Connecting to Sri Lanka from anywhere in the world

Planning your next holiday to the small, yet beautiful island in the Indian Ocean? Your first question probably is which flights will take you there? Or what route would require least travelling? Or what would be your cheapest option? Let us answer all your questions in this brief article about airports in Sri Lanka and which flights will take you there.

Airports in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has two international airports – one in the western town of Katunayake and one in the southern province in a town known as Hambantota.

Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA)

This is the busiest airport in Sri Lanka, and one of the busiest in South East Asia as it handles about 8.5 million passengers annually (according to reports from the year 2015). Most airlines choose to fly to this airport rather than the one in the south. BIA is about 30kms (one hour’s drive) from the capital city of Colombo and just 15 minutes away from the popular coastal city of Negombo. The airport has money changing facilities that are open 24 hours in both arrivals and departure halls, in addition to ATMs, mobile network operators, taxi services and more.

Arriving at the airport is rather hassle free – all you have to do is go through the immigration line, walk down to the luggage belt and once you’ve collected your baggage, the exit is just there. If the custom officers inquire about your travel destinations and request you to open your luggage, being nice and cooperating with them is the best solution to get out of the airport faster.

During departure, if you happen to arrive early at the airport, you could browse around the duty free, hang out at one of the many restaurants & cafes such as Pizza Hut, Burger King and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Foot spas are also available if you would like to treat yourself to a massage while you wait for your flight. Exclusive lounges are located on the way to the gates where you can buy yourself a pass and enjoy the delicious food, comfortable seating and other luxury amenities available there.

Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA)

MRIA is the airport located about 15kms from Hambantota, in the southern coast of Sri Lanka. This airport has a very large terminal but is not very popular in the international market as most carriers choose to fly to the BIA. Currently only one Middle Eastern flight operates to and from MRIA – one flight a day. So if you are connecting to Sri Lanka from the Middle East and want to start exploring Sri Lanka from the southern coast, then landing at MRIA is a viable option. Because of the low traffic at MRIA, it is best for you to pre-arrange your transport before you land at the airport.

Sri Lankan carriers

Currently, Sri Lankan Airlines is the only national carrier in Sri Lanka. Bandaranaike International Airport is the carrier’s hub and it operates an extensive network all around the globe. Mihin Airlines was a budget airlines that was launched in 2007 but that too merged with Sri Lankan Airlines at the end of the year 2016. The national carrier has a safety record that is on par with international carriers.

The airlines also provide local networks in partnership with Cinnamon Air. So if you want to begin your holiday in Sri Lanka from the east coast for example, once you land at the BIA on Sri Lankan Airlines, they can provide you an onward flight connection to Batticaloa so that you can reach there much faster than by road.

Foreign Carriers

From Australia & New Zealand

If travelling from East of Sri Lanka, i.e. countries such as Australia and New Zealand, you have to look out for a connection through Asian carriers like Thai, Malaysian or Singapore.

From Europe

Sri Lankan Airlines has a direct flight to London Heathrow. While this might be a slightly expensive option, you could choose other connections such as British, Emirates, Austrian, Qatar, Etihad, Kuwait or Turkish which will bring your to Sri Lanka via one or two additional stops.

From Asia

The Asian flight network is very well connected to Sri Lanka by Sri Lankan Airlines and several other carriers. Direct flights to Sri Lanka can be easily found for reasonable fares from most Asian destinations in the world. The most popular budget flight is Air Asia while other competitive options such as Jet Airways, Malaysian and Thai are also available.

Many tourists to Sri Lanka like to combine their holiday in Sri Lanka with the Maldives. For this route, Sri Lankan or Emirates would be a good option as only these two carriers fly between Colombo and Malé.

From America

American tourists to Sri Lanka are literally travelling half way across the world. You could choose to route your flights from Canada or USA and go through the west coast – Asian destinations, or you could choose the east coast – from Middle East or India.

Best Ice Cream joints in Sri Lanka

Craving an ice cream during your holiday in Sri Lanka? Whether you are in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna or Galle, ice cream lovers can satisfy their cravings anywhere in Sri Lanka.

Jaffna

Point Pedro – Rio Ice Cream

The Rio Ice Cream brand is about 40 years old and has survived through decades of war in Jaffna. Now it has become an important part of the local community and is a must-visit stop during your tour to Jaffna, Sri Lanka (if not for the ice cream, for the brand at least!).

The ice cream joint is located just adjoining the Nallur Temple and is also a popular hangout spot for youngsters, particularly since it is one of the few establishments in Jaffna that offers air conditioning. Their menu includes a wide variety of scoops, sundaes and other specials. Taste wise, the ice cream is lovable for those with a sweet tooth.

