(Last Updated On: June 20, 2018)

There really is nothing like the sun, sand and a tropical climate to set the mood, is there? You feel utterly relaxed and all your cares are swept away. While there are a numerous places that boast these features, few do it as well as Sri Lanka. Not only does it have some of the best beaches but its rich culture and diversity make for an experience you won’t forget anytime soon.

Sri Lanka isn’t just known for its beach life, however; the country is famous for its rainforests, ancient Buddhist structures and ruins. You could spend months here and you still won’t be able to witness all its wonders. Galle Fort, Richmond Castle and Mulkirigala are just some of the sights to marvel at. As you head closer to nature, you’ll be introduced to thrilling encounters with wildlife and marine life at parks like Udawalawe National Park.

This little gem of a place may be small but it’s packed with places to see and things to do. Make it your next holiday destination and prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!

 

Perfect for Adventure

There’s no dearth of adventure in Sri Lanka. In fact, nearly every place you go to has something to keep your pulse racing. Here are four of the top activities to indulge in.

 

1) Deep Sea Fishing

 

 

 

Fishing is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest industries and the country has several fishery harbors to support this. One of the highlights of traveling here is taking in the sights of fisherman going about their jobs and expertly catching fish. The best place to witness the action is Beruwala.

Where to go

Beruwala Harbour: It’s one of Sri Lanka’s main fishery harbours. What’s great about this place is that you can spend an hour or more just watching life go by. Brightly colored fishing boats, a lively market and people bargaining for the best prices make for some of the most cherished memories. The harbor can also serve as inspiration for budding and seasoned artists. If you’re one, find a good place to sit uninterrupted and sketch these prized moments!

Don’t limit yourself to the harbor; explore nearby attractions like Beruwala Beach and the lighthouse. The latter offers the best views of the surroundings all of which are picture-perfect!

Where to stay

 

Experience the Comfort of a Swiss Villa

If you love the magic that’s Beruwala, there’s no better place to stay at than at this gorgeous Swiss villa. It’s situated in a quiet area close to Moragalla Beach. The two-bedroom house is fully furnished for your comfort.

The villa can accommodate as many as four guests and so is ideal for a small family. It features a kitchen, attached bathrooms and a living room where you can sit down and discuss the excitement of the day. What’s great about this place is that it’s close to restaurants, massage centers and ayurvedic establishments.

The villa’s best feature has to be its spacious grounds lush with greenery. Kids will have a ball exploring and playing while adults can sit down on the patio with a cup of tea. The fully equipped kitchen lets you prepare your own meals whenever you don’t quite feel like eating out. It has a microwave, fridge and a gas range – everything you need to cook. The bathroom also has a washer so you can do your own laundry.

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2) Climb 500 Steps

 

 

There’s something to be said about standing on a summit and looking at what you’ve just accomplished. All those minutes and hours spent working your way up leaves you with a sense of achievement and content. If you love a good walk and like nothing better than to test yourself, Sri Lanka has amazing sites to explore one of which is Mulkirigala.

Where to go

Mulkirigala: Mulkirigala is a very old collection of Buddhist rock temples believed to be built in the third century. Several structures such as a stupa were added later. The site is breathtaking and you can literally feel the history. The temples are set high up on rock and feature gorgeous murals and statues of Buddha. About 200 meters up is a dagoba that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape that’s perfect for snapping photos.

About 500 or so steps lead the way up. While it does sound challenging and even a little intimidating, you’ll love the scenery. It’s packed with trees and shrubbery and a refreshing wind blows through. It takes about 45 minutes to climb.

Where to stay

 

Enjoy Superior Comfort at Rukman’s Villa

About half an hour from Mulkirigala is Tangalle, the gateway to some of Sri Lanka’s most famous southern beaches. And right here is Rukman’s Villa, a spacious home that’s as welcoming as the owners. It’s located in a quiet neighborhood and is set in a garden peppered with fruit trees and plants. There’s plenty of room for relaxation and play (if you’re traveling with kids).

The two-storey building has a balcony on the first floor where you can sit down for breakfast or tea. Each bedroom has an attached bathroom as well. There’s a kitchen if you want to cook your own meals although the owners can be requested to arrange for the same.

The neighborhood is one of the best in the region because there’s a lot of marine life to see. It’s sparsely populated too and you’re well away from the throngs of tourists. The laidback vibe and local ambience serve to give you an unforgettable Sri Lankan experience. And, although it’s well away from the bustle of town, it’s just over a kilometer from Rekawa Beach and is accessible by train and road.

