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Intricately woven through with myths and legend, gemstones and spice, this tropical isle is guaranteed to captivate your imagination, as well as your senses

Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka, the jewel-shaped ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, offers golden beaches, tropical jungles and lofty mountain peaks. In the lush interior you'll find verdant tea plantations said to produce the best cup of char in the world, while the island's ancient Buddhist heritage offers tranquil temples and a fascinating past to explore. Walk with the elephants in Yala National Park, explore the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and set your taste buds all a tingle with the fresh flavours or Sri Lanka’s exotic cuisine.

Things to do

With its never-ending coastline and tropical climate, Sri Lanka makes for the perfect beach holiday destination. Stay and relax in some of the island's best beachside hotels and all-inclusive resorts in Marawila and Waikkal, or explore its many natural and historical sites and book one of our exciting escorted tours. On our guided holidays you'll see all the sights, from the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth in Kandy to the incredible cave temples of Dambulla, the wildlife parks of Galle and Yala, and the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. If you're the sea-faring type, Sri Lanka is also a stop on several of ocean cruises too…


Sri Lanka's capital city is well worth a visit. Explore the history of the island and its sublime art in the National Museum of Colombo; revel in colonial architecture inspired by the country’s procession of settlers, and stroll through the coastal city park Galle Face Green for a breath of fresh air before dinner.

The central regions

Sri Lanka's central regions are home to some of its most interesting sights. It is inland that you will find the ancient city of Kandy, set amidst rainforest, tea plantations and cool mountain peaks, as well as the sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth and Adam's Peak. To the north you can visit the striking Sigiriya Palace near Dambulla and the sacred city of Anuradhapura.

See All Holidays to Sri Lanka

Located on the west coast of Sri Lanka, the Club Palm Bay Hotel is an ideal choice for a secluded and leisurely all-inclusive holiday. Stay in one of the bungalows set amid landscaped grounds and enjoy the hotel’s excellent facilities.

Suriya Resort QQQQ+

Stay and Explore

Discover Sri Lanka's myriad attractions from the beachside Suriya Resort in Waikkal.

Sri Lanka Revealed

Escorted Tour Pace 2

Discover Sri Lanka's tropical white sand beaches, varied wildlife and ancient Buddhist temples on this luxurious tour.

Sri Lankan Adventure

Escorted Tour Pace 3

Discover Sri Lanka's cultural heritage of ancient cities and temples, and its magnificent wildlife on this thrilling tour.

Discover Sri Lanka's cultural heritage of ancient cities and temples, and its magnificent wildlife on this thrilling tour.

Join Black Watch for a two-month cruise around Australia then on to Indonesia, the Far East, India and the Mediterranean.

Cross three oceans and visit six continents with new discoveries to make every day, from lost cities in Peru to serene sounds in New Zealand, sparkling skyscrapers in Singapore to ancient ruins on the edge of the Red Sea.


Sinhala, Sinhalese -

There are two official languages in Sri Lanka, Sinhala and Tamil. However, you’ll usually be able to find someone who speaks English.


Tipping is part of life in Sri Lanka and most people offering a service will expect a gratuity.

Many hotels and restaurants will automatically add a service charge but it is worth bearing in mind that this will not necessarily find its way to the person who served you.

When visiting temples, you will normally be shown around by a resident monk or priest, who will expect a dollar or two at the end of the tour. Drivers will expect a tip of around $5-10 per day.

Population and size

More than 20 million people live on Sri Lanka, just three million less than the population of Australia.

Around the same size as Ireland, you could fit Sri Lanka into Australia an incredible 117 times.


Rupee -

The rupee is the currency in Sri Lanka but you will not be able to obtain any until you arrive and will not be able to take any home.

We therefore suggest you don’t change too much money at one time and also beware of confusing the 500 rupee note with the rather similar 100 rupee one – it could be a costly mistake!


According to Muslim and Christian folklore, Adam took refuge on Sri Lanka when God kicked him and Eve out of the Garden of Eden (hence the mountain in the centre of the island being named ‘Adam’s Peak’). Around 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, with Hinduism being the second most prevalent religion, largely in the northern Tamil region.

Sri Lanka is an important producer of coffee, gemstones, coconut, rubber, cinnamon and, of course, tea – which is considered to be the ‘cleanest’ in the world. Traditional drum-based music is performed in outlandish costumes and the colourful Kandyan Dancers are an emblem of ‘the nation of smiling people’. Although the national sport is volleyball, by far the most popular game in the country is cricket.

History-wise, there are two main ethnic groups living in Sri Lanka - the Sinhalese and the Tamils - and both groups hold conflicting views as to the true history of the island. Beginning at the beginning, hunter-gatherer tribes have been traced back to around 30,000 BC, and it is widely thought that a land bridge linking Sri Lanka to India was submerged in around 5,000 BC. Buddhism came to the island in the third century BC and had a major impact, shaping the country’s culture and identity down through the ages.

Sri Lanka's position at the foot of India, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and almost midway between the Middle East and south east Asia, means that over the centuries it has been criss-crossed by trade routes carrying spices, gems, tea and coffee. As such it became a melting pot of peoples from all over Asia. Arab traders arrived in the seventh century and Muslim settlements were established. Then, in the 16th century, the Portuguese arrived, bringing with them Christianity. In 1602 came the Dutch and in 1796 the British took control of most of the island – eventually gaining full control in the mid-19th century. In the early 20th century a nationalist movement gained in strength and after several reforms Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. However, soon after this the country fell into a long and bitter war fought between different factions of its main ethnic groups. The war raged on for nearly 30 years, before peace was finally accomplished.


Impress the locals with a few words of Sinhala and Tamil…


Yes – ow

No – naa

Hello – ayubowan

Thank you – istuti

OK/very good – hari hondai

Do you speak English? – ingirisi dannevada?


Yes – amam

No – Illai

Hello – vanakkam

Thank you – nandri

That is very expensive – anda vilai mikavum adikum


Sri Lanka is five-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT.


Mains sockets are generally the British-style 13-amp with three square holes, so you shouldn’t need an adaptor. Mains voltage is 230-250 volts, 50 cycles.


The high temperatures and humidity that come with a tropical climate are tempered by afternoon breezes on the coast and by altitude in the central highlands.

The south-western coast and mountains receive the greatest rainfall, especially from April to June and October to November.


Tap water is not safe to drink so stick to bottled mineral water. Fruit bought in local markets should be peeled or rinsed well in boiled water before eating.

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre – see, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad at

Passports and visas

It’s a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport with you on holiday.

You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka which can be applied for online before departure at the Electronic Travel Authority. If you wait until your arrival to apply, you will face a delay at the airport.


Smoking is banned in all public places but many hotels and restaurants allocate separate areas for those who like a puff.

Flight time

You’ll have time to take in a couple of films and a snooze – it takes around eleven-and-a-half hours to fly from London to Colombo.