Explore Sri Lanka

Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? Discover the best things to see and do, places to stay and more

Health and Wellness
Health and beauty

Health and Wellness

After a tiring day, head to the spas to enjoy a soothing massage or a quick pedicure. These spas promise to offer a quality treatment from head to toe.

Have a wave of a time in Arugambay!
Things to do

Have a wave of a time in Arugambay!

Sun, sands and whopping waves, the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka is in its element. Whether you are a beginner or pro, enthusiast or first-timer, grab a surf board and head on over. Along the beaches, nestled amidst forestry or rural villages, there are many surf points in the southeast, some hidden away in the wild terrain. It’s more than waves... There is so much to eat, see and do... Many hotels as well as restaurants are located in the southeastern coast and along the Main Street in Arugambay where the nightlife is especially happening (See East Coast). Relish delicious cuisine from around the world with a unique local twist, enjoy tasty Sri Lankan fare and street food and savour the delightful treats from roadside barbecues. Explore the untouched wilderness and witness herds of elephants, leopards, deer and birdlife at the National Parks, Sanctuaries and even lagoons. If you are lucky you might even catch a glimpse of elephants strolling along the roadside, especially in the evening and at dawn. Arugambay and the surrounding area was once part of the illustrious Magam Ruhunu Kingdom extending to the second century BC. Take some time to discover the ancient mysteries and be enthralled by remnants of structures built by kings of yore. Ride the waves, lounge on the sunny, sandy beach, explore and experience the best of Arugambay. Surf’s up in the East Coast and it is time for a wave of an adventure. Tip: Do not wander into the wilderness and water bodies. Al

Belihuloya
Attractions

Belihuloya

The waterfall gushed in mists of white spray as it tumbled off rugged rocks and dropped like an immaculate veil to flow gracefully into the surrounding jungles. Belihuloya, a charming hillside village situated in the Ratnapura District, approximately 160 kilometres from Colombo is nature’s marvel, a miracle of creation blessed with an abundance of waterfalls, streams, nature, cycling trails and numerous opportunities for bird watching and camping. The Belihuloya River flashes a wonderful spectacle, beginning from Horton Plains, it flows and tumbles downwards into the Samanalawewa Reservoir. An area that has an expansive bio- diversity, Belihuloya embraces that gifted characteristic of semi-evergreen forests, tropical savannah forests, dry montane grasslands and montane temperate forests. Clean and serene, it is swaddled in the drapes of numerous waterfalls, surrounded and wrapped by mountain ranges and peaks from where many waters flow. The tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka, the Bambarakanda Falls, flows from here at a height of 263 metres – the 299th highest waterfall in the world. Standing at 220 meters tall, the Diyaluma Falls with an imposing flow of water is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. At 60 metres in height the Surathali Falls cascades in three segments and has been christened thus following a movie that was filmed on location. The Pahanthuda Falls is shaped like an oil lamp; Brampton Falls is set amidst lush tropical jungle and flows to the Walawe R

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Things to do

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala was set up in 1975 to care for orphaned elephants, and now has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. Today the nearly 100 elephants are mostly descendants of the ones who were originally orphaned, and a separate closed facility cares for newly orphaned calves. Pinnawala is now maintained through the money it receives from tourism, and also acts as a breeding centre for elephants, who are later donated to temples and private owners. Those concerned about animal welfare should note that there are concerns about the treatment of the animals at Pinnawala, and most of the elephants are chained up. 

Ella
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Ella

About 250km away from Colombo is the picturesque hamlet of Ella in the Badulla district in all its hill country charm. It draws attention for sites associated with the legendary tale of the Ramayanaya, including the Ravana Ella, and Ravana cave. One of the highlights of visiting Ella is the Ella Gap that affords one of the most breathtaking views of the terrain after a hike up the Ella Rock. The other attractions of Ella include the Ravana Cave and temple (3km from the town) and Mini Adam's Peak (2km from the town). Today, this little town has become very popular among tourists and catering to this demand, many hotels and guesthouses have been established to provide accommodation. If you haapen to visit, trekking is a great way to explore but you can also plan easy going excursions such as walks through tea plantations and encounter waterfalls along the way.

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Beaches

Fill your vacation with laughter and ‘vitamin sea’
Attractions

Fill your vacation with laughter and ‘vitamin sea’

A visit to Sri Lanka is never complete without experiencing some of the most beautiful beaches the island has to offer. Whether it is sunbathing, swimming, surfing; relaxing or having fun; there will always be a shoreline that meets your requirements.

