Sir Lankan Beaches

With over 1000 kms of coastline, Sri Lanka boasts some of the finest beaches in the world, with large swathes of golden sand fringed by coconut palms, shallow waters, underwater coral gardens and year-round sunny weather. With several star-class and boutique hotels located around most coastal areas, you are assured of high quality, affordable accommodation, as well as ample opportunities to indulge in your favourite water sports - swimming, diving & snorkelling, surfing, canoeing, sailing, boating, river cruises, deep sea fishing, water polo, water gymnastics, water and jet skiing, viewing the corals through glass-bottomed boats or just lazing about in the sun. Diving is subject to climatic conditions in different areas, depending on the monsoonal period. There are also several beaches off the beaten track, which are relatively untouched and within easy reach by motor vehicle. The food at seaside hotels and restaurants is cosmopolitan, with a choice of spicy Sri Lankan food or standard Western or Far-Eastern fare. Fresh seafood and an abundance of tropical vegetables and fruits are an essential feature of the buffet table. While many coastal areas have their own historical and heritage sites as well as several places of interest, you can easily reach other parts of the country within a few hours’ drive from the coast.


Arugam Bay – Surfers’ Paradise

Situated on the South-Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is ranked among the world’s top 10 surfing locations. It receives the same Antarctic winter swells that reach Indonesia 's southern shores in the middle of the year and has hosted a number of international surfing competitions, including the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro 2010 Arugam Bay Surf Competition and British Pro Surfing Association – ‘Champion of Champions’ contest, attracting top surfers from around the world. Arugam Bay also offers easy access to the Yala National Park (wildlife sanctuary) and Kumana Bird Sanctuary.



Blessed with one of the world’s finest natural deep water harbours, Trincomalee (Trinco), located on the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, has attracted renowned travellers such as Marco Polo and Ptolemy over the centuries. Trincomalee is also home to the famed Koneswaram Hindu temple, which dates back to the 3rd Century CE and a fort built by the Portuguese in 1623 and later captured by the Dutch. Trinco’s beaches are ideal for swimming, surfing and scuba diving. Uppuveli and Nilaweli and Marble Beach are regarded as the finest among the island’s beaches, while ‘Pigeon Island’ offers the ultimate snorkelling experience The Sri Lanka Navy conducts cruises for watching blue and sperm whales, as well as dolphins, off the coast of Trincomalee. Over 12 species of whales have been spotted.


Casuarina Beach

This is regarded as the best beach in the Jaffna peninsula, in Northern Sri
Lanka and is named after the numerous Casuarina trees that cover its coastline. The waters are extremely shallow and it is possible to wade a few hundred meters into the sea. Casuarina beach is one of the most popular destinations for people in Jaffna, as well as travellers from other parts of the island. It can be reached from Jaffna town in about 45 minutes by motor vehicle.



Protected by coral reefs, Unawatuna, located just 5 miles from Galle on the
Southern coast, offers a safe swimming experience, in addition to wreck and reef diving and some surf points, which have transformed this sleepy fishing hamlet into a popular tourist destination. A five minute climb up Rock Hill affords a breathtaking view of Indian Ocean sunsets, while the forests nearby offer ample opportunities for bird watching.



Renowned for its breathtaking beaches and turquoise blue sea, Pasikudah, on the East coast of Sri Lanka, offers one of the largest stretches of shallow waters, where one can walk hundreds of meters into the sea in chest deep water. Recognising the potential of this area, the Government has allocated 156 acres of land for the Pasikudah tourism zone. Once completed, this will consist of 14 hotels, shopping malls, art gallery, aquarium, open air theatre, cycle path and a golf course.



Located on the North-Western coast of Sri Lanka, Kalpitiya is a peninsula that
separates the Puttalam lagoon from the Indian Ocean. It is a marine sanctuary with its famous Bar Reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. Kalpitiya offers excellent opportunities for Bar Reef diving, whale and dolphin watching, snorkelling, cycling, fishing village walks and lagoon trips, in addition to viewing the Dutch Fort and St.Peter’s Kirk situated in the town area.



Bentota, on the South-Western coast of Sri Lanka, is regarded as one of the best tourist destinations in Sri Lanka, with a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Its unique location facing the Indian ocean, with its tropical lagoon and river estuary, make it a superb spot for swimming, body-surfing, diving, jet-skiing, windsurfing, parasailing or enjoying cruises on the river and lagoon. Bentota also boasts several star-class hotels and excellent sea-side restaurants.



