Planning a trip to Srilanka anytime soon? Here is everything you need to know before planning a trip to Srilanka.
What is the best time to visit?
Well, this will depend on what part of the country you want to visit because Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons. If you want to visit mainly the beaches on south coast and west coast and the tea region then December-March are the best months to plan a trip. But if you want to visit between May-october, the north and east regions are dry.
How many days do you need here?
As many days as you can take off. Seriously though! It is such beautiful country that you will want to extend your stay. We had a little more than 2 weeks but still felt like we needed more time. But if you don’t have that long, we suggest at least 9 days ( 5 days off and two weekends on each side). It will give you enough time to explore the tea region, Kandy, the beaches on south coast and Galle.
If you have 5 days:
Day 1: Colombo
Day 2: Kandy
Day 3: Nuwara Eliya
Day 4-5: Galle & Unawatuna
If you have 7 days:
Day 1: Colombo
Day 3: Kandy
Day 4: Nuwara Eliya
Day6-7: Galle & Unawatuna
There are obviously very rushed itineraries in case you want to see a couple of things in a short time but you will just be scrapping off the surface, really.
However if you have 2 weeks or longer, here is the perfect itinerary for you. It will allow you to cover a lot of ground and still have a relaxed vacation.
Some tips before planning the trip:
- If you want to do a road trip through Srilanka (which you definitely should) it is better to book in advance and the best places to book the self drive rental car in Sri Lanka are: Malkey , Kings rent A car or Casons. It is better to book from these local agencies because they know the nuances better and will even assist you in getting a temporary Licence for Srilanka prior to your arrival so that you can book to pick up your rental car from the airport itself. The traffic in Srilanka is is crazy in Colombo, so if you are not used to driving in that kind of traffic, it is best to avoid the rush hours and market areas in Colombo. If you want to know the exact process to get your Temporary licence and how much it costs and all, check out this post.
- Avoid staying in home stays in really touristy places like Nuwara Eliya during the peak days like Christmas or New Years eve because people get scammed a lot. We ourselves got scammed twice and although that is a story for another blog, but we thought it is important to mention it. And while making the bookings also, try and book with big well known sites like bookings.com or hotels.com so that you can get your money refunded easily in case something like this happens.
- When it comes to the currency, SriLankan Rupees are accepted. Although at some accommodations you can still pay in US dollars. So please check prior. Also, you won’t find a lot of Money exchangers in small towns like Dambulla, so make sure you have enough cash before going to these parts of the country. Also, you won’t get a good exchange rate for Srilankan rupees (if you have any left) when you are back, to try and withdraw only as much that you do not have a lot left. The Srilankan rupees are not accepted at the Airport duty free. So if you are thinking of using them up to buy souveneirs etc while at the airport, that ain’t gonna happen.
- If you are planning to visit some elephant orphanage while you’re here, please do your research as some of the places do not treat the animals well and it’s crazy how people can sometimes ignore all of that for a good Instagram picture. We read so many blog posts about Pinnawala Elephant orphanage and that they do not treat the animals right and thus we totally skipped that. The locals there will still try and convince you that all those articles are a thing of past and things have changed now, but the situation is pretty much the same.
- If you are planning to do a safari, then make sure you go for a morning or an evening safari as you won’t really see a lot of animals during the day because the animals usually take shade in the heat.
- Another important thing to take care of is ethical travel. Like most developing countries there are always some places where the tuk tuk drivers or guards will offer to take you around for much cheaper than the actual ticket price but the ticket price actually goes towards conservation of these temples and heritage sites, so know the importance of ethical travel. We have read numerous posts from people advising their readers to opt for this cheaper alternative but we urge you to be mindful.
- If you are a vegetarian, you will get plenty of options as rice and curry is their staple diet. But you should always ask what oil they use for cooking because a lot of places use fish oil. You can also always ask for a vegetarian option in most of the dishes and people understand english very well, except in smaller towns like Dambulla and sigiriya. As far as fruits are concerned, they are pretty cheap and fruit shopping at the local markets go pretty much the same as it is in India, you gotta haggle!
- As far as tips are concerned, it is always okay to tip the drivers in case you are taking a cab but at the same time, it is not necessary. Same goes for when you are eating at the restaurants.
We hope all these tips were helpful in planning your trip. In case there is anything else you’d like to know, feel free to leave a comment below or to DM us on instagram!
Happy Travels! 🙂