Sri Lanka is one of the gems of the Indian Ocean. A small teardrop that falls from the great Indian subcontinent, it's a colourful and chaotic, diverse and devoted country - where Buddhism and an infatuation with the national cricket team take precedent. The ‘Island of Serendipity' - as Sri Lanka is known - has been on the tourist trail for some time. And yet the bounteous enthusiasm of its local communities and the immensity of its cultural and historical treasures make even luxury Sri Lankan holidays feel like real exploration.
Sri Lanka's attractions are numerous and varied. There are lush and steeply terraced tea plantations, one of the clearest legacies of old Ceylon. Splendid beaches, too, some frequented by surfers, others empty and untamed. The energy of the country's largest city, Colombo, and its abundant historical sites are other highlights of Sri Lanka travel. The latter include the fortified old town of Galle, on the southwest coast, sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura, the cave temples at Dambulla and the mighty rock fortress at Sigiriya.
Sri Lanka's natural scenery is just as stunning, whether you decide to visit the central highlands around Kandy - home to the Temple of the Tooth - or the rainforest at Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which is home to leopards and plentiful birds. For a relatively small island Sri Lanka certainly packs a lot in. But take in some of its many charms and you're sure to have an unforgettable Sri Lanka holiday.
Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in Sri Lanka, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The Practical information displayed here is taken from The Traveller's Handbook, published by WEXAS (2009). While all possible care was taken to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, we are aware that situations change, so for the latest information and up-to-date visa requirements, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
Warm all year, except in the highlands, which are cool and wet. Monsoons occur from May-August (Yala) and October-January (Maha).
Buddhist and Hindu festivals feature prominently. The Duruthu Perahera Festival commemorates the visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka and is celebrated in January in Colombo. Esala is a season of festivals from July to August – the full moon of Esala signifies its climax. Kandy Esala Perahera is the most magnificent, a medieval pageant for ten nights with Kandyan chieftains, dancers and drummers, all dressed in colourful costumes. Full moon day (Poya) is celebrated each month. Diwali, the Hindu festival of Light takes place around October each year. Sri Lanka’s National Day is on 4 February.
Spicy curries, often made with coconut milk, sliced onion, green chilli, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron and aromatic leaves. Local produce is excellent, particularly seafood and fruit, of which the durian fruit is considered a great delicacy. Toddy is a popular drink made from the sap of a palm tree. Fermented, it becomes arrack, which is available in different strengths. Tea is the national drink and of a very high standard, coming straight from the island’s plantations.
Shaking hands is a normal form of greeting. Punctuality is important and, when visiting, a token of appreciation is always welcomed. It is customary to be offered tea when visiting and it is impolite to refuse. Visitors should be appropriately dressed when visiting temples, where shoes and hats must be removed. Western dress is suitable.
Colombo Bandaranaike (CMB) is 29 km from city.
Good road and train networks. Some flights.
The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Sri Lanka. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Sri Lanka. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Sri Lanka, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The types of holiday listed below are just a flavour of the experiences available in Sri Lanka. We can also suggest and plan alternative types of holiday to take into account your individual interests. To start planning what to do whilst away, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
Catherine Blackburn - Asia Specialist
To make an enquiry or to start planning your trip talk to our team of specialists on 020 7590 0613