- Written by Dan
Outpost Travel Planner: Sri Lanka
The Outpost travel planner with the what, where, when, why and how of all things travel to Sri Lanka
When To Go
The best time to visit this small but exotic, colourful and tropical South Asia/Indian Ocean country is during the dry season (the high season), where "tropical paradise" is a very apt description! Drawbacks for travelling during the high season are the amount of tourists can make it more difficult to find accomodations, as the country is under-developed. No matter when you go however, you'll always find beach weather along the coast, and the warm azure waters of the Indian Ocean.
During the rainy season flooding can be instant and dramatic, so if you prefer the low season/cheaper time to go keep this in mind while in-country. For a truly special adventure, aim to go during the Kandy Esala Perahera Festival, celebrating the tooth relic of Buddha, or join the sacred pilgrimage to the Kataragama-Skanda Festival during July and August.
Sri Lanka has only one international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport, about 35 kilometres from the capital city of Colombo. There are no direct flights from Canada; but you can find one or more connections through India, Doha (Qatar), Dubai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Ferries between Sri Lanka and India were once common and are under review for reinstigation.
Making your way around developing Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka is an adventure and part of the fun, so go with an open mind and heart! Be prepared for crowded streets and unpaved roads and a the cacophony of chaotic city life. Taxis are always easy to spot in major cities, or try the authentic three-wheeler automatic rickshaw that weaves in and out of traffic.
Sri Lanka also has an efficient bus service, with routes covering 80 percent of the roads. Colombo alone has three main bus terminals and three main train lines -- just note that signs are rarely in English.
What to See and Do
Sri Lanka is home to vast biodiversity and glistening azure waters boasting a plethora of things to do in and around Colombo. Visit the 120-year-old Gangaramaya Temple, or take a stroll along the Galle Face Green.
Home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sri Lanka showcases both an ancient history and a vibrant culture, exempified in the acient cities of Anduradhapura and Sigiriya. The country, once known as Ceylon, was also the tea capital of the world (hence the former name). Today ranking as the fourth largest tea producer in the world, visitors will want to explore the seemingly endless lush tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya, or "Little England," and of course, sip on a "cup of smiles" brewed by the expert.
When exploring the streets of Colombo, be sure to check out the Jami-UI-Alfar Mosque nestled in the heart of the Pettah open market. Before you leave, discover the spiritual aspects of this country through the many kaleidascopic Hindu and Buddhist temples, and be sure to catch a game of cricket at the R. Premadasa Stadium -- an iconic Sri Lankan pastime.