In a country with so much to offer, you may find it hard to pack so much into your holiday. You may be wondering what you should start with first, how you should plan out that initial day in Sri Lanka, where is best to go. Depending on your length of stay, it’s usually best to use a bell-curve to plan your trip. Begin your trip with a slow start and then work up to the more action-packed or busiest days in the middle and reserve time to take it easy towards the end.

Walk the Streets

What better way to acclimate yourself to a new region, country or culture than to walk the area around your hotel. Make sure you have the exact address in case you get lost and perhaps even keep an actual map on hand in case the battery in your GPS or electronic devices doesn’t last the whole time you are gone. Take a camera and click away at the sights and sounds that engulf you. Keep a journal handy so that you can record how this new experience makes you feel and what it’s like. This could be particularly interesting to review at the end of your trip to see how different your view of the area is from that first day. The sights and sounds that were once a whole, new, foreign world are slowly becoming familiar faces to you. If there is a service that offers a walking tour of the city, this would not only be a great way to explore the area “like a local” but to also make sure you don’t get lost!

Explore the Local Cuisine

When coming to an area that is so radically different than your own surroundings, one of the hardest adjustments can be the cuisine. It is best to get comfortable with the food when you don’t have an entire day packed with activities, especially if you have a heavy lunch or perhaps your stomach goes into a frenzy from the abrupt change.

Ask for something mild such as the rice and curry, a staple food in Sri Lanka. This is typically an agreeable dish for most as long as you request that it not be too spicy, as the spicier preparations are believed to be among the world’s hottest dishes.

Another must-have in Sri Lanka is the Kottu Roti. This popular dish of stir-fried crispy-chewy roti, vegetables, egg and/or meat should be a safe transitional food, possibly more so than curry and rice. On most occasions it will be prepared mild, but you may want to request that it be prepared to your preferences.

Shop the Markets

A city’s culture can often be observed through the goods of their market, whether it be the exciting traditional clothes and shoes from a boutique, the interesting figurines in a shop window or the variety of fruits and vegetables native to that land. Take a stroll through the markets or boutiques to begin familiarising yourself with your surroundings and the people of Sri Lanka.

While in Colombo, the perfect place to visit is the Pettah Market. However, beware, the weekends can be quite busy so if you ae looking for a slow introduction to the city you may want to go during the week.

Also, beware the prices that many locals may try to charge. It is perfectly acceptable to bargain on the prices as long as you are being respectful. If you are able to take a native or local with you, this will help you get the better deals.

If you’re on a budget, know your options when it comes to purchasing travel insurance. Cheap travel insurance plans are a great way to get the protection and cover you need to feel comfortable without spending exorbitantly. Cover-More’s Essentials travel insurance policy is a popular choice for travellers looking for a budget-friendly option.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Jerome Decq.