Sri Lanka is a diverse and tropical island below the southern tip of India. Set up for all kinds of traveler types from the budget backpacker to the luxury holiday maker, Sri Lanka should be added to everyones travel bucket list. There are so many reasons to visit Sri Lanka. The country has much to offer from pristine beaches to lush jungle covered mountains and wildlife safaris to UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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Sri Lanka has suffered tourism set backs in recent years. The long civil war which ended in 2008 and the devastating 2004 boxing day tsunami. However, the country is getting back on it’s feet so now is the time to visit before the tourist masses invade the island. If you still need some convincing then here are our 10 reasons to visit Sri Lanka.
1- Friendly People
You’re probably bored of people telling you how lovely the local people are when they return from their vacations. Well we cannot write this post without mentioning the people of Sri Lanka. There’s a reason why the people are at the top of of our Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka list. They’re truly amazing.
Unfortunately the smiles have faded in much of Asia but they’re still strong in Sri Lanka. Not only are the smiles continuous, they’re also genuine. The waves and smiles from the general public is one thing but their outstanding personalties shine through their hospitality. We felt so welcome by the Sri Lankan guesthouse owners and staff that at times is was hard to leave. Getting to know these people was a real highlight of our visit to Sri Lanka.
2 – Delicious Food
If food is something that excites you when visiting a new country then Sri Lanka will not let you down. There unfortunately isn’t a huge street food scene in Sri Lanka but they make up for this by their delicious home cooked meals found at home stays, guesthouses and local restaurants. We hope you’re hungry because portion sizes are big. A sign of the Sri Lankan people’s generosity.
Eating breakfast at your accommodation is the perfect way to start the day. They usually consist of string hoppers, lental dal, coconut sambal, coconut pancakes, omelettes, bread, jam, fruit, coffee and tea. A breakfast of champions!
Other mealtime highlights are the tasty vegetable curries. Cooked differently everywhere you eat, the delicious vegetable curry option usually includes 4 or 5 different dishes. They really know how to make ordinary vegetables taste amazing. And let’s not finish this section without mentioning the fresh fish on offer. Fishing is big business in Sri Lanka so you can always find an awesome whole grilled fish ready to be devoured.
3 – Gorgeous Beaches
Sri Lanka has some of the best beaches in the world. Being an island, you’re never far away from a glorious stretch of sand. There are beaches to suit all tastes.
The West is where Sri Lanka’s beaches are the most developed and tourist orientated. Negombo, Kalutara, Beruwala and Bentota are the most popular and not too far from the capital and it’s international airport.
The East is the polar opposite in terms of development and tourist numbers but no doubt that’ll change soon. If chilled hammock swinging vibes is your thing then beaches like Arugam Bay, Kalkudah and Uppuveli will be right up your street.
The South coast is somewhere in-between the two. The historic colonial townscape of Galle is the area’s centre point. Surrounding the town are some gorgeous beach gems such as Mirissa and Unawatuna.
4 – Fascinating History
Sri Lanka is steeped with enough history to give any history buff reasons to visit Sri Lanka. Highlights include the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. Both of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites are a wonder to explore. Hire a bicycle or moped to navigate the dozens of ruined temples, palaces and other buildings. Just keep a look out for the cheeky monkey inhabitants! They’ll be after any food or drink you’re carrying with you.
5 – Abundance of Wildlife
Sri Lanka currently has 22 national parks. That’s a huge number for the relatively small size of the island. Wherever you are in Sri Lanka, they’ll be a national park nearby.
You can’t fail to spot wild elephants, but there are other animals to potentially see including leopards, crocodiles, monkeys, bears, wild boar, buffalo and a crazy amount of birdlife. We took a Kaudulla national park safari and spotted around 70 elephants in 3 hours!
The amazing thing about Sri Lanka is that you don’t have to enter a national park to see wildlife. Wildlife is everywhere! While visiting remote lagoons and lakes we spotted wild elephants, crocodiles, mongoose and monitor lizards.
6 – Extraordinary Landscapes
Need more reasons to visit Sri Lanka? The wonderful landscapes will have your jaw dropping to the floor. Not only are they extraordinary, they’re also diverse as you travel from region to region. Terraced tea plantations, soaring mountains, jungle clad plains, incredible rock formations and gorgeous horse shoe bays. Have your camera ready and bring a spare battery because you won’t be able to stop yourself pressing that shutter button.
7 – It’s Cheap
Sri Lanka may not be as cheap as neighbouring India but once you’ve paid for your flight ticket, the rest is not expensive. It’s cheap to eat, travel and sleep. For now.
Providing you’re not sleeping and eating in luxury hotels you can eat from as little as £2 a meal. £2 will get you some tasty curries at a local restaurant or budget guesthouse. Less will be enough for Sri Lankan samosas and filled roti breads.
A budget but clean double room for a night will set you back between £10 and £30. Prices for accommodation can vary quite a bit between destinations. Public transport is so inexpensive, they may as well let you travel for free. An average 3 hour bus journey from one town/city to another will cost only 80 pence.
8 – Scenic Train Journeys
Many people say the train journeys in Sri Lanka are some of the most beautiful in the world. We would agree. If you plan to visit Sri Lanka’s hill country then we recommend getting there by train. Popular routes are Colombo to Ella and Kandy to Ella. Ella is a popular town to base yourself should you wish to visit the area.
We took the scenic train from Kandy to Ella. On the way we passed lush jungle, rural villages, terraced tea plantations and misty mountain tops. The views were magnificent.
9 – Buddhist Culture
Religious or not, you can’t help but be in awe of the Sri Lankan people’s devotion to their Buddhist culture. Sri Lankan culture has long been influenced by the heritage of Theravada Buddhism passed on from India. There are some fascinating temples and other Buddhist sites to visit all over Sri Lanka. Highlights include the Dambula Cave Temples and Kandy’s Temple of the Sacred Tooth.
Buddhism also plays a big part in the Sri Lankan Ayurveda health treatments. Ayurveda isn’t only about a relaxing massage. Ayurveda, like Buddhism, advises us to resist negative thoughts, abstain from physical abuse, not to give into greed or sorrow, resist fear, pride, arrogance and ego. That sounds like great advise to us.
10 – It’s an Easy India
If you’re still with us then you really must need 10 reasons to visit Sri Lanka! Have you always wanted to visit India but put off by horror stories from other travellers? We’ve also visited India and although it’s an amazing country to visit, we have to admit, it does come with it’s downfalls. Delhi belly, scams, upsetting poverty, overcrowding, epically long journeys and at times, safety concerns. We’d still urge anyone to visit India, but if you’re worried about the above then visit Sri Lanka instead!
Sri Lanka feels like a mini India. So much so that many people assume Sri Lanka used to be a part of India, but they have never been the same country. However, there are certainly similarities to southern India. The Tamil language, the food, the weather, the landscape and the general look and feel of cities/towns. Despite these similarities, there is a far less chance of experiencing any of the previously mentioned India downfalls.