Name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Population: 20 million
Capital: Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte and Colombo
Language: Sinhalese, Tamil
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee
Time Zone: UTC +5:30
Sri Lanka’s over 2000 years of history and culture can still be seen in every corner of its cities and the details of its ever-beautiful ancient temples. With eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and its short distances between the main sights, Sri Lanka is a country that, despite often being overlooked in itineraries, has left travelers filled with awe.
Visit the sacred home of the world’s oldest living tree in Anuradhapura, wander around the colonial architecture of Colombo, get sun-kissed at the untouched beaches that inclose the territory, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters, head to the hills for a cooler temperature and get surrounded by lush natural, visit two thousand year-old temples or get overawed at the sight of hundreds of elephants in Minneriya.
While traveling through Sri Lanka you will experience adventures from the highest and chilliest mountains like the famous Adam’s Peak – a stairway mountain considered sacred in three different religions- , thru the elephant orphanages placed on a single never-ending street on Pinnawela, to the most peaceful beaches up north near Trincomalee and their tiny- one floor- hostels facing the calm sea.
Sri Lanka is one of the best destination to visit year-round as the rainy seasons hit the island in opposite locations at different times of the year. That being said, Sri Lanka is a country that can be visited if you know where to go in search for the best weather.
The south-western monsoon hits between May and September and the dry season occurs from December to March.
North and coastal regions
The monsoon season happens between October and January while the dry seasons takes places between May and September.
Sri Lanka is known for its distinct cuisine, its indigenous holistic medicines, its cricket practices and export of tea, cinnamon and gemstones. Moreover, the country boasts a rich artistic tradition which includes music, dance and visual arts.
Sri Lanka has been shaped by many aspects. The first and most obvious being the heritage of Theravada Buddhism passed from India. Furthermore, the colonial period left a big mark in the country’s traditions and culture, with British elements being featured in every corner as well as Dutch and Portuguese.
Sri Lanka, better known as the “nation of smiling people”, is a paradisiac island that Napoleon described as a world-like biodiversity in a tiny piece of land on the Indian ocean. Multicultural, multi-religious and multi-coloured country, formerly named Ceylon, is known for its delicious black tea, its heart-warming inhabitants and its history-filled corners.
Sri Lankan cuisine has been heavily influenced by many factors such as the British colonization, its closeness to southern India and more. Some stables of Sri Lankan food are rice, coconut and spices – many spices.
Kottu Roti, a blend of chopped roti, vegetables and meat is a unique dish served in Sri Lanka and one that everyone must try while here! Another staple dish are hoppers (appa), based on batter, coconut milk and spices.
Sri Lankans eat with their right hands, which can be hard to adjust to at first. However, many restaurants will provide cuttery if requested.
Celebrates the Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka. During Duruthy, thousands of people attend colorful parades, which consist of three processions on the nights before the full moon. The processions consist of fireball performers, drummers, dances, decorated elephants and the most important – a gigantic tusker treading a white carpet.
April 13th or 14th: Avurudda (New Year)
Avurudda celebrates the Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka. According to Sinhalese astrology, the new year begins when the sun changes from Meena Rashiya (Pisces) to Mesha Rashiya (Aries).
June: Poson Festival
Poson Festival takes place on the full moon day of June and celebrates the arrival of Buddhism, which occurred when Arahat Mahinda, the son of the emperor of India, converted King Devanampiyatissa to Buddhism.
October or November: Diwali (Festival of Lights)
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival that signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair, and good over evil. It is celebrated with millions of lights shining over houses, temples, and buildings. Diwali is celebrated between mid-October and mid-November, on the darkest, new moon night of Karitika.
In Sri Lanka, it is tradition to take an oil bath in the morning, wear new clothes, exchange presents and visit the Koil, an Hindu Temple. In the evenings, oil lamps are lit to invite the blessings from the goddess of wealth.
Flying between major locations in Sri Lanka such as Galle, Colombo, Nuwara Eliya and others is possible with Aero Lanka and Srilankan Airlines. Moreover, Srilankan Airlines runs small seaplanes, which give you a great aerial view of the island.
Buses are a option to get around Sri Lanka, albeit quite uncomfortable. For instance, with less than a Euro, you can get almost halfway around the island in a bus without aircon. Luxury buses with AC also exist at a higher price (still very inexpensive).
Sri Lanka boasts an extensive railway system than will get you almost anywhere around the country. Moreover, Sri Lanka is known for its picturesque sceneries that can be best viewed in a train journey. In fact, there are observation carts in most trains for tourists that will allow you to better take in the beauty of your surroundings.
In most cases, getting around by train is the cheapest option. There are three classes: 1st, 2nd and 3rd class. In most Intercity and Express trains, however, only 1st and 2nd are offered. Do keep in mind that trains from one popular destination to another (i.e. Colombo – Kandy or Galle – Colombo) often get overbooked, so it is best to reserve a seat with time in advance.
For more information on Sri Lanka check out the Sri Lanka Tourism Board website here.
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka
Hanguranketha, Sri Lanka
Central to South, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Kandy, Sri Lanka