What tourists need to know before traveling to Sri Lanka

Located off the southern coast of India, Sri Lanka is the perfect choice for travelers looking to have an adventure, learn about the country’s culture, try delicious food, or simply relax on the hundreds of beaches dotting its coastline.

In fact, it’s no wonder that the famous explorer Marco Polo claimed Sri Lanka to be the “best island of its size in the world!”

Best of all, the Sri Lanka visa for US citizens is very simple and straightforward to obtain. The entire process is done entirely online, and most applicants are approved immediately after submitting the form.

If you’ve dreamed of traveling to Sri Lanka, here is everything you need to know before your big trip:

Pick the right season

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As with any tropical country, Sri Lanka has a rainy season and a dry season. If you plan to explore the country’s great outdoors — such as Nuwara Eliya or Adam’s Peak— it is better to choose the correct season.

The rainy season in Sri Lanka begins in May and lasts until October. Although the rain showers are typically short (under 20 minutes), travelers can expect it to rain multiple times a day. In addition to the rain, there is also a very strong wind that creates many waves, which makes swimming in the ocean quite choppy and not recommended.

The rest of the months on the island are dry, making travel to Sri Lanka between November to mid-April a favourable time.

Try the incredible local cuisine

Sri Lankan cuisine is sure to please every type of foodie, including those who are vegetarians and/or love spicy foods!

The local cuisine features ingredients like fish, chicken, tropical fruits, plenty of herbs, spices, and rice.

While in Sri Lanka, be sure to try the world famous rice and curry, which is considered the national dish of the country. A comfort food with locals, the dish usually consists of a serving of steamed rice and a spiced curry (either with or without meat).

Other popular dishes include kottu roti, hoppers, lamprais, and Pol Sambol (coconut relish).

Of course, no trip to Sri Lanka would be complete without trying at least one cup of its famous Ceylon tea. If you’re planning to bring back a few souvenirs for your family and friends, the best tea can be found at specialty stores or at tea farms.

A multifaceted country

First-time visitors are surprised when they see how many interesting things there are to do on an island that’s about the size of West Virginia!

Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO sites, nearly 1,000 miles of coastline, and dozens of flora and fauna species that are indigenous to the country.

In Kandy Valley, travelers will see how nature seamlessly coexists with a bustling, modern city. While here, don’t miss the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth, walk around Kandy Lake, and check out the local markets.

For adventure seekers, take the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, which is known as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world.

In the cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, you can explore ancient archaeological sites, while diving enthusiasts can swim alongside hundreds of different species of fish, whale sharks, and sunken treasures at one of the many dive sites.

Those who are traveling to Sri Lanka in late July to early August will have a unique opportunity to celebrate Perahera, one of the most important celebrations in the country.

The festival lasts 10 days and features a colorful carnival procession with decorated elephants, dancers, and music. On the last day of the festival, the main elephant carries the Tooth of the Buddha on its back. This is a truly fantastic sight, as the whole island is filled with a festive spirit and cheerful locals.

Transport & Getting around

The ubiquitous public transport in Sri Lanka is the tuk-tuk, which is lightweight, fast, and can be seen anywhere and everywhere. When hailing a tuk-tuk, be sure to find out the price of a trip beforehand (usually from your hotel’s concierge) and haggle to get the best deal.

Trains are another popular means of transport in the country. If you are debating on which transport to take between cities, trains are an excellent choice. Besides being relatively faster and safer, trains are an excellent place to meet the locals and enjoy the beautiful scenery through the window.

Safety & health

Sri Lanka is one of the friendliest and most hospitable countries in South Asia, but it is always smart to keep a few things in mind.

The tap water in Sri Lanka is not drinkable, and, as such, travelers should buy bottled water to drink, brush their teeth, and wash produce.

Another important point is to pack sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and loose fitting clothes that cover the skin. It can get very hot and sunny in Sri Lanka, and protecting your skin should be a priority.

Although it may sound funny, be careful if you see monkeys. They may look cute, but the monkeys in Sri Lanka may try to steal your snacks, water bottle, or anything else that catches their eye.

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