If you are travelling in the region, do not skip Sri Lanka. I repeat: do. not. skip. Sri Lanka. No matter your time scale, it is possible to squeeze in as little or as much as you want of this beautifully vibrant, versatile country. There isn’t the same tourist chaos as found in parts of Thailand, and travellers are always pleasantly surprised by how built up the cities and towns are. It is a (somewhat) hidden gem and when it comes to Sri Lanka, travellers are still playing catch up.
No matter how limited your time, if you’re in Asia, Sri Lanka must be in the top five destinations on your list. And here’s why:
The most wonderful thing about the beaches in Sri Lanka is the complete lack of people. Nobody is going to get in the way of your view, Sri Lanka is just not busy enough to be crowded. Relax, sunbathe, chill, be at ease with no noise, loud tourists or photo disruption!
Unuwatuna Beach; a home from home
Marisa Beach; white sands paradise
2. Ella Mountains
A MUST visit. I highly recommend staying at the Rock Side Inn, Ella. I assure you, you will not be disappointed. This beautiful boutique guesthouse is situated high up in the mountains (getting to the front porch is an adventure in itself across a rickety
bridge!) From here, you will be only in awe; quite clearly nature is showing off.
I recommend waking up early for sunrise and (accompanied by a small local monkey or two), watching the sun creep round and break out across the picturesque mountains as they tower around you in their full glory.
Inhale the crisp, cool, morning fresh air, feel the beginnings of the sun’s warmth dance on your skin, and open your eyes to the total serenity and calm found in this breathtaking atmosphere, high up and away from the rest of the world.
3. Sunrises and sunsets
Glimpse them just once, and these views will imprint on your mind, always –
Unuwatuna sunrise… … and sunset
By the watering hole, taken at 05:30am on the Safari:
4. Gaga Bees Yala
If you can squeeze it into your trip, I highly recommend staying at the eco-friendly boutique Gaga Bees Yala; the most beautiful quaint compound like no place else I have ever stayed. Each chalet hut is perfectly unique with a hatched roof, decking out-front to overlook the well kept communal garden area and mosquito nets. The shower can only be described as something out of Tarzan or Pocahontus; think western shower-heard, crossed with a rocky pebble floor (take flip-flops!) and enough gaps in the bamboo/wall structure that meets the thatched roof for steam to escape, but just enough for visitors to maintain their dignity. Highlights include; a giant lizard (commonly known as the ‘water monitor’ and regularly seen around the complex), taking residence in our roof and sliding around in the thick straw during the night; also a frog taking residence in our toilet for the night, leaping out at 5am as we bleary-eyed prepared for the Yala National Park Safari.
Big tip: Do not keep your rucksack or suitcase open, especially on the floor. Cockroaches will climb in (in our instance, two). Trying to get a cockroach out of a rucksack that has wormed it’s way down in-between your clothes is a very dramatic (for me, traumatic!) experience.
5. Where in the world are you facing?
Visit the most southern point of the island. Try not to fall in or get swept away – think about this for a moment; the next mass of land you will meet is the Antarctic, over 6,000 miles away…