Wild Grass Nature Resort among the best Nature Resorts in Sri Lanka

The emerald isle’s scenic and natural beauty is fast becoming one of its key attractions. From lush rainforests to jungle reserves which are home to elephants, leopards and bears, to swathes of marshland teeming with hundreds of bird species and mountain forests shrouded in mist, Sri Lanka is home to perhaps the most diverse landscapes and natural beauty in a compact space. And as word spreads, international travellers are choosing Sri Lanka as a holiday destination for its green and wild spaces, just as much as they select it for its fabulous beaches, historic marvels and cultural fusion. Increased tourism to wild and natural destinations, however, puts a strain on hypersensitive environments and already threatened wildlife. And with most hotels and resorts sporting ‘Green, Eco, Nature’ taglines, it is hard for the discerning traveller to distinguish the genuine.

This series hopes to help you out by highlighting nature-based hotels, resorts and small accommodation experiences that also excel in their overall experience and service. And as a local travel agency that seeks to champion environmentally friendly and sustainable travel to Sri Lanka, we are also well informed and connected with the ground realities, sensitive habitats and the latest environment concerns. Further, we have stayed at these properties, met the teams and noted their various efforts towards a truly nature-based and nature-friendly operation.

Wild Grass Nature Resort – A perfect congruence of comfort and nature

A wonderful welcome to Wild Grass Nature Resort

We had a busy morning filled with meetings and calls that got even more complicated by a later than expected start. So we, Damith and I, were quite ruffled when we drove into Wild Grass. A large tree stood at the Centre of a clearing surrounded by what seemed like an eternal forest. 5 minutes later, having been graciously welcomed by the Front Office Manager at the minimalist reception area we found ourselves to be at complete peace.

From experience, we know that trees are living breathing beings with healing powers. But the calm and joy that swept over us felt instantaneous. In the pristine stillness, all we could see was green, freckled with the bright spots of butterflies bobbing about and all we could hear was the constant call of numerous birds overpowering the chatter of the insects.

Later, we were escorted to our villa. The pathways were wide so you could see any creature clearly ahead of you should they step up for a quick hello. The paths (which we later found out) were also well let at night but with a mechanism to switch off once we had passed on, so as to make minimum impact on the wildlife. Just beyond the paths was the forest, alive and left to its wild ways. The layout has been planned out well so that one doesn’t get lost or inadvertently trespass on the privacy of another.

The Wild Grass Nature Resort in depth

Our villa was one of 8 at the property and each of them was unique in design and layout. We stayed at a Villa named ‘Mouse Deer’ and the two of us played the part! And boy oh boy were these villas a treat. First off their architecture was simple, minimalistic and elegant. The layout was thoughtful, the amenities spot on and the cleanliness was top notch. A tough yet wonderful achievement when you consider that all this is the middle of the jungle where things can get truly messy. This also meant that the use of resources was considered well and the solid construction and high-quality facilities would last a considerable amount of time. Plus marks in our books as we also consider the strain on natural resources and construction of the properties we recommend.

Concrete, glass and timber were the main materials and were ideal for this environment. The spaces were large and airy with soothing aesthetics that enhanced the setting. A footpath that extended from our villa went straight to a lake in which some buffalo were playing in the warm mid-day sun. Large, floor to ceiling glass panels offered us beautiful views of the forest around was spectacular as an evening thunderstorm brought sheets of rain, making our stay feel even cosier.

The team had used a cinnamon-infused cleaning agent to naturally repel insects and creepy crawlies. However a few did get in and that is in no way a complaint because anyone choosing to stay here would obviously be 100% okay with sharing space with mother nature and all her wonderful creatures. But in case you are a little too sensitive to bugs, bringing your own insect repellent might be a good idea.

An amazing dining experience

Meanwhile, the food was amazing! We tried the Sri Lankan food as we feel we can identify the authenticity of our cuisine versus more standardized western fare and the team at Wild Grass hit yet another home run. The portions were generous and the flavours were just the right blend.

The elevated dining area treats you to beautifully wild views by day and star-filled night skies at dinner time. As a result the overall experience is enhanced by the connection with nature. The remote location means you cannot head out for food elsewhere with ease, but we had no complaints considering the rich menu and wonderful service.

A property that is entrenched in its surroundings and community

The following day, we prodded Mr Nimal Thennakoon, the Resident Manager who had overseen the operations for the last 6 years on all that makes Wild Grass a genuine nature-based resort. As he pointed out the property offers Bird watching excursions that incorporate the local farming community for added value, offer reasonably priced tours to Sigiriya and other places of interest nearby and one can enjoy a bicycle ride, hike the nearby rock or stroll around the 30-acre gardens. But what struck us the most was the lengths Wild Grass goes to protect the environment on a day to day basis. As a result, it made top marks when being considered among the best nature resorts in Sri Lanka.

The use of solar power for electricity, minimizing external wastage, segregation, and recycling, water treatment practices that prevent groundwater contamination are all essential practices for a truly eco-friendly and sustainable practice that shares its space with original and wild inhabitants of the area.

The importance of staying at Wild Grass Nature Resort, one of the best nature resorts of Sri Lanka

And as guests are made aware of these practices and value of nature, we believe a stay at Wild Grass is also an educational one that will leave a lasting imprint, encouraging more and more people to think and travel in a way that respects and cares for nature and the wider environment.

