Ten reasons why Sri Lanka is the best place to travel
Nicola is a second year Psychology student at the University of Liverpool, and last year she travelled to Sri Lanka to teach English to adults and children and to work with special needs children. Here are her top ten reasons why Sri Lanka is the best place to travel.
Just off the South-East coast of India, the small (yet incredibly beautiful) Island of Sri Lanka is often neglected when it comes to being picked as top travelling destination. It seems people just don’t know about all the hidden gems the country has to offer! Sri Lanka is in fact one of the most beautiful, friendly and exciting places to visit and the fact that so few people know about it makes it even better! These are the top 10 reasons why Sri Lanka is the best place to visit…
1. The locals are the friendliest people you will ever meet.
Always trying to help you out and likely to ask you hundreds of question about where you’re from, Sri Lankan people are the most welcoming folk you’ll ever meet. At first you may find it a bit odd if a stranger starts chatting to you on the bus and asks about where you’re from and what you’re doing in the country, but don’t worry – this is just how it is in Sri Lanka! They’re asking purely because they’re friendly and they are interested in you. They might even recommend a few of the best places for you to visit!
2. Nature, animals and the National Parks.
Monkeys? Check. Crocodiles? Check. Elephants? Double check. The odd creepy crawly in your bathroom? Probably check! No matter whereabouts you are on the Island, there’s bound to be a new creature just around the corner. If you want to get up close and personal with a herd of elephants, you can! Just make sure go to a place that’s kind to the animals as some places don’t treat the beautiful beasts so kindly. A good way to get up close and personal with elephants without disturbing them is by visiting one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks. Uda Walawe is renowned for its diversity and you can jump in a truck and indulge in the full safari experience, seeing them in their natural habitat.
A traditional Sri Lankan meal made from chopped up Roti (a type of bread), vegetables, egg and/or meat that could quite probably be the most amazing thing you’ve ever tasted. It can sometimes be a bit spicy too! You better get used to eating with your hands - cutlery isn’t a thing in Sri Lanka and won’t always be provided in less touristy areas. You won’t find this a problem though as you’ll be an expert soon enough. By the time you’ll return home you’ll have forgotten how to use a knife and fork!
4. The history.
With so much political goings-on having happened in Sri Lanka even in the last few decades there is so much to learn about this beautiful country. The Tsunami Photo Museum in Telwatta is a must-see. Although it will almost certainly leave you with tears in your eyes, the country has been through so much in recent years and it’s fascinating to learn about it in the place where it all happened.
5. Postcard-worthy beaches.
From Hikkaduwa, to Marisa, to Unawatuna to the surfing hotspot Arugam bay, there’ll be plenty white sandy havens for you to visit, all with different quirks on offer. With a turtle sanctuary just a small tuk tuk ride away, Hikkaduwa beach is the perfect place to relax whilst drinking from a fresh coconut. For a vibrant array of nearby markets and restaurants on the beach, Unawatuna is the one for you. If you’re a keen surfer or just like to watch the pros at it from the comfort of your own hammock, then Arugam Bay is the place to be. However, no matter what beach you’re at, you’ll be almost guaranteed sunshine and a beautiful view.
6. “Hari hari”.
Although this may make no sense to you now, just wait until you have spent time in Sri Lanka and you’ll be sure to fall in love with the head wobble and “hari hari” that is used by all the locals. It’s said to be a sign of agreement and everyone does it! You’ll return home having picked it up yourself!
7. Exciting climbs and breath-taking views.
If you like a bit of a challenge then there’s plenty on offer for you. Sigiriya Rock, the 660ft high rock fortress built by King Kasyapa as his palace is now the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka and it’s easy to see why! It offers stunning views throughout the entire climb – especially if you get there early in the morning. World’s End, part of the Horton Plains National Park, provides travellers with an unforgettable view above a sheer cliff 4,000ft off the ground! Finally, Adam’s Peak, located in central Sri Lanka, will make you feel as though you are on top of the world. But remember to check which season you are in first as Adam’s Peak can offer a foggy view in certain months!
8. Religious diversity.
Despite the majority of Sri Lankan people being Buddhist, the country is incredibly religiously diverse. With many temples across the country there is so much to see and experience. If you catch the bus, you best be aware that it is expected of you to get up and offer your seat to a Monk if you are sitting towards the front of the bus. When travelling in a country as religiously diverse as Sri Lanka, it’s vital to research what is and is not culturally appropriate. One of the easiest ways to do this is to check out where you will find important information on the local laws and customs of Sri Lanka.
9. Train journeys like no other.
The breath-taking journey from Colombo to Ella is one that can’t be missed. Eight hours on a train sounds like a long time, but treat yourself to first class (which is still very cheap), sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery of the hill country. If you want to get the feeling of what it’s like to be a local then jump on a train economy class style! It’s cheap, incredibly cramped but allows you to immerse yourself in the life of a local.
10. The non-existent concept of time.
Always on time for everything wherever you go? You better get used to being a little late from time to time! Sri Lankan people are incredibly laid-back, and time just isn’t so much of a ‘thing’ there! If a local tells you they’ll be there in five minutes you best just take it with a pinch of salt and know that they could be there any time! Locals are super relaxed and easy going - and that’s one of the beauties of the country. Embrace it!
If my top 10 has convinced you to take the plunge and head to Sri Lanka for a new experience, then there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you go… You’ll need a visa to get into Sri Lanka, and you’ll also need to visit your doctor 4-6 weeks before setting off to find out what vaccinations you need to get before travelling.
It’s also worth having a look at the FCO “Know Before You Go” pages for handy information about the preparation you need to do before heading abroad. Also keep an eye on @FCOTravel for any ongoing travel news.