Sri Lanka is located in the South Asia also referred to as “Sub-Continent” and “SAARC”, it’s basically an island on the Indian ocean, and it has no land border with any other country. The capital city of Sri Lanka is Colombo and other major cities are Galle, Kandy, Dambulla, Jaffna, Mount Livinia and Negumbo. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages and spoken widely in Sri Lanka. The currency is Sri Lankan Rupees and 1 USD is equal to 130 Rupees. I recently visited Sri Lanka, and I stayed there for only two days which I think were enough to explore the capital of Sri Lanka, However, if anyone else wants to visit Sri Lanka then I’d recommend to have a 10 days visit to Colombo, Galle and Kandy, because Galle & Kandy are tourist places and more cleaner than Colombo. In this article, I’ll be sharing my personal tips of my 2 days tour, and I’ll share some tips with you regarding visa, immigration, hotels and places to visit in Colombo.
How to Obtain a Visit Visa to Sri Lanka?
Obtaining Sri Lankan visa is very easy to do thing, you can get a 30 day double entry visa on arrival at Bandarnaike International Airport, Colombo. But before arriving there, you can also confirm your visa online, and the visa fee for 30 day double entry is $15 for South Asian countries (Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh etc), and the fee is $30 for all other countries. Visit below website, fill all your information and just apply for a visa, and pay the required fee via Master Card or Visa Card, after you submitted the application, within a few hours, You’ll get an approval via email from the Sri Lankan immigration department, just print that and keep it with you, upon arrival in Colombo, just show that to the immigration officer, and they will stamp your passport with a 30 day double entry visa to Sri Lanka (Double entry means you can enter/exit two times during those 30 days). For Sri Lanka visa only passport is required with at least 6 months validity.
Visit the official website for applying visa online:
The Sri Lankan visa is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done, it only took me 2 hours to get Sri Lanka visa printed, However, now a days the policy has been changed (for Pakistanis only) and if you are in Pakistan then either get the visa from Sri Lankan embassy in Islamabad or consulate in Karachi, the visa on arrival is currently not available for Pakistanis (it was available when I was visiting Sri Lanka).
How to Buy a Cheap Air Ticket For Sri Lanka?
Now you have visa in your hands, the next step is the confirm the return ticket, and this is again very easy thing to do, because there is an Airline which is very famous for flying to South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, Yes, you guessed right, it’s Sri Lankan Ariline, if you want the cheapest air ticket to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Chine, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippine, Cambodia and Laos then I’ll suggest you to confirm your ticket with Sri Lankan airline, the service is world class and price is the lowest. But never try to book your ticket with Emirates Airline when visiting Sri Lanka or Malaysia from Pakistan.
You can also easily confirm the ticket with a travel agency near by you, but before going there for confirming the ticket, please first check the rates on the above mentioned website, so you can have idea about the price. And I’ll strongly suggest you to buy the ticket 10 to 15 days before starting the visit, so you can save a handsome amount of money and can get the ticket at lesser price. Now when these two important steps are done, welcome to Bandarnaike International Airport, Colombo.
Sri Lanka Accommodation & Transportation
I don’t really know whether Sri Lanka is a corrupt country or not, but I do know that it’s the most expensive country in Asia I’ve ever seen in terms of transportation, foods and accommodation. The inflation is at its highest pack in Sri Lanka if compare to Pakistan, India, Nepal and other Asian countries. I did hear some stories about high pricing, but when I personally arrived at Colombo then I accepted the reality. And one important thing to mention here is that it will be a great mistake if you did not book a hotel room before arriving to Colombo, I did this mistake and paid the price in shape of embarrassment by searching the hotel room for 2 hours in Colombo at mid-night time, and there was raining too :D.