Finally, a holiday is about rest and relaxation. And here Wild Grass scores a perfect 10. The level of privacy we enjoyed was outstanding and the bliss we experienced, cut off from all outside contact was magical. This is why we highly recommended Wild Grass for couples who would like to connect with each other, families who need some time out and for those seeking a completely refreshing and rejuvenating holiday. Thus Wild Grass Nature Resort is easily among the best Nature Resorts of Sri Lanka.

The wildlife we saw:
Numerous birds including an eagle, peacocks and the jungle fowl, insects, butterflies, lizards, buffalo, monkeys.
Recommended Duration:
02 Nights (we only stayed for one)
Main Attractions:
Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla Rock Cave Complex, Kalu-Diya Pokuna. Don’t miss a drive or bicycle ride to Kandalama Lake which is stunning.
Food and Beverages:
Coconut Roti, Papaya Salad, Kiribath (Milk Rice) served with an assortment of curries, Mojitos
Key Strengths:
Privacy, Nature setting, Genuineness

Wild Grass Nature Resort Website:https://www.wildgrass.lk/
Wild Grass Nature Resort on Trip Advisor:https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g304141-d1747302-Reviews-Wild_Grass_Nature_Resort-Sigiriya_Central_Province.html
Foozoo Travel Tours featuring Wildgrass Nature Resort:
Coming Soon

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List of Entry Fees to tourist attractions and experiences in Sri Lanka

This article provides information on the following:

  • Prices of entrance fees for popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka
  • Cost of select tourist experiences in Sri Lanka
  • Off the beaten path Tourist site entrance fees in Sri Lanka
  • Tourist Entry Fees to National Wildlife Parks in Sri Lanka
  • Tourist Entry Fees to Popular Temples in Sri Lanka
  • Entrance Fee to unique experiences in Sri Lanka

Last Update: 08 July 2019

All prices in this list of Entry Fees to tourist attractions and experiences in Sri Lanka are given in US Dollars. Some sites charge in Sri Lankan Rupees (these have been converted to USD where appropriate). Where prices vary, we have provided the higher value.
Discounts may apply for visitors from SAARC countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, The Maldives, Afghanistan)
You may need to call in advance for some of the lesser known sites and attractions or inquire from the hotel you are staying (in the area). The locals will always be happy to direct you in the right direction but cross-check with a few as important facts may get lost in the conversation/translation.
We have not included any site or attraction where animal cruelty is of concern. Please also speak to us (or your respective travel agent) about seeing animals in the wild, community involvement and sustainability best practices.
Please email us at contact@foozootravel.com for assistance

Tourist Entry Fees to Major Tourist Attractions in Sri Lanka
Entry Fees to Anuradhapura $25.00
Entry Fees to Polonnaruwa  $25.00
Entry Fees to Dambulla Rock Cave Temple  $9.00
Entry Fees to Sigiriya Lion Rock $35.00
Entry Fees to Pidurangala Rock $4.00
Entry Fees to Avukana  $6.00
Entry Fees to Ritigala Monastery  $6.00
Entry Fees to Yapahuwa $6.00
Entry Fees to Singharaja Rain forest Reserve  $20.00
Entry Fees to Peradeniya Botanical Garden  $9.00
Entry Fees to Hakgala Botanical Garden  $9.00
Entry Fees to Udawattekele Forest Reserve   $3.00
Entry Fees to Colombo Museum    $7.00
Entry Fees to Kandy Temple of Tooth $9.00

Tourist Entry Fees to National Wildlife Parks in Sri Lanka
For National Parks, the given costs include VAT, Service charges and other fees but do not include the cost of the Jeep or tips to the tracker.
Entry Fees to Yala (Ruhuna) National Park $28.75*++
Entry Fees to Wilpattu National Park $28.75*++
Entry Fees to Galoya  National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Kumana National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Kumana National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Udawalawa National Park $28.75*++
Entry Fees to Lahugala National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Maduru Oya National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Wasgamuwa National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Horton Plains  National Park $28.75*++
Entry Fees to Somawathiya National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Bundala National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Lunugamwehera National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Minneriya National Park $28.75*++
Entry Fees to Kaudulla National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Pigeon Island  National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Galway’s Land National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Ussangoda National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Chandikulam National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Adam’s Bridge National Park $23.00*++
Entry Fees to Delft Island  National Park $23.00*++

Tourist Entry Fees to Popular Temples in Sri Lanka
Most (Buddhist) temples, all (Christian) churches, Hindu (Kovils) and Mosques have a free entrance policy. However, you may make a donation. Some or most places of religious importance will have security measures in place.
Entry Fees to Lankapatuna – Donation
Entry Fees to Kataragama Temple  – Donation
Entry Fees to Mulkirigala Vihara $4.00
Entry Fees to Gangaramaya Temple $2.00
Entry Fees to Ambuluwawa $2.00
Entry Fees to Mihintale Sacred Site  $4.00
Entry Fees to Sacred Temple Of Tooth  $9.00
Entry Fees to Lankathilaka Viahraya $4.00
Entry Fees to Japanese Peace Pagoda – Donation
Entry Fees to Muthiyangana Vihara – Donation
Entry Fees to Kelaniya Temple – Donation
Entry Fees to Kalutara Bodhiya – Donation
Entry Fees to Kadurugoda Vihara – Donation
Entry Fees to Matale Alu Vihara – Donation
Entry Fees to Bahirawakanda Vihara  $4.00
Entry Fees to Degaldoruwa Vihara – Donation
Entry Fees to Buduruwagala Vihara $2.00

