THE tear-shaped island of Sri Lanka pales in comparison with the huge Indian landmass right next door. But don’t be fooled, this island has enough variety and diversity to fill your holiday itinerary fifty times over. Sri Lanka has it all – white sandy beaches, sprawling hills, rich vegetation, incredible cuisine, beautiful wildlife… the list goes on.
Sri Lanka has been speeding up vaccinations for all age groups this year and is pushing to make 2022 “Visit Sri Lanka Year”, so DDW spoke to Soumik Saha, a journalist from India who has travelled extensively in Sri Lanka, for some tips on what to do. Here are five reasons you should visit Sri Lanka this year:
The idyllic beaches
Sri Lanka has an incredible amount of unspoiled white sandy beaches. The remote nature of the island means that it has not received the same influx of tourism as South East Asia, for example, so the beaches are pristine.
Soumik’s advice: “Hikkaduwa and Bentota on Sri Lanka’s west coast have white sandy beaches with shimmering turquoise water. You can go whale and dolphin watching from Bentota, with most tours picking you up from the hotel and organising everything. The sea can get a little rough so there’s also a great opportunity for water sports here. Overall, the southern tip of Sri Lanka has the best beaches.”
The enchanting cuisine
Getting to grips with the local cuisine is an essential part of travelling – it’s a window to better understanding the culture you’re experiencing. Sri Lanka is the perfect example of this.
Fresh seafood is everywhere, especially in the south and in the capital Colombo, and is a fraction of the price you’d pay for the same thing in Europe or the US. Highlights include Sri Lankan comfort food dhal curry, fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), and kottu roti, a sort of leftover stir fry.
Soumik’s advice: “Sri Lankan food is fantastic, they use a lot of coconut, oil, and spices. String hoppers are a must, steamed noodles made from rice flour with coconut sambol or coconut milk gravy.”
The world-famous hospitality
Sri Lanka is famous for its exceptional hospitality. Few countries can rival the pampering you will receive upon arrival on the island, and the treatment only improves the more stars your hotel has.
And it’s not just staff who want to help – Sri Lankans are generally very warm and friendly to tourists, helping out where they can and treating you with the utmost respect
Soumik’s advice: “Sri Lankan hospitality is something only unique to Sri Lanka. The reason I always want to go back to Sri Lanka is the peace that you feel. It’s hard to believe that the country had been in civil war for 30 years because now when you step out of the airport and talk to people, take a taxi, or sit by the beach, all you can feel is calm.”
The amazing wildlife
Sri Lanka is an animal lover’s paradise and is home to over 120 species of mammals, 171 species of reptiles, 106 species of amphibians, over 200 species of birds, and one of the world’s largest populations of blue whales and sperm whales. The island is a paradise of biodiversity just begging to be explored.
Soumik’s advice: “Yala National Park on the southeast coast is one of the best places in the world to see leopards, then towards the north in Pinnawala there is a famous elephant orphanage. The area is just a small village situated by a waterfall, but close to 100 elephants live there.”
The luxury hotels
It’s relatively easy to travel around Sri Lanka without a lot of money. Food, accommodation, and transport are all quite cheap, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to enjoy a little opulence during your trip. Goatfell boutique hotel at Nuwara Eliya boasts views of rolling hills with emerald tea bushes, while Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Yala National Park is a luxurious base to spot wildlife like leopards and the elusive sloth bear.
Soumik’s advice: “Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo is a huge, beautiful colonial building surrounded by water that used to belong to a British chancellor who kept his Sri Lankan mistress in this house. The old hotel is steeped in history and is a great place to explore Colombo from.”
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