Must Do’s

Top 10 Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Stroll Along Colombo. Colombo is the island’s largest frantic boisterous – and just a bit crazy city. Here is a number of fascinating sights waiting to be explored. The Fort, clock tower, the president’s residence (or Queen’s House), colonial buildings, the Cinnamon Gardens, the Pettah and cricket fans should pay a visit to the half kilometre promenade, Galle Face Green. The National Museum, the Art Gallery, the city’s many mosques, churches and Buddhist and Hindu temples are also worthwhile. Don’t miss the island’s fauna at Dehiwala Zoo. The main attraction here is an afternoon elephant show. The closest real beach here is at Mt. Lavinia, some 10km south of the city, but also worth wandering across to, especially if you want to go swimming when here.

Delve into the Remnants of the Past. Another worth seeing spot is the Fort of Galle, the vestige of the island’s colonial era. Wander along the remains of the Portuguese fortifications or explore the 300 year-old Dutch Fort. Its massive ramparts surround the promontory that forms the older part of Galle, and shelters within its walls are well built Dutch houses, museums and churches. Nearby, is a sliver of a beach suitable for a dip, though most travellers prefer to head along the coast to the fine beaches at Unuwatuna, Weligama and Tangalla. The city has a lot to offer, not just the fort and museums and at least 3 days of stay is needed to see most (if not all) of this colonial heritage.

Indulge in Resplendent Island of Hikkaduwa. Unwind at Hikkaduwa, the island’s most developed beach resort and an ideal place for nature lovers. It has an array of accommodation, good restaurants and pleasant cafe-lined beaches. A good snorkel at the delightful and accessible coral sanctuary, scuba diving at a number of wrecks in the bay, excursion by glass-bottomed boats and pretty good surfing are some of the great things to enjoy at Hikkaduwa. There are also plethoras of handicraft shops serving the tourist whims and a Buddhist temple, close by the lake are copious birdlife worth seeing as well as numerous other attractions.

Journey to the Holy Adam’s Peak. During the season between December and May, pilgrims converge to climb the 2243m (7362 ft) Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada. At the top is a enormous “footprint”, claimed by Muslims to belong to Adam, who stood there in repentance of his sin in the Garden of Eden. Disregard the Buddhists believe that there is the mark of Buddha left during his final legendary visit to Sri Lanka or that Hindus hold the print to have been made by Lord Shiva’s world-creative dance, the fact remains that it is has been a mystic pilgrimage destination for over 1000 years. The view from the peak at dawn is enough to stun the most cynical agnostic into a state of reverie. It takes about four hours to climb to the top from the town of Dalhousie.

Marvel at the Splendour of Anuradhapura. Don’t miss seeing the ruins of Anuradhapura Sri Lanka’s first capital, the far-reaching and most important ancient city of Sri Lanka. The captivating ruins such as the bell-shaped stupas built of small sun-dried bricks, sculptures and the ancient drinking-water reservoirs, which is an evidence of advanced civilization. It became a capital in 380 BC and for over 1000 years Sinhalese kings ruled from this great city. Its imposing remains were discovered in the early 19th century and have been in the process of restoration since then. They lie to the west and north of the modern town of Anuradhapura. There’re lots to see in the area besides the ruins, such as the Sacred Bo-Tree, the Thuparama Dagoba, the Jetavanarama Dagoba numerous museums. The best way to explore the area is by bicycle.

Enjoy a Sunset in a Coconut Grove. Sri Lanka has 1,340 km of sea shore, and most of it is stunning and distinctly impressive. A tranquil, white sandy cove, next to a jagged promontory with thundering waves beating against the granite boulders. Few miles up or down the beach, is a picturesque fishing village, with rugged sea going “oru”, a craft akin to an oversized canoe with a history going back to Inca times, dries on the beach. If you happen to be in the area of Ahangama, or Weligama, near Matara, the southernmost city in Sri Lanka, about 160 km, from Colombo, you might be in for a unique sight – the famous stilt fishermen of Weligama (get ready with your camera for you won’t find this anywhere else in the world) and the off shore islet Taprobane, where the dream house of French Count de Maunay was built.

Admire the Grandeur and Opulence of Kandy. Chill out at Kandy, the Hill Capital of the Sri Lanka, and the historical bastion of Buddhist power. It is built around a splendid lake set in the hills. Kandy is a mirror image of the harmony and multiplicity of the people and culture of Sri Lanka. The most prominent attraction is the octagonal Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), houses Sri Lanka’s most valuable religious relic – the sacred tooth of Buddha. Other sights include the small but first-rate National Museum, the scenic Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, and the Udawattakelle Sanctuary, a peaceful haven for birdlife. There are also loads of exquisite walks around Kandy, one of which leads to the Mahaweli, where you may see elephants being bathed. The Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre beside the lake has worthy displays of local crafts and an auditorium that features the graceful and rhythmic performances of Kandyan Dancers.

Explore the Wonder and Beauty of Sigiriya. Don’t miss the amazing Lion rock fortress of Sigiriya, standing regally overlooking the luscious green jungle surroundings. The Sigiriya is the best preserved city centre in Asia from the first millennium with fusion of culture and nature. Built in the 5th century AD to ward off a feared invasion, positioned atop a 200m (656ft) high rock, and at the height of its glory must have been akin to a European chateau plonked on top of Uluru. Here are water gardens, 5th century rock paintings of well endowed damsels, a 1000-year-old graffiti, a couple of enormous stone lion paws and tremendous views.

Discover the Tea Plantations. When in the land of the most famous tea in the world, one simply cannot afford to miss a tour around one of the many Tea Plantations in the area. High Grown Ceylon Tea, preferably in the unblended form, with its reputation as the “best tea”. Of course, to experience that pleasure, you must go to the central tea country of Sri Lanka. Most of the tea estates welcome visitors to introduce the process of making the well known Ceylon Tea

Engage with Nature at Bundala National Park. Get in touch with some of Sri Lanka’s other residents, faunas at Yala West. This is one of the few Sri Lankan national parks still open to travellers. The park is a mix of scrub jungle, dry grasslands and sand dunes, and is in the country’s south-east; it’s a particularly good place to see elephants. There are also bears, deer, jackals, leopards, squirrels, wild boar, monkeys, buffalo and wild peacocks. It is also a best place to observe the species of crocodiles in the country. The main attraction here is the birdlife, particularly the waders. It’s best to hire a jeep and driver in Tissamaharama and be in place near a waterhole at dawn or dusk. Note: Yala West is closed in September and usually part of August and October too.

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