Located on the Southern coast, Kirinda is renowned for its Great Basses wreck and the Great and Little Basses reefs, which offer excellent diving opportunities. Kirinda was made famous by Arthur C Clarke, who carried out his diving explorations here while writing ‘The Treasures of the Reef’. The lighthouse built in 1860 on the Great Basses is a noteworthy feature of Kirinda.



This is the place to visit if you wish to get a glimpse of migratory Blue Whales,
Sperm Whales, Fin Whales, Hump Backed Whales, the occasional Killer Whale, Bottle Nosed Dolphins, Rissos Dolphins, Striped Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins frolicking in the ocean, just a few nautical miles off the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. Whale watching boats leave the Mirissa harbour by 7.00 am, so it is advisable to be at least 10 minutes early to get yourself a place onboard.

Cultural Triangle

The 'Cultural Triangle' is widely regarded as the epicenter of Sri Lanka’s magnificent ancient civilization. Its sophisticated irrigation systems, splendid palaces, temples, statues and murals are a living testimony to the brilliant artistic and engineering talents of the island’s people, millennia ago. The area spans the ancient cities of Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla as well as the rock fortress of Sigiriya (Lion Rock). Among the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, the five listed below can be found in the Cultural Triangle.



Anuradhapura ranks among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and was the capital of the island for several centuries, since its founding in the fourth century BCE. It is home to the Sacred Bo-Tree, which dates back to 245 BCE, as well as one of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world, magnificent Buddhist temples and monasteries spread over an area of seventeen square miles (40 km²)

Buddhist Religious Sites.
- Sri Maha Bodhiya
- Ruwanwelisaya
- Thuparamaya
- Lovamahapaya
- Abhayagiri Dagaba
- Jetavanarama
- Mirisaveti Stupa
- Lankarama
- Other Ancient Structures
- Isurumuniya
- Magul Uyana
- Vessagiri
- Rathna Prasadaya
- Queen's Palace
- Dakkhina Stupa
- Sela Cetiya
- Naka Vihara
- Kiribath Vehera
- Kuttam Pokuna
- Samadhi Statue
- Toluwila Statue


Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy

Sri Dalada Maligawa as it’s called in Sinhalese, is located in the former royal
palace complex in Kandy. It houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha,
whish was brought from Kalinga in India to Sri Lanka during the reign of King
Kirthi Sri Meghavarna (301-328). The tooth relic is encased in seven golden
caskets studded with precious stones and preserved in a chamber whose door is covered with gold silver and ivory.


Gadaladeniya Temple

This temple was constructed in 1344, according to an inscription found here and is said to incorporate elements of South Indian design. In addition to seated and standing statues of Lord Buddha, this temple is decorated with images of deities such as Brahma, Suyama, Santhusuta, Natha and Maithree.


Sigiriya (Lion Rock)

Often described as the eighth wonder of the world, Sigiriya was built by King Kasyapa around 477 – 496 CE. Rising 200 metres above the surrounding plains, it is a marvel in urban planning – atop a rock. Currently seen are the partial remains of the palace and city complex, hydraulic systems feeding water gardens used for horticultural, agricultural, ornamental and recreational purposes, as well as paintings of heavenly maidens, originally said to have numbered over 500.


Aukana Buddha

Aukana Buddha, the 12 meter (30 ft) high statue of Lord Buddha, has been carved out of a boulder in the “Posture of Blessing”. It is the tallest and best preserved such statue in Sri Lanka, with skillful carving of the robes which display the delicate, yet, chaste underlying form of his body. The statue is carved in such a manner, that a raindrop falling off its nose would drop exactly into a small depression carved between its feet. Aukana Buddha is said to have been carved in the 5th century CE, while some date it to the 12th or 13th century.



Polonnaruwa emerged as the capital city in 1070 AD after the fall of Anuradhapura and is regarded as the best planned ancient in the country, with an irrigation system that feeds the surrounding agricultural fields to this very day. Parakrama Samudraya, a vast manmade lake was built in 1200 AD and is said to resemble an ocean. The city abounds with the ruins of impressive palaces, monasteries, Buddhist temples and statues of Lord Buddha.

