50 Sri Lanka Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Sri Lanka For First Timers

We will write about Sri Lanka travel tips and all the cool facts about Sri Lanka and things to know before visiting Sri Lanka. From first timers to seasoned travelers, this post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Sri Lanka and what awaits you from amazing places to visit, culture to delicious food to try in Sri Lanka.

Read here Sri Lanka sim card for touristColombo airport to GalleColombo airport to NegomboColombo airport to city center, 10 Most Instagrammable places in Sri Lanka and our favorite 25 Sri Lanka Tourist Spots!

Read here budget travel in Sri Lanka and things to do in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Sri Lanka For First Timers

1. IS IT SAFE SRI LANKA?

Is it safe travel to Sri Lanka? Yeah you should know that Sri Lanka is a safe country in the world. If you travel to Sri Lanka, safety won’t be a problem. You can feel safe everywhere, literally. Make sure that you keep your valuables with you in crowded places and that should be more than enough.

2. EASY VISA IN SRI LANKA

Easy Visa in Sri Lanka. You can apply the ETA before your trip. Prices are around $20-40 USD for a month. We didn’t apply in advance and we paid $40 USD each for a month Visa on arrival in the airport. Citizens of the Maldives, Seychelles and Singapore get to visit Sri Lanka visa-free for at least 30 days. On the other hand, those coming from most African nations need to get their visas beforehand.

Read here a complete lit of visa free Filipinos countries to visit!

3. CASH AND ATM IN SRI LANKA

Cash is the king in Sri Lanka. You will find ATMs and office where you can exchange your money almost everywhere. The exchange rate is around $1 USD 160 Sri Lankan Rupees, and the ATM does not take commission to our card. Click the link to see the current exchange rate.

4. BEST TIME TO GO TO SRI LANKA

There are two monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka. So we can’t say exactly when could be the best time to travel to Sri Lanka. The temperature goes around 26-30 degrees and there is high humidity, depending on which part of the island. December to March would be the best time to visit Sri Lanka if you are going to West and South Coast and April to September for visiting the East Coast.

Click here to know more about the weather in Sri Lanka!

5. HEALTH TRAVEL INSURANCE

Things to know before visiting Sri Lanka we recommend always to bring a travel insurance when traveling abroad just in case you have any problems. You can always have food Poisson, fever or any other kind of disease.

Just make sure you are ready since it can be really expensive if you get a big surgery or problem in Sri Lanka. You can check ours in this link where you can get covered starting from $40 USD per month.

FACTS ABOUT SRI LANKA

6. SRI LANKA IS SO CHEAP

If you have been traveling around Southeast Asia Thailand and the Philippines are so cheap and Sri Lanka has similar affordable prices. Especially for accommodation where is easy to find a room for less than $20 USD, alcohol is cheap and prices for food and transportation are so affordable. Keep reading below!

ACCOMMODATION BUDGET TRAVEL IN SRI LANKA

You can get accommodation in Sri Lanka starting from $15-20 USD for a room in a guesthouse. Can you imagen if you are two of you traveling in Sri Lanka it will be $10 USD each.  If you are looking for budget accommodation in Sri Lanka you can also try AirBnB starting from $15 USD. Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN SRI LANKA BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH BOOKING AND AGODA!

FOOD BUDGET TRAVEL IN SRI LANKA

budget travel in sri lanka

You will find meals starting from $1-3 USD. In local places we didn’t see so much variety at night, sometimes there are just a few options for dinner. Our favorite meal was Kottu, Hoppers, Vegetarian Rotis and as for dessert, Pineapple Curry was our favorite one.

Juices and fresh coconut were so delicious. Prices start from $1 USD and we loved the papaya juice with lime which was served for breakfast in most of the hotels that we stayed in Sri Lanka. Beers are cheap for $1 USD and you will find them in the liquor store, my favorite one was Lion beer and it was good!

