From using a neighborhood prepare to visiting wild, empty seashores, listed below are a few of my really helpful issues to do in Sri Lanka.
Lush jungles, rural villages and wild seashores — Sri Lanka is the Backyard of Eden down south, quietly tucked away in secrecy away from the well-trodden vacationer path. It’s only a leap away from the chaos and insanity of India, and but it looks like a world away. Rather than the maddening crowd and visitors is a soothing sense of serenity, zen-like vibes and poetic magnificence.
The island could also be small in dimension, however it’s bought all of it. First, the number of pure atmosphere discovered right here is overwhelming, with habitats starting from thick tropical rainforests to verdant inexperienced rice paddies and misty highlands. Then there’s the wealthy wildlife — Sri Lanka is house to a few of Asia’s final remaining leopard, bear and elephant populations.
Let’s not overlook the Buddhist heritage that has blessed this non secular island nation with a slew of ruins, temples and non secular (together with eight Unesco World Heritage Websites). The British and Dutch have additionally left their legacy right here with charming colonial aptitude and attribute structure.
Finest Issues to Do in Sri Lanka
1. See the Legendary Stilt Fishermen
Should you’ve learn something about Sri Lanka on-line, you’d have seen the enduring photographs that includes fishermen standing on stilts. Stilt fishing, or stick fishing because the locals additionally name it, is a conventional manner of fishing for small sized fish that was launched in the course of the Second World Warfare. Though it might appear like an historical custom, it’s truly a practise invented to be able to adapt to altering circumstances of meals scarcity and overcrowded fishing spots in that point.
In the present day, it’s a dying custom as a result of bodily challenges and lots of exterior elements concerned. Fishermen want comparatively calm waters, low tide and good fishing circumstances to be able to go stick fishing. It’s not that simple to seek out stilt fishermen as of late. Your finest guess is to move to the 30-kilometer stretch of southern shore between the cities of Unawatuna and Weligama throughout daybreak or nightfall.
2. Elephant Safari in Kaudulla Nationwide Park
Simply 197km away from Sri Lanka’s largest metropolis, Colombo, is the Kaudulla Nationwide Park — among the best locations within the nation to see wild elephants roaming freely. Traditionally, Kaudulla was one of many 16 irrigation tanks constructed by King Mahasen. Following a interval of abandonment it was reconstructed in 1959 and transformed right into a nationwide park in 2002.
The perfect time to go on an elephant safari in Kaudulla is between August and December, when as much as 200 congregate on the tank for the annual “gathering”. Moreover elephants, there’s a slew of different wild animals that may be discovered within the park – together with Sri Lankan sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, chevrotain, wild boar, Sri Lankan leopard, and sloth bear.
3. Take a Scenic Practice Trip from Kandy to Ella
Taking the prepare in Sri Lanka is an expertise by itself. There are a number of scenic routes that weave their manner into the highlands and tea plantations — however the preferred might be the Kandy to Ella prepare journey.
It’s stated to be one of the vital epic prepare journeys in not simply Sri Lanka, however the world. The views on each side of the rail are excellent. The prepare winds by means of the central highlands, overlooking farms and huge tea plantations. The surroundings could be very numerous: one minute you’ll be feasting on views of limitless greenery, one other minute you’ll be passing by means of a thick forest.
The prepare system in Sri Lanka dates again to the colonial instances when rail roads had been constructed to convey tea to Colombo for export. In the present day, Sri Lanka nonetheless has an intensive railway system that serves most main cities and cities within the island. And in contrast to neighboring India, the trains in Sri Lanka are comparatively comfy and punctual. (Scroll all the way down to ‘The best way to Get Round Sri Lanka’ part to discover ways to e-book your prepare tickets.)
4. Go to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy
The town of Kandy is the biggest outdoors of the capital Colombo. Regardless of its dimension, it nonetheless has an enthralling really feel to it, with a mountain vibe and a thriving cultural centre. I’d advocate spending a few days right here to decompress and absorb the Sinhalese tradition. However when you’re tight on time, you’ll be able to truly e-book a day tour to Kandy from Colombo for simply $12.