Entrance Fee to unique experiences in Sri Lanka
Entry Fees to Turtle Hatchery (Conservation) Visit Only $3.00
Entry Fees to Turtle Hatchery (Conservation) Visit & Release to Ocean  $9.00
Entry Fees to Surfing One Hour (with a surfboard, Surfwear and Instructor) $ 9.00
Surfing Board Rental $ 9.00
Entry Fees to Snorkeling (Flippers + Goggles + Life Jacket) $9.00
Entry Fees to Whale & Dolphin Watching – Cost of Boat Hire (Small) $35
Entry Fees to Whale Watching by Air $200.00
Entry Fees to Kandy Cultural Dance Show $6.00
Entry Fees to White Water Rafting $6.00
Entry Fees to Para-motoring at Bentota per person $95.00
Entry Fees to Zip-line per person $25.00
Entry Fees to Kite Surfing (1/2 Day) per Person $45.00
Catamaran Cruise Trip at Trincomalee per person $65.00
Entry Fees to Lipton Seat, Haputale $3.00
Entry Fees to Embekke Devala, Kandy $2.00
Entry Fees to Helga’s Folly Hotel Museum $3.00
Entry Fees to Richmond Castle, Kalutara $1.00
Negombo Lagoon Boat Ride per person  $9.00
Boat Hire (Balapitiya/Bentota/Dodanduwa/Hikkaduwa/Koggala) $25.00
Entry Fees to Ridiyagama Safari Park $17
Entry Fees to Knuckles Mountain Range (certain areas) $4.00
Entry Fees to Millennium Elephant Foundation, Pinnawela $35.00
Entry Fees to Lunuganga Estate $9.00
Entry Fees to Brief Garden By Bewis Bawa $6.00
Entry Fees to 2-Tank House Reef Dive with gear $60.00
Entry Fees to 2-Tank Dive inclusive of all gear (requires AOW certification)* $90.00
Entry Fees to Caving at Batatotalena $2.00
Entry Fees to Martin Wickramasinghe house $2.00
Entry Fees to Golf at The Royal Colombo Golf Club – Per Hour $55.00
Entry Fees to Nuwara-Eliya Golf Club – Per Day $33.00
Entry Fees to Dondra Head Lighthouse at Matara – Donation
Entry Fees to Victoria Park – Nuwara-Eliya $2.00
Sailing Per Person $70.00
Entry Fees to Sigiriya Village Tour $10.00
Entry Fees to Hot Air Balloon Ride per person $210
Galle Fort – Private Tour $90
Galle Fort – Group Tour  $48

Sites in Sri Lanka with Free Entrance for Tourists
Galle Face Green – Colombo – FREE
Spice Gardens – Matale – FREE
Galle Fort – FREE
Dutch Reformed Church – FREE
Red Mosque – Colombo – FREE
Adam’s Peak – FREE
Independence Memorial Hall – Colombo – FREE
Viharamaha Devi (Victoria) Park – Colombo – FREE
Dutch Hospital (Colombo & Galle) – FREE
Diyatha Uyana -FREE
Colombo Lighthouse – FREE
Kandy View Point  – FREE

Tourist Entry Fees to Museums in Sri Lanka
Entry Fees to Colombo Museum $6.00
Entry Fees to National Museum of Natural History $3.00
Entry Fees to Dutch Museum $3.00
Entry Fees to Independence Memorial Museum $2.00
Entry Fees to Kandy National Museum $3.00
Entry Fees to Ratnapura National Museum $3.00
Entry Fees to Galle National Museum $2.00
Entry Fees to Galle Maritime Museum $2.00
Entry Fees to Magampura Ruhuna Heritage Museum $3.00
Entry Fees to Anuradhapura Folk Museum $2.00
Entry Fees to Jaffna Museum $3.00
Entry Fees to National Railway Museum – Colombo $3.00
Entry Fees to Tea Museum – Kandy $6.00
Entry Fees to Koggala Folk Museum $2.00
Entry Fees to Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum $2.00
Entry Fees to Traditional Puppet Art Museum $1.00

Reference Site: “http://www.dwc.gov.lk/Aoldsite/index.php/en/park-fees”

For most visitors, Colombo is a drive through destination with the obligatory one night stop at most. This treatment of the Capital city could have been justified during the war years when hardly any night life or culture existed. But boy have things changed since then. Today the city is marked by ever rising skyscrapers, quaint restaurants and trippy hangouts. And there’s loads of interesting shopping to engage in too. Now of course Colombo does not compare with the big shopping destinations in the region. However this is also Colombo’s charm. And this is also a city that is spread out, holding secrets that are mostly known to the discerning local shopper. Unravelling all this and presenting it all in a fun filled yet focused experience is what the Colombo Guided Shopping Tour is all about.