Sites to visit:
- Parakarma Samudra
- Royal Citadel
- Gal Vihara
- Vata-Da-Ge
- Hatadage
- Lotus Pond


City of Kandy

Established by the Vikramabahu III (1357–1374 CE), Kandy was ruled by several successive monarchs and finally became the capital city of the last remaining independent Sinhalese kingdom in 1592. Having resisted the Portuguese and Dutch, the city finally fell to the British in 1815. Kandy is home to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is taken around the city in a colourful annual pageant called the Esala Perahera.


Lankatillake Rajamaha Temple

Dating back to the 14th century CE, this temple is built atop a rock named
Panhalgala and uniquely combines Buddhist and Hindu architectural elements.
Intricate floral designs decorate the inner sanctum, while the walls and ceilings
carry magnificent paintings.


Embekke Temple

This temple also dates back to the 14th century CE and is built mostly of Ironwood or Na, the national tree of Sri Lanka. The 16 pillars of the temple are covered with intricate carvings of swans, lions, bulls and elephants, while there are also carvings of leaves, flowers, dancing maidens and soldiers. The 26 rafters at the far end are held in place by a single pin.


Dambulla Cave Temple

The Cave Temple of Dambulla, built by King Valagamba, is Sri Lanka’s largest and best-preserved complex of over 80 caves, with statues and murals dating back to the 1st Century BCE. The best attractions are spread over 5 caves consisting of 153 statues of Lord Buddha, including the renowned Golden Buddha statue, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings, 4 statues of gods and goddesses and murals which cover an area of 2,100 square meters.

National Parks


Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reservewas designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Though small in area, it supports an amazing range of trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals within its dense vegetation. Mammals such as the Sambhur Deer, Monk Deer, Barking Deer, Badger Mongoose, Golden Palm Civet and the Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey are also found within the reserve. Leopard and Elephants sightings are extremely limited. Of Sri Lanka’s 26 endemic bird species, 20 are found here, including the Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo, Orange-Billed Babbler, Red-Faced Malkoha, Green-Billed Coucal and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie. Mixed feeding flocks are a common sight and over 100 such
flocks have been identified.


Kumana National Park

Kumana National Park(bird sanctuary) is part of the Yala National Park and is renowned for its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. With the Kumbukkan Oya forming its southern boundary and over 20 lagoons and tanks, Kumana is one of the most important bird nesting and breeding grounds in Sri Lanka. 255 bird species have been identified, including Black-Necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Eurasian Spoonbill, as well as migrants such as Asian Open-Bill, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Spot-billed Pelican, Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Common Moor-Hen, Watercock, Purple Swamp-Hen, White-Breasted Water Hen, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana, Black-winged Stilt, Lesser Whistling Duck and Little Grebe.


Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park, designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, covers an area of 3,698 hectares (14.28 sq mi) and serves as a wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala is home to 197 bird species, including the Greater Flamingo, which visits in large flocks of over 1,000 individuals, Lesser Whistling Duck, Garganey, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Grey Heron, Black-Headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Open Bill, Painted Stork and rare species such as , Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant and Eurasian Coot. Bundala is also home to 32 species of fish, 15 species of amphibians, 48 species of reptiles, 32 species of mammals and 52 species of butterflies.


Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home

Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home was established in 1995 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation within the Udawalawe National Park to nurture and protect orphaned and abandoned baby elephants. The objective of this home is to release and integrate these elephants into their natural jungle habitat, once they are mature enough to live on their own. The Foster Parent Scheme, initiated by the Park, enables individuals and institutions to provide for the upkeep of the baby elephants, including food and medical care, until they are ready for reintegration into the wilds. Foster parents are given the opportunity to name these baby elephants and personally release them into the wilds, once they reach a certain age.


Knuckles World Heritage site - Trekkers Camp

The camp is located in the Riverston (northern) part of the Knuckles range, which combines virgin forest with streams, rivers and wildlife at an altitude of 1400 meters above sea level. More than 200 bird species are found here, including fifteen which are endemic to Sri Lanka - Jungle Fowl, Yellow-Fronted Barbet, Small Barbet, Sri Lanka White-Eye, Black Headed Bulbul, Yellow Eared Bulbul, Dusk Blue Flycatcher, Brown Capped Babbler, Sri Lankan Grackle, Sri Lankan Lorikeet, Sri Lankan Warbler, White Faced Starling, Spot Wing Thrush, Sri Lankan Blue Magpie and Layard’sParakeet.


