6 Reasons Sri Lanka Needs To Be On Your Travel Radar
Just in case it already isn't.
Locate India on the map and look at its bottom right hand corner. See that little teardrop-shaped island just off its southern coast? Yep, that’s Sri Lanka, and it beckons to you with the promise of sun, smiles and all-round excellence.
If Sri Lanka isn’t already on your travel radar, here are six reasons why it definitely should be.
#1 You can get by easily enough speaking English
Even if you can only speak English, communicating with the locals is generally not an issue in Sri Lanka. Although it’s not an official language, the country’s colonial past and history of invasions has resulted in English being widely spoken. Of course, learning some local phrases in Sinhalese or Tamil is mandatory, so pick some up before you go.
#2 Surf’s always up in Sri Lanka
Being an island and all, Sri Lanka is surrounded by the sea, sand and surf – and pretty epic surf at that. Head to moon-shaped Arugam Bay on the island’s southeast coast for the best surf during April to October. The long right break at the southern end of this laid-back surf town is considered by most to be Sri Lanka’s finest. Outside these months, follow the wetsuits and boards down to Hikkaduwa in the country’s southwest for some pretty gnarly waves. If surfing isn’t your thing, lie back on the beach with a fresh coconut, or sample the local beer, and flirt with the idea of never – ever – going home again.
#3 The stories
History buffs can learn from Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and religious heritage which dates back to more than 2500 years of recorded history. For a vision of an ancient empire, ride the train to Sri Lanka’s dry central plains and explore the old city of Anuradhapura where crumbling dagobas and monasteries circle out from a tree that’s more than 2000-years-old. In the south, Dutch-built but Portuguese embellished Galle Fort – one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites – shows the confluence of European architecture and South Asian traditions between the 16th and 19th centuries. Time your visit to the Fort at sunset for the spectacular colours reflected upon its stony walls.
#4 The food – OMG, the food!
If the sights, smells, and sounds you’re likely to encounter in Sri Lanka aren’t enough to piqué your interest in paying a visit, then the food surely will. Heavy on the spice and rich on the flavour, Sri Lankan cuisine, which is mostly meat-free, is phenomenal as a rule. Like your curries hot? Like steam-billowing-out-from-your-ears hot? Then Sri Lanka delivers. Fancy a roti and veggie stir-fry with soya sauce, ginger and garlic? That’s on the menu too. Or how about a fresh salad topped with sprinkles of coconut? Orderable. Translation: you won’t go hungry in Sri Lanka, especially if you’re a vegetarian.
#5 It’s where some of the best tea in the world is grown
Tea anyone? Sri Lanka is the tea cup of the world, and you’ll find some of the best varieties grown, picked and stewed here – all for your drinking pleasure. Make a beeline to Nuwara Eliya or any of the other tea towns in Sri Lanka’s central Hill Country where rolling tea plantations beg to be photographed and the tea estates welcome visitors keen on learning how the best leaves in the world are produced. The humble cuppa was imported to the island from China back in 1867, and now it accounts for about two percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP, bringing in around US$1.5 billion into the local economy. Who said money doesn’t grow on trees?
#6 Spirituality runs through its veins
Whether you want to clear your head on a meditation retreat in the mountains, or simply pay your respects at a temple in a quiet coastal village, there are dozens of opportunities in Sri Lanka to inject a little contemplation into your day. With the exception of the Hindu north, Sri Lanka is mainly Buddhist, and as with any other country that heeds to the words of the Buddha, you’ll find plenty of temples and monuments dedicated to Siddhartha scattered throughout its lands. And again, since English is widely spoken, making sense of Buddhism shouldn’t be too hard – the same can’t be said about achieving enlightenment though.
(Lead image: Hafiz Issadeen/Flickr)