Sri Lanka has a unique cuisine whose manifest South Indian roots are infused with various Malay, Portuguese, Dutch and Arab influences, and make far greater use of coconuts and seafood, as might be expected of a low-lying island with such a long tropical coastline. Sri Lankan dishes tend to be rather hot and spicy, but most tourist-oriented hotels and restaurants will modify their recipes to account for less fire-resistant Western palates. In addition to the dishes listed below, Chinese-style fried rice and noodles are a greasy staple on many local menus, while lighter snacks include fiery meat or vegetable samosas, and various deep-fried meat and vegetable cutlets. Fresh seafood is ubiquitous on the coast, and usually of a very high standard.
Most restaurants in Sri Lanka slot into one of four broad categories. Most expensive, and largely confined to Colombo and to a lesser extent Galle, are genuine international restaurants that deal in specific cuisines, be it Japanese, French or Bavarian, and cater almost entirely to a clientele of business people, tourists and affluent locals. Middling in price, with mains typically falling into the US$5–10 bracket, is a rather generic selection of ‘proper’ tourist-oriented restaurants that tend to offer predictable menus comprising a combination of grilled meat and seafood, pasta dishes, fried noodles and rice, possibly pizzas and/ or burgers, and local dishes such as rice-and-curry or devilled chicken or fish. Also generally associated with larger towns and more touristy areas are deli-style places serving tea, coffee, juices, sandwiches, pastries, cake and the like. Finally, every town, no matter how small, will boast at least one and usually several dozen little local holes-in-the-wall serving rice-and-curry buffets and other Sri Lankan staples for around US$1–2 per head.
Accommodation is plentiful in Sri Lanka and caters to all tastes and budgets. At the one extreme is a generous scattering of US$300-plus beach resorts, boutique hotels, colonial villas and city hotels that attain or approach international five-star standards and come with all mod cons, from world-class restaurants and spacious well-appointed rooms to large swimming pools and attentive service. At the other end of the spectrum, budget travellers are catered for by an ever-growing number of small family-run guesthouses, unpretentious homestays and laid-back backpacker hostels typically charging around US$15–30 for a double room. In between, you will find plenty of no-frills but comfortable mid-range to upmarket resorts, hotels and guesthouses charging anything from US$50 to US$200 for a double.