Known as the “Pearl of Indian Ocean”, Sri Lanka has a happy vibe to it. Everyone seems to be smiling and are more than happy to offer help if necessary. The tiny nation displays its charm unequivocally and leaves its travellers wanting to return time and again. It’s the perfect place for those looking to immerse themselves in local culture; a definite must-visit spot for watersport and wildlife enthusiasts; and a heaven for history buffs. It has all the good reasons for giving it a visit; the endless beaches, misty tea gardens, lush green mountains, delicious king coconut water and the locals with their never-fading smile. Are you Taking A Sri Lanka Tour? Here’s What You Should Know.
1. It’s not just about the Beaches!
Sure, the whole country’s coastline is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is much more than that. If someone asks me to describe Sri Lanka in just one word, I’d say “green”. It doesn’t matter where you go but you will surely see a lot of green. The entire country feels like one massive national park. But make sure to decide prior to your trip where do you want to go because, despite its petite size, the country has not one, but two monsoon seasons that affect separate parts of the island at different times. The “Yala” monsoon affects the south and west of the island from April through to September. On the flip side, the “maha” monsoon affects the east and north from November through to March.
2. Hop on the Egg Hoppers!
Sri Lanka has some delicious treats you are absolutely going to love! To get hoppers you needed to go to the local eateries, the roti huts and “hotels” as restaurants in Sri Lanka are often called. If you intend to try hoppers in a restaurant, though, remember that most serve them either for breakfast or dinner. Hoppers come in many forms, standard hoppers are the typical bowl-shaped pancakes and egg hoppers are simply a plain hopper with an egg cracked in the bottom. It’s cheap, delicious and nutritious too, what else one needs?
3. The Evergreen Tea Plantations.
I loved visiting a tea plantation. The view of the endless tea bushes will stay with you. The tea pluckers neatly trim them and they are arranged in very picturesque rows, which follow the contours of the hillside. The plantations often have a museum nearby where you can learn about Sri Lanka’s long-established tea industry and browse old photographs. There is usually a tea shop where you can sample the product to refresh you after your visit.
4. You can actually cover the distance between point Pedro to point Dondra. (In a Day!)
The Distance is just 533 km. Yes! So, if you feel adventurous enough, go for it. The Bus Stops are scattered throughout the country and have few English signs, so there is plenty of asking and non-verbal gesturing. But that is just the start. Get a seat (don’t get the front seat, saved for clergy) and strap yourself in. The bus rides in Sri Lanka are crazy. Decked out with lights, packed with people, and sometimes blaring Sri Lankan music videos through a rickety television set, these rides are an experience in themselves and far cheaper than trains and tuk-tuks.
5. Do get a local Sim Card
There is free Wifi almost everywhere, but the hilly regions can be tricky, therefore get a local sim card with some data. It’s actually really cheap too! And a great way to send home some amazing pictures of you having a gala of time.
6. The most curious question – Is Sri Lanka Safe?
I have met some of the kindest and most welcoming people in Sri Lanka! Of course, it is safe. Despite the civil war, which ended just recently in 2009, the country has got its composure back but you have to be careful of what you wear, as it’s a culture rich country; the primary religion is Buddhism so be mindful of your attire when you visit temples (cover your shoulders and wear pants) or walk around town.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, plan your trip ahead and get ready to have an amazing time!