.

Vedda community had been the first inhabitants of the country and the history of these tribal groups is going back to the Stone Age period. But in the 5th century BC, the monsoon wind of Indian Ocean had carried a group of sailors from Lala Rata of India to the shores of North-west Sri Lanka. These foreigners formed the settlements on the island and overpowered the control on the island of indigenous inhabitants. The group was led by king Vijaya and they are the origin of Sinhalese people. Today Sinhalese are the main ethnic group of the island with 74% of contribution to the population. Later through the intermarriages of local and foreigners and settlements of invaders paved the way to new ethnic groups. The language, which was in use among the Sinhalese, had become the national language of the island.

Colonial Sri Lanka

In the early 1500’s Portuguese led by Lorenzo De Almeida landed in southern Sri Lanka. Later they built the first fortification in the island. Portuguese snatched the control over the maritime region from the Kandyan king and enjoyed the monopoly over the spice trade. Sri Lanka had been one of the biggest spice producers in the world during that time and enjoy the same reputation until today.

Beaches an essential part evey Sri Lanka holidays

bentota beach areal view

Beaches can be described as the single most important natural attraction of the island. The islands border is formed by the palm swaying tropical beaches and it is about 1300 km in length. This natural resource helps the island to attract holiday lovers from all around the world. Especially during the winter season in the northern hemisphere Sri Lanka is visited by a large number of European countries such as Germany, Great Britten, France, Switzerland, America etc.

The warm water of the Indian Ocean around the country harbours many species of exotic fish, animal, coral, sea plants and centuries-old shipwrecks. Therefore Sri Lanka has become a diving hot spot for the diving enthusiast in the world.  Other than diving and snorkelling and sea bathing Sri Lanka has ideal conditions for various other activities such as surfing, kite surfing, fishing, boating, whale watching, dolphin watching etc.

Sri Lanka offers stunning beaches to explore; most of them are far less crowded than most beaches in the region. Most travellers are enticed by the palm-fringed pristine beaches and most travellers don’t forget to hit the beaches during their Sri Lanka holiday. Therefore beautiful pristine beaches in the low-country area attract a large portion of tourist traffic to the country.

Sri Lanka beach resorts offer fantastic hotel deals making it very affordable to have a beach stay in the country. Over the past few years, Sri Lanka has become a hotbed of tourism. For the modern travellers’ lodging and holidays, Sri Lanka provides 1300 km of stunning snow-white tropical beaches. The travellers have the option to choose a place to sleep from basic home-stay accommodation to extremely luxurious hotels. Travellers can relish all kind of water sports such as snorkelling, diving, surfing, kitesurfing, swimming, whale watching and fishing.

With so much to see and do, it can be difficult to ascertain where to start your holiday in Sri Lanka. Following is a guide to your Sri Lanka holidays and what you can expect during your Sri Lanka holidays.

Sri Lanka upcountry

Ella gap by seerendipity

Some people think Sri Lanka is a flat land without any noteworthy geographical upheavals. But, the highest point of the island rises up to 2524 meters above sea level. Same times there are hundreds of isolated mountains on the island, which surpass the 1000 meters mark. Spectacular sceneries across the mountains are most prominent in the higher elevated areas.

Beautiful mountains seem to be everywhere in the central mountain range, here you breadth fresh and cool air. Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela, Haputale and Ella are the most popular destination in Sri Lanka with the healing climate in the mountains. Especially ell is a very popular holiday destination for the foreign tourists in Sri Lanka. Ella is locality with rugged terrain where you get a large number of mountains, valleys, waterfalls, tea plantations etc. The number of opportunities for nature lovers is endless in Ella with treks and paths for trekking, mountain climbing, walking and caving.

Polonnaruwa
Watadage of Polonnaruwa is a circular building with unique architecture, which is a very important monument and located near Shiva devala.

Visiting Cultural triangle

Any Sri Lanka road trip to Sri Lanka should include a visit to the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. This is where you see the cream of Sri Lankan rich historical past. Most of the world heritage sites of Sri Lanka are to be found here. You have the opportunity to study the stunning ancient cities and exquisite artwork of the artisans, who lived thousands of years ago. Here you can see a large number of temples, palaces, gardens, fortresses, reservoirs and well-planned canal system.