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3) Hiking and Trekking in Sri Lanka

 

 

One of the best ways to really take in Sri Lanka is to hike. The country has amazing rain forests teeming with life that you can’t afford to miss. Kitulgala Forest Reserve is one such destination.

Where to go

Rain Forest Trekking in Kitulgala Forest Reserve: It’s not often that you get to see a rain forest so this is the perfect opportunity to explore what it has to offer. The town of Kitulgala is one of the wettest places in the country as it receives two monsoons a year. It’s also famous for being featured in the 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai where shooting took place near the Kelaniya Ganga.

Today, Kitulgala is a sought-after locale for adventure-seekers eager to experience jungle trekking and other adventure sports. Kitulgala Forest Reserve has become the top place for this as it brings you as close to nature as you’ll ever get. Keep a watch for endemic birds such as the chestnut-backed owlet and the Ceylon magpie. Carry along binoculars and a good camera so you don’t miss a chance to witness more native wonders.

Where to stay

 

Reserve a stay at stylish 4-1 Hedges Court

This two-bedroom apartment in 4-1 Hedges Court, Colombo is the best place to stay if you want to visit Kitulgala. It is a ways off but it promises comfort and a homely ambience. The rooftop lounge area gives you a sweeping view of the city as you relax and unwind after a day of adventure. The best aspect is that the apartment has more than sufficient space to accommodate a family of about five. It’s fully serviced and even has essentials like sugar and spices. This is especially useful if you happen to arrive at night and crave a refreshing cup of tea or a snack.

The apartment is tastefully designed with plenty of natural light. It’s located close to Colombo’s business areas. Conveniences are nearby so that you can pick what you want quickly and without fuss. The entire apartment has 4G to let you keep in touch with loved ones and work if you need to. A fully-equipped kitchen allows for cooking your favorite meals. A gas cooker, oven, microwave, cutlery, condiments are all here for your use. The apartment also has a shared pool and a gym.

 

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4) Blue Whale Watching in Sri Lanka

 

 

The Indian Ocean is another world waiting to be explored. If you’re anywhere near it, you won’t be forgiven for not witnessing what it has to offer! Sri Lanka is one such place and among the many marine adventures you can go on, blue whale watching has to be at the top. These giant beings put on a spectacular show by breaching and it’s only when you see them with your own eyes that you appreciate just how massive and magnificent they are. Head to Mirissa for the experience of a lifetime. You may strike lucky and even see dolphins!

Where to go

Mirissa: Mirissa is one of the most popular places in Sri Lanka’s south coast and is the best place to see whales in action. November to May is the season so try to plan your trip around this time. The boat trips start early in the morning and the entire session can take as much as four hours to complete. You get ample time to see whales breach and take photographs.

There are several tour companies to choose from. Top on your list of priorities should be the welfare of the whales so go for a company that has a stellar track record. Some take you too close to the whales and this can frighten and stress them.

Where to stay

 

Bask in comfort at Peacock’s Villa

 

There are a few great places to stay in Mirissa but the best is Peacock Villa. It’s away from the town but just five minutes from the beach. The rooms are spacious, airy and bright, perfect for countering Sri Lanka’s warm climate. The two-storey house features a big balcony on the top floor with views of the vegetable gardens. As you make your way downstairs, there’s a large sliding door that you can open to let in the cool breeze.

The villa has two bedrooms each on both floors. The top floor bedrooms are non A/C but very well-ventilated and cool. The ground floor bedrooms, on the other hand, are air-conditioned and although there’s no balcony they’re set along the riverbank.

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You’ll Come Close to Wildlife like Never Before

Sri Lanka does battle its share of deforestation but there are still great opportunities to see wildlife. Camping, trekking and nature walks will take you close to it. Check out these three exciting activities to get your adrenaline going.

1) Camping within Nature Reserves

 

 

Sri Lanka is known for its natural landscape and there are lush jungles to explore. Camping in nature reserves is one of the best things you can do here as it takes you up close to wildlife. There’s a great chance to witness native birdlife and wildlife as well as plant life. And among all the places, Wilpattu National Park is one of the best to experience these wonders.

