Ten recommendations for first-time visitors to Sri Lanka

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Ten recommendations for first-time visitors to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a compelling destination due to its alluring combination of breathtaking beauty, exceptionally friendly people, and British colonial history. Sri Lanka has experienced some challenging years, so 2023 is an excellent year to visit Sri Lanka. Here are some travel ideas for first-time visitors to Sri Lanka.

Be prepared to move slowly

Despite the fact that infrastructure is improving and there are several transit choices, getting around in Sri Lanka with its narrow roads and engine-testing inclines can be challenging at times.
In the Hill Country, squandering time is fairly common. You should expect to travel at a speed of 12 to 15 miles per hour as you journey from one tea plantation to the next, whether by bus, tuk-tuk, or train. Many visitors will find that hiring a car with a driver is an excellent alternative. Seerendipity Tours can connect you with experienced local guides in Sri Lanka to handle all of your travel arrangements, such as private transportation, excursions, and hotels.

Relax rather than going crazy

Outside of Colombo and a few seaside destinations, dorm-style hostels are hard to come by. Family-run guesthouses are significantly more common. This aids in meeting locals but complicates establishing friends while travelling alone.
Sri Lanka is also a popular honeymoon location, attracting a large number of them. There are beach bars in Arugam Bay on the east coast and Hikkaduwa on the west coast, but these are laid-back spots, with many closing during the off-season, so tourists looking for a nightlife to rival Bangkok’s Khao San Road will be disappointed.

Because the old traditions of Ayurvedic treatment are still very much practised in Sri Lanka, it is the ideal spot to escape your stressful life, attend a retreat, and experience a state of happiness through yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic therapies.

Treat yourself

In Sri Lanka, there are various brand-new upmarket hotels and resorts where you can spend extra Sri Lankan rupees. Global brands such as Aman have already made their mark on the island, while Shangri-La operates two hotels, one in Hambantota and one in Colombo. The small, locally owned luxury hotel companies, on the other hand, should be avoided.

To avoid traffic, drive north.

Once off-limits, the country’s Northern Province is a terrific area to go off the beaten path in Sri Lanka. It was one of the last spots on the island to reopen to tourists after serving as a stronghold for the Tamil Tigers. It hasn’t seen the same rush of international tourists or fallen to the same wave of hotels, resorts, and other developments.
If you’re seeking for remote temples, deserted golden beaches, and historical places, head north. The “Jaffna and Western Sri Lanka” sample itinerary, created by Seerendipity Tours, is a good example of what to do in Jaffna and the surrounding area. The best part is that, like all of our sample Sri Lanka itineraries, it is totally adaptable to your preferences. ‘Modify this Sri Lanka itinerary‘ is all that is required to contact Seerendipity staff directly.

Take note of the food

While you’re there, take advantage of the delicious food that Sri Lanka has to offer. Still, determining where and when to look for the positive things may be more difficult than you anticipated. The highlight is the savoury rice flour crêpes known as bowl-shaped hoppers, which are normally available only in the early morning or late afternoon. Rice and curries are provided for lunch, whereas kottu rotty (chopped flatbread stir-fried with eggs and veggies) is only served at night.
People familiar with Asia will be surprised to hear that there aren’t many street food vendors; instead, some of the best dining facilities are humble guesthouse kitchens.

When you arrive in Colombo, stay overnight (see below) and enjoy a small-group tour to experience some of the excellent local cuisine. A local guide will explain you through the various options and tastes.

Consider Colombo

With international acclaim for its jazz clubs, boutique boutiques, rooftop bars, and restaurants, Colombo is no longer merely a destination. Despite the fact that there are numerous places to visit, in Sri Lanka is an excellent place to simply settle in and get a sense of local life.
At dusk, families can be seen flying kites on Galle Face Green. Next, cheer on the national cricket team at R Premadasa Stadium, or observe grandma negotiating with merchants in vivid saris at Pettah Market. Travel around in tuktuks, explore markets, and stop for some delicious street cuisine. A private hidden gems tour of Colombo will not only show you the city, but also Sri Lanka’s culture and way of life.

Make plans in accordance with the seasons

Even if the monsoon rains don’t deter you from exploring, bear in mind that the seasons can bring a variety of experiences. If you want to climb Adam’s Peak, for example, go between December and May, which is also the best time to travel to Sri Lanka, when Buddhits pilgrims congregate there.

The various tea shops that line the path will be closed, but you can still reach the summit outside of these months. Furthermore, instead of hundreds of eager locals, you’ll be ascending the mountain with a small number of outsiders, which means that much of the enthusiasm and fellowship among climbers has vanished.

Activities

Sri Lanka is well-known for pristine beaches, tea plantations, and stupas, but it also has a plethora of fascinating activities. Consider whitewater rafting in Kitulgala‘s Kelaniya Ganga, hiking in the Knuckles Mountain Range, or surfing in Arugam Bay. Cycling vacations are also becoming increasingly popular. How about mixing them all to build your own Sri Lanka adventure tour? Cycling, hiking, and trekking are all featured in Frank’s sample adventure programme. Or simply take a day journey by bicycle around Colombo’s rural areas.

Make the most of your financial resources.

Despite rising expenditures, Sri Lanka remains an affordable vacation destination by Western standards. When shopping in major cities for everyday items like toothpaste and tea, you may be confident that you are not overpaying. Simply look at the packaging in smaller cities’ corner stores; the price is listed next to the initials “Rs.” (which represent rupees).

Understand cultural conventions

Even though Sri Lanka and India are only 18 miles away by sea at their closest point, they are worlds apart. In comparison to its neighbour, Sri Lanka appears to live at a considerably slower pace. As a result, Sri Lanka is the finest alternative for everyone who is fascinated about India but also terrified of it.
While covering oneself is usually preferable (and necessary in places of worship), wearing shorts and vests is unlikely to attract much attention from the locals, who rarely look at foreign visitors.