If you’re reading this chances are that you might have already heard that Sri Lanka is the next “it” destination in Asia, and maybe worldwide. Since the brutal civil war ended in 2009 the country has opened up to tourists in a way that they had never been able to access it in decades prior. Those who plan a visit to Sri Lanka now, when society is still forming its post-war identity and before locals adapt their ways to a booming tourist industry, will be richly rewarded. We spent several weeks visiting Sri Lanka in 2017 and can affirm that it won’t be long before the tourist industry transforms the landscape.
What are the main attractions in Sri Lanka, you ask? This small island nation boasts many reasons to pay a visit! Sri Lanka should be on the top of the list for any history buffs. It’s possible to spend a week or more exploring the epic ancient ruins at Anuradhapura and Poḷonnaruwa, as well as the many significant Buddhist temples. Anuradhapura is one of Sri Lanka’s eight World Heritage Sites and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The ruins go on for miles with complexes that include temples and museums. It’s not long before these ancient cities become as well known as Chichen Itza or Angkor Wat.
Few people realize that Sri Lanka is a popular safari destination with several national parks where wild elephants and leopards roam, amongst dozens of other fascinating species. It is also a world-class surf destination. As Sri Lanka remains largely free of the crowds of tourists you’ll encounter in other Southeast Asia hotspots like Thailand or the nearby Maldives, it’s still possible to carve out a section of unspoiled beach just for yourself as you enjoy a fresh smoothie or cocktail and watch the swells. Travel writers often refer to Sri Lanka as “India lite” as it’s relatively easy and hassle free to discover all corners of the country, compared to how overwhelming it can feel to travel India.
Sri Lankan food is second to none and for many, it’s one of their favorite parts of visiting Sri Lanka. Every meal features a seemingly endless array of sauces, spices, breads, and curries. And of course, no meal is complete without the traditional Ceylon tea. First introduced to Sri Lanka by the English in 1867, Sri Lanka is now the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. Gorgeous terraced tea plantations cover the hills as they weave their way through villages. Tea plantation tours and tasting are popular activities, and you can even spend the night at the peaceful, rustic Amba Estate which grows and hand picks tea for the world’s best restaurants.
Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for anyone seeking a hassle-free cultural experience with a little adventure thrown in. We highly recommend it as one of our top destinations for 2019!