Sri Lanka is what happens when you take an island resembling paradise and add a few thousand years of cross-cultural percolation.

English sailors, Dutch traders, Portuguese spice merchants – they’ve all called Sri Lanka home. And they left behind a colonial legacy that makes this tea-scented spice island a historical goldmine. One minute you’re climbing a 1500 year-old Kashyapa temple, the next you’re checking out a colonial church in Colombo, chatting with Tamil fisherman or sipping a Ceylon brew in the misty highlands of Kandy. Our Sri Lanka tours are all about cramming as much colour (and curry) into your trip as possible. Trust us, you’ll soon see why they call this place the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Our Sri Lanka trips

Sri Lanka tour reviews

Our Sri Lanka trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 253 reviews in the last year.

Circle Sri Lanka, November 2016

Susan Stephenson

Circle Sri Lanka, November 2016

Marilyn Troth

Articles on Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka travel highlights

Transport in Sri Lanka

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Sri Lanka, you may find yourself travelling by:

Traveller cycling in Sri Lanka

Bicycle

Hiring a bike and pedalling around ancient cities full of crumbling ruins is a fun and interactive way to learn about Sri Lanka’s fascinating history.

Cycle Sri Lanka

Circle Sri Lanka

Packed overnight train of Haputale in Sri Lanka

Train

Train travel in Sri Lanka is often a crowded affair but think of it as a great opportunity to live like a local and make new friends.

Simply Sri Lanka

Sensational Sri Lanka

Circle Sri Lanka

Accommodation in Sri Lanka

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Sri Lanka you may find yourself staying in a:

e.g. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/india#transport

Basic guesthouse accommodation in Sri Lanka

Basic Guesthouse

Intrepid prefers smaller, character-filled guesthouses than hotel chains. When staying in Sri Lanka, enjoy staying in small hotels and guesthouses owned and run by friendly locals.

Sri Lanka holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

History and government

Top 10 Spiritual Spots in Sri Lanka

Shopping

Festivals and Events in Sri Lanka

Health and Safety

Further reading

Sri Lanka travel FAQs

SRI LANKA:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance

Foreign passport holders are required to obtain a visa prior to entry into Sri Lanka. This can be done on-line at the following website:
www.eta.gov.lk

Detailed information and application forms are provided here. The process is simple and the cost is US$20 for most countries.

Sri Lankans work hard and typically receive a low wage, so tipping drivers, porters, maids and other service staff is a good idea. A small amount should suffice. When in restaurants, add 10% to the bill as a tip.

Internet access is growing in Sri Lanka. Internet cafes are easily found in large cities, but the speed may be slower than what you’re used to.

Mobile phone coverage is generally good in urban areas, but can be patchy and less reliable in rural areas. Ensure global roaming is activated on your phone before you arrive.

Squat toilets are the most common toilets in Sri Lanka. Always carry your own toilet paper and soap as they are usually not provided. Western-style flushable toilets can be found in upmarket restaurants, five-star hotels and in some tourist areas.

Soft drink = 100 LKR
Beer = 200-250 LKR
Simple lunch at local restaurant = 300 – 400 LKR 
Seafood dinner = 1,000-1,500 LKR

It's not recommended to drink the tap water in Sri Lanka. Filtered water is a better option; try to use a refillable canteen or water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Remember to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit before eating.

Credit cards are usually accepted by modern hotels, restaurants and medium-large shops in tourist areas. Smaller shops, cafes, market stalls and places in remote areas probably won’t have facilities that support credit cards, so ensure you have enough cash to cover expenses while in rural areas or when visiting smaller vendors.

ATMs are becoming more common in Sri Lanka’s large cities, so finding one shouldn’t be a problem. Smaller towns and isolated areas will have very few, or none at all, so have enough cash to cover purchases as ATM access may not be available.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey. 

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

  • 12 Jan Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day
  • 14 Jan Tamil Thai Pongal Day
  • 4 Feb National Day
  • 10 Feb Navam Full Moon Poya Day
  • 24 Feb Mahasivarathri Day
  • 12 Mar Madin Full Moon Poya Day
  • 10 Apr Bak Full Moon Poya Day
  • 13 Apr Day prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
  • 14 Apr Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
  • 14 Apr Good Friday
  • 1 May May Day
  • 10 May Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
  • 11 May Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
  • 8 Jun Poson Full Moon Poya Day
  • 26 Jun Id-Ul-Fitr / Ramazan Festival Day
  • 8 Jul Esala Full Moon Poya Day
  • 7 Aug Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
  • 1 Sep Id-Ul-Alha / Hadji Festival Day
  • 5 Sep Binara Full Moon Poya Day
  • 5 Oct Vap Full Moon Poya Day
  • 18 Oct Deepavali Festival Day
  • 3 Nov Ill Full Moon Poya Day
  • 1 Dec Milad-Un-Nabi / Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
  • 3 Dec Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
  • 25 Dec Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Sri Lanka go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/sri-lanka/public-holidays

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Local woman picking tea in Sri Lanka

Top responsible travel tips for Sri Lanka

  1. Be considerate of Sri Lanka’s customs, traditions, religions and culture.
  2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
  3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
  4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
  5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
  6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
  7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
  8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
  9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
  10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.