An island tethered in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an idyllic country that deserves a place on every traveller’s bucket list. From scintillating beaches lined with towering palm trees and a perpetual blue sky, cosy hill stations, a range of cultural festivities and a varied cuisine, the Sri Lankan experience is nothing less than a dream. In recent years, this beautiful place has finally begun receiving the attention it deserves from travellers. The availability of affordable Sri Lanka tour packages has especially made it easy for tourists from all over the world to visit this tropical island. This destination has enough on offer to please all kinds of tourists – beach lovers, adventure enthusiasts and history buffs. This up and coming destination is still uncrowded. The locals are warm and invite you into their homes and hearts like you are a family member. Plan your own trip to Sri Lanka and go through this guide before booking your own Sri Lanka tour packages.
Flawless beaches, often enclosed by lush paddy fields and mangroves, are why Sri Lanka tour packages are popular among tourists. If you are looking for myriad beaches to relax and indulge in activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, sea safari and whale watching, this island is the perfect destination or you. Some of the best beach destinations that your Sri Lanka tour packages can include are the tranquil Unawatuna, untrodden Bentota, beautiful Mirissa, romantic Dickwella, picturesque Galle, and the pristine Hikkaduwa. A number of these beaches are close to temples, and local markets where you can buy small keepsakes. There are numerous Sri Lanka beach vacation packages that offer a beautiful time besides the sea.
This small country is home to eight UNESCO world heritage sites, and you should try to include as many as possible in your Sri Lanka tour packages. One of these sites is Sigiriya, an ancient city with the remains of a castle that dates back to the fifth century AD. The climb up to the Sky Palace here, constructed on a massive rocky outcrop, is worth a visit as it not only allows you to appreciate what remains of the architectural marvel and get a glimpse of the past but also enjoy a beautiful bird’s eye of the thickets below. Then, the city of Kandy which is sacred to Buddhists as it is home to the temple with Buddha’s tooth, is also among the heritage sites. Anuradhapura, also a religious centre for Buddhists with a number of monasteries spread across the city, is an important place of heritage and included in most Sri Lanka tour packages.
It was once the capital of ancient Sri Lanka, and is hence a major archaeological site, well-known for the remnants of the Great Sri Lankan Civilization. Polonnaruwa followed Anuradhapura as the capital and consists of the remains of the Chola civilization and a garden city from the 12th century, which is why it is deemed as a heritage site too. The fortified city of Galle, a former Dutch colony recounting tales of pre-independent India through its architecture, must be included in your Sri Lanka tour packages as well.
Besides these, the Dambulla Cave Temple even after 22 centuries is in impeccable condition and holds its importance as the largest cave temple on the island as well as a heritage site. As ascribed by UNESCO, Sinharaja Forest is a prominent national inheritance that needs to be preserved too. It is the only surviving rainforest in Sri Lanka, home to thousands of indigenous species of flora and fauna, therefore an essential ecological site.
Lastly, Central Highlands of Sri Lanka comprising of the Horton Plains National Park, the Knuckles Conservation Forest and the Peak Wilderness Protected Area with some of the richest biodiversity in the world, is a precious part of the country as well. Ella, a hilly town in the highlands, should be included in your Sri Lanka tour packages too as it offers some of the best treks with a rewarding view. The highlands prove to be a great relief from the sultry weather at the beaches. The train rides here are mesmerizing as well and should not be missed.
This country is an ideal destination to garner some offbeat travel experiences. While booking your Sri Lanka tour packages, be sure to check if it covers all the destinations of your preference.
Sri Lanka tour packages have a lot to offer to travellers – culture, heritage, nature, and adventure – Once you book a Sri Lanka tour package go through some travel experiences documented by real travellers on Tripoto for detailed itineraries and heartfelt anecdotes. Here are some excerpts from a few Tripoto blogs that you must read to decide what to include in your Sri Lanka trip:
“Hop from one museum to the next, with visits to the National Museum of Colombo, Natural History Museum and the Dutch Period Museum, being a must; take a walk down to the art galleries of Sapumal Foundation and Lionel Wendt Memorial Art Centre; in the evening, visit the Galle Face Green Promenade and catch the sunset; for a taste of the Sri Lankan culture, visit the Cirque Lanka; for some retail therapy, you can head to one or all of these shops – Barefoot handicraft store, Crescat Boulevard, Lakpahana and Odel.” – Sonalika Debnath
“Did you ever think that you might end up bathing really cute elephants, and taking care of them for a day on your holiday? Well, this can happen if you visit the elephant sanctuaries in Kandy. At the Millennium Elephant Foundation, you can spend your day walking with elephants, bathing them, giving them their meals and helping the organisation create awareness about taking care of wild or rescued elephants.” – Pritha Puri
“The best of Sri Lanka, in my opinion, was the train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya [Peradeniya (Kandy Railway Station) to Nanu Oya (Nuwara Eliya)]. The 2nd class coach offers spectacular views of the lush green tea estates, waterfalls, dam and the mountains all along the journey. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to mingle with the locals.” – Kavi Mani Kumar Kulandhaivel Sakthivel
“The whole city of Galle is built in colonial patterns of the Dutch, Portuguese and British architecture. A small city that you can cover on foot gives you the famous Galle Dutch Fort, The Lighthouse, National Museum and some real fine cafes to eat at. My personal favourites were Pedlar’s Inn Cafe & Restaurant and Calorie Counter, both on Lighthouse Street” – Shobita Negi
This island country is ideal for a sunny beach vacation. As it is close to the equator, the temperature here remains consistent at 25-30 degrees Celsius in the coastal region and drops to 14-23 degrees Celsius in the highlands. Although this is a destination where tourism thrives year long, you need to plan your trip carefully to make the most of your Sri Lanka tour packages. The country experiences monsoon twice, but fortunately, in different areas, which means that you can book Sri Lanka tour packages whenever you want because you will always find good weather somewhere on the island. However, rainfall can be erratic across the country.
