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Sri Lanka on a budget. 10 reasons Singaporeans love it.
Long lovely beaches, culture without the chaos, national parks teeming with wildlife and sacred historical sites are just some of the reasons Sri Lanka is firmly on the map this year for Singaporeans. And for the budget traveller it’s a great destination.
Budget Direct Insurance’s 10 top reasons to head for Sri Lanka.
1. Fly and flop
Head here for some stunning beaches. The west coast is most developed for tourists with hotels and budget accommodation dotted along the coast from Negombo in the north to Hikkaduwa in the south.
The south coast is the place for those who want to do and see stuff and relax in between on a sandy beach. Head for Buddhist shrines and temples, colonial towns and wildlife parks. There’s still a rural touch to this coast. Entrance fees for attractions can be on the high side in Sri Lanka.
The west coast was off limits for many years due to the civil war and was hit by the 2004 tsunami. It is now bouncing back and means, for the time-being, it’s largely untouched and relatively tourist-free. The area around Passikudah Bay has some of the best new hotels, and major towns like Trincomalee have a colonial faded charm.
Many go to Arugam Bay on the east coast but if you head for south west Sri Lanka between April and late October you’ll get more of the undiscovered surf spots.
Time your visit for the annual gathering, the largest Asian elephant coming together on the planet at Minneriya National Park, located near Dambulla, where around 300 elephants come and bathe. Yala National Park in the south has the highest concentration of leopards in Asia, while water buffaloes, birds and many primates may end up on your spotted list!
Divided into seven districts with each said to have a distinctive flavour, Sri Lankan tea is famous throughout the world. Visit a tea estate, stay in a converted planter’s cottage, or sup a cuppa for a unique experience.
Far more than just rice and curry, Sri Lankan food has a distinctive flavour influenced by its diverse flora and fauna and the ethnic mix of people who have landed on its shores. Eat locally grown food as anything imported is expensive and don’t drink the tap water, although ice from tourist bars and hotels is fine.
8. Short reasonable flights
Flight time is under four hours with direct flights from Singapore to the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. The capital is served by two airports, Bandaranaike International Airport, colloquially known as the Katunayake Airport, and Colombo International Airport. Expect to pay from S$350 to around $500 for flights with Singapore Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Emirates or SilkAir.
9. Great and affordable accommodation
There’s a great variety for all budgets from beach huts to five star hotels.
Local currency is the Sri Lankan rupee and for one Singapore dollar you get around 115 rupees.
For a double room per night in a simple guest-house expect to pay around Rs 2,000-3,500 (S$17-30), a mid range hotel around Rs 6,000-20,000 (S$50-120) and top end from Rs 20,000 (S$120).
Because of the state of many roads, hiring a driver is a popular and convenient way to get around or take a tailor-made tour. A driver for the day from will cost from Rs 3,000-9,000 (S$25-75) depending on where you hire them from. It’s a cash society so bring plenty of notes.
10. It’s now safe
Between 1983 and 2009 Sri Lanka was off limits for tourists due to the civil war. It is now a very safe destination for tourists and locals are extremely friendly. Sri Lanka is also a great place to take kids.
Is it any wonder Sri-Lanka is one of our favourite destinations right now?
Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember it’s vital to have good travel cover.
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