Where to go

Wilpattu: Wilpattu National Park is the place to head to. It boasts numerous natural lakes scattered throughout the park and you can explore them on your visit. The park is home to several animals but the stars of the show are Sri Lankan sloth bears and Sri Lankan leopards. If you’re lucky, you may spot these threatened animals.

Camping is an exciting experience because you’re so close to nature. The camps themselves are well laid out and provide basic amenities that you need. They even have free Wi-Fi! Aside from the stay, you’ll be taken on game drives and will enjoy delicious meals and barbeques. Log on to the park’s official website for tariffs and other details.

Where to stay

 

 

Book a Luxurious Stay at a Beach House

You’ll probably camp for a couple of nights or a little more but you still need a place to stay during your time in Sri Lanka. If you’re traveling with the family or friends, there’s no better place to put up than at this spacious and airy beach house in Iraniwila.

The house features stunning views of the Indian Ocean from every room. The open plan layout gives the illusion of even more space so that it never feels cramped. It has two bedrooms and can sleep as many as five people. There is an outdoor kitchen and outdoor rain showers too!

Breakfast is included in the tariff although you can request the chef to prepare meals for a price. You probably should too since the beach house specializes in delicious seafood!

The one-acre property has a saltwater swimming pool that can be used anytime. The beach is just a few minutes away so if you prefer the allure of the open sea you can get there in no time.

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2) Trekking

 

 

Sri Lanka has no dearth of trekking destinations. Indeed the country’s landscape provides many opportunities to explore jungles, lowlands and coastal areas. But perhaps the most unique of them is Kinchigune Nature Trail.

Where to go

Kinchigune Nature Trail: Old and full of character, Kinchigune is an ancient village whose inhabitants were renowned steel workers. They’re believed to have created steel weapons for the army of King Dutugemunu, a Sinhalese king who defeated the Chola Kingdom’s Ellalan back in 205 BC. Today, the village is almost submerged but there are plenty of things to see.

The trail spans about 6 kms and traverses paddy fields, waterhouses and houses. It also incorporates other adventures like canoeing and climbing, which really add to the thrill. The activities can be organized on request from Kinchigune campsite.

Where to stay

 

 

Experience History and Luxury at Somaland Estate

One of the best places to stay is Somaland Estate, a gorgeous, old and luxurious place that makes you feel special and pampered. It’s over 100 years old so you can imagine the character it exudes. The owner was an immigrant from Galle who came here with few possessions but a passion for trade. Once he established himself, he bought land and finally ended up owning the entire valley. Thus was born this sprawling estate set amidst trees that still stands to this day.

The four-bedroom house can accommodate up to six guests. The rooms are spacious and include attached bathrooms, a kitchen, study, dining room and a living room. The rooms feature detailed woodwork and decorative items that hark back to the past.

The biggest appeal has to be the expansive grounds with lush greenery and old trees creating an idyllic space for rest and relaxation. You can take a stroll and explore the far corners, enjoy the evening breeze in the verandah or take a dip in the private pool.

The host, Mr. Gamage, is a descendant of the owner and can regale you with tales of the house. He and his wife can also whip up delicious food and snacks!

Somaland Estate is situated in Atabage, a neighborhood that’s set between paddy fields and plantations. The rural surroundings add to the charm of the estate and you may just not want to leave! What’s more, pets are welcome here so you can travel with your furry friends and let them enjoy themselves too!

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3) National Park

 

 

It can often seem that Sri Lanka has endless national parks. While that is an exaggeration, it’s a fact that it has a number of them. These wild spaces are home to various flora and fauna and are always worth a visit. One such park is Udawalawe National Park. It’s also one of the most visited.

Where to go

Udawalawe National Park: The park was set up in 1972 as a home for wildlife displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir. It spans over 30,000 hectares and is an important habitat for elephants and water birds. The Walawe River is also located here. As you explore the park, you’ll come across dead trees that once thrived before the reservoir was built.

The park contains almost 100 different plants, nearly 200 birds, 43 mammals and 12 types of amphibians. It also has over 100 species of butterflies. Bird watchers will love spending time here as opportunities are ripe for spotting endemic species like the Sri Lanka jungle fowl and Sri Lanka grey hornbill. Migratory birds can also be seen.

Where to stay

 

 

Get Close to Nature at Heina Nature Resort

If exploring national parks figures high on your itinerary, there’s no better place to stay at than Heina Nature Resort. It’s located on the fringes of Yala National Park, itself home to elephants, crocodile and an old Buddhist monastery. The resort bridges luxury and comfort with rustic charm so you get the best of both worlds.

