Got limited time in your hands and yet craving to discover the jewel of the Indian Ocean? Here’s a rough guide of how you can discover Sri Lanka in just 5 days.
Upon touch down at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will enter the immigration area, pass through the duty free and move on to your luggage belts. While you are at it, observe the charming and homely feel of the single terminal airport. The staff are very friendly and keep smiling at you wherever you have to present your passport. Walk out of the airport and an intoxicating fusion of sunlight, heat and the fragrance of incense will welcome you.
Spend a day in Colombo, exploring the capital city and ticking off as much as possible on your shopping list. Pettah market, Majestic City and Liberty Plaza are some of the places that will help you with your shopping while the Gangaramaya Temple will give you a glimpse of Buddhism.
Next morning, travel inland to the city of Kandy – also known as the cultural capital. This ancient city revolves around a large manmade lake, set amidst a high plateau and is surrounded with a beautiful view of lush mountain ranges.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is where you can explore Buddhist culture in great detail. The Royal Palace Complex is where this monument sits and houses a relic of Lord Buddha’s tooth. Buddhists not only from around the island but also from around the globe come here to pay their respects.
After your tour of the Temple, walk over to one of the many roadside restaurants and try a traditional Lankan meal that includes rice and curry, along with optional vegetables and meat. If you are not fond of the spice, make sure you tell them to make your dish mildly spiced. The Empire Café is a popular place for this kind of a meal and while you are there, don’t forget to finish your meal with a delectable passion fruit ice cream.
While Kandy offers a lot more activities, since you have limited time in your hands, we would suggest to drive further inland for a couple of hours and stop for the night in Nuwara Eliya. Rest at one of the many cozy hotels or guesthouses and wake up the next morning to explore the hills, lush mountains and world renowned tea plantations. Opt for a trek to indulge in the view and then a tour to a tea estate to discover the process of tea making and sample its delicious infusions.
If you are loving the chilly weather and cozy atmosphere, stay in the hills for another night and head to the southern coast early next morning for your final stop. In the south, you could choose to halt at Galle, Ahungalla, Unawatuna or even Mirissa, where you can enjoy stunning views of the Indian Ocean, take part in some fun water sports and pamper yourself at an exclusive holiday resort. This stretch of the coastline offers legendary views of the sunset so make sure you are relaxing on the beach at around that time of the evening.
That brings about an end to a quick, yet efficient Sri Lanka tour itinerary to discover the true beauty that lies within this island nation. If however, you do have more time on your holiday, here are ten things you must do in Sri Lanka:
- Visit the Ratnapura Gem Museum for a breathtaking display of Ceylon stones.
- Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya (Kandy) and explore some of the finest flora in Asia.
- Climb the Sigiriya rock, observe the ancient ruins at the top and enjoy the view.
- Discover the temples and ruins in Polonnaruwa – most ancient city in the island.
- Visit Udawalawe National Park and watch the elephants in their natural habitat.
- Head on to Yala National Park for a sight of the secretive leopard.
- Enjoy a river safari on the Madu Ganga River and explore several indigenous plants and animals.
- Explore the Dutch atmosphere in Galle: shops, restaurants and boutique hotels.
- Whale and Dolphin watching in Mirissa is a fantastic activity not to be missed.
- While on the southern coast, try out the unusual method of fishing unique to Sri Lanka – stilt fishing.