Here are a few of my top tips for smooth, enjoyable and hassle free travel in Sri Lanka…
Sim Card – Stay connected to the world! When you arrive at Colombo Airport get yourself a Dialog sim card. There are great Tourists packages, I paid approximately 1300r for 4GB of daytime data, 5GB of nighttime date and 200 mins of local calls. It really is worth having it. WI-FI all across the country is pretty dire and cannot be relied upon. I used this solidly for 3 weeks and I didn’t run out.
Take a Tuk-Tuk – Tuk-tuks’ are great modes of transport and can be relatively cheap. I used them for anything from a 1km journey to a 60km journey. BUT agree the price first or you will get ripped off. The price should be 50r per Km but as a tourist you will rarely get that. Use the website fairsfare.co to calculate what the cost should be and use this to help you negotiate.
Get the ap. Trains – Sri Lanka – The trains are a great way to travel across the country, they are pretty reliable, a little slow as they stop at many stations but they are really cheap. The phone ap. Trains – Sri Lanka is very accurate in telling you the times etc., of all the trains. It’s also really useful for double checking the stops on your route so you know when yours is coming up!
Get the ap. maps.me – You can use this ap with your phone in flight mode and location on. Download it when you have WI-FI or before you arrive. The whole of the Sri Lankan map is only 52MB and you can find anywhere you need without using data or draining your battery. It’s also handy to use to check your tuk-tuk driver is going in the correct direction!
No sugar in your fruit juice! – All across Sri Lanka you can get fresh fruit juice which is delicious, however the Sri Lankan’s add sugar to it, make sure you ask for it without! I like things sweet but even this was too sweet for my taste buds!
Don’t get stuck with 5000r notes – It can be really hard to get rid of 5000r notes as it appears no one wants to take them so any opportunity you get where you think you can get change back try and use them. You don’t want to get stuck with out smaller notes!
Cover up! – To go in any Temple you need your shoulders and knees covered up. I kept a lightweight t-shirt and sarong with me at all times and then I was ready to enter a temple if I wished.
Be rude without being rude! Where the locals are very friendly people, it’s fair to say Sri Lankan men can be very persistent and give unwanted attention. I soon learnt that if I was normal and friendly at the start then a subtle hint could not be taken. The best thing to do is just nod and keep walking.
Travel is slow – You’ve probably got a full itinerary planned, which is great, there is plenty to see! But… make sure you have allowed yourself enough time for travel; tuk-tuk, bus, train, private car is all slow. The roads are in pretty good condition, but there are plenty of winding roads which result in slow journeys. Make sure you factor this in so you don’t get caught out by surprise.
Eat street food – don’t be put off by street food carts by the beach, on the streets or markets. I ate street food plenty of times, not only is it delicious, it’s also extremely cheap! And I didn’t experience any upset tummy symptoms!!!