The Adventure Pigs Guide to Sri Lanka
Fly direct to Colombo from the UK in 10 hours. We found Sri Lankan Airlines had the best deal.
To see the best bits of Sri Lanka you need to travel. It’s not a massive island but you need a car. Trains and tuk tuks just don’t hack it and it’s nice to have a car with a/c. You can either hire a car (and it is not as bad as the horror stories you see) or hire a ‘driver’ who will stay with you every day – it’s just how it works in Sri Lanka. We’re not a massive fan of this set up as even though we pre-booked our driver through a UK company you’re still conscious of getting ripped off and being taken to their friends restaurants. Secondly, we felt like our holiday was partly dictated by the driver…and they definitely didn’t understand our urge to seek out extreme sports or even point is is in the right direction. Finally, the drivers are also guides so they want to take you to the same run of the mill tourist spots. Obviously there are some pros such as local knowledge, speaking the language (which definitely helped being vegan) and a few hidden Jena along the way, but overall we would 100% drive ourselves next time!
If you do pre-book a driver, the car, their wage,fuel, accommodation and food should all be included in the price and you only have to leave a tip. They usually stay at the same hotel as you, but separately in drivers accommodation. They take you to and from attractions, and can guide you around if you like, sometimes it’s hard to say no!
When you’re staying at one of the larger beach resorts, ditch you car/driver and get around by tuk tuk. You can then relax and enjoy a few drinks!
Since the civil war ended in 2013, lots of resorts and hotels have been opening up. You can stay in a shack to an up market mega bucks eco lodge.
We stayed here:
There are a lot of great mid range hotels that have all the comforts you need. We pre-booked all but one night of our holiday, although if you are self driving it is nice to have a bit more flexibility and book a few days in advance/rock up to when you are there particularly in the busy beach resorts (check there’s no holidays/festival in case it’s going to be really busy).
Most hotels and resorts and low rise buildings, so it’s a real shame to see a high rise package destination hotel Under construction right on the shore of Weligama bay.
Pretty much all customer facing Sri Lankans can speak English, some more so than others so you will not have a problem getting by. If you want to get off the beaten track, this is where your driver/guide can be useful at local restaurants, particularly if you have a dietary requirement.
The vegan options in Sri Lanka are plentiful…as long as you like curry! But don’t expect the traditional British takeaway curry as the food in Sri Lanka is influenced from southern India and is a lot lighter and fresher.
Expect lots of coconut curries, dhals, rice and rotis. Street food is the best so make sure you try hoppers and ….. . And of course there is an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetable everywhere you go including red bananas and many types of coconut. Definitely order a king coconut and drink straight from it.
See my full vegan guide here …..
What to pack
Hopefully we don’t need to tell you the obvious stuff like underwear, toothpaste and sun tan lotion, so pack appropriately for your activities plus:
- Mosquito repellant containing DEET and lots of it – they are everywhere!
- Mosquito coils for extra protection (most hotels have nets so no need to take your own)
- Leach socks if you’re planning any walks within the jungle – forever struggling to pick leaches of our legs!
- Long dress/skirt/trousers and shirt/shawl which covers your shoulders for visiting sacred sites
- Umbrella – when it rains it pours. If you have a driver they should have them for you.
- Anti sickness/diarrhoea tablets in case you suffer from food poisoning like a I did.
- A book – you’ll need something to read to pass the time in the cultural triangle
- Music and headphones to listen to when travelling with your driver
What to wear