A tiny island just off the south-west tip of India, what could Sri Lanka promise that you haven’t already seen on the mainland? You’ll be surprised.
We’ve curated a list of differences here, to highlight the absolutely, positively, all-important need for us all to visit Sri Lanka, someday.
At first glance, it seems like the hills are just another Kerala, the beaches another Goa, the temples another Tamil Nadu. Yet every leaf is a shade greener, the beaches whiter, the streets cleaner, the smiles wider. Sri Lanka’s deeply rooted sense of civic cleanliness and respect for public property is a stark opposite to India’s apathy. And while both have their fair share of scenic cities, Galle definitely takes the cake for cuteness. Even the tourism infrastructure is better–check-ins are faster and national parks and coasts better maintained. Roads are smooth and pot-hole free, officials better at their jobs, locals equally friendly, but less likely to stop you every few steps and ask for a photo. Perhaps most importantly, Sri Lanka is simply safer.
Sri Lanka’s food is definitely similar to South India’s, with a heavier prevalence of fish in the coastal country. Options are limited, mostly because the smaller country has less cultural differences in its 20 million strong population. Most dishes are a variant of the basic boiled-rice-and-curry, with delicious sambol on the side, though you’ll be able to find foreign influences scattered through the country with dishes like lamprais from the Dutch and kool from Jaffna. Sri Lanka also misses out on the widespread Indian tradition of street food, which means you’ll be spending a bit more on food here.
3. Things to see:
Sri Lanka’s culture is ancient and very well preserved. Visit the ruins of their erstwhile capitals and hike up into the fortresses, or explore the 1,300 km coastline dotted with palm-fringed slices of paradise. Further inland you have national parks and botanical gardens that are rich reserves of the country’s biodiversity. And the cherry on top? Sigiriya. Preserved ruins of an ancient civilisation hidden away inside a massive, imposing rock structure.
This varies from India in a lot of ways, finally turning out to cost about the same. It’s definitely more expensive for a backpacker since there’s fewer hostels and extremely cheap hotels. Homestays and budget hotels cost the same. If you’re hiring a car and driver it’s around 30% more expensive in Sri Lanka. If you’re using the extensive, well-maintained and much less crowded public transport system, Sri Lanka definitely comes out ahead. A notable exception here are the incredibly high monument fees, all around USD 10-30. While many are well worth the cost that goes into their upkeep, some aren’t.
Our overall verdict would be that even if you’ve been to South India, Sri Lanka will still blow you away with it’s unique identity. Small differences in sari draping and curry-seasoning are part of a bigger picture of historical influences, geographical differences and a gentler and more respectful ethos. Still not sure? Let us book you a trip and you can see for yourself!