Heina brings the outdoors to you with its verdant surroundings consisting of lakes, rivers and jungles. It’s situated in the village of Kataragama and is one of the closest points of entry to Yala National Park. You really do feel the presence of nature and the wild here even through you’re safe from any danger.

The resort has two chalets fitted with modern amenities. It adjoins Goyagala Lake and the whisperings of nature add to the feeling that you’re far away from civilization. Front desk staff are on call to cater to your needs. There’s a restaurant as well where you can enjoy delicious local and western fare.

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Cultural Dip

No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without immersing yourself in its culture. There are several ways to do this and we’ve picked three fun activities that showcase a part of it.

1) Catch a Kandyan Dance Show

 

 

It’s no secret that Sri Lanka is culturally diverse and rich. During your visit, try to take in as many cultural aspects as you can including a Kandyan dance. This mesmerizing performance art is steeped in legend and although popularity waned during the British rule, it has now been revived and is one of the country’s classical dances.

Kandyan dance is made up of several main dances. They which include ves with characteristic acrobatics; pantheru with dancers playing tambourines; uddekki where small drums called uddekki are played and sung to; and vannam that showcases the emotions or behavior of animals.

Where to go

Kandy: The Kandyan dance originated in Kandy and although it has spread to other parts of Sri Lanka, this is the best place to witness it. Hotels regularly arrange shows while private performances are also organized. Government-run shows are also held. Kandy Lake Club is one such place where you can watch it.

Where to stay

 

 

Enjoy a Cozy Stay at Shalom Villa

Shalom Villa is our recommendation for your stay in Kandy. It’s a large two-storey house with five bedrooms and enough room for up to eight guests. The homely villa is ideal for a family. A comfortable living area for sitting together and catching up on the day, a fully equipped kitchen and parking facilities let you enjoy the best of home in Sri Lanka. The pretty outdoor area is perfect for chilling out and kids will love to play here.

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2) Visit a Tea Plantation

 

 

Sri Lanka is famous for many things but perhaps the most popular is tea. It ranks among the top five largest producers of tea. Different parts of the country produce different types of tea so if you’re here you can savor black tea, white tea and green tea. A trip to a tea plantation will give you new appreciation for the art of cultivating tea and you’ll even get to sample some.

Where to go

Ahangama: The town of Ahangama is home to the Handunugoda Tea Estate, a family-owned company that’s known for producing fine tea in small quantities. This includes Virgin White Tea, a rare type of white tea, which is untouched by human hands. Right from the time it’s cultivated to the time it’s produced and reaches the consumer. The delicate flavor is highly sought-after. The tea is rich in antioxidants and is among the highest in any beverage.

Plan a visit to the Virgin White Tea Plantation for a close-up look at how this prized tea is made. You’ll be taken on a tour of the plantation and the factory and learn about the process. You’ll also get to taste the tea! There’s a small tea shop where you can pick up teas to take home.

Where to stay

 

 

Pamper Yourself at a Lakefront Villa

The best place to stay in Ahangama is this gorgeous lakefront villa with a private pool. The spacious property overlooks Koggala Lake that’s dotted with islands and rich in birdlife. It’s set on a one-acre garden with a charming walkway leading up to it.

The villa is fully staffed and the manager will more than make you feel pampered. An excellent cook, she can be requested to prepare meals and can be approached for all your needs. Breakfast is included in the villa’s price but meals are at a charge.

The villa boasts four bedrooms and can sleep up to 10 guests. Three offer views of the lake while one overlooks the garden. This green space is itself rich with life and attracts beautiful birds like peacocks and kingfishers. Fruit bats and monkeys are some of the other visitors you may see.

Hanging out by the lake is one of the best pastimes here and anytime you feel like cooling off you can do so in the clean private pool. A grassy lawn, a gazebo and lounge chairs create an inviting space to just laze and enjoy the Sri Lankan sun. Galle Fort is about 20 minutes away and can be easily accessed. You can also indulge in popular activities like whale watching, safaris and shopping by requesting the villa staff to arrange transport.

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3) Learn about Ayurveda

 

 

As in India, Ayurveda is an important line of traditional medicine in Sri Lanka. The system here is a blend of various holistic therapies derived from different sources to form a unique, longstanding method of treatment. The prescriptions are very old and have been passed on to generations. Learn about this ancient way of healing by visiting ayuvedic centers and indulging yourself with a session.

