Why 2013 should be the year you travel to Sri Lanka
Endless beaches, golden surf spots, low prices, head shaking locals and Tuk-tuks that drive faster than cars. That’s my basic description of beautiful Sri Lanka.
I visited Sri Lanka last year and completely fell in love. One month of breathtaking sunsets, delicious tea, surfing and vibrating nightlife.
Sri Lanka is the perfect mix of cultural experiences, peacefulness and delicious cuisine.
Nowadays flights to Colombo, which is the capital city, are relatively cheap from all over Europe. There’s also cheap airlines flying from Bangkok to Sri Lanka under one hundred euros. Colombo is not the most glorious city to stay in Sri Lanka, but a few shopping days there are a pleasant experience.
In Colombo, you can see the more chaotic part of Sri Lanka. You won’t find the silent sunsets there, but you will find the Chanel store with retail prices.
You can take a taxi or bus from the airport, but be aware of local taxi drivers lurking around the airport with “the information about cancelled public transport.” The free airport bus goes to the main bus station in Colombo. From there, you can take a bus or train to your final destination.
For an adventurous soul the bus ride is worth trying, but I do recommend taking a non-sweaty taxi ride. A taxi to Hikkaduwa, which is the bubbly tourist spot a couple hours away from Colombo, costs around €80.
For solo female travelers, it’s important to notice that it’s not safe to walk alone after dark. Also traveling on trains and buses alone is considered dangerous and certainly not recommended. Traveling with a group on the other hand is safe. Needless to say that it’s good to be smart when it comes to traveling, specially if you are a woman traveling alone!
Hikkaduwa is unquestionably worth mentioning when it comes to places to travel in Sri Lanka. The small town on the South coast was effected by the tsunami in 2004 but nowadays is a popular tourist spot.
Hikkaduwa is full of good surf spots, crazy nightlife, luscious spicy food and friendly locals who are used to travelers. Many tours, for example visits to the cute and heartbreaking Elephant orphanage Pinnawala or Scuba diving, are easily organized from there.
Grab a coffee from Starbeans Coffee, a local ripoff of the popular Starbucks chain. The service is slightly slower than the original but they do sell some yummy coffee specialities there.
Midigama is heaven on earth for anyone who loves to surf. The tiny town an hour drive to the south from Hikkaduwa has its very own feeling and gorgeous beaches. The best thing about Midigama – you can walk to several different surf spots. Normally moving from surf point to another by foot is almost impossible.
Almost all the tourists there are surfers, and the days are spent on the white ivory beaches. So if your traveling company is into water sports and you are not – bring a book and sunscreen.
Ram’s guesthouse is the place to stay if you are planning to spend your holiday surfing. The guesthouse is located smack bang on the beachfront with an astonishing sea view from the top balconies. It’s situated directly in front of surf point Ram’s. A safe swim close to the beach is also possible.
Staff dishes up either Western or Sri Lankan meals any time of the day, rooms are clean and equipped with ceiling fan. There are also a couple of Tuk-Tuks waiting to take you to your next destination.
A couple of other places to stay are just stone throw away from the popular guesthouse, if Ram’s happens to be full. Drop your backpack at reception and go for a wander around the area to find a place to rest your head.
Sri Lankan cuisine is on one of the most complex cuisines in Asia. With its close proximity to India it’s highly influenced by South Indian cuisine.
The main dish is rice, and spices are a significant part of local cooking. Remember to always ask for non spicy portions if you are not into eating spicy food or else your gums will be burning for days!
Roti is a local flatbread and you can get with almost any kind of filling from chocolate ice cream to avocado chicken. Roti portions are quite popular among tourists and costs around €1. And they are so so good!
Located in a graceful and fascinating area of the southern Hill Country, Adam’s Peak has taken peoples breaths away for years and years. It’s a 2,243 Meters high mountain in the jungle of Sri Lanka and sacred to several religions. It takes about 2,5-3 hours to climb to the peak for most people.
Climbing Adam’s Peak was the most enjoyable, overwhelming and physically challenging experience I did on my Asia travels.
In order to see the stunning sunrise from the peak, people have to start climbing around 3 am. There are around 5200 steps from the beginning to the end. Thousands of people from different nationalities climb the steps together in harmony each day.
Climbing Adam’s Peak was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life so definitely don’t miss out on this one when coming to the area.
Why should you travel to Sri Lanka right now?
The civil war is over and the country has recovered from natural disasters. There’s lots of untouched nature to explore, an exiting culture to experience, secret temples to discover, one euro banana pancakes to eat, and beaches to enjoy. There are eight Unesco World Heritage Sites in this one small country that you can easily travel round in a few days.
Lonely Planet was right when they listed Sri Lanka as the number one travel destination in 2013. There’s just no way to go around it.
All photos by Rita Maria, Laura Tuppurainen