Sri Lanka is an ideal destination that offers a unique blend of culture, history and natural beauty. The warm hospitality of the Sri Lankan people and the delicious cuisine add to its charm.
It might be one of the most underrated gems of southern Asia, which is fantastic news for you. It’s one of the last South Asian countries that hasn’t become overrun with tourists. As a result, there are still plenty of hidden treasures to explore.
Sri Lanka pays homage to its colorful past with its well-preserved ancient kingdoms, beautiful colonial architecture, verdant tea plantations, stunning displays of wildlife, and a fascinating blend of cultures.
Here are a few experiences to consider including in your Sri Lankan itinerary.
1. Elephant Gathering – Minneriya
Between July and October, the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world converges in Minneriya National Park.
They bring their calves to graze on the grasses and drink and bathe in the main lake.
2. Sigiriya Fortress – Cultural Triangle
Sigiriya is Sri Lanka’s most visited archaeological site and one of South Asia’s best-preserved examples of urban planning.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to spectacular water gardens and a 1200-step climb to the palace at the top.
3. Whale Watching – Mirissa
In the 1970s, the Blue Whale was placed on the endangered species list. At one point, scientists and naturalists believed they had gone extinct.
The warm waters off the southern tip of Sri Lanka are a playground for the world’s largest mammal, as well as whale species. Take a chartered excursion and spend the day spotting these majestic creatures.
4. Cultural Walking Tour – Jaffna
For three decades, northern Sri Lanka was caught up in a devastating civil war. It was off-limits to tourists, until 2009 when a ceasefire was declared.
This part of the country is under-traveled, but the newer generations are warm and eager to welcome travelers and share their culture, foods, and personal stories with you.
5. Street Food Tour – Colombo
Sri Lanka’s capital is exciting, and cosmopolitan, and offers fantastic street food options. Sample Sinhala, Muslim, Tamil, and Malay cuisines, explore colorful neighborhoods, and visit historic sites along the way.
6. Leopard Safari – Wipattu National Park
If you’ve been to Africa but missed seeing the elusive leopard, Sri Lanka is home to the densest population of leopards in the world.
Wilpattu National Park is also home to the sloth bear, the copper-eyed owl, the endangered star tortoise, crocodiles, and various other species.
7. Tea Tasting – Nuwara Eliya
Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of tea and one of the must-do activities is touring the beautiful tea plantations in Hill Country.
Learn about every step of the tea process, observe the mastery of the tea pickers (mostly Tamil women), and enjoy a proper high tea, complete with aromatic Ceylon tea.
8. Ayurvedic Spa – Central Sri Lanka
Eager for a healthy, mindful escape? Consider a stay at one of Sri Lanka’s world-famous wellness resorts, and enjoy amenities like Ayurvedic massage, personalized meals, daily yoga practice, and awe-inspiring surroundings.
9. Temple of the Tooth – Kandy
For Buddhists, this is the most sacred site in Sri Lanka. The Temple of the Tooth contains the tooth relic of Buddha.
The temple is located within the royal complex in ‘Kingdom of Kandy.’ It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today.
10. Explore Anuradhapura – North Central Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura is an ancient city complex founded in the 5th century BCE and stood as the Sinhalese capital of Sri Lanka until the 11th century CE. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The capital moved because of continuous invasions from South India. It is the oldest ‘continuously lived-in city’ in the world.
Sri Lanka may be small compared to the cultural megalith that lies to the north. However, with its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, colorful culture, spectacular nature displays of nature, and fascinating history, it has everything you could ever want in a vacation destination.
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