Best Places to Tour and Visit in Sri Lanka
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, or Sri Lanka, is one the most beautiful tropical Islands on the planet. The country has been having nearly 1.8 million tourists per year since 2015. The country has been promoting tourism ever since its independence and boasts many attractions. It is the only place on earth where you can still find Stilt fishing. The country is home to very rich wildlife and has many scenic locations. The country’s forests and beaches are well known all over the world. They also have the Sri Lankan elephant which is a sight to behold. Though it is a tiny country, it offers so many attractions and activities that it is near impossible to cover them all in one stay. Here are the top places you should visit when you go to Sri Lanka.
Yala National Park
The Yala National park is located in the southeast region of the Island and is about 979 square kilometers big. This park is one of the first national parks in Sri Lanka. The park is located in a semi-arid region and receives rain primarily during the monsoon period. Even though the area is small, the park boasts a diverse variety of ecosystems, from monsoon forests to both fresh and marine wetlands. Yala is home to many birds and is one of the designated important bird areas of Sri Lanka. Around 215 species of birds can be found in the park and about six of them are endemic to the island nation. Along with the birds you can find around 44 mammals, including the Sri Lankan leopard and Sri Lankan elephants. This place is an important site for the conservation of these mammals and birds. Other than wildlife, the region has also been home to several ancient civilizations. Important pilgrimage sites like Magul Vihara and Sithulpahuwa are located within the park. If Yala National Park does not satiate your cravings for wildlife, there are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries within its vicinity.
Sigiriya has been a Unesco world heritage site since 1982. It is famous for its palace ruins atop a 200-meter tall rock, it has an extensive system of gardens, reservoirs, and other buildings surrounding it. The massive rock is a lava plug that was leftover from an ancient volcano that went extinct long ago. It also frescoes style ancient paintings that bear similarities to the Ajanta caves in India. The art though has a distinct Sri Lankan Style. Evidence has been found Sigiriya has remained inhabited since prehistoric times. If you do intend to climb atop the rock, ensure you take lots of water with you and carry a hat to protect yourself from the heat. You could also get yourself a guide if you want a detailed tour of the place.
The place also has a rock-shelter mountain monastery from 500 BCE. These caves were prepared and donated to the monks of the Buddhist Sangha by devotes. There is also a museum that houses the artifacts excavated from the site along with a few reproductions of the frescoes. The museum takes about an hour to visit. You can visit Sigiriya by bus or tuk-tuk from Dambulla.
The Mirissa region in Sri Lanka will be in full swing during whale watching season each year. You can see dolphins, blue whales, and humpback whales during these tours. Dondra Point is the best place to view whales while the sea off Kalpitiya is famous for dolphins. Do take care to make sure you only take registered boat operators as you don’t want to harm the nature in pursuit of animals.
Hikkaduwa Beach is one of the best surfing spots in the region. The best time to surf would be from November to March. The region has a clear hot water base and has waves that are around four to eleven feet high. The region is also famous for diving in clear waters and scuba diving as the place is home to many colorful fishes. These are also the most environmentally safe methods to catch a glimpse of those animals. There is a large coral reef that is a sanctuary to many beautiful fishes; the coral reef itself is decked with multicolored corals, it is also home to sea turtles. If you want to see the fish without getting your feet wet, there are glass-bottomed boats that you can hire. The region also has four different shipwrecks for the diving enthusiasts in you to visit. The place also has many diving schools that provide training and equipment.
The region has a very beautiful beach for you to swim in. The coastline has many amazing bars, hotels, and restaurants you can visit. There are a few Buddhist temples and many shops that sell jewelry, batik, antiques, and masks. While the coral reef and surfing are its primary attraction, the region is also rich with Sri Lankan culture.
Dambulla Cave Temple
This is one of the most visited cave temple complexes in Sri Lanka and records show that it dates back to 100 BCE. The complex has five caves that have been carved with a drip line to ensure that the interior remains dry in the ever wet Sri Lanka. The names of the five caves are Maha Alut Viharaya, Paccima Viharaya, Devana Alut Viharaya,Devaraja Lena, and Maharaja Lena. These caves were built at the base of a 150-meter tall rock during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa period. The ceilings of the temples are filled with various colorful religious images. The images depict Budhha and bodhisattvas as well as various gods and goddesses. There are four different entrances that lead the way to the temple and each one of them is adorned by long granite steps. It is best to visit the temple either in the morning or in the evening as the steps can get hot during the afternoon. The entry fee for foreigners costs about 10 USD.
This beautiful fort is located around 113 kilometers from the capital city. The “Ramparts of Galle” or the Dutch fort is a historical monument that remains very beautiful even after 423 years. This is all due to the renovations that were done by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. The fort has many iconic monuments like the Old Dutch Hospital, National Maritime Museum, Galle lighthouse, and the Galle clock tower. The fort has a rich and colorful history and is now home to a multi-religious and multi-ethnic population. The government along with a few Dutch citizens of the country are working towards making it into a modern wonder. This place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for showcasing the interaction between Europeans and South Asians.
The fort is built on top of a small rocky peninsula that makes it quite a sight to behold. The entire fort is mostly covered by water and a walk around its coast is very rejuvenating. You can visit the fort from road or train from Colombo. You could also come through the scenic sea route through the Galle port in the Gale Harbour.
Ella is a region that is surrounded by hills covered with tea plantations forests. The region is extremely rich in biodiversity with many kinds of plants and animals. It is also much cooler than the surrounding areas. The Ella Gap in the region allows you to gaze across the southern plains of Sri Lanka, on a clear night you might even be able to see the glow of the lighthouses on the shoreline. The place doesn’t really have much going for it culturally, it has only a few bars, restaurants and shops. However, it is a nice place to visit to have a relaxing time exploring the country.
The capital city of Sri Lanka is the cultural and economic hub of the country. There are a variety of activities you can do in the city. You could play golf in a golf club that is over 120 years old, or you could just tour the city on a tuk-tuk. The city also offers tours around the city on buses every day. The city has a rich colonial history and is home to many religions, races, and cultures. The city is quite split, with one side having shopping malls with some of the most expensive brands on the earth, while the other half is living in congested roads and local markets. The seafood available in the region is very good and you can get a taste of it Mt Lavinia beach, which is dotted with amazing seafood restaurants. The city also has the Colombo National Museum which has many artworks that date back to the 400 BCE. Despite its small size, Combo offers a location that is filled with many attractions and activities.