Preparing for your first trip to Sri Lanka: What you should think about
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!
A Beginner’s Guide to Yacht Charters: How to Choose the Right Yacht and Plan the Perfect Trip
Yacht charters offer a unique and luxurious way to explore the world’s most beautiful destinations. Whether you’re looking to spend a week exploring the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, or you want to take a romantic trip to the Mediterranean, a yacht charter is an excellent option. Phuket is an excellent location to charter a yacht and is one of the most popular destinations for yacht charters in the world.
However, choosing the right yacht and planning the perfect trip can be a daunting task for those who are new to yacht charters. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make your yacht charter experience a success.
Consider the Size of the Yacht Needed
Yachts come in a variety of sizes, from small sailing boats to large motor yachts. Consider how many people will be traveling with you, and how much space you’ll need for your trip. You’ll also want to think about the type of activities you want to do on your trip. If you’re looking for a more adventurous trip, a smaller sailing yacht may be the way to go. But if you’re looking for a more luxurious and spacious experience, a larger motor yacht may be a better choice.
- Small Sailing Yachts: These are typically 30-50 feet in length and are ideal for more intimate and adventurous trips.
- Mid-Size Motor Yachts: These yachts are typically 50-80 feet in length and offer more space and amenities than small sailing yachts.
- Large Motor Yachts: These yachts are typically 80 feet or longer and offer the ultimate in luxury and comfort.
- Superyachts: These are the largest yachts, typically over 100 feet in length, and are often custom built to the highest standards.
Consider a Place to Discover
Yacht charters are available all over the world, from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, so choose a location that appeals to you and your travel companions. Research the destinations you’re interested in, and find out what the weather will be like during your trip. You’ll also want to consider the time of year that you’re traveling, as some destinations may be more expensive during peak season.
Here are some popular yacht destinations:
Mediterranean: The Mediterranean region is a top destination for yacht charters, with its turquoise waters, stunning coastline, and rich cultural heritage. Some popular destinations include the French Riviera, the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and the Greek islands.
Caribbean: The Caribbean is a popular yacht charter destination for its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and clear waters. Some popular islands include the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and Antigua.
Bahamas: The Bahamas are another popular yacht charter destination, known for its stunning crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and tropical landscapes.
Maldives: The Maldives is a group of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, known for its stunning coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and abundant sea life.
Thailand: Thailand is known for its stunning beaches, lush tropical forests, vibrant local culture, and rich history. Some popular destinations for yacht charters in Thailand include the Andaman Sea, Phuket, and Koh Samui
When it comes to planning the perfect trip, timing is everything. Booking your yacht charter early is key to ensuring that you get the yacht and destination that you want. Don’t wait until the last minute to book, as yachts can fill up quickly, especially during peak season. It’s also a good idea to book well in advance if you’re traveling during the holidays, as yachts tend to be in high demand during these times.
Yacht Charter Cost
Another important factor to consider when planning your yacht charter is the cost. Yacht charters can be expensive, so you’ll want to budget for your trip carefully. Consider the cost of the yacht, fuel, food, and other expenses. Some yacht charters may include some or all of these expenses, so be sure to ask about what’s included when you’re booking. You may also want to look for yacht charter deals or discounts to help save money on your trip.
Think About the Crew
Finally, you’ll want to consider the crew. Yacht charters typically come with a crew that includes a captain, chef, and other members. Consider the size of the crew, and make sure that they have the experience and skills you need for your trip. You’ll also want to make sure that the crew is friendly and professional, and that they can accommodate any special requests or needs you may have.
A yacht charter is an excellent way to explore the world’s most beautiful destinations in style and comfort. With a little bit of planning and research, you can choose the right yacht and plan the perfect trip for you and your travel companions. So start exploring your options today, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
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.
Suppose you’re interested in traveling to Germany for a damn good deal. In that case, plenty of tour companies have some pretty unique and affordable vacation packages to Berlin, Munich, and Bavaria.
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.
If you want to join the next Festival of San Fermin or any other wild festivals in Europe, such as Sail Turkey, book with our partners Busabout.
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...
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