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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Sri Lanka (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka


Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Sri Lanka (Plus, Itineraries)

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: For those contemplating a move to Sri Lanka without a specific locale in mind, embarking on a look-see or exploratory journey to explore various expat havens can provide invaluable insights. Here are some top suggestions for places to explore while scouting out Sri Lanka.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to Sri Lanka is an invaluable step for anyone considering relocation to this enchanting island. Such a trip allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to immerse themselves in the local culture, explore various living environments, and assess the practicalities of daily life. From bustling cities to serene beach towns, a reconnaissance visit provides firsthand insights into the diverse lifestyles and communities, helping to make an informed decision about where to settle down.

Recommended Itineraries

For a comprehensive Look-See trip in Sri Lanka, it's essential to tailor your itinerary based on the length of your stay. A 10-day trip could focus on the Western and Southern provinces, where you might start in Colombo, then move to Galle, and finally explore the beach towns of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna. For a 20-day trip, extend your journey to include the Central Highlands with Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, the cultural triangle in the North Central Province, and the Eastern cities like Trincomalee and Batticaloa.

Colombo

Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, is a vibrant city with a population of over 5 million in its metropolitan area. It's a hub for business, entertainment, and cultural diversity, making it an attractive location for expats and digital nomads. The cost of living is higher compared to other towns, but it offers modern amenities, a variety of international schools, and a dynamic expat community. Proximity to the Indian Ocean and well-developed infrastructure are among its perks.

Travel Tip: While in Colombo, visit the historical Galle Face Green for a sunset stroll and sample local flavors at the famous Ministry of Crab.

Galle

Galle, known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Galle Fort, is a city that boasts a rich colonial history and a relaxed coastal vibe. It's popular among expats who prefer a slower pace of life without sacrificing cultural experiences. The cost of living is moderate, and the area is known for its artistic community, boutique shops, and cafes. Galle is also conveniently located near beautiful beaches, offering a balance of leisure and local immersion.

Travel Tip: Explore the Galle Fort and visit the Dutch Reformed Church, or enjoy a meal at the Fortaleza restaurant for a taste of local cuisine with a modern twist.

Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna

Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna are two beach towns that are perfect for those looking to live close to the sea. Hikkaduwa is renowned for its surf breaks and vibrant coral reefs, while Unawatuna is famous for its golden sands and laid-back atmosphere. Both towns offer affordable living costs and are becoming increasingly popular among digital nomads seeking a tropical lifestyle. The communities here are welcoming, and there's a growing number of co-working spaces catering to remote workers.

Travel Tip: In Hikkaduwa, visit the Hikkaduwa National Park for snorkeling, and in Unawatuna, don't miss the Jungle Beach for a secluded swim.

Kandy

Kandy, the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, is nestled among the hills of the Central Province. With a cooler climate and a population of around 125,000, it offers a more temperate alternative to the coastal heat. Kandy is known for its historical significance, with the Temple of the Tooth being a major attraction. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city provides a mix of traditional charm and modern conveniences, making it appealing for those seeking a balance between the two.

Travel Tip: Visit the Temple of the Tooth during the Esala Perahera festival for a spectacular cultural experience, and enjoy a meal at the Empire Cafe.

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya, often referred to as 'Little England,' is a serene town in the hill country known for its colonial architecture and tea plantations. With a smaller population and a cooler climate, it's ideal for retirees and expats who prefer tranquility and scenic landscapes. The cost of living is moderate, and the town offers a range of outdoor activities, including golfing and hiking. Nuwara Eliya provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Travel Tip: Take a tour of a tea plantation, such as the Pedro Tea Estate, and enjoy high tea at the Grand Hotel for a quintessential Nuwara Eliya experience.

Trincomalee and Batticaloa

Trincomalee and Batticaloa are two cities on the Eastern coast known for their pristine beaches and rich cultural heritage. Trincomalee attracts those interested in marine life and water sports, while Batticaloa is famed for its lagoon and historical landmarks. Both cities offer lower living costs and are developing as expat destinations. The communities are diverse, with a mix of ethnicities and religions coexisting harmoniously.

Travel Tip: In Trincomalee, visit the Koneswaram Temple for its stunning clifftop views, and in Batticaloa, explore the Dutch Fort and enjoy the local cuisine at the Wayfarers Restaurant.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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