FAQ'S

1. WHERE IS SRI LANKA SITUATED?

2. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE NAME ‘SRI LANKA’?

3. IS SRI LANKA AND CEYLON THE SAME COUNTRY?

4. WHAT IS THE LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN IN SRI LANKA?

5. WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

6. HOW MANY DAYS DOES A TOURIST NEED TO STAY IN SRI LANKA?

7. CAN A TOURIST COMBINE A VISIT TO SRI LANKA WITH  ANOTHER DESTINATION?

8. WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 TOP ATTRACTIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME VISITOR?

9. DOES A TOURIST NEED TO BE VACCINATED TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

10. HOW DOES A POTENTIAL VISITOR  REQUEST BROCHURES ABOUT SRI LANKA?

11. DOES A TOURIST NEED A VISA TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

12. WHAT IS THE SIZE OF SRI LANKA?

13. WHAT IS THE CURRENCY OF SRI LANKA?14. WHAT TO BUY IN SRI LANKA?

15. WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE MUST-DO EXPERIENCES FOR A TOURIST?

16. HOW TO GET AROUND THE ISLAND?

17. WHERE ARE CINNAMON HOTELS & RESORTS LOCATED?

18. WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT FESTIVALS?19. 19.  WHAT FIVE AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES TO ENJOY?20. IS IT SAFE TO VISIT SRI LANKA?21. WHAT IS THE BUDGET NEEDED TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

22. WHAT ARE FIVE LITTLE-KNOWN THINGS TO DO IN SRI LANKA?

23. WHAT IS THE BEST BEACH HOLIDAY TO ENJOY IN SRI LANKA?24. WHAT ARE THE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN SRI LANKA?

25. WHAT KIND OF FOOD IS AVAILABLE IN SR LANKA?

26. WHAT KIND OF CLOTHES SHOULD BE WORN IN SRI LANKA?

27. IS THE INTERNET EASY TO ACCESS IN SRI LANKA?

28. WHAT ARE THE DOs AND DON’Ts IN SRI LANKA?

29. WHAT IS THE VOLTAGE TYPE IN SRI LANKA?

30. HOW IS THE NIGHTLIFE IN SRI LANKA?

31. DO TOURISTS NEED INSURANCE IN SRI LANKA?

32. ARE CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED IN SRI LANKA?

33. WHAT KIND OF COMMUNICATION FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE IN SRI LANKA?

34. WHERE TO DO SHOPPING IN SRI LANKA?

35. WHAT IS THE CULTURE LIKE IN SRI LANKA?

36. WHAT IS THE TOP TOURIST DESTINATION FOR THE FUTURE IN SRI LANKA?37. WHAT ARE THE TOP TEN MUST SEE ON THE EAST COAST?38. WHAT ARE THE TOP TEN MUST DO ACTIVITIES ON THE EAST COAST?39. WHAT ARE THE EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS IN COLOMBO?40. WHAT ARE THE MUST VISIT WILD LIFE DESTINATIONS IN SRI LANKA?41ARE THERE GOOD SPAS AND SALONS IN COLOMBO, SRI LANKA?

42. WHAT ARE THE BEST WELLNESS EXPERIENCES IN SRI LANKA?43. WHAT ARE THE RULES I SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING SRI LANKA?44. HOW TO EXPERIENCE VILLAGE LIFE IN SRI LANKA?

45. WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO HOST A DESTINATION WEDDING IN SRI LANKA?46. WHAT ARE THE BEST CONFERENCE VENUES IN SRI LANKA?

47. WHAT ARE THE LESS KNOWN PLACES TO VISIT IN SRI LANKA?

48. WHAT ARE THE MUST VISIT CULTURAL SITES IN SRI LANKA?

49. WHAT ARE THE BEST WATERSPORTS IN SRI LANKA?

50. WHAT ARE THE TOP CITIES IN SRI LANKA?

 

 

  1. WHERE IS SRI LANKA SITUATED?

Sri Lanka is an island (approximately 65,610 square kilometres in area; about half the size of England) dangling off the southern tip of India to the east, 875km north of the Equator. Latitude 5˚55’ to 9˚50’N, longitude 70˚42’ to 81˚52’E.


  1. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE NAME ‘SRI LANKA’?

Literally, Resplendent Island. “Sri” meaning ‘resplendent’ being added to the ancient name for the island, ‘Lanka.’


  1. IS SRI LANKA AND CEYLON THE SAME COUNTRY?

Geographically, yes. Sri Lanka was also referred to as Thambapanni and Serendib in the past. Ceilão, the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese in 1505, was transliterated into English as Ceylon.  The colonial name of Ceylon was then changed in 1972 when the country became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. However, such is the progress and development in the country since then, it is a very different country from when it was called Ceylon.                                               

  1. WHAT IS THE LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN IN SRI LANKA?

Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts which is the leading hotel chain in Sri Lanka comprising of 15 properties located across Sri Lanka and the Maldives.  Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts is backed by John Keells Holdings which is currently the largest conglomerate in Sri Lanka.

 


  1. WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

Whenever guests fancy having a holiday. Because of its location, year round temperature is mild. The beaches are best during the European winter (November to April) on the west coast, and great on the east coast for the rest of the year. The hill country and Cultural Triangle have a year round benign climate although it can turn chilly at night. Restaurants and hotels are open everywhere all the year round and you’ll find somewhere pleasant to stay at any time of the year.


  1. HOW MANY DAYS DOES A TOURIST NEED TO STAY IN SRI LANKA?

The island is small enough to see all that’s important during a 14-day holiday, allowing time to tour and also to relax at one of the Cinnamon Hotels on the island’s beautiful beaches. Tourists are granted a 30-day entry permit on arrival; it’s possible to stay a whole month and see all the island has to offer, but it is also possible to make a quick trip of about 7 to 14 days to explore Sri Lanka.

