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Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food make Sri Lanka irresistible. Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation south of India in the Indian Ocean. Its diverse landscapes range from rainforest and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, with its palace and frescoes. The city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's ancient capital, has many ruins dating back more than 2,000 years.Readmore
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Sri Lanka is filled with romantic landscapes, governed by rising mountains, lush forests, ocean like tanks and gushing waterfalls, that it was considered the lost paradise by many a globe trotters, who fell upon the country. The golden beaches of the country had been praised for their picture postcard views since eternity. The dusk and dawn and many human activities connected to these times of the day creates a vibrant picture along the coasts of Sri Lanka.
The central highlands of the island are filled with pictures of stirring mountains carpeted with lush green tea gardens, roaring waterfalls mingling with the clouds and landscapes shimmering in sunlight and disappearing under the rising mist. Travelling towards the top of the country to the North Central Valley of the Kings, mountains covered with lush tropical forests disappears under the glare of the sun giving way to acres of light green carpets of paddy dotted with towering ancient white stupas and fed with oceans like reservoirs locally known as wewa. Giant statues of Lord Buddha rises above the forest line while ancient palaces stand abandoned to the forest, waiting for a master, who long departed from life.
Travelling further north the landscape changes drastically, North of Sri Lanka is a world apart from the rest of country. Colorful Hindu temples replace the white pagodas while sari clad damsels roam the streets on bicycles.
On the western coasts of the country is Colombo, a capital city of the island, which displays a rich colonial heritage. A potpourri of races, religions and cultures, Colombo parades the best and worst the country has to offer.
Despite its small size Sri Lanka boasts of one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world whether in plants or animals and is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. Of the ninety-one species of mammals found in Sri Lanka Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes engages the majority of the attention of wildlife enthusiast. Yet the rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, who according to IUCN clarifications are endangered due to habitat loss.
Meanwhile the ocean around Sri Lanka is home to large families of cetaceans including the mighty blue whales, sperm whales and lively dolphins. Altogether 26 species of cetaceans rule the waters surrounding the country, making it one of the best locations for whale and dolphin watching.
Despite the mighty elephants and rare amphibians found in the country birds are the glory of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Boasting nearly 433 bird species of which 233 are resident Sri Lanka holds 20 endemic species while another 80 species have developed distinct Sri Lankan races, compared to their cousins in Indian mainland.
Although less celebrated, Sri Lanka has one of the richest diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 106 species of amphibians of over 90 of which are endemic. The country has long claimed to have the highest amphibian species density in the world with a high concentration in the Sinharaja rainforest.
With a history expanding over 3000 years, Sri Lanka holds some of world’s ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla; their once glorious townships, palaces, temples, monasteries, hospitals and theaters intricately carved and modeled out of stone lay and abandoned and forgotten with time amidst the soaring jungles.
Of all the ancient cities of Lanka, the most famed and most exquisite is the Kingdom of Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka’s third and the longest serving capital and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world is also one of the most sacred cities of World Buddhists. It was the capital of Sri Lanka from the Fourth Century BC up to the turn of the eleventh Century and was one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia.
Sigiriya, a fifth century AD fortress and a water garden displays some of the most futuristic elements of landscaping and some of the oldest murals recorded in the country.
Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient kingdom of the country boasts of Irrigation systems that are far superior to those of the and they still provide irrigation water to the farmers in and around Polonnaruwa.Digamadulla, the Eastern kingdom of Sri Lanka was the agricultural and spiritual capital of the country during the Anuradhapura kingdom.
Sri Lanka’s last kingdom the Kingdom of Kandy is a testament to the Sri Lankan ability to pick up and rise from ashes. After being burned and ravaged more than thrice by the invading Portuguese the Kandyan Kingdom still holds beautifully carved and built houses, palaces and temple preserved for nearly 500 years.
With varying climates and Geography packed into a small island Sri Lanka offers a range of adventures from the top of the mountains to the depths of the oceans.
Other than taking a dip in the oceans or snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing are the most popular beach sports in the country. Scuba diving has long history in the country. Today the oceans filled with coral gardens, multitude of exotic fishes and ancient wrecks Sri Lanka offers one of the best diving experiences in the world. Although comparatively new to the country surfing too has made its mark in the Southern and Eastern coasts of the island for the last twenty five years. The sea around Sri Lanka is also one of the most challenging marine game fishing locations while white water rafting, Kayaking and canoeing are some of the relatively new water sports practiced in the country.
