On paper Sri Lanka and Nepal both couldn’t be more different. For travelers, it might look like an obvious choice depending on their fondness. Nepal is a comparatively less touristy laid back and mountainous country. Travelers here are mostly interested in adventure, exploring, and culture. Sri Lanka with its beaches, monuments, and diverse wildlife is a classic vacation option. Travelers here are interested in a relaxed journey with a bit tropical and natural vibe. However, when it comes to Asia, it is not that simple. Each nation has something very special to cater to the expectations of visitors. Both Sri Lanka and Nepal are candidates for magical travel experiences in South Asia.

The Best thing for any travel-loving individual is the reasons to choose one over the other is obvious. There are multiple complete tour packages available for them to cherish in Nepal and Sri Lanka. With much difference and surprising similarities shared among themselves here are some key points for travelers to help select between Nepal and Sri Lanka in 2021.

General Comparisons

Nepal is over twice the size of Sri Lanka in the area. In the case of Population Sri Lanka is slightly less populated. This results in Sri Lanka having a denser population than its counterparts. Apart from the major cities in Nepal, there are more rural regions mostly constituting the northern part of the country. Sri Lanka on the other hand has some major cities well-connected to the other smaller ones. The life expectancy of the Lankans is about 6 years more than Nepalese people. On the GDP, internet availability, and literacy Sri Lanka tips the better stats. Similarly, Nepal pulls some back in lower unemployment rates, less public debt, and GDP growth rate.  

Nepal and Sri Lanka are different in different sections. So direct comparison might not be fair for travelers here. The Railway network is the most popular means of going from a place to the next in Sri Lanka. Domestic flights are similarly preferred in Nepal. Tourism is a major contributor for both countries generating significant job opportunities and revenue. Although Nepal and Sri Lanka rank much lower focusing the no of international travelers each year, these are listed as the destinations with most possibilities focusing this decade. This article also highlights some of those adding to the obvious comparisons.

– Geography

Nepal and Sri Lanka have completely different geographical specifications. Sri Lanka is an island nation with the Indian Ocean surrounding the whole region. It nearly misses the equator sitting closely north of the line. The closest countries from the island are India and the Maldives, both reachable by water. Nepal on the other hand is landlocked with every side of the border surrounded by other countries. Similar to Sri Lanka, Nepal is slightly north of the tropic of cancer passing by India. Apart from Tibet in the north other sides (three) of Nepal are bordered by India. The nearest sea here is the Bay of Bengal crossing India and Bangladesh.

* Key Difference

Nepal is a country known for its mountains. Several prominent peaks making the most of the central Himalayas is located here bordering Tibet. The average elevation is around 3000 meters here. The Terai region of Nepal shares the most resemblance with inland Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a country profound on the coastline. As an island nation, it makes about 1350 km all around. Numerous fantastic beaches are located to this extend. Mount Everest (8848 m) and Mount Pedro/Pidurutalagala(2524m) are the highest points of Nepal and Sri Lanka respectively.

– Weather

As located near two iconic lines on earth (equator and tropic of cancer) weather in Sri Lanka and Nepal is different too. Sri Lanka is significantly hotter and humid during the summer than in Nepal. The average temperature here tends to be around 35 degrees Celsius. Nepal looks at single digits during wintertime. Apart from these seasons, the weather is quite pleasant throughout the year in Nepal and Sri Lanka. For summer travel, Nepal is the obvious choice, similar is Sri Lanka for winter. This doesn’t take away from the fact that both these nations can give different experiences during other parts of the year too.  

– Travel season in both countries

If you are not looking for a light vacation, you can pretty much travel to Sri Lanka and Nepal at any time of the year. But for some hardcore adventure and the best of the experiences, we suggest you be here during their travel season. For Sri Lanka, that period is from December till April. The precipitation is not extreme and the natural destinations all glow up for the visitors here now. September to late November and March to May are two unofficial seasons to visit Nepal. Both for trekking and general travel, autumn and spring are the best time to visit Nepal. Now, you’ve known these you can select between the two destinations for which time suits you more.

