Sri Lanka Travel Guide

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Sri Lanka Information

Population: 18.5 million

Time Zone: GMT +6

Driving side: Drivers drive on the left hand side of the road.

Languages: Sinhalese, Tamil, English

Religion: 69% Buddhist
15% Hindu
8% Christian
8% Muslim

Emergency #: Tourist Police, Colobbo: 433342
Police Station, Bentota: 03475022

Sri Lanka Local Customs

With so many religions represened, Sri Lanka is generaly a land of great religious tolerance. When traveling to predominantley Buddhist regions, it is advised to regard certain buddhist customs such as regarding all images of Buddha with respect

Sri Lanka Popular Destinations

Colombo - the colourful, fast paced capital city of Sri Lanka is usually the first stop for most visitors. Here you will find the most shops, restaurants and banks. Sights in the city include the Presidents residance, National Museum and Art Gallery, various Mosques and Temples and the Clock Tower. Buy some good value for money souvenirs in the Pettah Bazaar district and stroll through Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo's most fashionable suburb and view the mansions of Colombo's rich and famous.

Sigiriya - about 200km from Colombo is Sigiriya a magnifincent rock fortress built in the 5th century AD. Besides the fortress itself you will find a monastic retreat, water gardens and 5th century rock pantings of curvaceous women, as well as graffiti of visitors opinions of the pictures. As the fort is on a 200m high rock the views are breathtaking.

Anuradhapura - this city was ruled by Sinhalese Kings in 380 BC and the remains of the old city can be seen to the west and north of modern Anuradhapura. Other attractions include the cities oldest Temple Thuparama Dagoba which is believed to contain Buddha's right collar-bone, museums, twin ponds which are used for ritual baths by monks and the sacred Bo-Tree.

Kandy - this picturesque city with its distinct architecture and built around the lake has a wonderful peacful atmosphere. Things to see in Kandy include tha National Museum, Mahaweli where you can see elephants being bathed, Peradeniya Botanic Gardens and Undawattakelle Bird Sanctuary. Not to be missed is a visit to Dalada Maligawa Temple which houses the sacred tooth of Buddha which is Sri Lanka's most important religious relic.

Galle - this port city has a Dutch Fort built in 1663 and houses within it museums, churches and Dutch houses. You can go for a swim at the little beach or enjoy a drink at the bar at the New Oriental Hotel with its fantastic, historic atmosphere.

Moving Around Sri Lanka

If you value comfort over speed, then train travel is the option for you. Busses in various different states of disrepair are crowded but cheap and run almost anywhere in the country. Hiring a car with or without a driver is quite reasonable as is hiring a motorbike but be warned, driving yourself can be extremly hazardous! There are also taxis and auto-rickshaws, agree in prices before traveling. Domestic flights do not exist in Sri Lanka

National festival and holidays

Deepavali or Diwali - 11 November. Known as the festival of lights, this is the Hindu New Year and is marked by elaborate firework displays.

Vesak - on the full moon in May. This is a sacred festval that comemorates the birth, death and inlightenment of Buddha.

Thai Pongal - 14 January. A Hindu festival that celebrates and honours the Sun God.

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