Do not change the last part, they can stay for a month if they want. What has to be changed is 14-day holiday (without specifying that it’s a 14 day holiday say 7-14 days)


  1. CAN A TOURIST COMBINE A VISIT TO SRI LANKA WITH  ANOTHER DESTINATION?

Of course. Sri Lanka is only an hour by plane from Southern India and four hours from Thailand and Singapore. Many visitors tour Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle and Yala Nature Reserve and then take the 60-minute flight to the Maldives where you can book a stay with one of the four Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts in the Maldives for snorkelling, diving, and a relaxing beach island holiday.


  1. WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 TOP ATTRACTIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME VISITOR?

 

  1. The historic and sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic

The focus of any visit to Kandy, this temple has housed the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha since 1592. An object of veneration for Sri Lankans and a must-see for visitors (although they don’t actually see the tooth, the temple itself is amazing).

  1. Sigirya Rock Fortress- A World Heritage Site

The rock fortress of a 5thcentury king which can be climbed 183m to the summit, with a view of ancient frescoes on the way.

  1. The historical Galle Dutch Fort

The broad ramparts encompass nearly 500 houses within this living fort, begun by the Portuguese, extended by the Dutch and British, and now filled with trendy shops, bars and restaurants.

  1. The majestic Elephants of Sri Lanka

The gathering of elephants at Minneriya near Cinnamon Lodge Habarana and Habarana Village by Cinnamon in September is not to be missed, but if you do the Elephant Orphanage near the Cinnamon Citadel Kandy has scores of orphaned elephants in a riverside elephant enclave opened in 1975.

  1. Experience the production of Ceylon Tea

Sri Lanka is the source of Pure Ceylon Tea and many factories welcome visitors to see how tea is produced, and to purchase special grades of fresh leaf tea at factory prices.


  1. DOES A TOURIST NEED TO BE VACCINATED TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

There are no compulsory vaccinations for Sri Lanka required by law. However, the World Health Organization recommends the following vaccinations for Sri Lanka: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.


 

 

  1. HOW DOES A POTENTIAL VISITOR  REQUEST BROCHURES ABOUT SRI LANKA?

 

Go to: http://www.srilanka.travel/index.php?route=information/contact


  1. DOES A TOURIST NEED A VISA TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

 

Yes, unless the tourist is a national of the visa relaxed countries such as India, United Kingdom, Germany to name a few; visas to visit Sri Lanka on holiday for up to 30 days are required by everybody else. The visa fee can be paid by credit card and obtained online at the government website, www.eta.gov.lk. A visa can also be purchased by queuing at a special counter on arrival at the airport.

More information on visa exemptions can be obtained from https://www.srilanka.travel/visa-relax-countries


  1. WHAT IS THE SIZE OF SRI LANKA?

The geographical size is 65,610 sq.km,similar to half the size of England. Length from north to south is 435km (271 miles) and its greatest width is 240km (149 miles).


  1. WHAT IS THE CURRENCY OF SRI LANKA?

Currency is the Sri Lankan rupee, at approximately Rs180 to the US dollar. It is not the same as the Indian rupee.

A British Pound is approximately Rs. 220, a Euro approximately Rs. 198, a Chinese Yuan would be approximately Rs. 25, whilst the Indian rupee is close to Rs. 3.


  1. WHAT TO BUY IN SRI LANKA?

The most popular purchases by visitors to Sri Lanka are precious and semi-precious gems. The simplest souvenir is Pure Ceylon Tea bought at source during a visit to a hill country tea factory. Local handicrafts such as carved, garishly painted masks and colourful handloom material as well as unique batik designs can be found in hotel gift shops.

 


  1. WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE MUST-DO EXPERIENCES FOR A TOURIST?

 

  1. Yala Safari

Yala (part of the Ruhunu National Park) can be visited during a jeep safari from Cinnamon Wild Yala  either early morning or late afternoon to look for wild elephants, leopards and even sloth bears.

  1. Rice & curry buffet

Rice and curry is the traditional signature dish of Sri Lankans, and a wonderful way to try it is during the lunch time buffets at all Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts where a vast spread of different curries are available for guests to sample.

  1. Beach/pool sunbathing

Being close to the Equator, Sri Lanka is ideal for working on a gentle sun tan, but tourists shouldn’t stay in the sun too long as it is fiercer than it seems. A dip in the pool or sea tones down the sun’s impact.

  1. Gem shopping

Sri Lanka is the source of the world’s best sapphires as well as many other precious stones like rubies and cat’s eyes. Gems bought from reputable shops like those at Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts carry certificates of authenticity.

  1. Sunset watching

The setting of the sun below the horizon especially from the gallery of the Cinnamon Bentota Beach on a clear day is a phenomenal experience which sometimes reveals the rare ‘Green Flash’ – a pinprick of green light refracted by the disappearing glow.


  1. HOW TO GET AROUND THE ISLAND?

 

Touring Sri Lanka is easy if arranged by hiring a driver/guide and a vehicle through one of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts. Independently, touring can be done by train, some of which have special first class reserved compartments. Buses are not recommended due to the lack of comfort and erratic driving. Three wheeler taxis (tuk-tuks) are available for short hires to the shops or for a village tour.


  1. WHERE ARE CINNAMON HOTELS & RESORTS LOCATED?

 

Cinnamon hotels are located in almost all tourist hotspots of the Island. There are three major hotels in Colombo, about 35km from the airport, nearly less than one hour away from the Airport. There is one hotel in Kandy, by the riverside and within a short driving distance from the city’s attractions. Two hotels of different grades are located in Habarana, ideal for exploring the Cultural Triangle. There is one laidback beach hotel on the east coast at Trincomalee named Trinco Blu by Cinnamon  (Mention the hotel names for trinco and yala) and Cinnamon Wild Yala for wildlife enthusiasts.

Three super hotels are on the west coast which are easily accessible via the Southern Expressway, the Cinnamon Bey Beruwala, Cinnamon Bentota Beach on the beach and by the lagoon, and the Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon at Hikkuduwa, the beach resort favoured by the young at heart.