Crucial website in Kandy is, doubtless, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (formally referred to as Sri Dalada Maligawa). It is a vital pilgrimage website as it’s stated to accommodate a really particular relic — a tooth of Buddha that was delivered to the island within the 4th century. Since historical instances, the relic has performed an necessary function in native politics as a result of it’s believed that whoever holds the relic will govern the nation. Kandy was the final capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Website primarily as a result of temple.
Rituals are carried out 3 times day by day: at daybreak, at midday and within the evenings. On Wednesdays there’s a symbolic bathing of the relic with an natural preparation made out of scented water and aromatic flowers. It could possibly get actually busy and loud however at all times vibrant and engaging! Keep in mind to put on garments that cowl your legs and your shoulders, and take away your sneakers earlier than coming into the temple.
The place to Keep: Cinnamon Citadel Kandy
5. Wander Amidst the Tea Plantations
One factor for positive, you’ll be able to’t come to Sri Lanka with out visiting a tea plantation. Tea from Sri Lanka is world well-known, and there’s good cause for that. The central highlands of Sri Lanka have the right circumstances and terrain to develop tea.
The story of tea in Sri Lanka began with the Scottish planter James Taylor in 1866. The remnants of his cottage and tea bushes are nonetheless preserved as a everlasting memento to the person credited for introducing tea to Sri Lanka. In the present day, Sri Lanka’s central hills from Hatton, Dickoya, Bogawanthalawa, to Nuwara Eliya and each small city in larger elevations have their floor lined in a carpet of premium high quality Sri Lankan tea. The perfect place to base your self is Ella — from there you’ll be able to simply go to tea plantations surrounding it.
Take a stroll alongside one of many tea trails that criss-cross these estates, watch the dusky maidens at work plucking tea buds and gathering them in rattan basket hung behind them. A couple of tea factories on this space might be comfortable to have guests, and a tea tour will give an perception of how tea is made out of fermentation to grading and packaging.
Guide your Tea Plantation Tour!
6. Climb to the High of Sigiriya Rock
Rising from the floodplains of the central valley, the Sigiriya Rock is undoubtedly the icon of the nation. The UNESCO World Heritage Website not solely boasts spectacular archaeological significance but in addition proof of the nation’s historical historical past. As soon as on the foothill of Sigiriya Rock, you’ll see the way it gained it fame.
The world-famous attraction options vertical partitions topped with a flat-topped summit that comprises the ruins of an historical civilization. It’s fairly a steep climb as much as the highest, however the view of the valley beneath is nicely price it. It often takes an hour or so to climb up. Put together for crowds when you’re coming in the course of the day. I like to recommend heading right here early for dawn or late for sundown. Should you’re tight on time, I like to recommend reserving a day journey to Sigiriya from Colombo.
The place to Keep: Aliya Resort & Spa
7. Hike to the High of Pidurangala Rock
Whereas Sigiriya Rock would possibly steal the present, Pidurangala Rock is the key spot standing proper subsequent to it that no one is aware of about! In contrast to Sigiriya, it’s by no means crowded. Plus, entrance payment for Pidurangala is just US$Three whereas that for Sigiriya is $30.
It’s adjoining to Sigiriya Rock and thus is the perfect place to get views of Sigiriya and the encompassing valley. There’s an enormous reclining Buddha statue about midway up, partially reconstructed out of brick. The hike takes simply round an hour to climb up. Put on correct mountain climbing sneakers and convey a sarong to cowl your shoulders or else you gained’t be allowed to enter.
I personally assume that it is best to hike up each hills as every of them presents a distinct expertise. If time is tight, I counsel going up Sigiriya for dawn (much less individuals) and Pidurangala for sundown. The Pidurangala rock itself will block a lot of the solar as you make your manner up.
8. Take a Scenic Flight over southern Sri Lanka
Should you’ve bought a giant price range, you should definitely take a seaplane in Sri Lanka. I had the chance to catch a scenic flight over the southern finish of the island with Cinnamon Air — the view of Sri Lanka’s lush jungles and busy shoreline really blew my thoughts.
