It’s impossible to take full advantage of a holiday destination, especially to such a richly diverse country as Sri Lanka without knowing some basic facts. So to help you understand what to expect, below are the answers to frequently asked questions by tourists who have booked a holiday in Sri Lanka. What’s more, there is a complementary list of tourist information.
Where is Sri Lanka situated?
Once ago, Sri Lanka was far south, nestled next to India and Madagascar in the middle of the super-continent known as Gondwanaland. India and Sri Lanka drifted northwards until this chunk of land impacted with another chunk, creating the Himalayas. Later the bridge of limestone shoals that linked Sri Lanka with India mostly submerged, leaving a 30km divide. Sri Lanka lies between the northern latitudes 5° 55. and 9° 55. and the eastern longitudes 79° 42. and 81° 52., 650km north of the equator. It comprises 65,610 sq km and has 1,330km of coastline. 1,215km to the west are the Maldives – holidays that combine Sri Lanka and the Maldives are popular – and to the south nothing but thousands of kilometers of ocean until Antarctica.
Are Sri Lanka and Ceylon the same country?
Yes, they are. Under British Colonial rule the country was called Ceylon. The name was retained after independence in 1948 until 1972. When it was changed to Sri Lanka, which means Resplendent Land in Sanskrit. Lanka however, was used in antiquity. The name Ceylon is sometimes applied, Ceylon tea for instance.
What is the best time of year to visit the island?
Sri Lanka bears a plethora of choices when it comes to accommodation. Five-star hotels, resort hotels, boutique properties, guest houses, home stays and various other establishments. Especially along the Western, Southern coasts, Kandy and the hill country. It is also possible to rent houses. In a category of their own are government-run rest-houses, originally used by British colonists on their travels. As a result, many are colonial buildings, and set in peaceful locations.
Is it possible to combine a visit to Sri Lanka with the Maldives?
“Parents will find Sri Lanka a very child-friendly country. Children are well catered for in restaurants, hotels and guest houses which often have family rooms. Baby food and nappies are available in supermarkets across the island, although baby bottles are harder to find. It is also wise to bring child friendly mosquito repellent and sun cream since (although it is easily available in supermarkets). Some of the highlights for children are the Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo, the numerous beaches, train journeys into the hill country, and the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela.
If you want to allow your children to play safely while you eat or shop in Colombo there are play areas in Odel, Urban Kitchen, Cheers Pub and Cinnamon Grand. For dedicated play in the capital there are PG Martin Wonder world facilities which offer all kinds of activities for children.
What type of accommodation is available?
Whatever type you seek is available in Sri Lanka.s surprisingly wide range of accommodation options. Five-star hotels, resort hotels, boutique properties, guest houses, home stays, and all manner of other establishments can be found, especially along the western and southern coasts and Kandy and the hill country. It is also possible to rent houses. In a category of their own are government-run rest-houses, originally used by British colonists on their travels. As a result many are colonial buildings, and set in peaceful locations.
Is Sri Lanka a suitable destination for children?
Parents will find Sri Lanka a very child-friendly country. People generally make a special effort to fuss and entertain children: when it comes to foreign children the effort is doubled. Children are well catered for in restaurants, and hotels and guest houses often have family rooms. Baby food and nappies are available in supermarkets across the island, though baby bottles are harder to find. It is also wise to bring child friendly mosquito repellent and sun cream since this is also very hard to come by even in the capital. Some of the highlights for children are the Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo, the numerous beaches, train journeys into the hill country, and the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela. If you want to allow your children to play safely while you eat or shop in Colombo, there are play areas in Odel, Urban Kitchen, and Cheers Pub, Cinnamon Grand. For dedicated play in the capital there are PG Martin Wonder world facilities which offer all kinds of gaming
Can we visit National Parks and what kind of animals can be seen?
Sri Lanka’s 14 national parks offer the chance to see some of the country’s 91 mammals (16 endemic) – elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, hog, mouse- and barking-deer, wild boar, porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, loris, giant squirrel and monkeys such as the macaque, purple-faced leaf monkey and grey langur. The largest of the parks is Yala, vibrant with an abundant bird population where jeep safaris provide close encounters with leopards. The best park to see elephants is Uda Walawe.
Is it possible to witness traditional festivals?
Every full moon day is a Buddhist public holiday called a poya. The most important holiday is in May, the Vesak Poya. It is a festival that marks the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Worth seeing are the illuminated pandals (bamboo frameworks), hung with pictures depicting events in the Buddha’s life. Sri Lanka’s most tourist-oriented traditional festival is the Kandy Esala Perahera, held in Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August. Perahera means procession and that’s exactly what occurs – a magical passing of drummers, dancers, whip-crackers, acrobats and robed elephants. A caparisoned tusker carries the reason for the festival, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha for the people to venerate.
Is it possible to obtain Ayurvedic treatment?
Yes, Ayurveda, the ancient traditional medicine system of Sri Lanka, is practiced more widely than Western medicine. Many hotels offer Ayurvedic treatment for guests and have qualified practitioners to advise you on how to improve your health, or give various types of baths and massages.