Galle

Pedlars Inn Gelato

Pedlar’s Inn is a popular brand in the Galle Fort area, located on Pedlar’s Street. Along with their ice cream joint, they have a pizzeria and a dining café as well. The gelato they serve is naturally flavored, very creamy and goes quite on par with international standards.

Dairy King

Located on Church Street, in Galle Fort, this joint is run by a family living there. In addition to the ice cream flavors, they have many options of juices, shakes, tea and coffee. Their ice cream scoops are very much worth for the price and they offer many flavors to choose from. Don’t forget to try their brownie and ice cream dish which is served with a generous serving of delicious brownies.

Kandy

Cool corner fried ice cream parlor

This is a leading fried ice cream provider in Kandy and is well recommended by those who have been there. On their menu, they have delicious fruity flavors of ice cream scoops, as well as sorbets and other beverages. A recently popular item is the roll ice cream that gives you a blend of two or more flavors into one ice cream roll.

Fozsta

Frozsta is a great hangout place that provides healthy frozen yogurt and other desserts. The environment is very peaceful and the owner makes an extra effort to make your visit a memorable one.

Colombo

Carnival

For decades, carnival has been a go-to place for those wanting an affordable ice cream option. Recently, the store has had a major uplift and is now much more appealing than before. The interior is really done with an aim to cheer up anyone in a sad mood. They have introduced more ice cream flavors on their menu as well as new shakes and sundaes. You haven’t been to Colombo if you haven’t been to its signature ice cream store – Carnival!

Jam Roll

Originating in Thailand, roll ice cream is now in Sri Lanka. A small joint in Thimbirigasyaya serves roll ice cream, just the way you like it. The open kitchen concept lets you see the intriguing process of how they make it. You could either choose from their set menu or pick your own flavors and toppings to result in your kind of ice cream.

Cremalato

If you are looking for some premium quality ice cream in a unique range of flavors, Cremalato is where you should be. They have their own range of fresh fruit popsicles that are a real refresher in the heat of Colombo. Additional creamy flavors include biscotti, wild berries, mint choc chip, mango and more. If you are lazy to go to their pickup outlet in Colombo 04 (A&M Cupcakes), simply call them up to deliver your ice cream straight to your doorstep!

4 exciting reasons why Cricket fans should visit Sri Lanka

Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka and has a history dating all the way back to 1832, which is nearly 2 centuries ago! November 1832 was when the Colombo Cricket Club was formed, after which many domestic matches were played. In 1975, Sri Lanka made its debut in one day international cricket and in 1981, it joined Test cricket. Sri Lanka is now one of the ten countries that play test cricket and one of the five countries that has won a cricket world cup.

Up until today, several legendary players have evolved from the Sri Lankan cricket team, many who have created world records. Any cricket fan around the world surely knows how valuable the sport of cricket is in Sri Lanka and would love to explore cricket in Sri Lanka during their next holiday. Here are some highlights of what cricket fans can do in Sri Lanka:

1. Visit international cricket stadiums – where history was created

Sri Lanka now hosts many beautiful international cricket stadiums which you could visit and experience what it would be like to be a part of history in the making.

  • Pallekelle cricket stadium (Kandy) is one of the two newly built stadiums for the cricket world cup held in 2011. Designed after an inspiration from the Supersport Park in Centurion, South Africa, this premiere stadium holds the record of being the third stadium to see a wicket fall off the first ever ball that was bowled here!
  • Dambulla cricket stadium lies amidst the historical ruins in Sri Lanka and holds a record of being built within 167 days. The main purpose of having a stadium here is to host matches during the wet season that affects other parts of the country. Currently only day matches are being held due to some faults in the floodlights needed for day/night matches.
  • Mahinda Rajapaksa International cricket stadium (Hambantota) has a seating capacity of 35000 people and saw its first international match being played in February 2011. This is the other one of the two new stadiums built for the 2011 cricket world cup and is the second largest stadium in Sri Lanka.
  • Galle International stadium is one of the most picturesque grounds in the world, being surrounded on either side by the Indian Ocean. 30 Test matches and 6 ODI matches have been played at these grounds.
  • Premadasa Cricket stadium (Colombo) is one of the oldest, yet largest cricket stadiums in Sri Lanka. The first match played here was in 1986 and one of the most popular records made here is the highest Test total: 952 for 6 scored by Sri Lanka against India in 1997-98, during which Sanath Jayasuriya scored a whopping 340 runs!

