Eating, drinking and nightlife
If you stay at your hotel or resort, they will likely serve a mixture of international and local dishes. But if you’re looking to get a real taste of the country it’s a great idea to venture into a nearby city or town and find a little place to eat. Sri Lankan food is very similar to South Indian food in its use of spices, delicious fresh vegetables and incredibly cheap prices.
There is an interesting range of soft drinks available in Sri Lanka. Street stalls offer up fresh king coconuts – a variety of orange-coloured coconut – which are cut open in front of you, allowing you to drink the sweet liquid inside. It’s generally cheaper than buying bottled drinks and they are available everywhere. Sri Lankan company Elephant House produces a unique range of drinks that you’ll want to try too. They include a cherry-flavoured drink called Necto, cream soda, dry ginger ale and the fierier EGB, a ginger beer.
Sri Lanka is not a country of beer drinkers, but beer is available everywhere, either in the form of international brands you know or local offerings such as Lion Lager and Three Coins. If you’d rather drink as the locals do, then you’ll be enjoying plenty of arrack – the popular local spirit which is often mixed with tonic water.
Sri Lanka is a largely Buddhist country and so the lunar calendar determines key events, and you will often find restrictions on alcohol in place. On Full Moon Poya Days and public holidays the government prohibits the serving of alcohol but hotel guests are able to enjoy drinks from the hotel room mini bar. These are the dates for 2016:
January 15 2016 Tamil Thai Pongal Day
January 23 2016 Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day
February 04 2016 National Day
February 22 2016 Navam Full Moon Poya Day
March 07 2016 Mahasivarathri Day
March 22 2016 Madin Full Moon Poya Day
March 25 2016 Good Friday
April 13 & 14 2016 Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
April 21 2016 Bak Full Moon Poya Day
May 01 2016 May Day
May 21 & 22 2016 Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
June 19 2016 Poson Full Moon Poya Day
July 06 2016 Ramazan Festival Day
July 19 2016 Esala Full Moon Poya Day
August 17 2016 Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
September 12 2016 Hadji Festival Day
September 16 2016 Binara Full Moon Poya Day
October 15 2016 Vap Full Moon Poya Day
October 29 2016 Deepavali Festival Day
November 14 2016 Ill Full Moon Poya Day
December 12 2016 Holy Prophet's Birthday
December 13 2016 Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
December 25 2016 Christmas Day
This is not a country where nightlife is a big part of life. The resorts are geared up for quiet relaxation rather than partying. If you are looking for somewhere to let your hair down, your best bet is probably the capital Colombo, where there are plenty of bars and clubs.