Sri Lanka is often called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, but given its hot and humid climate, this verdant island could be more accurately called the Emerald of the Indian Ocean.
Its beaches - Trincomalee, Bentota and Unawatuna - are palm-fringed and soft-sanded, but this little isle also has a rich colonial history (Galle port was used by Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays and Indians before the Portuguese, Dutch and, later, English arrived) and an inspiring cultural heritage (the cultural triangle extends from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa to Dambulla).
Flights to Sri Lanka will deliver you to graceful people, a beautiful island and a rich holiday experience.
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Sri Lanka climate
Sri Lanka has a tropical climate. Luckily, the ocean winds moderate the high humidity. Temperatures rarely fall below 16 degrees in the winter and summer temperatures average 32 degrees. Monsoon season lasts from mid-October through January and leaves the island soaked.
When to fly to Sri Lanka
The best time to search for cheap flights to Sri Lanka and visit is between the rainy seasons. On the south-west coast and in the hills, it is driest between November and April. The south-west coast has fantastic beaches around Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna and Mirissa.
On the east coast, visit between May and September for the best conditions. Some of the must-visit beaches on this side of the island are Trincomalee, Nilaveli and Arugam Bay
Monsoon season is between May and July, and December and January.
Getting around Sri Lanka
ExpoAir flies from Colombo to Jaffna and there are other private charter airlines and helicopter services.
If you have lots of time, train travel can be a fascinating way of getting around the island. On some of the longer journeys, old-style sleeper trains are available.
Bus services on the island are run by the Central Transport Board (CTB) and private companies.
Three-wheel vehicles, known variously as tuk-tuks, bajajs or auto-rickshaws are a neat way of taking short trips.
Independent travellers can rent motor-bikes and cars. Hiring a car and driver is another popular option; drivers will have local knowledge.
Sri Lanka insider information
- Nuwara Eliya is the tea capital, the main hill resort. It is located about 2,000 metres above sea level. It is a place of English-style bungalows and afternoon tea. Sri Lankans flock to Nuwara Eliya during March and May, to escape the heat of the town.
- The Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage, about 85km (50 miles) from Colombo, is home to about 75 elephants that were either lost or abandoned by their mothers. The sanctuary was established by the Sri Lankan Government in 1975 and is a popular attraction.
- See the pole fishermen around Weligama in the south of the island. The fishermen climb up a pole between 20 and 50 metres (65-100 ft) out to sea, holding on with feet and one arm, while casting a line with the other arm.
- The Green, Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Hawkesbill marine turtles are all endangered and the government takes conservation efforts very seriously, for example paying local fishermen to protect natural turtle-nesting sites.Kosgoda and Rekawa are among the best known sites.
- Horton Plains National Park, 3,160 hectares, is in the highlands. Kirigalpotta and Thotupola, Sri Lanka’s second and third-highest mountains, are in the park. Leopard, sambhur and wild boar roam freely.
- Kandy, in central Sri Lanka, was the last capital of the ancient kings of Ceylon. It is a sacred city, home to The Temple of the Tooth Relic. In July/August, Esala Perahera takes place. This is when one of the inner caskets used for covering the tooth relic is taken through the city accompanied by dancers, drummers, flag bearers and brightly decorated elephants.
- Ratnapura is the centre of Sri Lanka’s gemming industry. Jewels unearthed include ruby, sapphire, topaz, amethyst, aquamarine, tourmaline, garnet and cat’s eye. Collections of gems are housed in the National Museum, Ratnapura.