Shopping may not be on the top of the priority list for a visiting traveler. And while most people spend considerable amounts of time traveling through the island they are also bound to have picked up the odd souvenir, bags of wholesale tea, gems and spices. Colombo is none of these things. Instead it offers a distinct Colombo-esque array of goods that cannot be found elsewhere. So the Colombo Guided Shopping Tour is not taking you to a long list of shops that one can easily find with a few Google searches. But will take you to the right place in a bargain market or the right designer if you are looking for fashion. The right jewelery store if you are looking for something unique and the right tea shop if you are looking for an indulgent experience. Some of these haunts are not even listed online and are private ventures known among Colombo society.

While you can purchase the Colombo Guided Shopping Tour off the rack for a fixed price, the actual tour is streamlined to fit the responses on a questionnaire. Here you can select what you are after; fashion, gems, handicrafts, lifestyle, food products etc. We then inquire as to what your budgets are, what your interests are and so on. This allows us to get an idea about the kind of shopper you are. And a fresh more customized list is created around you. If you are traveling as a group this will consider your group requirements. All other times these tours will be handled solo or for a couple and be an authentic experience. One that is made fun by featuring distinctly local snacks into the mix. This tour is a full day tour and can also be considered as an alternate tour of Colombo city itself. If you are not particular about landmarks and tourist attractions, the Colombo Guided Shopping Tour works out to be an immersive experience of Colombo life. Even for a day.

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The Sri Lanka New Year in April  – The Sinhala & Tamil New Year explained.

This is Sri Lanka’s single largest celebration and festival and usually takes place on the 13th and 14th of April every year. It is also one that is celebrated by both of the island’s main races, the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The Sinhalese refer to it as ‘Aluth Awurudda’ and the Tamil community refers to it as ‘Puthandu’or ‘Puthuvarudam’. It can be said that the festival combines aspects of astrology, Hinduism and Buddhism. It is also a harvest festival.

Astrology is at the heart of the (Sri Lanka New Year in April) Sinhala and Tamil New Year 

The sun has been worshipped by the people of this part of the world from time immemorial. And the origins of this festival can be traced to this connection. Today every aspect of this festival is interpreted through Astrology and in simple terms is all about the Sun moving from the house of ‘Meena’ (Pisces) to ‘Mesha’ (Aries). This celebration also coincides with similar celebrations of many traditional calendars in South and South East Asia.

Lead up to festivities of the Sri Lanka New Year Holiday in April 

Sri Lankans start preparing for New Year as early as February. The radio and TV stations start promoting the New Year with traditional music and reminders. Shopping picks up and houses are colour washed. New clothes and gifts are purchased. As the dates get closer you will also hear the call of the ‘Koha’ bird fill the air. This bird call is synonymous of the coming celebrations. As the days get even closer the roads get busy. So do the markets and malls. By about the 12th of April, the locals take leave from work and travel to their hometowns and villages. By the time the first auspicious time descends the country comes to an almost standstill.

If you are travelling to or in Sri Lanka this time, it is best to avoid the direction of travel of the locals. Catching a train or bus out of Colombo from about the 10th should be avoided. But transport towards the city will be relatively easy and less crowded. The opposite happens after the New Year. While most places of tourist importance will remain open, most food outlets will be closed and transport will be difficult to find at the peak of the holiday. This may last for a period of 48 hours. Most Sri Lankans take about a week off and so it will also take time for life to return to normal after the holidays. If you are travelling without the assistance of a tour company, you should plan your travel and meals in advance. It would best to book hotels with all meals.

Auspicious times and the sequence of events

Unlike the celebration of the new Gregorian calendar year at midnight on December 31, the Sinhalese traditional New Year begins at a time determined by astrological calculations. Also unlike 31st night celebrations, where old year ends at midnight and new year begins immediately afterwards; the ending of the old year, and the beginning of the new year occur several hours apart from one another (this span of time is usually 12 hours and 48 minutes, which starts when the sun, as a disk, starts to cross the astrological boundary between ‘House of Pisces’ and ‘House of Aries’ and ends when the crossing is complete.

The auspicious times are published in advance and can be found online. As each time comes and goes, the locals light crackers and engage in a specific activity. The first auspicious time to be celebrated is the one for bathing for the New Year. This involves rituals of cleansing and spirituality. Next up is the actual dawn of the New Year. The inauspicious time is a period of no festivities or importance and most people use this time to visit temples or to reflect on their lives and plans. The lighting of the hearth puts the festivities into full swing as the fires are lit and the food is prepared. Next is the time to partake in meals and transactions. All of these times will happen at different intervals and is different every year. The anointing of oil happens a few days later and the auspicious time for leaving for work can happen a full week from the first auspicious time of that year’s festivities. So as you can see it can be all very confusing for a person who is used to a countdown on New Year’s Eve.

Is there an actual festival?

Technically the whole duration from the first auspicious time to the last is a time of the festival. But you may not see much happening other than people walking about. In that sense, it is more a holiday. You will see people attending temples and Kovils, and then visiting friends and family. They will also be wearing the auspicious colors of that year. Most villages will also hold ‘Aluth Avurudu Uthsawa’ meaning New Year Festival. Here you will see people playing traditional drums, engaging in sports activities, song contestants, cooking feats and even beauty pageants. Bicycle races, cross country running and musical shows also happen. So it really is a lot of different activities happening at different times.

As a tourist, the best way to experience this is to be invited to the home of a local. Most large hotels and even the smaller ones will also conduct their own festivals.

Should you avoid this time as a traveller?

