I’ll always remember Sri Lanka as a place where I was almost forced to enjoy spicy food. Where “Just a little spice” seems to translate to “Please make me shit fireballs.”
Sri Lanka (formally know as Ceylon) is one of those incredible little places no one really knows anything about. It’s kind of like India’s version of Tasmania only with around 40 times the population and an entirely different name and climate.
Up until as recently as 2009 Sri Lanka was an absolute no-go zone due to the Sri Lankan military being in a 30-year civil war with a militant organisation named the Libertarian Tigers. This victory has now made Sri Lanka as safe as it gets, paving the way for a new era of unprecedented Sri Lankan tourism.
Not sure why anyone would ever want to go? Here are my 10 reasons why you should go to Sri Lanka…now!
1. The Climate
Sri Lanka has an awesome tropical climate that offers much needed winter sun for anyone coming from the northern hemisphere. The island’s weather differs quite dramatically from one side to the other so it’s a good idea to plan your trip carefully if you want to avoid monsoon season. The main south-western monsoon will bring rain to the popular South West between May and September, whilst the dry season in this region runs from December through until March. In the less-popular North and Eastern parts of the island, the weather is influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, which brings some heavy wind and rain between October and January, with drier weather between May and September. December to March is the most popular/best time to visit.
2. The Tea
Tea lovers will be in absolute heaven in Sri Lanka. Up on the Cool Hill County the hills are jam-packed full of tea plantations. The Ceylon area covers 2000 square kilometres and produces 300 million kilograms of Ceylon Tea per year! Outrageous!
3. The Hotels
Due to Sri Lanka’s newfound tourism, there has been a large number of new hotels popping up all over the place and although the hostels are cheap, a little luxury every now and again doesn’t hurt.
4. It’s a small version of India
From what I’ve heard it’s just way easier to get around here than in India. Transactions run smoother, everything works and best of all, trains and planes leave (pretty much) on time.
5. The People
Sri Lankans are incredibly kind, unbelievably smiley and very welcoming. I would have to say they are definitely in my top 5 nicest groups of people I’ve met around the world. Every man wants to stop you on the street for a chat, but you won’t be hassled like of heard in nearby India.
6. The Food
The food here is insane (in a good way) particularly the street food, which in comparison is almost as good quality as the food you’ll find inside the restaurants. I’d recommend asking for spice with CAUTION!
7. The Surf
It’s not just tea and food, Sri Lanka is slowly making a name for itself as a surfing destination. Head to Arugam Bay on the east coast during the summer months (April to October) for the best surf. Adrenaline junkies will also find lots of white water rafting opportunities in Kitugula.
8. The Animals
Sri Lanka is one of the best places in Asia for seeing wildlife with a huge number of leopards, elephants and birdlife. If you want to spot leopards, head to Yala West National Park, which is six hours from Colombo. If wild elephants are more your style, try Uda Walawe National Park, which is four hours from the capital and near all of those magical tea trails.
9. The Trains
A newly reopened train route from Colombo to Jaffna is as eye opening as they come!The recent reopening of the Yal Devi (Queen of Jaffna) Express provides visitors to Sri Lanka with an opportunity they have not had since way back in 1990: A train ride from Colombo to Jaffna. The railway journey between Kandy and Ella is also something to add to your to-do list!
10. The Hike to Adam’s Peak
Although I’m am not religious by any stretch of the word, the top of Adam’s Peak is thought holy by Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and the Veddas, Sri Lanka’s early inhabitants, who all believe the imprint of a footprint in the rock here belonged to, depending on their religion, a very important person.
Hot Tip: Bring extra clothes because sweaty clothes do not keep you warm at the top!