Sri Lanka has been gaining buzz as one of the top holiday destinations in the world and as you’d expect, tourism thrives on the Island.
But what a lot of tour guides and packages don’t mention is that Sri Lanka is also really cheap to travel to and around on a budget. If you don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on your next holiday, read on for why Sri Lanka is one of your best options for an amazing time and an easy load on your wallet too.
Sri Lankan tourist visas are quite cheap. If you apply ahead of your arrival online, you’ll only pay a fee of $35. There’s also the possibility of a tourist visa on arrival at the Sri Lankan airport but there’s a price hike and long waiting lines if you choose this option so for a budget holiday, apply online and get your visa cheap and fast!
While your typical, touristy hotels can be a bit pricey on a budget, there’s any number of budget hotels, hostels, small bungalows and homestay opportunities for as low as $10.
What’s more, booking rooms in advance using online trip planners such as Booking.com will net you cheaper prices than if you book directly at the place. And it will also help you plan out your trip around the Island a bit better too, as a side bonus.
It goes without saying that booking private transport around the country is much more expensive than public transport. What’s surprising is how much cheaper public transport is. There’s an extensive bus network throughout Sri Lanka and even a journey of more than two hours will only set you back a couple of U.S dollars. Buses can get crowded but there’s never a dull moment in one with booming Sri Lankan music and screeching horns so it’s definitely an experience not to miss.
Sri Lanka’s train network, although not extensive and certainly not fast, is also quite cheap and is often the best way to get from one large city to another, especially in the Southern and Central regions of the country. Like buses, train rides are very cheap. Though there are air-conditioned, 1st class cabins in pretty much all intercity trains, opting for a much cheaper 2nd class seat is a much better idea. How else are you going to hang out the doors of a long winding train on a hill and take that photo you’ve only seen online and always wanted to take?
For shorter trips within cities, tuk-tuks are abundant although it’s general practice among tuk-tuk drivers to charge tourists almost double the local price. But you can ask your homestay family or the manager of your budget hotel for a local price point so that you can negotiate the price down to its normal level before you set off on the tuk-tuk ride.
There’s no shortage of cheap food options in Sri Lanka. Street-food in Sri Lanka is amazingly cheap and quite often are unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
For meals, it’s quite easy to duck into small restaurants, recognizable by their mostly local clientele and small spaces, and sit down for a full rice and curry lunch or dinner for just a U.S dollar or two. Just make sure to keep smaller notes in local currency on hand and you’ll be saving quite a lot in food expenses while still getting Sri Lanka’s iconic, delicious food experience.
Perhaps the best thing about Sri Lanka when it comes to budget travel is that there are many things to do and experience around the country, completely for free.
Because of Sri Lanka’s all-around coastline, there’s definitely any number of local beaches that are completely free and oftentimes, completely devoid of other visitors. Settle down, stretch out and get ready to lose quite a few hours on a gloriously empty and completely free beach.
It’s common practice, too, for travellers on a budget to make a beeline for a beach town like Hikkaduwa and then make full use of the beautiful coastline nearby for free while staying at cost-effective accommodation and budget hotels in Hikkaduwa like Citrus Hikkaduwa. You can even take an early morning stroll to see local fisherman prepare for the day’s first catch.
Colombo too, despite its reputation as a tourist spot, has many intriguing and free attractions for the budget traveller. To ease up on travel within the city, book an affordable city hotel in Colombo such as The Steuart by Citrus and then head off to explore the historic districts of Colombo Fort by foot, completely free of course! The local markets are an amazing way to get the feel of the city and also the perfect way to meet the friendly locals.
Colombo is Sri Lanka’s commercial hub; a hustling and bustling city that thrives at all hours of the day. Though there’s much to do and see in Colombo, if you have just an afternoon to spend in the city, or a few hours to spare on your way to another part of the island, here are a few things you can do to make those spare hours perfect…!
