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Best places to visit in Sri Lanka

Discussion in 'Srilanka' started by MarriedMan, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. MarriedMan

    MarriedMan New Member

    I have recently got married, and my wife, and I are yet to go on our honeymoon. We are thinking of going Sri Lanka, it's a different place where not many people go yet and it's beautiful.

    We need to know where the best places to visit in Sri Lanka are, so we are aware how many days we would require for the honeymoon and fix up a rough itinerary. The only place that comes to our mind is Colombo.

  2. Trevlr

    Trevlr New Member

    I think that the whole of Sri Lanka is safe since the fall of tamil tigers. You can enjoy beautiful beaches and many tourist attractions there. I have read about Sri Lankan wild cats and i can advice you to visit game parks with wild cats.

  3. Blue Betta

    Blue Betta New Member

    I would look into visiting some of the temples, both Hindu and Buddhist, there. I had a very short stay in Sri Lanka, and my driver took me on a tour of various temples in the area. The monks and priests were very nice, and the temples themselves were amazing. The beaches are also absolutely beautiful, and worth enjoying.
  4. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!

    'Travel, like dreams, is a door that opens from the real world into a world that is yet to be discovered.'
    - Guy de Maupassant​

    Sri Lanka is definitely a new world to discover, with its varying and beautiful landscapes. While it isn't as small as Singapore, it is about 50 times smaller than India which means you can explore many parts of the country in a few weeks. With plenty of UNESCO World Heritage sites, wildlife in national parks, peaks and even hill stations, the wanderlust in you would be satisfied. Several of the beaches of Sri Lanka have great waves too, perfect for surfers. In fact, Arugam Bay has been named as one of the top surfing spots in Asia for many years now. The warm hospitality and culture of the locals also add to that unique experience that you cannot get elsewhere.

    The Top Ten Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

    Lively city life...

    1. Colombo - The most developed city in the country is its commercial capital, which is Colombo. While it boasts of bars, high end hotels and restaurants, it is mainly a progressive city and the heritage sites here are less. However, to experience the modern pace of life in Sri Lanka, even a day trip to Colombo is well worth it. Start the day by visiting the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, the main attraction of the city. It exudes serenity despite the hustle and bustle of its location. The main temple has three Buddha statues along with an intricately designed ceiling. A less commercialised religious site is the Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya, one of the three sites that Buddha visited in Sri Lanka. Walk past the Independence Memorial Hall and the Old Parliament Building, quite contrasting, with the former resembling an ancient Sri Lankan structure while the latter resembles a typical British structure. At the end of the day, it's a must to visit Galle Face Green, the open beach-side attraction of the city. If the beach seems too crowded for you, you can head on over to Mount Lavinia Beach. A place more serene is the Beira Lake, which has a hanging bridge that takes you from one end of the lake to the other. By night time, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Old Dutch Hospital which has now been converted into a shopping and restaurant area. Take in the night views and remember the sight that is of Colombo.
    • Must visit attractions - Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya, Independence Memorial Hall, Old Parliament Building, Galle Face Green, Mount Lavinia Beach, Beira Lake and Old Dutch Hospital.
    Beira Lake in Colombo (Image courtesy: Nazimageaday)

    2. Negombo - Negombo is actually the first city that you'd encounter as soon as you arrive from the Bandaranaike International Airport. It is easy to incorporate the city in your itinerary. There are only three main attractions here, but they're all quite worth it. Negombo has its own version of the Kerala backwaters, albeit smaller in size and this is the Dutch Canal. It was built by the Dutch as a means of transportation, as the country was part of a trading route back then. Now though, the canal is popular amongst tourists and it's a must to experience boating amidst it. Next is the Dutch Fort, although already destroyed and only its gateway remains now. Much of the area has been converted into a prison as well but to get a little glimpse of the Dutch legacy in the city, it's a good place to visit. Last but not the least is the Saint Mary's Church, one of the largest churches in the country. Don't forget to look up and view the painted ceilings, they are the focal point of the church.
    • Must visit attractions - Dutch Canal, Dutch Fort and Saint Mary's Church.
    *Note - You don't have to visit both these cities, you can just choose one. Colombo is more for the modern and urban feel of the country while Negombo is more for those who enjoy cities that are more laid-back.

