Sri Lanka is usually not the first destination to appear on the bucket list, but hopefully it will be one of your considerations after reading this miniguide to Sri Lanka.

The island offers nothing less but 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, lots of wild elephants, leopards, crocodiles, amazing national parks, wild nature, a wonderful climate and a friendly population.

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Miniguide to Sri Lanka

There are infinitely many “must see and do’s” in Sri Lanka and you hardly reach them all on a single journey.

Here you get a small handful of some of the experiences that you must try to get into the planning of your first journey:

  • One or more national parks
    Yala or Minneriya have lots of elephants
  • The ancient royal cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa
  • The beautiful cave paintings in Dambulla
  • The Lion cliff Sigiriya with stunning views and beautiful ancient ruins
  • Highlands with “Little England”
    – Nuwara-Eliya – located at the top with trips to Adams Peak and Hortons Plains
  • One of the many tea plantations you meet on the road from Kandy to Nuwara-Eliya
  • A taste experience with a visit to a spice garden
  • Relaxation on a beautiful sandy beach almost without tourists
  • The train ride from Ella to Kandy

There are lots of experiences and good planning before you go can be of great value.

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Transportation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has all kinds of transportation – trains, buses, taxis and you can rent your own car.

It is recommended to try a train ride, which offers stunning views with an amazing scenery which can only be experienced from the train.

There are several train trips to choose between, but one of the most beautiful one in the world, you will find in Sri Lanka – the ride from Ella to Kandy – it’s an extraordinary beautiful trip with a great nature experience.

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Renting a car and driving yourself can be a less enjoyable experience.

The traffic in Sri Lanka is absolutely horrible and it is expensive to get a rental car insured because of the many injuries that are constantly happening. Therefore, it is highly recommended to rent a car with a driver.

Around Sri Lanka with private driver

It sounds expensive, but it’s not!

By renting a car with a private driver you get the best out of getting around – the driver knows the traffic and will at the same time act as your tour guide.

For a very low price you get a private driver incl. the car, petrol, free kilometers and he will stay close to the hotels you will be staying in overnight.

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At most hotels there are small “houses” where the private drivers spend the night and they know each other, so they enjoy themselves while you are staying at the hotel.

The drivers typically know a lot about the country and many of the drivers are trained as guides.

This means that they can tell a lot about places you pass and also guide around the sights, and you therefore avoid the very eager guides on the sites.

Another big plus is that with a private driver you get to experience quite a few other things, besides what you have planned yourself.

The weather in Sri Lanka

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Although Sri Lanka is a very small island, the country has two monsoons coming through the country.

They arrive at different times and there is almost always a part of the island that is in “rainy season”, while another part of the island has fantastic weather. Therefore, it is always possible to travel to Sri Lanka and experience good weather.

Plan your trip after the monsoons so you don’t end up lying on the beach on that part of the island where it is raining.

What you should know before traveling to Sri Lanka

There are a few things you need to know before you leave.

 

  • The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the return date.
  • You must have a valid visa (it can be applied online)

Read more about things you should know about Sri Lanka on our “Facts about Sri Lanka” 

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Depending on the time of year you want to depart, the prices of airline tickets vary.

We recommend that you check travel dates and airline tickets on Momondo and Skyscanner – both search engines are voted as the best in the world when it comes to airline tickets.

Hotels in Sri Lanka are cheap but again, depending on how primitive or luxurious you want to stay, the prices vary.

If you use Hotels.com and sign up for their Reward program, you will save rewards for free nights each time you book a hotel.

If you have more input for our mini-guide to Sri Lanka – we would like to extend the guide to maxi – please write in the comment below.