Sri Lanka – a jewel shaped country in the Indian Ocean was an unexpected travel surprise. I loved every bit of Sri Lanka, all the exciting cities, asian safari experience, abundant landscapes & wildlife, overgrown ruins and friendly english-speaking Sri Lankans. This country is unrated and I would 100% recommend everyone to visit.
Travelling through the country is relatively easy, maybe a little chaotic with overcrowded buses and trains with people hanging off the edges (which actually looks dangerous but kind of fun) but once you get used to the traffic chaos, it is not too difficult to get around. Thankfully, I was with my family of four and we rented a private van with driver for the whole 9 days we were there.
With its rich landscapes, endless beaches and playful wildlife as well as the endless tea plantations and spice fields, Sri Lanka is an unforgettable destination that will absolutely fill your hearts. It is also the perfect budget-friendly option for your safari adventure or a tropical getaway without the hefty price tag. Here’s my 10 reasons to visit Sri Lanka and make you want to hop onto the next flight there!
1. The people of Sri Lanka
From the drivers to the village farmers, restaurant owners and everyone in between, I met so many amazing people on this trip. Very warm, welcoming and friendly people. I can see why they are also proud of their country, culture and welcome visitors like family to their businesses.
2. Affordable Luxury
My family stayed in two hotels/villas under the Jetwing group of hotels and it was beautiful! The price is by no means cheap but with that tag price per night, I would rate it as affordable luxury because of it’s excellent service, amazing architecture and private landscapes. One morning, my mum saw a hot air balloon take off from the fields of Jetwing St Andrew’s at Nuwara Eliya. Sri Lanka is a great country to save and extend your dollar further with an emerging market for affordable luxury tourism.
3. Temples & Buddhist Culture
Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million people practices a variety of religions with the majority 70% being Theravada Buddhists. There are a few hundred temples in Sri Lanka but the notable ones worth visiting are Dambulla Cave Temple, Temple of the Tooth, Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple and Vajiraramaya Temple. Visiting the temples offers great insight into Buddhism and locals will be more than happy to offer further information to help you gain a deeper understanding but beware of touting as some may want to make quick cash by providing information on the temples.
Wildlife in Sri Lanka caught me by surprise. Monkeys are aplenty and the chance to see elephants is high! You spot them easily along the riverbanks but do not hesitate to book the safari tour to see even more animals and even leopards on a jeep safari in one of the national parks.
5. Safari Experience
With a 5.30am wakeup call, we jumped onto a jeep and headed to Yala National Park. Be sure to wake up early as you often see more animals and get to catch the sunrise at the same time. Sticking your head out of the jeep was allowed (very exciting especially with the family of elephants within a metre distance). There, we saw herds of elephants, pelicans, deers and even more elephants! Ever wanted to go on a safari experience but don’t have the time or cash to go to Africa? Sri Lanka will be your best alternative, i promise.
6. Exciting Cities
Prominent cities in Sri Lanka are Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Dambulla, Nuwara Eliya and Mirissa all of which I explored and would highly recommend. Each city has different specialty and characteristics. Mirissa for the beach, Nuwara Eliya for the endless tea fields and Comlombo for the bustling city vibes.
7. Tea Plantations
Renowned worldwide, Ceylon tea is one of Sri Lanka’s primary exports. Kandy is the birthplace of Ceylon Tea and this city is also referred to as the hill capital and belongs to the Central Province of the Island. Another place to visit tea plantation is in the Nuwara Eliya where the most popular grade of tea is the whole-leaf orange pekoe (OP). Macwoods and Pedro Tea Factory are good choices to visit.
8. The Food
You can find spiced curries of all sorts – mango curry, aubergine curry and even banana curry. Vegetarians will rejoice in the various vegetables & fruits dishes this country has to offer. Big thanks to the largely buddhist population.
9. Mode of Transport
Local buses seem to be the main mode of transport for the locals. You see them jam packed right till the door and very often with half bodies sticking out. Quite scary but it’s such a common sight, the locals do it like a pro. Take the trains if you want to travel from city to city or countryside to countryside. We had planned to take the scenic train route from Nuwara Eliya to Ella but was closed due to a strike unfortunately. Be sure to check and double check if they operate.
10. Landscapes & Terrains
Sri Lanka is perhaps best known for its rainforests, which are cultivated by the island’s close proximity to the equator. From the beaches to the mountains and forests, I was delighted to set foot on the different terrains during my stay. The air was fresh & crisp and weather was perfect at 20 degrees. Really… what more can I really expect from this? 🙂
Have you been to Sri Lanka? and what did you like about it?