We welcome all fans of independent budget (and not so) travel. We love to write final articles with brief information on the country – this means that next time we will send you to a new unforgettable adventure through uncharted lands. Today I’m already Lyudmila (since Andrey is in the regular Asia rides) I’ll present a report or Sri Lanka travel guide. In the article you will learn the most important information on standard issues of independent and cheap travel, for example, such as: visa, currency, weather, transport, food. So is our personal experience of hitchhiking and on various types of cheap transport, about housing and accommodations to local people, about where to put a tent, and about people.
But first, I briefly recall how we got to Sri Lanka. Since Sri Lanka is an island, the most affordable way is of course the plane. While still in Russia, we bought tickets from Oman (Muscat) to Sri Lanka (Colombo) for 9020 rubles. for two.
Current prices for flights to Sri Lanka:
- days in the country – 17 days
- mileage – 2000 km
- financial expenses for two: air tickets Oman (Muscat) -Sri Lanka (Colombo) – 9020 rubles; Sri Lanka visa – 1960 rub; for other expenses – 50 $ + 10 euro (
8170r.). The result – 19150 rubles. for two.
Map of the route.
1. Visa for Russian. A tourist visa can be obtained upon arrival in Sri Lanka, and you can still be issued while in Russia via the Internet.
2. Language. The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhalese, Tamil and English. If in the first two they express themselves, for sure, perfectly, since they have been used for hundreds of years, then with the latter, even though a considerable amount of time has passed from the last colonizers, things are really bad. Naturally, we will not mention the tourist areas where English earn their “daily bread”. But if we are talking about the “official” languages of the country, it is rather strange when a European asks something in bourgeois, and the local answers the question in curved English, does he speak English at all? Not bad in English, those who have passed the university bench.
3. Religion. The main religions are Buddhism (mostly Sinhala – about 70%), Hinduism (more than Tamils are inherent – about 15%), Christianity (mixed population – no more than 8%), Islam (Malays and Moors – 8%).
4. Time Zone. GMT + 5:30. There is no daylight saving time.
5. Currency. The currency of Sri Lanka is called the Lankan Rupee (LKR or Rs). One rupee consists of 100 cents. There are 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 Rs bills in circulation.
Coins use 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees, there are still 25 and 50 cents, but they are rare.
Russian ruble costs approximately
- divide the cost in rupees by 2.5. For example: 100 rupees /
We took both dollars and euros with us, and in Sri Lanka you can easily exchange both currencies. Money can be exchanged upon arrival at the airport after customs around the clock, as well as in any bank (working weekdays from 9 :: 00 to 15:00), a hotel or a jewelry store. You can withdraw money from an ATM, but only in large cities. Hotels and shops accept Visa and Mastercard, but it’s safer to have cash outside the resort areas.
You can pay for purchases in dollars, but in this case, the change will be given in rupees and calculated at an unfavorable rate.
6. Accommodation, accommodation and tenting. You already know that we are traveling with a tent, but sometimes we can rent inexpensive accommodation, a hotel or a bungalow, and also willingly accept an invitation from local residents.
Let’s start with the first item – the tent. The tent can be placed almost anywhere, though it’s difficult to ask the locals to enter the territory, most likely they will be sent to the nearest church, where, in their opinion, monks should help in such situations. We were also afraid to put up a tent near the jungle, especially if there are national parks near where elephants and other animals are found.
You can get a list in churches and Buddhist temples, the truth will have to prove to the “father” and the main monk that you are not a camel. According to the results of the “interview,” dinner, a fan and a soft bed can be automatically realized. As always, the main thing is to find a father, without such issues are not solved.
Once on the coast, we rented a bungalow for 500 rupees for two a day. We were lucky because it was not the season and the owner agreed to any guests. Anyway, this amount had to be negotiated, because in other places less than 700 were not offered.
And in the capital Colombo, we tried to use Couchsurfing and our experience can be found in the last article of the same name.
If you want to visit Sri Lanka on your own, it’s not difficult to find a cheap hotel or hostel on your own on the go.
If you are traveling in a season or just want to be sure in advance that you will have a roof over your head, I advise you to use the service.
Or use a very profitable in my opinion private housing rental service.
7. People. People in Sri Lanka are different. Frankly, I didn’t like them very much, probably because I like to communicate with those who have something more spiritual that predominates in the actions, open, so to speak, coming from the heart. Lankans seemed to me quite peculiar in this sense. Is it not strange when we are invited to visit on our own initiative, and then they try to arrange an interrogation about who we are and what we are in such a manner as if we are secret spies or robbers. Or when they are treated to dinner, and then they hint that we donate or pay something. Or they try to help, but they try to keep in the radius of their observation, controlling our every step. All this creates a slight vaguely understood tension, which is why there is no easiness in the soul. Although the Sri Lankans themselves are quite friendly and ready to help in any situation.