Absolutely not! In fact, it is one of the best times to travel to Sri Lanka because everyone is on holiday mood and happy to welcome you to their homes or play traditional games. The days are usually the hottest of the year and fair weather is common. Although the occasional April Shower will come down and cool everything down in the late afternoons or evenings. If you are travelling on your own then it may be advisable to spend the peak festival time chilling out in one area without travelling around too much. But if you are travel with a tour company like Foozoo Travel you can count on having all the fun aspects of this unique holiday explained and included as fun activities.

Aluth Avurudu with Foozoo Travel

This tour package lets you spend 2 days and nights with a local family and experience the various festival highlights. It can be incorporated into an existing tour or enjoyed on its own as a special experience.

Image credits: Sri Lanka College of Journalism
Image credits: Kingsbury Hotel
Image credits: TimeOut

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Heading to Sri Lanka on a holiday? Then it is advisable to have a look at its holiday calendar. The island has a staggering number of holidays and most of these have religious significance. One key holiday is the Poya holiday which may happen up to 12 times a year. And because it has religious, cultural and practical considerations it is good to be aware and prepared.

What really is a Full Moon Poya Holiday?

A Poya day is the name given to the Buddhist full moon holiday called ‘Uposatha’, and is celebrated monthly in recognition of the moon being at it’s the fullest point. This usually means that a Poya Day falls once a month, however, there can occasionally be two Poya days in one month depending on the lunar calendar. This additional Poya is given the prefix “Adhi”, meaning extra. What all this also means is that Sri Lankans are lucky to have a holiday every time the moon is full! If and when a Full Moon Poya holiday falls on a weekend a holiday in lieu of it will not be given. However, there have been instances where this has happened and usually applies to the most sacred holidays of them all, the Vesak Full Moon Poya.

How does one celebrate a Poya Holiday?

All Poya days are recognized by the Sri Lankan Government and so are marked with both a civil and bank holiday, throughout Sri Lanka. All practising Buddhists within Sri Lanka meditate, reflect and put particular importance on the five precepts of Buddhism. These five precepts are to abstain from: harming living beings; sexual misconduct; stealing or theft; deception or lying and intoxication – whether from alcohol or drugs. If you are visiting Sri Lanka during a Poya holiday you can see most people visit temples dressed in white. However, since this is a Buddhist holiday the other religions continue with their normal lives. Also, not all Buddhists practice the rituals and rights associated with a Poya to the fullest.

How will Poya impact your holiday?

A Poya holiday applies to all sectors of work and business in Sri Lanka. This means all schools, banks and government offices are closed. So are most private businesses. There is also a ban on the sale of meat, fish, alcohol and cigarettes. Serving these items are also prohibited. It has been noted that those not following this holiday will usually stock up on the previous day.

Why does each Poya have a different name?

The Sinhalese have given a name to each month and this name is tied to that month’s Poya holiday. Each Poya also relates to an important aspect of Buddhism or a significant event in Sri Lanka’s Buddhist history. For example ‘Vesak’ Poya happens in the month of ‘Vesak’ (May) which is the first month in the Buddhist calendar. And on this Poya holiday Buddhists all over the world commemorate the triple anniversary of Lord Buddha – the birth, enlightenment and passing away. ‘Poson’ Poya in the month of ‘Poson’ (June) commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

Here is a list of Poya holidays and their meaning in brief.
Vesak – May: Birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha
Poson – June: Introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka
Esala – July: First sermon to the ascetics. (Also corresponds with the Esala Perahera/festival of Kandy which may happen in July or August)
Nikini – August: First Dhamma convocation
Binara – September: Buddha’s visit to heaven to preach to his mother and the celestial multitude
Vap – October: Conclusion of Buddha’s preaching of the Abhidhamma
Ill – November: Obtaining of Vivarana
Unduvap – December: Arrival of the Bo-tree sapling to Sri Lanka
Duruthu – January: Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka
Navam – February:  Entrance into the order of two leading disciples of The Buddha (Sariputta and Maha Moggalana).
Medin – March: Commemorates the visit of The Buddha to his home to preach to his father King Suddhodana and other relatives.
Bak – April: It commemorates the second visit of The Buddha to Sri Lanka. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year also happens during this period.

Helpful information for visitors departing Sri Lanka (Updated as new information is received). This is for those seeking information on departures from the Bandaranaike International Airport after Easter Sunday Attacks in Sri Lanka.

