Sri Lanka is an island that packs a tremendous punch, from cities to wild hikes, vast jungles to deserted beaches. If you’re looking to head to this up and coming destination and need some travel hacks in terms of an itinerary, here is our Sri Lanka Top 5.
1. Visit a Tea Plantation
As one of the top exporters of tea in the world, Sri Lankan’s know what they’re doing when it comes to tea. Not only do the tea plants create a lush landscape but the plantations are a great place to learn more about the process and try a cup or two. We would highly recommend visiting Pedro’s in Nuwara Eliya. For around $1.50 (Dec 2018) you get a tour of the factory, a cup of tea and access to roam around the rows of tea bushes and talk to the pickers if they are working. We spent several hours here after the tour just exploring row upon row of tea plants and watching with fascination at how quickly the ladies can pick the leaves. There are many other tea plantations you can visit along the way in Kandy, Newara Eliya and Ella but do a little research beforehand as the prices can vary, as can the size of the plantation and tours offered.
2. Find a Deserted Beach
Sri Lanka has many beaches to offer on the east, west and south coast. Renowned for the wildlife, surfing and white sand they are becoming better known and thus populated. However, we stumbled across a little gem on the south in a small town called Dikwella. The town is nothing special but the beach is spectacular, untouched, empty and an absolute paradise to while away a few days. We stayed in a great little hotel that served a delicious, authentic breakfast and even served us dinner on the beach one night. We saw eagles grabbing fish from the ocean, turtles swimming and the local fisherman bobbing in their unusually shaped boats. You’d be stupid not to stop by and take in this beautiful paradise.
3. Kandy Botanical Gardens
I’m a huge fan of botanical gardens and make it a point to visit any time we are nearby. Kandy has to be in my top three easily, the sheer size of it alone was impressive before you even consider the variety of plants. The silence was incredible, after having spent days in the busy, bus filled cities all we could hear were the trees rustling. There were rows of towering palm trees, bamboo of all varieties and sizes, an orchid house, vast lawn and a row of crooked fir trees to name but a few. Give yourself at least a morning to amble around, stop at the tea house or bring a picnic and eat under the shade of the looming java fig tree
4. Hike, Hike, Hike
There are so many opportunities to get out and stretch your legs here that it would be criminal not to. We loved climbing Pidurangala rock, got incredible views at the top of mini Adam’s peak and fought our way to the top of Ella rock. There was the short walk to the nine arch bridge, the amble to waterfalls and days exploration around the hills of Newara Eliya. The air is fresh, the terrain varies and the views are almost always breathtaking. The routes vary from train tracks to fields of corn, tea plantations to mud tracks, through forests and up steep hills there is something for everyone. For more details check out our blog on Sri Lanka hikes here!
5. Galle Fort
This wasn’t actually on our original plan but we are so pleased we took the time to visit. Everything we had heard suggested that Galle itself was just another, very busy city with not a lot to see. People had recommended visiting the fort but after having visited, they seriously undersold it. An oasis enclosed within the fort walls, surrounded by the ocean and steeped in history, it really is a little gem. The quiet, winding streets have cute little cafes tucked away, restaurants, shops and lots of tea. Although it was slightly more western than other places we had been and some of the prices were definitely higher there was still an authenticity to the place. Still housing magistrates courts and attorneys offices alongside kindergartens and churches the fort had a seamless mix of everyday activity and tourist delights. We spent a leisurely afternoon sipping on lime soda’s, looking out over the ocean and bimbling in the craft and tea stores. The fort is definitely worth a stop.
So there you have it, our top five, and that’s certainly not the only 5 activities to do here, we had to cut some crazy awesome stops. See our full article on Sri Lanka, coming soon, or visit our youtube channel by clicking here to see our Sri Lanka series!