The minute our Cessna 208 seaplane took off from the water runway of Koggala Airport, my window was framed with acres upon acres of greenery spreading into the huge distance. The panorama slowly transitioned from lime inexperienced coconut groves by the coast to brownish rice terraces additional afield and darkish inexperienced rainforests up within the highlands.
As soon as we closed in on the coast, the gorgeous seashores and colonial coastal cities that the island is so well-known for got here into full view. We flew over white Buddhist stupas that poked above the forest cover and teams of fishermen rowing of their conventional picket boats.
9. Wander across the Colonial City of Galle
As considered one of Sri Lanka’s most well-known cities, Galle is an enthralling little colonial city situated within the southern a part of the island oozing old-world attraction and taste. I cherished wandering by means of its alleyways, weaving between tuktuks (auto rickshaws) and admiring its well-conserved structure courting again to the European colonial period.
One of many important sights to see in Galle is the 17th century fort, which is a world heritage website and the biggest remaining fortress in Asia constructed by European occupiers. Different distinguished landmarks in Galle embrace town’s pure harbor, St. Mary’s Cathedral based by Jesuit clergymen, and the seafront. There are many cool cafes, creative outlets and various shops. I discovered a classic poster store the place I purchased a couple of Sri Lanka travel-themed posters house!
The place to Keep: The Heritage Galle Fort
10. Do a Pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada
Many individuals rave about Adam’s Peak and say that the pilgrimage to the highest of the mountain is the primary factor to do in Sri Lanka. I sadly didn’t get the prospect to do it as I used to be in Sri Lanka just for every week, however undoubtedly assume it’s price doing when you love mountain climbing and have time for it.
Adam’s Peak, often known as Sri Pada, is Sri Lanka’s most sacred website. It’s a 2,243m (7,359 ft) mountain within the central highland area of Sri Lanka. For Sri Lankans, Sri Pada is a vital pilgrimage website, no matter your faith. The Buddhists consider that the footprint mark on Adam’s Peak is the left foot of Buddha. Hindus assume that the footprint belongs to Lord Shiva, whereas Muslims and Christians consider it’s Adam’s first step after being exiled from the Backyard of Eden.
No matter your religion, anybody can climb as much as the highest of the mountain and do the pilgrimage. It’s not a technical climb so so long as you’re in first rate well being, it is best to be capable to do it. The standard climb begins in the course of the evening so you’ll be able to attain the height for a wide ranging Adam’s Peak dawn. Right here’s an in depth information to mountain climbing Adam’s Peak.
11. Hike as much as Diyaluma Falls
The Diyaluma Falls are an excellent day journey from both Ella. Generally known as the second highest waterfalls in Sri Lanka, Diyaluma Falls are literally made up of a number of falls and pure swimming pools. In Sinhalese, Diyaluma or Diya Haluma means “speedy circulate of water” or could also be translated as “liquid mild”.
Based on a Sri Lankan historian, Diyaluma is the setting of the folklore a couple of tragedy involving a younger chieftain who was banished to the highlands. His lover tried to hitch him in Diyaluma however all of the passes had been guarded. The younger man let down a rope of twisted creepers over the escarpment, however as she was hauled up, she crashed in opposition to the rocks and died. The Gods, moved to pity by the harrowing spectacle, precipitated a stream of water to gush down the mountain, therefore the time period Diyaluma.
Be ready as one of the simplest ways to see it (and the one one which’s actually worthwhile) is a steep uphill stroll alongside rubble for 45 minutes every manner. I counsel carrying water sneakers that may get moist however nonetheless have an excellent grip on the rocks.
12. Do a Village Trek in Hiriwaduna
One other considered one of my favourite actions was the village trek across the Hiriwaduna space organized by Habanara Village by Cinnamon. Wandering by means of the village and studying in regards to the conventional Sinhalese lifestyle was like touring again in time. With a educated information within the lead, we met locals who nonetheless dwell within the space, visited their conventional mud homes, tree huts and agricultural farmlands.
Half manner by means of the hike, we hopped on board a picket catamaran to cross the man-made reservoir. Gliding on the glassy water floor amidst stunning purple water hyacinth and little faculties of fish was a surreal expertise. The tour ended with an ox-drawn carriage trip previous rice paddies and vegetable farms, with the solar setting within the distance forming an ideal backdrop.