TOURS/ENTRANCE FEES IN SRI LANKA

Fishermen in Unawatuna, budget travel in sri lanka

We did almost everything by ourselves in Sri Lanka. You can go for day tours with a local guide, diving, snorkeling and they usually cost around $20-30 per day with lunch included. There are fees for visiting Elephant Sanctuaries and National Parks but don’t worry about that adding to your budget.

We mostly went to the beaches in our trip in Sri Lanka, so we almost didn’t pay for fees there. There are more tours and fishermen in Unawatuna and the beaches around asking for payment when taking pictures, as well as using a rope swing. Anyway the tours and entrance fees are small. In the Northern parts like Sirigiya Rock costs $30 USD and the views are amazing.

7. WI-FI AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN CAMBODIA

Internet in Sri Lanka works great in big cities and you will have many problems to connect in off the beaten path destinations. You can access free WiFi at hostels and hotels and there are lots of restaurant that are offering free WiFi.

We advise in our Sri Lanka travel tips that you get a sim card in Sri Lanka if you need to catch up with some work online. Click here to book online your sim card in Sri Lanka with Klook

Read here if you want to be connected online when traveling the world!

8. ADAPTER IN SRI LANKA

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In our Sri Lanka travel tips you should know they use 230 V and frequency 50Hz. A few places make it possible to fit your American and European adapter in the plug because they provide adapters. If you are coming from American and European countries, we recommend you to bring an adapter to be able to charge everywhere.

9. LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IN SRI LANKA

budget travel in sri lanka

Local transportation in Sri Lanka is incredibly cheap. Buses and train rides will cost you $3-5 USD for long distances. The most challenge thing is dealing with the tuk tuk drivers. They always try to hike up the prices especially with foreigners, just be calm if they do and ask around about how much is the usual price so you can avoid paying absurd prices for the ride. 

Trains and buses are super crowded and sometimes you will have to go standing for a few minutes or a few hours like riding the bus from Ella to Matara.

10. RIDING A TUK TUK IN SRI LANKA

Riding a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka. Those who have explored Thailand or the Philippines are familiar with the tuk tuk, a three-wheeler taxi. Tuk tuk is the cheapest and most convenient way to cover short distances in Sri Lanka. Some of these taxis are not metered so be wary of drivers that rip off foreigners.

Keep in mind that a ride only costs around 60-75 LKR per kilometer which is only half of dollar. But they will try to charge 3-4 times more the price and you will have to bargain the price.

11. TAXI VS UBER IN SRI LANKA

Taxi Vs Uber in Sri Lanka. If you get a taxi sometimes they will try not to put the taximeter and increase the price. We recommend you to use Uber app for short rides in the city since you have a fixed price and you will avoid scams in Sri Lanka. Prices are so affordable!

12. INSTA FAMOUS TRAIN KANDY TO ELLA

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Ride the Insta-famous train ride from Kandy to Ella or vice-versa. We hopped on for a ride for 7 hours but we couldn’t take as many pictures as we liked as the train was too crowded. The views of the Sri Lankan landscape from the train was so inspiring and beautiful.

Unfortunately we forgot to book our train trip in advance so we had to ride second class—that means you could spend a few hours on your feet, depending on your luck. We recommend taking the route from Ella to Kandy due to its less-crowded nature compared to other routes. You can experience this spectacular adventure for 7 hours at the price of $2-3 USD.

13. VISIT TEA PLANTATIONS IN SRI LANKA

Things to do in Sri Lanka: Visiting tea plantations in Sri Lanka

Visiting a tea plantation is definitely a must for those traveling in Sri Lanka. Just the experience alone of hiking around the area and having the opportunity to witness how hard the locals work to collect tea leaves is worth the visit. Make sure to bring a comfy jacket or sweater because the mountains are around 2000 meters above sea level.

Click here to book your accommodation before your next trip to Sri Lanka!

14. GLAMPING IN SRI LANKA

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Glamping in Sri Lanka was one of our favorite experience in the country. We enjoyed in Maldukelle Tea and Eco Lodge just an hour north of Kandy. You’ll definitely enjoy the amazing sights from the tea plantation which provided us with the best tea we’ve ever had and all the luxury that we needed.

