Sri Lanka & The Maldives; A Match Made In Travel Heaven. Golden Tips PLUS An Itinerary For You!
Sri Lanka & the Maldives were both on my bucket list for a good while and so when the time came, I decided to combine both gorgeous destinations into one incredible trip!
Definitely, a match made in travel heaven!
In this post I will be covering:
Best times to travel
How to get around
An itinerary you're going to love if you too wish to combine these two breathtaking countries!
NOTE: Sri Lanka has so much to offer! The two sides of the island are both unique in their own special way: The views, wildlife, activities vary from one another, but especially weather wise!
Take the weather into account when planning your trip, it’s definitely the key to the vacation of your dreams here! Also, as most of us travel within a certain time frame, choices will have to made and the weather can help you make the right ones for you.
Before you leave on your trip ~ Vaccinations
Sri Lanka: It’s advisable to contact your local doctor or health center to find out what applies to your own country. In general, for most short-term travelers recommendations include cover against childhood diseases such as Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Measles. In addition: Typhoid and Hepatitis A are also recommended. Staying long? Hepatitis B and Rabies should be considered.
Maldives: Unless you are flying in from Africa there are no vaccinations required to enter, however, for your own health it is recommended to be covered against the main food and water-borne diseases such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Tetanus.
NOTE: Check out what vaccinations you need and make sure you have those done at least 4 to 6 weeks before departure! A decision on the requirement for Malaria will be based on time of the year, locations to be visited and the duration of the trip- By a doctor.
TIP: Don’t drink tap water!
Tourists need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can either get one on arrival at the airport however; I recommend arranging it before traveling and applying online.
You don’t need to apply for a visa beforehand when traveling to the Maldives. All tourists can receive a 30-day visa free of charge upon arrival.
Best times to visit Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an island shaped like a teardrop which is located off the South-Eastern tip of India. The weather here is dictated by two monsoon seasons which alternate between the two sides of the island. Being close to the equator does mean warm and stable temps year round. The best time to visit the South West coasts and hill country is from December to March. The best time to visit the North East coast is from April-May to September. So which side of the island would you like to visit?…
Getting around Sri Lanka
NOTE: Domestic flights in Sri Lanka are an option though a limited one. Public transport is cheap, it’s also very crowded and can be unpleasant. I would advise against it during public and school holidays, and weekends.
Private buses: These cover the major routes of the country.
Travel by train: Though it’s on the slow side, its a cheap fair and is relatively comfortable.
Self-driving is a great way to explore Sri Lanka. It’s very common to hire a car and driver which is what we did and it was a great experience! The costs are quite reasonable and it definitely upgrades your trip no end. The driver knows the area very well, he was most helpfull when it came to entering the parks and arranging things we needed along the way. He will also be the one to tackle chaotic roads and traffic jems for example while you enjoy the stunning views and just relax.
Once you get off the highway the roads are quite poor in many areas. Expect potholes, muddy/sandy roads, and the speed limit is low as in many little towns and villages it's caustic and super busy so speeding here is not a good idea. Therefore, the time spent on the road getting from place to place will take you longer then you would expect being used to roads in Europe or the US.
If you’re self-driving pay close attention to the roads! You will find a constant pedestrian, bicycle, and animal traffic to navigate through. Make sure you have the ultimate insurance coverage.
Make sure your driver speaks English!
You can find taxi drivers who will happily become your chauffeur, however, ask your hotel or travel agent to assist you in choosing the right driver for you, keeping it safe, and making sure you are not being taken advantage of.
It's important to know that as in many other countries around Asia, drivers here are known to dissuade travelers from visiting temples, holy sights, and even restaurants where there is no commission for them. Don’t be bullied! Visit only the places you want to and do your own research when putting your route together!
The best time to visit the Maldives
A stunning paradise that consists of 1200 islands and is located South-West of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. Many of the islands are so tiny you won't find them on a map. The best time is between November and April. This time of year, you can expect dry, sunny days and plenty of blue skies.The monsoon occurs between May to October, peaking around June.
After landing in the international airport of Male you’ll find ferries leaving every 10 to 20 minutes throughout most of the day. Check with your hotel/resort what is the best way to reach them! Other options available are speedboats and seaplanes.
NOTE: There are no ferries or flights after dark! Make sure you have a sleeping arrangement in Male should you arrive after dark as you’ll have to wait for the next day to travel to your resort. For short hops, a boat is nearly the only option for getting around.
Getting started: Sri Lanka; We traveled during December and January so we stayed on the South-West side of the island to avoid the monsoons.
First stop: Colombo
A very nice hotel, centrally located. Great big rooms, stunning sea views, a friendly & professional service, and the rooftop pool and bar are awesome too!
For information and reservations click: http://www.mandarinacolombo.com/
International flights to Sri Lanka arrive in the capital city, Colombo. I would stay one full day and night before moving on.
This city has a long history as a trading port dating back to colonial times, it has been ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch as well as the British before becoming independent. The country's heritage is reflected in the architecture you'll see while exploring the city, you'll find a mix of colonial buildings alongside skyscrapers and shopping malls. The combination of modern aspects alongside historical landmarks makes the city's history come to life, giving it an authentic feel.