Minneriya National Park

(182 km from Colombo). The Minneriya tank, built by King Mahasen in the third century CE, occupies pride of place in the Minneriya Nationa Park, attracting herds of 150 – 200 elephants. Some recent counts place the number of elephants within the park as high as 700. The park is home to 24 species of mammals, including the Gray Slender Loris,160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies. Minneriya is known as a habitat for large aquatic birds such as the Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Spot-Billed Pelican and endemic species such as Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Brown-Capped Babbler, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Black-crested Bulbul and Crimson-fronted Barbet. The park also attracts Little Cormorants, Great White Pelican, Ruddy Turnstone, and Grey Heron.


Yala National Park

Yala National Park encompasses an area of 979 square kilometres (378 sq miles), comprising 5 blocks. It is Sri Lanka’s most visited National Park and hosts a wide range of eco-systems, from monsoon forests, to freshwater and marine wetlands. Yala is home to 215 bird species and 44 types of mammals, including Sri Lankan Elephants comprising 300–350 individuals. Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, Wild water buffalo, Toque Macaque, Golden Palm Civet, Red Slender Loris, and Fishing Cat can also be sighted. Yala boasts one of the highest Leopard densities in the world. Birds include Lesser Flamingo, Pelicans, Purple Herons, Night herons, Egrets, Purple Swamp-Hen, and Oriental Darter and thousands of waterfowl which migrate during the winter.


Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park covers an area of 131, 693 hectares and its unique feature is the existence of natural lakes and sand-rimmed water basins filled with rainwater. Wilpattu is renowned for its Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya), whose total population is not yet known. Wilpattu is home to about 31 species of mammals, including Elephant, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Water Buffalo, Sambhur, Spotted Deer and Mongoose. Bird species include the Painted Stork, Open Bill, Little Cormorant and Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, as well as species of Owls, Terns, Gulls, Eagles, Kites and Buzzards. Reptiles found in the park are the Monitor Lizard, Mugger Crocodile, Common Cobra, Rat Snake, Indian Python, Pond Turtle and the Soft Shelled Turtle.


Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park covering 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi), was created to provide a sanctuary to animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir. The terrain covers forests, plains, marshes, the Walawe river and its tributaries. The park is located about 200 kms South-East of Colombo and is home to over 400 Elephants, Water Buffalo, Water Monitor Lizard, Sambur Deer, Sri Lankan Axis Deer, Indian Munjac, Sri Lankan Spotted Chevrotain, Wild Boar, Rusty Spotted Cat, Golden Palm Civet, Toque Macaque, Tufted Grey Langur, and Indian Hare.. Endemic birds include the Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Brown-Capped Babbler and Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, while the White Wagtail and Black-Capped Kingfisher are migrant species. Uddawalawe also attracts water birds such as Cormorants, Spot-Billed Pelican, Asian Open Bill, Painted Stork, Black-Headed Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill, as well as birds of prey such as White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle, Booted Eagle, and hangeable Hawkeagle.


Kandalama Bird Santuary

Over 145 species have been spotted in the area surrounding the Kandalama tank, including arboreal, terrestrial and aquatic birds, as well as waders and raptors. Sri Lanka Spur fowl, Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Grey Horn-bill, and Brown-Capped Babbler; Crested Serpent Eagle, White–Bellied Sea Eagle; Little and Intermediate Egrets, Eurasian Open Bill, Grey Heron; Indian Pitta, Barbets, Bulbuls, Parakeets, Egrets, Woodpeckers, Sunbirds, Flower Peckers and Fly Catchers are some of the birds that are seen here.


Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park (altitude 2,100–2,300 metres) is a protected area featuring open grassland, cloud forest, pools and waterfalls. Noted for its bio-diversity, the Plains’ vegetation includes subtropical evergreen forests with around 750 species of plants belonging to 20 families. Fauna covers 24 species of mammals, including the Sambar deer, 87 species of birds and several species of reptiles and amphibians. The 870 m (2,854 ft) World's End sheer precipice and Baker's Falls are popular tourist attractions. Birds recorded at Horton Plains include Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, (Clissa Ornata), Dusky Blue Fly-Catcher (Eumyias Sordida), Sri Lanka White-Eye (Zoterops Ceylonensis), and Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon (Columba Torringtonni).