Bentota Beach
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Bentota Beach

Calmer ocean, scuba, snorkeling, sailing, deep-sea fishing, water skiing wind surfing, kayaking or canoeing, but who’s counting. Bentota beach is equipped for activities for virtually all sea goers looking to have a great time.  Even the choice of accommodation has its advantages from luxury to budget. Finding places to stay is quite convenient if you book early or even if you’re passing through. However during peak season, it may be a task to infiltrate.   This part of the southern coast is easily accessible via the Southern Expressway. Best recommended times for safe swimming conditions plus a range of other water sports and excursions is November through April.

Kalpitiya Beach
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Kalpitiya Beach

Two words; Whale. Watching. But there’s always the ever so charming beach to make the most of your trip to Kalpitiya.  Be there as early as seven in the morning and head off on a boat from coast to spot the spectacular creatures of the sea, dolphins and whales. Expect to see giant flips of tails or even flashes of playful curiosities from the friendlies. February to March is the best recorded times for sperm whale sightings, and acrobatic pods of spinner dolphins. The rare humpback dolphin is also been known to show up in the waters of Kalpitiya.  November to April is recommended for calm seas and the sun kissed beach and a 160 kilometre journey from Colombo is well worth it for not only is the ocean safari breathtaking, unless your prone to a bit of sea sickness, but fun on the beach is equally pleasurable.  

Galle Face Green
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Galle Face Green

With activities spanning from kite flying, to fishing, to football and beach volley ball to exercising on the Green lawn facing the blue, to jogging alongside the ocean, from chomping down on hawker recipes that line the walkway just over the beach, to an easy check-in at the many star as well as budget hotels conveniently rimming the shore, and most of all before you do, playing a game of tag with the frothy waves until you finally give up…. Galle Face Green, bustles with life, long into the evening.  Located close to the south of Fort town, Galle Face Green is a renowned landmark in Colombo. The opportunity to make the most of the sea, sun, stars, sand and stay is right here by this lively coastal marvel. 

National Parks and wildlife in Sri Lanka

Ten must visit national parks in Sri Lanka
Attractions

Ten must visit national parks in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to a variety of species which include elephants, leopards and majestic peacocks. Camp on safaris and let the adventure begin.

Kumana National Park
Attractions

Kumana National Park

Once known as Yala East National park, this naturally evergreen area situated in the district of Ampara was made into an independent wild life reserve fourteen years ago after being closed for an extensive period. Since then it has come to be considered one of the most important nesting and breeding grounds in the country with an awe inspiring 255 bird species having either been photographed or recorded there including a variety of rare species like the Black-necked stork and the Eurasian spoonbill. In addition to this Kumana National Park is also home to a large variety animals such as elephants, An elephant family On alert, a herd of deer, leopards, deer and mugger crocodiles. All wildlife at Kumana National Park as well as the extensive flora that grows there are supplied water by the Kumubukkan Oya that borders the western region of the park as well as 200 hectares mangrove swamp called Kumana Villu. The latter provides an excellent feeding and resting habitat to the various water birds that migrate to this place from April to July. The park also holds over 20 lagoons and man made tanks often used by the animals as watering holes. While not as well known as its neighbour Yala National Park, Kumana nevertheless provides its visitors with an authentic wildlife experience devoid of any artificiality. It is also a preferable spot for those who do not want to deal with large crowds. Kumana is the best place to observe animals in their natural habitat.

Lunugamvehera National Park
Things to do

Lunugamvehera National Park

Lying between the districts of Hambantota and Moneragala, this park which is spread across a whopping 23,498 ha of area includes the Lunugumvehera and Weheregala reservoirs. Boasting a sizeable elephant population, the park connects the Yala and Udawalawe National Parks. Due to this it serves as a resting spot for elephants while they roam through these regions. However, the most commonly spotted animals are deer and wild boar as the elephants are more shy and tends to shun away from humans. However, if luck favours spotting elephants as well as as more elusive predators like leopards is also possible. The park has close to three hundred different types of birds, fishes, mammals and reptiles.

Yala National Park
Travel

Yala National Park

Wild yet powerfully majestic, Yala National Park is leopard country and is believed to have the highest concentration of these apex predators on earth. If the thrill of a safari through the rugged, unmerciful bush sounds elephant enough, then here’s the call of the wild with its truest dose of candour.  Moving on to the other love of the wilderness, the Asian elephant – a presence of sheer valour –amongst species of indigenous and migratory birds, ingeniously solitary reptiles, the crocodiles of course steal the show, and endemic plant life, are only a sneak peek into what’s in store.   Alongside pockets of thick shrub there are expanses of barren terrain, and just beyond beckons the rush of the Indian Ocean. Yala National Park teems with as much fauna as there is flora, set within a land extent of over 370 square miles.  With two separate main entrance gates, Katagamuwa and Palatupana, the Park is easily accessible from 6am to 6pm from the city of Kataragama. The Park is closed from September to mid October every year.

