Sri Lanka is the ideal weekend getaway for expats!
Its unique cultural diversity, no mass tourism and the ease of getting around are perfect reasons for a short break.
If you are an Expat living in Asia you will want to ensure you’ve ticked off Sri Lanka on your bucket list. Whether you live in Malyasia, Thailand, Vietnam, Dubai or around other countries in the Middle East or Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka is easy and quick to reach plus you can cover a whole lot of the county during one 3 day weekend.
We compiled a list of all essential tips for your expat holiday to Sri lanka:
Getting to Sri Lanka
Colombo is connected with major hubs around Asia and the Middle East. The airport is also home to the country’s flagship carrier SriLankan Airlines but is also serviced by a number of international air carriers include Emirates Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways. Flight timings are short and convenient: approx. 4.5 hours from the U.A.E./Qatar and about 3.5 hours from Bangkok/Kuala Lumpur/Singapore. Sri Lankan Airlines offers great connections from major hubs.
Best time to visit
Sri Lanka’s close proximity to the equator means that temperatures are constant year-round. Lowland and coastal regions have average temperatures of 26-30°C while highlands have a pleasantly mild climate of 18-22°C (Kandy) even a bit lower around Nuwara Eliya with 15-17°C. The weather varies slightly from place to place; the west and south is best to visit from December to March and on east from April to September.
Most nationalities receive a tourist visa upon arrival (US$ 20) but it’s also possible to obtain it online via the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).
What to see in 3-4 days
The thriving city is vibrant and colourful yet lacks the chaotic traffic of Bangkok or the busyness of cities like Hong Kong or Singapore. Since you’ll be probably arriving in Colombo consider spending at least half a day here before you start your trip around Sri Lanka. Highlights to visit include the stunning Gangaramaya Temple, the Independence Square and Memorial Hall, Colombo National Museum, the bustling Pettah Market and a walk along Galle Road.
Nuwara Eliya & Colombo – Kandy –
If you’re heading to Kandy from Colombo, make sure to visit one of the countless tea plantations around Nuwara Eliya, the country’s major tea-producing region. After all, Ceylon tea is one of the world’s most recognizable teas and a must-try when visiting Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is often referred to as ‘Little England’ among Sri Lankans due to its many British colonial building which are all well-preserved. Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city is home to the famous ‘Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic’ (Sri Dalada Maligawa), a temple which houses the relic of a tooth of Lord Buddha which is also one of the most sacred places in the Buddhist world. Take a walk around Lake Kandy, visit local markets and explore colonial architecture. Kandy is worth enough to spend a full day before continuing your trip around the Cultural Triangle.
The Cultural Triangle –
Situated in the heart of Sri Lanka the Cultural Triangle covers the significant important world heritage sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigirya, Dambulla and the above mentioned Kandy. After you spent a night in Kandy, we suggest to set out for Sigirya further north with a short stop in Dambulla which is famous for its beautiful Cave Temple situated on top of a mountain. Sigirya’s most famous landmark is the massive 200m high ‘Lion Rock’ which was once home to a palace on the top. The ancient city of Anuradhapura was the capital of Sri Lanka for nearly 1300 years and can be reached directly from Sigirya or Kandy. Polonnaruwa was the second capital and consists now of picturesque ruins.
Sri Lanka has an abundance of mesmerizing beaches. To round up your trip it’s therefore a MUST to spend some time at the beach and to take a dip in the Indian Ocean. Plan to spend a night in Negombo before heading home again. Chances are high that you have a big stretch of beach just for yourself. Furthermore, it takes just 15-20 minutes to reach the airport.
Public transport is a great option to see a lot and to immerse in the Sri Lankan culture. Depending on your plans and what you’re willing to see, travelling by train – see our previous blog article on Train Travel in Sri Lanka would be a fantastic way to explore Sri Lanka. An alternative option would be a private transfer around the country. The prices are usually set but you may want to try to negotiate the given price. You have the freedom of exploring at your own pace, however, the driver won’t be your tour guide, speaking you will be on your own when entering any attraction.
More tips & info
Bring enough cash, as credit cards are mostly only accepted in hotels and upscale restaurants. ATMs can be found across metropolitan areas. – It is safe to travel around Sri Lanka, also solo. As everywhere around the world, keep an eye on your belongings at all times. – Make sure to bring light clothing but also a thin jacket for higher altitudes (e.g. around the tea plantations) as it is a bit chilly in mountainous regions. – Eat local food – try fresh mangos and young coconuts from markets and indulge to authentic Sri Lankan cuisine in typical mom n’ pop shops. Fly Sri Lankan Airlines for great travel routes like Kuala Lumpur to Colombo, Hong Kong to Colombo and Singapore to Colombo.