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. [See Sri Lanka itinerary ideas]
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.
When to go
Sri Lanka is tropical and has two very distinct seasons, though confusingly, because of a double monsoon, these take place at different times in the north and south. Monsoons occur between May and August in the southwest and October and January in the northeast. It's wettest in the south, with up to 4,000mm of rain falling each year.
Sri Lanka is warm all year round, with temperatures averaging around the mid-to-high 20s. It can be very humid in the low-lying regions during the wet seasons, but Kandy and the higher plateaus of the central province offer some temperate relief.
Capital - Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (administrative), Colombo (commercial)
Size - 65,610 sq km
Language - Sinhala, Tamil, English
Population - 21,675,650
Religion - Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Christian
Currency - Sri Lankan rupee
Time zone - GMT+5.5
Flight time from the UK - 10.5 hours
January- Duruthu Poya, Buddhist festival
February - National Day
February/March - Maha Sivarathri, the night when Siva danced his dance of destruction
April - Sinhala Tamil New Year
May - Vesak Full Moon Poya
June - Poson Full Moon Poya
July - Esala Full Moon Poya
August - Esala Perahera, Buddist festival of the tooth
September - Binara Full Moon Poya
October - Deepavali, Hindu Festival of Lights
November - Il Full Moon Poya
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Passports must be valid for the full duration of your stay and for at least six months beyond your arrival date.
The Sri Lankan rupee (Rs) is the official currency. Coins come in denominations 50 cents, Rs1, Rs2, Rs5, Rs10; notes in denominations of Rs10, Rs20, Rs50. Rs100, Rs500, Rs1000, Rs2000, Rs5000.
ATMs are available in many urban centres, though much rarer in rural areas. Be wary of using credit cards as fraud has been reported and is on the rise. Always withdraw money from a national bank.
There will likely be a small charge for foreign transactions, but exchange rates at ATMs are generally as good as you'll find anywhere else. Be sure to notify your bank of your travels to avoid them from blocking your card when an international transaction is made.