A charmingly understated country that is beautiful and varied, Sri Lanka is well worth a visit. So, if you’re considering taking a trip to South Asia, or need a quick introduction to the high points of the country, read this post for information on some of the best attractions of Sri Lanka.
Drink in the tea manufacturing process
Witness firsthand the TLC that goes into making a cup of tea. Sri Lanka is the biggest exporter of tea worldwide, shipping almost a quarter of global exports. You can take a look behind the scenes of tea making with a sightseeing tour, which is affordable even for those on a budget.
The Ceylon Tea Museum in Kandy is a popular port of call, but if you really want to see the process, then you should set aside some time to investigate tea estates and factories. Just over 10 km from Haputale is the Dambatenne Tea Factory, built by Sir Thomas Lipton who gives his name to Lipton Ice Tea. Visit the factory and you will be taken through all the details of the process from post-pick fermentation to pre-package grading.
Make a pilgrimage to an ancient temple
Step into ancient history by visiting the iconic religious sites of Sri Lanka. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy is a stunning monument that holds a tooth belonging to Buddha. You cannot see the relic itself – it is kept in a golden casket.
However, you can visit the temple complex during prayers and witness the offerings made on this holy site. The broader complex contains a three-storey shrine including the Sri Dalada Museum, and another building that houses the World Buddhism Museum – a real must if you are interested in religious or cultural history.
Explore the Ancient City of Sigiriya
Scale up a statuesque rock formation and see the foundations of an ancient settlement that used to overlook the countryside for miles around. Sigiriya’s ‘Lion Rock’ is a natural column nearly 200m high with historic ruins on the top.
The rock was initially a royal capital and, following the king’s death, became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. One of the best preserved instances of early urban planning, this hugely popular tourist site’s importance is now recognised by UNESCO.
Go wild at a national park
Some say that Sri Lanka has the best safari outside Africa, and you will certainly see a bounty of wildlife if you choose to holiday here. The Udawalawe National Park is a popular draw that holds an outstanding reputation for elephant-watching.
Depending on where your travels lead, you may also want to consider Yala National Park. With leopards stalking the trees and bushes, and monkeys scrambling through the branches above, there’s a cornucopia of wildlife to enjoy.
Sample the Surf at Arugam Bay
Heading due eastwards from the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, there’s almost 2,000km of Indian Ocean until the next piece of land. Such a vast tract of sea creates some impressive swells that make for excellent surfing in Arugam Bay.
Avid surfers will want to visit this area and test their skills. But the region is also lovely for non-surfers, with a relaxed beach life vibe and verdant greenery stretching away inland. The inexperienced can even pick up surfing lessons if their curiosity is piqued…