A fun way to discover the city is by joining a walking tour: These tours take you around Fort and Pettah, you'll visit the Kelaniya & Gangarama Temples; the most important Buddhist temples in the country, you'll walk through Independence Square, you'll have a museum option, and some even add time to shop at the end of the tour.
Book your tickets here: https://www.getyourguide.com/?partner_id=OUO459C
Stop Two: Udawalawe Elephant Park
We were picked up by our driver and started our 5-hour drive to Udawalawe, a small town located in the southern part of the Ratnapura District. We stayed is this area two nights and had an absolutely glorious time going on safari, exploring the elephant national park.
The way leading you here is gorgeous! Everything is very green; think rainforests, mountains, and tea plantations views, and it's all oh so relaxing. There are many gem mines as well in this part of the country.
There are small temples along the way you can stop at which were very interesting to visit. Make sure you have something to cover your shoulders and legs when going into a temple for a look.
TIP: Along the way, you'll see many little stands selling fresh coconuts, so yummy! Definitely worth a stop, enjoy the views with a fresh coconut in your hands.
The elephant park is a big nature reserve where hundreds of elephants wander freely and are extremely friendly! Each time we stopped the jeep, the elephants and especially the little ones just come to us looking for attention and a pet.
TIP: Organize your entry tickets in advance! It's very busy and the parks in Sri Lanka have quotas so it's first come first serv basically. We actually saw people being turned away from the park for lack of space.
Book your tickets here: https://www.getyourguide.com/?partner_id=OUO459C
We stayed at a stunning hotel right on the outskirts of the park with monkeys keeping us company where ever we went and delicious food. We were welcomed to the jungle in style here!
The Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort
For information and reservations click: https://udawalawesafari.com/
Stop Three: YALA national park
Yala National Park is a huge area of forest, grassland, and lagoons bordering on the Indian Ocean. It's very rich in wildlife! You'll encounter elephants, crocodiles, buffaloes, monkeys, and wait for it...leopards! It's also home to hundreds of bird species.
There are many drives you can choose from; half day, full day, sunrise drives, afternoon/sunset drives, with additional drinks and even a private tour with BBQ dinner on the beach.
Book your tickets here:
There also other sites in the area worth exploring after your safari. Sithulpawwa is an ancient Buddhist monastery in Tissamaharamay & Magul Maha Viharaya is a cave temple complex in Lahugala contains centuries-old rock paintings.
When arriving, we stayed in this beach resort on the edge of the park: Jetwing Yala ~ Sensational
Jetwing Yala is the closest hotel to the famous Yala park. Wild- luxury is a great way to describe this beautiful resort! A peaceful shoreline on one side and the wilderness on the other; the best of both worlds.
For information and reservations click: http://www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwingyala/
Stop Four: Galle on the way to the airport to catch a much-desired flight to the Maldives
Galle along the coast is well worth a stop. Galle has an interesting history and it shows by a colorful mixture of different influences all around. It’s mostly famous for the fortified old city; stone sea walls, car-free streets, and architecture reflecting Portuguese, Dutch, and British rule during colonial times.
The Galle Lighthouse stands on the fort’s southeast tip, a great viewing point!
Stroll around Pedlar and Parawa Streets; they home to typical old Dutch colonial houses. Another well known attraction here is the Dutch Market, it's colorful and all about freshest produce. Also, it's fun experiencing the local hustle and bustle.
Flying to the Maldives!
All flights arrive in Malé Island – The capital Island. It's also considered to be the best island in the Maldives though trust me, any island you choose will be breathtaking! A luxurious paradise, heaven on earth...I think you get where I'm going with this lol.
Each resort is actually a private island, this makes it a very unique experience. You can go in the Maldives as crazy as you want when it comes to luxury and comfort, it's the only place I know that has a 6-star resort. Very glamorous indeed! Your vision is the limit here.
We stayed at Male South Atoll at the Olhuveli Beach & Spa and it was just heavenly!
TOP TIP: Aim to stay at a water villa! It's the ultimate Maldivian experience!
The Olhuveli Beach And Spa Resort is a 45-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport.
Their Sun Spa is awesome! It features wonderful treatments which are so refreshing, relaxing and fun. Think outdoor flower baths and massages. There is a tour desk which organizes day trips; always a plus.
Fresh seafood, an international buffet, Asian fusion; dining options vary and are delicious.
White-sand beaches, gorgeous blue waters I've seen no where else and an amazing underwater world we could explore daily. Even by walking in the water we could enjoy an encounter; our resort is home to a small species of sharks that patrol the waters in the shallow ends. It's so much fun watching them.
Snorkeling or deep sea diving will help you uncover a whole world of color and amazing creatures. Water sports are huge here and loads of fun to do; jet skiing, banana rides, sunset cruises, spotting dolphins, swimming with whales sharks...
For information and reservations:
You can spend a day discovering Male, learning more about the history and the people of these islands. There are tours leaving from most resorts daily.
I hope this post has helped to create a trip of a life time!
If you have any questions for me, just drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
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