2. Stand a chance to meet popular/favorite cricketers

Are you a fan of Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Roshan Mahanama, Marvan Atapattu, Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda De Silva, Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardena? Well all these players live in Sri Lanka and if you are really keen, you might just be able to get their autograph, click a selfie with them or even have a few minutes of question – answers with them.

3. Play cricket in Sri Lanka

Because cricket is a popular sport in Sri Lanka, many youngsters have developed a passion for the sport and to cater to this audience, there are several outdoor grounds and indoor cricket nets where these rising starts can practice. During your holiday in Sri Lanka, if you want to enjoy an evening of cricket with your family, just stop by one of the many large fields/grounds that you come across in any part of the country; prepare your pitch and play! If you don’t have a crowd big enough for a game of cricket, stop by wherever you see a group of friends playing cricket and request if you can join them. Friendly Sri Lankans will be glad to accommodate your request. Sports clubs in Colombo such as Fingara, Cricket Club and Otters have indoor cricketing nets where you can practice the game too.

4. Purchase Sri Lankan cricket merchandise

If you are a fan of Sri Lankan cricketers, you can purchase the team’s T-shirts and caps at almost any popular retail clothing store around the country. Other specific gear such as autographed bats and balls are available in specialized cricket shops in Colombo.

Tourism in Sri Lanka is only getting better!

In encouraging a tourist to visit Sri Lanka, just a lovely description of the natural beauty in the country may not suffice. Some travelers need numbers to convince them of whether or not Sri Lanka is a potential country on their list of places to visit.

Tourism Statistics

According to Daily Mirror – a news company in Sri Lanka, the tourism economy seems to be thriving and growing very well.

  • Tourist arrivals have increased to approximately 2 million, which is a growth of 14%.
  • Foreign exchange earnings have increased from USD 2981 million in 2015 to USD 3518 million.
  • On average, tourists would spend USD164.1 per night in 2015 and this figure increased to USD 168.2 per night in 2016. This could mean that tourists are spending more in Sri Lanka.
  • The current prime minister has targeted tourism arrivals to increase to 5 million by 2025.

 

International Presence

In addition to these figures, Sri Lankan High Commissions in other countries are taking an effort to make their presence as Sri Lankans felt worldwide.

For the second consecutive year, Sri Lanka participated in the international tourism and travel show 2017 held in Montreal, Canada, during the 20th – 22nd of October 2017. At this event, over a hundred other countries participated, exhibiting their own tourism industries. According to the Asian Tribune, 34,200 visitors were said to have attended the show with an aim to see where their next travel destination would be, to discover new holiday destinations and to learn about holiday tour operators.

At the Sri Lankan stall, all visitors were given country maps, brochures in different languages, as well as complementary tea from Sri Lanka. The booth also exhibited beautiful tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, focusing on the rich cultural heritage, unique wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. By browsing through these, visitors were impressed with the beauty of the country and expressed interest in visiting Sri Lanka for their next holiday.

2016 was the first year that Sri Lanka participated in the International Tourism and Travel Show and during that year, 50,087 Canadian tourists came to Sri Lanka. According to further reports, this figure showed a 29% increase in Canadian tourists to Sri Lanka. This obviously means that the international presence made a difference and the participation at the exhibition this year too would further encourage Canadian tourists to visit Sri Lanka.

Apart from Canada, the Sri Lankan embassy in Sweden held a tourism promotional event known as “A Glimpse of Sri Lanka”, for the second consecutive year in September this year. Large crowds were attracted to this event where live demonstrations of Sri Lankan food being cooked appealed to the sensory experience of visitors. While wanting to savor Sri Lankan cuisine was one reason to visit, guests also expressed interest in the tourist and cultural attractions in Sri Lanka.

Awards and Achievements

In July 2017, Maldives hosted the “World Travel Awards Ceremony”. At this event, Sri Lanka was competing with 47 Asian countries and managed to bag the following two awards:

  • Asia’s Leading Destination
  • Asia’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination

Minister of Tourism Development in Sri Lanka stated that these two awards were important milestones for the tourism industry and will be a spotlight to draw more tourists to Sri Lanka as a holiday destination.

Conclusion

For the statistics/research minded traveler, the above information will surely be convincing enough for you plan to visit Sri Lanka and explore the much spoken about holiday destination! Whether you are looking for relaxation, unmatchable views, thrilling adventure, rich culture and good food, Sri Lanka has it all!

FIVE up-and-coming destinations for a RELAXING holiday in Sri Lanka

Mirissa

Beaches are everywhere in Sri Lanka, and a beach experience not just entails sun, sand and water; every details counts. Recently, travelers have discovered the perfection of Mirissa beach.

