Sri Lanka, the Emerald Island, has a lot to offer for everyone. The beautiful landscapes, the pristine beaches, the spectacular national forests and delicious sea-food are just a few of the plethora of reasons to visit Sri Lanka.
In general, whenever we are in the process of deciding to travel for a break; decisions are based upon two major grounds, amongst many other reasons – firstly the time i.e. the number of days to spend and secondly, what all to see. Sri Lanka is a retreat to these two nuances in one go – due to its compact size. An important reason why tourists come to Sri Lanka is that they are not just bound to be visiting only the most popular cities, but cover the whole island. The centrally located capital city, the transit city to Sri Lanka, is in close proximity, so even one week holiday is a fairly good enough time to touch upon most of the country. Though, I personally think this beautiful country cannot be justified in just ONE visit.
If you have been following our travel stories on this blog, you would already be aware that we went to Sri Lanka on our honeymoon. And the co-author of this blog post, Anuradha Nag, has also visited this beautiful island on a family trip very recently! Hence, to guide new travellers, we can think of numerous reasons to visit Sri Lanka. Below have tried to outline the major ones and listed the top 13 reasons to visit Sri Lanka; which make Sri Lanka worth a visit at least once in our lifetime!!
Top 13 Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka
1. A Safe, Convenient and Economical Country
Sri Lanka is a small island located in the south-west Indian Ocean, separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar. Its capital city, Colombo is very well linked and easily accessed by Air, with most countries. A valid passport holder can procure a travel visa (get your visa in less than 30 mins), on a very nominal charge through an online application, which is an essential requirement while visiting. Sri Lanka like most southeastern countries is comparatively inexpensive, as local food and conveyance are very pocket-friendly. Sri Lanka suits both budgeted as well as extravagant travellers, as accommodation is either premium hotels or family-run guesthouses. The local currency in Sri Lankan Rupee and the conversion rates for Dollars are very lucrative too.
Sri Lanka as a country is largely safe and we need to just take general precautions like we would in any new country. With its civil war over, for over a decade today, it is a just remembered as a harsh past and the communities are trying hard to get back on fast developing their nation.
2. Compact yet Diverse
As a popular tourist destination, Sri Lanka is fast developing and, travellers are discovering its countless charms. An exclusive South Asian island, this mysterious country is a scenic gem and, is one of the few remaining unspoilt natural beauties in abundance. While visiting Sri Lanka, travellers can find unique experiences in a compact region. From unspoiled beaches to spectacular landscapes; from monuments and temples of historical importance; sprawling botanical gardens to reserved national parks and sanctuaries preserving endangered wildlife. In short, the distances are small; places are uncrowded, spectacular and really affordable.
The scenic train rides through the highlands amongst the world-famed tea gardens is not to be missed; along with the spicy local foods and the wide variety of locally procured seafood
3. A very warm and welcoming Country
Sri Lankan culture is friendly and open, but deeply religious. Sri Lankans are very proud of their culture and their country, and with immense pride welcome tourists like family and love to share stories. This is a good enough reason as to ‘why to visit Sri Lanka’, right from a shop keeper to the tuk-tuk driver, all leave a very positive impact on visitors; with a smiling face and a helping hand. Even though Sinhalese and Tamil are the local spoken languages, locals are well conversant with speaking or at least in understanding the English language, thus communication is no problem at all.
4. Enjoy an Ideal tropical climate
Sri Lanka is a year-round destination; thus becomes an important reason to visit Sri Lanka as it has a tropical weather pattern and is relatively warm throughout the year. There are two monsoons in a year and despite the heavy rainfall, the temperature remains around 25 degrees Celcius. Though the best time to visit Sri Lanka is considered between December to mid-April. The East coast is best visited between May to October and the West and the Southern Coast is enjoyed at the maximum in the winter months from December to April. The winters are also the best to travel to the famed Cultural Triangle.
5. Historically and Culturally Rich Experience
The North-Central parts of Sri Lanka are dry with rocky terrains and covered with thick shrubbery forests. This region is also a Cultural Enchantment – with ancient temples and community ruins. Many of these temples and monuments have been inducted to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Three major sites, right in the centre of the island, including the sacred city Anuradhapura in the north; the ancient city Polonnaruwa in the East and Kandy- the blessed city in the South-West, form the Cultural Triangle, called duly so, due to the imaginary triangle formation of their location. The ancient cities of Sigiriya and Dambulla, too include in this area and are of universal archaeological value. Easily accessible from the capital city Colombo, the cultural triangle is a treasure of religious and historical sites, with a wealth of wildlife, rocks and ruins and a top tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.
6. Vast coastline and Pristine beaches
Being a small island, and blessed with a vast coastline of 1600 kms, the Sri Lanka beaches are stunning and undamaged natural white beaches. From soaking lazily in the sun to a thrilling trip of whale or dolphin watching, Sri Lanka provides it all. The traditional unique Stilt Fishing, a dying tradition in Sri Lanka, is a sight; only found in the Southern coastal towns of Sri Lanka. The fishermen are seen perched on top of poles, seemingly comfortable, fishing in the sea.
