May 1, 2018

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year

Located on the Indian Ocean off the south of India, Sri Lanka is a destination that has so much to offer its visitors. In the past, however, this island nation was often skipped in ravour of India and other destinations in Asia. Thankfully, things have changed since more travellers have become aware of Sri Lanka’s diverse offerings, from cultural attractions to tea plantations, mesmerising landscapes, and wildlife reserves.

It is hard to imagine that the tropical island – now home to luxurious hotels and resorts – once suffered major setbacks like a devastating civil war and a tsunami. Now back on its feet, the emerging travel destination enjoys burgeoning visitor numbers and is more than ready to let more travellers discover its charms.

Below are 9 reasons why you should definitely visit Sri Lanka this year.

Tea plantations

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Ceylon black tea

If you are a tea-lover, then Sri Lanka definitely deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. It is one of the largest tea producers and boasts hillside green tea plantations that produce hundreds of millions of kilograms of Ceylon green, black, and white tea annually.

Colombo

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Clocktower in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo – Sri Lanka’s capital city – is well worth a visit. It is modern in many aspects but still has that charming, laid-back atmosphere you’d expect from a city backed by a rich colonial history. Famous for its historic architecture, the city also has a string of noteworthy galleries, museums, jazz clubs, rooftop bars, and cafes to keep you preoccupied. Shopping is also fabulous in Colombo so be sure to purchase teas, spices, chocolates, and gemstones for your friends and family back home. But to get a sense of the local way of life, check out Galle Face Green, an ocean-facing urban park right smack in the middle of the city.

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Old Parliament in Colombo, Sri Lanka

The friendly locals

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - friendly Sri Lanka locals

Sri Lanka is warm and welcoming and the locals are no different. They are friendly and always willing to welcome you with their toothy smiles. Spend a few hours leisurely exploring a town or village in this beautiful country  and you’ll soon find yourself having lighthearted conversations with hospitable Sri Lankans.

The food

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Sri Lankan cuisine - Fish Curry

Sri Lankan cuisine is extremely delicious so be sure to sample myriad local dishes while you’re there. Don’t miss out on the fish curry, kottu rotti, rice flour crepes, and seafood. There aren’t night markets overflowing with street food like many Asian destinations but local eateries dish up cheap yet tasty local delicacies.

The climate

Another great thing about Sri Lanka is the glorious tropical climate that varies, depending on where you are on the island. If you’re visiting Colombo and the west coast, it is best to travel during the dry season, from December to March. If looking to enjoy the Hill Country and the rest of the northern and eastern parts of the country, May to September – when rainfall levels are generally low – is the best time to visit.

Wildlife

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Yala National Park leopards

Sri Lanka is one of the best places for wildlife encounters. At the Yala West National Park, you will see the largest concentration of leopards on the planet. You will also sea sloth bears and buffaloes. Another must-visit nature and wildlife attraction is the Uda Walawe National Park where you will see many wild elephants. The national park is about a 4-hour drive from Colombo.

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Elephants in Sri Lanka

Its cultural heritage

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy

A place with more than 2000-years of history and culture to its name, Sri Lanka has incredibly beautiful World Heritage sites, from otherworldly temples to colonial fortresses. Allot ample time to explore the Sacred City of Kandy, a famous site among Buddhist pilgrims that’s set on a plateau bordered by majestic mountains. Tourists from the world over visit Kandy for its sacred Buddhist sites, especially the Temple of the Tooth Relic which is home to the relic of the tooth of Buddha.

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Sigiriya ancient rock fortress

Other can’t miss attractions are the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya and the Golden Temple of Dambulla. Sirigiya is a heritage site that is of immense historical and archaeological significance.  The Damnbulla cave monastery, on the other hand, is the largest cave complex in the country and houses murals and statues related to the life of Gautama Buddha.

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Dambullah Cave Temple

Beaches and the surfing scene

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Surfing in Sri Lanka

The beaches of Sri Lanka promise holidaymakers their much-needed dose of sun, surf, and sand. The teardrop-shaped island’s golden beaches are the best places to catch the glorious Sri Lankan sunsets. If you’re into exhilarating water sports, check out the Arugam Bay on the east coast. Arugam Bay offers the best surfing spots in the country.

Scenic train rides

9 Compelling Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka This Year - Nine Arches Bridges

Train travel is the most unforgettable yet affordable way to explore Sri Lanka. And if you want to experience the most scenic railway journey of your life, hop on a train from Ella to Kandy. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Hill Country from the train. Admire the endless misty tea plantations and lush pine forests and take countless photographs as you pass by the Demodara nine arch bridge near Ella station. A tourist attraction in itself, the bridge is built of stone and cement and without a single piece of steel.

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By:  Brendelyn Balaga

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