Our “luxury tent” had its own swimming pool, a bathtub, high-speed internet connection and insanely fantastic views. The service was great; the staff made us feel so special and at home. Click here, if you want to enjoy our favorite place to sleep in Sri Lanka.

Looking for accommodation in Sri Lanka? Check here and book the best places to stay in Sri Lanka.

15. AIRBNB IN SRI LANKA

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Airbnb is getting popular in Sri Lanka (click this link if you want to have $40 USD discount coupon in your next booking) We love our villa near Unawatuna with a amazing pool for relaxation, fast internet connection for doing our work online.

16. SRI LANKAN PEOPLE SPEAK ENGLISH

You will find that most of the Sri Lankan people speak English especially in touristic areas and young people. But in some remote areas a few of Sri Lankan people will not be able to speak English. Sinhalese and Tamil are the main languages in Sri Lanka but in the school they teach English too.

17. LEARN ABOUT SRI LANKAN HISTORY

You can learn about Sri Lankan history from 1983 to 2009 have been suffering a Civil War between Sinhalese and Tamil minority. More than 80000 people died in the conflict. Just a 10 years ago! The North area Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Anuradhapura is also full of history and UNESCO sites in Sri Lanka.

18. Religion in Sri Lanka

The religion in Sri Lanka is Sinhalese around 70% of the population. You will also find Hindu 15%, Muslim 10% especially in the Eastern part of the country and Christian 7%.

19. DRESS PROPERLY IN SRI LANKA

Dress properly in Sri Lanka covering your shoulders and if you can wear pants covering your knees too. Sri Lankan people are very religious and it’s not the same like neighbor countries like Thailand and the Philippines where they don’t care as much as they do in Sri Lanka.

20. SRI LANKAN ARE VERY FRIENDLY

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Sri Lankans are very friendly and they are smiling and willing to talk to you. The best ways to meet locals is staying in a guest house with a local family. Also getting local transportation, visiting the local markets where you will always meet new friends. A few people maybe will try to scam you but just a few of them and you will notice easily.

21. SHOPPING FOR SARIS

A Sari (or saree) is the dress code for Sri Lankan women. Sari is a long garment usually worn around the waist and draped over the shoulder. Sari symbolizes grace and pride in the Sri Lankan culture. If you get invited to a local celebration, you can never go wrong with a sari.

22. LONGYI

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Wear a longyi when visiting Sri Lanka. Longyi is a type of sarong that’s worn around the waist running to the feet and it’s so comfortable and common among men in Sri Lanka also in other countries around like Myanmar and India. You can find longyis in local markets

23. MEDICINAL HERBS IN SRI LANKA

You can find a lot of medicinal herbs in Sri Lanka since the locals use them as treatments to their ailments. If you ever fall under the weather or feel something as much as a stomach ache while traveling in Sri Lanka you can try the medicinal herbs.

24. PLAYING CRICKET

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Cricket is the national sport of Sri Lanka and shares some similarity with baseball. You will see kids and adults playing it everywhere. I tried cricket and it really wasn’t that difficult. It’s super fun and local people will be super happy to meet you and get to know you a little.

25. VISITING LOCAL MARKETS

We always make sure that we visit local markets every time we travel. You always have the chance to try their local food and fruits. We also love the vibe in the local markets, we usually go there after we arrive and before our departure.

FACTS ABOUT SRI LANKA FOOD

26. KOTTU

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Kottu was one of the best dishes that we had and we made sure that we got to eat it for dinner every day. There are different ways to enjoy this food: vegetarian, chicken and/or parotta mixed with vegetables and meat if you want. We had a blast watching how noisily kottu is prepared. Kottu only costs around $1-2 USD.

27. HOPPERS

Hoppers are bowl-shaped pancakes made from rice flour and served with various toppings. The best one that we tried was the one with egg and vegetables. You can also find sweet hoppers and prices are around $1 USD in local restaurants in Sri Lanka.

