Sri Lanka is probably the hottest destination in Asia at the moment – it’s rich in history and culture in addition to its stunning nature. Now, six years after the civil war ended and more than a decade after the devastating tsunami, the country sees a steady growing economy and numerous international investments slowly fuelling the tourism industry. And here is the point: Sri Lanka has no mass tourism (yet), speaking the country offers untouched nature and well-preserved cultural sites. Except a few places around certain beaches, Sri Lanka has no uncontrolled development of hotels, mega resorts, theme parks or “wrong” investments as we know it from places like Phuket or southern Bali.
Here are 11 Reasons why you should visit Sri Lanka:
1. The Tea
What would be a visit to the country without trying real Sri Lankan tea? Sri Lanka is worldwide known for its Ceylon Tea (Ceylon was the former name of Sri Lanka, until it became a republic in 1972) and seemingly endless tea plantations. The majority of these plantations can be found around the central highlands of Sri Lanka where cool temperatures, rainfall and humidity provide the best conditions for tea production. Visit one of the numerous estates where you learn how tea is grown and processed and where you have the chance to try a fresh Sri Lankan tea yourself.
2. Sri Lanka is ideal for solo travellers
Tourism is growing fast and the country gets more and more noticed by individual travellers from around the globe. Whether you type of travel is splurge, budget or backpacker, solo travelling in Sri Lanka is a fantastic but especially safe way to immerse to the country’s real beauty. The public transportation system is reliable and buses and trains are great methods of getting to know many local and un-touristy places. As everywhere where you are the foreigner, it’s all about your attitude – respect others first, be pleasant and open-minded. Sri Lankans have a very genuine and warm hospitality.
3. It’s perfect for families
Thinking about travelling as family to Sri Lanka? Perfect choice! It’s one of the best destinations you can imagine travelling to with your loved ones. Everywhere you go you’ll be greeted with a very warm welcome and people try anything they can to entertain the kids. You never need to worry about disapproving stares or maybe even comments. On top, it’s easy to get around the island (ideally with a van and private driver) plus your kids won’t only learn a lot but they also gonna have a lot of fun by visiting temples and cultural sights, natural parks, watching elephants and playing on the beach.
4. The stunning nature
Although Sri Lanka may first seem like a compact place, its diverse natural places are truly spectacular and making the country even more unique. From its wonderful beaches like Negombo, Unawatuna or Trincomalee (among several others) and the picturesque tea estates over phenomenal mountains like the Knuckles Mountain Range in Central Sri Lanka to 22 astonishing National Parks where you can spot elephants, leopards, sloth bears, crocodiles, 227 bird species, 245 butterfly species and many more mammals & amphibians, in addition to 3210 flowering plants!
5. The people
Sri Lanka is a melting point of cultures: the main ethnic groups are Tamils and Sinhalese, originally from India, but there are also lots of people who have Arabic, Chinese and European (Dutch and Portuguese) influences. It’s not rare to see a temple, church and a mosque situated along the same road or even next to each other. Given that all major religions are represented here, Sri Lanka also celebrates officially all major religious festivals.
6. The Elephants
If there is one thing people associate with Sri Lanka except tea, it’s the elephants. The largest density of elephants in Asia is known to be in Sri Lanka with currently about 4500-5000 individuals. Sri Lankan elephants can reach a height of 2-3m with a weight of 3000-5000kg. There are several fantastic places to spot elephants in Sri Lanka:
I. The Gathering
During the dry months from July to October, you can see more than 300 elephants gathering around the shores of a huge reservoir at the Minneriya National Park in north central Sri Lanka.
II. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
One of Sri Lanka’s most popular places to watch elephants is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which serves as a sanctuary for injured and sick elephants.
III. Uda Walawe National Park
This park has the highest elephant population at a single place in Sri Lanka, with approx. 250-500. The park is located in southern Sri Lanka and lies on the boundary of the country’s wet and dry zones.
7. Diving & Snorkelling
Often referred to as “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, Sri Lanka first got noticed a diving destination when blue whales were regularly sighted of the coasts. The country has become a popular destination among international divers and is a serious competitor to its neighbour, the Maldives. The water temperatures are constant between 25°C to 30°C while best time for diving on the western and southern coasts is from November to April and the eastern and northern coasts offer the best diving conditions from April to September.
There are numerous WWII ship wrecks around and an abundance of marine life: Blue Whales, Sperm Whales, Whale Sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, honeycomb moray eels, barracudas, crabs, turtles, cuttlefishes, an abundance of colourful corals and much more!
Ayurveda is not only a stress-relieving spa treatment but an ancient form of medication which has been practised across the Indian subcontinent for over five millennia and is believed to be the world’s oldest healthcare system. As more people become health conscious these days and searching for alternatives to chemical medicine (and high prices), Ayurveda is the perfect example that you don’t need to rely on modern medicine. About ¾ of Sri Lanka’s population is nowadays using natural resources for a better well-being. Oh, Sri Lanka has even a Department of Ayurveda which is a subdivision of the ‘Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine’.
9. Sri Lankan food
Yes, we know that Thai cuisine is world-renowned but Sri Lanka is about to overtake this in the near future. Why? Sri Lankan cuisine is truly a reflection of its people – it features a unique blend of Indian curries, oriental spices and European herbs. How about Dhal Curry, Egg Kottu, Ulundhu Vadai or delicious Samosas?
10. Cultural Heritage Sites
From ancient ruins, cave temples to wonderful colonial buildings, the cultural heritages sites of Sri Lanka are one-of-a-kind. Visit Kandy, the former royal capital, which is especially famous for its ‘Tooth Temple’ (Sri Dalada Maligawa) and the annual ‘Kandy Esala Perahera’, a spectacular elephant parade which commemorates Buddha’s first teaching after he attained enlightened. Kandy is a great starting point to explore Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle (Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa) and gorgeous sightings such as the Lion Rock in Sigiriya and the Dambulla Cave Temple. You can find beautiful well-preserved colonial buildings throughout Sri Lanka, while the city of Galle in the south and ‘Little England’ in Nuwara Eliya have especially beautiful buildings.
11. Colombo City
Colombo is the thriving capital of Sri Lanka, located on the west coast of the country. Since the city is most probably your point of entry or exit, give it two or three days attention. Colombo is as vibrant and exciting as other major cities around the region such as Bangkok or Jakarta yet lacks the often chaotic traffic you can find in these cities. Make sure to take in some of its highlights such as the incredible Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo National Museum, a ride in a trishaw (tuk-tuk), the Independence Square and Memorial Hall, Leisure World (especially for kids) or the bustling Pettah Market!
BONUS: SriLankan Airlines
In 2014, the number of flight searches to Sri Lanka increased by 19%, according to Skyscanner.
Lots of shorthaul carriers recognized this trend and started including Colombo into their network of destinations.
SriLankan Airlines is the national airline of Sri Lanka and one of the world’s leading airlines when it comes to safety and service. The airline has a great international coverage (Asia, the Middle East and Europe) and competitive fares when compared to other major airlines in the region. Since 2012, SriLankan is as well a member of ‘Oneworld’.
How about you? Have you ever been to Sri Lanka or planning to? Let us know in the comments below!
P.S.: If you wanna see more pics of Sri Lanka, click here!