Udawalawe National Park
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Udawalawe National Park

For the love of nature, for the love of those life-sized creatures that roam the scrublands of this considerable expanse of 119 square miles, Udawalawe National Park should not be missed.

Bundala National Park
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Bundala National Park

Home to scrub jungle, wetlands, lagoons, salt pans, sand dunes and a long stretch of coast, Bundala National Park’s terrain is blessed with many faces of landscape in unison with unlimited yet protected fauna.  Known for its incredible spectacles of migratory birds, the Park is a great friend to bird enthusiasts from the world over.

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Sri Lanka visitor information

General information about Sri Lanka

General information about Sri Lanka

Planning on visiting Sri Lanka? It would seem wise to be aware of a few, general facts about Sri Lanka in order to avoid any surprises and be more familiar with the new and exotic environment that you will find yourself in. Read through to find out a little about the beautiful island nation.Currency: Rupee.  Coins: Rs1, Rs2, Rs5, Rs10.  Notes: Rs20, Rs50, Rs100, Rs500, Rs1,000, Rs2,000, Rs5,000. Electricity: 230 volts AC  Time: GMT plus 5 hours 30 minutes  International Dialing Code: + 94 Official name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka  Area: 65,525 sqkm Location: Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean, southwest of the Bay of Bengal. Ethnic groups: Sinhalese 74.5%, Sri Lankan Tamils 11.9%, Indian Tamils 4.6%, Moors 7.2%, other 1.8% Time zone: GMT +5 1/2. Daylight saving time is not observed Climate: No marked seasons—two monsoons; Northeast monsoon occurs from December to March and Southwest monsoon occurs from June to October. A tropical climate is observed throughout most of the island, whereas the hill country is cooler Languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English (English is widely spoken throughout Sri Lanka) Capital: Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte Commercial capital: Colombo Administrative divisions: Nine Provinces; Central, North Central, North, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western and Eastern Province Religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam Independence day: February 4 Holidays: Saturdays and Sundays are generally non working days. Shops and restaurants are open on weekends. Poya is a religious holiday in the Buddhist calendar and is a monthly public, bank and mercantile holiday for all. Most places (all liquor outlets including hotel bars)are closed on Poya Days Major exports: Tea, textiles, gems, rubber, and coconut products Highest peak: Pidurutalagala (Mt Pedro) at 2,524m National bird: Jungle Fowl (Gallus) National tree: Ironwood - Na tree (Mesua nagassarium) National flower: Blue water lily (Nymphaea stellata) Voltage requirements: 230/240 volts AC, 50Hz (Round three-pin plugs are common, with bayonet lamp fittings) Keep in Mind;         Credit cards: Accepted in main cities         ATM: Common in larger towns         Tipping:  A service charge of 10% is included in         restaurant and hotel bills. A tip above that is appreciated, but it is not compulsory and when tipping drivers use your discretion

Visiting Sri Lanka: tourist etiquette
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Visiting Sri Lanka: tourist etiquette

Sri Lankans are known for their hospitality towards visitors. However, to make your holiday more enjoyable, here are a few things to remember. Religious placesWhen visiting religious places remove hats and shoes. Dress with decorum. Shoulders should be covered and long pants or skirts should be worn rather than shorts. Religious statuesReligious statues at temples or any other place of worship are greatly revered. For this reason, make sure that you do not climb, sit or pose with the statues. Drive safeDrive within the speed limits: in the cities it’s 50kmh, out of the cities it’s 70kmph and on the Expressways it’s 80 kmh to 100 kmh. Mobile phone usage while driving is banned. Don’t drink and drive. SmokingSmoking is prohibited in public places. However most hotels, bars and eateries have designated smoking areas. WildlifeBe cautious when you are up close with wildlife. Don’t approach them and don’t feed them. When you see wildlife while driving try not to disturb them. Speak to your guide or locals for advice.  SwimmingBefore swimming in the sea and rivers check if the area is not a danger zone or if it’s too deep. Beware of crocodiles along the rivers; check with guides and locals before you dip in. ExploringBefore exploring speak to locals about the area and check with information centres. It is better to have a local accompany you. Historical sites and National Parks These are protected sites therefore treat them with respect and do not litter. Avoid touching artefacts. Don’t disturb the wildlife. Rest stopsNeed to make a pit stop on the road from Colombo to other hotspots? Here are some tried and tested spots along popular routes, which will surely satisy your taste buds or relax you with its welcoming ambience. Boost your energy before getting on the road! Heading to the Eastern and Southern coasts through Pelmadulla, Ratnapura – Silver Ray Restaurant, Dippitigala Elpitiya, Waddagala Southwards bound through Hambantota – Hela Bojun Hala, Ambalantota Cruising South via the Awissawella Highway (A4) - Fresh Way Bakers, Main Street, Puwakpitiya, Avissawella Travelling along the Colombo – Kandy Road – Ambepussa Rest House, Main Street, Warakapola Hela Bojun Hala, Peradeniya Heading further central – Hela Bojun Hala, Kundasale On route to Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa along the Trincomalee Highway – Hela Bojun Hala, Pelwehera. 