How can I stay healthy in Sri Lanka?
With common sense precautions it is easy to stay healthy in Sri Lanka, which has good sanitation and health standards. Hospitals are generally good and especially in the capital you can have almost any procedure, including cosmetic surgery. Please remember that a fever in Sri Lanka should always be considered potentially serious and you should seek medical advice for this as quickly as possible. The first golden rule is never to drink tap water and to avoid ice and juices in places where they don.t use bottled water. Secondly, make sure you keep yourself hydrated by drinking sufficient amounts of safe, clean water, or king coconut juice which is a cheap, healthy alternative. Thirdly, be careful in the sun, which is very strong in Sri Lanka . especially from 10am to 3pm. Even sitting in the shade with sunscreen on will get you a healthy tan so treat our beautiful sunshine with care. Fourthly, do not pet or play with stray dogs because it is possible they may have rabies. Even if you are a dog lover at home, this is one time when it is better to avoid contact. Finally, and maybe most importantly, please ensure you have mosquito repellent with you at all times since prevention of mosquito borne disease is certainly better than cure. At dawn and dusk, malarial mosquitoes will come out, while during the day dengue mosquitoes will bite, so it is best to cover up with clothing or repellent when there are mosquitoes around
What is the ideal length of stay?
Sri Lanka.s compact size and the accessibility of most major attractions means that even a week will allow you to see a number of different areas. But to experience the island properly, a two-week stay is advisable.
What are the sites not to be missed?
Sri Lanka’s cultural depth is recognized by UNESCO, which has declared six archaeological World Heritage Sites. The remains of the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa feature enormous dagobas (dome-shaped structures) and statues of the Buddha. Dambulla has an awesome stairway, while Sigiriya is a rock with the remains of a palace on the summit and sensual frescoes. These four World Heritage Sites are situated within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle. In the hill country lies the royal capital of Kandy, home to the Dalada Maligawa, which houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. In contrast, experience the colonial heritage of the country by heading south to the mid-17th c. Dutch fort at Galle, the best preserved in Asia. The seventh World Heritage Site is an ecological example, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Similar sites include the Knuckles mountain range, Horton Plains and World.s End, where the hill country comes to an abrupt end, dropping 2,000m to the coastal plains. Sri Pada (Adam.s Peak) is a holy mountain climbed by pilgrims, but if you are fit, join them and appreciate the stunning views of the countryside from the peak..
What aquatic sports are available?
Sea temperature around Sri Lanka remains at 27° C, which makes the island an ideal location for wind-surfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, surfing, sailing, scuba-diving (including wreck-diving), snorkelling, speed-boating and banana-boating. In addition, there are plentiful freshwater opportunities in rivers and .tanks. (reservoirs), such as kayaking and canoeing, and most adrenaline-pumping of all, white-water rafting.
Are there any other sports to enjoy?
Well, there.s rock-climbing, caving, mountain biking and paragliding for the daring. For those who enjoy a more relaxed sport there is golf: there are three diverse courses across the country . Colombo Golf Club, Nuwara Eliya Golf Club and Victoria Golf Club near Kandy. There are excellent opportunities for trekking. Nature trails of exceptional interest include the Sinharaja rainforest, the cloud-forests of Horton Plains, the Knuckles (mountain range), and Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve
What clothes should be worn?
In the intense heat of the low country, loose cotton skirts or trousers and tops, and a long sleeved blouse for visiting temples, are ideal for women. Men should wear cotton trousers or shorts and a T-shirt, or even the local sarong. Take a sunhat and sandals slippers or open shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Being a conservative society, especially in rural areas, very short skirts and shorts should be avoided.If you are to spend time in the hill country pack a light sweater, and if you intend to sample a nature trail, bring along a sturdy pair of walking shoes or trainers. If you are travelling with children, a sunhat, loose cotton shorts and tops, including long-sleeved tops to protect them from mosquito bites, will be needed
What kind of food is available?
Rice is consumed with curries (eggplant, potato, green banana, chicken, fish) that range from delicately-spiced to near-dynamite. There are also hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles) and pittu (flour and coconut mixture). Lamprais – rice and accompaniments baked in plantain leaves – is a legacy of the Dutch. Fresh fish, prawns, crab, squid and crayfish are readily available. Desserts include buffalo curd topped with palm-honey, and the caramel-like wattalapam. Tasty snacks known as short eats are excellent for trips.Delectable fruit includes the popular mango, pineapple, banana and papaya, and also the lesser-known but distinctive examples such as sapodilla, mangosteen, rambuttan, woodapple, custard apple and beli.Colombo has an impressive range of restaurants specializing in international cuisine.
What kind of souvenirs can be bought?
Souvenirs often combine traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus) which are most evident in brasswork (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewellery, tea-sets). In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.More importantly, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world.s gem producing countries – blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat.s eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines and topazes being just a dazzling handful that can be purchased . with care.