Sri Lanka Overview

Galle Fort Sri Lanka UNESCO World Heritage Site

Practical Information

Capital: Colombo 

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)

ATM withdrawals: Majority free withdrawals, some charge 200-400LKR

Languages spoken: Sinhala, Tamil & English

Dominant Religion: Buddhism, Hinduism

Visa Requirements: British Click Here Polish Click Here   

Health & Vaccinations: Click Here                 

Ability to communicate in English:  1- Good 

Long distance transportation type: Train, Bus, and Tuk-Tuk

Electricity: 230V, 2 types of electrical sockets – type D and type G 

Greeting: Vannakkam (in Tamil) and  Ayubowan (in Sinhalese)

Vegetarian options-availability:  1 – Good

Supermarkets: Keells & Cargills 

Budget: £520 per person for 4 weeks

Legend: 1 – Good   2 – Difficult but possible    3 – Very difficult

We always use Skyscanner to book our flights, because their search engine is easy to navigate and offers the best deals. 

It allows you to search multi-city tickets, or tickets to “anywhere” – where you can search from your ideal location to find the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world. One other feature we use is the monthly view flight option, which shows you the cheapest price per day throughout each month, so you can select the cheapest date if you’re flexible with your dates. 

*If you book through our link above we may receive a small commission from Skyscanner. This will never affect your final price. 


Duration: 29 days 

1. Unawatuna – 4 nights

2. Tangalle – 3 nights

3. Udawalawe – 2 nights

4. Ella – 4 nights

5. Nuwara Eliya – 2 nights

6. Arugam Bay – 5 nights

7. Badulla – 1 night 

8. Kandy – 3 nights

9. Sigirya – 2 nights 

10. Negombo – 2 nights

We came to Sri Lanka with a plan of spending a month in the country, and visiting as many places as possible. Prior to the trip we did our research and were so surprised how diverse Sri Lanka was and wanted to explore every aspect that was on offer. From the beaches to the national parks, mountains and tea plantations and all the cultural and historical towns. 

At this point we knew that a month would not be enough to see it all and we will be coming back to this incredible country again in the future. 

Whilst in Sri Lanka in May 2022, a political and economical crisis hit the country with nationwide protest against the government.

This led to a nationwide curfew which caused a shutdown in transportation and wide restrictions, also within the tourist industry. This meant we needed to alter our plans on a few occasions, but this did not stop us from having an amazing time. Despite this, we still managed to explore so many incredible places within the country. 

After flying into Colombo Airport, we visited the following places: Unawatuna, Galle, Dickwella, Tangalle, Udawalawe, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Arugam Bay, Badulla, Kandy, Sigiriya, before heading to Negombo for our flight.


Sri Lanka is a very diverse country that is extremely welcoming to tourists and one of the easiest countries to travel around, either by bus, train, car or tuk-tuk. It offers incredible culture, delicious food, and beautiful experiences. We came here with high hopes and expectations, and Sri Lanka more than delivered. 

Fun Fact:  When you arrive at Colombo International Airport: 1 – You’re actually not in Colombo and instead will be landing in Negombo, a town about an hour away. 2 – This is the first ever country that we have found fridge freezers and dishwashers in the duty free, so if you’re in need of one, this is the place to buy, tax free!

Witnessing the crisis unfolding during our time in Sri Lanka, seeing people struggling with petrol prices, food prices doubling and then tripling, and reduced tourism, was heartbreaking. Despite all this everyone was extremely welcoming and so grateful for our visit. On the streets people stopped us to welcome us to their country, asked us where we were from, and shared their own knowledge of the local history and culture.


Ivory Safari Udawalawe
Ivory Safari

Sri Lanka offers accommodation for every budget, but not every type of accommodation. We didn’t come across many hostels, and it seems that homestays are the way to go in Sri Lanka.

The accommodation we found ranged from $3 a night, for two in a beautiful double room with a delicious breakfast, to $19 a night for a luxurious villa, only steps away from the beach. One thing to note in Sri Lanka, you may not always find powerful and hot showers, so if you do take full advantage of this.

You can find more luxurious homestays, but also find basic ones, and all of them will offer a cultural experience and some incredible food every time. Following the global pandemic and national economical crisis we found it incredible speaking to our hosts, who were extremely proud of their country and explained all their difficulties during these times. Most of our hosts were very welcoming, friendly and offered local advice. 

We will share our favorite accommodation for each destination in the individual posts for the cities.

Banks & ATMs

The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee, you can either enter the country with the money already exchanged from your own country, or you can easily withdraw cash from the local ATMs. Depending on your bank, you may be charged a withdrawal fee, we used our Starling card throughout Sri Lanka and on only one occasion had to pay for withdrawals at HNB bank at a cost of 450 LKR. We also found fees with Seylan Bank, but we were able to find alternatives. 

Majority of restaurants and shops accept card payments without an extra charge, but most accommodations prefer cash payments either in their local currency or US Dollar. 

Culture & Customs

Sri Lanka has a strong history of colonial occupation, with influences from the Dutch, Portuguese and British seen throughout the country. Although Sri Lanka has been an independent nation since 1972, they have decided to keep the remains of this colonial occupation, from Galle Fort to British architecture in Nuwara Eliya to the iconic Nine Arch Bridge near Ella. 

Sri Lanka is amongst the largest producers of tea in the world, the tea culture is easily visible throughout. You can see this from the number of tea plantations around the country and most of the hosts will welcome you with local tea. 

