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Your rough guide to Sri Lanka

Famous for its gorgeous beaches and rich heritage, Sri Lanka is a beautiful island country of South Asia surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The country attracts a large number of travelers from all over the world and has evolved as a major tourist spot over the past few decades. Apart from its beauty, other things that attract visitors here are the cheap prices, exquisite cuisine and its friendly and welcoming people. If you are also planning to pay a visit to Sri Lanka, some things that might help you in planning a great trip are discussed here.

Places to explore in Sri Lanka

Here’s a little guide to some of the best places to visit while in Sri Lanka.

Galle Fort: a monument of historical, archaeological and architectural importance, the Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within this fort you can find some monuments like Galle lighthouse, Galle clock tower, Groote Kerk – Galle, All Saints’ Church – Galle, National Museum in Galle, Old Dutch Hospital and National Maritime Museum Galle all of which are worth visiting once in a lifetime.

Yala National Park: A total of six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries are there inside the Yala National Park which is a must-visit for all the wildlife lovers out there. Other than this, the pilgrim sites of Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara are also located within the park.

Sigiriya Fortress: Sigiriya is a rock fortress where you can find the ruins of the famous Sigiriya palace on the top of a rock surrounded by beautiful gardens and other structures. Sigiriya today is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and shows the best example of a preserved ruin. The most mesmerizing thing in this palace ruin is the gateway made in the form of lion which gave the fort its name ‘Lion Rock’.

Mirissa: Who wouldn’t want to see big, beautiful blue whales right? Whale watching in Mirissa provides you the opportunity to see these creatures out in their natural habitat. November to April is the best month for whale watching as the ocean is calm and the whales are migrating from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere.

Kandy: Have an interest in visiting religious sites or love botanic gardens? Wait no, you want to go hiking and camping or see a lake? What if you can find all these spots at one single place? Yes it is possible when you are in Kandy. Some famous places of this central Sri Lankan city include Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) shrine, Royal Botanic Gardens, Knuckles Mountains and Kandy Lake.

Accommodation & Culinary Delights

Accommodation in Sri Lanka is quite cheap and you can afford a hotel with good rating within your budget. A wide choice of accommodation is available in Sri Lanka with high standards and friendly service. Other than booking normal hotels, you can also book boutique hotels, boutique villas, heritage homes, bungalows, guest houses, rented homes, rented apartment, resorts, etc as per your need and your budget.

Other than affordability, the delectable cuisine of Sri Lanka is one of the major reasons why tourists not only visit the country but also keep coming back. Some food that you must try while in Sri Lanka includes malu pang (fish bun), kimbula bunis (crocodile-shaped bun), hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles), pittu (a mixture of flour and coconut), lamprais and desert like buffalo curd eaten with palm-honey and the Malay-derived caramel-like wattalapam. Indian and Chinese restaurants are pretty common in the country.

Culture and Language of the country

Buddhism and Hinduism are the major religion of the country. Majority of population of the country speaks Sinhala but Tamil is also a main language of Sri Lanka. Taking about cultural heritage, Sri Lanka encompasses a best mix of traditional values and modernity. Whether you talk about architecture, art & crafts or artistic forms of music, dance, and visual arts, the country never fails to mesmerize you. The Sri Lankan culture also holds a special place for birds, specifically sparrows that are believed to bring good luck in your homes.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Well depending on what you seek to visit in Sri Lanka, the best time to visit here varies. Although overall you can visit the country entire year long but if you are a beach person, the best time will be the month of April when the sky is clear and the temperature is also not extreme. However, if you wish to celebrate the famous Hikkaduwa Beach Festival, July or August will be the best time. If you are a wildlife person, December – April is the best time to see whales, November to April is for dolphins and for leopards January to October will be the best time to visit.

Monsoon is very unpredictable in this country especially because it sees two monsoons over a period of year and during this time heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. Although the monsoon will not affect your trip very much but if you want to steer clear of it January to April is the only time to visit the country.

Some interesting facts about Sri Lanka

  1. Sri Maha Bodhi planted in 288 BC in Sri Lanka, is the oldest tree ever to be planted by a human.
  2. The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha encased in seven golden caskets and engraved with precious gemstones.
  3. Pearl of the Indian Ocean and Teardrop of India are some of the unique nicknames given to the country. Apart from this, the country also has many names Tambapanni (copper-red earth), Sarandīb (serendipity), Ceylon, etc.
  4. Sirimavo Bandaranaike who was the world’s first non-hereditary female head of government in modern history was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
  5. Tea, spices, caves, elephants, beaches and heritage sites are a few things Sri Lanka is pretty famous for.