Of all the underrated beach destinations that I have been to, Sri Lanka is at the top of the list. Sri Lanka has some of the cleanest beaches, the best waters and bluest skies. If you want a combination of a beach holiday, cheap shopping and some leisurely time in the hills, Sri Lanka is a perfect destination. You can spend anywhere between 5 days to 2 weeks depending on how much you want to explore.
Visiting Sri Lanka is like visiting Kerala in India. The flavor of food, the taste of their “Ceylon” tea, it is all similar. If you want an experience that doesn’t feel like India, this is not the best place to choose. Sri Lanka is also blessed with a lot of greenery and cooler hill stations. If you’re fond of tea and coffee, please visit one of the tea estates. You will likely love the experience.
If you’re into shopping, you’re likely going to enjoy being in Colombo. Odel, a departmental store chain is usually a place most people descend on in Colombo. It’s well stocked and quite cheap.
The flight time from India to Sri Lanka is quite short. Just about 3 hours and there are numerous direct flights. You should be able to book a return ticket in advance from anywhere in India for just about INR 30,000. If you want to reduce the travel cost, you could take a hopping flight via Bengaluru.
Sri Lanka is a very small island nation so it won’t take you long to browse their official website and decide what you want to do and where you want to go. The official website is https://srilanka.travel/ Spend some time on it if you must.
Applying for a Sri Lankan visit visa is easy. All travelers are required to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for entering into Sri Lanka. Please visit https://www.eta.gov.lk to apply. The fees is between USD 20 to USD 30. Don’t waste your money asking a travel agent to arrange this for you.
Best time to visit
Sri Lanka is hot and humid around the year. The best time to visit will be once it cools down and before the onset of summer in April. Of course, if you’re coming from a place that is cold all year round, and are looking to sit on the beach to get a nice tan, the perfect time would be to head out in April or May when it’s really hot.
What to pack
Pack as you would for a summer trip. It never gets too cold so you’re never going to need anything warm. If you’re going during the monsoons, you will need to pack a jacket to keep out the rain.
I recommend packing in light linen clothes, easy slip ons for your feet and if you’re looking at hiking on some of the beautiful hills in Sri Lanka, don’t forget to pack in a pair of hiking boots. Please also carry sunscreen and sun tan lotion, depending on the objective J It also helps to have a cap or a hat. The sun can get quite harsh in the summers.
Given Sri Lanka is green, always carry an insect repellent if you don’t come from a tropical nation.
The Sri Lankan currency is the Sri Lankan rupee. You will find that everything in Sri Lanka is generally cheaper than things in India. You can splurge without worrying. Currency changers are a plenty in Sri Lanka. Euros and USD will get you the best value.
My preferred route of travel within Sri Lanka would be to drive. This is because I’m from India and I’m quite used to driving around in Indian driving conditions. If you’re not from India, I would recommend you hire a car with a driver. This is the most convenient option. Sri Lankan roads are quite congested, and driving can be a slow process. While driving between cities, please pick your routes carefully. While people will recommend the coastal roads, I highly recommend you take the expressway wherever available. While the coastal route will seem lovely for about 30 minutes, the travel time more than doubles if you don’t use the expressway, and it can tend to get annoying.
Where to stay
There are options a plenty in Sri Lanka. You can easily pick a place to stay once you reach your destination. Accommodation is available for all budgets from hostels to five stars. It’s best to keep your options open until you reach your destination. If you’re travelling from India, make sure you book your first night in advance. You will land at an ungodly hour in the wee hours of the morning.
What to eat
Sri Lankan food will taste very similar to Indian food and is mostly cooked with coconut. Try the local food. If you are not used to eating hot and spicy food, ask the chef to tone down the flavor to avoid upsetting your stomach. Sea food is the obvious choice. However, it is best to ask the local chef for recommendations.
It is better to have bottled water in Sri Lanka. Tap water is not the best option.
The full itinerary is below