Mirissa is a small town located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, about an hour’s drive from Galle (40kms).

Imagine sitting under a coconut tree sipping on a cold drink while a monkey is happily munching a mango on the tree. On the other side of the trees you can see crystal clear water, beautiful soft brown sand, and a peaceful atmosphere.

Cleanliness and crowd are two important qualities in rating a beach and Mirissa scores plenty on these two criteria. Compared to Hikkaduwa and Galle, there is much quietness here and you can see absolutely no litter being washed ashore with the waves.

With regard to accommodation, Number ONE Mirissa, Deep South Mirissa, Seaworld Resort, Mirissa Gate, Paradise Beach Club, Triple O Six and Parrotfish Bay are a few high end hotels in this area.

Yala

Yala is more commonly known for its beautiful wildlife so you could opt for a night or two of luxury camping with merchants such as Leopard Trails Yala or Mahoora Safari Camps. You can experience in reality what it is like to live under the twilight and wake up to the sounds of birds chirping. A safari drive can show you around the big animals of the wild but if you are not up for it, just relax in your tent and take in all the fresh air possible.

While one side of Yala presents jungle life, the other shows tourists more of the southern coastline. If you are looking for exotic beaches away from the crowds, Yala beach is the place to be. Camping options are also available on the beach if you are looking for a unique accommodation option.

Tangalle

Tangalle is a slightly larger town in the southern coast that offers a very unique experience of beach life. Tangalle does not have just one single line along which the beach lies, but it has a collection of bays that make up the coastline. This makes Tangalle an ideal destination for swim safe beaches that present stunning circular views of every beach location. Diving is also a popular activity in Tangalle along with surfing and of course – sun bathing!

If you are looking for exclusive accommodation in Tangalle, here are a few options: Nature Lanka Ayurveda Resort, Anantara Peace Haven, Sooriya Resort and Spa, Taru Villas and Ananthaya Beach.

Ella

Had enough of the south coast? Head towards the hill country and try a train ride from Kandy to Ella for some of the best scenic views in the island. Include a stop at Ella for a few nights on your Sri Lanka holiday itinerary to indulge in the lovely cold breezy weather and the panoramic views from any place you choose to stay. Early one morning, take a hike to the Ella Gap where you can get an amazing view of the sunrise as well as the rest of the country, all the way down to the southern coast! These relaxing views can take away all the troubles on your mind and give you a stress free holiday in Sri Lanka.

98 Acres Resort and Spa is the place to be if you want premium accommodation in Ella along with these amazing views from your room. Apart from that, there are plenty of other budget accommodation options that you can choose to stay at in Ella.

Kalpitiya

On the west coast, the bay of Kalpitiya is an up and coming relaxing beach destination in Sri Lanka. In addition to golden sands, peaceful and breathtaking beaches, Kalpitiya is also the place to be if you want to learn the thrilling activity of Kitesurfing. The waters are perfect for kitesurfing here, which is why several schools are available to teach you the art and help add excitement to your relaxing holiday.

Kalpitiya offers several eco friendly tourism options such as Baywatch Eco Resort, Ruuk Village and Dolphin Beach Resort if you want to try out something new and different.

The story behind Mount Lavinia Hotel

Introduction

Those of you who’ve been to or heard of Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo would have surely never imagined that the hotel had a history of over 200 years! Located in the suburbs of Colombo, this colonial heritage hotel is known for its magnificent structure and ambience. Upon entering the hotel you feel an old world charm which takes you back to the greatness of old Ceylon. It reminds you of the romantic legacy of the British Governor who used the place as his residence. Today, transformed into a hotel with unmatchable service and skilled staff, it is a popular location for weddings.

There surely must be some connection with the history of Governor General’s romantic legacy and the hotel’s present popularity as a wedding spot; which brings us to the discussion of the story behind Mount Lavinia Hotel.

The Story

This much spoken about British Governor was Sir Thomas Maitland who was assigned to Sri Lanka (previously known as Ceylon), during the years 1805-1811. As a 46 year old Bachelor, Governor Maitland was also known as “King Tom” because his character – according to his biography – was “a great human force, controlled by an iron will”.

When Governor Maitland first came to Sri Lanka, there was a welcoming party held in his honor. At this party, he noticed a beautiful local gypsy dancer whose name was Lavinia (Lovinia) Aponsuwa. This pretty lady came from a mix of Portuguese and Sinhalese ancestry, and her father was the leader of the dance troupe.

