With its vibrant colors, intriguing culture, and aura of ascetic mystery that surrounds it, India seduces travelers. As mysterious as it does sound, India is also a little too overcrowded with starry-eyed tourists roaming the country in pursuit of spirituality and enlightenment. Among all this chaos, it is easy to miss the tiny teardrop-shaped island located just below the continent. This tropical island nation, otherwise known as Sri Lanka, holds many secrets just waiting to be discovered.
As it is an island nation, the sea surrounds Sri Lanka. And where there is sea, there will always be sand. As golden sandy beaches line its coasts all around, finding a quiet, isolated strip of beach all for yourself is not hard. And if you think that every beach will look and feel the same, you’ll have to think again. The beaches of the south are calm and soothing with breathtaking sunsets, while the beaches in the east feature white powdery sand with beautiful waves to surf.
When you’ve had your fill of beaches and the sea, just a few hours away are gorgeous mountains to explore. Central Sri Lanka has a climate that is cool and soothing, which is in complete contrast with the warmer tropical climes of the coast. With rolling greenery, cascading waterfalls, mysterious caves and abundant flora and fauna for you to feast your eyes on, some of the great mountain ranges for you to tour are the Knuckles Mountains Range, Pidurutalagala, Namunukula, Adam’s Peak, and Hakgala.
Moving away from the mountains and the beaches, you have the jade green rainforests of Sri Lanka. A trek through a Sri Lankan forest will bring you face to face with flora and fauna endemic to the island. This experience is one that is bound to leave you breathless.
Sri Lanka is a compact beauty; it is so small that you can travel from one end of the country to the other in a matter of hours, enabling you to experience climates, land, and geography completely different from one another in a short amount of time. Indeed, the length of the island from its furthest two points—Point Pedro to Point Dondra—is 548 kilometers (341 miles).
Majestic elephants, daring leopards, and bird varieties you have never encountered before—Sri Lanka is home to abundant biodiversity. Kalpitiya is an ideal place if you want to witness blue whales and dolphins, while Yala and Wilpattu will bring you face to face with lounging leopards. Elephants roam free in Udawalawe, while bird-watchers will be delighted with what the Kumana Bird Sanctuary has to offer in terms of the island’s colorful-winged friends.
If you thought Indian food was exotic, wait until you try Sri Lankan cuisine. The island has fantastic dishes such as the world’s most flavorsome chicken curry; the most dubious looking—but oh so good—street food concoction named kottu; the divine pol sambol that has the crowds raving; and the ubiquitous hopper that has been making waves around the world. Sri Lankan cuisine features complex flavor profiles and surprising combinations, elegant and sophisticated in all their simplicity. If you are visiting Sri Lanka, these 12 foods are absolute must-tries.
From a variety of elaborately adorned Buddhist temples and towering gopurams to electric dances, you can look forward to relishing deep resounding drum beats that vibrate your very soul. The people here are rooted in unique traditions, and day-to-day life will have you witnessing a whirlwind of cultural activities that Sri Lankans take in their stride but is a marvel to anyone who experiences them anew.