Overall, October to March is the best time to book Sri Lanka tour packages if you plan to visit the western and southern coasts. This region is popular for its beaches, hence these months are perfect for those looking for some time beside the sea. The sea is especially suitable for swimming and other activities from January to March and is great for the sighting of blue and sperm whales. These three months are also good to visit the cool central hills; there is an appropriate amount of sunshine. The Wet weather begins May onwards, with October and November experiencing the maximum rainfall. Meanwhile, the eastern and northern coasts are best experienced from April to September. It can get scorching hot during the dry period though. To overcome the unpredictable weather here, the best Sri Lanka tour packages should include destinations that are apt for the particular season during your stay in the country.
The exquisite festivals celebrated in the country should also be taken into account while choosing Sri Lanka tour packages. For example, Thai Pongal in January is an interesting family holiday when families get together to pray for a blessed harvest. The atmosphere is incredibly festive in mid-April when the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year is celebrated. People clean extensively, put up elaborate decorations on their houses and the streets, and children burst firecrackers. Sri Lanka, especially Colombo, also lights up during the Buddhist festival of Vesak Poya which takes place around a full moon day in May. Kandy also has grand processions with dancers, musicians and elephants, dedicated to the holy tooth, a Buddhist relic, during the Esala Poya Perahera festival. Be sure to choose Sri Lanka tour packages that get you seats in advance to this exciting event. In the Hindu festival of Kataragama Esala in southern Sri Lanka during a full moon in July and August, people put up large processions full of dance and music. Vel is another important Hindu festival which is a spectacular commemoration of the victory of good over evil. Colombo, in July or August, hosts an embellished event wherein devotees march around town in celebration, pulling God Skandha’s trident on a chariot. Besides this, the magnificent month-long celebration of the Nallur festival in Jaffna around August- September comprises of various festivities and extravagant parades organised by devotees across the island. Diwali is celebrated in the country sometime in October or November with as much pomp and gaiety as in India. These festivals are entrenched in the culture of the country and participating in them will exponentially enhance your trip. Hence it is important to opt for Sri Lanka tour packages that give you ample time to enjoy the festivities.
Sri Lanka is full of religious, historical and cultural destinations that will be loved by travellers of all ages and preferences, making it eligible for a good family vacation. Sri Lanka tour packages can be customized according to what your family seeks to take away from the trip. Besides, since family vacations can generally be an expensive affair, the availability of cheap holiday packages to Sri Lanka makes it a strong contender among other international destinations.
Couples should book Sri Lanka honeymoon tour packages to enjoy the romantic vibe of this country.. The beaches here especially prove to be memorable, relaxing spots for newly-wed couples. It is recommended to choose Sri Lanka luxury tour packages with beach resorts especially in service for honeymooners for a perfect romantic staycation.
As the country is also known for being a centre for some of the best adventure sports in Asia, the destination is often frequented by groups of friends. You could go snorkelling, scuba diving, trekking, rock climbing, hot air ballooning, and even whale watching. There are a number of excellent Sri Lanka budget tour packages for such trips.
With every morsel causing an explosion of spicy flavours in your mouth, this delicious cuisine will make your money spent on Sri Lanka tour packages worth it. The varying palates of the diverse ethnic communities within the country, contact with outside traders and culinary influences from neighbouring countries such as India and Indonesia have shaped what Sri Lankan cuisine is today. For example, dosa, biryani, uttapam, and appam are popular dishes in Sri Lanka as well as South India. Rice is an essential staple of everyday meals here, and rice flour is used in several dishes as well. In fact, rice and curry is the national food of Sri Lanka. It is basically boiled or steamed rice served with a chicken, fish or mutton curry along with other vegetable curries and pickles. Coconuts also hold an integral place in the cuisine.
You can find authentic local cuisine at fancy restaurants and beach resorts as well as smaller roadside restaurants. Depending on what your Sri Lanka tour packages cover, it is possible to have a good taste of the local cuisine even on a budget.
Indian travellers need to present a visa while entering Sri Lanka. The process of obtaining one is extremely easy though, which has increased bookings of Sri Lanka tourism packages from India. You can get an Electronic Travel Authorization online by simply filling an application. The process does not take more than two days. This visa allows you two entries into the country, each visit being valid for 30 days from the date of arrival. You could also get a visa on arrival at the Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport but it is a tedious affair, making the online visa a preferred choice with tourists. In order to combat any dip in its tourism, the Sri Lankan government has waived off the visa fee for 48 countries including India for a trial period of six months, starting August 2019. Otherwise, the cost of receiving an ETA visa was about ₹986 and ₹1,315 for visa on arrival. Even if your Sri Lanka tour packages do not arrange visas, you can easily do it yourself.
Written by Shruti Mishra, an in-house Tripoto writer.