– Travel Budget comparison for Sri Lanka and Nepal 

Budget travel is the preference for most travelers in this decade. It is no surprise that Asia attracts a large concentration of backpackers. Both our countries are the prime targets for budget-friendly adventure. Comparing the stats, Nepal is about 20 percent less expensive for a general tour. Food is cheaper in Sri Lanka. Local transportation is cheaper in Sri Lanka while domestic flights are more accessible in Nepal. Similarly, comparing accommodation, health care, visa costs, and guide charges, you can complete your week-long trip in any of the above countries well below 500$. In comparison, it is similar to what you will spend in a day for most European destinations. You can be light on the pocket but still manage to enjoy a lavish vacation in Sri Lanka and Nepal.   

* Visa Cost and Availability

Both Nepal and Sri Lanka have the VISA on Arrival at the entry point. It is one of the easiest ways to get a travel visa anywhere in Asia. You can also apply for a visa from the embassies of the respective countries. Visa cost and availability are similar for travelers from SAARC nations here. For others, the charges for a 30 day period is double for Nepal. For example, the visa cost is 30$ per person for fifteen days in Nepal which will get you a 30-day visa in Sri Lanka.     

Food and Accommodation

Food and Accommodation are the major factors for anyone to select a travel destination. As for Nepal and Sri Lanka, both are strong reasons for any traveler to choose them.

Sri Lankan cuisine is much well-documented and made its way all around the world. It might be due to the use of several interesting spices grown in this island nation. Similarly, the use of different kinds of seafood and traditional way of preparation makes Sri Lanka one of the must-visit countries for foodies. Egg hoppers, Sambol, Gotu Kola Kanda, and Kottu Roti are some of the must-try dishes in Sri Lanka.  

Nepal is not so far behind when it comes to food. It might not be as popular as their counterparts here. However, several fantastic dishes here are getting to the world stages in recent years. Your secret here is a blend of Indian d Chinese cuisine complemented wonderfully with some organic local ingredients. ThakaliThali, Momo, NewariKhaja, and millet Dhindo are the best foods to try here.

As for accommodation, you can have a luxury option to stay at renowned hotels in most major cities in Nepal and Sri Lanka. Once you are out of the urban regions there is a slight difference. Sri Lanka is popular for the fantastic beach lodges with views of the Indian Ocean. The teahouses of Nepal on the other hand are the authentic option for grab with magical views of the Himalayas. Anyway, you sway here, you are bound to have an adventure during your tour. 

Accessibility: Getting there

Both Nepal and Sri Lanka are easily accessible by air from major different cities of Asia. On paper, Sri Lanka has three international airports compared to one in Nepal. However, almost 95 % of the total flights in or out takes place from Bandaranaike International Airport. Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) is the main international airport to reach Nepal. On the other hand, two additional international airports are going to operate from this year. Additionally, you can also enter Nepal by land from India and China. Hence, it is easy for travelers to fly to both Sri Lanka and Nepal.

UNESCO World Heritage sites

There are eight UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka as of 2021. Among these six falls under cultural and two natural heritage. The ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, the sacred cities of Kandy and Anuradhapura, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, and Galle Fort are the cultural sites. Similarly, the central highlands of Sri Lanka and the Siharaja Forest reserve are the natural inclusion. As of present, there are three tentative sites to be added to that list.

Nepal has ten sites on the UNESCO world heritage list. Eight of these are cultural sites. The three Durbar Squares of Kathmandu valley are joined by two Hindu and two Buddhist temples here. Similarly, the only inclusion of cultural site outside the Kathmandu valley is Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Sagarmatha (Everest) national park and Chitwan National Parks are the natural sites to feature on this list. Additionally, there are 15 other different sites on the tentative list of UNESCO for Nepal.

