Complete Sri Lanka Travel Guide

sri lanka travel guide

Sri Lanka, often referred to as the pearl of the Indian Ocean and located close to the southeast tip of India, offers a tropical and warm climate. As a top tourist destination, this small island has all that is needed to be one of the world’s best holiday destinations. From beautiful beaches, blissful hill-country/highlands, and national parks, to cultural/discovery attractions, and a plethora of animals like leopards, elephants, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and many more, it’s a complete Sri Lanka travel guide.

You might have seen a Space Picture of the island, which is encircled by golden beaches, making it second to none for water sports like surfing, snorkeling, and diving. On the other hand, the central parts of the island are full of greenery, landscapes, hills, waterfalls, and mountains, making it exclusive for adventure trekking/hiking & romantic honeymoons.

Well, that’s not all. Eight UNESCO world heritages exist on this small island, meaning for all travelers who dream of ultimate culture and discovery holidays, Sri Lanka is a real treasure. In conclusion, Sri Lanka is a top travel destination to visit and have a memorable time at least one time in a lifetime.

For tourists seeking guidance on this comprehensive travel destination, we have curated the ultimate travel guide for Sri Lanka. Everything you need to know about enjoying a happy holiday in Sri Lanka is included here. Below is a quick list for your reference:

1) Must-see places in Sri Lanka.

2) Must-do things in Sri Lanka.

3) Best time to visit Sri Lanka.

4) Do you need a visa to visit Sri Lanka?

5) Travel Insurance.

6) How to get around the country?

7) Climate & Weather.

8) Currency, credit cards, and ATMs.

9) Mobile phones, SIM cards, and Internet facilities.

10) What to bring & wear?

11) Entering religious destinations.

12) Taking Photos.

13) Languages/speak.

14) Mosquitoes & your health.

Traditional Dance, Sri Lanka travel guide    Tea Estate Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka travel guide    Elephants, Sri Lanka travel guide

Let’s start the ultimate travel guide for Sri Lanka now!

1) What are the must-see destinations in Sri Lanka?

While hundreds of places to visit here, we can highlight the most-visited attractions and cities.

  • The best beaches in Sri Lanka are found along the South Coast, including Mirissa, Unawatuna, and Tangalle. Mirissa and Unawatuna are renowned for adventure sports, while Tangalle is known for its romantic ambiance, making it an ideal honeymoon destination.
  • GalleJust walking on the streets of this charming and majestic city is a remarkable experience.
  • EllaAn isolated paradise on the island. The landscapes and greenery made by miles of tea plantations soothe your eyes and mind.
  • Yala National ParkThe most famous national park in Sri Lanka for wildlife safaris; elephants, leopards, bears, birds, and many more to see here.
  • Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa: The country’s first and second ancient kingdoms, respectively; the best destinations for culture and discovery lovers.

2) What are the must-do things in Sri Lanka?

We make things easier for you by summarizing it as follows:

  • Climbing the Sigiriya Lion Rock (known as the world’s 8th wonder.)
  • Walk along miles-long tea plantation trails.
  • Hill-country & central highlands adventure hiking.
  • Hill-country train ride. Our ultimate travel guide Sri Lanka’s top tip: Ella train ride is remarkably unique.
  • Scuba diving, snorkeling, and whale & dolphin safaris.
  • All kinds of surfing.
  • Spend days like a traditional villager.
  • Taste mouth-watering foods.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka travel guide

3) What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a year-long travel destination. However, the below list will help you figure out more about it:

  • March: The best time to visit the hill country & central highlands (Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, and Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.)
  • April to September: The best time to visit the East Coast and ancient cities, including the cultural triangle.
  • October to March: The best time to visit the Southern & West coastline (Galle in the south, Chillaw in the west, & Colombo in the southwest.)
  • April to September: The best time to visit Northern & Eastern areas (Trincomalee in the northeast, Eravur, Passikudah in the east, and Vavuniya in the north.)
  • July-August: Grand festivals; Kandy Esala Perahera and Katharagama festivals take place during this time.)

Our complete travel guide Sri Lanka tip:

The yearly average temperature across the island is 27-29 Degrees Celsius, but hill-country & central highlands have lower temperatures.

4) Do you need a visa to visit Sri Lanka?