Apart from the properties in Sri Lanka, Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts provide the perfect island experiences in Maldives at their island resorts; Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives, Cinnamon Velifushi Maldives, Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa Maldives and Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon.

Cinnamon is also awaiting the grand opening of its latest property; Cinnamon Life, which is an iconic mixed development project, is a city within a city and will consist of an 800-roomed luxury hotel, an array of entertainment facilities, premium residential apartments, retail and entertainment mall, office spaces, and much more.


  1. WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT FESTIVALS?

 

  1. Kandy Esala Perahera

This takes place in the evening of the full moon in July or August with a huge pageant of caparisoned elephants, fire eaters, jugglers and dancers; an extravagant spectacle not to be missed.

  1. Navam Perahera

Held in Colombo usually in February, the perahera is organised by the Gangaramaya Temple close to the Cinnamon Grand  Colombo and is a thrilling pageant parading the city streets.

  1. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year

New Year in Sri Lanka is celebrated on the 13th & 14th April with religious observances and then traditional games (such as tug of war, climbing the greasy pole and pillow fights) held in villages, parks and even at the Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts on the beach.

  1. Vesak

This day, usually in May, is given over to religious observances and fantastic, hand crafted illuminations of lanterns including moving ones in town streets and private gardens.

  1. Poson

Usually in June, street processions and illuminations commemorate this full moon day celebrating the advent of Buddhism.


  1. WHAT FIVE AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES TO ENJOY?

 

  1. Watch turtles hatching.

A visit to a turtle hatchery where you help release turtles or even watch them hatching when they waddle ashore to lay their eggs at night, can be arranged through all the Cinnamon beach hotels: Cinnamon Bey Beruwala, Cinnamon Bentota Beach, Hikka Tranz by Cinnamonand Trinco Blu by Cinnamon.

  1. See cinnamon peeling

Learn how cinnamon is deftly peeled by village cinnamon growers on excursions from Cinnamon Bey Beruwala, Cinnamon Bentota Beach or Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon.

  1. Observe toddy tapping.

Toddy tappers in blue loin cloths shin up the trunks of coconut trees with amazing agility, and then walk along tight ropes linking tree to tree without any safety rope like nature’s acrobats. A thrilling spectacle to be seen on the west coast near the Cinnamons at Beruwela, Bentota and Hikkaduwa.

  1. Take a tuk tuk trip

The Indian-made three wheeler taxis are ubiquitous in Sri Lanka and are convenient for travelling short distances as well as a thrilling ride. On the west or east coast, hire one for a village tour, or to get around Kandy or Colombo.

  1. Go jungle trekking.

The Cinnamon Citadel Kandy organises jungle treks through the Knuckles Mountain Range and at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana and Habarana Village by Cinnamon, naturalists conduct treks through the wilderness, while at Cinnamon Wild Yala there are guided nature walks.

 

 


  1. IS IT SAFE TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

Yes, Sri Lanka is on a steady road to recovery. There is no longer a threat from local terrorism so Sri Lanka is safe for travels. Sri Lanka, known for its resilience during times of trouble, has steadily improved and is returning back to normalcy with heightened security for everyone’s safety.  

The Government of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Tourism and Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts have put in place many security procedures and mechanisms to ensure your safety while you have the time of your life. These include but are definitely not limited to routine checks and heightened security protocol.

However, tourists shouldn’t tempt misfortune by being careless with belongings or behaviour.

 


  1. WHAT IS THE BUDGET NEEDED TO VISIT SRI LANKA?

 

For a guest on a pre-paid full board holiday at one of the Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts properties, the only extra expense will be personal spending like laundry, drinks and souvenirs, for which you could allow US$50 a day. Independent accommodation costs start from low budget guests houses at around US$35 a night to comfortable and secure Cinnamon rooms from $100 to $200 according to the season.

 


  1. WHAT ARE FIVE LITTLE-KNOWN THINGS TO DO IN SRI LANKA?

 

  1. Gem Trading at China Fort

Witness China Fort gem trading. Within a short tuk-tuk ride of the Cinnamon Bey Beruwela is the unknown China Fort main street where hundreds of gem traders gather to sell gems to jewellers on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Visitors are welcome to watch, and even to buy as long as they are experts.

  1. Scenic views from the Lipton’s Seat

Go to Lipton’s Seat some 10km drive from the hill country town of Haputale (which can easily be visited if you are driving from  Cinnamon Citadel Kandy to Cinnamon Wild Yala). Sit where Sir Thomas Lipton sat and gaze over the hundreds of acres of tea.

  1. History of the local Railway

Check out the Railway Museum at Kadaganuwa just outside Kandy and near the Cinnamon Citadel. Opened on the 150th anniversary of the railways in December 2014, this little known museum has fascinating relics, as well as old steam and diesel locomotives, of 150 years of railways. Or ride a train through the scenic hills from Peradeniya to Bandarawela station

  1. The roots of the rubber industry

Trace the history of Sri Lanka’s rubber industry while enjoying the seldom-visited Henarathgoda Botanical Gardens, at Gampaha (an hour’s drive from Colombo’s Cinnamon Grand, Lakeside and Red) where the roots of the first rubber plants imported to Sri Lanka from the Amazon via Britain remain.

  1. Film selfies at Sri Lanka’s own Hollywood

Visit the permanent film set of replica houses and shops created on several acres near Hambantota and not far from the Cinnamon Wild Yala.


  1. WHAT IS THE BEST BEACH HOLIDAY TO ENJOY IN SRI LANKA?

It depends on what tourists want, and when. Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon in Hikkaduwa is in the centre of the west coast surfing area, as well as ideal for snorkelling and diving and with a lively after-beach nightlife. Cinnamon Bey Beruwela is more suited for families wanting a great hotel with lots of facilities by the beach. At the Cinnamon Bentota Beach, the atmosphere is more relaxed and traditional with a broad beach to stroll along and a beachside lagoon for splendid water sports. Trinco Blu by Cinnamon at Trincomalee on the east coast is popular from May to October for its tranquil beach life.


