The Complete Vacation Destination
A country of spectacular beauty and distracting diversions, Sri Lanka is a traveller’s delight. Whether it is visitng age-old Buddhist shrines, petting rescued pachyderms at elephant camps, shopping to your heart’s content or simply lolling on the beach, visitors get to do it all. Top that with the island country’s distinct cuisine and its local culture, and Sri Lanka is indeed an enjoyable, enthralling experience.
This historic temple port town celebrates the religious heritage of Sri Lanka. The reconstructed temples devoted to Hindu gods are well-visited sites, especially during the Dondra Fair. Marvel at the various temples spread across town, starting at the Sri Vishnu Maha Devalaya. Later, you can play in the waters at Polhena Beach. Don’t forget to stop by the Dondra Head Lighthouse, where you can enjoy a great view of the school of dolphins swarming the coast.
If a whimsical getaway is what you had in mind, this is the perfect spot for you! Bentota beach is perfect for an advernture-packed weekend. Try some of the best water sports, from jet skiing to kayaking and parasailing. If you’re looking for a quieter time, head to the turtle hatcheries. Visit one of the many ayurvedic centres that pamper your body, a perfect stop for every vacation.
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Floating Market in Pettah
With an impressive variety of unique goods and the red roofs, the Pettah Floating Markets are a sight to see. Built on a bridge over the majestic Beira Lake, the marketplace has 92 trade stalls selling handicrafts and local produce. The market allows a more wholesome as well as entertaining shopping experience.
Nuwara Eliya is the perfect place if you have time for just one destination stop in Sri Lanka. Relax near some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka, from Devon Falls to Ramboda Falls. Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of the tea empire in the country. Take the tea factory tour in the Haputale Mountains, which is a great experience if you’re interested to learn more about the start of the Lipton tea empire. The hill station is also home to the Seetha Amman Temple, a beautifully built temple believed to be the place where Sita was held captive by Ravana. The story goes that this was where she prayed every day for Ram to come and rescue her. Legend also has it that the depressions on the nearby rock face are the foorprints of Hanuman.
A must-visit if you’re interested in all things history and heritage. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Kandy is sacred and is highly recommended for a quiet day in Sri Lanka. You can spend a day sightseeing the best of the sacred city, from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic to the Degal Doruwa Raja Maha Vihara and the World Buddhism Museum. Take a break from the spiritual tour and stop by the Ceylon Tea Museum or sit by the banks of the Kandy Lake.
If you’re looking to get your surfboard out, Arugam Bay is one of the top surfing destinations in the world. You can also explore the Bay, especially the Panama Tank or the Kumana National Park. Or just sit by the beach and relax.
Sri Lanka is best known for the spread of seafood that the country offers. You can taste seafood dishes like sour fish curry which is commonly had with rice for lunch or get your hands on barbequed seafood platters. The country flavours most of its dishes with coconut, making its cuisine stand out vastly. From small bites with the Sri Lankan seafood—like isso vadai which is a spicy lentil cake with prawns—to the foods inspired by various settlers in Sri Lanka, the food served by various vendors on the streets of Sri Lanka bowl over tourists who stop by for a bite after a long day of exploring. One favourite is kottu, a dish made from leftovers. It is a mixture of roti, vegetables, and curry made of meat or fish; the ingredients are all chopped together to make an interesting plate. Another street favourite is nasi goreng, a dish picked up by the Sri Lankans from Indonesia; this sells well among tourists and locals alike.
Sri Lanka is also great for vegetarians. A famed vegetarian dish is eggplant moju, a strongly flavoured dish made with ingredients like eggplant, vinegar, onion and sugar. If you like a wholesome breakfast, try hoppers, a plate of appam commonly known as Indian pancakes, with an egg cracked into the bowlshaped pancake. This is garnished with various spices to create a dish that is just not to be missed. Certain occasions demand special platters and one such is the kiribath, a rice served with thick coconut milk, which is savoured during the Sinhalese New Year.
Finding authentic Sri Lanka cuisine requires going beyond online searches. While there are a few prominent restaurants that are a must-visit for tourists, they are no match for smaller, local food stalls that you’d come across while on the road. Grab your pick of seafood at the Lagoon at Cinnamon Grand or wear a bib and dig into some crab at Ministry of Crab. But going beyond these pricey restaurants is your best bet if you want to experience Sri Lanka in its full gastronomical glory.