Yes, you need to obtain a visa to visit Sri Lanka. Three visa categories are there:

  • Visas for business trips.
  • Visas for transits.
  • Visas for tourism.

For short-term holidays or business trips, apply for a Sri Lanka ETA/e-visa (valid for 30 days.) Fill out the application, make the payment, and then you receive this visa automatically via an E-mail. For more information, visit the Sri Lanka Immigration.

5) Travel Insurance

You should go with travel insurance. Don’t consider it to be expensive; having it in your hand is highly crucial, though!

6) How do you get around the country?

The fact that Sri Lanka is a small island makes things much easier when traveling. Public transport options such as buses and trains are available. Tuk-tuks and taxis are better options for moving from one place to another quickly and comfortably. Timetables of Public Transport services are now accessible online.

Self-driving isn’t suitable here due to harsh road conditions.

Complete travel guide Sri Lanka tip:

When considering your safety, comfort, and perfect holiday here, hiring a licensed tourer is the best option. These private chauffeur/travel companies offer a wide range of services, including airport pick-ups/drop-offs, hotel reservations, holiday planning, crafting the best travel itineraries, assistance with visas, and much more.

Eco food, Sri Lanka travel guide

7) Climate & Weather

As an island located closer to the Equator, Sri Lanka enjoys a warm yearly temperature averaging around 27°C (80°F), which classifies it as tropical and ideal for outdoor activities. The country’s weather is largely influenced by two main monsoon seasons. Coastal areas generally maintain a yearly temperature of about 28°C (82°F), while temperatures in the central highlands can drop as low as 20°C (68°F).

However, at least one part of the country has perfect weather at any time of the year for a happy holiday. For more information about all the climate changes and rainy seasons, visit here.

8) Currency, credit cards, and ATMs

The Sri Lankan Rupee is the official currency. You can convert all major currencies, such as AUD, USD, Euros, and GBP to Sri Lankan Rupees from a banking counter at the arrival lounge of Colombo International Airport. For currency exchanges in banks, you need to produce your passport.

Many shops, hotels, restaurants, and resorts accept Master and Visa credit cards. Thousands of ATMs across the country support Visa, Sirrus, Master, and Maestro cards.

Don’t forget to contact your card issuer before arriving to facilitate the card to use here.

9) Mobile phones, SIM cards, and Internet facilities

Upon arrival at Colombo International Airport, consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card with data/voice facilities from either Dialog or Mobitel. These two providers are the top mobile network providers in Sri Lanka.

10) What to bring & wear?

Cotton clothing is the best choice for this highly-humid tropical country. Also, don’t forget to bring sunglasses, sun cream, casual/leisure clothing, sneakers, slippers, and a quality camera. You can buy some of these items at pretty low rates here (except the quality camera.)

11) Entering religious destinations

You have to cover your legs (up to the ankle) when entering Buddhist & Hindu temples. Wear loose clothes. Wearing shoes and any headgear isn’t allowed at temples and kovils.

Female tourist, Sri Lanka travel guide

12) Taking Photos

Never climb on religious statues or stupas when taking photos. You should also avoid touching those. Posing by the side or in front of Buddha statues is a definite no-no! Additionally, never touch a Buddhist monk without pre-approval. If you come across this sign, “Do Not Take Photos,” you shouldn’t, then!

13) Languages/Speak

Over 74% of the population is Sinhalese, while 18% are Tamils, and the remaining 8% belong to other ethnic groups. Additionally, many people here can speak English. Moreover, almost all road signs and information on tourist attractions’ notice boards are now available in both Sinhalese and English. Therefore, there’s no need to worry about speaking only English here.

14) Mosquitoes & Health

We don’t hide anything over here in this ultimate travel guide for Sri Lanka. Bring mosquito repellents for your protection, or you can buy those from shops over here. Regarding health, you don’t need to worry about it, but make sure you drink bottled water and have food at clean hotels or restaurants.

So, that is all you need to know about visiting the glorious island, of Sri Lanka. Why don’t you convert this to a travel guide to Sri Lanka PDF and keep it saved or printed as a reference?

If you’re looking for the best private chauffeur/travel service to plan your holiday in Sri Lanka, look no further than Overa Tours. We offer a wide range of services for both local and foreign travelers seeking unforgettable experiences in Sri Lanka. For more information, visit our website!

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