As for religion, the strongest influence comes from Buddhism and Hinduism. You will find a large number of temples and statues everywhere you go, even local buses will demonstrate the religion of the driver and are heavily decorated. If you are planning to visit any temples make sure you dress appropriately not to offend locals and their beliefs. 

Cricket is loved by everyone in Sri Lanka! The locals will use any opportunity to watch and play this game. We have seen crowds of people cheering and playing in the streets, local pitches and in the parks. Even if you don’t love cricket, try and watch a game, it’s a fascinating cultural experience. 

Queen's Hotel Kandy Sri Lanka
Queen's Hotel, Kandy

Food & Drink

Sri Lankan Curry
Sri Lankan Curry

There was a massive variety of dishes available, even for vegetarians. Most of the time the flavors and portions exceeded our expections, when ordering a portion for one, this normally meant being served enough food for two or three people. 

The highlight of our month in Sri Lanka was the cheapest of snacks we’ve ever come across – the veg rotti. Two or three of these could replace a meal and cost under a dollar. If you haven’t eaten one before, it’s a roti bread filled with potatoes and vegtables, folded in a triangle, usually pretty spicy. We nearly created a spreadsheet to keep track of different versions of roti and rate them by their taste and spice levels. We found a winner at the bus station in Wellawaya, our biggest regret was not buying more than five!

Sri Lankan curries completely surprised us with their flavors and variety. Dhal curry is the most popular option, when asking for a vegetable curry, you would usually get three to five different curries ranging from carrot, potato, green beans, okra to egg. We even loved the curries so much, we decided to take a cooking class to learn how to make them ourselves, don’t worry we’ll share more about this in our Kandy post soon. 

Apart from tea, Lion is the national beer and the cheapest one we have found so far on our travels. A large can will set you back $0.60 and is the perfect way to enjoy the sunsets on the beach, just make sure you search for the local wine and beer shops, as alcohol is not widely sold in the country.

Our Top 5 Activities

1.Udawalawe National Park

Many people choose Yala National Park as it is the most popular National Park in the country, trying to avoid the crowds of tourists we decided to go for a less popular option and visit Udawalawe National Park. This is a decision we did not regret. Our safari was organized by our host and he made sure we had the most knowledgeable guide. The eight hour jeep safari was an unforgettable experience. 

2. Surfing!

You can’t come to Sri Lanka without having a go at surfing, whether you’re a professional surfer or a newbie, you will find beaches and waves for every level. In the popular surfing spots you can easily rent a surfboard and locals will happily look after your belongings, whilst you enjoy the waves. This was a fun activity and surprisingly affordable, with board rental costing $2 for half a day. 

3. High Tea in the Grand Hotel

Nuwara Eliya is known as ‘Little England’ and it definitely delivered the typical English weather whilst we were there. Our outdoor plans were canceled because of the weather and national curfew, but one amazing experience we managed to do was the high tea in the Grand Hotel. As backpackers we found it difficult to find appropriate clothes to dress nicely for this, but we were warmly welcomed by the staff and shown to our table. The tea, food and bubbles made us happy and made us feel at home. 

4. Ella to Kandy Train ride 

One of the most scenic train rides in the world! The popular route goes from Ella to Kandy, but we started from the beginning in Badulla. The entire journey took under 8 hours at a cost of under one dollar. The views differ from beautiful tea plantations to hills, bridges and rivers. You will spend the entire journey taking pictures of either yourself leaning out of the train or the scenic views. 

5. Sigiriya Rock

This was our most expensive activity in Sri Lanka, costing $30 a person to enter, but it’s one of these places that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Sigiriya rock is an ancient fortress built on top of an enormous rock and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Post pandemic and current political issues gave us the opportunity to visit this site without massive crowds and allowed us to explore the site, take pictures, and admire the gorgeous views by ourselves. 

6. Cooking classes in Kandy 

After enjoying the local cuisine so much, towards the end of our trip, we decided to learn how to cook them ourselves. We attended a cooking class on the outskirts of Kandy at a local house, in their gorgeous outdoor kitchen. After visiting a local market to buy the ingredients we headed back to cook the variety of curries. Our recipe list included spiced rice, egg curry, dhal curry, lufa curry, green bean curry, pumpkin curry, okra curry, coconut sambol, poppadoms and brinjol moju. Let’s not forget Sri Lankan pancakes for dessert. We must admit after eating all of these dishes we couldn’t look at food for the next couple of days.

Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park
Kandy Train Journey
Kandy to Ella Train
Sigiriya Rock 3
Sigiriya Rock

Overall Opinion

One of the best countries we have visited. The number of activities and tourist attractions were mind blowing, and all at an extremely affordable price. We didn’t hold back with spending and enjoying ourselves, and were well under our monthly budget. 

We were amazed by the kindness we received from the locals and admired their resistance through the difficult times. Once the situation settles we will definitely be back again. It’s one of those countries that once you’ve visited you won’t be able to resist coming back again!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Don Nadeau

    How do you find your accommodations and do you use a platform?

    1. Brett Dawson

      Hi Don,
      We use and Hostelworld for our bookings. All in Sri Lanka were done on, where we participate in their loyalty programme, so sometimes get better discounts or upgrades.

  2. Shenuka Umagiliya

    Love your blog! I have just launched a Mobile app that has geo fenced audio guides for all the key sites. You can hear all the interesting stories myths and legends that surround the sights. Would love to have you review it next time you visit!

    1. Brett Dawson

      Hi Shenuka,

      This sounds an amazing concept and would come in handy so often for us. What is the name of your app? We would love to try it out when we are next in Sri Lanka. Congratulations on this incredible project.

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