There are a large number of clear lakes doted in the dry-zone and it is numbering several thousand. The tourist traffic who is fascinated with foreign culture and history is heading to the dry-zone of Sri Lanka. You never find so much of evidence of Sri Lankan history in any other part of the island, because the majority of historically important cities such as Anuradhapura are to be found in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. UNESCO World heritage sites such as Sigiriya, Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa belongs to the dry zone of Sri Lanka. I think the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka should be included in a Sri Lanka holiday package if it is to be a well balanced holiday experience with nature, culture and history.

tooth relic temple

You Will Meet Most Friendly People in the world During Your Sri Lanka Holidays

Sri Lanka is a country with a multi-ethnic, Multi-cultural and multi-religion society. This tiny island is the home for nearly 21 million people. Despite the diversity of culture, tradition, customs of different ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, one thing that takes you surprise is the friendliness of the people.

Sri Lanka is popular in the world since the very early days of human civilization as a country with warm friendly people. The friendliness of Sri Lanka is known to the entire world, Sri Lankan’s are very friendly, you will not be able to find warm, welcoming people like Sri Lankan’s anywhere in the world.

This valuable image is still well preserved among the people of the island. You are not treated as a foreigner by the people of Sri Lanka; they see you as a mutual friend. Therefore unlike many other holiday destinations, it is very easy to travel around the country and people are always willing to help travellers. Sri Lanka people treat you with maximum hospitality so don’t forget to make some friend in Sri Lanka, if you happened to be on the island.

Don’t be surprised to see that you are greeted with a little hello by almost everyone that you meet in the hotel, during the sightseeing or even on the road. Even you are a stranger in Sri Lanka you are not treated that way you immediately feel like being in your home country.

rice and curry sri lanka

A unique culinary feast

Average Sri Lankan is often obsessed with food and drinks with valid reason. Yes, they have world class spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, fennel, pepper, chilli and coconut oil in abundance, but these are a fraction of best-known ingredients of the rich spicy Sri Lankan kitchen.

Sri Lanka traditional food and drinks show a blend of many cultures. Sri Lankan kitchen has absorbed the taste of other nations in the past, especially as it was under the colonial influence. It is not rare to find dishes papered to Portuguese, Dutch and English recipes. But, Sri Lankans are very cautious about retaining the unique identity of their strong traditional recipes. Sri Lankan milk rice, a dish of all important occasion, spicy omelettes, curry, hoppers, string hoppers, wade are few unique meals ought to be mentioned here.

The secret of traditional Sri Lankan meals is largely depending on the homely grown incalculable variety of spices. The spices not only create rich taste but also generate strong aroma arousing the taste buds. Traditional cooking methods were handed down from generation to generation proved to have germ-killing power due to the usage of a number of spices. Undoubtedly Sri Lanka is one of the best places to enjoy a tasty blend of Rice and curry. Drop into one of the traditional village restaurants and serve yourself a meal of your choice. Don’t forget to have some ground coconut, maybe it is too spicy for you.

Endless choices of seafood

Most Travellers do not forget to taste delicious Sr Lankan food during their Sri Lanka holiday, forgetting to try Sr Lankan food definitely is a big mistake, because the food culture in Sri Lanka is totally different than most other countries in the world. It is easy to find typical local food at every corner of the island. Especially you cant afford to forget seafood during your Sri Lanka holiday, it is pulled straight from the sea. Fish, meat and vegetables are converted to heavenly delicious curry with the freshest natural spices and condiment. Rice is the staple food of the country and prepared after many recipes, of course with different taste.

Shopping in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a heaven for shoppers. Gem-studded jewellery, gems, clothes, wood carvings, Tea, silver and brass wear are of excellent choice. Statues, masks, batik and Sri Lankan doorways are some of the fascinating souvenirs here. Other great choice s for shoppers are spices, Silver jewellery, semi-precious stones, furniture and, woven baskets.

How much does Sri Lanka holidays cost?

Sri Lanka is a leading holiday destination in the world, mainly due to its popularity as one of the most affordable long-haul destinations in the world. Sri Lanka holiday enables you to have happy experiences at an affordable price.  Sri Lanka is a very affordable holiday destination than most popular holiday destinations in the region such as Thailand, Korea, China, Malaysia and Singapore.  Even though alcohol is very expensive in the region, In Sri Lanka alcohol is very cheap.

The local brands of wine, beer, and arrack are very affordable but due to the heavy tax imported brands are expensive. Sri Lanka is predominantly a second world country with 20 million people. The majority of the people (60%) falls into the category of Middle-income earners.  Therefore there are plenty of opportunities to get cheap food and drinks in local places. In Sri Lanka, it is difficult to get a working permit as a foreigner. You can drink a massive 425 ml beer for just 5-6 US$. If you dine at a local restaurant it would cost around 3-6 US$ for a local meal. You may come across cheaper menus at food courts and street bazaars but the prices at high-quality restaurants are more expensive than what I mentioned earlier.  As the prices go up so is the hygiene, quality and taste.