Transportation
Travel

Transportation

Getting around in Sri Lanka shouldn't be too hard for anyone, regardless of age and gender. Sri Lanka has domestic flights to various parts of the island as well as international flights going and coming from all over the world. You can also make your way through the busy streets and rural terrains via buses, trains, cabs and tuk-tuks.Taxi: Taxis and chauffeur driven minivans can be hired directly or through hotels. Taxis can also be hailed directly or through hotels. Taxis can also be hailed directly from the roads. Auto-rickshaws (called tuk tuks) charge (before 9pm) Rs50 for the first kilometre and Rs40 for additional kilometres. Negotiate before boarding if there is no working metre. Aviation: IWS Aviation operates helicopters taking you around the island.  IWS Centre, 451, Kandy Road, Kelaniya; 011 594 9999 Tip: For surfers and beach lovers heading to the East and South coasts as well as those travelling to the central hills, the Mattala International Airport is quite convenient.  Bus: Air conditioned long distance luxury buses and city point-to-point non-AC buses operate throughout. Central Bus Stand, Pettah, Bodhiraja Mawatha and Olcott Mawatha, Colombo 11; 011 232 8081, 011 232 9606 Rail: Trains with 1st, 2nd and Economy Class carriages serve 164 stations and 155 substations. Private luxury carriages operating on some lines have seats bookable in advance online. Fort Railway Station; 011 243 4215; www.railway.gov.lk. Vehicles for rent: Luxury to comfortable budget cars, vans, SUVs and buses are available for hire on self-drive and with-driver basis with guaranteed safety. Ameri Rent-A-Car; School Lane, Colombo 3; 077 731 2848 Mal-Key Rent-A-Car; 58, Pamankada Road, Colombo 6; 011 236 5365 

General services

In case of an emergency

In case of an emergency

Noteworthy contact details to remember are,  The General Hospital: 011 269 1111  Fire incidents: 011 242 2222,  Ambulance: 011 242 2222,  Police: 011 243 3333,  Tourist Police: 011 243 3342  Emergencies: 119/118

Sri Lanka Tourism

Sri Lanka Tourism

The main information counters in Colombo and Kandy are staffed with experts on Sri Lanka who are happy to answer any queries. 80, Galle Road, Colombo 3, 011 243 7759. Kandy City Centre

Laundry

Laundry

Colombo Laundrette Treat your laundry to the high standard of this five-star hotel.Hilton Colombo Hotel: 011 254 4644 Galadari Hotel Easily accessed by car beside the hotel the Galadari laundry is good for dry cleaning formal wear as well as laundering household linen and curtains.64, Lotus Road, Echelon Square, Colombo 1; 011 254 4544 Laundrette by Galadari Hotel Located in Cargills Food City outlets in the city and residential suburbs. Nawala; 077 352 2120 Nugegoda; 077 352 2122 Rajagiriya; 077 352 2124 Staple Street, Colombo 2; 077 352 2125

Want to make a call or surf the net?

Want to make a call or surf the net?

Lanka Bell Provides telecommunication and internet services while offering CDMA ‘fixed-line-wireless’ technology. 011 537 5375, 24-hour customer service; Branches island-wide.  Mobitel National mobile service provider offering a range of mobile and internet packages and wide coverage. Dial 1717 from any network in Sri Lanka, 24-hour customer service; Branches island-wide. Sri Lanka Telecom National telecommunications, ICT solutions and broadband infrastructure service provider. Dial 1212 from any network in Sri Lanka 24-hour customer service; Branches island-wide.  

General services in Sri Lanka