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Tips for First-Time Travellers to Sri Lanka

Nelusha enjoys sharing information about beautiful Sri Lanka.

Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

If you've got a little adventurous heart that loves to explore exotic locations time and time again, then the tiny island of Sri Lanka is just the spot for your next travel escapade. From the golden sandy beaches to the majestic elephants and the luscious hill country with tea estates stretching for miles, Sri Lanka is full of little wonders that are guaranteed to provide you with an ideal post-lockdown getaway.

If you've already begun your trip planning process, you've likely come across a few travel guides here and there filled with vibrant images of the island that are so captivating that it makes you want to book your flight tickets right away.

Here are some valuable tips to help you plan your perfect Sri Lankan holiday as first-time travellers to the country.

A Little Background to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is known for its abundant nature, immaculate temples and historical sites. It is a haven for both experienced and novice travellers due to its unspoiled natural beauty and relative ease of travel, offering a diverse array of activities and attractions for all ages.

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

The island's rich diversity extends to language, culture, folktale tradition, architecture, and last but not least, cuisine! First-time visitors to Sri Lanka should make an effort to get to know the country and its history. Learn about the different ethnic groups living there, their languages and religions. Conduct some research on local attractions such as historical sites, monuments and caves. The opportunity is great for people interested in learning about the values and traditions of Sri Lanka and exploring its many cultures while experiencing authentic cuisine prepared by experienced chefs.

Sri Lankan Cuisine

Foodies around the world seek out Sri Lanka as their culinary destination, and for a good reason. In recent times, Lankans have won many awards and accolades for their gastronomic delights.

Lankan food is quite different from other cuisines in the world, as it's full of flavour with just the right combination of seasonings to delight your tastebuds. Take note, Sri Lankans love their spices, and you're bound to experience a few dishes with over-the-top heat levels thanks to the incorporation of a variety of hot chillies. If you're not up for the challenge, always request less spice, depending on your preference.

A plate of delectable rice cakes known as Kiri bath is as good as any eaten in Colombo's capital. Delicate curries cooled by coconut cream and curry leaves are a delight for all palates. When in Lanka, it is a must to try out the milky hoppers with its sweet crispy edges paired with a bit of Katta sambal and follow it up with the sweet and spicy goodness of a cup of hot ginger tea. Most hotels and restaurants now deliver most dishes from their menus at reasonable prices, making it possible even for budget-conscious visitors to sample the local diet.

Photo by Manoj Malshan on Unsplash

Photo by Manoj Malshan on Unsplash

Mountains & Tea

The bustling town of Hatton is the heart of the tea country, which is situated high up on the south-central hills. If you're travelling by car, it will take you 3 to 4 hours to reach Hatton from the Colombo airport. The alternative is a train journey to the hill country, which is raved for the breath-taking views offered, as the train track winds along the vast expanses of sloping hills. Expect to spend close to 9 hours travelling if you opt for a train journey to the mountains.

Sri Lanka has been called a tea haven, and with good reason. The country produces some of the best black and green tea in the world. You can enjoy sophisticated teas from small studios or visit a tea factory and observe the entire process of how your preferred beverage is brought to life. You may take a tour of a tea estate and observe the expert tea pluckers picking the perfect "two leaves and a bud" combo that makes you the premium cup of Ceylon tea you adore.

Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Stay at Ceylon Tea Trails while you're visiting the hills. It offers fully restored plush tea planter residences dating back to the colonial era that will blow you away with a one-of-a-kind tea experience. The resort is famed for its signature culinary experience offered by a unique 'Tea Infused Dinner' that is a delight for all tea lovers.

Photo by Resplendent Ceylon

Photo by Resplendent Ceylon

Photo by Resplendent Ceylon

Photo by Resplendent Ceylon

Sun, Sea & Sand

What better way to spend a summer than soak up the sun while enjoying some of the most incredible beaches and water sports in the world? Whether you are looking for some mellow waves or strong currents to paddle up or down, there are numerous options to choose from. Visit the east coast to Nilaveli, where you can find some of the most serene turquoise blue waters, or head over to Weligama in the deep south and sign up for a few surfing lessons. Set out on a whale and dolphin watching tour in Mirissa or simply lay back on any of the golden sandy beaches and just enjoy the sun.

Photo by Michael Hacker on Unsplash

Photo by Michael Hacker on Unsplash

Getting Around Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka can be pretty inexpensive if you allow yourself some flexibility in getting around. The cost of a one-way train ticket varies widely but can often be found as low as $30 one way. When in Colombo, you can hail a taxi or cab easily to get around the town. It would typically cost between $10 and $25 for a day out in Colombo city, even if you spend a few hours in peak traffic.

Getting around in certain parts of Sri Lanka can be a challenge. The roads can be narrow at times, and some drivers can be inconsiderate. Keep in mind that if you hail tuk-tuks from the street, you can get charged exuberant amounts, so either look for one with a taximeter or stick to the recognized ride-hailing services like Uber or the local equivalent Pickme) to have a safe and reliable ride.

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

Travel is one of the best ways to experience new cultures, adventures and discover new things. And there's no better place for you to try it all. So what are you waiting for? Let's get on with planning your first ever Sri Lankan holiday.

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