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Sri Lanka Holidays
Sri Lanka holidays offer a huge variety; pristine beaches, hilltop plantations, ancient cities, cave temples and an extraordinary abundance of wildlife. Not to mention the bustling capital city of Colombo with its wealth of museums, galleries and shops, the eerie Sigriva Rock or the luxurious indulgent spas on the south coast. For such a small island Sri Lanka is incredibly diverse, ensuring there is something for everyone.
Sun seekers will love Sri Lanka the incredible beaches where you can laze around on the glorious sand and soak up some sun. For those seeking a little more adventure while in Sri Lanka there are numerous activities and sights to keep you occupied. Explore the marine life off the coast, climb Adams peak – Sri Lanka’s holiest mountain- take a bicycle tour of Bentota, embark on a deep sea fishing adventure or set off in search of turtles returning to shore at Rekawa.
Sri Lanka has an abundance of historical sights to explore; the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya has been declared a world heritage site whilst Galle is a classic example of a European fortified city in southern Asia. In the lush tropical heart of the island, Kandy was a stronghold of the Sinhalese kings until it fell to the British in 1815 and became a centre of the tea trade. Kandy’s cultural heritage far pre-dates the British tea drinkers: in the Dalda Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, one of Buddha's teeth is kept as a sacred relic, putting it among the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. High among the hilly tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, the tiny hill resort of Hatton makes an excellent base for exploring the surrounding country.
Your holiday in Sri Lanka will be tailor made by our experts to ensure you have a truly unforgettable experience. For those who wish to combine a relaxing break on the beach with sightseeing and wildlife spotting we offer Multi Centre holidays where you can stay in more than one area of the island. Alternatively you can combine your Sri Lanka holidays with a stay in another country such as Dubai or the Maldives. Our specialists will create a bespoke itinerary just for you.
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Sri Lanka Holidays Travel Guide
Several airlines offer flights to Sri Lanka with the journey taking about 11 hours from the UK, or specifically, just over 12 hours from London Gatwick Airport to Bandaranaike International Airport just outside of Columbo. Sri Lankan Airlines is the national airline of Sri Lanka and operates daily flights, however other airlines such as British Airways also operate flights around three or four times a week from a variety of airports around the UK. Sri Lanka is served by two main airports, Bandaranaike International Airport and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. Upgrades are available on all airlines.
From the airport transfers can be arranged to your hotel. In general we always recommend organising private transfers as they are safer and more economical. Below are some local distances you may find useful (time does not include traffic):
Bandaranaike International Airport - Dambulla: 2 hours
Bandaranaike International Airport - Galle: 1 hour 50 mins
Bandaranaike International Airport - Kandy: 90 mins
Bandaranaike International Airport - Minnierya National Park: 3 hours
Bandaranaike International Airport - Muwara Eliya: 2 hours 30 mins
Bandaranaike International Airport - Paddikudah: 4 hours
Bandaranaike International Airport - Pinnawela: 70 mins
Bandaranaike International Airport - Sigirya: 2 hours 30 mins
Bandaranaike International Airport - Tangalle: 2 hours 40 mins
Bandaranaike International Airport - Trincomalee: 4 hours
Bandaranaike International Airport - West Coast: 2 hours 40 mins
Bandaranaike International Airport - Yala National Park: 3 hours 40 mins
Things to See and Do in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a country rich in culture and history meaning that the places to explore are endless and the activity options are varied, finding something for the whole family to enjoy won't be a problem here, however narrowing down the list might be!
- The Adisham Monastery is a stunning Benedictine monastery just outside of Haputale, once belonging to a tea planter who wanted to recrate his English lifestyle here, the site bosats English country cottage gardens and lawns, mixed with the naturally tropical surroundings.
- Brush up on your knowledge of Sri Lanka's history with a visit to the National Museum where art, carvings and statuary dating back to 1877 await, as well as swords, guns and other paraphernalia from the colonial period. Look out for the antique demon mask collection!
- The Royal Rock Temple, outside of Dambulla, is worth the hike up the vast rock face to explore. Marvel at the superb views over Sri Lanka before heading inside to explore these ancient caves, once used as refuge by King Valagamba when he was exiled, before he turned them into temples on his return. Their interior is now gilded, hence their nickname: Golden Rocks.
- History buffs will no doubt have heard of Fort Frederick, built by the Portuguese before being rebuilt by the Dutch, this impressive fortress is still under military jurisdiction but is open to the public to stroll around.
- Just off shore, Pigeon Island National Park (named due to it being a breeding ground for rock piegons) boasts beautiful rock pools to splash in, paths that meander through stunning undergrowth and an underwater life second to none. The island is known for its water sports and diving excursions which give you a chance to see the tropical plants and creatures that call Sri Lanka their home.
- Why not gain a different perspective on Sri Lanka - from the top of an elephant! Elephant rides last for around two hours and take you past some beautiful scenery, as well as the ever present promise of crocodile sightings!
- Adrenaline junkies will love the white water rafting in Kitulgala, where the film Bridge over the River Kwai was filmed, larger families could even divide into groups and have a little friendly competition!
- Dehiwala Zoo promises to be fun and educational for all the family, situated in Colombo the zoo elephant show is a long term crowd pleaser as they show off their agility and talents!
Health and Safety in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is generally safe for tourists, the most common type of crime here is credit card fraud so make sure you only withdraw money from bank sponsored ATM's. There are, on occassion, protests and political rallys held here and these should be avoided - we advise you check before travelling whether there are any scheduled in areas you intend to visit.
Food and Drink
Resorts and hotels in Sri Lanka offer a varied range of restaurants and bars serving national dishes such as curries cooked in clay pots and seafood or rice dishes, to cuisines from around the world such as Italian or French.
You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Although it is possible to obtain one on arrival it is recommended you arrange one prior to travelling. You can organise a visa through the Electronic Travel Authority website.
We suggest that all our customers review foreign office advice for Sri Lanka before travelling. Click here for the latest information from the foreign office.
The local currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee, however major credit/debit cards are accepted in the main hotels, resorts and larger shops and restaurants. Travellers cheques and cash may be the only payment method in smaller shops or bars. Banks operate from around 9am until 3pm Monday through Friday.
Sri Lanka uses a variety of different plug sockets, the uk 3 pin plug is still used in places however it is wise to purchase an adaptor before travel.
The two national languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil, however English is also commonly spoken by locals and in most resorts and hotels.
Customs and Public Holidays
Sri Lanka have the same five day week as the UK with the addition of Poya (full moon) day once a month - during which most businesses close. Your resort/hotel will usually make food/drink arrangements for you in the days prior to Poya as alcohol cannot be served.