From the lush green tea fields of the hill country through to the much warmer, and blissfully peaceful beaches of the south with old forts, warm people & rich traditions thrown in, it’s a roller coaster to explore the country formerly known as Ceylon!
I fell totally in love with Sri Lankan hospitality from the moment I checked into my flight with Sri Lankan Airlines. From ever smiling ground staff and crew to the most lux decadence being served on flight, everything is spectacular.
The real charm is of course embodied in the entirety of Sri Lanka- A beautiful country boasting of stunning nature and beaches, wildlife, delicious food, ancient temples, and last but not least the lovely and friendly people!
Getting straight to the point of planning your itinerary, Sri Lanka can certainly be visited as a quick getaway, especially from India thanks to the proximity of course.
Sri Lanka offers the perfect getaway experience to those seeking adventure and thrill and at the same time its perfect for travellers who are seeking a luxurious retreat to unwind and indulge.
-Don’t bother buying a simcard or getting international roaming on your sim because you get great deals on simcards in Sri Lanka with good data plans. It’s definitely cheaper to get a simcard from Sri Lanka.
-It is important to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites and temples in Sri Lanka as it is considered very disrespectful in most cultures if you don’t. Most temples won’t let you enter if you not dressed appropriately. Both men and woman will need to ensure their legs and shoulders are coveredwhile visiting religious sights.
-Use tuk tuks for most part to explore the country. At other times, hiring a bicycle is a good idea to get around.
Depending on what time you arrive (in the morning or in the evening), spend one or two nights in the capital Colombo so that you get a full day to explore this busy and energetic city.
Colombo is full of contrasts – from huge impressive colonial-style buildings and big parks and lakes, strange and creepy temples, to busy and chaotic streets.
Jump on a tuk-tuk (they are everywhere and will hunt you down and follow you until you take their offer) and let the tuk-tuk driver take you around the highlights of Colombo.
Head out to Pettah- one of the oldest districts in Colombo. You can wander around here for an hour or two. Visit Pettah Market and shopping streets located in the Old Quarter. Visit Mayura Hotel in Pettah. It’s a hole in a wall kind of place with very few or no tourists. Try the crab curry and Sr Lankan Omlette here.
Tea lovers can stock up at the Dilmah Tea Outlet at Crescent Boulevard.Take a night stroll along Galle Face Green, a huge green lawn area by the sea promenade in the evening.
Restaurants to visit: Ministry Of Crab, Isso, Curry Pot, Upali’s.
Colombo also houses some great casinos of Sri Lanka and if you love nightlife, Colombo will certainly impress you. Bally’s and Bellagio are the two famous casinos here and highly recommended if you enjoy a game or two. Both casinos run round the clock. Bars to visit in Colombo include Zaza Bar, ON14 Rooftop Bar and Sky Lounge.
The Galle Face Hotel, is situated in the heart of Colombo, along the seafront and facing the famous Galle Face Green. The Galle Face Hotel embraces its rich history and legendary traditions, utilizing them to create engaging, immersive experiences that resonate with old and new generations of travelers alike. No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without staying at this majestic hotel, built in 1864 and recently restored back to its former glory.
Galle is 2 hours away from Colombo by car and one of my favorite parts of the country.
Galle has a bold tropical backdrop that frames the lines of Old Dutch colonial buildings. It is home to the gorgeous Fort area where you’ll find boutiques, cafes, and chic hotels. Galle Fort, is an iconic part of the town rich in history .The fort dramatically overlooks the ocean and there is a lovely coastal walk to the left of the ruins. Start walking from the white lighthouse on the south eastern part of the fort and go along the sea side. Walk to the northwest side where you can see the Clock Tower. That side is the connection between Galle City and Galle Fort. It’s probably a 2km walk around the fort
Some good restaurants to visit in this area are The BlockHouse, Chambers Restaurant and Lucky Fort Restaurant.
Nestled in the heart of the crowning jewel of Sri Lanka’s colonial past and over looking the Galle Fort is Le Grand Galle by Asia Leisure Hotels that offers majestic grandeur and is one of the best properties to stay at. I had one of the most magical stays here with the rooms overlooking the ocean. Waking up to the musical sounds of waves crashing against the rocks, has been the most therapeutic part of my travel to Sri Lanka, it was absolutely pristine.
Unawatuna is famous for its stunning beaches and coral formation. Barely three miles from the center of Galle and 60 miles from Colombo, this coastal town is the perfect place for a day trip to the beach.
End your day by hitting up Angel Beach, which is a premier luxury beach club in Unawatuna. With a private beach area, a poolside deck and a sprawling lounging area besides a packed bar, Angel Beach is a happening destination to let you hair down or just enjoy a drink or two while you watch the Sri Lankan sun set.
Kandy is about 2.5 hrs. away from Colombo by car and the second largest city in Sri Lanka. The train journey from Colombo to Kandy is supposed to be quite scenic and should take 2.5 hours.
It’s most famous for it’s cultural richness, scenic surroundings, central lake, nearby tea plantations and The Temple of The Sacred Tooth.
The temple is believed to house one of Buddha’s original teeth, which has become an incredibly sacred relic. The tooth is housed in an ornate golden structure in the middle of the temple and is widely worshipped. Dine at The Empire Café, which is a short walk from the temple. It’s a stylish restaurant offering a range of Sri Lankan and western dishes
Next up, the Royal Botanical Gardens are pure beauty.
Within the park itself, there is a lovely restaurant that sits on the main field and it’s cheap to dine with a lovely view.
Visit Helga’s Folly,a unique hotel in the jungle hills of Kandy. Characterized by eclectic furnishings like candelabras covered in decades of wax, nearly every square inch of the hotel is covered in murals.
A beautiful statue which towers over the city is the big white Buddha or locally known as Bahiravokanda Vihara. Not only does a statue on a hilltop have an allure to it, it also has some amazing panoramic views of the whole city! The best time to go here would be sunrise or sunset.
One of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions isn’t actually a place, but a train rides. This Kandy-Ella leg (and vice-versa) has often been called the most beautiful train ride in the world. It’s a 6-7 hr. journey that takes you through a lush mountainous terrain with tea plantations as far as the eye can see. This is by far the most popular train route in Sri Lanka and the most difficult to book, so it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you reserve early.
Sun, Sand, Serenity is how I’d best describe the beautiful country of Sri Lanka. My week in Sri Lanka was a whirlwind of culture, curries, great company, and spectacular scenery. Sri Lanka is equally a place for relaxing as well as adventures. The exotic culture of Sri Lanka is apparent even in the big hotels, which gives a refreshing twist on the average beach holiday. With year-round sunshine, sandy beaches, friendly locals and incredible food Sri Lanka could be the best decision you’ve made all year. I couldn’t cover even half of this beautiful country but its only given me more reasons to return, for the most part left undiscovered and the warm people and wonderful hospitality.