I’ll strongly recommend to have your room booked in a reasonable hotel before arrival, and for that you can go to Agod.com which is the popular hotel reservation website online, visit the link below:
Click the Agoda website after going to above link, and from the page select the dates you want to have a hotel room for, and then on Hotel page, select a 2 star or 1 star hotel which will be at reasonable price (though still it’s expensive), You’ll find a good hotel room between $40/night to $60/night, You can pay via Paypal or debit card, after buying the hotel room, print the receipt and keep it with yourself, so upon arrival in Colombo, You can show the receipt to the hotel reception and get the room instantly.
Now, when you arrive at Bandarnike International Airport in Colombo, after getting the visa stamped on your passport, just come out from the terminal and you’ll see a lot of public taxis outside the airport, unfortunately, there is no bus or train service from Airport to the city (It might be there, but I did not find), so you have only choice to travel in Taxi which is very expensive, the taxi will take exactly between $25 to $35 from Airport to the famous tourist areas in Colombo such as Galle Road, Colombo 1 to Colombo 10 and vice versa, it will take around 30 to 40 minutes to reach from Airport to Galle Road. So after reaching your hotel, just have some refreshment and then come out to explore the beautiful Colombo city. The prices are very high but don’t buy anything at all which you don’t need, only buy things which you really need at that time.
What to do in Colombo?
Colombo is a big city with greenery, high rise buildings, so many temples and beautiful beaches. You can also find massage centers referred to as “SPA” in Colombo, And night life do exist in Colombo too, so there are many choices to choose from, but I’ll suggest you to always travel in Rikshow (also called Tuk Tuk) when you are in Colombo, this is the only thing I found is very cheap, and it’s available everywhere in the city. But make sure to first finalize the rate with the Tuk Tuk rider before sitting in, and this practice should be done while dealing with anyone in Sri Lanka. People of Sri Lanka are very peaceful and they follow Buddhism which is the official religion of Sri Lanka but Sri Lanka is a social republic country. I’ll suggest you to visit the following places when you are in Colombo, but again keep in mind that only travel in Tuk Tuk which will be very cheap i.e Rs100 per hour:
- Big Temples (For Tourism Purpose)
- Mount Livonia Beaches
- Galle Face Green
- Colombo Gulf Club
- Colombo Museum
- Colombo Forts
- Colombo Zoo
- Massage Centers on Galle Road
- Casinos & Clubs in Colombo 3 (If you like to)
What about the foods?
I can’t forget the struggles I did for finding better foods in Colombo, as a resident of Pakistan, We always like to have Pakistani or Indian or Afghan foods and formally “Halal” foods which I did not find in Colombo, and especially, the test of every cooked food in Colombo was too much different than what I used to eat in Pakistan. During my two days in Colombo, I only ate McDonald and KFC burgers which were of the same test like we have in Pakistan, but the other things I could not eat easily. Anyways, it’s only for Muslims, if you are from a Western country or a Southeast Asian country then I hope you’ll like the foods in Colombo. One important thing to mention here is the food is also expensive in Sri Lanka, so make sure to check the price menu before ordering, and also try to ask a Tuk Tuk rider for foods of your choice if he knew better place. Most of the Tuk Tuk riders speak English well.
So at the end of the day, I was on a combine tour to three countries i.e Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand, therefore I decided to stay in Sri Lanka for two days, otherwise, I’ll not recommend to visit Sri Lanka alone, the reason is; because it will be very costly if you are on a low budget, but if you are visiting other country via Sri Lankan airline then it’s a good idea to get a 30 day visa and stay in Colombo Sri Lanka, but your visit must be only 2 to 3 days if you want to save money.
And here in Sri Lanka, I’ll recommend you to stay in the Colombo 3 area because that’s near to the tourist places, and you can easily go anywhere you want by foot or in a Tuk Tuk.
Summary & Final Words:
If you are planning a two day or three day visit to Sri Lanka then you can easily estimate the expenses with mine, my expenses for a two day visit were something like this:
- Visa Fee: $15
- Hotel, Food & Transport: $185
- Total: $200 (This does not include the ticket, because I had a combine ticket)
Let me know if you have any thoughts on this, and please share your experience if you already have been to Sri Lanka or Colombo, that would help the readers and me. Happy Traveling!