If you follow my blog, you will know by now my great love for l’Asia, after having "betrayed" her for Costa Rica, this year my partner and I wanted to savor the oriental aromas and flavors, choosing the splendid island of the Sri Lanka.
Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) it is located in the south east of India and due to its particular drop shape it is also called the "tear of India".
A trip to Sri Lanka will offer you very strong emotions, for us it was the right mix between the last two journeys, Indonesia and Costa Rica, 25 days between culture and spirituality, nature and wonderful beaches.
In this first article we see the indispensable tips for organizing a DIY trip to Sri Lanka.
TRAVEL ADVICE IN SRI LANKA
SEEN SRI LANKA
To enter Sri Lanka it is necessary to have a passport valid for 6 months from entering the country and the Visa Eta.
The ETA is valid for 30 days within 3 months from the date of issue. So don't request it too soon, it's okay even a month before, calculate that the confirmation arrives within 24 hours.
You can request the ETA online on the website www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa at a cost of $ 35 or directly at Colombo airport at a cost of $ 40.
I recommend doing it online, it's very simple, save money and time when you arrive. If you are a group of two or more people click on "Apply for a Group”, instead of making the single form for each person.
THE COIN OF SRI LANKA
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). Not all hotels accept credit cards, but there are ATMs almost everywhere. I have always collected directly from ATMs and paid by card in boutique hotels.
TIME ZONE SRI LANKA - SPAIN
Sri Lanka has more 4h30 hours, when solar time and more are in effect in Spain 3h.30, when daylight saving time is in effect.
SIM CARD LOCALE SRI LANKA
The best sim card in Sri Lanka, both for calls and for internet traffic, is the Dialogue, takes everywhere and is cheap. You can buy it directly at the airport or in the center of Colombo. Buying a local sim card is the best thing especially for DIY travelers.
Sri Lanka's main international terminal is Bandaranaike Airport, located 35 km from Colombo and about 20 minutes drive from Negombo, a great option to stay at the beginning or end of a trip to Sri Lanka.
The flag carrier is la SriLankan Airlines, which operates direct flights at advantageous prices from Spain to Colombo.
Reaching Colombo from the airport is simple, the cheapest option are the buses that arrive at Colombo Central Station.
The most comfortable option is the taxi (about 17/20 €) or the transfer that almost all hotels offer, we paid 25 $ through l’Hotel Ivy Lane.
I must say that after a long journey by plane, finding a person waiting for you to take you directly to the hotel is not bad at all !!
HOW TO MOVE IN SRI LANKA: DRIVER OR DO IT YOURSELF TOUR
To begin with, I recommend that you exclude renting a car, unless you are used to driving in countries like India or Vietnam.
Car with driver
The alternative that many choose is that of rent a car with driver for the whole holiday. The cost (daily) varies according to the type of driver, whether it is a simple driver or an authorized driver / guide.
Most hotels include accommodation and meals for the driver, while it is usually not included in guesthouses. For safety, always ask the hotels you decide to book.
I recommend this option especially for families with children.
Tour fai da te
But I personally I preferred a DIY trip to Sri Lanka, turning completely autonomously in Train, Bus, Tuk Tuk e in Taxi for longer journeys (booking them from time to time also through hotels).
I must say that I have not regretted it at all, it was the best choice also because I found Sri Lanka a well-organized and easy-to-navigate country, more than other Asian countries.
The medium I preferred was the train and in particular the Ella - Kandy route (for more information see the article on Hill Country), one of the most beautiful experiences I had in Sri Lanka, scenic train that crosses tea plantations and climbs up the mountains.
The cheapest means are the bus that always leave frequently and reach any destination, there are public ones without air conditioning and those with air conditioning slightly more expensive but better and take less time.
But be aware that buses are defined " The kings of the road”, they run like crazy and overtake anything in front of them (even cows or elephants).
But the must of the holiday was the mythical Tuk Tuk, with which you whiz everywhere, perfect for covering short distances (30-70 Km)
Obviously for choose how to move around Sri Lanka, especially considering the costs and time available, we had enough (25 days).
Council: do you need more information to organize your trip to Sri Lanka? Take a look at my ebook Guide Sri Lanka Do it yourself, you will find all the tips to make your island tour perfect.
WHEN TO GO TO SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka has a hot humid climate with high temperatures all year round, the rains are regulated by monsoons, with two seasons, from December to March the North East monsoon and from May to September the South West monsoon.
The hinterland and the cultural triangle can be visited at any time of the year.
There is no better time to go to Sri Lanka, the advice is to go there when you can and according to the season and your preferences create the ideal itinerary.
For the sea, from December to March / April the South Coast is better, while from May to September the East coast has the calmest sea. October and November, on the other hand, are the worst months for the sea in all of Sri Lanka.
But keep in mind the climate change, as I'm quite stubborn in August I also wanted to do the South West coast (Unawatuna - Mirissa - Hikkaduwa) and very little rain which I found didn't last 20 minutes.
Unawatuna Beach - August
COSTS SRI LANKA
A trip to Sri lanka is suitable for both backpack packer than to the most demanding travelers and it can cost very little, but it depends on you, on how you want to travel and on the hotels you choose.
Accommodation ranges from good, affordable guesthouses to more luxurious boutique hotels.
We have tried a little of everything as very nice GuestHouse The Oasis Villa a Hikkaduwathe Secret Garden a Unawatuna, and hotels like Arika Villa to Dambulla o Villa Shenandoah a Kandy.
There is also something for everyone to eat, but usually the local restaurants are very cheap, slightly more expensive are the tourist ones or those of large hotels. The first night in Colombo in 2 we did not even spend 5 € even eating a lot.
The most expensive dinner was at the outstanding restaurant Asian Jewel Boutique Hotel, around 50 €, also taking a bottle of Chilean wine.
What really costs too much are the entrance tickets to cultural sites (Sigirya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa) from $ 25 per person, exaggerated. Fortunately, when we went in August, the Dambulla caves were free.
HEALTH AND VACCINES IN SRI LANKA
There are no compulsory vaccinations to go to Sri Lanka, malaria has been almost completely eradicated. Dengue risk still remains in some areas, I recommend bringing mosquito repellents such as tropical Autan and sleeping with air conditioning and a fan, or under mosquito nets.
I hope that with these tips you have found what you were looking for, if you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka and have other doubts, leave a comment on this article or write me in private I will be happy to help you.