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Although it’s had some troubled times of late, now that Sri Lanka is at peace again, it’s gradually regaining its place among South Asia’s biggest attractions. If you’re considering joining this welcome return, read on for some things to think about before setting off.
When to go
As with many countries in the region, Sri Lanka’s year is commonly divided into the High Season, the Low Season, and the transitional Shoulders between them.
High Season (December – March) sees the best weather in the South and the West, while the North and East are more popular in Low Season (May-August). Those looking to travel around more generally might find the overall condition most balanced in April or November.
You can read my detailed post on Sri Lanka Weather by month here.
How to Stay Healthy
Due to conditions in this part of the world, there are various precautions visitors are advised to take before setting off.
Vaccinations are recommended for common ailments such as Dengue Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis, Rabies, and Typhoid. And, if you’re likely to be spending time in rural areas, the further cover may be advisable. Whatever you get – make sure it’s a few weeks before traveling, so they’re already fully activated upon arrival.
What to Eat
The country is famous for its curries, but there’s much more to try here. Similarly spiced is a wide range of devilled dishes, while dosas (rice pancakes) and kottu (vegetables in roti bread) are popular alternatives.
As for where to find your meals, Ben Groundwater compares Sri Lankan street food and restaurants (formal and informal) over on his 1Cover blog.
In Case you need halal or vegetarian food, no need to worry. 9.7 % of the Sri Lankans are Muslim’s and 12.6 are Hindu. Here is the list of top 10 Sri Lankan Vegetarian food that you can try.
How to Remain Fit
There are a few simple things worth remembering to get along with your hosts.
When visiting sacred spaces (or people’s homes), you should remove shoes and hats. Likewise, dress modestly in such (generally conservative) spaces – covering shoulders, arms, and legs. And it’s not wise to pose with statues of the Buddha in ways which could be seen as disrespectful (this includes turning your back on him).
Be aware that same-sex relations are technically still illegal in Sri Lanka (though there haven’t been any prosecutions in half a century). Whatever your orientation, public displays of affection are frowned upon.
Trains can be more than just transport
Easily the most practical (and thus popular) way to travel between regions, Sri Lanka’s train routes are also often among the most picturesque you’ll see. And, although they can get crowded, this is nothing next to local buses – which also offers fewer amenities.
Thankfully, even first-class travel is very affordable, and many stations will be able to serve English-speakers in their own language. With large windows, vintage styling and built-in fans, it’s a very civilized way to travel. Find my Colombo to Kandy train guide here
How to See Wildlife – and Protect It
Seeing exotic animals in their natural environment (especially this country’s jewel-like landscapes) is a big draw for tourists, but you should be careful about which businesses you’re supporting.
Whether elephants, leopards or monkeys, it’s safest – and kindest – to visit parks with a proven commitment to animal welfare. Uda Walawe is a large and well-regarded inland attraction, while Bundala shows off coastal habitats to a smaller clientele. Meanwhile, both whales and dolphins can be spotted from the lively town of Mirissa.