  • Airport authorities have requested passengers to arrive 4 hours prior to flight departure time (the standard had been 3 hours). Most passengers who check in online or do not have to drop off baggage have done so with much less time in the past but in the current situation, it is best to follow given advice. Be aware that there might be overnight curfews. If a curfew is expected, discuss your travel plans with the hotel or designated service provider.
  • Drive times to the airport will vary according to the general traffic situation, time of travel and mode of travel. Roads have been deserted since the Easter Sunday attacks but life is expected to return to normal soon and with it, the traffic will increase.
  • Vehicles and passengers are thoroughly checked. This takes about 2 minutes on average per car and more for cars and vans with several passengers. This leads to a long line of vehicles. and leads to a long line of vehicles. Depending on flight traffic and the progress of checking, this last stretch (from the start of the traffic jam to the checking point) which is about 2km may take over an hour. Come prepared for this wait. There are no toilets along this stretch.
  • To make the process quick for you and easy for the security personnel, keep your vehicle tidy. Main luggage at the back and carry-on luggage with you and ready for inspection. Also, have your passport and ticket in your hands as you arrive at the security check. Once you are through with the security there is no hindrance. But you will have to get off the vehicle before the departure terminal and take your luggage with you. You could grab a trolley if you have more than a backpack.
  • All bags will be scanned. But if security feels suspicious they may do a detailed search. Once again, please keep your passport and ticket ready for inspection at all times.
  • Finally, be alert! Sri Lanka has enjoyed a whole decade of peace and as such enjoyed a high degree of freedom. That has all changed but you may find most security checks within the airport to be equal to what you find anywhere else. So, in general, avoid crowded areas and be on the look-out for suspicious persons or items. Once you clear immigration, there is a decent waiting area with a selection of coffee shops and restaurants.
  • ·We wish things didn’t have to be this way and we sincerely apologize for your negative experiences. We hope you would remember Sri Lanka for all the right reasons and would love to see you back in our Paradise Island someday.

Thank you. Bohoma Isthuthi 

Tags: Sri Lanka Security, Easter Sunday attacks Sri Lanka, Departures from Colombo International Airport, travel advisory Sri Lanka

Helpful information for visitors to Sri Lanka
(Updated as new information is received).  This is for those seeking information on arrivals at the Bandaranaike International Airport after Easter Sunday Attacks in Sri Lanka.

  • Ayubowan and welcome to Sri Lanka. Our sincere hospitality is legendary but in these difficult times we are truly awed by your decision to visit us. When they want to disrupt our way of life, our dreams and our simple joys, your arrival tells them loud and clear, that you nor we will be cowed down.
  • The enhanced security protocols mostly come into play once you clear customs. After collecting your bags and walk out the doors into the arrival lounge you will be presented with a large waiting area with numerous stalls. Previously you could have a person waiting for you here but now access is very limited.
  • Given the drastic security changes it is strongly advised that you organize your transfer with the hotel. There was a system in place but a lot of it has changed and we have not had enough time to adjust to offer a high level of service or efficiency.
  • If you are booked in with us or a major hotel, a relevant representative will be available to escort you to your car. If you are booked with us and have organized a transfer, look for our representative holding a name board with the given name.
  • If you are arriving on your own, you can use the services of the officially cleared taxi services operating from within the arrival lounge.
  • All passengers will be escorted out of the airport through a shuttle service. This is a new feature. Make sure you hold onto your valuables and travel documents.
  • There is a host of taxi services out there but they are known to overcharge so do your research in advance and make sure you are advised on what is a good price. The bus station is a few km and it is best that you take a tuk-tuk there. However it is best to avoid public transport from and to the airport when it is dark and services are limited.
  • Always make it a point to avoid crowded areas. When using public transport be alert to suspicious activity or parcels. The various security forces of Sri Lanka are doing a fantastic job in keeping us safe since the attacks but every little bit of alertness and care does help.
  • Travel times to your hotel vary depending on the time and mode of travel. Please be aware that curfews might be imposed (especially at night) and your driver may need to call over at a police (briefly) for security clearance.

The Tourism Police Number is, +94 112 421 052 or dial 119 for emergencies

If you wish to get a local phone connection, we recommend that you do it from the arrival lounge

We hope you enjoy your stay in Sri Lanka to the maximum.
Tags: Sri Lanka travel, Sri Lanka travel advisory, Sri Lanka security alert, Bandaranaike International Airport

Sri Lanka Travel Advise

You are planning for an adventure in Paradise and want to be fully prepared. This write-up on Sri Lanka travel advise is all about providing you with essential and helpful tips to aid that preparation. The dos and don’ts mentioned here have been drawn up for the regular traveller but if you are travelling with Foozoo you can count on everything to be taken care of. Also, these points will not only help you bridge the cultural gap in no time but also give you a chance to enjoy Sri Lankan way of living.

Drinking water. Unless you are particularly sensitive, general tap water is good to drink. But to be on the safe side and not ruin your holiday, stick to bottled water. Most hotels will provide these at a cost. If you are staying at a Foozoo run guesthouse or hotel you will notice that they will provide free drinking water from a dispenser. Also if you tour with them, they provide water for the entire journey. Do make it a point to take a refillable glass or metal bottle to help the island fight its battle against Single Use Plastic. One good way to stay hydrated however is to keep downing those sweet and cooling king coconut water which you will find in abundance.

Sugar and Spice and all that’s nice: Try everything once and be amazed and delighted. And note that every cup of tea or fruit juice is too much too sweet. So if you are particularly trying to avoid sugar, give the restaurant or cafe a heads up. This mostly happens in rural areas and street-side shops. The same goes for spices. Remember you can always ask to have the spices a bit toned down if you know the food is made to order.

Insect Repellent: It’s a tropical paradise and that means the insects are abundant and the locals have adapted well to live with them. So don’t be alarmed when you see way too many creepy crawlies and winged insects everywhere. Mosquito-borne diseases are however a big issue. Although concerted efforts have helped keep some of the dangerous diseases like Dengue Fever in check it is always good to stay protected. So do keep your favourite mosquito repellent or all-purpose insect repellent handy. We recommend you try out the many organic ones available which are good for you and the environment. And by the way, if you tend to swell up or have allergic reactions to insect bites, maybe see a doctor before you travel and get some medication.