  1. WHAT ARE THE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN SRI LANKA?

Sinhala and Tamil are the national languages with English spoken in the main towns and villages, especially where there are business or tourist areas.


  1. WHAT KIND OF FOOD IS AVAILABLE IN SR LANKA?

Although the traditional cuisine is rice and curry, all types of food from European to Asian is available in abundance. Apart from the local favourites and must try Sri Lankan delicacies, you can also indulge yourself withfried chicken, hamburgers and pizza parlours situated in the main towns. Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts caters for diets and food-enthusiasts of every kind with luxury buffets as well Ala Carte restaurants at Cinnamon properties.

Indulge your tastebuds to traditional Sri Lankan cuisine at Nuga Gama by Cinnamon Grand Colombo, fresh seafood at the Crab by Trinco Blu by Cinnamon, tantalizing Indian Cuisine at the Tandoor at Cinnamon Bey Beruwala, traditional Thai cuisine at Royal Thai at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo just to name a few.

, mention the restaurants of cinnamon with different cuisine types (Nuga Gama at Cinnamon Grand, Crab at Trinco Blu, Tandoor at Cinnamon Bey, Royal Thai at Cinnamon Lakeside etc)


  1. WHAT KIND OF CLOTHES SHOULD BE WORN IN SRI LANKA?

Casual but smart clothes made of cotton are best for the climate. Visitors won’t need a jacket and tie or fashionable gown unless going to a formal function. However, wear swimwear only on the beach, not in villages or towns.

 

 


  1. IS THE INTERNET EASY TO ACCESS IN SRI LANKA?

Yes, all Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts have swift connectivity with the Internet. WiFi is also available free in many tourist establishments. There are also hotel communication bureaux with internet computers available for use for a fee.


  1. WHAT ARE THE DOs AND DON’Ts IN SRI LANKA?

Visitors should be natural and listen to what Sri Lankans say about their country to benefit fully from the experience of a holiday on the island. It is important to remember to remove footwear when entering a sacred place. Tourist shouldn’t take selfies (or photographs of others) posing in front of statues of Buddha. It is a crime to scribble on the Sigiriya frescoes or to go topless in public places.

 


 

  1. WHAT IS THE VOLTAGE TYPE IN SRI LANKA?

Voltage is 230AC; two and three round-pin and three square-pin sockets are used. You can use your electric appliances in Sri Lanka, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa).


  1. HOW IS THE NIGHTLIFE IN SRI LANKA?

In Colombo, there are dozens of karaoke bars and disco-type nightclubs as well asaround five casinos, in addition to the entertainment provided for guests by Cinnamon Grand Colombo, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo and Cinnamon Red Colombo. Out of Colombo, nightlife will be limited to a band or other entertainment provided by the hotel. At Hikkaduwa, close to the Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon, there are a few bars and discos and an annual all night beach party.


  1. DO TOURISTS NEED INSURANCE IN SRI LANKA?

Definitely! Tourists shouldn’t come to Sri Lanka without full travel insurance in case of flight delays and lost luggage as well as theft, accident or illness.


  1. ARE CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED IN SRI LANKA?

Yes, Mastercard, Visa and American Express credit cards are accepted in Sri Lanka, both for bill payment and for obtaining emergency cash through ATMs (available island-wide). However, a visitor may need to get authorisation from the credit card company to use the card in Sri Lanka.


  1. WHAT KIND OF COMMUNICATION FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE IN SRI LANKA?

Connectivity in Sri Lanka is very modern with WiFi capability in most areas. There are several mobile phone companies with pre-paid SIM card arrangements available for visitors. Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts have IDD telephones in guest rooms and facilities for sending faxes and emails through reception and WiFi is absolutely free.


  1. WHERE TO DO SHOPPING IN SRI LANKA?

 

Colombo is the main shopping centre with many shopping malls, including the Crescat Boulevard adjoining Cinnamon Grand Colombo, and some converted colonial buildings such as the Independence Arcade at Independence Square and the former Race Course stadium. The Colombo City Centre is one of the newer additions to the local malls here in Sri Lanka. With the latest addition to the Cinnamon family set to be open soon, Cinnamon Life will give all its guests a mega shopping experience with a collection of exclusive brands coupled with some unique entertainment too.

There are also two major supermarket chains, gem and jewellery stores, and many trendsetting shops as well as government sponsored souvenir shops.

In Kandy, there is a modern shopping mall named the Kandy City Centre. In other towns, shopping is limited to daily needs with few local souvenir shops. The best place for shopping if you’re staying out of Colombo is in the gem and gift shops in all the Cinnamons.

 


  1. WHAT IS THE CULTURE LIKE IN SRI LANKA?

 

Sri Lanka’s culture is deep rooted in the country’s Buddhist, Tamil, Muslim and Christian heritage with many ancient monuments (some in ruins), Buddhist statues, religious observances and festivals, colonial relics, and a traditional lifestyle coupled with an eager acceptance of modern democracy and contemporary design and gadgets. 

 


 

  1. WHAT IS THE TOP TOURIST DESTINATION FOR THE FUTURE IN SRI LANKA?

 

The East Coast. As Sri Lanka’s west and south coasts reach their full potential as tourist destinations, the undeveloped beaches of the island’s forgotten east coast are where the future tourist action will happen.

The country’s eastern seaboard stretches from Trincomalee, where the A12 arrives in the east after cutting across the northern half of the island from Anuradhapura, down the newly restored A15 past lagoons and deserted beaches through Passikudah to link with the A4 onto Batticaloa and then Pottuvil, the gateway to the surfers’ haunt of Arugam Bay.

