Holidays to spectacular Sri Lanka
Intricately woven through with myths and legend, gemstones and spice, this tropical isle is guaranteed to captivate your imagination, as well as your senses. Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka, the jewel-shaped ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, offers golden beaches, tropical jungles and lofty mountain peaks.
In the lush interior you'll find verdant tea plantations said to produce the best cup of char in the world, while the island's ancient Buddhist heritage offers tranquil temples and a fascinating past to explore.
Teardrop-shaped Sri Lanka may be a small island but it has a lot to offer if you’re after a one-of-a-kind getaway. It’s blessed with beautiful, refreshingly undeveloped beaches and diverse landscapes ranging from lush jungles to tea plantations. In this ‘Land of Serendipity’, you can spot whales, track leopards, and explore the holy mountain of Adam’s Peak – believed to have the sacred footprint of Buddha.
Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital, deserves a spot on your must-visit list. It packs a punch with its blend of tropical landscape, colonial architecture, and modern cityscape. Soak up the buzzy atmosphere and dreamy sunsets at Galle Face Green Promenade, where you can mingle with local people and dine out on delicious street food. And don't miss the bustling Pettah Market, where you’ll find anything and everything, from handcrafted jewellery to eclectic kitchen wares.
There are 22 national parks here, so Sri Lanka holidays offer plenty of opportunities to explore the island's wild side. Get up close to herds of elephants grazing on open plains at Udawalawe, or spot leopards in the varied terrain of Yala National Park. If you want to head off the well-worn tourist tracks, Jaffna is just the ticket. This far-flung town was once isolated during the civil war, and now showcases intricate temples and awe-inspiring views from the city's fort.
Situated within the central heart of Sri Lanka, the country’s Cultural Triangle features five separate UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy. It’s the perfect place for travellers to learn more about Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as exploring ancient caves, sacred rock fortresses, and timeworn lakeside cities.
The rupee is the currency in Sri Lanka but you will not be able to obtain any until you arrive and will not be able to take any home.
We therefore suggest you don’t change too much money at one time and also beware of confusing the 500 rupee note with the rather similar 100 rupee one – it could be a costly mistake!
It takes around eleven-and-a-half hours to fly from London to Colombo.
You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. This can be applied for online before departure at the Electronic Travel Authority [Online Visa Application (eta.gov.lk)]. If you wait until your arrival to apply, you will face a delay at the airport.
It’s wise to stay up to date with the vaccinations you need as usual at home (flu, for example) and you’re advised to also be up to date with your tetanus vaccination.
Tipping is part of life in Sri Lanka and most people offering a service will expect a gratuity.
Many hotels and restaurants will automatically add a service charge but it is worth bearing in mind that this will not necessarily find its way to the person who served you.
When visiting temples, you will normally be shown around by a resident monk or priest, who will expect a dollar or two at the end of the tour. Drivers will expect a tip of around $5-10 per day.
Sri Lanka is five and a half hours ahead of the UK.
There are two official languages in Sri Lanka: Sinhala and Tamil. You should be able to find someone who speaks English in tourist areas.
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