Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming high on people’s travel hit list. This is no wonder why when the Teardrop Island offers history, culture, beaches, wildlife spotting and spectacular scenery in one place. There are very few destinations that allow you to experience so much in one holiday. After touring the country for over 2 weeks last year, here are a few of my top tips not to be missed when you make a visit to Sri Lanka.
Cycle around Polonnaruwa
In my opinion this is by far the best way to view the ruins. Bike rentals are easy to organise in the area and the roads to the ruins are relatively quiet, though watch out for cows. Exploring them by bikes means that you can go at your own pace and you feel like you are out exploring them on your own. The ancient ruins are fascinating so you can easily spend a few hours cycling between them all.
Take in the views from the top of Sigiriya Rock
When you first arrive at Sigiriya Rock it looks like quite a daunting climb. Once you get started you realise it is neither a long hike, or too strenuous. On a visit to Sri Lanka, go to Sigiriya Rock as early as possible in the day to try and avoid the hoards of tourists on day trips. The views from the top are truly breathtaking and just the idea that people lived at the top is quite impressive. Don’t miss the Sigiriya Frescoes paintings that are over 1600 years old too!
Take a hike in some of the country’s rural scenery
Sri Lanka has hikes and walking trails for all abilities. For a nice simple hike try Little Adam’s Peak, in Ella, which is around an hour and a half round trip, but with fantastic views. Also in Ella is a hike along the railtrack to Rawana Falls which is not too demanding. Other longer walks in hill country include Adam’s Peak and the World’s End. Make sure to get an early start if you want to do these hikes as the mornings are the clearest and have the best views, with the mist coming down later in the day. Don’t forget to take enough water along with you too, as hiking in Sri Lanka’s heat is thirsty work.
Tour a local tea plantation and taste the local wares
Tea production is a huge part of Sri Lanka’s history and the development and processing of this industry is very interesting. Many of the tea plantations throughout the country offer tours and also tastings. These are great places to grab souvenirs and samples to take back home too!
Explore the many historical and religious temples
Sri Lanka has a host of temples that you can visit; deserted temples in remote rural locations, temples filled to bursting with local worshippers, temples beautifully lit up at night, temples with beautifully decorated giant statues or temples with huge sacred trees in them. Be prepared to remove your shoes before entry and dress modestly. You don’t want to offend any of the locals.
Take the train
Sri Lanka is an easy country to travel around with a private driver or in a group. A visit to Sri Lanka would not be the same without hopping on one of their famous trains through hill country. I personally wouldn’t recommend going in 1st class on this route as they can have on very cold air- conditioning and have tv’s playing throughout the journey. Go 2nd class and spend the journey with your head out of the window breathing in the fresh air and admiring the incredible scenery that you pass!
Sri Lankan cuisine is truly delicious. You will find that most restaurants and guesthouses will not make food as spicy for tourists. If you like you food fiery make sure to let them know. If you are by the coast make sure to try some seafood. It will be really fresh out of the ocean. Grab a coconut on the side of the road on a long journey. A friendly local will happily crack one open with a machete for you to have fresh. If you are on a budget head to the local cafeteria’s for a roti and dahl or curry. This is where you will find the locals eating. If you have time try and take a cooking course to take some of the flavours of the Teardrop Isle home with you!
Enjoy the coast on a visit to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has some beautiful beaches that are perfect to relax and unwind for a few days. With white sand, palm trees and sometimes the odd cow these beaches will offer sunsets and gentle strolls that will stay with you long after you have gone home. Along the coast at certain times of year you can go whale watching and dolphin watching too, where you get up close to these fantastic animals.
If you are interesting in a visit Sri Lanka, take a look at our Jewels of Sri Lanka tour. Over 15 days you explore all of the countries highlights, making sure you have an unforgettable trip! Not interested in doing Sri Lanka as part of a group tour? Our Tailor-made team can put together a private itinerary for you, just drop them an email letting them know what you want to do at firstname.lastname@example.org