7. Rich bio-diversified National Parks
Considered as a complete package of natural beauty, Sri Lanka gives all an unforgettable vacation. The most visited place of Sri Lanka is the well preserved Yala National park on the south-east coast line, full of grassy plains, lagoons and rich density of wildlife. The dense forested wildlife sanctuary is popular for its Asian elephants, leopards, exotic birds and its rare flora and fauna.
8. Convenient Local Transportation
Sri Lanka is a fairly small country. While travelling to Sri Lanka most of it’s the towns and cities can be easily accessed by Air, Rail and Road transport. The local buses are cheap, comfortable and easily available in the cities and, even take us to most places including villages on the outskirts of the main cities. It is also a good idea to walk around or hire a bicycle, as towns and cities are small and accessible. We find metered Taxis only in Colombo, rest of the cities and even in villages, the taxis are available but, with fixed prices for destinations. Autorickshaws or Tuk Tuks are found waiting at every corner of most cities. They are the most convenient fast and economical ride around a city. They also take us around for a city tour and it is a pretty awesome experience, as the auto drivers love to talk and share a whole lot of interesting local stories.
9. Exotic Spices and world-renowned Tea
Also known as the Spice Island, Sri Lanka has always been known for its spices. The ideal climatic conditions allow a variety of spices to be grown here and are a true treasure to the land; majorly influencing it on their trade, economy and its aromatic cuisine. Sri Lanka also supplies the international market with Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Mace and Vanilla.
As the fourth largest tea exporter in the world, Sri Lanka is mostly known for Ceylon Tea, and it is considered as the cleanest Tea, certified by the ISO, with the least amount of pesticides. It is one of the main sources of foreign exchange and a major source of employment. High quality of tea is found in the Central highlands.
10. Spicy delectable Cuisine
Sri Lanka being a tropical island is blessed with abundance in vegetation; thereby their cuisine highlights a variety of herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. The staple and famous food of Sri Lanka is steamed rice served with a fish, chicken or any type of meat curry along with vegetables and lentils. But, the scrumptious street food like Kottu Roti, Hoppers, Prawn Vadai are also a big must try and we should always ‘eat what the locals eat.’
Being an island, Sri Lanka is surrounded by sea, thus a fresh catch of the freshest seafood is always readily available. Crabs, Shrimps, Oysters and Lobsters are the most popular and are prepared both in dry and curry form. The succulent curry with the local herbs and spices is rich and delicious. Both fresh and preserved Fish in all variety [River and Salt water] is an integral part of the cuisine along with coconut.
11. Rejuvenating Spas for Ayurveda and Yoga
Sri Lanka is also a perfect destination to pamper you and heal your body and soul. For someone, like me, this could be the sole reason to visit Sri Lanka. An experience of these spas is refreshing; surrounded by the scenic beauty, these most relaxing resorts, away from the city hustle and bustle, provide with the most luxurious facilities and authentic holistic Ayurvedic Treatment; we would surely not wish to leave these perfect hideaways. These wellness resorts retain doctors, therapists, nutritionists and yoga instructors; and carefully each visitor is consulted by a doctor to be provided with proper individual specific ayurvedic cuisine, therapy and yoga practice sessions.
12. Sri Lanka – A Shoppers delight
A trip to Sri Lanka is not complete if you have not done a fair share of shopping. The most popular items amongst tourists are handlooms and batik; jewellery; antiques; local artisan handicrafts. A packet of Ceylon Tea is a must buy to take back home. Sri Lanka is also a leading global sourcing destination for precious and semi-precious stones. It is home to nearly 75 varieties of coloured and colourless gemstones of the total 200 found around the world.
‘The land of spices’, as Sri Lanka is fondly referred to, produces all sorts of natural herbs and spices; 80-90% of the world’s cinnamon is from Sri Lanka. Black Pepper, White and Green Cardamom are also natives of Sri Lanka, a must buy.
Colombo city is a shopper’s delight, with vibrant local arts and textile, Raksha masks, precious gems, antiques, famed Ceylon tea, spices and numerous elite boutique shops displaying international brands,[ as many major garment brands source materials through local manufacturers]; and not to forget the world-famed Noritake crockery factory outlets. Colombo also is very proud of its retail outlet ODEL, one of the first outlets selling designer brands at discounted prices. The Nelum Pokuna Art Street, outside the Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo is a real gem. Local artists display at very reasonable rates, for sale, their creative pieces and artworks.
13. Ideal for Escapade Enthusiasts
Sri Lanka is the ideal destination for all who love to indulge in some exhilarating water sports or are ready for a mountain trek. The thrilling water sports to experience are surfing, snorkelling, kite surfing, scuba diving, white water rafting, lagoon canoeing, deep-sea fishing and sailing. Sri Lanka also provides rock climbing, hiking trails and trekking tours for an adrenalin-pumping adventure through its jungles, paddy fields and mountains. Mountain biking tours can also be taken.
In the end…
Sri Lanka, is fast gaining popularity as a destination amongst tourists; as the best part is that this little country has something to offer to every visitor; primarily due to its size and diversity and, also it still remains pure and natural. But, with the growing trend of tourism in the past few years and also being projected to explode in the coming years; ‘NOW’ is the time to experience a perfect Sri Lanka vacation and, hopefully we have given you with enough reasons to visit Sri Lanka!!!