Sri Lanka is an amazing country! But before we start a trip we always want to be maximum prepared. In this article we’ll cover Sri Lanka and everything you need to know!
Table of Contents
What is the best time to go to Sri Lanka?
This is a tricky one in Sri Lanka. We went to Sri Lanka by the end of October and we had one day of sun in two weeks. Almost all of the other days it rained all day long. With all day we mean 23 and a half hours every day. The locals were telling us that this was not normal for this period though. But if we look into the statistics the best month for Sri Lanka if you want to see all the hotspots is December – March. This is also the High Season in Sri Lanka. Even if you are going in the best season Sri Lanka is still a tropical destination so expect some rain and not full blazing blue skies all the time. Because we all know the weather is unpredictable.
VISA for Sri Lanka – Requirements
At the moment Sri Lanka offers free one-month Visa on arrival to citizens of almost 50 countries for the upcoming 6 months in an effort to boost tourism after April’s terrorist bombings. When you arrive at the airport you get this VISA right away. You can also apply for it before you go. Please make sure you use our link as there is a fake website that will ask you for money.
What Budget do I need for Sri Lanka?
Travelling in Sri Lanka can be supercheap but naturally it depends on which hotels you stay in and if you eat at local or fancy restaurants.
We did everything with a budget of 50EUR a day per person.
This is included all our expenses. So flight, hotels, food, entrance fees, transport etc. You can easily make this a lot lower if you sleep in cheaper places and travel with the bus.
We also did three honeymoon hotels which we didn’t include in this calculation as these can make it significantly more expensive. You can read about our experience here: Best Luxury and Honeymoon Hotels in Sri Lanka
How to get around in Sri Lanka?
Getting around in Sri Lanka is easy. Local transport is good and there are different ways to get around.
Rent a TukTuk
We rented a TukTuk via TukTuk Rental for our trip through Sri Lanka. It’s a great way to explore the island because you have all the freedom in where you want to go. We have a full detailed blog about this experience.
Travel by train
Sri Lanka has a good railway system. The train is slow and it will take some time to travel but it is a real and authentic experience. We recommend everybody to do the trainride from Ella to Nuwara Eliyah (or the other way around). This is one of the most scenic trainrides in the world. You don’t want to miss this! Make sure you book 2nd class because the first class is totally closed and you can’t hang out of the train. Which gives you less of an experience.
Travel by bus
In Sri Lanka there are tons of busses. The Red busses are owned by the government and the bus drivers have a fixed salary. These are the more safe busses because at least you’re sure the driver isn’t in a hurry to earn some money. The Blue busses are not that safe. Basically everybody in Sri Lanka can buy/ lease/ rent a bus and be a busdriver. These bus drivers only get paid from number of people on board.
This means that the blue busses will battle to be first at the next bus stop. They will drive more than twice the allowed maximum speed and overtake in corners in which you can’t see the incoming traffic. And there will be much more busses than needed. The busses are driving everywhere even on mountainroads where they hardly fit. If you are looking for cheap transport the bus is supercheap but also a bit dangerous.
Hire a driver
This is together with renting your own TukTuk the best way to explore the island. You are flexible and you can stop everywhere you want. It’s also the quickest way to get around the island. The first time we went to Sri Lanka we hired a driver for 2 weeks and he travelled with us. A lot of hotels are offering free accommodation and food for the driver so he will be there 24h.
Costs for a driver for 1 day will be around 6000-8000 which is rupee 30-40 EUR a day
If you arrange a full tour for a week or longer you obviously can negotiate a better price.
We love our driver Rana. His English was great and his knowledge of the history of Sri Lanka was invaluable. We felt super comfortable and relaxed with him.
You can reach out to him on facebook if you need a good driver: https://www.facebook.com/sarath.ranasinghe.18
What to eat in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has a great kitchen. But almost at every place you will also be able to eat western food if you like. The western food is a little bit more expensive though.
The most famous local dishes you should try in Sri Lanka:
- Curry & rice: Simple as it sound you can get this everywhere and we found it really tasty. Make sure you try it!
- Kottu: The main ingredient is roti, which is cut up into small bits. Apart from roti, other ingredients added are usually onions, leek, cabbage, eggs and sometimes chicken, mutton, beef and the more modern version, with cheese.
- Dhal Curry: is a very mild and nutritious curry made up mainly of lentils, tomatoes, and chilies. Sometimes potatoes and gourds are added. Very few spices are used and the heat level can be adjusted by using more or less dried chilies. This curry is very kid friendly as it can be made relatively mild.
- Hoppers: The Sri Lankan answer to the pancake. The batter is made from a slightly fermented concoction of rice flour, coconut milk, sometimes coconut water and a hint of sugar.
Which 4G Simcard Provider in Sri Lanka?
The 4G network in Sri Lanka is really good. It’s easy to buy a local sim to stay online when you travel. The network with the best connection is Dialog. You can buy a sim right away at the airport. Make sure you only buy a 4g package because packages with calling are more expensive and if you don’t need it it’s a waste of your money. For around €10,- you will have a sim with a 8GB to use. It’s smart to top up your 4g yourself in the app this way it’s a lot cheaper than going to a store.
Useful Apps for Sri Lanka
Apps we used in Sri Lanka are:
- Google maps (offline download Sri Lanka) Easy to get around. But sometimes the gps was a bit slow and hard to naviagte. SO therefore we also used.
- Maps.me (offline download Sri Lanka) Maps.me worked better than Google maps because the gps was spot on. The app is heavier and your phone dies quicker. Just make sure you download both so you always have an option.
- PickMe The uber/grab from Sri Lanka. Easy to order a TukTuk or Taxi. And also you use it to order food if you have a lazy night.
- Dialog The app to topup your phone credit
- Currency converter plus Superhandy to convert rates so you always know the price
- Booking.com / Agoda.com Always useful to book accomodation
Sri Lankan People Love to Pose for a photo.
But our Sri Lanka and everything you need to know article wouldn’t be complete without the best thing about Sri Lanka. One of the amazing things about Sri Lanka is how friendly the people are. Apart from Colombo where we had different experiences the people become more friendly the more you go inwards. We always ask if we can make a photo for permission but the Sri Lankans were so proud and asked us to make many more photos in all kinds of poses. Gotta love that!
So now you know Sri Lanka and everything you need to know, it’s time to plan your trip. In our article: Highlights Sri Lanka we will show you all the places you should see in Sri Lanka!