Jana is a girl with a good heart and an adventurous soul. This is her second contribution to When Woman Travels where she shares her tips about women travel to Sri Lanka.
Why is Sri Lanka Interesting as s Destination?
Sri Lanka is a small island in Asia but has it all – mountains for the mountain lovers and beaches for the sun lovers. Sri Lanka’s former name was Ceylon so the country is popular with the tea plantations and the excellent tea. Wherever you look here is wild and green. Some tourists come to Sri Lanka to see wild elephants in their natural environment and others to visit the multiple temples.
What Should Women Know Before Going to Sri Lanka?
Tourist Visa for Sri Lanka
If you want to travel to Sri Lanka, you will need a visa. The application procedure is simple and is completely online. You will receive the approval in less than half an hour.
The public transport in and between the cities is very cheap but for girls, it is more convenient to hire a local driver – he will not only spare you the effort to carry your luggage from one train/bus to another but he will also keep you safe and will be your guide.
The road between the settlements is narrow and with a lot of turns – usually, this is not uncomfortable for men but most women have travel sickness so carry pills with you and take the front seat of the car. The traffic is chaotic and transportation takes a long time.
The local currency is called Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) but dollars are also accepted. It is recommended to have LKR with you, especially to pay the entrance fees.
Beaches in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, there are beautiful beaches but the ocean is rough and most of them are not suitable for swimming. Keep in mind that not everywhere is permitted for girls to wear bathing suits.
Visiting the temples
When visiting temples women need to cover their shoulders and knees and to take off their shoes. The weather on the island is hot all year round so better wear socks when you’re going to temples. Otherwise, it will be difficult to walk on the hot ground.
Humidity and mosquitos
If you haven’t slept in a canopied bed, here you will. But not to be romantic but to keep the mosquitos away from you. Bring a repellent with you. Some places of accommodation are in the jungle and you will need to get used to the presence of small geckos or frogs in your room/bathroom, even if you are staying in a luxury hotel.
The weather in Sri Lanka is not only hot, but it is also humid. Bring 2 swimming suits – if you have only one, you won’t have enough time to dry it.
Safety and scams
When I am travelling I am always cautious and do not bring with me expensive stuff. In Sri Lanka, I felt safe even though we were only two girls and some evenings we were out in the dark.
However, scams are not rare. It is often that a tuk-tuk driver offers to take you to a popular landmark and you end up in an unfamiliar place where locals try to sell you expensive things.
At the beach, there are often local rakes. They are harmless if you just chat with them. Some of them can be quite persistent but if you are assertive, they will walk away.
There are monkeys around the temples and in the ancient cities. Do not try to touch them, they steal from tourists – food, flowers or something else they may find attractive.
This is Asia, so don’t expect a high level of hygiene. Do not drink beverages with ice and always buy mineral water. If you have to drink directly from the bottle, use a straw. Public toilets are rather dirty.
Prices and tips in Sri Lanka
The prices on the island are quite low, especially for food and public transport. However, some of the parks and landmarks have high entrance fees. The locals expect tips for almost everything.
What Should You Know about the Local Culture?
Most of the people in the country speak Sinhalese and Tamil. However, it is easy to communicate with them in English, even if you only have basic knowledge as their knowledge is basic too.
Culture and religion in Sri Lanka
The culture of Sri Lanka is very influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. Here I visited incredible Buddhist temples that I have never seen in the other Asian countries.
Sri Lanka’s cuisine is spicy. There are restaurants for locals where the food is very spicy and restaurants for tourists where the food is less spicy. You can ask the staff not to put curry but the meal would still be a little spicy. Here you can even try spicy pineapple! Like everywhere in Asia, you can eat a lot of rice here. Here is a great introduction to the Sri Lankan home cooking and recipes.
Sri Lankan people like playing sports. They mostly play volleyball and cricket. During one of our beach walks, we met a whole team wearing sports outfit and playing an unknown sport to us – Kabaddi.
Name the Most Interesting Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Golden Cave Temple in Dambulla
Golden Cave Temple is a complex of caves in Dambulla with paintings and statues of Buddha. To reach the temple first you need to climb around 400 steps. For those who get to the top, there is a beautiful view.
Elephant safari in Kaudulla National Park
A very good place to see elephants in the wild. The jeep drivers are experienced and know what distance to keep from the animals. This safari usually lasts around 3 hours and tourists are not allowed to get off the jeep.
Sigiriya (The Lion Rock)
This is an ancient rock fortress with an interesting story. To get to the top of the rock you need to climb more than 1300 steps so bring a bottle of water with you and comfortable shoes.
The ancient city Polonnaruwa
It is an archaeological relic site in Sri Lanka with remains of temples, statues and stupas.
Horton Plains National Park
A place with beautiful nature for mountain lovers. Here are also Baker’s Falls, World’s End and Mini World’s End. Bring warm clothes with you. If you are lucky, you will see wild elks from very close. The trekking lasts about 3 hours and you will need to get up very early in the morning to reach the park.
Mackwoods Tea Plantation in Nuwara Eliya
Here you will see the entire process of making tea.
Go from Nuwara Eliya to Ella by train
No matter if you have a personal driver or you are travelling by public transport, take the trip from Nuwara Eliya to Ella by train. You will pass through many tea plantations and the views are spectacular.
The post office in Nuwara Eliya
This is one of the oldest post offices in Sri Lanka and was built by the British. You can send a postcard to your home address and later when you receive it, it will remind you of your trip.
The Tsunami monument
The big statue is located on the road between Colombo and Galle. The monument is in memory of the many victims of the tsunami in 2004.
Safari in Yala National park
The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. Tourists come here to see leopards but there are also peacocks, elephants, deers, wild pigs, monkeys, storks, mongooses, and buffalos.
Safari on Madu River
You will take a boat tour among the mangroves, you will witness a live demonstration of how cinnamon oil is produced, you will visit an island with a Buddhist temple and the best for us, girls – you will experience fish spa.
Galle Face Green in Colombo
This is a popular place on the beach for street food where locals come at sunset and their children fly kites.
See the beaches of Sri Lanka
Jana is a seasoned traveller and had shared her female travel tips with the When Woman Travels’ blog for several destinations. Read also her tips for visiting the Maldives like a woman.
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