The Queen of the East is Trincomalee and it has always been popular with visitors although the first ones came as invaders, attracted by its enormous natural harbour, used as a port from ancient times. On its eastern border on a precipice is a Hindu shrine at Swami Rock where the temple of a Thousand Columns is believed to have existed hundreds of years BC. This was demolished by the Portuguese after they took possession of Trincomalee in 1622.  What they didn’t topple over the cliff into the sea (where divers can still see ruins) they used for their own fortifications.

The Portuguese stayed until ousted by the Dutch in 1639. During the Dutch tenure, some islands in the bay were occupied by the French, but they didn’t stay long. The Dutch added to the fortifications begun by the Portuguese and built Fort Frederick, which stands to this day with the date 1676 etched into its archway.

Nelson claimed Trincomalee was one of the best harbours in the world and when most of the island fell to the British in 1795, there were plans to capitalise on the harbour’s strategic location and make it the capital instead of Colombo. For many years, tea was regularly exported to England by ships loading at Trincomalee’s harbour.

Fort Frederick is one of the main historical attractions of the East Coast, Entrance is free for the walk through the grounds of the Fort to the summit of a hill for a view of the placid waters of the amazing harbour. Behind the temple there is the Swami Rock (121m high) and the ruin of the monument to a Dutch girl who is supposed to have flung herself into the sea from the rock when her lover sailed away. Stalls selling Sri Lanka sweetmeats, garishly coloured beverages and locally made souvenirs line the road through the Fort to put visitors in a holiday mood.

Tourism first came to the east coast in 1937 when a hotel was built on a hill overlooking the inner harbour. It still exists today although it has expanded with a modern steel structure as its entrance canopy and a couple of dozen rooms. A swimming pool has been added with a view of the harbour but the original wood panelled bar with its quarter moon bar counter survives off a glass-fronted corridor.

By tradition, the best time to visit the eastern seaboard is from May to October, which coincides with the European holiday season and when the popular beaches of the west cost are troubled by rough seas during the summer monsoon. However, local snorkellers and scuba divers point out that there are only two months a year when the east is not suitable for swimming, whereas the west coast has some six months a year of rough seas.

With the development of beach resorts with swimming pools and year round entertainment and facilities like spas and fine dining, and organised excursions to the area’s attractions, the east is becoming a year round holiday destination.

The oldest beach hotel, opened during the 1970s, is 5km north of Trincomalee, by the long beach at Uppuveli. Refurbished a few years ago with a genuine retro look, it is now known as Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Its rooms are small, its attitude deliberately laidback, and its sole reason for existing is to provide a good beach holiday. A path leads past the long swimming pool to the beach, overlooked by its Crab restaurant justly famed for its seafood.

The beach at Uppuveli became a favourite of backpackers looking for low cost beach accommodation, and many guest houses and cabanas opened in the Alles Garden road area by the beach. Some remain as the place has not yet been transformed by modern boutique hotels as has happened in the west and south resorts of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna. The beach runs for 16km up to Nilaveli.

Trincomalee itself is a laidback town centred around its vegetable market, fish market, and bus station. It is the terminus of the railway line from Colombo but is served only once a day by direct train, and that runs overnight. It does not yet have facilities such as souvenir shops, fast food restaurants, cocktail bars and nightclubs that support the tourist plant on the west and south coasts.

A beautiful drive of about two hours southwards past lagoons and paddy fields leads to Sri Lanka’s newest beach resort, Passikudah. Once deserted, the long, curving beach there has sprouted several hotels. They complement each other in what they offer so tourists can find something to suit all budgets. The attractions of Passikudah are the safe swimming, the absence of hawkers and hustlers on the beach, and the complete freedom to relax.

The nearest town to Passikudah is Batticaloa, 30 minutes away by road. Its nature can be guessed from the Sinhalese name, Madekalapuwa, which translates as ‘muddy lagoon.’ The Portuguese built a fort there in 1628 but ten years later this was captured by the Dutch who described Batticaloa as ‘a vile stinking place.’ It was taken over the British in 1795. Now it is emerging as a smart, low-lying town with a lagoon-side promenade and some modern hotels. It can be reached by daily train from Colombo.

It’s possible to drive further south down the coast to the surfers’ hot spot of Arugam Bay, after Pottuvil. The beach there was once the sole preserve of fishermen who dared to launch their fragile wooden boats in the raging surf. It was this surf that attracted intrepid young adventurers from overseas who journeyed across the island in the 1970s. There was no accommodation so they stayed with the fishermen at night and surfed all day.

Village homes were transformed into guest houses and wayside restaurants that catered for this motely crew of young surfers and their acolytes. They created an informal, do-it-yourself brand of tourism that even today gives Arugam Bay a laidback vibe. Accommodation there is designed for surfers and the young-at-heart. While the beach does not match the best in the East, the surf, the informality and the low-budget rooms add to the East Coast’s reputation as a holiday haven for all and the tourist destination of Sri Lanka’s future.

From Mallaittivu in the far north of the island pilgrims embark every year on a walk down the east coast to Kataragama in the south, known as Pada Yatra. This takes place from May to July and since it was revived in 1988 has attracted thousands who join in the traditional procession of village devotees. It has become an essential part of SriLanka’s mulit-cultural ethos with pilgrims moving from one sacred site to another along the east coast. Villagers encountered en route provide refreshments, food, accommodation and hospitality. It is an event that bonds the people of the East with those of the North and South of the island.

  1. WHAT ARE THE TOP TEN MUST SEE ON THE EAST COAST?

 

  1. Thiriyai, ancient seaport of the Jaffna kingdom

Drive 40km north of Trincomalee, on the road to Pulmudai through the beach resort of Nilaveli, and hot, dusty plains cultivated with red onions and chillies to Thiriyai. This small Tamil village used to be a seaport for the Jaffna kingdom. It is called Thalakori on the 2nd-century map of Ptolemy. Pre-Christian Tamil Brahmin inscriptions have been found in the area, the oldest belonging to the 2nd century BC.