    Take a glimpse into the past...

    3. Polonnaruwa - The ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa provide one with a glimpse of the era of the Sinhalese dynasty. While the city was also conquered by the Cholas, most of the structures in it can be attributed to King Parakramabahu I. The ancient city can easily take up a whole day but because it has some of the best preserved ancient buildings in the country, it's all worth it. You can start your travel back through time with the Weijantha Prasada. Only a few walls of the palace remain now, but just a little bit of imagination is needed to picture its seven-storeyed building. Another must visit here is the Vatadage, where you can find an ancient Buddha statue inside. The walls surrounding it are supposed to protect the statue inside. Another attraction that stands out is the Shiva Devalaya, a structure made by the Chola dynasty. It is mostly intact still since it was made from stone. Numerous shrines, also known as dagobas, can also be found around the city, like the Pabalu Vihara and Rankot Vihara. At the end of the journey, it's a must to visit the Archeological Museum located within the ancient city. It provides one with a complete overview of how the city used to be, when it was in its peak glory.
    • Must visit attractions - Weijantha Prasada, Vatadage (Quadrangle), Shiva Devalaya, Pabala Vihara, Rankot Vihara and Archeological Museum.
    4. Anuradhapura - This city was the capital of the Sinhalese before they moved it to Polonnaruwa. As such, the buildings here are older and even less well-preserved. Yet another disadvantage of the city is that it is more remote and its attractions are located at quite distance from one another. Is it worth a visit though? Yes, most especially for history lovers, as the city is home to some of the oldest architectural ruins in the country. Thuparama, a combination of the words stupa (shrine) and arama (monastery), is the oldest dagoba in the country, built around the 3rd century. Its size is not that big nor does it have exquisite carvings, nevertheless, it's worth a visit just because of its history. The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is not just the oldest tree in the world, it is also revered sacred by the locals. Thus, you would see locals paying their respects to the tree. There's also Mihintale, where you need to climb about 1,800 steps to reach the temple at its peak. At the top is also a large white Buddha statue and the views of the city below are quite beautiful too. There are plenty more to explore around the city and surely enough, you would enjoy every bit of it while learning about the past of Sri Lanka.
    • Must visit attractions - Thuparama, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and Mihintale.
    Beaches are life...

    5. Unawatuna - The Unawatuna Beach is probably the most popular beach in Sri Lanka. While it isn't as picturesque as the white sand beaches you see in postcards, it is a great place to start your beach journey in the country. The beach has golden sands and clear water, once in a while, you might even spot a turtle or a crab swimming with you. As such, it is also teeming with marine life and activities like snorkelling and diving are done here. There are lots of accommodation options around too, ranging from guest houses, budget hotels and luxury hotels. Food-wise, you also have plenty of options, whether you're craving for Sri Lankan, Italian or American cuisines. A bit further from Unawatuna is the Jungle Beach, you have to walk through a jungle to reach it, hence the name. It is more secluded and has rocky shores, perfect for a romantic getaway. Lastly, there's the Mihiripenna Beach, located to the extreme south of Unawatuna. It is also secluded but has rough waves, views here are stunning though especially during sunset and sunrise.
    • Must visit attractions - Unawatuna Beach, Jungle Beach and Mihiripenna Beach.
    Unawatuna Beach (Image Courtesy: Unawatuna Beach Resort)

    6. Hikkaduwa - In contrast to the above beach is the Hikkaduwa Beach, resembling those postcard images of beaches. With its swaying palm trees and white sands, you would fall in love with this beach. You can spot turtles swimming here, regardless of the season you visit. It is also a haven for surfers, as the waves here are perfect for surfing, especially during or after monsoon season. There are also many hotel options here though not as plenty as in Unawatuna. Snorkelling and diving can also be done here especially as you venture further into the secluded areas of the beach. There's also the Narigama Beach, a bit more secluded than the former. It doesn't have much activities though so more appropriate for just basking around or lazing around in the sand.
    • Must visit attractions - Hikkaduwa Beach and Narigama Beach.
    Nature and wildlife...

