100 miles north of the equator, Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise that’s home to endless beaches, welcoming locals, ancient temples, gorgeous train rides, lush tea plantations, tasty food, and small island charm.
Predominately a Buddhist country, it’s becoming a busy and popular tourist destination- for good reason.
It’s an island, rich in culture and jaw dropping nature. There’s a reason Lonely Planet dubbed it the most top place to visit in 2019.
The two weeks I spent in Lanka didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what the country has to offer.
It’s truly a destination with everything that makes a holiday great, and worthy of being at the tippy top of your travel list.
Although not an ‘official’ point below, the biggest reason to visit Sri Lanka now?
Because it’s experiencing a tourism boom and upswing, and things won’t be like they are for very long. The country will only become more developed with time, and while it was tough to navigate some of the country without a robust transit/tourism system, I enjoyed the challenge and think that’s all part of the allure in visiting now.
This list is meant to inspire planning a trip, and my ultimate guide to two weeks in Sri Lanka will answer any questions you have about planning a visit to this island paradise.
10 Reasons You Should Visit Sri Lanka Now
To Safari at a Fraction of the Cost in Other Countries
Sri Lanka has over 5,800 wild elephants, and the biggest concentration of leopards in the world. Spot them, plus potentially other animals like sloth bears, wild pigs and buffalo, monkeys and an array of beautiful birds at its national parks.
Note: Minneriya and Kadulla are said to be best for elephant sightings.
To Take Impossibly Scenic Train Rides
The route from Colombo to Galle is seaside gorgeous, but the ride through Sri Lanka’s mountainous region, from Ella to Kandy is jaw dropping.
To Eat Delicious Food
Whether hoppers (a thin, crepe-like batter infused with coconut milk and spices before being crushed into a bowl shape and filled with fried eggs), curries, roti or kattu, there’s no shortage of mouthwatering food to try.
And, don’t miss out on sipping ceylon tea, or sampling exotic fruits while in Lanka. Soursop smoothies quickly became a staple in my day to day while exploring the country.
Tip: Sri Lankans don’t hold back with spice, and won’t alter it for visitors either, unlike a majority of SE Asian countries. This is awesome, because it lets you try Sri Lankan food as its intended, but also means there’ll be serious heat in your meals.
To Hike Lush Tea Plantations to Gorgeous Vistas
Whether it’s Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak, the journey to the top is almost as beautiful as the eventual, soaring mountain view.
To See an Ancient Bridge, Rising Out of the Mountainside
The moment I saw the Nine Arches Bridge in Ella, I truly felt like I was in Sri Lanka. This ancient bridge, rising out of a mountainside, surrounded by lush tea plantations, and still fully operational seems like a dream of eras past.
And the fact that it’s an easy hike from a bohemian, mountain town makes it even more appealing in my book.
To Visit Temples & Experience Buddhist Culture
With Buddhist accounting for about 70% of Sri Lanka’s population, many of the country’s top attractions centre around Buddha.
There’s great insight into local belief and way of life to be discovered here. And, if nothing else, you’ll have a chance to marvel at relics of Buddha’s hair and teeth- incredibly sacred experiences for Buddhists.
To Live a Life of Luxury at Beautiful Resorts, Affordably
99% of my time in Lanka, I stayed in hostels or very budget hotels. Right before leaving the country, I treated myself to a stay at the Aliya Resort & Spa in Habarana after spotting a last minute deal for $55 USD a night.
Aliya, like many other resorts in the country, are world class, uniquely Sri Lankan and absolutely gorgeous with modern fitness centres, infinity pools, tasty chef creations, top of the line spas, and insanely comfortable rooms for a fraction of what you’d find elsewhere in Asia.
To Lounge on Beautiful, Secret Beaches
The beaches that dot Sri Lanka’s south coast deserve the reputation they’ve earned- jaw dropping.
And, in some towns, like Mirissa, you’ll even find relatively ‘secret’ breaches, which may require a jungle trek to reach, but the white sand, sparkling waters, and swaying palms are well worth the effort.
To Work or Chill in Upmarket Cafes That Rival the Likes of Bali
My favourite spots were in Colombo, Mirissa and Kandy.
Smoothie bowls, cold coconuts and iced coffees galore. And, in environments way chiller than what the scene has become in Bali hotspots, but with offerings just as good, it’s easy to see why I loved some of these spots so much.
To Witness Sri Lankan Hospitality
Sri Lankans are some of the warmest, kindest people I’ve met.
Yes, if you’re travelling solo as a white woman (as I did), you will receive unwanted attention and be a target for sexual harassment, but I never actually felt unsafe.
Some locals were keen to know where I was from, and what I thought of their beautiful country. Most of the time, this was done without even trying to upsell me a service or recommendation- they genuinely just hoped I was having a good time.
Two moments in particular from my trip stand out as a perfect illustration of this kindness-
One: When a man in Galle hesitantly approached me to tell me he liked my tattoo. This led to a chat about spirituality and the lotus flower’s prevalence in Sri Lanka.
Two: When I was walking down a beach path down to a main road, and a young girl ran out from her house to hand me a gorgeous flower from the garden. She spoke no English, but smiled and waved enthusiastically.
Have you been to Sri Lanka? Is it on your travel list for the near future?
Enjoyed this post? Pin it.
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- Top Tips for Solo Female Travel in Sri Lanka
- Seeing the Best of Sri Lanka in 12 Days
- 20 Reasons to Take Your First Solo Trip
- The Ultimate List of Every Single Thing You Need to Backpack for a Year
- Why You Need a Digital Travel Card
- 10 Money Saving Tips To Try This Week
- Selling Everything I Owned to Travel for a Year