Sri Lanka seems like a tame country but it can surprise you with amazing experiences. The beautiful landscapes, delicious foods, crumbling ruins, the wildlife and the hospitality of the locals are all things to look forward to. Sri Lanka is a little chaotic and is reminiscent of India in that sense. Travelling its expanse is easy to do since most of the locals understand English. Don’t be surprised if you see overcrowded buses or trains- that’s just how things are here. Here are some tips that can help you when you travel to Sri Lanka:
Tip #1: Relish the local food- The local food in Sri Lanka is to die for. Outside of Colombo, you won’t find much non-Sri Lankan or non-Indian food. In the major cities, all you will find is a bad attempt at foreign cuisines anyway. So we recommend you stick to the local food. It is extremely delicious. Everything from Balaji Dosai in Kandy, Ahinsa in Sigiriya, Upali’s in Colombo, Hot Hut in Nuwara Eliya and even small restaurants across bus stations serve food that is absolutely delicious. Food is super cheap here so you can get full meals in 1-3$ as long as you stick to local food.
Tip #2: Tuk Tuk your way to places- Hiring a Tuk Tuk is cheap. Most drivers will let you hire them for the day. You will end up paying around 20 USD for the entire day. With the exception of Colombo, most Tuk Tuk drivers are honest and won’t overcharge you. In Colombo however, be prepared to bargain a little hard.
Tip #3: Travel by train- Travelling the scenic route via train is highly recommended. While slower, trains are the cheapest way to get around in Sri Lanka. It is advised to book your train in advance. Do this through an agency in advance since it cannot be booked in person unless it is done 4 days prior to the departure date. You can get a last-minute second class ticket which will get you a cramped seat in a crowded area.
Tip #4: Show up early at Sigiriya- If you plan to visit this place, get there at 8 am when it opens. After 10 am, the crowds get intense and the long single file of people in line will discourage you from even visiting. Also if you notice the ticket line at Anuradhapura, skip it. It is needed only if you are entering the museum. If you plan on just entering the site, you can skip the ticket.
Tip #5 Don’t expect great accommodation- Hostels and accommodation aren’t the best but they provide the minimum needed in order to survive and thrive. If you look in the right places, there are lots of places with cheap accommodation which also provide breakfast. Private rooms with bathrooms attached can start from 10 USD a night.
Sri Lanka is extremely cheap to visit and explore. With a budget of around 40 USD a day, you will more than thrive in this gorgeous country. This is especially true if you stick to the delicious local cuisine and travel second class on trains and buses. The people are super friendly and overall your experience in this country will definitely be amazing.
Where to go in Sri Lanka? Wherever you can, is the right answer. Most travellers go to the south of the country where there is hiking and even beach towns. The north of the country is said to be in ruins after the effects of war, but it is recommended to visit if you want to get an added perspective of the country’s ethos and culture.
So these have been our tips to keep in mind while visiting Sri Lanka. We wish you the best and travel safe.