How to Travel to the North of Sri Lanka
Travelling to the north of Sri Lanka is quite different compared to travelling to the south, due to the differing landscapes, culture, and the accessibility. The northern region was once the battleground of a long civil war, which ended in 2009. Although armed conflict has ceased, the region is on a gradual road to recovery.
The northern coast is a melting pot of diverse culture, cuisine, history and magnificent landscapes – not to mention, friendly locals! Here are some tips to help you plan your journey to the north of the country.
Presently, there are four modes of transport to travel to the north of Sri Lanka, which depends on where you would like to set up base. If you are willing to start from the northernmost point on the island, which is the Jaffna Peninsula, you can take a flight from Colombo to the Jaffna International Airport in Palaly. From here, work your way down to Jaffna and its nearby cities by public bus, or a private vehicle. You could also opt to take the train, or bus to the north. Depending on your preferences, and the way you craft your itinerary, you can pick and choose what mode is most suitable for you.
Browse through our first timer’s guide for using public transport in Sri Lanka.
The coastal towns in the north allow you to engage in some exhilarating water sports much like the southern region. Bask on a pristine golden beach or visit ancient monuments as you explore Jaffna and other surrounding cities. Here’s a bucket list for exploring Jaffna.
The region has a number of nature reserves that are worth exploring if you love nature. Enjoy a day trip to the Chundikkulam National Park, Adam’s Bridge National Park and Wilpattu National Park. Moreover, some of these parks are steeped in ancient myth and documented history too, making it one of the main excursion zones.
Always be prepared by carrying your travel essentials at all times in your backpack, however, if you do not have them on hand, you could always drop by at the many supermarkets located in the major towns to purchase them. Keep in mind though that as the region is still developing, you may not be able to find a variety of brand options. It is advisable to carry cash in hand, with smaller notes, as you may be compelled to purchase goods at small local convenience stores that may not accept credit cards.
Places to Consider
If you have been reading up on Sri Lanka, you may already some ideas of the places you would like to visit when travelling to this region. Cities such as Jaffna, Trincomalee, Puttalam, Kilinochchi, and Anuradhapura are all popular places of interest, around the northern region. However, make sure you include places like Vavuniya, Delft Island, Velanai Island and Nagadeepa in your itinerary, as they are untouched by mainstream tourism.