  1. Ruins of the first stupa built in Sri Lanka

Just north of Thiriyai are the ruins of the first stupa ever built in Sri Lanka, possibly the world, dating from more than 500 years BC. Known as Girihadu Seya, it was constructed by visiting merchants to enshrine a lock of Buddha’s hair. There are about 300 steps to get to the ruins of the stupa atop a hill with a spectacular view.

  1. Dolphin and whales leaping in the sea off Trincomalee​

The best time of the year is from May to October for whale and dolphin watching just a few minutes by boat from Nilaveli Beach. The sight of Blue Whales gambolling in their natural habitat is memorable. Huge schools of Bottle Nose Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins are regularly spotted too. Whale watching safaris are conducted by experienced boat crew who know where to look and whales suddenly surface just a few feet from the boat.

  1. Pigeon Island Marine Park​

Declared a sanctuary in 1963 and recognised as a national park in 2003, Pigeon Island is about one kilometre off the shore. Boats take scuba divers and tourists there from Uppuveli and Nilaveli beaches. There are actually two islands, one fringed with a reef where 100 species of coral and 300 species of fish have been recorded, including blue tip reef shark and hawksbill, green and olive ridley turtles. The park is named after the rock pigeon that breeds there and some of the best remaining coral reefs in Sri Lanka are part of the 471 hectare park.

  1. Fort Frederick​

Above the arched entrance to the Fort, the date 1676 records when it was built. Entrance is free for the walk to the summit of the promontory with its grand view of Trincomalee’s natural harbour. The road is lined with stalls selling sweetmeats and some ancient buildings remain; domesticated deer roam freely and the place is popular with tourists on a day’s outing.

  1. Swami Rock

Swami Rock rises 121m out of the sea behind the Hindu temple at the summit of the promontory reached through the grounds of Fort Frederick. In the sea around are said to be remains of the original temple toppled there by the Portuguese. There is a ruin of a monument to the Dutch girl who is supposed to have flung herself off the cliff as her lover sailed away.

  1. Batticaloa’s ancient irrigation system

Inland from the town, is part of an ancient irrigation system that played a leading role in the agriculture of the area. The Dutch developed canals to irrigate the paddy lands and this was extended by the British with the Sakaman and Rugam tanks helping sustain the fertility of the area.

  1. Kudumbigala Forest Hermitage​

Created in 246BC as a retreat for Buddhist monks with over 200 caves in an area of 4,700 hectares, this seldom visited hermitage lies in deep jungle 2km from the east coast village of Okanda south of Arugam Bay and Panama. It has the only cylindrical dagaba remaining in Sri Lanka.

  1. Dragon fruit at Passikudah’s Coconut Research Centre

Opposite the new hotels on Passikudah Beach, the Coconut Research Centre is fenced in with wire and concrete posts. These posts have been used as the props for a cactus-like plant which is actually dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus). Bright crimson in colour the fruit grows on spiky stems, beginning as green buds and then blushing to red (or yellow) while ripening. The fruit’s flesh, while being a little insipid, has many heath benefits.

  1. Weapons on display at the Naval Museum

Located at Ostenberg in the Trincomalee peninsula overlooking the inner harbour, within the naval compound, is the little known Hoods Tower Museum. It is a 3km drive from the camp gate and permission needs to be obtained (from the guard house) to visit. Weapons from ancient times to the civil war are on display in the open and in underground casements built during the second World War


                       

  1. WHAT ARE THE TOP TEN MUST DO ACTIVITIES ON THE EAST COAST? 
  1. Go deep sea fishing

Local boats can be chartered from the diving schools or through hotels on the east coast for adventurous deep sea fishing.

  1. Go scuba diving and snorkelling

The corals around Pigeon Island are fascinating for both snorkellers and scuba divers and expeditions can be arranged through the diving schools at Uppuveli and Nilaveli.

  1. Try to surf at Arugam Bay

Sri Lanka’s famous surfing bay is a challenge for even experienced surfers but village youths will help visitors learn the technique as they enjoy surfing every day. Villagers originally learned from surfers from Europe and Australia who discovered this surfing haven in the 1970s.

  1. Play golf at the Eagles’ Golf Course

This is a newly built golf course of 18 holes opened by the Sri Lanka Air Force at the base at China Bay, near Trincomalee. Tourists who play golf are welcome by prior arrangement.

  1. Go on safari

 

The Yala National Park lies in the south eastern corner of the island and although access to the north east part of it is restricted to those engaged in official or scientific work, Ruhunu National Park (Yala East) may be visited by safari jeeps. Yala extends to an area of 1,260 sq kms and shares the northern boundary with the Lahugala elephant sanctuary. Dense jungle contrasts with open parklands so  there many different types of vegetation. As well as spotting elephants and leopards, this is the only reliable place to view the endangered Black Necked stork, Sri-Lanka’s largest bird.

  1. Go bird watching

Some 15kms inland along the A4 from the coastal town of Pottuvil is

Lahugala. It lies to the north east of the Yala National Park and is part of the elephant corridor where there is a great variety of bird life. Birds  can be seen in the forested areas and at waterholes. They include aquatic birds as well as migrants. The best season is from November to February.

  1. Sample lagoon prawns at Batticaloa

Batticaloa is the source of freshwater prawns from its huge lagoon. Although there are no restaurants dedicated to tourists, visitors can sample fresh lagoon prawns as snacks in the local taverns, washed down with a glass of local beer or Sri Lanka’s equivalent of whisky, pure coconut arrack.

  1. Visit Okanda Devalaya

Also known as Murugan Kovil because of its importance to Hindus, this shrine is down a lane towards the beach from the small east coast hamlet of Okanda. Okanda is by the official entrance to the Kumuna section of the Yala National Park. The shrine lies atop a rock overlooking the sea. Pilgrims cleanse themselves by bathing in the rock pool there.