Sir Thomas was awestruck with her charming smile and soon found himself falling in love with her. His obsession of Lavinia made him take every possible opportunity to get to see more of her. Lavinia regularly danced in her father’s troupe in front of the Governor and his guests. All of the parties that the Governor held involved masked balls, lovely evening gowns and top hats.

During his reign in Sri Lanka, Sir Thomas Maitland was determined on constructing a massive country residence for himself in Ceylon and for this; he chose a stunning beachfront property in ‘Galkissa’ (Mount Lavinia), 10 km south of Colombo. People who were around during that era believed that this location was picked because Sir Thomas saw Lavinia bathing in that part of the sea.

The love story between the Governor and Lavinia – the dancer – was a secret and none of the British officials in England or the Ceylon nationals knew about it. Lavinia’s house was very close to the governor’s new residence. So when the gala mansion was being constructed, Sir Thomas instructed the contractor to make a secret tunnel to her house. One end of the tunnel was in a wine cellar of the Governor’s house while the other end of the tunnel opened to a drinking water well in the compound of Lavinia’s residence.  Both lovers met in secret because it was rather untraditional for a bachelor British Official to be seen with a local dancing girl.

As time passed and the affair got stronger, notice of the love story came to the attention of colonial masters in Britain who would not accept any deviation from Crown and God. They sternly looked down on Governor Maitland and in 1811 the British Foreign Office sent a ‘routine transfer’ for the Governor to the Mediterranean Island of Malta. Sir Thomas Maitland served as a governor of Corfu during the British administration in Malta and he also died as a bachelor in the island.

By about 1920, the secret tunnel from Governor Maitland’s palace to Lavinia’s residence was sealed and the village surrounding the mansion became a well developed modern city. The city was named ‘Galkissa’, after the Sinhalese word “GalVissa” – meaning twenty boulders. Galkissa was then renamed to “Mount Lavinia” as a mark upon the beautiful dancing girl named Lavinia.

The massive country residence of the British Governor was then transformed into a hotel and named “Mount Lavinia Hotel”.

And that is the story of how this charming British Colonial heritage hotel built on a lovely beachfront became a legacy to the secret love story of dancing girl Lavinia and British Governor Sir Thomas Maitland.

During World War II, Mount Lavinia Hotel became a military hospital for the British Army. After the war ended in 1947, the hotel was re-established. If you have seen or heard of the film “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, you will notice some scenes filmed at Mount Lavinia Hotel.

The hotel… TODAY

The original colonial building was built in the 1800s and an additional Governor’s Wing was constructed in the 1930s. Today the hotel boasts of 210 rooms that offer a unique accommodation experience in absolute comfort and sophistication. These rooms have witnessed the secrets of love and adventure, hence still retaining the graceful elegance of a bygone era.

Currently, the old wine cellar is the main kitchen of the hotel. With the arrival of the railway line, the secret tunnel was cut into two sections. There is a blue plaque at the hotel in memory of Sir Thomas Maitland, Sir Robert Brownrigg, Sir Edward Paget and Sir Edward Barnes who were residents of the house during Governor Maitland’s reign.

The rooms are categorized as follows: Colonial rooms, ocean view rooms, direct ocean view rooms and suites.

The 34 semi-deluxe colonial rooms actually make you feel like a guest of the Governor General in his great mansion. With the traditional hospitality in those rooms, the hotel offers a blend of modern comfort and a relaxed lifestyle. 79 ocean view rooms at Mount Lavinia Hotel deliver sophistication and a soothing atmosphere with soft pastel shades. Each room has a private balcony overlooking the sea and the gardens of the hotel. The 97 direct ocean view rooms are set apart from the others with its stunning view of the Indian Ocean, the large private balconies and bathtubs in each bathroom. There are also 11 spacious suites of different kinds offering ultimate comfort and luxury to hotel guests.

In terms of food, the hotel has a bunch of restaurants and bars, some of which offer relaxing atmospheres with peaceful wind breezes and charming views overlooking the sea. The most popular ones are the Governor’s Restaurant, Seafood Cove and The Terrace.

Being a hotspot wedding location, the hotel offers a variety of wedding packages that include romantic decorations, photo studios, delicious food menus, lovely cake structures, complimentary massages for the newly married couple and much more. Special honeymoon packages are also available for couples who want to spend their first few days as husband and wife in an enchanting atmosphere overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean.

Visit Mount Lavinia Hotel – Colombo

  • Choose to stay here during your holiday in Sri Lanka
  • Plan your wedding at this romantic hotel
  • Arrange a romantic meal with your loved one
  • Enjoy an evening with friends and a delicious high tea menu while the sun sets
  • Schedule a business meeting/conference and explore the hotel while you’re there.