In case your lodge doesn’t organise the village trek, take a look at this Hiriwaduna day tour that features a journey to the Minneriya Nationwide Park as nicely.
The place to Keep: Habanara Village by Cinnamon
13. Go on a River Safari on the Madu Ganga
Proclaimed a Ramsa wetland space in 2004, Madu River has a excessive bio-diversity and helps a wholesome inhabitants of birds, monkeys and fish. On our boat safari, we noticed numerous stunning birds, from the cormorant to kingfisher. The purple leaf monkey additionally made an look, cheekily hiding within the tree cover and peering at us from a distance. The perfect time to do that safari is within the night because the solar is setting, making for an exquisite backdrop.
Guide Your River Safari!
14. Go Browsing at Hikkaduwa
Many surfers come to Sri Lanka simply to surf — the south coast specifically is a surfer’s paradise. When you have by no means surfed earlier than, that is undoubtedly the perfect place to do it. It is vitally simple to study right here and the circumstances are excellent for the primary timer.
Plus, regardless of the place you journey alongside the south coast, you might be by no means removed from the jungle, monkeys, peacocks and jungle bliss. There actually aren’t too many locations on this planet that mix each the jungle and surf in such shut proximity.
Hikkaduwa is by far the preferred spot to log on. Initially a fishing city, Hikkaduwa is now a developed browsing city fashionable with price range backpackers. A chill vibe stays with bars and huts lining the seaside. There are a variety of native breaks and waves might be 3ft to 10ft excessive: the principle reef is deep and comparatively secure, excellent for beginner surfers.
The place to Keep: Citrus Hikkaduwa
15. Chill out on the Empty Seashores of Beruwala
One other place I stayed at was the Cinnamon Bey Beruwala situated proper on the seaside within the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Beruwala is the start line of the 130 kilometres (81 miles) lengthy stretch of seaside with a shallow reef that reveals itself at low tide.
That is the spot for the primary Muslim settlement on the island, established by Arab merchants across the eighth century AD. A big inhabitants of Sri Lankan Moors, a lot of them are gem retailers, nonetheless dwell within the city. In the present day, it’s a quiet and lazy seaside city jiving with native vibes and it’s a great place to immerse within the Sinhalese lifestyle.
The place to Keep: Cinnamon Bey Beruwala
The best way to Get to Sri Lanka
The primary worldwide airport in Sri Lanka is Colombo-Bandaranayake Worldwide Airport (CMB). The nationwide service is SriLankan Airways. Flights can be found from cities all through Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Center East.
Flights to Colombo from London and different components of Europe are inclined to price round US$600-900 return. Sri Lankan Airways are inclined to have the perfect offers and they’re direct flights. Oman Air has reasonably priced flights by way of Muscat, and Qatar Airways even have good costs flying by way of Doha.
Flying from New York to Colombo is definitely across the identical worth. It’s surprisingly reasonably priced, at round US$600-1000 return. Emirates have the perfect offers flying by way of Dubai, and Qatara Airways even have good costs flying by means of Doha.
Should you’re flying from Asia, you’ll be able to truly discover fairly good offers on price range airline Air Asia. They fly direct from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to Colombo for round US$200 return.
Seek for Flights to Sri Lanka
The best way to Get Round Sri Lanka
Practice journey in Sri Lanka is itself a journey to recollect. Sri Lanka has an intensive railway system serving most main cities and cities within the island. The trains are comfy and punctual, undoubtedly not like trains in India. There are even particular statement carriages for vacationers. You’ll be able to lookup prepare schedules on the official website.
The preferred routes for vacationers are the Colombo-Kandy and Kandy-Ella traces. The trains that enter the hill nation are significantly picturesque — significantly the Badullu-Nanu Oya line.
Strive to decide on the categorical trains, and at all times get a reservation beforehand. Touring third class is just not as unhealthy as it might sound. Typically the distinction between third and 2nd class is just a lacking arm relaxation between seats.
Inside the cities/cities, the commonest mode of transport in Sri Lanka is a three-wheeler, tuk-tuks. They work similar to taxis, and in lots of conditions are a handy and extremely cost-efficient option to get round.