28. ROTI WITH CURRY

Roti with curry is one of the most popular breakfasts in Sri Lanka. The vegetarian roti and you can have it with egg or without egg. You can easily find them on the streets and in local restaurants for less than $1 USD each.

29. PINEAPPLE CURRY

Pineapple curry? For dessert?? But why?! Well, this may come as a surprise, but it was actually very delicious. We’ve never heard of pineapple curry before visiting Sri Lanka but we really loved it and we tried a couple of times.

30. SRI LANKAN OMELETTE

Sri Lankan Omelette became our favorite breakfast. Sri Lankan omelette is made with vegetables and some spicy ingredients and it’s served with papaya juice with lime to make a perfect breakfast!

31. FRUITS IN SRI LANKA

There are plenty of fruits in Sri Lanka like mango, papaya, and coconut. You can also find exotic ones like rambutan and dragon fruit.

32. DRINK ARRACK

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Sri Lankans love drinking arrack. It’s Arrack is made from fermented coconut flower sap and sugarcane or fruit. Arrack is a very strong alcoholic beverage produced in Sri Lanka and also in South India. Be careful when drinking arrack!

33. LION BEER

Our top pick was Lion Beer Lager and Lion Beer Strong, both of which we liked so much. Lion Beer cost around $1 USD. You can only buy beers from wineries and big supermarkets. Also beers are served in bars and restaurants in Sri Lanka.

FESTIVALS IN SRI LANKA

34. INDEPENDENCE DAY IN SRI LANKA


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Independence Day in Sri Lanka is celebrated on 4th of February. Since 1948 Sri Lanka has finally gained liberation from the United Kingdom. The Independence Day commemorates all the struggles from the past and pays tribute to Sri Lanka’s heroes who’ve helped them achieve freedom and gain their own identity.

35. VESAK FESTIVAL

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Image from Flickr

Vesak Festival in Sri Lanka is also known as Buddha Day is celebrated around April or May. Vesak honors the life, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. Buddhists will decorate the streets with lanterns and to give back happiness to others, especially to the less fortunate.

36. SINHALA AND TAMIL NEW YEAR

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Sri Lankans celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year at the end of the harvest season on 13th and 14th of April. You will see rituals and lighting up fireworks and performing their rituals. It is not only a Buddhist and Hindu celebration but also a way to honors Sri Lanka’s heritage and history.

More Sri Lanka Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Sri Lanka For First Timers

Places To Visit in Sri Lanka

37. KANDY

Sri Lanka travel tips, things to know before visiting Sri Lanka, facts about Sri Lanka, Kandy

Kandy is the largest city in central Sri Lanka. Kandy is known for rainforests that are bio diverse, tea plantations, Kandy LakeTemple of the Tooth shrine and more Buddhist sites. Kandy is a great place to tour around and you’ll learn a lot more about Sri Lanka.

38. ARUGAM BAY

things to do in sri lanka surfing in arugam bay

Arugam Bay is the perfect place to visit in Sri Lanka if you like surfing. Arugam Bay is a fisherman village in the Eastern part of the country. To get to Arugam Bay from Colombo or Matara will take you about 7 hours to reach the destination. Prices start at $5 USD transportation is very cheap in Sri Lanka!

39. COLOMBO

Beaches in Colombo

Colombo the capital has a few parks, museums and our favorite were the beaches getting super crowded during the weekends by locals going for a swim. Colombo is great for street food and local restaurants.

Click here to book your accommodation before your next trip to Sri Lanka!

40. UNUWATUNA AND DALAWELLA BEACH

palm swing dalawella beach, Sri Lanka

Unawatuna is one of our favorite beaches in Sri Lanka. The swing ride at Dalawella Beach next to Unawatuna costs $3 USD but it’s free if you’re staying at the Dream Cabana guesthouse on the beach. You can go for a walk on the long seashore at Unawatuna Beach to see the local fishermen’s unique fishing technique called “stilt fishing”.

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CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN SRI LANKA BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH BOOKING AND AGODA!

