The sun-bleached skies of Sri Lanka far exceed the little hype it’s beautiful beach destinations have created, among international luxury travellers and backpackers alike. Its exotic tropical vibe (clean blue beaches, king coconuts, luxury resorts, postcard perfect sunsets) lapped with tea plantations and mildly cold weather (Kandy, for those who prefer pleasant weather) make it so beguiling, so inviting. But there are other reasons why you can plan your whole trip to Sri Lanka in 30 minutes. Watch all the frolic from Sri Lanka in my new Vlog:
1. Its cheap:
Let me lay out the most important cards first. Sri Lanka is affordable! One Indian Rupee yields 2.3 Sri Lankan Rupees. Public transport is cheap (Uber is available) and so is the food. Shopping is affordable as long as you avoid the global brands. Accommodation costs vary based on the kind of trip you’re planning.
2. The visa is free and takes 10 minutes to obtain:
Apply for an E-visa (called ETA) and once you fill out the form with your passport details, flight information and address of accommodation (this is not even mandatory), the visa could arrive as early as 15 minutes from the time you fill the application. Just carry a copy of your return flight and hotel bookings.
3. It’s 4 hours away:
Fly Sri Lankan airways from Delhi and your flight duration will be less than 4 hours. Based on your budget you might be tempted to pick Jet Airways, which takes 6.5-7 hours with one flight change in either Mumbai or Bangalore. From personal experience, I would advise you not to fly Jet Airways internationally at all, unless you’re flying to Europe on coach-sharing with their partner airline- Etihad. My experience with Jet Airways to Bangkok was as bad as my experience flying with them to Sri Lanka. #CheapTravelBloggerWoes
4. Customs is a breeze:
They didn’t even look at the copy of my E-Visa. They just stamped my passport and moved me along. There are no queues and no scrutinising questions seeking information about your whereabouts for the next few days in their country. Just a quick look at you (and your passport) and they’ll move you right along.
5. You can plan road trips:
Most beach spots are close to Colombo and planning road trips here is easy. We drove from Colombo to Bentota and paid 4,000 LKR (2,000 INR) one way. Renting a car is easy and also convenient, since vehicles drive on the left side of the road- which is what we are accustomed to in India. Most destinations are within reasonable drivable distance, some as little as 1.5 hours away. Use Kangaroo Cabs or Pick Me cabs – both are reliable and come with well-mannered drivers and well-kept cars. (Hybrid cars are popular in Sri Lanka. Most cars are either new-imports from India, or used-imports from Japan.)
6. It feels like you’re in India:
Sri Lanka reminds me so much of Kerala, and with no language barriers, no dearth of Indian food, similar beaches and tea plantations and identical weather, Sri Lanka feels just like home. It’s easy to get by here and it feels like you’re traveling domestic- with the advantage of cleaner beaches and delicious coastal cuisine true to Sri Lanka.
7. It’s the same time zone:
There’s no time difference to speak of, so your loved ones can reach out to you in real time. This also means no jet lag! If you work in a company that’s stingy about it’s leave accruement, Sri Lanka is your solution. You don’t need to worry about an additional day of getting back into routine before resuming work.
8. Indian food is available:
You can tug your grandparents along, there are plenty options for the Indian palate. Most hotels that receive Indian visitors have in-house Indian restaurants and also include Indian food in their breakfast buffet. This applies to hotels outside of Colombo as well.
9. Language no bar:
While Sri Lankans that I encountered did not speak Hindi, they have working knowledge of English, so you don’t face any language barriers.
10. You can design pretty much any type of itinerary:
There are mini-hills (tea plantations), serene beaches, luxury resorts, B&Bs and hostels. You can design a trip that suits you best based on your budget and preferences. Its proximity to India, ideal travel time and food options galore make it the perfect destination for family travel as well. Get packing!