If you’re in Colombo for a mere few hours, and don’t want to spend it shopping or sight seeing, but relaxing and breathing in the Colombo air, then there’s no better place to be than at Galle face green! Without a doubt, it’s still a pretty popular place with the locals, so it can get a little crowded on holidays; especially around sunset. But if you avoid those times, and take with you a blanket to spread on the sand, you’ve got yourself a lovely afternoon plan. Be sure to snack on the famed “isso wade” the area is popular for. If you prefer a sturdier lunch/dinner than what the street vendors and hawkers can provide, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of malls with food courts in the surrounding area for you to try out.
The Independence memorial hall was built in 1948, to commemorate Sri Lanka’s independence. Ideal for a quick spot, the independence square is most enjoyed by the locals for evening walks and jogging, while it’s also known to be one of the best spots in Colombo for relaxing. The sprawling lawn invites you to a lazy conversation, while the arcade next door gives you the opportunity for a quick spot of shopping. The memorial hall itself is quite cool and breezy, even in hot afternoons; making it the perfect place to get away from the heat if you’re in the area.
Aged around 150 years, the Gangaramaya Temple is one of Colombo’s most famous temples. This fame is largely due to the serenity the temple emanates, even while at the heart of the commercial city. The temple is also the perfect spot to see the impact of modern architecture on a holy place, as its architecture is comparatively new from the other famed temples of the island. As it’s built in close proximity to the Beira Lake, you could also use this trip as an opportunity to spend a few relaxing moments by the lake after your visit the temple. The temple also hosts a museum of its own, so allocate a little extra time to get lost among the artifacts! If you’re staying at the City hotel in Colombo, visiting the Gangaramaya temple is super easy, as it’s located only 0.6km from the temple.
Standing 95ft tall, and located at the Galbokka point of the Port of Colombo, this lighthouse was built in 1952. As the lighthouse is maintained and operated by the Sri Lanka navel authority, access to the inner parts of the lighthouse has been restricted in the past few decades due to security reasons. However, you can still visit the premises. The seaward side of the lighthouse is painted a checkered black and whit pattern, while the land-facing side is a pleasant brick color¾giving it a majestic look. The four lions at the base of the tower adds to the glory of the lighthouse, while the naval gun battery also present is used by the Sri Lankan Navy for its traditional gun salutes.
Formerly known as the Victoria park, and located right across the colonial-era town hall of Colombo city, this park is much loved by the locals. Though built by the British colonial administration, the park has been renovated several times, and is currently the largest park in the island. The park hosts many special events, and is known for the occasional food festivals. The old, towering trees that provide shade for the park are well maintained, as are the other greenery. As this is a popular spot for local families, it’s the ideal place to visit if you like “people watching”.
Whether it’s for walking or the weekly good market, Diyatha Uyana is another much loved spot by the locals. The tranquil area, and the safe walking path attracts many health fans in the evenings, while the small circle aquarium (run by different private fish stores) draws the young ones. Open 24 hours, Diyatha Uyana also boasts of a small food court; ideal for grabbing a quick bite after a brisk walk. The weekly market has everything from flowers to books and home grown vegetables, and makes a lovely morning activity. Once again, this is a great spot to “people watch” or mingle with the locals.
It’s been a hectic week at work. The clients have been difficult, and your boss has been unusually impossible to work with. At the end of this gruesome week, your colleagues are planning on setting appointments for spa therapy, and insisting you join them.
But you have to ask; is a spa treatment actually good for your physical and metal health?
If you ask our opinion, we’d give you a definite “yes”! Here are our reasons for saying so.
It’s universally known that good sleep is imperative to feel energized and active. Skipping a few hours one night a week may not feel so bad, but doing so continuously can set a pattern going; making it difficult for you to fall asleep even when you actually have no reason to stay awake. This leads to you constantly feeling tired and sluggish, having difficulties concentrating, and even makes you short tempered. A spa therapy session can help to promote better sleep, and reset your internal alarm. This in turn will help you feel more alert and active, giving new life to your everyday living.
