This year I travelled to Sri Lanka for the first time with my wife.
We went on a tour package which took us round the southern two thirds of the island country in high class hotels.
Its been a great experience and I would recommend it as a country well worth visiting.
I had heard about the beauty and the friendly people but war really impressed by the history of the places we visited.
Here are some thoughts about visiting;
Although we visited many historic sights the one I enjoyed most was Sigiriya, the Lion Rock fortress.
Here is a photo early in the morning, which is the best and coolest time to climb.
Before I went I thought the main attraction was the view from the top.
In reality I was much more interested in the ruins of the fortress city that surrounds the rock.
There is no shortage of attractive scenery especially in the high country tea growing areas around Nuwara Eliya.
This is a view from the train doorway on the railway heading east from Nuwara Eliva
We had a couple of Jeep Safaris during our time.
Minneriya National Park where we saw many groups of wild elephants.
Yala National Park to see buffalo, boars, crocodiles, elephants and lots of native birds but not the elusive leopard.
Although spicy a Sri Lankan curry isn’t usually as hot as an Indian curry.
With the whole country being a relatively small island fresh sea food is common at every restaurant.
Vegetarian and vegan options also seem to be readily available.
One local delicacy that is well worth a try are Hoppers.
These are made from a rice flour and coconut milk batter which is cooked in a special pan to form a bowl, especially good with an egg cooked in the bottom.
Average daily wage is in the range 1,200-1,400 (around $10 Australian or 6 Euro which means outside the international hotels prices are very reasonable.
Sri Lanka however does have a tipping culture so it’s worth doing a bit of research on what is appropriate.
Don’t expect to get anywhere fast.
Road. There are a couple of fast tollways for road travel but for general driving it seems an average speed in the county areas would be around 40-50km/hour, while in towns it will be less than 20km hour.
Rail There is quite an extensive rail network but again the speeds are around 40km on the flat but less than 20km on the railways in the mountains. Fares are really inexpensive. If travelling a long way its probably best to go for 1st class when available.
It worth finding out if there is a Poya (Full moon day) while you are there and plan accordingly;
On the Poya Day which is a public holiday:
- A lot of the shops and museums will be closed.
- No alcohol can be sold.
- Lots of people visit their relatives (we had a 40 km rail journey in 2nd class and had to stand all the way in a packed train)
In addition to the typical International beers and spirits you can let the following local products:
- Lion Beers. A good quality lager and a great stout. Normally comes in 600ml bottles.
- Arrack Distilled from coconut flower sap, and aged in oak casks. Generally about half the cost of international spirits and a quite smooth drink.
Final Travel Hack
If you have a few days in Colombo and have any interest in planes the Sri Lankan Air Force Museum is well worth a look.
There are lots of things so see and you can get up close to most of the planes.
Here I am next to one of the MIG fighters.