Absolute relaxation amidst the beauty of Mother Nature is what Sri Lanka offers its holiday-ers. If you are looking for a break from every day routine life and want to make the most of Sri Lanka’s natural beauty, a month long vacation is a must!
In Sri Lanka: lush palm trees, bathwater-warm Ocean and laid back locals will capture your heart away.
The rural areas, where most of the tourist attraction lies, have a slow pace and a relaxed lifestyle – which is probably just what you need as a break from your otherwise hectic life.
In other words, Sri Lanka is an island that truly has it all. Here’s why a month long vacation is needed:
Sri Lanka has got you covered in terms of variety in beaches. Whatever kind of beach you prefer, some corner of the island is sure to satisfy your likings.
- Deserted stretches of sand
- Amazingly quiet beaches
- Beaches with men selling coconuts
- Lively resorts with bar facilities and sun loungers
- Beaches ideal for swimming
- Beaches ideal for surfing
While Galle, Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa in the southern coast are the livelier ones with sun loungers idling around, the quieter – swim safe beaches are found in places like Nilaveli, Trincomalee and Passikuda on the east coast and Jaffna in the North. The west coast beaches such as Chilaw and Negombo are also breathtaking for their golden sands and calm waters.
The coastlines of Sri Lanka offer surfers ideal breaks for all levels. Weligama in the south is ideal for beginners while the reef break in Midigama is suitable for the advanced rider. Some surf oriented institutes offer video analysis if you take lessons from them and this is really helpful because you can figure out what you do well while you are in the water and which areas you need to improve. Arugam Bay in the east coast is a particularly remarkable surf destination that suits both beginners and experienced surfers. Apart from that, Mirissa, Kalpitiya and Unawatuna are popular surfing destinations in Sri Lanka.
3. Simply Breathtaking Train Journeys
If you have a chance to ride on only one train in Sri Lanka, make sure it is the Ella to Kandy one. This route is very busy more often than not so advanced reservations are recommended. Sit down and relax and indulge in the view while you ride slowly through mountains, tea plantations and local villages. Air conditioned first class carriages offer maximum comfort but you can rough it out in the second or third class seats as well if you want a chance to mingle with the locals or sit at the open door (be careful with the latter though!). Ella to Nanu Oya is also another breathtaking hill country train ride.
If you have a month long vacation in hand, you surely have opportunities for more train rides. A common route in the south is the one that goes from Colombo to Matara, taking you through popular tourist destinations like Galle, Hikkaduwa and Weligama. This rail track runs alongside the coastline and it is a peaceful ride indeed to watch the ocean sail by. This route is much busier than the hill country ones because it is a commuter train. Getting on this train at the Colombo station is quite stressful so maybe you could head on to the station before Colombo, get on from there and grab yourself a good spot.
4. Mouthwatering Sri Lankan Food
Breakfast and Dinner:
- Paratha roti
- Coconut roti
- String Hoppers
Each of the above are usually served with dhal curry, coconut sambol and onion sambol.
- Authentic rice and curry: Rice, served with a colorful array of dishes such as chicken/fish curry, dhal, beetroot curry, brinjal curry, beans curry and a choice of greens such as Gotukola sambol or Mukunuwenna.
- Lamprais: a delicious blend of samba rice with small portions of chicken curry, dhal, brinjal modju, coconut chutney/onion sambol, chicken/fish cutlet, and devilled potatoes, all packed together in a banana leaf. This lunch packet is baked until warm and until the aroma of the banana leaves reaches the food, giving it a completely different taste altogether.
A dinner specialty in Sri Lanka, apart from the above options served during breakfast too, is Kottu Roti – available in all roadside restaurants as well as fine dining restaurants catering to local cuisine. This specialty is prepared with a collection of paratha rotis finely chopped into inch sized slices and is sautéed together with vegetables, boneless chicken, egg, cheese, spices, chicken curry and a touch of milk for sogginess.
One thing is for sure, Kottu Roti is a “not-to-miss” food item during your holiday in Sri Lanka!