8. Transport and hitchhiking. What is good about Asia is the absence of any logic or system like in Europe. That is, we could get into almost any public transport without having a coin of local money in our pockets and think about how to get out of the current situation. A couple of times on the bus we paid for gifts from Oman, and in the northern part of the island you can ride trains for free, as there are no turnstiles and ticket control at the exit to the platform.
In fact, Sri Lanka is so inexpensive country to try to cheat with paying for a ticket, so we just experimented. For example, they took a train ticket to the nearest station, but they themselves went further, where we need to go for free and no one checked us. However, I do not advise to do so in tourist areas, everything is much stricter there.
The quality of public transport leaves much to be desired. In cheap buses instead of air conditioners are often simply no glass in the windows. And in more comfortable if there is an air conditioner, then, according to the custom, it fucks so that you always have to take warm clothes to the salon, for there is no temperature controller, and the driver is constantly tugging so that he turns off the air conditioner, it is useless.
Economy class train cars are also good: they can hardly be called even common or sedentary in our Russian sense. On the way to the north, right at the stations, entire trains, rustled, without windows, overgrown with ivy, rusted. Sleeping in a train is also quite a difficult task, because the train even goes at low speed, on the old rails it shakes it so that you jump on the spot.
Tuk-tuks and taxis are the most expensive, slow and short-haul type of transport, so we drove them a couple of times by chance and for free, which can be found in our articles about traveling around Sri Lanka.
Of course, hitchhiking was our main kind of moving around the country. In Sri Lanka, personal transportation is very expensive. Regular moto-bike for the price can be compared to buying a good house with a plot. And about cars, I generally keep quiet. Therefore, on the roads of the country there are practically no cars and, to our happiness, bikers, as in Vietnam. And the roads in Sri Lanka are narrow, in two lanes, one in one direction, the second in the other.
This does not mean that there are no cars at all, a couple of times we were driven by miniature cars. However, it is usually either cars from the company or the driver was a good businessman by the standards of the country.
Therefore, the main vehicle for hitchhiking, we had trucks with cramped cabs, sometimes already three people in the cabin. But this did not prevent them from bringing two more tourists with backpacks along the way. In English, Lankan truckers practically do not speak, but in general, in most cases, they don’t even ask where we are going. Silently sit on the way and everything, and there if necessary, so we ourselves will say where to stop. Less often they carry in various truck bodies, mainly in few tourist areas.
In any case, in the settlements it was difficult to stop transport, it was necessary to get out on foot before leaving, even in small villages. And the average time on the road – no more than an hour, then still someone picked up.
Frankly, we thought that we would be very slowly moving around the country. In fact, it turned out that we drove about 150–200 km per day, taking into account the fact that there were about that between the planned points and even less.
9. Food and prices. Sri Lanka is a cheap country when it comes to nutrition. In any street café, you can buy a portion of rice with some insanely hot sauce, dalom, meat or vegetables within 200 rupees per serving. Maybe it was precisely because in Sri Lanka everything was hellishly spicy, and we didn’t have to spend too much, because it was a pity to spoil the stomachs at the beginning of a long journey. Even the attempts of the local to give us home cooking were not crowned with success. Rarely, when the owner understood what it means to not acute. Not spicy on Sri Lankan – it tastes almost like naked chili. I wonder what is acute then?
Therefore, we ate mostly fruits, rice with fruits, sometimes vegetables and dairy products. Rarely when they took rice with a teaspoon gave.
By the way, yes, I was very surprised that it was possible to find milk in Sri Lanka, but only in some village. And sold it only in boiled condition.
The most unusual dish was pasta cakes with sweet coconut inside. Sorry no photo, try to tell you so. Imagine a thin disk of cold stuck together noodles, now we bend it in half, sweet coconut is inside and voila, pasta pie is ready.
Here are some examples of average product prices:
- pastries: bread – 30 rupees, cupcake – 35 rupees, buns – 20 rupees, cake – 80 rupees;
- fruits: pineapple – 100 rupees, bananas – 30 rupees, mango – 20 rupees, coconut – 40 rupees;
- dairy: ice cream – 30 rupees, 2 l milk. – 70 rupees, yogurt – 30 rupees;
- a cafe – the average price for a serving of rice with vegetables is 150 rupees, no-noodle total is 50 rupees;
- Capital Vegetable Prices
10. Briefly about the prices of mobile communications.
11. Sights and prices. I do not understand why in this country such a strange policy on the cost of admission to the sights, because, if honest, the sights of Sri Lanka can not boast of either grandeur or any kind of uniqueness, except maybe a couple of places. Everything else can be viewed in any Asian country and almost for nothing. Here are some examples of average prices:
- monastery in Mihintale – 500 rupees;
- Sigiriya – $ 35;
- the Golden Temple in Dambulla – 1500 rupees;
- Anuradhapura – $ 25;
- the ancient city of Polonnaruwa – $ 25.
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