No Selfies with the Buddha: Don’t take a selfie with the Buddha or any other religious statues such as Hindu gods etc. Sri Lankans hold their religion in high regard. To the extent, a female tourist with a Buddha Tattoo on her arm was recently refused entry to the country for disrespecting Buddhism. Always remember to show respect to religious statues. Avoid facing your back to religious statues or worse yet taking selfies with them. Also, make sure your shoulders and legs are covered when visiting places of religious or cultural importance. Also, no hats when entering such places.

Ahem. No PDA, please. Sri Lankans are a prude lot. You will rarely see people kissing in public, let alone couples holding hands. Showing affection in public is something we tend to avoid like the plague. So unless you enjoy being stared at, it’s best to avoid PDA (Public Displays of Affection) at most times when you are out and about. Of course, this applies to the times when you are in public.

The pace is super slow: What is a 15-minute drive on the map could take an hour if you set off at the wrong time. Sri Lankan roads are small and packed with an ever increasing number of cars, motorbikes and tuk-tuks! Rush hour traffic can come to a virtual halt. Also, bus travel can be slow because they to stop whenever they see the potential of taking on another passenger. So Intercity express is more a concept here vs a reality. And it only gets worse on holidays, festival days and so on. While this is all fun for the adventure or budget traveller you will end up precious time staring blankly into another vehicle for long amounts of time. Therefore plan ahead and leave space for delays. If you can afford it, Sri Lanka is one destination where using the services of a tour operator makes perfect sense.

No Meter? Girl Bye! Yep. If the slow pace was bad, being ripped off at the end of a long journey is the worst. Being in the industry we know. And it keeps happening. So always agree on a price beforehand or stick to a taxi with a meter and ensure the meter is running. You could be paying multiple times the cost of an actual trip and have a bad experience overall. So always look for the meter. If there is no meter, simply refuse and walk away. To make matters easy, we have Uber which offers tuk-tuks and a host of transport options as well as the local version, Pick Me, Sri Lanka. The latter, however, requires a local sim to be operational.

Watch out! It’s a fact. Some of us (yours truly excluded) drive like maniacs. Especially the Bus Drivers, Tuk Drivers and motorcyclists. They swerve and cut through in the most unimaginable ways, an innocent drive to the shops sometimes does feel like a rollercoaster ride. There have been occasions too many, where even the pedestrian crossing has not proven to be safe. Make sure to look and look again, before you cross the road. Double the level of alertness if you are brave enough to wield a bicycle, motorcycle or drive.

How does one book a train? Well, this does seem tricky indeed. The general rule is to go to the station, buy a ticket and travel. Scoring a seat is like a winning a lottery. A private website under the title Malinda Prasad provides an easy to understand the time table of trains. The government website can be a bit perplexing. Some train lines, particularly the ones on the upcountry line (Colombo – Kandy – Nanu-Oya – Ella) line offer carriages where the seats can be reserved one month in advance. But they also sell out before you say ‘one ticket please’. Work with Foozoo or other local agents to have your train tickets reserved on these busy lines and act at least a month in advance. For those who fail to get one, know that you can still travel on these trains. A seat may become available as the passengers alight from different stations.

Hand sanitizer and tissues: Sri Lanka is humid and before you know it you are feeling hot and sticky. So passing on or attracting germs is easy. This is why having a bottle of hand sanitiser is a good idea. Especially when there is such a lot of good street food to be had. And you don’t want to pass one by. And wet tissues are a genius invention. Not just to wipe off the dust and feel a temporary cool respite. They also help clean your hands after a quick bite or prove helpful in the case of a toilet emergency.

To tip or not to tip: Tip away. It is not essential. It is not expected. But a lot of Sri Lankans you will meet on the road, at cafes, at hotels etc really struggle to get by. So a standard tip of 10% will have a large impact on their lives and families.

Where’s the toilet roll? Why wipe when you can wash? And here’s a delightful hand shower to change your life. If you are going to a public washroom or staying with locals (other than a guesthouse or hotel) you may find a handy shower you can aim at the ‘you know what’ and clean far better than a piece of paper ever could. It’s really nice. Try it.

A mess of a tax system. There are way too many tax systems even for the locals to understand. So don’t try. But if and when booking hotels and services in advance, be mindful that the figure you agreed on may not be the final. But as a standard, you will have to pay VAT, NBT and service charges.

We hope the above these Sri Lanka travel advise tips will be useful for your upcoming holiday.

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Note: This article will be updated to reflect the changes in the ground situation.

Update (14/11/2018 11:40 AM) : Parliamentarians who voted in favour of the No Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse have signed a motion to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya reconfirming their calls. The majority voted ‘aye’.

Update (26/11/2018 4:30PM) : Following the initial NCM vote, there have been two further votes, both of which led to violent incidents within the parliament, as supporters of Rajapakse refused to accept the outcome. Those of the Rajapakse camp claim the Speaker is being partisan in how he chose to conduct the NCM vote. The Court of Appeal will take up a Writ of Quo Warranto filed by 122 MPs challenging Rajapakse and his purported government’s continuation in office on November 30. Meanwhile, a seven-judge bench to hear the petitions against the dissolution of Parliament will be taken up on December 3.

