As the flight approached Sri Lanka, the first thing that I noticed was the rich, lush green blanket with which it is covered, in startling contrast to the shades of blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Although small in size, the island offers an amazing diversity of climates and terrains – Ranging from beaches to jungles to mountains engulfing within itself stories from its history. This is definitely an explorer’s paradise.
Our trip to Sri Lanka mainly included the Cultural Triangle and the tips in this article would be related to these places visited. The article may be slightly leaning towards an Indian perspective in terms of expenses and all.
[toggle title="How to get the Tourist Visa?"] The visa on arrival is phased out from 31-Dec-2011. Tourists wishing to Travel Sri Lanka after this date will need to apply beforehand. The visa fee for US Citizens comes at $149 while in case of Indians, it is as low as $10. For more, visit the website of the Department of Immigration, Sri Lanka[/toggle]
[toggle title="How to Reach?"] There are no direct flights to Sri Lanka from outside Asia, so a stopover has to be taken. The main airlines operating are Sri Lankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka, Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Spicejet. From India one can take cheap flights from Chennai. Spicejet offer day time flights with round trip travel as cheap as 4400 INR (in 2011).One can also reach Sri Lanka by Sea, yet to experience that.
From the Colombo, there are buses and trains to reach Colombo Fort, the main Railway station from where you can take trains to anywhere. The cab fare from Airport to Colombo Fort comes to around LKR 2500.[/toggle]
[toggle title="How to get around?"]
- One can hire Cabs to travel with in Sri Lanka. It is a little expensive with rates high as around LKR 35/km. The cabs there are usually Toyota Towner. Very spacious and comfortable.
- You can travel between cities by train. Planning has to be done in advance to book the tickets. AC/ Non AC buses are also available.
- The most common means to get around in the cities are the three wheeler called Tuk-tuk. They are relatively cost effective when compared to cabs and can be used for short distances. [/toggle]
[toggle title="Language"]The Official languages are Sinhalese and Tamil but most people are good in English and can easily converse to you in that. [/toggle]
[toggle title="The places to visit"]
The Cultural Triangle consists of many UNESCO World Heritage sites with ancient cities and pristine monasteries.
- Colombo – Mount Lavinia, Colombo National Museum, Gangaramayan Buddhist Temple
- Kandy – The Spiritual center of Sri Lanka.Tooth Relic Temple, Kandyan Dance Show, Peradeniya Botonical Garden, Kandy Lake
- Sigiriya –Citadel of Sigiriya (Lion Rock), Sigiriya Museum
- Polonnaruva – The stupas and palaces of the old capital
- Anuradhapura – Bodi Tree, Twin Baths, Stupas, Moenstaries
- Dambulla – Ancient Cave paintings , Golden cave temple
[toggle title="Eat and Drink"]
- Try the Sinhalese food. Rice and Curry is the staple food of the day. You will be surprised at the number of delicacies that will be served. Another delicacy is the Kothu roti, a mixed of minced roti, vegetables and meat. Be ready for spicy food.
- Drink.. err.. try the Lion Beer. It tastes awesome! Much better than the Kingfishers of the world. If you still want to drink water, get the bottled ones as the tap water is not very safe.
[toggle title="Stay"]It is better to book the hotels in advance and ask for a cab pickup. We made our bookings from a website called Travellers Point and were pretty happy with the deal. You can also ask your hotel to arrange a tour for you. [/toggle]
[toggle title="Money Matters"]
Sri Lanka is slightly more expensive than India.No need to carry a lot of Cash. One can easily withdraw money from ATMs if you have Visa/Master card (we used People’s bank ATMs) at the airport or in the cities. [/toggle]
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