EMBARKED on the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, the tropical island of Sri Lanka or Ceilão, (the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese Empire when it arrived in 1505) has attracted wanderers and travelers alike with its astounding and luxurious natural vibe & there are immense reasons to put Sri Lanka in your bucket list.
Being the epicenter of the Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times and is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia, including Ladakh, Bhutan and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, as well as being a bastion of Hinduism.
If you want your travel experience to be something out of the usual travel box, Sri Lanka is an astounding choice. Places to visit in this country are all about splendid beaches, natural vistas, and historical ruins. The tiny island nation displays its charm unequivocally, and leaves its travellers wanting to return to it always. Sri Lanka has a total of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and given the minute size of its landmass, that is very impressive. Sri Lankan beaches are much sought after by foreign travellers, who look for something serene and naturally refreshing.
1. It was Lonely Planet’s best destination of 2019-
It was awarded Lonely Planet’s coveted best destination of 2019 title, just months before the bombings erupted the tourism industry. And there were, naturally, an abundance of reasons for it being selected for the honour, including its distinctive collection of religions and cultures, a host of new visitor accommodations, unique and finger-licking food, a vibrant restaurant scene and mind-blowing wilderness lands.
2. Eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites-
From caves, temples, ancient cities, ruins of monuments to mountains, dense forests, highlands and national parks, Sri Lanka has an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered. The Buddhist heritage can be seen in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy and in Golden Temple of Dambulla.
Old ruins of ancient cities like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya besides the colonial architecture of Galle are just mesmerizing. For nature and wildlife seekers, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and Central Highlands of Sri Lanka are eloquent spots. It is this eclectic variety coupled with rich heritage that makes Sri Lanka one of the most appealing destinations.
3. Ramayana Trail –
Even though Sri Lanka is known for its Buddhist culture and heritage, it was and is also the land of Ravana and the island country has a vast amount of connections to the epic. There are several Ramayana tours that take you across the country and these tours can take anywhere between a week to a fortnight to be completed. Every site here tells a story that makes people want to come and explore them all.
The most prominent places that are a sure visit are Ashok Vatika, Koneswaram Temple, Thotupola Kanda, Chilaw, Sanjivani Hill, Kandy ( UNESCO Site), and Ramboda waterfalls.
4. Sri Lankan Tea Trails –
Travelling to Sri Lanka and not having a sip of the blissful tea is a huge miss and a sure “to do” thing. It is a pleasure to lose yourselves in the charm of the tea plantations. The country is the world’s fourth-largest producer of tea has several plantation towns hidden away in some of the most beautiful vistas in the country.
There are even tea plantation hotels as well. Nuwara Eliya is one of the vast plantations with a scenic taste to it.
5. Get Wild-
Explore the marine with blue whales in season or have a splendid sight of spinner dolphins leap about in Kalpitiya. Sri Lanka also has 5,800 wild elephants ambling about and the biggest concentration of leopards in the world. See them in Yala national park, along with sloth bears and buffalo.
Sri Lanka is the paradise of flora & fauna. The country has over 90 species of mammals (including elephant, leopard, bear, and monkeys), hundreds of butterflies, over 80 snake species (including deadly cobras and vipers), and about 435 species of birds.
6. Lose yourselves in the caves –
The Dambulla Buddha caves are immersed with Buddha statues, cave paintings and are amazingly vibing to the culture and traditions of Buddhism. Located around 45 miles out of Kandy in central Sri Lanka, this temple complex, a sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, dates back to the first century BCE.
5 caves nestle under a hanging rock and as recently as 1983 the structure was embellished with emphasized entrances. The most astounding thing about the murals on the calm yet undulating ceiling is the artwork that follows the contour of the rock. For travelers who like adventure activities in their holidays for them, the reason why Sri Lanka should be in your Bucket List!
7. A vision of hell-
A glimpse of hell before attainment of enlightenment -Inside Wewurukannala Vihara temple, situated is a 50 feet buddha idol which is the largest in Sri Lanka. Before reaching the idol, the visitors are to pass through a hall full of life-sized models of demons and sinners and there are depictions of humans being boiled alive and sawn in half – eek! It is a portrayal of how hell looks like.
Visitors must first walk past these horrors before reaching the giant Buddha. You could call that a small price to pay for witnessing salvation.
8. Virgin rainforest walks-
Sinharaja (Lion King) rainforest is a beautiful natural heritage site – the country’s last viable area of primary rainforest – and still unexplored to the most of it. The exploration activity leads you along slippery trails with a vast display of plant, bird and animal life.
Some of the prominent spotables are the Green Billed Coucal, Orange Billed Babbler, Sri Lankan Crested Drongo, and macaques. The night trails offer many wonders of this expanse of untamed nature after sundown.
9. It’s a land of waterfalls-
Whether it is Ravana Falls, Bambarakanda falls, Diyaluma Falls, Dunhinda Falls, Devon Falls, or St. Clair’s Falls- They are bound to make a visual feast of water dancing and just flowing down in front. Waterfalls are a must visit destination in the country as it is an unearthly sight to just have a glance at the towering waterfalls glistening in from the top making their way down. A display of sheer natural wonder.
The Bambarakanda falls boasts a height of an astonishing 862 feet or 263 meters and is the largest in the country! Another reason why Sri Lanka should be in your Bucket List, it’s a land of Waterfalls!
10. The Pine of Pine Apples –
Anecdotally, Sri Lanka is home to some of the best pineapples in the world.The weather and the soil of the country are the reason for the hype of this exotic delicacy. No matter where you find them- in roadside stalls or markets, locals. The travellers swear that they’re the sweetest pineapples on the planet.
Apart from just a serving of the fruit, it is also used in curries with a tint of spice that serves as a relish for the tastebuds for foodies who always want to twist their tongue on new tastes.
