Sri Lanka Travel Facts

By | June 2, 2022

Sri Lanka is an island country southeast of India in the Indian Ocean. Diverse landscapes, an exciting culture and a large variety of species are attracting more and more travelers. While the locals are very hospitable, travelers should not underestimate the risk of terrorist attacks.

Capital City Colombo
Size 65.610 km²
Resident 20.877.000
Official Language Sinhala, Tamil
Currency Sri Lanka-Rupee
Time Zone UTC+5:30
Telephone Area Code +94

Fast facts to know

  • Sri Lanka is exotic, diverse, surprising and colourful.
  • Sri Lanka used to be called Ceylon, the name means something like “honorable island” or “shining land”.
  • Sri Lanka is a mecca for vegetarians.
  • There are two main ethnic groups on the island – the Sinhalese and the Tamils.
  • English as a language is widespread.
  • Selfies with Buddha are forbidden, as is turning your back on them.
  • 70% of the residents are Buddhists.
  • A slight shake of the head means, unlike us: Yes.
  • Sri Lanka has the highest density of leopards in the world, the island is very species-rich, and animal protection is unfortunately often neglected with growing tourism.
  • The country is considered malaria-free, but dengue fever is definitely a problem.
  • Sri Lanka is the world’s largest exporter of cinnamon.
  • To enter the country you need: a passport that is still valid for at least 6 months, a visa, an electronic travel registration form, a completed entry card, a valid return or onward travel ticket.
  • No mandatory vaccinations, standard vaccinations are recommended, caution with drinking water.
  • There have been a number of violent terrorist attacks by Islamist fundamentalists in recent years. So keep an eye out when travelling.

Exciting cities in Sri Lanka

  • Dambulla
  • Colombo
  • Kandy
  • Trincomalee
  • Galle
  • Nuwara Eliya

History of Sri Lanka

  • Nagas and Yakkas form Sri Lanka’s first indigenous population.
  • 500 BC North Indian settlers (Sinhalese) came.
  • 247 BC Buddhism in the form of the Theravada tradition is made known.
  • Since about 200 BC Buddhism is the state religion of the kingdom of Anuradhapura.
  • In the Middle Ages part of different kingdoms, e.g. Sinhalese and Tamil kingdoms.
  • In the 1st millennium trade and cultural exchanges with the Roman Empire and China begin.
  • 15th Century: Several unsuccessful attempts by the Chinese to conquer Sri Lanka.
  • During the colonial period that followed, Sri Lanka fell under the rule of European powers several times.
  • Independent of the British Commonwealth since 1948.
  • In 1972 Ceylon became a republic with the name “Sri Lanka”.
  • 2004 severe natural disaster caused by a tsunami.

Climate & travel weather in Sri Lanka

  • Tropical monsoon climate.
  • South-west monsoon from May to September with heavy precipitation on the west and south-west coasts.
  • October to mid-April northeast monsoon with precipitation in the north and east.
  • Hurricanes (cyclones) predominant in May, October, November.
  • Mountainous country as a climate divide: south-west always humid / north-east dry & alternating humidity.
  • High temperatures all year round.
  • Milder climate in the mountains, snow possible in winter.
  • Recommended travel time:
    • East: April – September.
    • South & West: December – April.
    • North: January – October.
    • Highlands: January – March.

Ideas for trips in Sri Lanka

  • Ruinenstadt Polonnaruwa
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Sigiriya Rock
  • Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Ranweli Spice Garden
  • Stupa Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura
  • Horton Plains National Park & ​​Horton Plains Hiking Trail
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
  • Sri Pada (Holy Foot)
  • Golden Temple
  • Nationalmuseum in Colombo
  • Train ride from Kandy to Ella
  • Tangalle Beach & Beaches at Bentota
  • Swim, snorkel and sunbathe in Pigeon Island National Park
  • Climb Adam’s Peak
  • Whale watching in Mirissa
  • Hike on Ella Rock

Food & Drink in Sri Lanka

  • Sinhala cuisine uses a lot of spices.
  • Many dishes very spicy.
  • Typical spices and ingredients: coconut milk, chili, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic, cardamom, ginger, tamarind pulp, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg.
  • Diverse influences, eg Indian, Arabic, Malay, but also Portuguese and Dutch, are noticeable.
  • Paradise for vegetarians.
  • Warm food is eaten 3 times a day.
  • Traditionally, you eat with your right hand and your left hand under the table.
  • Rice & curry can be found in almost every dish.
  • It is usually served lukewarm and in different bowls at the same time.
  • Typical side dishes: lentils, aubergines, cucumbers, breadfruit and pappadam (crispy, flat bread made from lentil dough).
  • Chutneys are usually served with meals.
  • Delicious tropical fruits: papaya, mango, banana, pineapple.
  • Typical Ceylonese breakfast are hoppers (hollow, hemispherical pancakes made from rice flour, coconut milk, coconut flakes).
  • Fish or seafood widely available, but meat is also available.
  • They like to drink tea (with milk).
  • Local beers: Three Coins, Royal Pilsner or Lion Lager.
  • Rice Brandy Arrak quite popular.
  • Typical dishes:
    • Appé (pancakes made from rice flour, yeast and coconut milk).
    • Bandakka Curry (vegetarian dish with okra beans).
    • Gotu kola (tiger grass soup).
    • Paripoo (Lentils in Ceylonese, mashed side dish with tuna and turmeric).
    • Dosa (thin pancakes made from rice and urd beans).
    • Rathu Isso (Garnelencurry).
    • Wattalapam (pudding made from palm blossom sugar, coconut milk and spices).
    • Rotis (small flatbreads made from wheat flour).
    • Breudher (a yeast cake of Dutch origin).
    • Lampries (rice cooked in meat broth, stuffed with minced meat, baked in a banana leaf).

Particularly scenic

  • Yala National Park
  • Tea plantations in the mountains
  • Pidurangala Rock
  • Udawalawe National Park
  • Sigiriya

Sri Lanka Travel Facts