Lovingly called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a hidden gem for travellers with its diverse cultures, varied landscape, and the friendly islanders. The Sri Lankan culture will captivate your senses with its truly unique blend of Portuguese, British and Dutch influence. The more you explore the nooks and crannies of Sri Lanka, the more you begin to understand and appreciate, the land and its people. On that note, here is a list of the top 10 cool things to do the next time you visit Sri Lanka.
1. Explore the Secrets of Nuwara Eliya
Notably among the best cities in Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya offers a host of adventure activities if you are so inclined. The weather here is cold and damp, quite similar to England, which is perhaps the reason Nuwara Eliya is lovingly called Little England. Start the day by taking a Jet Ski out onto the famous Lake Gregory, a centrally-located large water body. If Jet Skiing is not your forte, you could try a bunch of other water sports like Kayaking, or simply rent a Swan or a Speedboat.
If you like Golfing, prepare to be surprised as Nuwara Eliya is home to one of the oldest Golf Courses in Asia. Built in the 1800s, the Nuwara Eliya Golf Course is a prime attraction for tourists that are up or a round of Golf. Nuwara Eliya is also home to the Royal Turf Club, which offers a perfect excuse to spend a day at the races during the summer. If you are into off beat activities, you could hike to a nearby tea plantation and get a first-hand view of how Britain’s favourite drink is processed, right from the ground up.
2. Take the Train Ride from Kandy to Ella
The train ride from Kandy to Ella is often considered one of the most scenic routes to travel, not just in Sri Lanka, but the whole world. If you have got a few days to spend in Sri Lanka, it would be wise to embark on the 5-hour journey that will take you through some of the scariest yet breathtaking terrains. Right from tight corners, to overhanging trees, tunnels, small bridges, and acres of beautiful tea plantations, the tracks take you through some of the most scenic places in the country.
3. Hike Little Adams Peak in Ella
Ella is a prime spot for hiking, as some of the best views of the mountain country can only be had from the middle of nowhere. If you are interested in exploring the landscape without hiking for several hours, we recommend taking the short hike to Little Adams Peak. Perhaps the most famous trail for beginners, the sunset views from the summit are surreal. The walk takes you through meadows lined with tea plantations, as the climb gradually steepens near the summit.
4. Enjoy the Night life at Ella
Ella is among the upcoming party destinations of Sri Lanka, with rows of modern restaurants, bars, and lounges opened to be patronized. The night life in Sri Lanka is non-existent save for a few places, and Ella is definitely a part of that list. If you are more of an early-riser, you could always visit the Nine Arch bridge near Ella. The ancient stone bridge is easily one of the most picturesque spots in the country and offers a mesmerizing view of the landscape throughout the day.
5. Watch the Sunset Over the Horizon from the Beach Towns of Mirissa and Trincomalee
Sri Lanka is gradually turning into a popular honeymoon destination. With its wide array of picturesque palm tree-lined white and yellow sand beaches, overlooking the clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and the Laccadive Sea, the beach towns offer perfect refuge from the humdrum of city life. Sunset views from the coastal towns of Trincomalee and Mirissa, are the best. Make the most of your Sri Lankan sojourn by spending time on the beach as the sun sets over the horizon, painting the entire sky in a scarlet hue.
6. Experience Marine Life at Trincomalee
When in Trincomalee, whale watching is perhaps the most sought-after activity. However, it can only be experienced between May to September. If you are travelling during the other months of the year, you could always opt for Scuba Diving. It does not matter if you are a professional or a first-timer since Trincomalee has some of the most experienced trainers and facilities in all of Asia. Enrol for a 3-day crash course and you are all set to experience the deep blue. The nearby Pigeon Island offers some of the best spots for Snorkelling and Scuba Diving if you are willing to forego your fears and embrace a new experience.
7. Embark on a Cultural and Historical Tour of Kandy
The hub of Sinhalese culture, Kandy is also an important center for Buddhism. Located in the central plateau region, this is the biggest town in the area. Notable places to visit include the Royal Kandyan Palace, which is famous for the Sacred Temple of the Tooth. Legend has it that when Lord Buddha was cremated, one canine tooth was retrieved from the ashes. The tooth has since been preserved and guarded in this holy shrine, and even played a crucial role in determining, who governed the capital city of Kandy, 2500 years ago!
The Royal Botanical Gardens, is the second major attraction in Kandy. It is a beautiful and serene garden, located in the heart of bustling Kandy town that has been providing solace to the natives and tourists for the past two and a half centuries. The park has quite a diverse range of colourful flowers, and you could easily spend an entire day here, wandering through the beauty of Mother Nature.
8. Discover the Heartland of Sri Lankan Culture at Anuradhapura
Often considered the epicenter of Sri Lanka history and culture, Anuradhapura was once the capital of Sri Lanka. The list of ancient monuments in the city is endless, and it would take up an entire day to visit them all. Travellers are advised to chalk up their stay in Anuradhapura in advance in order to explore the maximum, within the shortest duration. For a few bucks, you could also find a tour guide to help you navigate the city and explore all it has to offer.
Nearby Mihintale, is perhaps among the most fascinating places in the country, considering it is the spot where Lord Buddha first stepped onto the island. It is located barely 30 minutes from Anuradhapura and is part of a large group of monuments, at the top of which lies Mihintale. Once you ascend the final steps, you will be greeted with a mesmerizing 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. The walk might be tiring, but is worth the effort at the end of the day.
9. Head Out on a Safari
When in Sri Lanka, going out on a safari is a must! The country is home to over six prominent National Parks and Sanctuaries, the most popular of which are Yala, Minneriya, Kaudulla, and Wilpattu. So, irrespective of whether you are visiting for a week or two months, make time for at least one jungle safari. What is interesting about a Sri Lankan safari is that you will encounter different species at different times of the year. For example, Wilpattu National Park is famous for spotting Elephant and Leopards during October. If you are visiting during Summer, chances are you might also encounter a Sloth Bear.
10. Take a Ride in a Hot Air Balloon in Dambulla
Hot Air Balloon rides are quite popular in Dambulla, when the weather is clear. You could visit the place if you are in or near Sigiriya. Enjoy spectacular views of the Pidurangala Rock and the Sigiriya Rock from above. The best time to go up in the air is either at day break or just before sunset. It is definitely one of the most romantic experiences, that Sri Lanka has to offer, and the views are simply amazing!
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