In a world enamored with bigger, well-traveled countries, Sri Lanka is one of many underrated locations that people do not tend to look up to much. Trust me when I say, I have been asked about its location by people who thought it was situated in South America. In reality, it’s a small tropical island located in southeast India with shores coasted by the Indian Ocean.
Having visited this natural beauty twice, Sri Lanka has been my own ‘home away from home’ kind of country, and as a way to send back some of the love and kindness I received on both of my visits, here are eight reasons why Sri Lanka is an ultimate travel destination for those who seek adventure and a diverse travel destination on a budget.
1. Cozy Island
It is quite small, with an area size that could be compared to the Sinai Peninsula.
With an area of 65,610 square kilometers, touring is very doable even with a tight schedule. As a first-hand experience, in two weeks I managed to explore most of the cities on my checklist without missing out on anything.
2. Affordable Adventure
For individuals on a tight travel budget who are looking for a quick vacation, Sri Lanka is an ideal location. The biggest expenditure is certainly flights, and largely depends on an individual’s departure point. However, the average is around USD 500 (EGP 9,157).
The rest of the trip will cost another USD 500, as an average traveler would spend two weeks; an additional USD 200 (EGP 3,662). if another week is added. Accommodation can be found for under USD 10 (EGP 183, and a local meal for under USD 1 (EGP 18.31). Yet if you are willing to dine out, a fair estimate would be roughly USD 11 (EGP 201).
Surprisingly, shopping is underrated in Sri Lanka. A lot of people aim to go on souvenir shopping sprees because they do not search around. However, the country has plenty of stores that offer an inclusive shopping experience.
For a good shopping and dine-in day, visit One Galle Face Mall, Odel Shopping Center, and the Independence Arcade Square.
As for souvenirs: Laksala is my personal favorite, Odel does have a souvenir section, and little stalls are located almost everywhere.
3. Winter in Egypt, Summer in Sri Lanka
While the winter season starts in Egypt towards the end of November, it is the perfect time to plan a Sri Lankan trip. It is no news that Sri Lanka is warm all year long, but while the monsoon season can be a huge setback to a trip, visiting during November through March can be a perfect winter escape for some warm, sunny, and vibrant weather.
4. Nothing beats an Electronic Visa option for an Egyptian Passport
Having an Egyptian passport is an all-time hassle for frequent travelers. Plenty of countries require a file prepared with an extensive amount of papers, a fee that can take up part of each budget, with a higher percentage of getting rejected than not.
Sri Lanka is one of the countries that is making it easier for travelers with an electronic travel authorization document. Individuals can apply on the website, fill out the application, pay the fees and wait. Documents take between a week to three weeks to arrive via email, then the adventure can begin.
5. Tropical Fruits are Bliss
For all the foodies, this is absolute heaven. With a climate completely different than Egypt, Sri Lanka’s land produce is something from a different world. A huge variety of tropical and exotic fruits adds to the plentiful flavors this country offers. One can indulge themselves with freshly diced pineapples or spiced mango cubes on the beach. Among that, do not miss out on trying Rambutans, dragon fruits, mangosteens, and durians. However, my absolute favorite is King Coconuts, always fresh and sweet, and definitely feel like a refreshing breeze on a hot summer morning.
6. Stock up on Tea
Throughout the years, Sri Lankan tea has grown to the top of the country’s agricultural produce and exports, amounting to 340 million kilograms of production per annum. With almost four percent reserved for the tea plantations, it is a waste if individuals didn’t try the goodness of the freshly produced drink.
Around Nuwara Eliya, it is worth checking out Damro Tea Factories for an authentic experience, alternatively, Dilmah t-Lounge in Colombo makes for a lovely cup of tea. Their carrot cake is by far the best I have ever had. My personal favorite is the one in Chatham Street, but they do have a new branch in One Galle Face Mall. Also if you want a much more inclusive experience, Haputale Kelliebedde Tea Factory in Haputale gave me a very fun tour through the tea factory itself.
You can definitely buy tea from Damro Tea Factories, or any of the tea factories you visit. But if you are not willing to get this experience, you can always buy tea from the Sri Lanka Tea Board in Colombo, Odel, and Dilmah t-Lounge.
7. Lush greenery for a change
Can you imagine if all the desert area in Egypt was completely transformed into tropical forests and greenery fields? That’s exactly how it looks in Sri Lanka, everything is green. From the moment individuals land, they will be able to see a stretch of palm trees.
8. The Diverse Culture
Sri Lankan history is a complete melting pot, with its untouched, raw beauty everything has preserved its foundation until now. With 70.2 percent of the population subscribing to Buddhism, most of its history revolves around the birth and origin of Buddhism.
Yet the country is influenced by several other religions like Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, and thus, has been touched by all of these religions. There are plenty of holy places and religious sites that can be seen in different corners of the country.
Its diverse culture does not stop there though. The country has been invaded countless times due to its location being a trade hub, and the various geographical profitabilities including tea, cinnamon, coconut and spices. Sri Lanka was colonized by the Portuguese (1505-1658), the Dutch (1658-1796), and the British Empire (1796-1948). The French invaded Trincomalee harbor for a few months during 1796. Each left behind plenty of significant cultural additions to be experienced.
I could go on and on listing hundreds of reasons why visiting Sri Lanka is worth it, reasons that have taken me there twice already with more future plans to visit. It is the perfect getaway for people wishing to break from their routine and embark on a great adventure.