A beautiful island located in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a favourite among travel aficionados around the world. Though it was ravaged by civil war and other internal issues, Sri Lanka is now returning to normal. With the situation in the country becoming stable, the tourism sector is also witnessing a revival.
Sri Lanka offers even the budget traveller numerous options, including thinly crowded beaches, populated cities, green tea gardens, forests with animals like elephants and leopards, friendly people and lip-smacking cuisine.
The island's tourism that had been virtually immobilized for around two decades owing to domestic issues has received a fresh lease of life and offers several packages to travellers.
For Indians, Sri Lanka is easily accessible, being in the neighbourhood and travel expenses are limited. However, the cost of food and stay is slightly on the higher side in the country. Still, by making wise choices a trip to Sri Lanka can be arranged without burning a hole in the pocket.
The visa fee to Sri Lanka is cheaper than most countries, which is the main factor luring foreign tourists to the country. Expenses for food, stay and travel would be around Rs 2,500 per day in the country. But it can go up or down depending on the choices the travellers make. Home stays and guest houses offer accommodation at moderate rates, while small eateries serve dishes at cheap rates.
Visa on arrival facility is available for Indian tourists, avoiding the need to go through elaborate procedures.
Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike Airport is the main landing point of tourists from around the world and it is located about 35 km from the country’s capital, Colombo. The well-maintained airport instantly creates a good impression among visitors and facilities like currency exchange and SIM card counters are available here. From the airport, taxis, share vans and shuttle buses ply travellers to the city. Another option that helps cut costs too is the autorickshaw.
Sri Lanka draws visitors thanks to its diverse geography, including the beaches as well as hill stations. Among the most popular destinations is Galle, a picturesque town carrying several reminders of the Colonial past. The place also flaunts the Galle Fort, which has found a place on the list of UNESCO's world heritage sites.
Another scenic spot is Mirissa, a coastal town on the east. The beach there offers sights of a wide expanse of sand and big waves. Another highlight of the place is the presence of eateries serving food at moderate rates.
Keralites love to have rice wherever they travel to and Sri Lanka is a big relief for them. Rice and curries are served everywhere in Sri Lanka. At Mirissa too, a number of restaurants include rice and fish curry in the menu. The rates are moderate too.
Tangalle is another scenic beach which witnesses low tourist footfalls. However, Negombo beach is different for the other seaside destinations, attracting a large number of visitors. The hotel tariff and prices at eateries are on the higher side here, compared to other beaches in Sri Lanka. However, the taste of the dishes served in the restaurants here is considered to be lagging.
Apart from the beaches, locations at high altitude and hill stations strengthen the tourism portfolio of Sri Lanka. There are hills, dense forests and tea gardens that attract many travellers. Ella is one among the towns flaunting such sceneries. There are several guest houses, restaurants and shopping options here. The highlight of the place is the Little Adams peak which is a favourite among trekking enthusiasts. There is a small waterfall along the trekking route making the trip interesting.
Sri Lanka's cultural capital, Kandy is more crowded and noisy than other tourist destinations. The main draw here is the botanical garden where diverse species of trees and plants enthrall visitors. Adding to the excitement are the monkeys having a good time on the tree branches.
However, care needs to be exercised while choosing stay and food here as the rates are generally high.
The focus of tourism here is the fort and the ideal time to visit it is early morning. A panoramic view of nature can be enjoyed from the fort during these hours. Monkeys greet travellers all along the route to the fort and with luck an elephant may pass that way.
Another must-see destination in Sri Lanka is Dambulla with its cave temple and the golden Buddha. A popular pilgrim spot, the place is always crowded. Entry fees are charged and a 15-minute walk from the gate takes visitors to the marvels of the cave temple. The Buddha in golden colour and other sights are indeed amazing.