  1. Have fun on Passikudah Beach

At the southern end of the long beach at Passikudah there is an area in the sea cordoned off to prevent those who can’t swim from straying too far in the shallow waters that lap the shore. There are also changing facilities for visitors. Tourists are welcome to help fishermen haul in their nets at the northern end of the beach, or hire a jet ski for a jaunt around the calm sea from the water sports centres at the hotels along the beach.

  1. Photograph colourful market scenes

There is a very active fish market at Trincomalee where fish vendors are happy to be photographed. For more photographs, visit the town’s bustling fruit and vegetable markets.

 


 

  1. WHAT ARE THE EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS IN COLOMBO? 

Colombo is developing rapidly and here are some of the most exciting developments in Colombo;

  1. The Lotus Tower Colombo

The Lotus Tower is a beautifully vibrant and iconic addition to the skyline of Colombo, towering at an imposing height of 350m.

  1. Cinnamon Life

Cinnamon Life, is an iconic mixed development project due to be open soon, which is a city within a city and will consist of an 800-roomed luxury hotel, an array of entertainment facilities, premium residential apartments, retail and entertainment mall, office spaces, and much more.

  1. Colombo Port City

The Colombo Port City Project is a new city built as an extension to the city of Colombo. It is a city currently under construction on reclaimed land adjacent to the Galle Face. The Port City is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and is one of the most exciting developments changing the outlook of Colombo.

  1. WHAT ARE THE MUST VISIT WILD LIFE DESTINATIONS IN SRI LANKA?

Sri Lanka has been identified by Forbes as the best safari destination outside of Africa in 2019 and it is a great achievement for Sri Lanka.

  1. Minneriya and Kaudulla National Park

The best locations to catch a glimpse of the magnificent Elephant gathering is at the Minneriya National Park as well as the Kaudulla National Park. Large numbers of Elephants gather together towards the early evening to feed themselves.

  1. Yala National Park

The Yala National Park has the highest population density of leopards in the world and therefore makes it one of the best wildlife locations in Sri Lanka. You can spot Sloth Bears and Elephants at Yala apart from the Leopards.

  1. Wilpattu National Park

Also known for the Leopards that it provides homes to and also witness a gathering of a multitude of elephants and varied species of deer and wild boar in abundance at the Park.

  1. Udawalawe National Park

Located on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, the Udawalawe National Park was created as a safe haven for the animals displaced during the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir and spans over 30, 821 hectares.

  1. Gal Oya National Park

The Park spans over a large area and is known as a rich reserve of Elephants in Sri Lanka. A highlight at the Gal Oya National Park is a boat Safari in the Senanayake Reservoir with the swimming Elephants who swim across the Senanayake Reservoir to the islands in the lake in search of food


  1. ARE THERE GOOD SPAS AND SALONS IN COLOMBO, SRI LANKA?

It is possible to obtain the services of qualified beauticians and spa therapists located at our properties. Cinnamon Grand Colombo and Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo have in-house salons that are available to provide services to guests.

For some of the best and most rejuvenating therapies; it is possible to visit the Spas situated at Cinnamon Grand Colombo, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, Trinco Blu by Cinnamon, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, Habarana Village by Cinnamon and Cinnamon Bey Beruwala.


  1. WHAT ARE THE BEST WELLNESS EXPERIENCES IN SRI LANKA?

Sri Lanka with its abundant nature, quiet and calm environment is known for wellness experiences such as;

  1. Ayurveda Treatments

An Ayurveda treatment in Sri Lanka is best understood through experience and it must be experienced at least once in your life time. Let their medicinal herbs and oils relax and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul!

  1. Nature Trails

You can also indulge yourself to a relaxing Nature Trail powered by Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts for the perfect wellness experience here in Sri Lanka. It could either be a hike up a famous rock or even a cycling safari close to nature.

  1. Spa Therapies

The luxurious and rejuvenating Spa therapies on offer in Sri Lanka provides weary travellers a truly relaxing wellness experience. Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts offers Spa treatments to all guests.

  1. Meditation with a view

Engage and meditate in tandem with the untouched natural beauty of Sri Lanka, the luscious greenery, the continuous waves of the sandy beaches, the calm and quiet environment which are perfect to enhance the wellness of mind body and spirit.

  1. Yoga

Yoga in Sri Lanka would be a different experience altogether; soothing, calming and providing many benefits with the luxury of a beautiful setting.


  1. WHAT ARE THE RULES I SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING SRI LANKA?

Sri Lanka is a highly cultural country and photographing Buddhist Statues and behaviour at places of worship is highly restricted.  Photography in government institutions is strictly forbidden, so it’s best to avoid it.

Topless sunbathing is not allowed in Sri Lanka and neither are women allowed to legally purchase Alcohol within the country. Further, it is also illegal to smoke in public places.


  1. HOW TO EXPERIENCE VILLAGE LIFE IN SRI LANKA?

Village life in Sri Lanka is one that must be experienced for its simplicity and cultural density. Sri Lankans are known for their simplistic lifestyle and hospitality towards guest. You can experience the same, right at the heart of Colombo by visiting the Nuga Gama Restaurant at Cinnamon Grand Colombo.


  1. WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO HOST A DESTINATION WEDDING IN SRI LANKA?

Sri Lanka is the perfect place to host a destination wedding with the multiple choices of locations within the island depending on the choice of the couple.

  1. A floating wedding

Celebrate your special day on a floating two-storey boathouse named ‘8° on the Lake’ at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo. Enjoy the beautiful view of the lake and the scrumptious food on offer.

  1. By the beach

Organize a beautiful wedding by the beach with a picturesque setting at Cinnamon Bey Beruwala, Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon, Trinco Blu by Cinnamon or any of our beach-side locations.

  1. A rustic wedding

For a quirky wedding with a safari for all the guests or a wedding with a rustic vibe can also be organized at the Habarana Village by Cinnamon and Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. These destinations bring together the natural air of the forest, the lake and ancient architecture


  1. WHAT ARE THE BEST CONFERENCE VENUES IN SRI LANKA?

 

  1. Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH)

An iconic and landmark destination; the Main Conference & Concert Hall consists of key features such as ultra-comfortable seating facility together with the latest techniques making it one of the most preferred venues in the country.

