Even when we do not want to have prejudices or presumptions, especially before visiting a new country, we usually do have some anyway. We have always heard something from other travelers, or had read about some facts/opinions online in the past. Before my first visit to Sri Lanka in 2018 I did not read a lot about the country on purpose, just not to expect something and then being disappointed. I prefer it vice versa. To have no expectations and then be surprised. And if it’s in a positive way, even better 🙂 So what are 10 things that surprised me in Sri Lanka?
Some are positive, some less. You will find below under the photo.
Sri Lanka has been called “The tear drop of Indian ocean” because of its shape and its location is known as “The pearl of the Indian Ocean” because of its natural beauty.
10 things that surprised me in Sri Lanka
1. Massages are very expensive in Sri Lanka. To be honest I was extremely looking forward to having a massage per day during my entire month in Sri Lanka. But the first week there in Hikkaduwa shocked me. Massages were a lot more expensive than in India, maybe 3 to 6 times more. At the beginning I was hoping to find better prices outside of Hikkaduwa, but in other places such as Mirissa or Weligama it was the same, or even worse. I had a few full body Ayurvedic massages while in Sri Lanka anyway but was hoping for many more. Sigh. Not so good 🙁
2. Everything is more expensive than I thought. It is not only massages but most of the things are more expensive than I expected them to be. Just to compare, Sri Lanka is more expensive than other popular Asian destinations such as Thailand or India. Sri Lanka is not a very budget friendly country, even though many people take it as one and you will see many budget travelers roaming around. Of course you can find cheap accommodation, hostels and cheaper places to eat at but not as cheap as in India.
3. Southern Sri Lanka looks very similar to Southern India. Traveling around Southern Sri Lanka reminded me a lot of Kerala and Goa (two of Southern states of India I had visited in the past). There was so much greenery all around, loved it! Similar jungle, similar trees, similar rice paddies… I guess it must be thanks to similar climate. Am I right? This was a pleasant surprise to me and something I could not get enough of. I am a nature girl. A barefoot green jungle girl.
4. Vegan food was quite easy to find. You might know that I’ve been plant based (vegan = not eating any animal products) since July 2013 which is why I also focus on vegan-friendly destinations on this blog. I knew that in India it was not so easy and I always had to double check, especially ghee and cow milk in meals, but in Sri Lanka I found out that most veggie traditional meals have coconut milk as a base. And if they did not contain ghee, they were almost always vegan. The same goes with desserts. They have many in Sri Lanka which are vegan (sago pudding, yellow pancakes, coconut desserts etc.). Yay!
vegan pancakes Sri Lanka
5. Meals contain very little vegetables and little meat. The biggest part of the meal is rice, noodles or some kind of bread, pastry or roti. I really missed having more vegetables when eating out. Maybe 10% of the meals were vegetables, while the rest was rice, noodles or some kind of bread. I’d prefer it vice versa. This was the case at restaurants, not in hotels where I stayed at. For example at 22 Weligambay hotel in Weligama meals had usually a lot more veggies and legumes.
vegetable noodles (very little vegetables, mostly noodles)
6. Bus drivers drive like crazy. They are definitely the craziest ones on the road. Is it because the buses are the biggest vehicles out of all you can find on the roads? Not sure. But I had to be very careful when walking along the street every time when I heard a bus speeding up from far away. But at least they always horn when overpassing another vehicle.
fast bus drivers in Sri Lanka
7. Petrol and transportation in general are way cheaper than food and spa, for example. Traveling around Sri Lanka by train is an experience on its own, and even better if it’s ridiculously cheap, right? Trains are cheaper than buses, but even buses are very cheap. To me it seemed that local transportation was the cheapest out of everything in Sri Lanka. I mean when you compare for example accommodation, food, tours and transportation, then local transportation was definitely the cheapest.
8. People were polite, nice and shy. For some reason I expected Sri Lankans to be more like inhabitants of India. But overall, they were not really that similar. They seemed nicer to me, calmer and less pushy. People definitely exceeded my expectations. Well, except one guest house owner which turned out to be very annoying.
9. Beaches were more beautiful than I expected. After spending some time on a couple of Southern Indian beaches, I did not expect Sri Lankan beaches to be that marvelous. For my biggest surprise some of them were a lot more amazing than I initially thought they would be. And on a sunny day, sometimes the Ocean even turned out to be pretty turquoise which in India did not happen on the beaches I know.
Mirissa beach Sri Lanka
10. Surfing and snorkeling. I did know that Sri Lanka is famous for surfing but I did not know that most of the beaches have, generally speaking, waves big enough for surfing. For me, a non-surfer that was a turn off. I prefer to swim in calm ocean than having to spit salt water out of my mouth every few seconds after yet another wave hits me. And another thing about Sri Lankan beaches… snorkeling. I did not know that you can see fish and corals around some beaches but yes you can. For example, at Hikkaduwa beach it’s possible right on the beach. Also in Mirissa on the left side of the beach you can snorkel.
Alex is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling the reason of her life. In March 2011 she quit her stewardess job and hasn't stopped ever since. Her motto is ''I live to travel, I travel to live.'' She writes about crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos.
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Amazing! its really good to share such good and informative information for people who are planning to visit Sri Lanka.
Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler
Thanks a lot, Matt! I personally love to know important facts before visiting a new country and sometimes it is not easy to find so I hope my list is helpful 🙂
Fantastic blog post! I will definitely hunt for the sago puddings when we touch down in Sri Lanka for business in a few months time. Speak soon! Luke
Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler
Let me know if you found and enjoyed sago pudding 🙂 It’s weird in a way but I loved it 🙂