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Last month we embarked on a trip that was completely new to both of us – a 10-day tour around Sri Lanka. We’d never been to that part of the world before, and we’d never been on a tour, so we were really excited (and a bit nervous!) to go and experience something totally different.
Spoiler – we loved it! You need to go and see this place for yourself, so whether you choose to do a tour or go it alone, here’s a quick guide to help you plan your own trip to the beautiful country of Sri Lanka.
Read more: My Group Tour Experience with TruTravels
Things to know about Sri Lanka
Where: Sri Lanka is an island south of India, just a short flight away from the Maldives, making it a popular Honeymoon destination.
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupees. As usual, we used a Monzo travel card for most of the trip and regularly got cash out of the ATMs (though not all of them accepted this card!).
Tipping: we didn’t feel any pressure to tip, but always did if the service was great. A few Rupees here and there were hugely appreciated.
What you’ll spend: Sri Lanka can be an expensive luxury holiday, or a cheap back-packing holiday. Typically you’ll find that food, shopping and activities are really affordable.
Getting into Sri Lanka: You’ll need to apply for a Visa. This is currently free for several countries if your stay is 30 days or less. Find out more here.
The weather: they have a tropical climate, and it depends on what part of the country you’re visiting. We visited the west, centre and south during September which all varied massively, but were typically wet. This article by Skyscanner is really helpful.
The food: their food is unreal. There are so many flavours, and so much heart and soul goes into every meal. We learnt this by cooking with the locals! Popular meals include rotti, kottu and dhal curry. Sri Lanka is also home to some of the best tea in the world.
What to wear: you’re fine to wear anything in a resort and in the towns/cities, however you need to cover your shoulders and legs for visits to temples or churches. Generally, its best if you can be respectful with your clothing in any public spaces.
Your luggage: if you’re going to a resort a suitcase will be fine, but I’d recommend a decent sized backpack if you’re travelling around. Packing pods are a life saver for both options!
Safety: as you know, Sri Lanka was attacked a number of times on Easter Sunday in 2019. This was a tragic event which completely shook the country. Having been just five months later, I can say that we felt completely safe the entire time and talking to the locals, it’s clear they really need tourism to rise to keep their businesses running. Sadly these events can happen anywhere, anytime, so please don’t let it put you off visiting Sri Lanka.
When to go to Sri Lanka
Any time of year would be great for a trip to Sri Lanka. As I said, the weather changes constantly! We chose to visit during September because that’s the time that we’d set aside for a holiday, but it ended up raining every day. In hindsight, I’d probably choose a drier month.
Where to stay in Sri Lanka
It depends on where you’re visiting, it’s a big island, but you’ll find tons of hotels and hostels catering to all budgets. We stayed in low-rated accommodation as part of our tour, but I’d look to book nicer hotels next time.
Top things to do in Sri Lanka
Here are some of the top things to do in Sri Lanka:
- Dambulla Cave Temple
- Sigiriya Rock
- Pidurangala Rock
- Tea factory tour
- Spice garden tour
- Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
- Take the famous train from Kandy to Ella
- Nine Arch Bridge in Ella
- Little Adam’s Peak in Ella
- Udawalawe National Park
- Yala National Park
- Galle Fort
- Explore popular places like Colombo, Negombo, Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella & Unawatuna
- Explore popular beaches like Coconut Beach in Mirissa and Bentota
Getting to and from Colombo Airport
You can either book transport via your first hotel or grab a taxi once you land, as there are plenty of taxi companies in the arrival’s terminal at Colombo Airport. It’s a bit chaotic getting out of the airport pick-up zone, so maybe book based on recommendations.
How to get around Sri Lanka
We had transport included with our tour, but if you’re going alone, the best options will be tuk tuks for short journeys and public buses or trains for long journeys. All public transport is super cheap – and remember to haggle for tuk tuks!
What to pack for Sri Lanka
- Comfy trainers
- Sandals/flip flops
- A light jacket or rain coat
- Sun cream
- Plenty of bug repellent
- Various layers depending on the season you choose to visit in
- Temple appropriate clothing
- Towel for beach days
- Camera and charger
- Phone and charger (use Google My Places to get around if you have a data package)
- Portable phone charger
- Currency and bank cards
- Backpack or shoulder bag (make sure its pick-pocket proof!)
- Global adapters (although we found everywhere accepted our UK plugs!)
- Travel documents
What I spent in Sri Lanka
Here’s what the trip cost for the two of us:
- £1130 return Emirates flights from Birmingham Airport (with a 2-hour layover in Dubai)
- £1125 10-day tour with TruTravels (including all accommodation, all transport and 13 meals)
- £60 airport parking
- £250 spending money
Total trip cost: £2565 / £1282.50 per person (£128 per day for 10 days)
This trip was such an incredible experience! If you’re thinking of doing a tour, check out my review of TruTravels.
Have you been to Sri Lanka before? Is it on your bucket list now?