41. ADAM´S PEAK

Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka tourist spots
Image from Flickr

Adam’s Peak is one of the most exciting and challenging of the things to do in Sri Lanka. Make sure you wear the proper hiking clothes and shoes if you’re going to Adam’s Peak. You will get amazing views from the top!

42. GALLE

Sri Lanka tourist spots, Galle
Image from Flickr

Galle is the main city around the beaches in Sri Lanka. As with most beaches here, the view of the sunset is top-notch. You can’t miss Galle Fort for walking around and learning about the history in Sri Lanka.

43. YALA NATIONAL PARK

Nature Park in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Tourist spots, Yala National Park

Yala National Park is a wildlife sanctuary with a huge area of forest and grasslands that houses different wild animals such as elephants, leopards, crocodiles, birds and many more. You can also find an ancient Buddhist monastery and caves that contain centuries-old paintings. Yala National Park is opened from 6 am to 6 pm.

44. MIRISSA BEACH

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Mirissa Beach is a beautiful beach and you can walk the sand bar and climb up the rocky steps to get to the top of the small island Parrot Rock. During sunset is the ideal time to go and during the weekend can be crowded but it’s so beautiful!

45. HIKKADUWA

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Hikkaduwa Beach is popular for surfers and great nightlife. Hikkaduwa Beach is a couple of hours far from Colombo and close to places to Sri Lanka tourist spots like Galle Fort, Unawatuna and Mirissa Beach.

46. TRINCOMALEE BEACH

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Image from Wikimedia

Trincomalee Beach is 257 kilometers from Colombo. Trincomalee Beach has beautiful fine sand and clear waters is a must visit for tourists who want a short and peaceful stay. There are also temples around the area that you can visit.

47. SIGIRIYA

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Image from Flickr – Facts About Sri Lanka

The Sigiriya rock fortress is 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles and is formed from magma of an inactive volcano. Sirigiya is fascinating for tourists requires climbing climbing 1200 steps can take up to 2 hours. The entrance fee costs $30 USD. The walls in Sirigiya are covered by frescoes that are more than 1,000 years old.

48. POLONNARUWA

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Image from Flickr – Things To Know Before Visiting Sri Lanka

Polonnaruwa remains as one of the best archaeological relic cities in the country. You can visit the temples and learn about the history of Sri Lanka. The town of Polonnaruwa is located in the North Central Province in Sri Lanka. You can visit temples and the monkeys.

49. ANURADHAPURA

Sri Lanka tourist spots, Sri Lanka travel tips, things to know before visiting Sri Lanka, facts about Sri Lanka
Image from Flickr – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Anuradhapura is the major city of the North Central Province in Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Anuradhapura have well-preserved ruins dating back to the ancient Sri Lankan civilization.If you’re interested in temples and other historical sites is a great place for going around on a bicycle or motorbike.

50. DAMBULLA

Sri Lanka tourist spots, Dambulla
Image from Flickr – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Dambulla is a spiritual place to visit in Sri Lanka is. The paintings and sculpture really add up to that spiritual vibe. There are also other caves that you must visit in this temple like, Deva Raja Viharaya, Maha Raja Viharaya, Maha Alut Viharaya, and Paschima Viharaya.

WHERE TO STAY IN SRI LANKA

You can get accommodation starting from $15-20 USD for a room in a guesthouse. If you are two of you traveling in Sri Lanka it will be $10 USD each.  If you are looking for budget accommodation in Sri Lanka you can also try AirBnB starting from $15 USD. Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN SRI LANKA BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH BOOKING AND AGODA!

Click here to book activities in Sri Lanka with Klook!

Having insurance while you are traveling outside your home country is very important. Make sure that you have one too, to keep you safe in your trips around the world.

Hope you liked our Sri Lanka travel tips. Let us know if we missed things to know before visiting Sri Lanka and facts about Sri Lanka in the comments below.

Feel free to use our links with discounts for Booking, Agoda, Airbnb and Klook. Using our links you will help us to continue with the maintenance of the website and it will not cost you anything. Thanks for the love guys 

Happy Travels!

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has traveled more than 70+ countries around the world. Now based in the Philippines!

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