With multitude of roads winding through expanding mountains, lush green forests, paddy fields, parks and sleepy villages, Sri Lanka also offers many opportunities to keen hikers and trekkers. Trail blazing through the tracks and paths on horse or elephant back too is a novel experience introduced recently.
Experience the thrills of crumbling rocks beneath the feet, head spinning heights and the earth expanding beneath when conquering many mountains of Sri Lanka or take over waterfall climbing with exciting climbs like the rock face of Bambarakanda waterfall, the tallest in the country.
With many an adventures packed within few miles of each other Sri Lanka is an adventure itself waiting to happen.
With a population composed with many a races and religions, Sri Lanka is never short of festivals and celebrations. Every month brings a celebration either religious or cultural importance, making Sri Lanka one of the countries with highest number of celebrations and holidays.
The Sinhala-Tamil New year festival in April is the most important cultural festival in the country. The festival marks the beginning of the New Year and the end of harvesting season. A lengthy holiday and a table full of oily traditional delicacies like kokis, makes the New Year festival one of the long awaited festivals in the country.
The May full moon poya day or Vesak is the most important religious celebration in Sri Lanka, where Buddhists celebrate the nativity, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha with many celebrations. Sri Lankans of every religion crowd the roads to enjoy Vesak decorations including pandals and lanterns and many a makeshift alm houses that line the roads offering every food item from beverages, dessert to main meals.
In August are the Esala festivals in Kandy and Kataragama. The Kataragama Esala Festival is a multi-religious festival where devotes use fire walking and extreme self-penance to shows their piety to Lord Kataragama. The Kandy Esala Perahera or the Dalada Perahera is the largest cultural parade in the world and showcases the best of Sri Lankan dancing and music and the best of the domesticated tuskers in the country.
Since Sri Lanka is a tropical country, you can expect the rain anytime of the year in different parts of the country. However, the two major rainy seasons are South-West monsoon (May to July) which predominantly affects the west & south coast of sri lanka and North-East monsoon (October to January) predominantly affecting the east coast.
The climate of Sri Lanka changes dramatically from central highlands to the coastal belt. For example at Nuwara Eliya, in the hills of Central Sri Lanka, has a temperature around 5-20°C throughout the year, whereas Hambantota, located in the dry zone, has a temperature consistently around 30-35°C.
Accommodation in Sri Lanka has been transformed in recent years. What would be recognized as the modern tourist industry began in the 1960s with traditional beach hotels built on the west coast which were aimed primarily at the package holiday crowd and traditional travel operators. But the past decade has brought a major change, with the growth of villas, boutique hotels, and small independent and individualistic properties offering a huge array of choice.
With the end of the civil war, tourist arrivals have steadily increased to Sri Lanka. Featured globally as an 'IT' destination, the country has seen an influx of hotel investors and larger Sri Lankan companies diversifying into hospitality.
If you are a backpacker, hostel and dormitory style accommodation can start as low as US$ 5. In Colombo, Fort YMCA is a good place. Many homeowners in tourist-centric destinations have turned their homes into 'guesthouses', looking to capitalize on the tourism trade. Most offer clean, comfortable accommodation options for under US$ 30. The concept of backpacker hostels is still new to most of the cities in Sri Lanka, but private rooms can be cheaper compared to hostels in the western world.
Similarly, many international affiliations with brands such as Small Luxury Hotels of the World, independently verify the quality of hotel accommodation.
This is important as Sri Lanka's Tourist Development Authority star ratings are dependent on facilities such as the no. of rooms at the hotel. As such, many of Sri Lanka's best reviewed / most popular hotels offering luxury accommodation, may not rate as a '5 star' but remain unclassified or categorized as a boutique hotel.
Accommodation pricing can vary from hostel type accommodation from US$ 5 to luxury hotels and resorts that charge US$ 1,000 a night.
The staple food of Sri Lankans is rice and curry - a massive mound of rice surrounded by various curries and delicacies.
