Sri Lanka is a pear shaped island situated on the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Formerly known as Ceylon, it was a strategic destination in times of the ancient Silk Road and is today one of the world’s favorite tourist destinations. Sri Lanka boasts of a rich cultural heritage of over 2500 years, making it one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It is famous for its Pure Ceylon Tea, beautiful beaches, priceless gem stones, limitless scenic locations, historic treasures and archeological sites, abundant wildlife and much more. Sri Lanka is a diverse country of people known for their boundless hospitality and friendly smile who mainly comprise of Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Others. The diversity has made way for varied religious and cultural festivities; some of the more important ones being the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Esala Perahera, Vesak and Poson Poya days, Deepavali, Vel, Ramadan and Christmas amongst many more. The Vesak Poya day marking the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha sees buildings and homes bedecked and illuminated with electric lamps and Vesak lanterns while free meals are offered to passersby. The Esala Perahera held in the historic city of Kandy is a large colourful procession carrying the sacred tooth relics of the Buddha, parading the streets along with hundreds of elephants, dancers, drummers, torch bearers and chieftains making it one of the most spectacular religious processions in Asia. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that has so much to offer its visitors, fast becoming the Emerging Wonder of Asia.
Sri Lanka is a country that can be visited all year round because there’s an abundance of sunshine right throughout the year making it a holiday destination like no other. Pick and choose any location of your choice, be it Cultural, Scenic, Wildlife, Beaches, Festivals, Adventure or Ayurveda and a plethora of activity is waiting to be explored and experienced.
Sri Lanka though small in size boasts of varied temperatures from hot, mild to cold, all within short spaces of travel time. Generally the weather is bright and sunny in most parts of the country with seasonal showers; the southwestern monsoons between May and July and the northeastern monsoons between December and January. The average temperature in Colombo and suburbs is around 27 degrees centigrade and the highlands can be as low as 10 degrees centigrade.
You are advised to pack light, especially if you are travelling by public transport. Bring with you basic medical supplies and any regular medication; carry with you a mosquito net if possible and mosquito repellent. Sunglasses and sunscreen cream, camera and extra batteries and a good torch would be useful.
Carry both light cotton and warm woolen clothes required for the warm and cooler destinations respectively. Since Sri Lanka is a traditionally religious country it is better to remain conservative in dress, especially when visiting places of religious importance
The customs and traditions of Sri Lankan’s are an essential part of their lives. These customs and traditions which have been safeguarded and passed down the generations are deeply ingrained in the everyday lives of the people, who believe it represents the moral values of the community. Some of these customs and traditions are respecting the elders, traditional greeting with clasped hands, observing auspicious days and times and New Year Festival, Marriage, and Funeral rituals amongst many others.
The currency of the country is Sri Lankan Rupees divided into 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000. In addition international credit cards too are accepted. Hotels and other tourist establishments will quote the price in US$ or Euro and collect in Rupees at the prevailing exchange rate. Local and International Bank branches, working five days a week can be found in all major towns of the country. You can take cash at ATM’s against Visa / Mastercard, but ensure the card is valid to be used in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan cuisine mainly consists of rice which is the staple food of Sri Lankans, served with plenty of spicy curries and fresh vegetables along with side dishes such as chutney and mouthwatering pickles The other favorites are milk rice, string hoppers, pittu, rotti and hoppers. There are also many popular sweetmeats and native deserts such as curd and sweet treacle that must not be missed. Tea is the most consumed beverage in Sri Lanka after water, followed by coffee, fresh fruit juices and king-coconut water.
Shopping in Sri Lanka is an exciting voyage of discovery. From payment hawkers, wayside boutiques to supermarkets and shopping malls. Traditional Sri Lankan handicrafts, handlooms and batiks can be purchased from local craft stores and exclusive outlets, while a wide variety of clothing is available in popular clothing stores and malls across the country. Exclusive gem shops are where to shop for authentic gems and jewellery.
A well planned Road & Railway network exists in Sri Lanka. There are also good quality roads, navigable waterways, expressways and domestic air flights to popular destinations around the country. The Sri Lanka Railway covers a number of scenic destinations that is a ‘must do’ for visitors wanting to experience the hidden beauty of Sri Lanka.