10 exciting day tour options in Sri Lanka

When planning your holiday in Sri Lanka, you could choose to hub in one or two popular cities such as Colombo in the Western Province and Kandy in the hill country. From here, you can explore the rest of the country by way of day tours. Also, if you are in Sri Lanka on a business visit or a family wedding maybe, and you have limited time in your hands, day tours are a great way to explore selected tourist destinations that you are interested in.

Wildlife

  • Yala Jeep Safari
  • Udawalawe Jeep Safari

Wildlife in Sri Lanka is one of the main tourist attractions. To visit popular National Parks and get a glimpse of the leopard population and other unique wild animals in South East Asia, you would have to begin your day tour at about 6.30a.m from Colombo. You would reach Yala or Udawalawe by about noon, leaving a good half day to spend in the jungle, enjoying your jeep safari. Departing at sunset would bring you back to Colombo late at night.

Greenery

  • Little England

Greenery is at its best in the hill countryside of Sri Lanka. For exploring the hill country, Kandy would be a good location to base yourself. The 2-3 hour drive from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, also known as “Little England” will take you through exceptionally beautiful views of mountains, valleys, waterfalls and tea plantations.

Adventure

  • Kitulgala white water rafting

From Colombo, Kitulgala is about two and a half hours drive and is a good option for an adventure kind of day outing. Have a good breakfast and depart at about 8.00 a.m. Upon reaching Kitulgala, your tour agency will stop at a partnered rafting service provider who will brief you in on the Do’s and Don’ts. Your package includes the rafting experience, the equipment needed and also a delicious authentic Sri Lankan lunch meal at the end of your adventure. You can return to Colombo by about 8.00p.m latest.

History & Culture

  • Tour of Kandy
  • Sigiriya and Dambulla
  • Galle

An abundance of history and culture prevails in these cities. While Sigiriya and Dambulla are closer from Kandy, Galle is easier to access from Colombo.

A day tour of Kandy entails a visit to the popular Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic where you can learn about the traditions of Buddhism. In Sigiriya, there is the Lion’s Rock, a palace built at the top of a rock by an ancient Sri Lankan King. By climbing the carefully laid out stairway on the Sigiriya Rock, everyone can access the top and visit the fortress as well as indulge in the breathtaking view. Dambulla is very close to Sigiriya and here you have to visit the Cave Temples, the best preserved of its kind. Galle, located in the southern coast, boasts of beautiful beaches and a rich Dutch atmosphere. The Galle Fort is the main attraction here, along with the museum as well as other religious places of worship.

Beaches

  • Negombo
  • Hikkaduwa
  • Unawatuna

For day tours in Sri Lanka, the best and most accessible beaches are on the western and south western coastline. It is best to base yourself in Colombo to visit these beaches easily during day tours. Negombo is about a couple of hours up north along the western coastline from Colombo, while Hikkaduwa (one hour) and Unawatuna (two hours) are located south from Colombo along the coastline. These beaches boast golden sands, a challenging swim trying to beat the waves, and unmatchable views of the sunset. Water sports such as jet skiing, wind surfing, banana boat rides and so on are available at each of these beach destinations.

Budget beach accommodation options in Sri Lanka

Beach Hut, Arugam Bay

Here you will find just a simple collection of rooms that has been around for about 25 years now. The atmosphere is purely for casual surfers, which is ideal considering Arugam Bay is a paradise surfing spot and a must-visit destination for your beach holiday in Sri Lanka. The setting includes seven rustic tree houses on stilts that come with cool breezes and splendid views while the six ground level rooms have shared bathrooms. Ranga is the legendary owner of the place who cooks up some delicious seafood at the restaurant and hosts delicious barbecues on Friday nights. A casual outdoor lounge has tables and hammocks spaced out very close to the sea – the perfect hangout spot with a chilled drink in hand.

Meedum Villa, Unawatuna

While Unawatuna beach is lined up with a whole lot of hotels in different price/standard ranges, good value for money can be found at Meedum Villa, just a few minutes’ walk from the beach. They have spacious en-suite rooms with hot showers and large beds with mosquito nets. Janath the owner offers discounts for long stays and also gives you a good deal on the whale watching tour in nearby Mirissa. Open air common lounges on each floor are equipped with refrigerators and drinks where you can mingle with other backpackers.

