Sri Lanka culture travel guide

Sri Lanka cultural holidays travel guide


2 MINUTE SUMMARY

Three is an important number in Sri Lanka. Predominantly Buddhist, the religion’s ideals are collectively known as the 'Three Jewels'. There are over a million three-wheeler vehicles in the country, particularly taxis known as tuk tuks, and there are three major points on the cultural circuit known as the Golden Triangle. These are the three historic capitals – the hill capital Kandy, the first Sinhalese capital of Anuradhapura, and the medieval capital Polonnaruwa. However, to think of Sri Lanka’s cultural gems as a mere triangle is like disregarding every other instrument in a percussion section. Because close by you also have the rock fortress of Sigiriya, a bit like the big timpani which makes your heart leap when it hits you. Or Dambulla Caves, like a collection of all the shiniest, most striking gongs and chimes. Put everything together and Sri Lanka is a symphony of culture.

Find out more in our Sri Lanka cultural holidays travel guide.

Best time to go on a Sri Lanka cultural holiday


CLIMATE AND CULTURE

Click on a location: Galle | Kandy
It’s summer all year round in Sri Lanka, with average temperatures in the high 20s. People worry about the monsoon season, of which there are actually two – but in different regions. If you want to combine your cultural sojourn with southern sea and sand, stay clear of the southwest monsoon from late May-July. The Cultural Triangle is in the north, and this gets hit by monsoon in Nov-Dec. May is the quietest month and in between monsoons, and so perfect in many ways. And December is very busy, so book early.
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Things to do on a Sri Lanka cultural holiday


WHAT TO DO & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do on a Sri Lankan cultural holiday…


Tuck in – the food in Sri Lanka is superb. Visit the fish market in Negombo, the spice growing region of Matale, eat crab curry in Mirissa or curry and rice just about everywhere. Or just go on a foodie holiday for the full à la carte experience.
Wellbeing may feel like a modern concept in the west, but it goes back centuries in Sri Lanka, with Ayurveda very much ingrained in local culture. A fusion of philosophy, psychology and spirituality; seek out an accredited Ayurvedic retreat for spas, massages and medical treatments.
Take a train ride either down the coast from Colombo to Galle or into the interior. A favourite journey is through the emerald valleys between the hill station town of Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Exquisitely elevated, Ella has a cooler climate and you can enjoy a hike to Ella Rock when you are there.

Things not to do on a Sri Lankan cultural holiday….


Get uptight about tipping. It is very much part of the culture and many people’s livelihoods depend on it. If you don’t think that the person deserves a tip, just be polite about it but never aggressive.
Fall into the trap of cultural faux pas, as Ishara De Silva from our supplier Srimal Plantation and Ayurveda Hotel explains: “It is a sign of disrespect to pose with statues or take photos inside temples. Many Sri Lankans do long journeys to come here because they have a really strong faith, so unruly tourists really do upset them. You aren’t supposed to come into temples if you have eaten meat or drunk alcohol, and you are meant to be covered and wear white, because it is a place of peace and calm. Some temples stop tourists coming in if they aren’t dressed properly; some will give
If you are joining in with local tradition by eating with your hands, be sure not to use your left hand. Use the finger tips of your right hand to mix your food and don’t lick your fingers afterwards.
Homosexuality is illegal in Sri Lanka, and as recently as Jan 2017, the government rejected requests to reverse this. So, although there are few cases of arrests, same sex couples will want to be sensitive to the issue. Follow this campaign to stop similar laws being upheld worldwide, at 76crimes.com.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Ronald Tagra] [TempChart: Hafiz Issadeen]
Written by Catherine Mack
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