In today’s world, where we hardly have time to eat healthy, sleep enough, manage our stress levels or exercise regularly, it’s hardly surprising that we’re all unhealthy in general. Due to this, unlike in the decades before when heart diseases and conditions were considered an issue primarily faced by the elderly, we are now at a time and age where even younger people are battling with heart issues. And while a good spa therapy cannot solve such diseases, they can be an excellent way to avoid it to begin with.
Loosing weight is no easy feat, and there could be a few stubborn pounds that simply refuses to shed off, despite all your trying. And while exercising and a proper diet is the best way to lose weight, you could give those last few pounds a gentle nudge on the right direction by opting for a weight reducing spa treatment. Spa wraps and body sculpting are the options for you here. Remember that sometimes, though the outside world doesn’t realize, it feels like it is those few extra pounds of fat that’s standing between you and your happiness, so it’s worth giving a shot.
Skin blemishes and acne may not seem like a life threatening problem to those who haven’t experience it, but we understand that it can take a heavy hit on your self-confident. While acne can be painful and make you hyper aware of its existence, the scars that they leave behind are not easy to deal with either. For the most part, a proper diet, sufficient sleep, keeping an eye on your hormones, sufficient hydration and the proper skin care routine can make a huge difference on your acne¾though that seems impossible to achieve. Depending on the type of your acne, even a spa session will make a difference both on your acne and scars. And while there are plenty of spas around the island for such treatments, we suggest opting for a high end, luxury Hikkaduwa spa at Citrus Hikkaduwa for sanitary reasons, and to get the best results.
Like we have mentioned above, today’s world is one that is highly stressful. Our relationships, domestic responsibilities, careers, and the sheer compulsion to prove ourselves can put a great strain on our mind. Not taking care of your stress levels not only puts you physically in harm, but also mentally. And while we certainly agree that a hot bath and some quality time with loved ones can do wonders to reduce stress, an occasional spa session can benefit you here as well. Remember, the goal is to getaway and relax.
If you’ve ever been for a spa session, you’d know that once you’re done with it, you feel really good. You’re happy and feeling relaxed and stress free. This is because massaging releases a hormone named Serotonin within your body; a hormone that puts your body into a “feel good” state. This is the same feeling you’d get if you exercise or think of a happy memory.
Despite all the benefits that we’ve mentioned above, we understand that spa treatments are not everyone’s “cup of tea”. However, it is also true that unless you give it a try, you’ll never know if it’s going to be your “go-to” action after a heavy week at work…!
In the world of business, things are always evolving and changing for the better. More often than not, traditional means are being abandoned for modern ways; better productivity, accomplishing more in less time and simplicity being the forefront reason for doing so. One such upcoming “trend” both locally and internationally would be conducting off-site meetings. Here’s why we thinking such meetings benefit you, your team and your company in the long run.
A strong working bond is vital for a team to function effortlessly; this is what produces admirable work results. However, this bond does not form overnight, nor does it form without putting in some effort. One of the best ways to form said bond is to get out of the office regularly as a team; share a meal weekly, or hangout after working hours. An off-site meeting once in a while, along with some fun before or after the meeting, can give you the same results. Remember to do a few team building fun activities while you’re at it!
New ideas are vital for a company or business to be current in the ever evolving business world. A change of scene from the usual four walls of the office can help you and your team members enormously when it comes to thinking innovatively and “out of the box”. Rather that having brainstorming sessions at the office, consider a slight change of scenery; these meetings will benefit a great deal if met outside of office for discussions. Remember that your creativity is affected a great deal by what you see, hear and feel every day; being stuck within a space can only starve your creativity, making you come up and reuse the tried and tested ideas over and over.