Set up in 2002, Kaudulla National Park is yet another step taken towards forming a protected network of elephants’ traditional migratory routes, especially in the Polonnaruwa area. Covering an expanse of 6,996 hectares, the most noticeable feature of this park is the herd of elephants, numbering around 250, which gather in the vicinity of the tank, especially during the dry season from April to August. The vegetation, comprising mostly of mixed evergreen grassland and riverside forests, supports limited wildlife. A considerable number of birds can be seen at Kandulla.

Places of Intrest



Sri Lanka’s commercial capital of Colombo is just about an hour’s drive from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Due to its strategic location along the East-West sea trade routes and the early Silk Road, Colombo has been an important stopover for ancient Roman, Arab, Persian and Chinese traders and travelers for over 2000 years. Four and a half centuries of rule under the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British, has left its mark on the city, with stately colonial edifices and mansions nestling side-by-side with modern chrome and glass buildings. Colombo is today a bustling metropolis of approximately 700,000 people, with a vibrant business sector, ample starclass accommodation, restaurants, British style clubs, shopping malls and night clubs. Colombo is a cosmopolitan city, with friendly, tolerant people and a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere. English is the language used in business and is widely spoken and understood.


Dambulla Cave Temple

The Cave Temple of Dambulla, built by King Valagamba, is Sri Lanka’s largest and best-preserved complex of over 80 caves, with statues and murals dating back to the 1st Century BCE. The best attractions are spread over 5 caves consisting of 153 statues of Lord Buddha, including the renowned Golden Buddha statue, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings, 4 statues of gods and goddesses and murals which cover an area of 2,100 square meters.


City of Kandy

Established by the Vikramabahu III (1357–1374 CE), Kandy was ruled by several
successive monarchs and finally became the capital city of the last remaining independent Sinhalese kingdom in 1592. Having resisted the Portuguese and Dutch, the city finally fell to the British in 1815. Kandy is home to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is taken around the city in a colourful annual pageant called the Esala Perahera.


Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandy

Royal Botanical Garden was formally established by the British in 1843, on the location where King Wickramabahu III had his court in 1371. The total area of the present botanical garden is 147 acres (0.59 km2) and is home to the Avenue of Palms, 300 varieties of orchids, spices, medicinal plants, palm trees and the Cannonball Tree planted by King George V of the United Kingdom and Queen Mary in 1901, as well as the attached National Herbarium. Admiral Lord Louis Mount Batten’s Headquarters was situated within the Gardens, during WW II.



Cinnamon was exported from Galle as far back as 1,400 BCE and it is believed to have been the ancient seaport of Tarshish from where King Solomon obtained ivory, peacocks and other valuables. Initially conquered by the Portuguese in 1505, Galle was ceded to the Dutch, who built their fort in 1663. It was later used as an administrative centre by the British. Together with the fort and its Dutch era buildings, Galle boasts numerous tourist attractions, including the Dutch Museum and Dutch Reformed Church, which enjoys the distinction of not having any pillars supporting its roof.


Adams Peak (Siri Pada)

Located on the Southern reaches of the Central Highlands, Adam’s Peak (2,243 metres (7,359 ft) is revered by all major religions in Sri Lanka, The ‘Sacred Footprint’ on its summit is regarded by Buddhist as the footprint of Lord Buddha; Hindus consider it as that of Lord Siva, while Christian and Muslim traditions attribute it to Adam. This is an important pilgrimage sight, especially to Buddhists from December to May. A spectacular dawn awaits those who scale the summit of Adam’s Peak before sunrise. The surrounding forests are home to several species of wildlife and birds.


Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Established in 1975 by the Government of Sri Lanka for the protection and conservation of orphaned elephants found in the jungles, the environment simulates their natural habitat in the wilds. However, the elephants are provided with regular meals and taken to the river twice a day for a bath, while baby elephants are bottle fed until the age of 3 ½ years. Over the years, the orphanage has achieved considerable success in breeding elephants in captivity.


Trekkers Camp - Knuckles World Heritage site

The camp is located in the Riverston (northern) part of the Knuckles range, which combines virgin forest with streams, rivers and wildlife at an altitude of 1400m above sea level. More than 200 bird species are found in here, including fifteen which are endemic to Sri Lanka - Jungle fowl, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Small Barbet, Sri Lanka Whiteeye, Black headed Bulbul, Yellow eared Bulbul, Dusk blue Flycatcher, Brown capped Babbler, Sri Lankan Grackle, Sri Lankan Lorikeet, Sri Lankan Warbler, White faced Starling, Spot Wing Thrush, Sri Lankan blue Magpie and Layard’s Parakeet.


Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy

Sri Dalada Maligawa as it’s called in Sinhalese, is located in the former royal palace complex in Kandy. It houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, whish was brought from Kalinga in India to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Meghavarna (301- 328). The tooth relic is encased in seven golden caskets studded with precious stones and preserved in a chamber whose door is covered with gold silver and ivory.


City of Nuwara Eliya

Located at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) in the heart of the Tea Country, Nuwara Eliya is a picturesque town which boasts a temperate climate all year round. It was known as ‘Little England’ as the colonials used to retreat here for their quintessentially British pastimes such as hunting, polo, golf and cricket. Many landmark building still retain touches of this era, including their colonial style architecture and furniture, as well as immaculately kept lawns and hedges.



The name means ‘City of Gems’, making it the de facto Gem Capital of Sri Lanka from where most gem leading gem traders operate. Numerous gem pits dot the area, where one can get a first-hand glimpse of gems being mind. Visiting one of the museums is the best way to see Rubies, Sapphires, Cat's Eyes, Alexandrites, Aquamarines, Tourmalines, Spinels, Topazes, Garnets, Amethyst, Zircons, to name a few. Gems can be purchased from reputed dealers in Ratnapura.

Country Profile


Sri Lankan’ cuisine is a delightful mixture of our own culinary tradition spanning centuries, together with inputs and ingredients derived from diverse sources. Stemming from age old trade links, invasions and conquests Sri Lankan cuisine has acquired influences from South & North India, Malay Peninsula, Arabian Peninsula as well as Europe. Several ethnic and region-based variants co-exist in appetizing harmony. While rice is the staple food, an assortment of rice or wheat flour-based foods such as ‘Kiribath’ (Milk Rice),‘Pittu’, ‘Sting Hoppers’, ‘Hoppers’ and ‘Roti’ are consumed as the main meal, especially for breakfast or dinner. Coconut forms the basis of most ‘Curries’. A variety of vegetable curries, usually two or three in number, form the side dishes, while seafood and meat based dishes are also included. The seafood is especially worthy of mention.


The liberal infusion of Chillie, as well as a profusion of spices such as Cinnamon,. Cloves, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Coriander, Cummin, Fennel, Tamarind, Ginger, etc., make Sri Lankan food very spicy indeed. Due to the generous usage of Chillie, Sri Lankan cuisine is considered much spicier than its regional counterparts. Most tourist hotels, however, prepare a low-spice variant, which is usually acceptable to the Western palate.

Sambols & Pickles

‘Sambol’, which usually consists of ground coconut scrapings, mixed with Chillies, Maldive Fish and Lime, invariably accompanies most meals. Pickles, locally known as ‘Chutney’ are made from fruits, vegetables or Maldive Fish and preserved in lime or vinegar.


Sri Lankan fruits are a class apart. Several varieties of Bananas, as well as Mangoes, Papaya, Oranges, Pine-Apple, Wood-Apple, Custard Apple, Pomegranate, and Jak Fruit can be found throughout the year. Most of these can be made into a delicious and energizing beverage. Durian, Mangosteen and Rambuttan are seasonal fruits which appear mostly during the hot summer months.


Having a liberalized economy with a thriving formal and informal trade, Sri Lanka offers an exhilarating shopping experience, ranging from noisy, insistent roadside vendors to upscale shopping malls. Most resort areas offer typically ‘touristy’ items, such as souvenirs, batik clothing, handicrafts, tea, etc., while trendy stores and malls specialize in designer clothing and accessories of reputed brands, which are manufactured in the country. These can be purchased at a fraction of the cost you would pay elsewhere. Casual clothing, accessories and electronic items can also be purchased at competitive prices in most stores. Handicrafts are available at Government owned stores, while Gems should be purchased only from reputed dealers authorized by the National Gem & Jewellery Authority. Several supermarket chains offer food, beverages and other items which are required by expatriates.


Several licensed casinos operate in Colombo, where you can play roulette, baccarat, poker, blackjack, and other games of chance. Complimentary food and drinks, as well as live music from talented bands, are the norm in most venues .British Turf races are avidly followed throughout the country.

