Sri Lanka…the emerald island…the pearl of the Indian Ocean. An island so fascinating, so shrouded in mythology, so beautiful, that it features on almost every traveler’s bucket list. But, let’s not beat around the bush – Sri Lanka is pretty expensive. Maybe not the flight tickets, maybe not the accommodations, not even the delicious food, but the entrance tickets? They are borderline exorbitant! The entrance tickets for foreigners in Sri Lanka can reach up to USD 30, that’s approximately 5200 LKR or roughly 110 AED. And for a budget traveller, that’s a lot of money! So, if you are in search of places and tourist attractions in Sri Lanka that you can visit under 50 AED, you have come to the right place; here’s all the information you need.
1. Seema Malaka, Colombo
How much: Free!
For some peace amidst the hustle bustle of Colombo, head over to the serene Seema Malaka which is a Buddhist temple located on the Beira Lake. Having a fascinating history, the original temple dated back to the 19th century, but it slowly sunk into the lake over a period of many year. It was revived in the late 1970s by Geoffrey Manning Bawa, a brilliant Sri Lankan architect. Another fascinating aspect of the Seema Malaka is the fact that the architecture of the temple is a beautiful amalgamation of Sri Lankan, Indian, Thai and Chinese architecture.
2. Galle Face Green, Colombo
How much: Free!
To catch a mesmerizing sunset in Colombo, head over to the Galle Face Green which is a huge sea facing urban park spread over an area of 5 hectares. Evenings tend to be pretty happening at this park with families picnicking and vendors selling scrumptious food. On a windy day, you will also find many kites lining the skyline at Galle Face Green and you could probably join in on all the kite flying fun!
3. Independence square, Colombo
How much: Free!
Located in the elite Cinnamon Gardens district of Colombo, the Independence square is made up of beautiful colonial tree-lined boulevards, the Independence Memorial Hall and the Independence Memorial Museum. The Independence Memorial Hall is a national monument and is an imposing architectural marvel that commemorates the end of almost five centuries of British rule and the beginning of an independent Sri Lanka.
4. National Museum, Colombo
How Much: LKR 1000, approximately 21 AED
Boasting of marvelous Italian architecture, the National Museum of Colombo was established in the year 1877 by Sir William Henry Gregory, the then British Governor of Ceylon. On display at the museum are cultural, historical, architectural and natural artefacts and objects that showcase Sri Lanka’s past and present. Must see displayed items include the 9th-century stone statue of Lord Buddha, the glorious gem studded throne of King Vikrama Rajasinha, the last king of Kandy, as well as the Heiyantuduwa Raja elephant skeleton.
Also read: 7 wonderful places to visit in Sri Lanka
5. Mihintale Sacred Area, Anuradhapura
How much: LKR 500, approximately 10 AED
The sacred mountain of Mihintale is said to be the location where Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka. While one story says that Mahinda, the son of King Ashoka, camped here with his group of monks, while on a mission to spread the teachings of the Buddha in Sri Lanka, another story goes that Lord Buddha himself flew down to Sri Lanka on the back of a Garuda and landed on this mountain. No matter which story you decide to believe, the fact remains that this sacred mountain is a sight to behold! After a short hike up the stairs, atop the mountain, you will find numerous meditation spaces, temples and several other scared sites and ancient monuments.
6. Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura
How much: LKR 200, approximately 4 AED
Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under a Sacred Fig (Bodhi) tree in Bodhgaya, India. A tiny branch of the same tree was brought to Sri Lanka by Princess Sanghamitra, the daughter of King Ashoka, and planted at Anuradhapura, where it took roots and flourished. And where it still thrives, even after approximately 2200+ years, at the Sri Maha Bodhi temple.
7. Nilaveli Beach, Trincomalee
How much: Free!
The word ‘Nilaveli’ roughly translates to ‘moonshine over the land’. A place with a name as ethereal as that is sure to be hauntingly beautiful! And Nilaveli beach definitely lives up to its name. No wonder then that this beach has consistently featured on the list of Sri Lanka’s Best Beaches. Activities that you can undertake at the beach include whale watching, scuba diving, snorkeling, speedboating, swimming, exploring the nearby Pigeon island and a lot more.
Also read: Why you need to visit Trincomalee ASAP!
8. Galle National Museum, Galle
How much: LKR 300, approximately 6 AED
A tiny little museum located within the Galle Fort walls, the Galle National Museum could probably use some caretaking and renovation, but the objects on display are fascinating, nonetheless. The building where the museum is located is a beauty in itself; constructed in 1656, it is the oldest Dutch building of the Galle Fort. On display at the museum are religious items, turtle shell jewellery, antique Dutch furniture and traditional Sri Lankan masks.
Keen to know what else falls under 15 marvelous places in Sri Lanka that’ll cost you less than 50 AED? Click here for Part 2!