    7. Ella - With the views of the plantations and forests around, coupled with the pleasant climate, Ella is a good respite after a tiring escapade with the cities or beaches of Sri Lanka. There's not much you can do here, apart from hiking but it's really a good excuse to just lay around and soak in all the beauty around you. Whether you choose train journey or bus journey, you'd be rewarded by beautiful and scenic views along the way. There are only a few hotels and resorts in Ella, most are higher end ones. But there are some choices for a guest house, which can be cheaper and you can also experience authentic home-made meals and interactions with the locals of the hill station. After a day of relaxing though, indulge in treks around the hill station. Start with Little Adam's Peak, a moderate trek taking you around tea plantations and jungles. It is best to undertake this trek before sunrise or before sunset. The trek to Ella Rock is also quite challenging, trails amidst jungles and even railway tracks, but very rewarding at the end. Of course, it's also a must to visit the plantations around Ella, like the Ella Spice Garden and Newburgh Tea Estate.
    • Must visit attractions - Little Adam's Peak, Ella Rock, Ella Spice Garden and Newburgh Tea Estate.
    8. Yala - A national park with a mixture of grasslands, deciduous forests, beaches, lakes and mangroves? Yes, please! Then a visit to the Yala National Park should be part of your itinerary. Because of this varying landscapes, the national park is home to many different species of animals like elephants, deers, crocodiles, buffalos, wild pigs, monkeys and birds. And yes, I didn't miss it, the elusive leopards! While spotting leopards might be challenging, at least your chances here are higher than in any other national park. Some of the most well-known safari operators here are the Leopard Trails and Shehan Safari.
    • Must visit attraction - Yala National Park.
    Truly different and offbeat...

    9. Jaffna - For many years, Jaffna has been stricken by civil war which is why it has been off limits for Sri Lankans and tourists for a while. After the civil war, the city has been opened to tourists, both local and international. A stroll around the city though would tell you just how much the city has suffered. From its dilapidated houses, to the bullet marks in the different walls of the city, yet at the same time, there's that aura of hope and new possibilities. Amidst the city, almost, is the Nallur Kovil, one of the prime attractions of the city. It is a Hindu temple, bright in colour, quite a contrast to the gloomy vibe of the city. There are exquisite paintings and sculptures inside the temple. While women are required to dress modestly, men has to remove their shirt when entering the temple. Although very simple, there's the Jaffna Fort, mostly in ruins now but gives you a glimpse of the once colonial era that flourished in Jaffna. There's also the Casuarina Beach located near the city centre or maybe Delft Island, which can only be accessed after a boat ride from Jaffna.
    • Must visit attractions - Nallur Kovil, Jaffna Fort, Casuarina Beach and Delft Island.
    10. Maskeliya - Want to get back to simpler times? This little town in Sri Lanka, Maskeliya, can give you just that. It takes a bit of courage to reach the place as the roads are not paved and can be very bumpy. Once you reach the place, lush greenery and fishing huts would greet you. These fishing huts were built around the British colonial era, wherein these served as angling spots. Now though, they provide authentic wilderness experience to travellers. The huts do have the basic necessities like bathrooms and kitchens, but they are not luxurious at all. Electricity is also not available in the area. Excursions around the town can lead you to natural attractions like the Aberdeen Waterfalls and Mohini Waterfalls. You can also enjoy a refreshing bath in the Baththulu-Oya River. Or even trek to reach the famous Adam's Peak. At the end of the day, retreat at the fishing hut and imagine the bygone colonial era that once made this place their home.
    • Must visit attractions - Fishing Huts, Aberdeen Waterfalls, Mohini Waterfalls, Baththulu-Oya River and Adam's Peak.
    Discover Sri Lanka and you would be taken into a different world, much better than dreams even. Good luck!