‘Garden of Eden’, ‘Taprobane’, ‘Serendib’; ‘Ceylon’: the travellers of old spoke of its charm, its beauty and its riches. The travellers who discover this tiny teardrop shaped island off the southern tip of India today, simply call it paradise. A place warmed by the tropical sun, cooled by the ocean breeze; where the beaches never end and the mountains reach for the skies. Where the tea grows lush and birds and beasts like no other still thrive. A land where people of diverse cultures, traditions and religions share a vibrant history that dates back thousands of years. This little ‘Treasure Island’ as exotic as a dream is what we, Sri Lankans call home – and you are warmly invited to come, and discover why.
In the heart of the tropics just north of the Equator, our island enjoys seasons of a different kind: the wet and the dry, ruled by the monsoons: the Southwestern monsoon from May to August and the Northeasterly Monsoon from October to January. This divides the island into its Wet and Dry zones. However, the weather gods too succumb to their moods and sporadic showers can occur between seasons but never last long. The temperatures too vary, with blistering hot weather in the dry zones and bracing chills up in the mountain regions ranging from 27°C in coastal areas to 16°C ‘up country’. The warm Indian Ocean however, stays at around 27°C all year round.
From searing hot curries to syrupy sweets, traditional favourites to a heady mix of influences from the West and the East, our cuisine is quite like our people – complex and diverse. Get ready to sample everything from the unbelievably exotic to the reassuringly familiar. ‘Hoppers’, ‘String hoppers ‘, Roti, ‘pittu’,‘Kiribath’ or your everyday bacon and eggs – and that’s just some options for breakfast! There’s a mind blowing array of fruit and vegetables to be enjoyed fresh, cooked or tossed in salads – or in a ‘mallung’ local style. In most hotels and cities, you will also find plenty of global fare too – from Chinese, Italian, Thai, western to the franchises of KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and more.
The ‘season’ when most foreign guests visit our shores is from December to March, getting away from European winters and heading for the sun. Therefore, early booking is advised as accommodation across the country can be in high demand. Weather-wise too, that is generally the ideal time to hit the beaches, as the seas are calmer and safer as well. If you are visiting the cultural triangle in the Northern areas, then April to September is best. The hill capital of Kandy and Kataragama in the South comes alive during July/August with religious festivals. However, Sri Lanka has plenty to offer whatever month you choose to visit us.
5.30 hours ahead of GMT, Sri Lanka is at the heart of the Indian Ocean below the Southern tip of India and 880km north of the Equator. Directly South from the Southernmost point of Sri Lanka is Antarctica, with no landmass in between. An interesting geographical point to ponder indeed.. Visa - Passengers visiting Sri Lanka except those holding Singapore or Maldives passports must obtain an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) prior to enter the country. The ETA can be applied through the website www.eta.gov.lk with a processing fee. Travelers who wish to visit Sri Lanka without prior ETA approval shall report to the ETA issuing counter upon arrival to fill in the ETA application form and pay the relevant ETA processing fee. Please refer www.eta.gov.lk for the latest updates.