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Your definitive Sri Lanka travel guide, now that Maldives is out

by Staff

Picking the right travel destination for a memorable getaway is no easy task. We must tell you that your fellow Indians are travelling to Sri Lanka and so should you.

Sri Lanka recently surpassed the Maldives (desi people’s favourite travel destination once upon a time) in terms of footfall from India. Looks like Indian tourists have been heading to Sri Lanka after the diplomatic row between India and Maldives as they still seem furious about the comments by a few Maldivian ministers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi following his Lakshadweep visit.

A report by the Male-based news outlet Adhadhu states that for the past four years, the tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka lagged behind the Maldives. But in January 2024, Sri Lanka surpassed the Maldives.

The mesmerising Galle Beach in Sri Lanka (Photo: Getty Images)

The publication shared that a massive surge in Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka is one of the reasons behind the increase in tourist arrivals.

  • In January 2023, 13,759 Indians visited Sri Lanka.
  • In January 2024, the number jumped 2.5 times to 34,399.
  • With this influx, Maldives has recorded a significant drop.
  • Around 17,029 Indians went to the Maldives in January 2023.
  • In January 2024, only 15,006 Indians visited the Maldives.
  • India also emerged as the top source of tourists to Sri Lanka in January this year.

Top five tourist markets for Sri Lanka in January 2024

  • India – 34,399
  • Russia – 31,159
  • UK – 16,665
  • Germany – 13,593
  • China – 11,511

Top five tourist markets for Maldives in January 2024

  • Russia – 20,113
  • China – 19,895
  • Italy – 19,542
  • UK – 16,013
  • India – 15,006

Well, now you know that Indians are going gaga over Sri Lanka. So, here’s everything you need to know about visiting this country.

Sri Lanka is an island country in South Asia and lies in the Indian Ocean. It is separated from the Indian peninsula by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait.

Experience a hot air balloon ride in Sri Lanka (Photo: Getty Images)

This country can be a great holiday destination as it has a lot to offer, including several heritage sites, beaches, and wildlife parks.

While visiting Sri Lanka, you can plan a short 5-day trip. But if you are in the mood to explore this beautiful country, you can also go for a relaxed 15-day trip.

How to reach Sri Lanka

By air

  • This is the fastest way to reach Sri Lanka from India.
  • Colombo, the nation’s capital, has direct flights to most big cities in India, like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad.
  • A round trip from India to Sri Lanka may cost you around Rs 16,000 to Rs 90,000 (per person), depending on where you take the flight from and which class you choose.
  • Delhi to Colombo – 3 hours 35 minutes approximately.
  • Mumbai to Colombo – 2 hours 30 minutes approximately.
  • Bengaluru to Colombo – 1 hour 30 minutes approximately.
  • Chennai to Colombo – 1 hour 30 minutes approximately.
  • Hyderabad to Colombo – 2 hours approximately.
Screenshots: MakeMyTrip

By sea

You can also hop on a cruise to visit Sri Lanka. Cordelia Cruises offers different routes connecting India and Sri Lanka. The price can range between Rs 55,000 to Rs 4,50,000 per person.

Screenshot: Cordeliacruises.com

Visa

At the moment, Sri Lanka is visa-free for Indian passport holders. It is a pilot project by the Sri Lanka cabinet that began in October last year and will go on till March 31, 2024. Before October 2023, the visa fee for Indians visiting Sri Lanka was around Rs 2,000.

Where to stay

From luxury resorts to budget hostels, you can choose your accommodation in Sri Lanka as per your budget and the cities you are staying in.

In popular Sri Lankan cities like Colombo and Kandy, the per night room cost at a 5-star property can be between Rs 15,000 to Rs 40,000 approximately. A budget stay may cost between Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000.

Screenshots: MakeMyTrip

How much will it cost

Is visiting Sri Lanka expensive? Well, that totally depends on how lavishly you wish to stay.

  • A 5-day budget trip to this country may cost around Rs 55,000 to Rs 75,000 per person.
  • For a lavish trip, on the other hand, you’ll have to spend between Rs 2,00,000 to Rs 4,00,000 per person.

If you wish to save yourself from the hassle of planning the trip on your own, you can also check different travel websites online and choose a package as per your budget. The packages (including flights) may range between Rs 60,000 to Rs 2,00,000.

Screenshots: MakeMyTrip

In Sri Lanka, the local currency is the Sri Lankan rupee, often referred to as LKR. 1 Indian rupee equals 3.77 Sri Lankan rupees approximately.

Places to visit

  • Colombo: This is the largest city in Sri Lanka by population. There are several temples and beaches that you can explore here.
  • Kandy: This city is known as a pilgrimage destination. It is also a listed UNESCO World Heritage site. The tea plantations and Kandy tea are also very popular.
  • Jaffna: Touted as one of the most beautiful towns in Sri Lanka, Jaffna is known for its predominant Tamil population.
  • Galle: This city is a popular beach destination. It is famous for its 17th century Dutch fort.
  • Bentota: This town is perfect for honeymooners. It is also a good spot for water activities.
  • Trincomalee: This Sri Lankan city is famous for its pristine beaches and ancient temples.
  • Sigiriya: The ancient rock fortress is one of the most popular tourist spots.
  • Ella: This small town is known for its lush landscapes and hiking trails. When in Ella, don’t forget to take a train ride and you will be left amazed by the scenic views.
Nine arches bridge between Ella and Demodara (Photo: Getty Images)

Best time to visit

  • There are two monsoons in Sri Lanka – Yala (south-west; April-September) and Maha (north-east; November-March).
  • The best time to visit this country is November to April in the south-west and February to September in the north-east.
  • The average temperature around Sri Lanka is 25°C year-round.
  • The peak tourist season is from December to April.

Food and language

Just like Indian cuisine, Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its powerful punch of spices and herbs. Some of the popular dishes here are kiribath, kottu, hoppers, lamprais, pol roti and kool. Meanwhile, the main languages spoken in Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil. English is also spoken here.

Here’s what your 7-day itinerary can look like

Day 1

  • Arrive in Colombo and stay at your pre-booked hotel.
  • Take the first day slow and relax at your hotel.

Day 2

  • Head to Sigiriya in a private cab. You can also take a bus.
  • Visit the ancient rock fortress.
  • Experience the hot air balloon ride.
  • Return to Colombo.

Day 3

  • Head to Kandy in a private cab or bus.
  • Stay at your pre-booked hotel.
  • Explore the city by visiting Udawattekele Sanctuary, Kandy lake, tea plantations, temple of Tooth Relic and more.

Day 4

  • Plan a day trip to Ella and return to Kandy.

Day 5

  • Head to Galle in a private cab or bus.
  • Stay at your pre-booked hotel.
  • Enjoy a relaxing beach day.

Day 6

  • Head to Colombo in a private cab or bus.
  • Stay at your pre-booked hotel.
  • Explore the city by visiting the historical landmarks.

Day 7

  • Check out from your hotel and head back to your destination.

It is known to all that Sri Lanka has suffered a lot in the last few years, from the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019 to the economic crisis. Only recently, the country has gained stability and is flourishing with an increase in tourism.

(Note: The prices mentioned in the article are in accordance with the date of publishing and might change at the time of booking. Readers are advised to check beforehand.)

Published By:

Mehak Malhotra

Published On:

Feb 6, 2024

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