Siesta, Tangalle

A friendly couple owns this tidy guesthouse and is a perfect choice for budget accommodation in Tangalle. The simple and neat rooms have large attached bathrooms, beds with mosquito nets and the location is just a 30 second walk to a nice peaceful beach spot in Tangalle. Thoughtful touches such as bright paintings for a cheerful atmosphere and drying racks to dry your wet beach attire adds to the homeliness of this place.

The Green Rooms, Weligama

Focusing on an environmentally friendly operation, the five spacious en-suite cabanas at The Green Rooms provide electricity from a renewable source. Open air showers and balconies with sea views are an added bonus in some of the cabanas. The guesthouse makes sure they do not have a negative impact on the nearby fishing village whatsoever. They offer attractive one week packages with breakfast, lunch, surfing lessons and yoga sessions.

Aqua Hotel, Trincomalee

The astonishing beach of Uppuveli (slightly off the coast of Trincomalee) is the exact location of Aqua Hotel. They have the option of fan only rooms that are not so comfortable but the air conditioned ones are worth the extra price. The elevated restaurant, designed for its unbeatable views, is a cozy hang out joint with comfortable sofas and tables. During high season Aqua Hotel is a party zone while in the quieter months it’s more of a relaxing spot. The hotel also has motorbikes and helmets for rent if you want to explore the nearby cities and beaches.

Udekki, Kalpitiya

Kalpitiya is gradually gaining popularity as a must-visit destination for surfers and other water sports lovers. Owned by an Australian musician, Udekki has 3 villas consisting of suites and loft rooms that have calming white walls, are well spaced out and enhanced with creative rugs, lamps and paintings. Udekki also has an interesting H-shaped swimming pool with a hot tub and relaxing loungers in the surrounding area. Adding to all the plus points, the restaurant makes all its ingredients fresh and also takes requests for customized dishes.

Paradise Beach Hotel, Negombo

This is more of a traditional hotel than a guest house. While the prices are reasonable, you can expect services such as waiters handing you a cocktail while you splash in the massive swimming pool. The hotel is old, yet well maintained, has 66 brightly decorated simple rooms, each equipped with television, air conditions and balconies. The hotel is popular for its location as it is just a walking distance from reputed bars and restaurants in Negombo, a 15 minute drive from the airport, and just a few meters from the sea. Paradise Beach Hotel is an ideal option for travelers in transit looking for close by accommodation for a day or two.

Kids leisure spots in Sri Lanka

During your holiday in Sri Lanka, you are either visiting historic, cultural, wildlife, or natural tourist attractions most of the time. At one point, children may get bored of doing those adult activities with you as they may not find the attractions as fascinating as you would. They need entertainment suitable for their age. So if you have children under 10 years of age travelling with you, here are some places that you can take them for an hour or two of entertainment.

Nuwara Eliya

Lake Gregory

This man-made lake built by a British Governor serves as a center of outdoor recreation in Nuwara Eliya. You can take your children on boat rides or introduce them to water sports such as jet skiing and windsurfing. Horse rides are also a fun activity for kids at Lake Gregory.

Victoria Park

Named after Queen Victoria, this park was inaugurated in the late 19th century. In addition to the rare species of birds and plants in this park, there is also a separate children’s playground with a mini train ride that gives your kids an interesting ride around the park.

Hakgala Botanical Gardens

Plan a full day picnic at Hakgala Botanical Gardens with your family and your kids will surely love the fresh air and open space to play catch me if you can. Don’t forget to carry a bat, ball, hats, sunglasses and plenty of food and water.

Strawberry Farms

If your children are strawberry lovers, take them to the enchanting strawberry fields during season time and watch how thrilled they will be to pick their own strawberries!

Kandy

The Playground

This is a well maintained playground located at the southwest corner of the Kandy Lake. The equipment available is suitable for kids of different ages and is a popular one amongst locals.

E.L. Senanayake Children’s Park

Similar to The Playground, this one is also a kiddie’s park and is significant because it is the oldest of its kind in Kandy. This urban children’s park is an ideal outdoor entertainment option for your kids during your stay in Kandy.

Kandyan Dance shows

The kids are sure to enjoy this one as they get to see performers dancing with fire, walking on fire and even eating fire! In addition to that there will be plenty of costume changes throughout the show along with some interesting music dominated by the drummers.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

These massive gardens have a wide range of plants and flowers, as well as plenty of space for kids to run around, cycle, play ball and picnic all day long.

Colombo

In Colombo, there are several outdoor children’s playgrounds in places like Vihara Maha Devi Park (Townhall), Diyatha Uyana (Battaramulla), Nawala, Havelock Road (Colombo 05), Zoo Road (Dehiwala), and many more!