Three-wheelers are ubiquitous in Sri Lanka. On any given road, you’ll hardly have to attend greater than a few minutes with out one going by you could wave down. Should you’re touring with baggage, there are barely bigger three-wheelers with extra space in your luggage you could search for.
Sri Lanka Visa and Permits
Most nationalities have to get an Digital Journey Authorization (ETA) on-line earlier than arrival in Sri Lanka. This digital authorization is legitimate for Three months, ranging from the day it has been accepted. It permits for 2 entries, which implies you’ll be able to enter the nation twice in the course of the 30 days entry (permitting for a break in e.g. Maldives).
ETA prices are $20 for SAARC international locations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan) and $35 for others. Residents of the Maldives, Seychelles and Singapore could get hold of a free visa on arrival.
When to Journey Sri Lanka
The perfect time for journey Sri Lanka is between November and April, when it’s primarily dry on the south and west coasts (the principle seaside areas). The central highlands are pleasantly cool and comparatively dry from January to April. Nonetheless, December to March can also be the height vacationer season in Sri Lanka. The remainder of the yr is way quieter and cheaper.
On the south and west coasts, the monsoon season goes from the top of April to October. The heaviest rainfall is often between Could to mid June and October to November, with July to September being comparatively drier, although nonetheless with off-season costs.
In July/August Kandy hosts the island’s most spectacular pageant, the 10-day Esala Perahera, which is among the most necessary spiritual festivals in Asia.
The place to Keep in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has a stunning quantity of gorgeous seaside resorts and jungle lodges which are moderately priced. Many of those jungle lodges are completely gorgeous but rustic and tucked deep inside the lush jungles. The seaside resorts too are aplenty of the wild and empty seashores, particularly on the southern coast.
Listed here are the locations I stayed in Sri Lanka that I extremely advocate:
Cinnamon Lakeside, Colombo — Poised on the banks of the Beira Lake, this four-star lodge provides you an escape from the bustling metropolis. The rooms are fairly stiff, similar to any enterprise lodge, however I actually loved the out of doors pool and luxurious gardens. Its in-house restaurant additionally has a wonderful buffet that features native and Mediterranean and Thai choices. Verify charges right here.
The Heritage Galle Fort, Galle — This iconic heritage lodge is situated inside the previous city of Galle, simply steps from the sunshine home and church. You’ll be able to stroll everywhere in the city from right here, with eating places and outlets simply at the doorstep. It’s an exquisite property with numerous colonial historical past seeping by means of its partitions. Positively the perfect place to remain in Galle! Verify the charges right here.
Citrus Hikkaduwa — Perched proper on the seafront, this reasonably priced three-star seaside resort is sweet for these on the lookout for consolation at an excellent worth. It’s a 10-minute scooter trip from Hikkaduwa city and is a good base for individuals who wanna surf all week. Guide right here!
Habanara Village by Cinnamon — That is the form of safari jungle lodge that many dream of! I cherished the country, picket really feel and jungle environment. The rooms had been comfy and opulent however nonetheless gave a sense that you just had been within the jungle. It’s an excellent base from which you’ll discover the close by Minneriya or Kaudulla Nationwide Park. Guide right here!
Aliya Resort and Spa, Sigiriya — You’ll be able to’t keep anyplace nearer to Sigiriya than right here! Situated proper throughout from Sigiriya Rock, this four-star lodge is about amidst lush tropical foliage. I like to recommend reserving the picket chalet that’s rustic and pure however nonetheless comfy. It incorporates a attractive infinity out of doors swimming pool and unobstructed view of the Sigiriya Rock. Verify the charges!
Cinnamon Citadel Kandy — An exceptionally fashionable place to remain proper by the Mahaweli River, surrounded by lush inexperienced jungles. There’s a spectacular out of doors pool that overlooks the river and in addition a restaurant with out of doors seating subsequent to the water. Think about waking as much as views of the river and jungle and having breakfast subsequent to it! Verify the most recent charges.
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Disclaimer: My journey to Sri Lanka was made potential by Cinnamon Inns, Sri Lanka Airways and Skilled Journey Bloggers Affiliation. As at all times, all opinions expressed above are my very own.
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