Getting ready for your first trip in any country can be a bit daunting, especially if it’s a country entirely different from what you are used to. If you are from the US or Europe, for instance, then Sri Lanka will certainly be unlike anything you have experienced in your home country.
The island nation of Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful regions in the world yet you should definitely be well-prepared before you go. There are quite a few things you should know about traveling to Sri Lanka so stay with us as we go through the main points!
Get a visa
In case you were not aware of this already, you need to get a visa in order to travel to Sri Lanka. Technically, you can do this after arriving at the airport as there is a dedicated visa counter with staff who can help sort things out for you.
However, it is highly recommended that you complete this process online instead. Just visit the official page, fill and submit the online application, and pay the fee which is about $35 (free for children under 12). Another good option is to travel with a package from an agency like Olanka Travel and they can help you go through this process seemlessly as part of the package.
Visas are valid for 3 months which should give you more than enough time to apply before you travel.
Take some health precautions
As is the case with every other country in Asia, it is recommended that your vaccinations are up-to-date before heading over to Sri Lanka. More specifically, it is recommended that you get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B as well as typhoid.
On top of that, you should absolutely get a very strong mosquito repellent as dengue fever has been known to be an issue in Sri Lanka. You really don’t want to have to deal with this while travelling (or at any time, really).
Medicine can easily be found across Sri Lanka but you might want to take some from home as well. Finally, do not wait to get sunscreen on arrival; get it in your home country and make sure it’s powerful.
Don’t drink tap water and take care with your food
You should never drink the tap water in Sri Lanka unless you enjoy being sick. In addition to that, you should try to avoid anything that might have come into contact with tap water like ice cubes or salads. Bottled water is incredibly cheap so you should always make sure to have some.
As for food hygiene, the standards are not always high. First of all, there is a lot of delicious food in Sri Lanka.
But, if a place looks kind of dodgy, then you should just avoid it and head elsewhere. There will always be a place where you can get decent and cheap food as well as dozens of different fruits.
You can only get Sri Lankan Rupees after you arrive in the country
In your previous travels, you may have visited a travel exchange exchange before your trip in order to acquire some local currency in preparation for your holidays. This is not possible when travelling to Sri Lanka as they have a closed currency.
What that means is that you will have to carry cash in your own currency and then exchange it after you arrive at the airport. There are stalls from numerous banks and they offer an identical rate to what you will find in Colombo so you might as well exchange your money right away.
You can also simply withdraw from local ATMs but you will probably want to have some cash with you before you leave the airport. I would advise you to only use ATMs connected to big banks to avoid scams.
While you can visit all-year-round, it depends on your destination
Sri Lanka has good weather throughout the year but there are two monsoon seasons which affect certain areas and which you will probably want to avoid.
The absolute best time to visit the south and west coasts, as well as the hill country, is from mid-late December to March. If you are planning on visiting the east coast instead, then you might want to consider a trip somewhere between late April and September.
With all of that said, you can pretty much visit any time you want if you can deal with the rain or wish to experience time-sensitive events. For instance, August travellers will have to deal with a little bit of rain but they will be able to experience amazing festivals too.
Sri Lanka is perfectly safe for tourists
If you are concerned about your safety in Sri Lanka, you can stop worrying now. As long as you use common sense, you will be perfectly safe while you are in the country.
When it comes to common sense, just avoid doing anything you wouldn’t do in any other country in the world. For instance, don’t walk alone in dodgy alleys in Colombo, don’t give too many details to any stranger, and keep your personal belongings safe and out of reach.
Women should take some extra caution if they wish to avoid stares and unwanted attention. Homosexuality is also illegal in Sri Lanka and not culturally accepted so you should simply avoid public displays of affection while in the country.
Some local customs and traditions might surprise you
Every country has its own customs and strange traditions, particularly with things that locals might deem offensive.
For instance, it is considered extremely rude and inappropriate to use your left hand for anything other than personal hygiene in Sri Lanka. So never attempt to shake someone’s hand with your left hand to avoid offending anyone.
In general, just be polite and the locals will almost always be polite back.
You should be respectful to their religion
Modest dressing is a must if you wish to visit most religious sites across Sri Lanka. Usually, this means covering areas like your shoulders and your knees so just bring extra clothing with you if you are travelling to such sites.
In addition to that, you should never do absolutely anything that might be considered disrespectful towards the Buddha. This includes posing for photos in front of statues and other imagery of the Buddha.
Photography in general is sometimes considered disrespectful, especially while you are inside a region of religious importance. When in doubt, ask a guide.
Have a good time!
There are the most important things you should know about Sri Lanka. With great weather, stunning locations, friendly people, and amazing food, you will find plenty to love in the country!
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
New on Four Jandals
- Get Peace of Mind When You Pre-Book Transportation November 29, 2022
- Paris on a Budget: Best Cheap Eats in Paris November 7, 2022
- Travel Tip: Train to Pisa from Florence November 6, 2022
What Are You Looking For?
See Our Favorite Topics
Europe1 month ago
Travel Tip: Train to Pisa from Florence
Asia1 month ago
Devouring seafood at the Fethiye Fish Market
Europe4 weeks ago
Paris on a Budget: Best Cheap Eats in Paris
North America1 month ago
The Best Way to Stay in LoDo Denver
Travel Tips1 month ago
The Top Ways To Avoid Relapse While On Holiday
Travel Tips1 month ago
Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Yacht
Travel Tips1 week ago
Get Peace of Mind When You Pre-Book Transportation