HomeDestinationsSri Lanka Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors: Everything You Need to Know

Sri Lanka Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors: Everything You Need to Know

Discover the Treasures of Sri Lanka: A First-Time Traveler's Guide

Are you planning your first trip to Sri Lanka and feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Sri Lanka is a beautiful and diverse country, with stunning beaches, lush rainforests, ancient temples, and incredible wildlife. To help you make the most of your visit, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide for first-time visitors. From getting there to getting around, and everything in between, we’ve got all the information you need to plan your perfect Sri Lankan adventure.

Getting There and Getting Around

Sri Lanka Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors


Most visitors to Sri Lanka arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport in the capital city of Colombo. There are direct flights to Colombo from many major cities around the world, including London, Dubai, and Singapore. You can also take a connecting flight from other cities in Asia, such as Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.


Before you arrive in Sri Lanka, you will need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). This can be done online and costs around $35 USD for most nationalities.

Where to Stay


Sri Lanka has a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from backpacker hostels to luxury resorts. Some popular areas to stay include:

  • Colombo: Sri Lanka’s capital city has a range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to high-end hotels.
  • Galle: This historic city on Sri Lanka’s south coast has a range of boutique hotels and guesthouses.
    • Kandy: Located in the central highlands, Kandy is known for its ancient temples and stunning scenery. There are plenty of guesthouses and mid-range hotels in the area.


Once you arrive in Sri Lanka, you’ll need to figure out how to get around. The most popular options are:

  • Tuk-tuks: These three-wheeled vehicles are a popular mode of transportation in Sri Lanka, especially in cities and towns.
  • Buses: Sri Lanka has an extensive bus network that connects all parts of the country. However, they can be crowded and uncomfortable.
  • Trains: Sri Lanka’s train system is a great way to see the countryside and is relatively cheap. However, trains can be slow and often delayed.
  • Private drivers: If you want more flexibility and comfort, hiring a private driver is a good option. Prices vary depending on the length of your trip and the type of vehicle you choose.

Food and Drink

Sri Lanka’s cuisine is known for its spicy and flavorful curries, seafood, and fresh fruits. Some popular dishes to try include:

  • Rice and curry: A staple dish in Sri Lanka, consisting of rice served with a variety of curries.
  • Hoppers: A type of pancake made with fermented rice flour and coconut milk.
  • Kottu roti: A popular street food made with chopped roti bread, vegetables, and meat.

What to See and Do

Cultural Sites

Sri Lanka has a rich cultural heritage, with many ancient temples and historic sites to explore. Some popular cultural sites include:

  • Sigiriya: This ancient rock fortress is one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Polonnaruwa: This ancient city was the second capital of Sri Lanka and is home to many well-preserved ruins and temples.
  • Kandy: This city is home to the Temple of the Tooth, one of Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist temples.

Natural Attractions

Sri Lanka is also known for its stunning natural scenery, from pristine beaches to lush rainforests. Some popular natural attractions include:

  • Ella: A small town in the hill country of Sri Lanka, Ella is famous for its scenic train ride, tea plantations, and hiking trails.
  • Yala National Park: The second-largest national park in Sri Lanka, Yala is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, and crocodiles.

Things to Do in Sri Lanka

  • Surfing: Sri Lanka has some of the best surfing spots in the world, including Arugam Bay, Mirissa, and Weligama.
  • Tea Plantation Tour: Visit a tea plantation in the hill country and learn about the process of making tea.
  • Whale Watching: Take a boat ride from Mirissa or Trincomalee to see blue whales, sperm whales, and dolphins in their natural habitat.
  • Cooking Class: Learn how to cook traditional Sri Lankan dishes like curry and rice.


Sri Lanka is a beautiful and diverse country that has something to offer for everyone. From ancient ruins and cultural sites to wildlife safaris and beautiful beaches, Sri Lanka is a must-visit destination for any traveler. By following this guide, first-time visitors can plan a memorable and unforgettable trip to this tropical paradise. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the wonders of Sri Lanka!

What is the best time of year to visit Sri Lanka?

The best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on what you want to see and do. December to March is considered the peak season for tourism, with dry and sunny weather. However, if you’re interested in seeing wildlife, the best time to visit is from June to September when the national parks are in full swing.

Can I use my credit card in Sri Lanka?

Yes, most major credit cards are accepted in Sri Lanka, especially in tourist areas. However, it’s always a good idea to have cash on hand, especially when shopping at local markets or traveling to more remote areas.

Are there any customs or etiquette I should be aware of when visiting Sri Lanka?

Yes, there are a few customs and etiquette to keep in mind when traveling in Sri Lanka. For example, it’s polite to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home or a temple. It’s also customary to greet people with your hands together in prayer position and a slight bow.

I Laksitha ,nature,history lover and blogger,

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