For sleeping, there are plenty of options in the west coast areas such as Bentota and Colombo.  But, you may find some difficulties in the southern and eastern parts of the country due to the lack of accommodation facilities.  Prices of accommodation are varied largely depending on the season and popularity of the resort. Finding a good quality place to sleep for less than 50US$ is not difficult here. Same times there are places to sleep, where travellers spend as much as 2500 US$ per night.  So, everything depends on your budget, whether you are a budget conscious traveller of the luxury seeker, there is a bed for you.  You may be finding some difficulties to organize accommodation during the peak season (Nov-April). Therefore it is highly advisable to have a confirmed hotel reservation before you arrive on the island.

Peradeniya botanical garden

Biodiversity

Even though Sri Lanka is small in size the country is very rich in biodiversity. Being an island for centuries there is very high endemism among the fauna and flora of the island. It is estimated that 23% of flowering plants are endemic to the island while it is 16% among the island’s fauna species. Topographic variations of Sri Lanka have caused different climatic zones with distinct differences of fauna and flora species. The island is ranked among the biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Flora of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka boasts to have many rainforests within its limited geographical expansion. There are many tropical forests in the country and some of them are declared as world heritage sites (Sinharaja, Knuckles). The Bio-diversity of Sri Lankan forests is at the very high level and most of the forests are declared as bio-diversity hot spots. Therefore, Sri Lanka has become a destination for nature holiday lovers, who like to explore evergreen forests around the world. If you happened to be in Sri Lanka don’t forget to visit one of the nearby forests of your hotel and enjoy one of the most valuable natural assets of Sri Lanka.

Wildlife of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is not yet another safari destination like Kenya, but this beautiful island is gifted with a large array of animal, birds, vertebrates, amphibians, insects, fish and many other creatures. There are many national parks on the island and visitors have the opportunity to witness the large number of animals including leopard, Elephant, bear, crocodile, and deer. Yala national park is ranked among the best places to see leopards in the world. And being the country with the highest population of wild elephant in Asia, Sri Lanka is the best country to spot wild jumbos in the region.

One interesting thing about Sri Lanka is the diversity of attractions and all these attractions are located close to each other. You may surprise to hear that all these attractions can be visited on a several days journey. So, don’t think twice get the maximum of your holiday with the least money and least time call or write us.

A scenic train journey through the mountains

Sri Lanka is a green country and still has a large tract of forests for exploration. Mount Pidurutalagala is the highest point of the country and standing like a sentinel over the city of Nuwara Eliya and guarding it against the destructive elements.

sri lanka mountains

The railway in the mountains is the steepest part of the railway in the country and transports thousands of visitors across the beautiful valleys and mountains every year. You will be rewarded with great vistas on the days with clear skies along the railway track here. Up-country railway track from Kandy to Ella is the most scenic among all rail journeys in Sri Lanka, especially the foreign tourists love it. Therefore apart from a large number of Sri Lankan commuter, many tourists are also travelling between Kandy and Ella by train. Many Sri Lanka holiday packages are included with this scenic rail journey, if it is not included in your Sri Lanka tour package don’t forget to ask your tour operator to add it to your Sri Lanka tour. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience the alluring countryside and green-capped mountains that you never be able to experience while travelling by car.

Temple of the Tooth Relic

Temple of the Tooth Relic

Including Kandy in your Sri Lank holidays is a must, because failing to do so deprive your visit to the most important cultural city of the island. Dalada Maligawa or temple of the tooth is the most famous landmark in the central province of Sri Lanka alongside is the Kandy Lake, which owes its existence to the last king of Sri Lanka. There are numerous other attractions here including Royal Botanical garden Peradeniya, cultural museum, historical museum, Udawattakele sanctuary, Natha Devala etc.

Esala Ceremony
Eala ceremony is the most beautiful and important cultural event in Kandy and attracts a large number of tourists to the city

Can I see Esala Ceremony during my Sri Lanka holidays?

Esala ceremony is one of the most colourful pageants in the island should be a witness if your Sri Lanka holidays planned in parallel to the ceremony period (July/August). The most important cultural event in the islands and which is known as the Esala ceremony is taking place here. It draws a large number of local and foreign travellers, numbering more than half a million people. Due to the large influx of tourists in Kandy, it might be difficult to find accommodation during the sals ceremony and advanced booking is strongly recommended. A large number of travellers specifically organize their Sri Lanka holiday during the month July/August in order to witness this most beautiful pageant on the island.

Posted by

Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on info@seerendipitytours.com

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