Office spaces are not simply a building that houses your company or business; it is a place where your employees have to work, think and create; a place where their productivity matters a great deal. And while most of us try to make these spaces inspiring, not many of us have a large enough budget or building to luxuriously decorate our office spaces; especially in a packed city like Colombo. This affects the productivity of you and your employees; inevitably affecting your company’s growth. Opting to have your meeting in one of the many available meeting venues in Sri Lanka takes care of this issue temporarily. Remember you have the option of selecting venues according to your budget and the occasion; whether you select Citrus (Waskaduwa) or a coffee shop close to your office depends on that.
Being stressed out during important dates of the work year, or the busiest part of the month is natural. It is also part of the human nature to lose focus on work from time to time. However, if you feel that you or your team members are constantly stressed out and out of focus; this can result in a huge problem. Having occasional off-site meetings tends to help here, as being out of the office reduces the work stress for some. It’s also true that it’s easier to lose focus in a familiar surrounding; like your office cubical. While you’re at it, don’t forget to grab some much needed coffee to get your brain online once more!
Like we mentioned above, not all office spaces are designed luxuriously. This is especially true if you’re an entrepreneur operating your business or company in a very limited budget. This can limit your use of current and trending tools and technology, as you aren’t given the chance to use such tools and tech during your regular meetings at work. Having an off-site meeting that enables you to use such tools and tech will help you and your team members not only learn and become familiar with them but, also make it easier on the occasion that you actually have to use them in the future.
So have we sold you on the idea of having off-sire meetings? If so, we’re pretty sure you have one question that needs clarification:
“Does this mean you need to conduct all your meetings out of the office; since it has so many benefits?”
The answer is, Of course not. That only adds to the cost and reduces the results you’re seeking. But an occasional meeting will certainly benefit you, your team and your company/business.
Sri Lanka is a great little country for business travel, as most of it happens in the capital city! The main thing to remember is before you even start packing, have some kind of checklist so that you know exactly what to bring to Sri Lanka. These tips will mostly be about weather and culture, and if you follow them you’ll have an easy time travelling in the country. The list is also especially useful for those staying at a Colombo Business Hotel, but it should apply to any city in the country!
First off, you don’t have to pack a lot to come here. Concentrate on lightweight shirts and blouses that will be good for warmer weather – stay away from heavy fabrics. Don’t bring too many pairs of shoes, and make sure you’re good to walk in them. Because of cabs and the air conditioning of offices this may not affect your outfits as much, but bring airy clothes and have a handkerchief or oil absorbing sheets to mop up any sweat on your face before you enter a meeting! Have a good comfy pair of shoes for when you’re taking a break – sneakers or sandals will do – as you will want to check out the local life if you have any free time. In general, be aware of the humid weather in Sri Lanka and pack accordingly. Make good use of the laundry facilities available at your hotel, so that you can travel light but still have enough outfits for all the days that you are here.
One of the most important things you can do when you touch down in the airport is to buy yourself a SIM card, as this will be your lifeline workwise, and family wise. Offices and hotels will have Wi-Fi, but not all other establishments do, so you will want to get an internet package for the duration of your stay. They don’t cost much, and you can buy a decent amount of GB for not very much, so you should be set for keeping in touch with everyone on the go. This is also important for google maps and ordering cabs using ride share apps.
Another tip is to understand that Sri Lankans tend to run on a different time than others. So prepare to be a bit more relaxed, and enjoy this change of pace. This applies to meetings that may start slightly later than anticipated and run a bit later than expected, as well as travel times (that can take anything from longer than usual due to traffic and fast as lightning when there are no vehicles on the road!).
Some advice when it comes to travelling is use ride share apps – such as the homegrown Pick Me or the internationally known Uber – because getting three wheelers, or tuk tuks, off the road might be dicey as it can be tricky to negotiate a price. If you do have to hail one from the street, make sure they have a meter.
While not a hack, per se, I would advise you to go around Colombo if you have any downtime. Try to visit Galle Face, and the Dutch Fort for a sample of Sri Lanka’s cuisine and nightlife. Independence square is a good place to go for walks.