Kothu (Kothu) Roti (a medley of chopped roti, vegetables and your choice of meat) is a must-have for anyone - tourist or otherwise - in Sri Lanka. It is uniquely Sri Lankan and tastes best when made fresh by street vendors. However, several kottu roti restaurants have been closed down due to their use of stale and old roti, which made some patrons sick. Use caution, and even better, talk with the locals to figure out where the best kottu roti restaurants are. Use your eyes and ears, public nose picking is common in Sri Lanka and is a good indication of where not to eat.
Sri Lankan food is generally spicy. But you can always ask for less spicy options when you are ordering your food. Other food that you should try are String Hoppers , Hoppers, Pittu & Kiribath.
Note that Sri Lankans eat with their right hands - this isn't a major problem, because everywhere will be able to provide cutlery if you can't eat otherwise. But try the Sri Lankan way (tips of fingers only!), it's harder than it looks but strangely liberating.
There are many upscale restaurants to choose from in the city of Colombo. There are several fine dining restaurants at the 5 star hotels which offer both Local and International cuisine. These establishments are found largely in western Colombo (along Galle Road), though more are located around Colombo and other major cities.
Nationals of the Maldives, Seychelles and Singapore may obtain a free visa on arrival. Maldivian and Singaporean nationals may enter for 30 days (extendable up to 150), whilst Seychellois nationals may enter for 60 days (but no more than 90 days per calendar year).
Nationals of Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria and Uganda must obtain a visa in advance from a Sri Lankan diplomatic mission.
All other nationals not specified above may obtain a visa on arrival, provided that they have completed the electronic travel authorization (ETA) procedure either prior to travel or on arrival in Sri Lanka. This electronic authorization is valid for 3 months, starting from the day it has been approved. It allows for two entries, which means you can enter the country twice during the 30 days entry. A visitor wishing to stay more than 30 days in Sri Lanka may apply for an extension. The short visit visa may be extended up to 90 days from the date of arrival at the first instance and further 90 days at the second instance.
ATMs are located in many places including the Colombo airport arrival lounge (especially at bank branches) in the cities and suburbs, less so in the countryside. You can withdraw from debit cards too (Cirrus, Maestro, Visa Electron etc) where their logos are displayed.
Be careful of using credit cards, as fraud is on the rise in Sri Lanka.
Vaccination are recommended for Hepatitis A+B and Tetanus. Also, the Typhus vaccination outside of tourist areas especially in the wet season.
During the rainy season use mosquito repellent. When head and joint aches occur get a blood check. There is no vaccination yet.
Visitors should avoid drinking water from the tap. It is best to stick to bottled water for both drinking and teeth brushing. Leafy, raw vegetables and salads should also be avoided, as they are washed with tap water.
It is customary to remove shoes and wear conservative attire (i.e. no miniskirts, tank tops, short pants etc.) when visiting temples. It is also the custom to remove shoes before entering a home, though this is not as strictly followed as in places such as Japan.
Never touch or pat the top of the head of Buddhist monks, including children who practice at a temple.
Do not turn your back to (or be alongside) a Buddha statue when within a reasonable distance (observe what others are doing). This includes posing for photos. It's ok to photograph a statue, but all persons should be facing it.
Public nudity is illegal in Sri Lanka - nude/topless sunbathing and skinny dipping should be avoided, except in the private beach resorts which allow it.
Be respectful to monks. There's no particular etiquette for Westerners - just be polite. Always give them a seat on a crowded bus (unless you're disabled or very elderly).
If soldiers are guarding something, it probably shouldn't be photographed. Don't rely on signs alone, as sometimes they are old or missing.
Seemingly innocuous public displays of affection between lovers such as kissing and/or hugging may be culturally frowned upon as it is considered to be private behaviour but it is acceptable in functions and establishments designated for adults such as nightclubs, casinos and beach parties. Much lenience is given to foreigners and holding hands and public affection between parents and their children is not frowned upon.
We the leisure team brings a wide range of customized Sri Lanka tour to offer you a perfect hassle-free vacation. The plans are tailored keeping in mind your requirements and benefits. Whatever might be your choice; an adventurous vacation, a luxury vacation, a family vacation or a romantic one, we are ready with the perfect plan for you. We value your safety as well as respect your privacy, and the tour experts plan your tour accordingly, either a packaged group tour or an independent tour. In all cases we ensure a hassle-free experience with magnificent accommodations, authentic local guides, and unimaginable excursions. So whether you wish to visit sacred places or immerse in adventure, write to Leisure and we will bring you perfect tour from the top tour experts.
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