10 Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a Trip to Sri Lanka

Are you planning to travel to Sri Lanka? 

Here are some important factors that should be taken into account before you set out. 

Whether you are visiting historic places, indulging in local food or simply being relaxed, Sri Lanka is a destination for everyone. 

By learning the weather patterns and respecting cultural norms, these tips will definitely help you handle your journey well. Keep reading.

Also read: What Are the Main Health Benefits of Traveling

List of 10 Important Things to Remember When Visiting Sri Lanka

Here are some essential points you must keep in mind when planning your trip to Sri Lanka:

  • When to Plan Your Journey

When organising your trip to Sri Lanka, be aware that during the period from May to September, the southwest monsoon pours rain to the southwest part of the country while the north and east are dry. On the contrary, from November to March, the northeast monsoon drives the rains to the north and the east, but the south and the west are better off enjoying the weather. 

It is impossible to predict rainfall in Sri Lanka. Showers can be short and heavy, while the sun can be shining at the same time. Off-season travelling is considered best because it has fewer crowds and lower accommodation charges.

  • Social Customs and Etiquettes

When you visit temples, remember to dress modestly, and take your shoes off before you step inside. In addition, it is disrespectful to touch someone’s head or point with your foot. Moreover, the Buddha’s depictions should be respected, as Sri Lankan Buddhists place a great value on them. 

Displaying disrespect towards Buddha images, such as through clothing or tattoos, may lead to deportation. Therefore, do not wear clothes that have Buddha images imprinted on them and cover the tattoos of Buddhist symbols. It is not good etiquette to take selfies with the Buddha statues or to turn your back on them. Doing that is a form of disrespect and should be avoided.

When planning your trip to Sri Lanka, remember that train travel, although slower, is the cheapest and most enjoyable way to get around. You will be captivated by the stunning landscapes, experiencing a serene feeling as you sit by the window and watch the passing scenery. Flying between destinations might seem faster, but with Sri Lanka being relatively small, it is not the most practical option. Here are some common train routes along with their approximate prices for your reference:

  • Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (around 4 hours): approximately 2,500 LKR
  • Colombo to Jaffna (around 8 hours): approximately 2,250 LKR
  • Colombo to Galle (around2 hours): approximately 1,600 LKR
  • Jaffna to Anuradhapura (around 3.5 hours): approximately 1,600 LKR

If you are an Indian tourist, you can enjoy a visa-free visit to Sri Lanka until March 31, 2024, thanks to a recent pilot project announced by the Sri Lankan Cabinet. However, if you travel to Sri Lanka during or after the pilot project, you must apply for a Sri Lanka tourist visa from India, which is an ETA visa to enter the country. 

The ETA allows you to stay for up to 30 days. Moreover, ensure your passport has at least 6 months of validity and have proof of a return or onward ticket. Visa policies can change, so it is crucial to check with official sources.

In various small towns, restaurants and eateries usually prefer cash payments. A useful tip for travellers in Sri Lanka is to utilise international credit or debit cards to withdraw cash from People’s Bank, Commercial Bank, or Sampath Bank. Additionally, ATMs provide another option for cash withdrawal, and foreign currency can be exchanged at the airport, with the possibility of re-exchanging upon departure.

  • Explore the Local Cuisine

When in the country, you must indulge yourself in local dishes like curry rice, moju, kottu, appa, sambal, pol roti, string hopper, hopper, and fresh seafood. While the spice level may be intense initially, it will gradually fade away, leaving behind a lasting flavour and aroma. In addition to the food, enjoy the refreshing relief from the heat provided by locally produced fresh fruits and readily available coconuts.

Dress appropriately for the tropical climate in Sri Lanka, where high temperatures and humidity prevail. You can opt for loose, light-coloured clothing, especially when visiting sacred sites where modest attire is preferred. In hill regions, prepare for cooler temperatures as you ascend. If you plan to explore nature or hit the beaches, pack comfortable footwear suitable for trekking and flip-flops for sandy shores.

  • Avail of a Travel Insurance Policy

Though not mandatory, you must apply for a travel insurance policy before planning your trip to Sri Lanka. Despite being a safe country for travellers, it is always wise to take precautions. Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind in case of unexpected events such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or loss of belongings. It ensures that you are covered and can receive assistance during your travels.

  • Learn Some Common Sinhalese Phrases

While many locals in Sri Lanka speak English, using their native language can quickly establish a connection. It serves as a great icebreaker and can be helpful in various situations. Here are some useful phrases with their meanings that you can learn before your trip:

  • Kohomadha – How are you?
  • Hari hari – Okay, fine
  • Istuti – Thank you
  • Kiyeda? – How much?
  • Hondayi – Very good
  • Lassanai –  Beautiful
  • Suba dawasak – Good day
  • Esema wewa – Same to you
  • Explore a Relaxed Nightlife

When visiting Sri Lanka, do not expect a big party scene there. Instead, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and spend your evenings chilling on quiet beaches, watching beautiful sunsets with a cold beer. Unlike wild beach parties, Sri Lanka offers quieter scenes. However, you can still find places with fun activities like ping pong, open mic nights, and live music. 

In addition to the tips mentioned, you must adhere to the country’s general rules. Refrain from comparing Sri Lanka to India, avoid discussions about politics, religion, and race, and avoid public displays of affection, skimpy clothing, etc. 

Additionally, it is essential to carry your passport with you at all times since authorities may request your identification documents at any point during your visit. By following these guidelines, you can ensure an enjoyable experience during your trip to Sri Lanka.