Sri Lanka is a beautiful tropical tear-shaped island nation just off the south eastern coast of India. Sri Lanka has a lot of importance in the Hindu mythology. In the Ramayana saga, Ravana, a demon king based out of Sri Lanka kidnaps Sita, a princess in India and wife of Lord Ram during their 14 year exile. Lord Ram, helped by an army of monkeys, wages and wins the war against Ravana, thereby rescuing Sita. The culture in Sri Lanka is rich in history and diversity. Buddhism is the main religion followed by Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. The country's culture has also been influenced by the Portuguese, the English and the Dutch - Galle is a very good example of the Dutch influence while the tea estates are an example of the English influence in the country.
Best time to visit
The country is blessed with diverse landscapes ranging from tropical highlands in the central region to beautiful shimmering beaches in the southern and eastern regions. The weather is warm and tropical in most of the regions in the country. The best time to visit Sri Lanka is December to March (dry season at the west coast) and the shoulder season is April and September to November. We visited the country in November and it was nice because there weren't many tourists around, so we could avoid the crowd. We could not visit the east coast though because of the monsoons.
What to do there
Sri Lanka offers amazing things to do for every kind of tourist. If you are into hiking, central Sri Lanka offers amazing hiking trails through the tea estates that are iconic in this region. The mountains are 2,000 m high and the water falls in this region are equally beautiful. If you are a beach person, then you have the southern and eastern coasts full of sandy beaches with beautiful blue waters. Snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, jet skiing, you name it..everything can be done at the beautiful beaches. If you are looking for some rich history and culture, then the north is the place for you. The cities of Anuradhapura - the former capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy, Dambulla, Sigirya and Polonnaruwa offer great ruins of the ancient kingdoms dating back 2000 years. Overall, it's a beautiful destination and you will cherish every moment.
Food and transport
The food in Sri Lanka is delicious and super affordable. It is similar to the cuisine in South India, especially Kerala. The most awesome dish is Hoppers with any curry (chicken/fish). You should also try wood apple, passion fruit and jack fruit. Travelling around Sri Lanka is easy, thanks to a fairly good public transport system. However, it needs a little planning and advance booking, especially for trains. The train journey from Kandy to Ella is very picturesque and amazingly breathtaking as the train goes through tunnels, tea estates and around the mountains.
People and language
The people are very friendly and always willing to help out the tourists. You can easily communicate in English. However, the main languages of the country are Sinhalese and Tamil.