  1. Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre (SLECC)

The SLECC is a professional convention centre situated in the heart of Colombo. This is a 3,700 square metres air-conditioned, multi-functional exhibition space for hosting events, trade-shows, seminars, conferences and meetings with the perfect professional ambience.

  1. Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre

More famously known as the Nelum Pokuna owing to the shape of its structure; the Nelum Pokuna is a state-of-the-art Conference Hall and Theatre. The main hall seats over 1,200 people on the ground floor and across multiple balconies.

  1. Conference Rooms at Cinnamon

Each of our destinations offer a diverse mix of venues for your workshops, conferences and meetings. More specifically, the Oak Room at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo and the King’s Court at the Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo offer state of the art conference venue facilities and are able to host large-scale conferences as well.

  1. Cinnamon Life

The upcoming Cinnamon Life, mixed development project too is set to have a conference hall which would enable many events of large or scale could be organized in style.


  1. WHAT ARE THE LESS KNOWN PLACES TO VISIT IN SRI LANKA?

There are many places to visit in Sri Lanka but the real treat is to venture into the roads less travelled and discover these hidden places in Sri Lanka;

  1. Delft Island

A little island located in the area between India’s state of Tamil Nadu and the Northern part of Sri Lanka – Delft is known for its population of wild horses roaming around, old Delft Fort, an ancient Baobab tree and how Palmyra toddy and crafts are made by local farmers.

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  1. Udawattakelle in Kandy

Udawattakele Forest was once forbidden to commoners and reserved only for the ‘blue-blooded’. Explore the many trails and hidden ruins within this forest reserve.

  1. Pidurangala Rock

This is a rock formation located a few kilometers north of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka and boasts some of the most iconic and scenic views.

  1. Brief Garden- Beruwala

A vast array of sculptures fills the garden, while many hidden spaces with benches, tables, ponds, and a bathing fountain add charm to this unique attraction designed by the legendary Geoffrey Bawa.


  1. WHAT ARE THE MUST VISIT CULTURAL SITES IN SRI LANKA?

To visit the cultural sites of Sri Lanka, tourists may prefer to travel to the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, consisting of the cities of Anuradhapura, Pollonaruwa and Kandy. Sri Lanka is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as;

  1. The ancient city of Kandy

Kandy is a mountain city in Sri Lanka which was home to the Sinhalese kings from 1592 to 1815. Amongst the others, this ancient city is famous and popular among tourists and pilgrims as it is home to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic, a special container holds a tooth of the Buddha.

  1. Sigiriya

Sigiriya homes the ancient remains of King Kassapa’s palace from the 5th century AD. The Rock Fortress is popular among tourists for the ancient and unique irrigation works, rock frescoes, sculptures, a 360-degree view of the jungle below among others.

  1. The Galle Fort and its fortifications

The Dutch built the fortified town of Galle in the 16th century. The Dutch colonial fort lies on the south coast, 130km away from Colombo, a stunningly breath-taking site with a panoramic view of the Indian oceans blue and azure waters

  1. Dambulla Cave Temple

The Dambulla Cave Temple is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. It sits about 160m above the road and consists of five separate caves which contain about 150 absolutely stunning Buddha statues and paintings, some of Sri Lanka's most important and evocative religious art.

  1. Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. Sinharaja is the last remaining primary rainforest in Sri Lanka, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is full of endemic trees and species.


  1. WHAT ARE THE BEST WATER SPORTS IN SRI LANKA?

There is an abundance of water sports available in the southern and eastern coasts of Sri Lanka. Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts provides special packages for its guests who are interested in these Water Sports. Some of the most enjoyed and loved water sports include; Snorkelling

Wade through the warm and azure waters of the Indian Ocean and witness the beauty of the vibrant coral reef and shoal after shoal of beautiful tropical fish. You can go on a snorkeling tour for prices beginning from USD 50

  1. Diving

Visit Sri Lanka’s diving sites between November and May to experience diving at its best for a price starting from USD 70. Witness the colorful and vibrant marine life and also catch a glimpse of the wreck sites on your diving tour.

  1. Jet Skiing

A Jet ski is simply an aquatic motorbike with skis attached to glide safely on water with speed so you can skii against the tide and let the waves lift you high over the waters

  1. Water Skiing

Water Skiing is both a thrilling and exhilarating adventure made possible in Sri Lanka. Water Skiing allows you to glide over the turquoise and sparkling waters of the Island all year round at a cost of approximately USD 20 per person.

  1. Surfing

Surfing is an all year round activity and can be experienced for a price starting from USD 20 per person for an hour. Wind Surfing, Kite Surfing, etc. are available in Sri Lanka.


  1. WHAT ARE THE TOP CITIES IN SRI LANKA?

Sri Lanka is a beautiful tropical island and there’s not a city that has not got something unique to offer. However, you must not leave Sri Lanka without paying a visit to cities such as;

  1. Colombo

Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and will serve the purpose of a connectivity hub on any trip. There are many places to visit in Colombo such as the National Museum, Galle Face Green, Independence Square, Lotus Tower, etc.

  1. Kandy

Kandy is an ancient in Sri Lanka which has many places of interest to a tourist. Some of these are the Temple of thr Sacred Tooth, the Ambakke Devalaya, etc. and Cinnamon Citadel Kandy is situated in close proximity to all these places of interst.

  1. Galle

Galle is a city of cultural and historical importance to Sri Lanka. The Dutch Fort and its fortifications, the Lighthouse, the museum among others make Galle a top city in Sri Lanka.

  1. Hikkaduwa

Apart from the attractions such as beautiful beaches, marine life, and water sports that Hikkaduwa is popular for, it is also an entertainment hub of the south with many happening parties taking place every night.