Best time to visit: December, January, February, March
Average high: 30˚C
Average low: 22˚C
Price of meals: 1/5
Holiday type: Adventure / Beach / Culture / Romantic
Sri Lanka may be small compared to its neighbour, India, but it is quickly becoming a tourist favourite. Despite being less than 65,000 km2, it is full of cultural and scenic locations to appeal to most travellers. In fact, it offers much of the same food, traditions, and adventure of India while its small size and flatter geography make it far easier to traverse.
In Sri Lanka, you will come for the golden beaches and charming colonial cities, but stay for the religious temples, spectacular natural landscapes, and welcoming population. Like its neighbour, it is also a big exporter of Ayurveda therapy, using natural medicine of herbs, massages, meditation, and yoga to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Consequently, there are numerous beach and country resorts throughout where holidaymakers can indulge in second-to-none relaxation.
The island is a nirvana for shoppers looking to buy “something unique” from one of the many markets. For more choice, head to the coastal city of Galle or the central city of Kandy. Both host eventful, stimulating bazaars, as well as offering their own unique historical and cultural sites to discover.
It may be a surprise to some, but this island nation is also one of the best places for viewing wild elephants. Between August and September each year, “The Gathering” occurs at Minneriya National Park, where over 200 elephants gather together. Other national parks across the island are ideal for leopard spotting and bird watching, too.
There are numerous clean and secluded beaches and bays for swimming, snorkelling, and surfing, and visiting one of the country’s many tea plantations is a great way to balance exploring the striking outdoors with meeting the friendly locals. However, arguably better than all of this is taking in the captivating landscapes. More adventurous types can hike up Sigiriya Lion Rock for a panoramic view of the countryside, while others may prefer to view the beautiful and varied scenery by an antiquated train which runs along steep mountain sides, or from the air via hot air balloon.
While Sri Lanka receives sunshine all through the year, its two monsoon seasons fall between April and November. Most of the popular sites and beaches are located towards the west and south, so you should plan your visit between December and March. Temperatures are hotter in April and May but, by this time of year, the only dry parts of the country are in the north (so swap Galle for Jaffna and Trincomalee). March is the best time to visit as you will avoid the busy winter season, enjoy rising temperatures, and still miss the start of the monsoon season in the southwest.
Meals and drinks are very cheap in Sri Lanka, making it a great destination for food lovers eager to try the exotic dishes on offer. A simple meal averages £1 to £5, depending on where you go, while a tasty three-course meal for two ranges from just £7 to £20. Beer and coffee are more comparable to other countries (but still on the low side), averaging at £2 per bottle and £1.80, respectively. Clean water is very cheap at about 22p per bottle.
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