Surprising Sri Lanka

Backpackers, nature lovers, sports fans or history buffs will find that a Sri Lanka holiday will fit the bill. You can visit the country all the year round but do be aware that there are two monsoon seasons so it’s a good idea to carry out some research on the weather before you reach the island.

You will most probably land at the country’s capital, Colombo and from there it’s a matter of deciding whether you want sun, sea and sand first of all, or if you want to explore some of the dazzling sights this country can offer. For transportation your best bet will be to use local buses or trains, alternatively you could travel by taxi, haggling is mandatory and the price can be very reasonable. Cars can be hired but Sri Lankan roads and drivers are a rather daunting experience.

The Cultural Triangle

Dambulla cave temple, Sri Lanka

This area dates back to 400 BC and comprises the ancient cities and monuments of Dambulla, Anuradhpura, Sigirya and Polonnaruwa, and is in the north west of the island. The easiest way to travel around the ancient city of Anuradhpura is to hire a bike, though some fellow bloggers have complained about undue attention from the local male population. Take some time out and sit under the famous Bhodi Tree, said to be the initial tree where Buddha first received enlightenment. If you want to see more Buddhist statues, travel over to Dambulla and explore the astonishing Dambulla Cave Temple, the site claims to hold the highest number of Buddhist statues in the world and is over 2,000 years old.

Trekking

Digging Lizard, Sri Lanka

If the great outdoors is more to your taste, then a visit to the Sinharaja National Park in the south west of Sri Lanka, a natural rainforest that offers eco-accommodation, should be high on your agenda. This magical place has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also champion’s bio-diversity and sustainability. You will find that the accommodation there is cheap and locally run. You can stay at either one of the eco-lodges or stay with one of the residents in their own home through the ‘Home Stay Accommodation’ scheme. Waking up in this forest is a unique experience as the dawn chorus borders on the deafening – no cars are allowed into the Park and the main method of transport is on foot.

Sun Sea and Sand

Urawatta's beach, Sri Lanka

You should not leave Sri Lanka without visiting one of the island’s many beaches. The beaches on the west and south coasts are popular and if you want something a bit more off the beaten track, take the train from Colombo to the eastern resort of Batticaloa and enjoy the coral beaches. The best time of the year to visit this region is between March – October when the sea is safe for snorkelling. One of the major attractions to be found here are the ‘singing fish.’ This noise from the deep can only be heard during the full moon and no one is quite sure which marine animal behaves in this way.

photos by chamilt, yaddor and Gwenael Piaser on flickr

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One Response to Surprising Sri Lanka

  1. David Urmann May 12, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Just got back from a great trip to Sri Lanka. My favourite beach in the south was not the most famous Unawatuna but the more southerly and more quiet Medawatta which is absolutely beautiful and great surfing.

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