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Travel Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA

Destination Inspiration

Because of its shape and location on the map, Sri Lanka is often affectionately nicknamed 'the teardrop of India'. But here at STA Travel, we don't think it's that fitting. Sri Lanka seems to be one of the happiest islands on earth, with non-stop sunshine and beaming smiles. And amazing food, epic hikes, bags of culture and a hefty history to boot. Go beyond the beaches and get to know the real Sri Lanka with our travel guide... 

Sri Lanka Fast Facts

Sri Lanka languages spoken

Languages spoken

Most Sri Lankans speak Sinhalese, with the second language being Tamil. Many people who work in the tourism or transport industry will be able to talk to you in great English.

Sri Lanka currency

Currency

Sri Lankan rupee (LKR). $1 is approximately 120 LKR.

Sri Lanka time zone

Time Zone

Sri Lanka is on the same time zone as India: GMT+05:30, meaning the island is five and a half hours behind Sydney and Melbourne, or four and a half behind Perth.

How much does it cost to travel in Sri Lanka?

sri lanka food cost

Food

Don't expect to pay more than $5 for a slap-up street dinner of curry, dhal or string hoppers. Snacks, such as kottu are even cheaper. A sit down meal in a nicer restaurant will cost up to $10.

Drinks cost Sri Lanka

Drinks

There are plenty of local bottle shops and bars in Sri Lanka. A local beer will cost you around 300 rupees ($2.50). Imported beers and spirits will set you back a little more.

cost of Taxis sri lanka

Taxis

A taxi in the capital of Colombo will cost you around 50 rupees per kilometre - that's around 60 cent! For a 10 km taxi or rickshaw ride, don't pay more than $3.

Transport cost Sri Lanka

Other transport

A three hour bus journey in Sri Lanka will cost you up tp 400 rupees (around $3). A train ticket from Colombo to Kandy is 100 rupees for 2nd or 3rd class, or 500 rupees ($4) for 1st class air-conditioned. Both options are reliable and safe.

Cost of hotels Sri Lanka

Hotels

Sri Lankan accommodation is all about the bargains. You'll be able to find a spacious and clean en-suite room in a 3* hotel for around 4000 LKR ($35) per night, or a room in a family guesthouse or homestay for less (we recommend this option of you want to immerse yourself in the culture). Beach resorts can cost upwards of $100.

Cost of hostels Sri Lanka

Hostels

A bed in a hostel or cheap room in a local homestay with other backpackers will set you back around $10 a night; perhaps a little more in popular beach spots like Hikkaduwa and Arugam Bay.

Sri Lanka Kandy to Ella train

Sri Lanka's highlights

Colombo
Colombo
The main port of entry and exit in Sri Lanka, the island's capital city is situated on the west coast and is bursting with culture, awesome food and a burgeoning bar scene. Explore the beautiful Gangaramaya Buddhist temple (pictured), and watch the sun set over the Laccadive Sea at Galle Face Green with a plate of delicous street food... or just head north to Negombo beach to chill.
Ella tea lady
Kandy and the Hill Country
Head into Sri Lanka's lush highlands and find some serious zen. Here, you can explore the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, hike the 7000+ steps to the top of Adam's Peak and journey through sky-high tea plantations and colourful villages to find your happy place in the adorable town of Ella. 
Sigiriya rock
Sigiriya and the cultural triangle
A short journey north from Kandy you'll the ginormous temple complexes of Anuradhapura, impressive Buddhist caves in Dambulla, and the awe-inspiring Sigiriya rock. Climb to the top, keep your eyes peeled, and you might just seen wild elephants grazing in the rich jungle below. Yep, like many of Asia's great travel hotspots, Sri Lanka has its own 'cultural triangle'. And getting around it by public bus is smooth sailing, too. 
Sri Lanka beach
Sri Lanka's beaches
Partying in Hikkaduwa. Surfing on Arugam Bay. Whale watching on Marissa, turtle spotting around Tangalle and Rekawa, and straight up chilling on Uppuveli... Sri Lanka offers tropical bliss and salty sunsets aplenty. There's a beach for everyone here. 