Where to go

Kandy: There are many places to learn about Ayurveda in Sri Lanka and Kandy is one of them. You can get a relaxing full body massage with soothing oils or have a medicated oil bath to chase away stress and leave you rejuvenated. Discomforts and ailments like headaches and gastritis can also be alleviated through ayurvedic treatments. The Kandy Samadhi Center offers these and more including stress management and weight loss treatments. Resorts like Amaya Hills provide a more premium experience at its spa. If you’re looking for Ayurveda with the works, this is the place to go to.

Where to stay

 

 

Surround Yourself with Nature at Villa Asapuwa

Villa Asapuwa is another terrific vacation rental in Kandy. It’s large, surrounded by greenery and exudes history with its colonial architecture. The five-bedroom home sleeps up to 11 guests, which is more than enough space for a big family or a group of friends. It has its own restaurant that serves authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, western cuisine and even has a barbeque facility.

What we absolutely love about Villa Asapuwa is the spa. It offers ayurvedic and pancha karma treatment packages that you can enjoy. The therapists are trained and work under the supervision of an ayurvedic doctor.

What’s more, the villa’s proprietor is a licensed tourist guide lecturer who can arrange tours if you desire. Incidentally, Kandy itself boasts several must-visit spots such as the Temple of the Tooth Relic and Udawattakele Forest Reserve.

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Offbeat Travel like No Other

 

Sri Lanka has some pretty unusual sites that are definitely worth visiting. From those featuring gigantic statues to beautiful mansions, here are two of the best.

1) Wewurukannala Vihara

 

It’s not just the historical, adventurous or natural sites that are worth visiting. Sri Lanka has some great offbeat places that you should definitely head to. Wewurukannala Vihara is one. Why? Because it has a mammoth statue of a seated Buddha that will take your breath away. The temple also features life-size figures of the perils of giving in to earthly temptations.

Where to go

Dikwella City: Wewurukannala Vihara is located in Dikwella, a coastal town that boasts a gorgeous beach you’ll want to spend hours relaxing on. It’s the perfect place to go for a luxurious swim and snorkel.

Where to stay

 

 

Enjoy a Gorgeous Ocean View Stay

The beach is one of the Dikwella’s highlights and a view of the ocean is the cherry on top. Wetakeiya House is an airy three-bedroom villa that looks out onto the ocean which is only a short distance away. The sprawling house is very elegantly decorated and you can’t help but want it as your own! You won’t be faulted for spending most of your time here because let’s face it: when there’s a view to die for, a private pool, swaying trees and day beds, why would you ever want to leave?

The villa features attached bathrooms for each of the bedrooms. A long dining table on the balcony lets you enjoy an outdoor meal and drinks with a view of the sea peeking out between palm trees. There are staff including a chef whose services you can make use of.

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2) Richmond Castle in Kalutara

 

 

Rounding up our list of offbeat places is Richmond Castle. Located in Kalutara, it’s an early 20th century Edwardian mansion that belonged to a wealthy man with, quite possibly, one of the longest names you’ve heard of – Mudaliyar Don Arthur de Silva Wijesinghe Siriwardena. The iconic landmark is set amidst beautifully maintained grounds featuring numerous trees, lawns and statues. Inside, a teak stairway, stained glass windows and soundproof bedrooms await exploration. The architecture itself is a fusion of various styles from the east and west.

Where to go

Kalutara: Kalutara is a bustling city that has more than Richmond Castle. Kalutara Bodhiya, beaches and Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple are here. Enjoy visiting the many sights especially the tropical scenery. Don’t forget to sample the famous mangosteen which is produced here.

Where to stay

 

 

Enjoy Privacy and Comfort at An Independent House

This luxurious house set close to the beach in Kalutara is the best place to stay while here. It’s ideal for families and groups as it boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms and can accommodate as many as six guests. The landscaped gardens are incredibly inviting with trees, shrubbery and a tiled driveway. You can take a walk around in the morning with a cup of piping hot tea in your hands and breathe in the fresh air.

The house is an independent building and very private. There’s no caretaker either so you have it all to yourself. Despite being quite secluded, it’s situated in a tourist area so conveniences are easily accessible. It also has a fully functional kitchen that you can use anytime of the day. Shop for fresh produce and fresh catches and you can prepare entire meals for yourself and companions.

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