Discover Sri Lanka
A paradise island sat at the southernmost reaches of India, Sri Lanka is a haven of blissful beaches, ancient sites and no end of elephants. Here’s our guide.
Relax on paradise beaches
Surrounded on every side by the sparkling Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka boasts no end of idyllic beaches. If you’re looking for a quiet escape, head to the shores of Passekudah Bay, whilst for active types, Hikkaduwa Beach promises world class diving and snorkelling. For pure paradise, Nilaveli Beach and Tangalle Beach certainly won’t disappoint.
Sri Lanka’s capital and its biggest city, Colombo lays at the heart of the island. A cosmopolitan enclave, Colombo is a colonial city that overflows with shady palm-lined boulevards and lively, modern eateries. Wander along the promenade at Galle Face Green as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean or explore one of the vibrant markets or trendy galleries; there’s more to Sri Lanka than its beaches.
Explore the rest of the island
Across Sri Lanka there’s a whole host of impressive scenery to enjoy, from the wildlife safaris of Yala National Park to the ancient archaeological site of Sigiriya. Enjoy elephants in their natural habitat at the Elephant Freedom Project, or marvel at the beautiful temples of Anuradhapura. Trek through Udawalawe National Park or sip tea in the plantations of Ella and Nuwara Eliya.
The currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee, which is broken down into 100 cents. As of December 2015, A$1 is worth 103Rs, and 10Rs is worth around A$0.10.
Here’s a roundup of what you can expect to spend in Sri Lanka, with prices in Australian dollars:
|Inexpensive meal for one – $2.50||Bottle of water – $0.50||0.5 litre beer – $2|
|Mid-range restaurant meal for one – $10||Cappuccino – $3||Local bus ticket – $0.30|
The Sri Lankan rupee is a closed currency, which means it can only be bought once you arrive in Sri Lanka.
You’ll be able to convert your money easily at Colombo airport, exchange bureaus, banks or even from local ATMs (check with your bank first to see if your card will work). Don’t forget to change your money back before you leave, since you’re not allowed to take any rupees out of the country either!
Travelling around Sri Lanka
Rickshaws – known as three wheelers, tri-shaws or tuk-tuks – are everywhere in Sri Lanka and you won’t have to try hard to hail one down. They operate like taxis and will take you from A to B, although they’re probably more of a novelty than a comfortable way to get around. You can haggle a driver down to whatever you think is a suitable price, but you should be paying around 50-75Rs per km as a rough guide – and make sure to agree the price beforehand.
By car and driver
A popular way to explore Sri Lanka is by hiring a car and driver to take you around. It’s up to you whether you use the service as a taxi to get you to your destination, or make the most of your driver as more like a chauffeur and personal tour guide. Prices will vary accordingly, starting from around 4000Rs per day, plus tip. Look out for reputable companies that use Sri Lanka Tourist Board accredited chauffeur-guides.
Buses are cheap and plentiful in Sri Lanka and you can probably get half way across the island for as little as 200Rs, although air conditioned buses will be around twice the price. The red buses are long distance whilst the blue buses are local.
The train network was built by the British back in the 19th century and hasn’t changed much since. You’ll find plenty of visitors to Sri Lanka who ride the trains just for the beautifully scenic views through the countryside, and with prices so cheap it’s no hardship to do the same. Check out railway.gov.lk for timetables.
Travelex in Sri Lanka
Since Sri Lankan rupees aren’t available outside of the country, you won’t be able to pick up any before you head off. You’ll be able to convert your Australian dollars once you arrive, by heading to an exchange bureau, bank or ATM. You’ll also be able to pick some up from Colombo airport.