Traditional street food bites:
- Vegetable roti
- Fried dhal balls (Vadai)
If you have tried and tested traditional food and it does not satisfy your taste buds, don’t fret. There are plenty of other international cuisines that you can try in Sri Lanka. From Chinese to Indian to Thai to Japanese to the favorite fast food joints, Sri Lanka has it all.
5. Rich Culture
Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, hence Buddhist temples are many. There’s something about Buddhist temples that presents an air of peace when you enter the premises.
- Peace Pagoda in Unawatuna is an interesting temple to visit. While the monks’ chants float through the air, you can watch the sun set over the ocean and feel the peaceful atmosphere around you.
- Visit the Kudumbigala Monastery located on the outskirts of Yala National Park. It is indeed a steep climb to the top but you will be rewarded with a stunning 360 degree view of the surrounding area. If you are surfing in Arugam Bay, this monastery is a close tuk drive away. Be careful though as the roads are a bit sketchy.
Apart from the temples, Sri Lanka offers rich history in ancient cities. Tour Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa to explore historical ruins from centuries ago. It is a good idea to hire a bike/bicycle if you are interested in exploring everything that there is to see.
Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is another must-visit cultural heritage where you can learn about Buddhist traditions, prayer rituals and more.
6. The Coconuts!
Did you know?
Sri Lanka is the fifth largest producer of coconuts in the world, and it also has its own native version – the King Coconut!
The King Coconut produces sweeter water than a regular coconut and is freely available at any time of the year on roadsides and in grocery stores. The average price for one of these is 60-70 LKR if purchased from the road but the price goes higher in restaurants, bars and on the beach side. You might want to carry along your own reusable drinking straw to save on those plastic ones that pollute the streets.
7. The Hikes
Don’t forget to pack your trainers or walking boots as Sri Lankan holidays entail some unforgettable nature trails.
- Ella Rock is a 4 hour round hike and is worth for its panoramic mountainous views. Start off about an hour or two before sunrise so that you can be back before the harsh morning sun hits you. A guide is recommended if you plan to hike in the dark as it is possible to lose your way in the mountains.
- Adam’s Peak is a tougher climb for which you need to be really fit. 5500 steps is what it takes to witness a jaw dropping sunrise and visit the site where Lord Buddha first set foot on earth. Begin your hike shortly after midnight and carry a warm jacket as the summit gets pretty chilly. Don’t make too many plans for the next couple of days as your legs will be hard as rocks.
- Sigiriya Rock is a very do-able climb by almost everyone as it takes just a couple of hours to reach the top, explore the ruins of the Rock Fortress built by an ancient King and climb back down to base.
8. The Wildlife
- Sinharaja rainforest nature trails with the assistance of a local guide will be an exciting one as you can spot animals such as snakes, monkeys, colorful critters and giant millipedes. Plenty of leeches are waiting to attack you so be sure to wear long socks and appropriate shoes.
- National Parks such as those in Yala, Udawalawe, Wilpattu and Minneriya for example are the best place to get up-close-and-personal with elephants, leopards, sloth bear, deer, jackal and other such Asian wild animals.
9. Adventurous Bus Rides
Hop onto one of Sri Lanka’s unique collection of skilfully driven buses and experience an adrenaline surge run through your body as the bus drives in and out of traffic trying to take you to your destination at the fastest possible speed. The rides are fun – often accompanied with loud local music and brightly lit Buddha shrines at the front. Luggage space is available for long distance bus journeys, making it the cheapest way to get around in Sri Lanka.
10. Discover the Art of Tea
Who doesn’t love a cup of tea – and nowhere can it be fresher than in Sri Lanka! Head to a tea factory located amidst one of the many tea estates in the hill country of Sri Lanka and request to let you experience tea plucking first hand. They will provide you with the necessary cane backpack to strap behind your shoulders and also the traditional attire worn by local folks when they go out to pluck tea. Also visit the tea factory and discover the manufacturing process and wind up your tour with a fresh cup of tea overlooking a scenic view of the green mountains.