The best things to do in Sri Lanka

2023-10-15 2023-10-15T20:51:36Z
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Arabia Weather - Sri Lanka may be small, but with its forest-covered mountains, golden sandy beaches, rich wildlife in its natural habitats, and spice-laden cuisine, the island nation ensures that visitors will never get bored.

From stunning train rides and fine dining in the capital, Colombo, to world-class surfing and chic beach cafés in the south of the country

Here are the best things to do in Sri Lanka

Climb to the top of Little Adam Mountain after a serene one-hour hike © Michael Roberts/Getty Images

Michael Roberts - Getty Images

Watch the sunrise over the summit of Little Adam Mountain

A sacred mountain near Hatton that requires climbing 5,000 challenging steps, Little Adam's Peak is a popular and easy trek to do for those visiting the tourism hub of Ella. Start your trek an hour early in the morning so as not to miss the sunrise from the summit. Hikers wanting more can then head to Mount Ella and follow a trail that leads to the Nine Arches Bridge.

Ella itself is a laid-back place, with many staying outside the city, but travelers should indulge in the café scene at Café Chill. Adventure lovers can go aerial skiing. Although Ella deserves the hype, there are other charming mountain towns worth a visit as well: Ohia, Edalgashina, Haputale, and Wellawaya.

Taste the best cinnamon in the world on Gandoa Island

Southern Sri Lanka produces some of the best cinnamon in the world, which is milder and sweeter than the cinnamon found in Indonesia and Vietnam. Travelers can learn about the highly sought-after Ceylon cinnamon by visiting Gandua Island in Lake Koggala, south of Galle, by boat.

Generations of woodcutters spent their days here skillfully peeling off thin layers of the tree's inner bark to produce cinnamon pens. You can buy it along with small sachets of cinnamon powder and cinnamon oil for about $2 USD. Then the boat takes the passengers to some other islands. Buy a glass of fresh apple juice from a local vendor on the boardwalk as you leave.

Bird watching in Bundala National Park

Sri Lanka is home to nearly 200 species of native and migratory birds, and Bundala National Park is a prime bird-watching area. Bird watching tours begin at 6 a.m. and last for 3-4 hours as the park comes alive with the presence of Brahminy vultures, hundreds of storks, families of tawny teals, Asian green bee goats, dancing peacocks, and resting crocodiles. In the afternoon, wild Asian elephants, spotted deer and wild boar roam among the wera, neem and palu trees.

Tourism in Sri Lanka ArabiaWeather

John Harper/Getty Images

Climb Pidurangala to see the sunrise over the forest

No travel to Sri Lanka is complete without a visit to Sigiriya, a huge rock fortress containing ancient palace ruins, water gardens and oil walls near the giant rock Pidurangala. Trekkers should lace up their proper walking shoes and climb Pidurangala at 5am to watch the sunrise, but if you're not a morning person, visit here to watch the sunset before the ticket office closes at 6pm.

Kitesurf on the remote Kalpitiya Peninsula

With many calm lakes and plenty of steady winds, Sri Lanka's northwest coast offers some of the best windsurfing in the world. Kalpitiya District, located northwest of Colombo, is a 3.5-hour drive away and is an area not yet largely explored by foreign tourists. The area includes sandy beaches and small fishing villages, with gatherings of wild donkeys roaming in large meadows.

Stop in Kapaladi on the Indian Ocean for kitesurfing lessons with local instructors at Kite Center Sri Lanka. The school can organize kitesurfing safaris (tours) to nearby places such as Donkey Point, Dutch Bay and Vela Island for experienced riders. Other activities in Capalade include exploring the lagoons by kayak and ethical dolphin watching tours where large pods of spinner dolphins swim in their hundreds. Good companies will only rent small boats, stay away from swarms, and avoid feeding animals. There are also some beach accommodation options in Kapalade.

Visit Haputale Mountains

An hour's bus ride from Ella lies the mist-shrouded Haputal Mountains, a tea-growing region with cool waterfalls. Stay at a local family campsite, such as Eco Lodge Haputal run by the Dias family. After a few cups of sweet milk tea at their home, they will lead you through a tea garden to their tented camp with a small kitchen and dining area that opens onto the Haputal Mountains. Wake up to the sound of birds singing and enjoy the sunrise – it's the highlight of a stay here.

Take a train trip from Colombo

When it comes to experiences in Sri Lanka, a train trip is essential. For views of mountains, tea gardens, British colonial-era railway stations and running bodies of water, take the train journey from Colombo to Ella, which also passes over the Instagram-famous Nine Arch Bridge. There are many trains that pass through this route, but due to its popularity among travellers, make sure to book your tickets in advance.

But don't just stop there. Take a coastal train heading south towards Galle from Colombo for views of the Indian Ocean and swaying palm trees. Then, take a train heading north to Jaffna – you'll notice the landscape change as you pass Anuradhapura as green rice paddies and coconut palms are replaced by palm trees, shrubs and barren soil.

Eating Sri Lankan crabs

Sri Lankan crabs sell out quickly in upscale Singaporean restaurants and rarely appear on the menu back home. But that's starting to change: for a taste of fine dining in Colombo, go to the Ministry of Cancer inside the Dutch Hospital. For something a little more local, you can't miss the Mayura Hotel in Pettah Market.

