Sri Lanka: Officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) is an island country in South Asia. It is located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of the Bay of Bengal and southeast of the Arabian Sea. Sri Lanka is called “The pearl of the Indian ocean” because of its shape and location. It is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is a fast growing tourist hotspot because of its untouched tropical essence and unhindered wilderness. It is a beautiful country with lovely people. Many tourists from the European countries and also India are preferring to visit Sri Lanka nowadays without any second thought.
Me and my sister wanted to take my parents for a trip overseas from a long time. And then Sri Lanka happened. As it was a family trip, I did not wanted it to be completely a budget trip and also not a super luxurious one. I did a lot of research about the country and it's most convenient options with a perfect pocket pinch. This is how I have planed our trip. The total trip cost was INR 45k per head including visa, flights, food, shopping and also UBER cost in India. And from my personal experiences, I have penned down some of the important things which you should consider while planning yours.
Visa: E-Visa is the only option Sri Lanka has for Indians. We applied e-visa from Make my Trip. We got the visa approval letter within 4 working days of applying. We needed to carry the hard copy of the visa approval letter for our passports to be stamped.
Currency: The official currency of Sri Lanka is LKR. But both LKR and USD are widely accepted in the country. We exchanged INR to USD in India from Centrum Hyderabad. They have a lot of branches in different cities and usually have very good deals. Do not book from their online website as the exchange rates are fixed and negotiations cannot be done online. Just go to their office and ask for a good deal. After reaching Sri Lanka we exchanged USD to LKR from the currency exchange counters available at the airport. It is always better to carry cash instead of Forex cards or any cards. Transacting with cards from the ATMs levies a god amount of tax per transaction. But HDFC debit cards are saviors. Bank of Ceylon gives tax free transaction to people with HDFC cards. Bank of Ceylon ATMs are available widely all across the country.
Sim Cards: Sri Lanka has 4 options for mobile prepaid sim cards - Dialog, Mobitel, Hutch and Airtel. Dialog has the best coverage in the island country so we opted for the same.
Transport: UBER is the best transport option if you are opting for taxi without any price bargain. UBER Srilanka has many options to fit in the needs of the customers. It has both Intra city and Outstaion cabs of different capacities. The price is also reasonable for both intra city and outstation travel. Local buses are also available for intra city travel. Tuktuks, the Srilankan version of the Indian autos are available at every corner of the cities. The only limitation is, 3 members can travel in one Tuktuk. The price has to be bargained and obviously they charge more from tourists.
The Srilankan Railways is also a great option for traveling inter city. The railway claims the best scenic path across the country. It is better to book tickets beforehand around 2 months before the travel date. Because getting a confirmed AC compartment train ticket is difficult when booked from the railway counters on the travel day itself. You can book railway tickets from: https://12go.asia/en
Flight & Hotel Bookings: Try to book flights 6 months ahead of the travel date. In this process you can save a lot of money on international flight bookings. Indigo is the best and cheapest option available to fly into the country from India. The cheapest flights are available from Chennai and Bengaluru.
I always prefer to book hotels prior to my journey. I don't like to go anywhere with uncertainties. I have booked my accommodations for the entire journey from Agoda. Agoda always has best deals for the Asian countries. A standard three star or four star hotel would cost around INR 3500-4000/- per night including complimentary breakfast.
Food & Water: Srilankan cuisine is very similar to South Indian cuisine. Food is cheap in Sri Lanka. You can try buffet or a-la-crate meal in restaurants within LKR 3000 for two people. It is always advisable to drink bottled water.
Language: Most of the people in Sri Lanka understand English. It is not at all hard to communicate with the local people or the cab drivers or any shop keepers.