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Travel in Sri Lanka: What To Expect

People in Sri Lanka

People in Sri Lanka

1. People

Sri Lankan people are extremely friendly. In fact, out of every country I've ever traveled to, Sri Lankans may be the most willing to have a short conversation or just say “hello.” While traveling through the island you'll be asked “You are from?,” countless times.

I have never been to a country where so many people have come out and asked me to take a photo of themselves – pretty cool!

On top of their friendly positive attitudes, many Sri Lankan are also hospitable. They will strive to take care of you and to make you feel welcomed in their country.

One of the best things about Sri Lanka is that you can just walk down the street and say hello to any random stranger passing by.

Sri Lankan Food

Sri Lankan Food

2. Food

A plate of rice topped with an array of colorful curries is the most popular meal to eat in Sri Lanka.

Fish and chicken are two curry favorites and daal (lentils) is eaten with almost every meal.

Other dishes include various forms of bread like paratha or roti (both flatbreads).

Kottu is a homegrown speciality made with slices of paratha (similar to a Mexican flour tortilla) stir fried into a Sri Lankan version of Chinese fried rice – but with bread instead of rice!

If you are a lover of all things coconut, you will be in heaven when you arrive in Sri Lanka.

All over the country you can grab a coconut to drink its water straight from the shell or enjoy a plate of freshly made pol sambola (blend of shredded coconut, chili and lime juice).

Sri Lankan's, just as many others around the world, love to eat deep fried snacks. Little snacky things are available in abundance throughout the country.

Transportation in Sri Lanka

Transportation in Sri Lanka

3. Transportation

Though there are many different kinds of transportation to choose from, if you want personal space and comfort you won't find it in Sri Lanka.

Buses don't drive until all seats are full and the aisle is stuffed to maximum capacity. Drivers proceed to accelerate and brake as fast and as jerky as they can.

If you are standing on a Sri Lankan bus, you better hold on for dear life, or you may go flying through the aisle at the next stop.

Trains can be a good way to travel around the country, but routes are limited and it's rather slow. There are a number of different classes, and you may even get your own seat!

Even though transportation is not the most comfortable, it's really cheap.

Normal buses in Colombo cost less than 30 LKR ($0.30) for a ride, and I took the train from Colombo to Kandy (3 hour ride) for just 105 LKR ($0.95).

Galle Face, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Galle Face, Colombo, Sri Lanka

4. Places to Visit / Things To See

Even though the island of Sri Lanka may seem small, I soon realized that there is so much to do and so many potential places to visit that it could takes months to see the entire country.

From pristine beaches to mountains and tea fields, the diversity of the country is huge. They say when you travel in Sri Lanka you will enter a new landscape every 30 minutes – and that's really true.

Looking out the window while riding a bus I observed as the flora and fauna changed drastically, then out of nowhere we'd come up on a cliff overlooking a valley or a winding jungle river.

Colombo is Sri Lanka's major city and entrance point, but from there it's easy to get all around the country and begin what is sure to be an amazing trip to Sri Lanka!

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Saturday 15th of February 2014

I'm in Sri Lanka right now and I couldn't agree more with this article. It's a fantastic, friendly country. Bus transportation is absolutely nuts - you definitely need to hold on and whatever you do, DON'T sit in the front seat!! :-)

Dayan Chinthaka

Monday 4th of August 2014

Behind the driver seat is reserved for clergies. If it is empty you can use it, if any of them comes in, then you have to give that seat to them. Seating on the front - left side, hold your seat arm or window well, and be firm on your legs. Other wise every time the driver put a sudden brake you will have a small flight. On the last raw seats, better wear a helmet, if the bus is half empty.

Adil Nawaz

Tuesday 10th of September 2013

Sri Lanka truly is a magical island. Its my last day here, and I had an amazing time. The mixture of people, culture, Cuisine, Heritage, and natural beauty is beyond very good! Well done Mark on a well written article.

By the way Damian, regarding organized tours, you are correct about them being fun without a particular structure. But, I would advice you to get hold of a good local travel agency for the best deals and tips. I traveled with cSrilanka and they have been tremendous although its a young company.

Damian Macalpine

Wednesday 17th of July 2013

Hi Mark...I'm not really into organised tours so do you think that just landing at Colombo with a good idea of where you want to visit around the country in say a 3 week trip is OK? I mean just jumping on buses, taxis, trains and making more of an adventure of it?


Friday 5th of April 2013

Wow....I would love to visit this place soon....


Monday 25th of March 2013

thanks my friend for everything about our country and remember we welcome you any time to srilanka. we dont care where from,we always loves you guys.

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