How to Manage vegetarian food during Srilanka trip

Indian tourists, particularly those who are pure vegetarians by food habit, often find it tough to manage good food while traveling abroad. Being vegetarian myself, it is a serious consideration while planning my trips. I have written multiple posts earlier on this topic- Managing veg food in Vietnam * Indian restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark * Indian Restaurants in Europe and their odd opening hours * 10 ways to Manage veg food during international travel  and Why we stick to Indian food and don't experiment much with local foods.

This post shares how to manage if you’re a pure vegetarian visiting Srilanka, with experience and input gathered from my June 2018 family trip to the island nation. In terms of complexity, Srilanka is not very difficult to manage as a vegetarian. But not very easy either-particularly if you go far away from Colombo to interiors.

From my experience, below is how easy/how difficult it is in various Srilankan towns that I had visited during multiple trips.
#
City
Ease of finding veg restaurant
Popular Indian/ veg restaurants
Notes
1
Colombo
Easy
Thali’s
Shanmugam
Navaratna

2
Sigiriya
Very difficult
None
Book homestay with kitchen
3
Kandy
Easy
Balaji Dosai
Ganeshananda Brahmin Hotel

4
Nuwara Eliya
Easy
Indian Summers
Veg + Non Veg
5
Horton Plains
Very Difficult
None
Vada n snacks available in canteens
6
Ratnapura
Moderate
Sapphire Holiday Resort
Made to order, 300 LKR
7
Galle
Very difficult
NA

8
Matara
Very difficult
NA

9
Mount Lavinia
Moderate
Shanmuga’s
4-5 kms
10
Bentota
Easy
Kandoori, 500 LKR per person
Indian Summers
Tip from Karthik Murali
From above table, it is clear there's no problem managing veg food if your trip is centred around Colombo, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya- 3 of most explored towns in Srilanka. However situation gets a bit tough at Galle, Matara, Sigiriya.

While planning your Srilanka trip, explore which of the following option suits best for you.

Option 1: Homestay/AirBNB with Kitchen
Your host is your best bet at providing food you're comfortable with. If they can serve veg food or facilitate in preparing one, then that should be the best way. Many budget rooms/airBNBs provide you access to kitchen. This won’t be possible with normal budget hotels, but properties managed by small families are usually open to help you in any ways they can. Check with your hosts and book places that have a kitchen access- you can carry a few kgs of rice or noodles etc and be able to cook some basic stuff like Puliyogare, Curd rice (Curd available easily in shops), ghee rice etc. You can also carry some ready to eat stuffs like MTR bisibelebath etc- which though expensive bit easy to prepare.

Option 2: Do Day trips from Colombo
If you find it hard to manage without access to pure veg food, plan your itinerary such that you start from Colombo and return to Colombo same day. Most key places- like Sigiriya, Galle, Kandy are within 2-3 hours driving distance from Colombo. You will lose some time traveling compared to the option where you’d stay over in Sigiriya/Galle n continue but your food problem is sorted- breakfast and dinner can be had in Colombo at Indian Veg Restaurants and only afternoon you’ve to manage with snacks and fruits. You will find veg food easily in Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Ratnapura apart from Colombo (from my experience), hence you can plan a stay in these towns as well.

Option 3: Luxury hotels with buffet breakfast
Booking super luxury hotels like 3 star or above would usually get you unlimited buffet breakfast, which will have fair amount of veg options. This will be expensive but may ensure your morning food is taken care. With some light snacks/fruits for afternoon you might be able to manage till evening. But be advised, most luxury hotels and resorts will not have an exclusive pure veg restaurant. You will have to manage with veg + non veg setup. Hopefully you will also be able to order some veg food on room service. If you’re going with this option do check reviews or check with property to ensure that they meet your expectation. Mount Lavinia hotel we walked in had buffet spread for about LKR 1900 per person + tax.

Option 4: Survive on Fruits, bread-jam for a day or two
It is not that difficult. I’ve managed multiple days with fruits like banana, apple, vegetables like cucumber, breads or buns along with coffee/tender coconut/juices. Not very convenient, but quite possible to survive for a day or two till you can get to a proper vegetarian restaurant. In Srilanka you can get 3 to 5 apple for 100 LKR in wholesale markets (50 INR, less than 1 USD), depending on quality. Banana is 100 LKR per kg, tender coconut is 70-80 LKR. This option gets complicated if you’ve kids or senior citizens who have special dietary needs but for a group of young adults this is very much doable. You will get tea with milk, light snacks (like chakkuli/murukku, chips and biscuits easily everywhere.

Let me know if you have any other ideas/tips to manage as a vegetarian while visiting Srilanka

Quick review of Vegetarian Restaurants I’ve tried in Srilanka
1. Shanmuga’s: Visited this restaurant twice- once in my 2016 trip, once more in 2018. Dinner for 6 people cost me little under 4000 LKR or 300 INR+ per person. Lots of options available. Quality is decent, thouh I didn’t like their green coloured Hyderabad Biriyani much.
2. Thalis: 500 LKR per south Indian meals. Various other options available. We went here for lunch and were happy with the lunch served. Located in central Colombo close to Independence square, national museum etc


3. Navrathna- didn't visit though was planning to- close to Galle face beach. There're many more in Colombo- Dwaraka, Vani Vilas, Sudarshan and many more. Do google for more.

4. Sri Suryas Hotel
Small hotel north of Colombo, makes a good stop while heading to airport. Road in front is narrow- may not be suitable for big vehicles. Decent and affordable hotel. We visited in 2016

4. Brahmins hotel Kandy
Very small road side hotel but served decent meals. Cost for 7 people came to 1200 LKR or INR 600, under 100 INR per person for a meal, which is reasonable

5. Sapphire Holiday resort, Ratnapura
They provided us with made to order Indian food.
Few tools you can use to plan your trip with access to Veg food

  • Tripadvisor & Zomato have good list of all restaurants- you can check o map where they are and how close to your hotel/attraction.
  • Happy Cow is an app that helps you locate vegetarian options nearby
  • Of course your hosts, drive or locals might help you further.
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5 comments:

  1. Informative post. My experience was that most restaurants in Sri Lanka had veg option, even outside main cities. Of course, options are limited if one is looking at veg only hotels.

    ReplyDelete
  2. helpful interesting information about srilanka travel

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have book marked this post, as we are planning for a short break in Lanka by year end. Thanks for valuable info and tips!

    ReplyDelete

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