Apart from these, Colombo also has a few indoor play areas such as Majestic City (Colombo 04) Fun Factory (Nawala and Mount Lavinia), Super Kids (Colombo 05), Tiny Tots (Nawala), and a few more which are perfect options to entertain your kids on rainy days!

Theme Parks

A few theme parks are also scattered around Sri Lanka:

  • Leisure World – Avissawella
  • Guruge Nature Park – Ja Ela
  • Saniro Dream Paradise – Veyangoda
  • Excel World – Colombo 01

Celebrate Halloween in Sri Lanka

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, Halloween parties are the perfect cure to get through post Summer blues. Planning to visit Sri Lanka during Halloween? Although it is nowhere close to a Sri Lankan festival, you can be rest assured that plenty of events will be lined up for you to celebrate Halloween in style.

There are several Halloween themed nights out mostly in Colombo and Kandy, as these are the most populated cities in all of Sri Lanka. These entertaining parties include traditional apple bobbing Halloween games as well as fancy dress dance parties. And don’t be surprised if you see Halloween flavored items on menus at Sri Lankan restaurants!

Sri Lankans don’t really dress up and act outrageous for any local festival, but Halloween gives us all a perfect excuse to wear a costume and act crazy for a night. You are now probably wondering that if we are not the kind to costume-up regularly, where will you get yourself a costume for Halloween?

Don’t get left behind on the trick and treat season simply because you don’t know where to get a costume from! Just like the various religions and cultures catered to in the country, Colombo also has stores that caters to Halloween lovers! Get yourself a freaky, scary or a simply interesting disguise this season.

Malee Book Centre: Masks Specials

While some Halloween lovers want to create their own face mask, some are just too lazy to do so. If you are one of the latter, just drop in to Malee Book Centre at the Kollupitiya junction and look around their wide range of masks. From Mardi Gras Masquerade masks to scary masks, they have it all at extremely affordable prices (LKR 150-500). Pick something suitable to your costume and you are one step further in completing your Halloween costume!

Address: No. 3, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 03
Tel: 0777 394 444

Nail Anatomy: Nail Art

Nails are probably not something that may strike you at once when thinking of a Halloween costume. But if you are one who is fond of doing up your nails to suit the theme, make an appointment at Nail Anatomy – they’ve got some amazingly gruesome Halloween themed nail art to complement the rest of your look.

Address: 4 Reid Avenue, Colombo 7 (inside Lakpahana)
Tel: 0112 688 358

Angels & Brats: Kids Costumes

This store caters mostly to kiddies costumes and has less of the scary witch type ones and more of the superhero type costumes. So if you are looking to dress up your kid for a kiddies Halloween party, Angels & Brats is usually a popular stop.

Address: No.27, Havelock Road, Colombo 5
Tel: 011 258 1428

Midnight Divas: Props

Fake teeth, candy bags in the shape of eyeballs, Halloween themed bags, fake witch noses, devil horns, bunny eats, lights and brooches – any of these can be found at Midnight Divas for LKR 1000 or less. In addition to props, they also have all sorts of hats including themes such as Red Indian, Peter Pan, Cowboy, witch hat or even a fish hat!

Midnight Divas is a lingerie store and they also have a collection of kinky costume such as slutty nurses and so on which would work well for adults on Halloween.

Address: 39, Alfred Place, Colombo 03
Tel: 072 700 3003

The Party Station: Complete Package

If you are making a real commitment to your disguise this Halloween season, The Party Station has a complete wardrobe of costumes as well as props. Although a bit pricey, they also have famous wigs of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley! You could maybe get the wig of Marilyn Monroe and pair it with a white dress and red lipstick and voila! Complete grand costumes such as a King’s robe, Harry Potter’s glasses, Ironman and Batman masks are also available here. Cool props like a handlebar moustache or werewolf hands or fake blood is also available to make your Halloween decorations seem even more real!

Keep in mind this store offers discounts during the Halloween season and it’s the ideal place to invest heavily in a costume that you would like to disguise yourself in year after year on Halloween!

Address: No. 282, Liberty Arcade, R.A. De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 03
Tel: 0117 537 770

JoJo’s: Complete Package

JoJo’s offers a complete package for all your costume solutions. Whether it is a Shakespearean costume, Muppet costume or contemporary one, she has it all. Most of her costumes are used in stage shows and she also caters to stitching customized ones as per your requirement. Oh and another great thing about JoJo’s is you can rent costumes from here for reasonable rates if you don’t want to purchase one.

Address: No. 9/1, TG Jayawardena Mawatha, off Greenpath, Colombo 03
Tel: 0777 772 726