No sooner than Lonely Planet announced Sri Lanka as its #1 travel destination for 2019, governments around the world issued travel advisories warning their citizens about the sudden shift in Sri Lanka’s political climate. Fear not, however, as we’re here to tell you that our doors are still open and why it’s still safe to visit the resplendent island.

So what’s really going on? Well, at the moment of writing this, a few things have happened. Our president and prime minister came under scrutiny as their government, which came to power on a popular platform, could not deliver on its promises. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid responsibility, the president chose to remove the prime minister and appoint a new one, former president Mahinda Rajapakse. The president appointed a cabinet of ministers, issued a gazette to dissolve parliament, and elections have been called for January 2019. This was much to the ire of those opposed to the previous regime and those who uphold the constitution, which does not allow for it. On the other hand, many have been celebrating this change.

In fact, for the most part, it is civil society, concentrated in Colombo, that are riled up about the issue. Everywhere else on the island, from tourist destinations to the rural countryside, peace prevails and life goes on as usual. There has been one incident of violence when a mob attempted to assault a member of parliament and his security personnel fired at them. This happened in the heat of the coup, and since then it has been calm and memes have taken over. Politics is certainly on everyone’s mind, but the hospitality sector, in particular, is never shaken. As Lonely Planet rightly notes, our people defy all odds with our welcome and friendliness.

Be it the tuk driver, surf instructor, waiter or bus conductor, wherever you go, you’re sure to be greeted by a Sri Lankan smile. That’s just a part of our culture and our personality, a curious fact. You’d sometimes stop and marvel at how we manage to maintain this sense of optimism. Some attribute it to short-term memory, that we soon forget our troubles. Others choose to believe that we simply persevere. After having to turn away visitors time and time again over a 30-year conflict, we’ve spent the past decade, post-conflict, inviting the world to share in the delights of this country, and we’re not about to let some political misadventures spoil that.

So what’s in store for Sri Lanka? A Supreme Court hearing on November 12 and 13 led to a stay order on the Gazette. This allowed the parliament to be convened, today. A No Confidence Motion has been called against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.

A spiritual New Year’s Eve Holiday

Are you exhausted by the idea of a new year’s eve party? All the noise from the fireworks and the loud music can seem inescapable. You either join the party and drink till you can enjoy it, or you hide away at home, calming your pets as they fear for the end of the world. What if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you could have a meditative, spiritual experience instead? Keep reading.

While it may be a tradition in the West to countdown to midnight on new year’s eve, in Sri Lanka, it’s not as big a deal. Sure, every hotel will throw a party and a put on a fireworks display, but apart from the bourgeoisie in Colombo, the rest of the country doesn’t really celebrate it. We actually have our own new year, a harvest festival, and it’s celebrated in April!

If you’re up for an uphill climb (there are stairs, don’t worry!), a boat ride on a lake, or a campsite in a grassland, here are our suggestions:

Peak Pilgrimage

Being a multicultural country, Sri Lankans share religious sites to which they make pilgrimages. People of all faiths begin the ascent to the top of a mountain, known to some as Sripada, Ratnagiri, Samanala Kanda, and Adam’s Peak. Yes, that Adam. Why do they climb? There is a footprint on its peak that Buddhists believe to be of the Buddha, Hindus believe to be of Lord Shiva, and Muslims and Christians believe that it was left by Adam as he set foot on earth upon exile from Eden.

What’s really to be marvelled at, though, is the view. If you make the climb at night, it will take about five hours to reach the peak. Once you’re there, settle in and look forward to the sunrise. Words can’t do justice to the sight, it simply must be seen and experienced. Watch as the sun leaps over the eastern horizon, drawing a shadow of the mountain in a perfect triangle over its western backdrop.

Cloud Forest

At an elevation of 2000 meters, there is a plateau rich in biodiversity, populated by endemic species. It is known as Horton Plains, a world heritage site that spans grasslands, a waterfall, a cloud forest and a spectacular view dubbed World’s End. It’s about a nine-kilometre walk, with a circuitous route, so you can decide in which order you want to experience it. Keep an eye out for the birds and lizards as you make your way through the cloud forest. In the grasslands, you’ll likely come across some sambar deer.

We suggest camping in the grasslands. The wildlife department operates three campsites, each about 500 meters from the visitation centre. You can spend a quiet night under the stars and then take the walk in the morning.

Ancient Reservoir

Man-made by damming one of Kala Wewa’s tributaries, the Kandalama Reservoir is a serene, placid water body that stands testament to this country’s ancient irrigation knowledge. Formed with masses of hewn rock, with stones ten feet thick at the base, placed like steps, it would have been quite a daunting task to complete. It’s actually often called Kandalama “Lake” as it’s so easy to mistake it for being a natural phenomenon.

You can look forward to birdwatching by boat, early in the morning. Imagine being greeted by birdsong at the dawn of a new year. Your view of the lake transforms over the course of the day, as the misty morning gives way to crimson skies at sunset. Other activities available in the area include hot air balloon rides as well as climbing Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress, just a few kilometres away.

Where To Avoid

In any case, if you want to enjoy a peaceful night on new year’s eve, you’d want to avoid major hotels, especially along the coast, and stay far away from the capital and larger towns. If you’d like to have a Spiritual New Year’s Eve factored into your custom-designed tour of Sri Lanka, write to us and we’ll see right to it!