Look for a rare Sri Lankan leopard in Wilpattu National Park

Most visitors to Yala National Park want to see the endangered Sri Lankan cheetah. However, crowding is common and 4WD safari vehicles are known to spook the animals.

For a better, more informed safari experience, head to Wilpattu National Park in the northwest of the island and book with a responsible operator like Leopard Trails. Their guides do not chase potential sightings, but rather stop their vehicle engines near the animals. They will also talk in a low voice near any sightings to not disturb the animals. In addition to tigers, the park is also home to Asian elephants, sloth bears and bark deer, all in their natural habitats.

Alternatively, Kumana National Park, in the eastern part of Yala, is a good place for bird watching. If you're lucky, you might come across a leopard sleeping on a jagged rock too.

See the largest gathering of wild Asian elephants in the world

Sri Lanka is home to about 4,000 wild Asian elephants, and they can best be seen in their natural settings in the country's national parks. During the dry months of July to September, the large reservoirs at Kaudulla and Minneriya Parks attract herds of wild Asian elephants where they eat grass, bathe and play together. Elephants take refuge in nearby forests for shelter from the hot days, but in the afternoon, around 4pm, they gradually begin to emerge. This is your chance to see hundreds of animals congregating around the lakes, the largest concentration of wild elephants in the world.

Eat traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry in Unawatuna

Sri Lankans enjoy curry and rice for at least one meal a day – sometimes for all three – and although there are many great places to try the national dish, the best is considered to be Metha Restaurant for home-cooked meals, tucked among the cafes and souvenir shops in Unawatuna, in southern Sri Lanka. . Freshly prepared on site by Aunty Meetha herself (with a little support from her family), the creamy Sri Lankan dal in coconut milk is a must.

Learn about the life of the indigenous people of Sri Lanka

The Vedas are the indigenous people of Sri Lanka. They were originally forest dwellers, but their numbers declined over the years due to migration, loss of citizenship and assimilation into the country's dominant Sinhala Buddhist culture. Now scattered across the island in small numbers, some Vedda families still retain their indigenous language, cuisine and rituals in places such as Dambana, an indigenous village and museum in the southern part of Maduro Oya National Park.

Try the street food kottu roti

No other meal embodies Sri Lanka quite like kottu roti. This popular street meal is high in carbohydrates and consists of fresh vegetables, leftover roti (flatbread) and eggs, as well as a choice of meat or seafood. Mixed together on a metal grill and cut into small slices using two metal blades, the distinctive sound of metal hitting metal can often be heard from up to hundreds of feet away. Kottu roti is available all over the island, but try it in Colombo at De Bellos Hotel or De Plaza Hotel (note: some Sri Lankan restaurants are called “hotels”).

Explore the quaint alleys of Gall Fort

Galle Fort is an exotic mix of Portuguese, Dutch and British architectural influences surrounded by spas, luxury hotels, gift shops, ice cream parlors and jewelery shops. Come in the morning hours when the castle's corridors slowly begin to open. First, have a nutritious Sri Lankan breakfast at the National Tea Room, the oldest tea house in Galle Fort and run by a friendly Sri Lankan family since 1932.

Shop for postcards and wall stickers with trendy Sri Lankan graphics, tuk-tuks and vintage maps at Stick No Bills. Don't miss their brunch, the spicy black pork curry at Church Street Social. The view from the ramparts is a must-see, especially during sunset.

Take a bike trip in the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa

After the fall of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa became Sri Lanka's second capital from 1070 to 1232, and the ruins of this ancient city are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don't miss Vatadag, a circular relic house containing a large Buddha statue. Next, take a bike trip in the Old City and visit the Old Royal Palace.

It houses other stunning archaeological relics, including the standing Buddha statue at Lankatilka Vihara and a series of Buddha statues carved from granite at Gal Vihara. You can see the South Indian influence in some of the monuments - this is because the ancient kingdom faced several invasions from South India at that time.

Get closer to nature with a stay in a tree house

Nature lovers will enjoy the experience of sleeping in a tree house. Surrounded by the nearby forest, these houses are built on a wooden platform in the tree. Book one of the treehouses at Back of Beyond in Sigiriya if you don't mind visiting lizards and monkeys.

For those located in southern Sri Lanka, Tangalle is a mix of rugged sandy beaches, lagoons and scrublands. Here, Jaywa Lanka has a tree house next to the canyons; You will hear only the faint whisper of the crashing of the waves and the chirping of the birds. Occasional visitors include wild peacocks trying to attract their mates.

Snack on hoppers

If there's one thing to try before leaving Sri Lanka, it's hoppers (appa in Sinhala, appam in Tamil), pot-like dumplings made from rice flour dough. With crispy edges and crisp centers, regular hoppers are eaten with curry or a spicy sambal (chili paste) called lono meris made from onions and dried red chillies.

Walk into a street restaurant in the evening and you'll often find a plain hopper with an egg on top. If you're in Colombo, head to the Palmyra Restaurant at the Renuka Hotel for upscale Sri Lankan dining; The dinner menu includes savory and sweet hopper with milk or jaggery. Or, if you don't mind waiting in long lines, try the hoppers from Aunty Radhika in the Wellawatta neighborhood. Pass through the bank in Wa Selva Mautha to find this small but famous kiosk.

Source: Lonely Planet blog

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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