Nepal or Sri Lanka as a Luxury Travel Option

Luxury Travel involves several different factors in a vacation. Here we focus on the accommodation, food, transportation, and guides for categorizing one. Both Sri Lanka and Nepal offer luxury options for different popular trips and tours throughout the countries. There are over 20 four and five-star hotels in Nepal for your vacation. Similarly, there are over two dozen star hotels in Sri Lanka too. Most of them are in the coastal region for your ease. Renting luxury private vehicles are easy in both countries. As for local guides, the experience leans towards Nepal while the English proficiency is better in Sri Lanka. We approve both these countries for your next luxury travel options in Asia. 

Adventure Options in Nepal and Sri Lanka

Adventure is one of the growing interest of travelers around the world. As doing new things and getting new experiences is highly rated, Nepal and Sri Lanka offer you just that. Both have their own ways of adventure and you can select among them easily with your preferences.

Nepal is one of the best-underrated adventure destinations in the world. Trekking is one of the widely selected activities for anyone here. Apart from that, there are numerous other sports and activities to do while you are here. Paragliding, bungee, ultra flight, elephant safari, and rafting are the most thrilling options to choose from.

Sri Lanka also provides some major adventure options for visitors. Surfing, Scuba Diving, and Snorkeling are among the most chosen activities here. Similarly, jungle Safari, Caving, Hiking, Rock Climbing, and Wind Surfing are also on your list to try for adventure in Sri Lanka.

* Plus points for Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka boasts some of the best beaches in the world for travelers.
  • Cricket lovers, Sri Lanka is the place to be for visiting some iconic stadiums and monuments.
  • Sri Lanka has several different wildlife safari options more than Nepal.
  • Sri Lanka is better for Buddhist spiritual tours with several underrated sites.
  • For summer travel enthusiasts admiring tropical beaches, Sri Lanka is your only option here.
  • Sri Lanka has some of the most scenic train rides to be a part of in Asia.
  • For Food lovers Sri Lanka has some of the best spicy foods to try.
  • Sri Lanka is the more relaxed version of India and that in a good way.
  • There are some majestic historical sites for any explorer to visit here.
  • For tropical experiences and views of the Indian Ocean Sri Lanka is irreplaceable.

* Plus points for Nepal

  • Nepal has the highest Mountains to view in the world including Mount Everest (8848 m).
  • Nepal has a better and wide variety of trekking trails for trekkers around the world.
  • For Cultural-focused tours, Nepal has more options and diverse exploring opportunities.
  • Religious tours here might be both Hindu and Buddhist itineraries and both will be fantastic.
  • Nepal is a few great experiences from Tibet and India and more.
  • For trying lesser-known cuisine and foods, Nepal has more options.
  • For extreme-adventure lovers, Nepal has better options for travelers.
  • Nepal is a more budget-friendly country than Sri Lanka.
  • For nature-lovers and the views of the majestic Himalayas, Nepal is irreplaceable.

Is it Possible to combine both these countries in a single tour?

Yes, it is very much possible and easy too. Kathmandu to Colombo flights takes place regularly and you can do it with a quick transit in India. Sri Lanka and Nepal have several different delights that if done properly can make any vacation magical. Imagine a thrilling trek in the Himalayas followed by a relaxing sunbath in the tropical paradise of Sri Lanka. For a couple of weeks or even fewer travelers can have a complete travel experience merging the two destinations. We highly recommend you to consider them both rather than forcing yourself to choose either.


There is no doubt that both Nepal and Sri Lanka are top quality travel destinations. However, choosing one still depends on the preferences of individual travelers. The adventure incorporates more with Nepal and relaxation towards Sri Lanka. Similarly, summer and autumn are the best periods to visit Nepal while winter and spring are ideal for traveling to Sri Lanka. You even have the freedom to combine the likes of both if you can’t choose one here. With amazing destinations like Nepal and Sri Lanka, you can do what you love and easily too, and that is the case in 2021/2022.