Sri Lanka is one of South Asia’s finest destinations; it offers a wide range of experiences all throughout the length and breadth of the island, that too throughout the year. It offers something for everyone, and it is very much true. If you love culture and heritage, the ancient ruins of Anuradhapura are waiting to tell you thousands of stories; and do not miss out on “The Lion’s Rock” – Sigiriya Fort. It is one of the wonders of the world. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you will be amazed by the beauty of lush national parks where you can watch the leopard, elephant, spotted deer, and much more. If you are an adventure seeker, you can take some beautiful treks including the famous Adam’s Peak.
Last but not least, the island is a paradise for beach lovers, the quality of the beaches in Sri Lanka is admired all over the world. So let’s explore Sri Lanka with its Ayurveda, excellent hospitality, nature, beauty and exquisite rich culture & traditions.
The experiences in the country cover several World Heritage sites like Sigiriya, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, and culturally-rich places like Kandy, a beautiful mountain region in the central region, which also includes Nuwara Eliya and Ella.
The people in Sri Lanka are friendly and welcoming. The locals speak Sinhala or Tamil depending on which part of the country you visit, while most of them speak English. When people greet you, they wobble their heads.
Culture & Heritage
You can easily cover all three ancient capitals of Sri Lanka in one single trip. Anuradhapura was the first capital of the country in the 10th century and it is waiting to narrate thousands of stories about the well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sinhala civilization. Polonnaruwa was the second capital of ancient Sri Lanka and was established by the Chola Dynasty. Kandy was the third and last capital of ancient Lanka. Kandy is surrounded by hills, which makes it one of the most visited cities of the country. But that’s not the only reason, travellers are allured to Kandy by the well-known Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the temple houses the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Along with this, you should not miss the beautiful botanical gardens and the local markets of the cities. On a lighter note, it is said that most of the beautiful girls of Sri Lanka come from Kandy!
A must-visit site of Sri Lanka, the Lion’s Rock in Sigirya, is a massive rock fortress built by King Kashyapa. A UNESCO World Heritage site, a 3-hour visit here is an amalgamation of soft adventure, history, and nature. The climb is steady and in the end, you will be greeted by the most beautiful views from the top of the fort. You will have to climb around 1200 steps to reach the top. Other popular attractions of Sigirya are Pidurangala, Sigiriya Archeological Museum and Fresco.
A must-visit site of Sri Lanka
Yala National Park is the most visited and second-largest national park in Sri Lanka. It is well-known around the country for leopard sightings. On a Jeep safari, you can watch not only leopards but the elephant, jackal, spotted deer, monkey, and much more. Apart from the wildlife, the landscape of the park will leave you mesmerised. The other famous park to visit is the Minneriya National Park, which is full of elephants, and is also a paradise for photographers. Udawalawa is another important national park that has a wide range of flora and fauna. Wilpattu is the one of the oldest and largest national parks of Sri Lanka.
Nuwara Eliya is highly recommended for nature lovers. You will not be able to resist yourself from clicking pictures when you are in this beautiful town. The greenery and verdant views are just breath-taking. It is the best hill station of this island, also known as “Little England” for its architecture. It was a summer retreat for the British to spend some quality time away from the balmy weather. Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period. Ella is a charming and small town for relaxation, hiking, and to enjoy beautiful views and it is much smaller than Nuwara Eliya.
There are several things to do in Sri Lanka if you are an adventure enthusiast. Also known as a trek to the “end of the world”, the journey to Horton Plain’s (near Nuwara Eliya) cannot be described in words. Renowned for the sacred footprint of Lord Buddha, Adam’s Peak is well known in the world and a must do hike while you are here. Whale-watching in Mirissa is an interesting experience for youngsters and families. Small walks and hikes can also be an option if you do not want to go for long treks. There are a lot of options for short hikes, such as Knuckles in Ella. A walk in Sinharaja Forest is a pure jungle experience. It is a forest reserve with international significance, as it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It would be wrong to describe the beauty of Sri Lankan beaches in words. The coastline is filled with a lot of golden beaches. Some of my favourite beaches are Bentota and Beruwala. They are simply beautiful and not crowded like some of the other beaches. But my absolute favourite is Pasikuda Beach. Located on the eastern side, Pasikuda is ideal for a visit from between May through September, and has one of the longest stretches of shallow reef making it possible to walk into the water.
Sri Lankan Cuisine
The cuisine here is not very different from Indian food. Not very spicy, the delicacies include seafood, curries, roti (flat bread), and coconut milk. Rice is an essential part of the cuisine, especially if you are vegetarian. Being a tropical area close to the sea, the staple things to eat here are fish and fruit.
Sri Lanka is blessed with some beautiful boutique hotels, and here are some recommendations from which you choose for your next trip. Cinnamon Wild Yala is a beach-side luxury resort located close enough to the national park, that you can spot monkeys jumping over your cottages. Jetwing Vil Uyana in Sigiriya is also a very popular resort as it is tastefully done and keeps you close to nature with all the modern comforts. The Kandy House in Kandy is another gem in the country. It was designed by none other than the influential and famous architect, Geoffrey Bawa. It features only a handful of rooms with unique interiors. The next one is the Heritance Tea Factory in Nuwara Eliya. It was a tea factory that is now converted into a luxury heritage hotel. They have used old remains of the tea factory intact in their design – which makes it an interesting and meaningful resort. Another one is Saman Villas in Bentota, which is a gorgeous sea-side resort that offers an amazing stay experience at one of Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches. The list is never-ending, but it would be incomplete without mentioning the Ceylon Tea Trails. It is located in Hatton, a beautiful hilly area with few bungalows which are spread out – some of them located at an hour’s drive from the other. Believe me when I say this, the experience is just incredible –a luxurious bungalow and its private butlers, amazing views, tea gardens, and much more. It is a must try escapade in Sri Lanka.
Due to its geographical location, it is almost a year-round destination. From October till April, one can visit the west coast of Sri Lanka as the beautiful beaches of the region are ideal during this time, unlike the east coast beaches. On the other hand, from May till September, the east coast will be nice and beaches of the west coast will be a bit rough. Sri Lanka’s tropical location means high temperatures, with monthly averages between 72 °F (22 °C) and 92 °F (33 °C) in the lowlands. In the Central Highlands, higher altitudes account for lower temperatures, with monthly averages between 44 °F (7 °C) and 71 °F (21.6 °C).
Here are some tips from my experiences in Sri Lanka, which should not be missed out while you are there!
- Do not miss out on a hill train ride from Nuwara Eliya to Ella
- Do watch the Dance Show in Kandy, which includes walking on the fire!
- Take a bullock cart ride in Hiriwadunna
- Climb the top of Sigirya Fort, a once in a lifetime experience!
- Take home some spices from Matale
- Go for whale-watching in Mirissa
- Hop on for a tuk-tuk ride in Colombo
- Take a jeep safari in Yala National Park
- Go for cycling in Polonnaruwa
- Pay a visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
I can never-endingly go on and on about my love for Sri Lanka to explain how beautiful this country is. The best part is that in a short span of time you can visit a lot of places and have several fascinating experiences. If you are traveling as a family or a group, I am sure everybody will be chirpy from the very start to the end of the trip!
You can always write to me for more information on Sri Lanka or any other South Asian country.