Sri Lanka Adventure Tours

Sri Lanka stilt fishermen tour
Sri Lanka on a Shoestring | 12 days
Sri Lanka is the backpacker's dream, but the island has just about managed to go under our radar for decades now, rendering it an untouched paradise. On this affordable whirlwind group tour of its southern half, you'll discover beautiful ruins, hike through tea plantations, tour spice gardens, and then chill out on Unawatuna's serene beaches.
Now from $1,231
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Udawalwe elephants Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Encompassed | 14 days
Sri Lanka may have stunning beaches but this island tour will fill your senses with amazing food, rich history, and inspiring stories. Starting in Colombo, you'll visit Galle, spot elephants in Udawalawe National Park, explore the hills and tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, get cultured in Kandy, and climb mighty Sigiriya. 
Now from $2,339
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Sri Lanka tea picker
Sri Lanka & Maldives Adventure | 14 days
Say hello to the dream holiday - a tour of two of Asia's most beautiful island paradises. Spend eight days in Sri Lanka, where you'll experience rich culture in the cities of Colombo and Kandy, the beautiful hills and village life in Ella, go on elephant safari in Udawalawe National Park, chill on Unawatuna's beaches, then hop on a flight to the Maldives for another eight days of island hopping and snorkelling.
From $3,049
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Sigiriya views
Tailor Made Sri Lanka
So you want to see Sri Lanka's ancient monuments, Trincomalee's colourful Hindu temple above the ocean, spot wales and wild elephants and trek the 7000 steps to the top of Adam's Peak. There's nothing wrong with wanting it all, even if you're on limited time. With our Tailor Made packages you can tick off everything on your Sri Lanka bucket list by personalising your own itinerary, including transport and accommodation - just speak to a Travel Expert!
Bentota beach Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Beach Breaks
Sri Lanka might just be the perfect island for a sunny beach break. With countless beaches strung around the West, South and East coast, all relatively close together, you've got your pick of paradise. Negombo, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Marissa and Arugam Bay are all full of budget accommodation, fancy hotels, restaurants and buzzing nightlife - not to mention turtles and whale watching opportunuties - making them a hotspot for surfers, beach bums, and families.

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When is the best time of year to visit Sri Lanka?

Average temperatures in Sri Lanka are in the high twenties on the coast and high teens in the hills. In typical tropical fashion, the monsoon rears its head in Sri Lanka every year. Despite the small size of the island, its patterns vary depending on your location. The south of Sri Lanka (think the beaches of Hikkaduwa and Marissa, the hill country where Ella and Adam's Peak are nestled, and Udawalwe Nartinal Park) experience rains from May to August, meaning hiking or wildlife spotting during this period might get a bit soggy. The best time to visit the south and west coast of the island is from January to April.

Further north, around Sigiriya, the Cultural Triangle, Trincomalee and Jaffna, it's dry and hot from May to September. It gets rainy in these parts from October to February. Confused yet? Yep, it took us a while to get our head around it too. The most important thing to remember is that Sri Lanka is an amazing travel experience at any time of year, and places are rarely completely off limits.

 

Celebrations: Sri Lankan New Year falls in April, so it's worth nothing that transport can get booked in a bit further in advance around this time, and hotel prices could increase. In fact, Sri Lanka's calendar is packed full of festivals and celebrations - some of the most notable being Independence Day every February 4th, Vesak Poya, a huge Buddhist celebration in May, and Esala Perahera in Kandy every August.
Pilgrimmage season for Adam's Peak usually falls between December and May, when the weather conditions and visibility are top, transport connections to the base of the mountain are efficient (read: existent!), and the pathway up is lined with thousands of beautiful lights. Climbing Adam's Peak is possible, and amazing at any time of year though. 

 

Wildlife: If you're visiting Sri Lanka between December and April, head south to see blue whales off the shores of Marissa, elephants and leopards in Yala and Udawalawe National Parks and turtles on most southern beaches. During other times of year, you'll be in with the best chance of seeing blue whales on the calm waters of Trincomalee and nearby Uppuveli beach. Hitting up 'Lanka in August or September? Lucky you! You'll be there for Minneriya National Park's wild elephant gathering, near Sigiriya. 

 

Surfing: When it comes to surf, Sri Lanka is up there with Bali. Hit the waves on the southwest coast from November to March. From May to September, tousled hair types flock to Arugam Bay on the east coast.

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