Read about the mentality and lifestyle of Sri Lanka in Part I, explore the country here!
Southern Sri Lanka
Galle was once under the British, Portuguese and Dutch rule. Due to this, you can sense a very western lifestyle in Galle Fort. There, you can visit the old fort and retrace history. Have lunch in a cute little cafe and go to the Lighthouse to watch the sunset – Sri Lankan sunsets never failed to amaze me. Also, right outside of the Fort, there is a little strip along the becah which hosts a delicous market. Find fresh fruit and sea food, local bites and little souvenires there.
2. Shailatharama Viharaya
“What?” – sorry for the complicated word. 🙂 Shailatharama Viharaya is a place in Sri Lanka where the longest reclining Buddha statue is located. The history of Buddhism is explained, as well as many statues and pieces of art symbolize and help one understand the religion. It was one of the most spiritual places I have ever been and it is an unforgetable experience, as it is not filled by people who seek the best Instagram picture, but many believers or interested foreigners.
Unawatuna is a touristic little town on the southern coast. It has a very beautiful beach which stretches far and even has a large Buddha temple at the one end of the bay. I highly recommend a walk at the beach by sunrise finishing in the visit of the Buddhist site to experience an even more inspiring atmosphere in the calm morning. There are mostly hotels with more expensive restaurants located at the beach, yet if you go a few towns and beaches more south, they are equally as wonderful. Meals also tend to be cheaper there as it is not run over by too many tourists. My highlight was probably swinging on the palm tree rope swing at Dalawella beach – the feeling was incredible. But be aware fo the fact that this swing “belongs” to a hotel and is therefore connected with a fee in order to use it.
4. Udawalawe National Park
This national park is 165 km from Colombo and it takes about 3 1/2 hours to get there – due to the bad conditions of the streets, it takes a little longer for 100 km than just an hour, as it is the case in Europe etc. Yet, the journey is worth it as you will have the possibility to witness wildlife in their natural habitat, see elephant hordes passing by, crocodiles hiding in shallow waters, monkeys stealing each others’ food and many more. Experience another aspect of Sri Lanka by doing a safari.
Kandly is probably most famous for being a major destination regarding the “most scenic train route”. It reaches from Colombo to Badulla, passing Kandy and Ella. Furthermore, the city is set on a plateau surrounded by mountains full of tea plantations and rainforest. You are able to get to know a different side of Sri Lanka here. It is also home to a UNSECO world heritage site, the ‘Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic’, which is worshipped as a very important religious place and has a high importance in local politics.
Colombo is Sri Lanka’s capital and… scared the shit out of me. Sorry if that came unexpected 🙂 Even though I was only in Colombo for 12 hours and on my last day in the country, so I had already encountered Sri Lanka’s lifestyle (and poverty), the city scared me. I would not recommend going anywhere else than Colombo Fort, District 01. That is the most western-adapted part of the city and has a higher and safer standard than the other districts. The ‘Ministry of Crab’ in the Old Dutch Fort is a great restaurant to go to – its seafood is delicious. Regarding the other parts of Colombo, I was scared and felt unsafe. I have never held onto a purse as hard as I have there. But more about that in another post.
Eastern Sri Lanka
1. Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay is, similar to Unawatuna, a touristic place. That is so because of the amazing surfing possibilities, beautiful beaches, many ways to relax such as hammocks, sunbathing etc. Nevertheless, I recommend not going to Arugam Bay in the high season as it is overcrowded with surfers and you might not have enough space or be able to literally dive in as much as you would like to. There, the people are very calm and down-to-earth, maybe just a little bit more than in Southern Sri Lanka – but it is extremely hard to differ as everybody has a kind soul.