Published On: Sat, Dec 21st, 2013

Sri Lanka on a Budget

From its natural beauty to its fish curry and rice, Sri Lanka completely bewitches you, Louis D`Souza tells Avril-Ann Braganza

Sparkling oceans, verdant hills, eight UNESCO world heritage sites, abundant wildlife, vibrant culture, quaint villages, delicious food, exotic fruits and warm, smiling people. That’s Sri Lanka! Our intercity travel led us through winding mountains and lush tea estates, a typical sight along the coastline. Trains and buses (local and private) connect Colombo with the major tourist towns. While you can explore Sri Lanka on your own, we found a preplanned trip to be safer and inexpensive. If you also want to travel at your own pace, your personal car and driver-cum-guide is the best option.

We found their food similar to Indian food—fish, chicken, mutton or beef curry, rice and vegetables— but the preparation is slightly different and spicier. A must-try is Kottu, a mish-mash of a particular Sri Lankan bread, vegetables, spices, meat and /or eggs. Hoppers, made of rice flour and Pittu made with rice and coconut are other dishes worth trying.

To travel to Sri Lanka, you need an official authorisation known as the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). When you arrive into Sri Lanka, you need to produce your passport to the immigration officer to obtain clearance and be issued a 30 day short visit visa in Sri Lanka. It is better if you carry along a copy of the ETA approval notice.

We discovered you could visit Sri Lanka within $500* (excluding air fare), if you stay for eight days, spending one and a half day at each place. Kandy, Sygria, Bentota, Colombo and Nuwara Eliya are the tourist hot-spots. Hotels cost between $10-50 per night while you would pay $5-50 for food.

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