11. Romantic Serenity of the sand beaches-
A haven for beach lovers that offers crystal clear waves splashing against the pristine beaches of the island can melt the hearts of anyone -even the people who don’t fancy beaches are bound to like them.. You cannot help but feel the glistening romance in the air on the beaches of Sri Lanka.
Whether it is a surfing activity or a candlelit dinner; the beaches are sure to grant you the atmosphere of a happiness filled experience. Negombo is one of the famous beaches in the country. Being the closest to the airport, it attracts a lot of travellers and not to mention its endeavoring display of Dutch characters in its architecture.
12. Water Soaked Holidays-
If you are looking to surf sand-bottomed point breaks all day long in 30 degrees bright and shiny weather, Sri Lanka is the place to be. The country offers a wide range of water adventures- whether it be dashing against the wave or exploring the calm underwaters; theres always enough water to dive in.
Be it surfing, scuba diving, Kite surfing, and White water rafting. A gush of water adventure is always around the corner. If you’re a calm explorer, the island offers snorkeling and cruising. There is also a scope of a whale-watching activity on a private yacht; how cool could it get? Unawatuna beach is one such destination among many splendid others, and one of the reasons for Sri Lanka being in your travel bucket list.
13. The grand Sri Lankan Cuisine-
The platter of this grand cuisine is just another worldly assortment and not for the timid eater . The fiery hot curries and sweet caramelized onion in seeni sambal (onion relish ) and sour lime pickle are all dominant, powerful flavors that startle awake senses dulled by the thick, hot island air of fresh seafood and tropical fruits. Prawns, lobster, crabs and all types of sea fishes are served here with steamed rice, and the staple.
Also, you must not miss to savor the sour fish curry, green jackfruit curry, and chicken curry. Kottu, the hamburger of Sri Lanka is also a must-try here. Most Sri Lankan cooking is unarguably adrenaline flavoring and a celebration for the foodie gang.
14. The remains of Stone Age- Tribal exploration-
Along with the epic ramayana trail , there’s another once in a lifetime opportunity- To mingle and experience the indigenous tribal community of the country – VEDDAS. Imagine having a hands on experience of the bow and arrow and extraction of honey from a beehive in a jungle and a hearty meetup with a tribal head.
It’s not every day that you get to meet people beyond time and civilizations. Village Dambana in Sri Lanka is the best place to explore this tribe and to watch the remains of the Stone Age from close.
15. Destination wedding Theme-
A jungle backdrop with an elephant or a hot balloon drifting in the air – The country has a wide range of options to choose from to make the wedding experience a bit grander. Beach weddings are one of the most sought out choices. You can look at one of the west coast hotels where, in season, you may be spectating 10 weddings in a single day.
You’ll get to witness marriages on the beach and see people being shunted onto an elephant. One of the most unique things observable here is the gatherings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Islamic gathered together at these spots.
16. The wheely scenes-
The Kandy to Ella train journey is said to be one of the most scenic, epic train journeys in not only just Sri Lanka but the world.The journey takes approximately 7 hours from Kandy – Ella and whilst that may sound long, it is 100% worth it. The views on both sides of the railway are breathtaking.
The train gushes through the mountains overlooking farms and villages and undoubtedly the vast tea plantations. The scenery consecutively varies throughout the trip. Often at times, you are looking out at an entire green scenic and the next minute you are in the middle of a woodland forest.
17. A pamper in the luxurious hotels-
The luxury stays offer a unique and serene coastal eco-retreat on your luxury Sri Lankan getaway. Set on the virtually secluded north-eastern coast of Sri Lanka, the resorts and hotels offers intimacy amid golden shorelines, verdant bush and tranquil lagoons.
Delicately crafted with local and natural materials, the property embraces the jungle it nestles within, characterized by thatched roofs, open sides, and a pond meandering around the swimming pool. An eco-retreat with minimal impact on the natural surroundings, the property feels authentic and natural, with modern touches and luxuries ensuring the most comfortable stay.
With extraordinary and calm views and a lot of facilities offered like the spa and boutiques, the hotels make the experience just a bit more grander
18. Traditions of the Countryside –
Sri Lanka is in contrast less busy and chaotic, with much of the country being occupied by rural farming. This is a great opportunity to travel to the countryside and enjoy Sri Lanka at a slower pace – learning about ancient traditions and rural living.
The countryside has a vast display of agricultural lifestyle and is a potential rural tourism spot to relish the agricultural vibe. Folk songs make an important cultural aspect and a night in the huts of the countryside gives an experience of a lifetime.
19. The People of Sri Lanka–
The people we meet and the stories they tell. From the tuk-tuk drivers to the village farmers, restaurant owners – Everyone has a story to tell Sri Lankans are proud of their country. They’re one of the most welcoming people in the world and help them make their visit a bit more comfortable, colourful and smooth.
Ranging from teaching how to eat with your hands and joining you into their celebrations of festivals, they always offer a hand to mingle.
20. IT IS CALLED THE INDIA ELITE-
It’s just so much easier to travel here. Termed as the eyedrop of the Indian Subcontinent and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has a tint of Indie shade to it- from the usage of the Tamil language to the cuisine, the transportation like Tuk Tuks and the religious practices. On the technical part, Transactions go more smoothly, things work and best of all, trains and planes leave near enough on time. And there’s a fantastic network of hotels, all of which you can book on the web.
We are sure that there are innumerable reasons to visit any country and the same applies to Sri Lanka as well but the above reasons just justify about what all can actually be the reasons for a traveler who is wandering in search of a proper reason to visit this place and there are not one or two but 20 reasons why Sri Lanka should be in your Bucket List. Enough reasons to encourage you to pack your bags to this wonderful country.
Contributed by : Aneesh