Alcohol & Tobacco

Sri Lanka has a strict policy on public intoxication and smoking on roads /public areas. However alcohol is freely available at bars, wine stores, Supermarkets, hotels and upscale restaurants, while local and international brands of cigarettes can be purchased almost anywhere. Alcohol cannot be purchased on Full Moon ‘Poya’ Days and most religious and important national holidays. However, it can be consumed within the confines of your hotel room from the mini-bar or if purchased in advance. Contact the hotel reception for details. The popular local tipple is ‘Arrack’, which is made from fermented coconut toddy. Most westerners are quite partial to this beverage and it is certainly worth a try.

Travelling About

Travelling by public transport can be a tiring experience during rush hours, due to overcrowding and the warm, humid climate. However private transport is available in the form of an excellent taxi service with metered cars/vans, which can be contacted by phone. The ubiquitous ‘Tuk, Tuks, are also an easy way to get about. Using the metered variety will ensure that you are not overcharged. Time taken to cover a given distance in Sri Lanka is usually not the same as in Western countries, due to varying road conditions, vagaries of weather or just plain traffic jams, which can be caused by a multitude of factors. This should be borne in mind while planning or setting out on a journey.

Dress Code

Most Sri Lankans have a casual and unconcerned attitude about how foreigners should be attired, especially in Colombo and resort areas. However a degree of modesty is advisable, if you are venturing into small towns or interior villages. While visiting temples, the upper part of the body should be fully covered, with suitable knee-length clothing to be worn by females. Footwear is strictly prohibited within places of worship.


People are helpful and polite in general and the crime rate is relatively low. Crimes, specifically targeting expatriates, is extremely rare, though caution should be exercised while wearing or carrying expensive jewellery or other items. The highly visible presence of law enforcement authorities in most part of the country is a useful deterrent to crime.

Sri Lanka Tourism

Blessed with an abundance of scenic, natural beauty, year-round sunshine and a rich cultural heritage spanning over 2,500 years, Sri Lanka has every reason to be called a tourist paradise. One can travel from a warm seaside resort, to the cool climes of the verdant hills, within a matter of hours, experiencing a remarkable change in scenery and climate along the way. Sri Lanka has a well-developed tourism infrastructure and is relatively clean and crime-free.


Tourist Arrivals

The prestigious New York Times has named Sri Lanka as one of the top 10 destinations to visit in 2012. Over 850,000 tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2011, making it the highest ever recorded number of arrivals. Plans are underway by the Government of Sri Lanka to increase this number to 2 million by the year 2016. Several leading international hotel chains are present in Sri Lanka, together with a number of locally owned hotels, offering visitors a wide choice of accommodation ranging from the luxurious to Spartan, as well as ‘Home Stays’ at Sri Lankan homes, which will help you gain a better understanding of local culture, traditions and lifestyles. Many top-notch international chains and have signed deals and are in the process of building their properties, thereby increasing the number of rooms available. Casinos and other tourism related projects are coming up fast.


With its reputation as a popular spot for honeymooners, it is only logical that couples have chosen to have their wedding as well over here. Sri Lankan themed weddings are popular among westerners, complete with ‘Poruwa’ (an ornate platform for the couple), clothing, jewellery, accessories, ceremonies and even cuisine reflecting the local culture. Venues can range from hotels and beaches, natural scenic spots, to pontoons . More adventurous options are available, depending one’s imagination.


Boutique Hotels

Sri Lanka has a wide range of boutique hotels, which cater to diverse needs and varying degrees of exclusivity - from seaside paradises, to eco-friendly enclaves, historic landmark buildings, colonial mansions and those offering specialized services, such as Ayurveda and Yoga. These boutique hotels are typically small and unique, with intimate and quiet surroundings and a high quality, but discreet service.

Boutique hotels are your best bet, if you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of big name hotels and experience a warm and personalized service.


Destin ation for ‘MICE’

Due to its central location in the Indian Ocean, affording easy access from all parts of the world, as well as its legendary beaches, sunny climate and diverse attractions, Sri Lanka is fast emerging as a sought after, exotic and affordable destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE). Leading airlines and luxury cruises include Colombo as part of their regular schedule, while international and local hotels offer star-class accommodation, modern conference facilities and special packages for the MICE sector. English is the language of commerce and is widely spoken and understood, which is yet another reason that has made Sri Lanka a prime destination for MICE.