To quote Condé Nast Traveler, “Sri Lanka Is Ready for Its Close-Up”! Since my first trip to Sri Lanka in 2015, I have been back every 2-3 months and it is my second home now.
It feels like Sri Lanka’s reputation as the up-and-coming destination in Asia has truly blossomed over the past 18 months and if for some reason you need convincing, here are 10 excellent reasons why now is the time to see Ceylon.
There are some common misconceptions about Sri Lanka as the civil war ended relatively recently (2009) but also some cool facts that you might not know about this country. If you’re planning a visit, here are 12 things to know before going to Sri Lanka!
Looking for more Sri Lanka travel tips and destination guides? Click here for everything you need to help plan your trip to Sri lanka!
12 things you should know before traveling to Sri Lanka
1. It is time consuming to travel around Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is only about 430 KM tall and 220 KM wide, but it can take you hours and hours to travel from place to place as the roads can be extremely busy. Expect to wait for cows to cross the road, the occasional monkey appearing out of nowhere, crazy bus drivers and sometimes even a stubborn elephant in the middle of the road.
For example, it takes approximately 3 hours to travel from Colombo to the southernmost point of Sri Lanka (around 160 KMs). The good news is that highways are being built left, right and center but you will still have to drive through narrow streets in smaller cities to get to freeway entrances.
First timers to Sri Lanka often make the mistake of packing too many places into a 1 or 2 week itinerary without factoring in extensive travel time. The fastest and best way to travel around Sri Lanka is to book a private car and driver from point-to-point, but do not expect the prices to be dirt cheap – a 3-4 hour one-way car ride can cost anywhere from US$100 to $140. Hiring a car and driving around yourself is not really a thing in Sri Lanka; you can probably find car rental places in Colombo, but your best bet is to take a train or hire a driver.
Train travel is popular in Sri Lanka as it is cheap and reliable(ish), but not every train has first or even second class carriages. Seats can be reserved in person at a train station up to 45 days before the trip and scenic routes fill up FAST.
Traveling by train in Sri Lanka is an incredibly cost-effective and picturesque way to get around, and many people believe it’s an integral part of the overall Ceylon travel experience. Click here to read more tips on train travel through tea country in Sri Lanka!
Traveling around by bus is also dirt cheap, but not highly recommended because they drive like absolute mad men! If you are traveling a short distance (under an hour) then a tuk tuk, or 3 wheeler, is the way to go. Riding in a tuk tuk is an experience in and of itself – just make sure you agree on a price with the driver before the ride.
2. For a small island, there are a ton of things to see and do in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has every single type of traveler covered: explore tea country in the Central Province, chase waterfalls, hike stunning mountain ranges, discover UNESCO world heritage sites like Sigiriya and the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, lounge on world-class beaches, go on a wildlife safari in one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks like Yala or Udawalawe to see leopards and Asian elephants in their natural habitat, dive among shipwrecks, surf uncrowded waves, visit temples and so on…you get the gist!
Because of the time it takes to travel between places, don’t be surprised if you don’t cover a lot of ground – 2-3 weeks is not nearly enough time to experience all of what Sri Lanka has to offer!
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