Sri Lanka Travel Guide
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Things to do in Sri Lanka
Top Destinations and Attractions to Visit
Sigiriya Lion RockSigiriya Lion Rock is a fortress built on large orange rocks, which took eighteen years. It weathers to only a lion body without the head, which looked like a grand lion originally. It is the cultural heritage protected by the UNESCO, called “the eighth wonder of the world”, amazing and impressive.
There are two highlights on Sigiriya Lion Rock. One is the famous mural about half naked fairies, who wear shining headgears; hold plates and flowers or strew flowers. Though after a thousand years, the mural still looks colorful and vivid. Another is the sunset at the peak of the mountain, which presents a picture of the vast land looming up out of the warm, pale reddish sunshine.
Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic)Built in 1595 beside Kandy Lake, Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Tooth Relic is well-known for Shakyamuni Buddha sarira. Surrounded by rivers, the two-storey temple reflects Sinhalese building style. The Buddha sarira is in an elaborate pagoda on the second floor, and only shown to the public on the full moon night of Kandy Esaka Perahera.
Kandy Esaka Perahera lasts for ten days in July or August every year. People hold torches, play drums, and dance; hundreds of dressed elephants carry duplicates of the sarira, leading to the peak of the festival.
Horton Plains National ParkHorton plains covering 3,160 hectares (31.6km2) are actually plateaus of 6,900 feet (2,103 meters) to 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) high. Most parts of the plains are grassland with lush forests and abundant species. It's the only national park that allows visitors to hike in Sri Lanka now. The World's End and Baker Falls are famous attractions there. In the World's End cliff, mist mixed with morning sunshine is magnificent. The whole round walking line is 6 miles (9.7 kilometers), needing 3-4 hours.
Mackwoods Tea FactoryMackwoods in Nuwara Eliya is one of the Sri Lanka's most famous and biggest tea factories. Workers there would show the tea garden and introduce the tea production process, and visitors are offered free tea and cakes.
Pinnawela Elephant OrphanageIn Pinnawela, the Elephant Orphanage was built in 1975 for elephants who are homeless, fall into traps, or get lost, injured or ill seriously. Visitors can feed elephants and watch them bathing. Visitors can also buy interesting souvenirs-notebooks made by elephants' feces.
Peradeniya Royal Botanical GardensIt is the best tropical botanical garden worldwide and the largest one in Asia, covering over 60 hectares (0.6 km2). Built in 1371, it used to be the imperial garden of Kandy's emperors. The garden has more than 4,000 kinds of domestic and aboard plants.
Yala National ParkYala National Park is the 2nd largest national park in Sri Lanka, attracting the most visitors. It's famous for its biodiversity and ecological diversity. It is heaven for crocodiles, elephants, deer, bears, buffalos and various birds; and its density of leopards is the highest all over the world. Two regions inside are open to the public-Ruhuna National Park, mainly for leopards and elephants; Kumana National Park for bird watching.
Dambulla Rajamaha Viharaya (Dambulla Cave Temple)It is the largest and most intact cave temple in Sri Lanka, built in the first century. There are stone carvings and murals showing the Buddhist artistic charm.
Special Activities to Attend
Watch Mirissa WhaleMirissa in Sri Lanka is one of the best places worldwide to watch whales. In November and April, a large amount of whales and dolphins will travel north from the South Pole to Indian Ocean, to breed and give birth. On the sightseeing boats, visitors can see thousands of blue whales, sperm whales and whale sharks swim elegantly.
Admire Stilt FishermanStilt fishermen have a long history and become unique scenery in the west-southern coast of Sri Lanka. Fishermen walk across the water to the stilts above the sea, sit on it, and hold a fishing rod without bait. From afar, they look like standing on stilts. To get silver sardines, experienced fishermen need not only balance ability but also attention on the sea.
Take Trains along Coast or down Tea GardensSightseeing by train has been a must in Sri Lanka travel. One famous route is from Haputale to Ella, which runs across the luxuriant green tea gardens in the mountains. Another one is from Galle to Colombo, along the coast, reproducing the scene in the famous cartoon “Spirited Away”. On the train, tourists can not only admire the natural beauty throughout the journey, but also chat with locals to know their customs and practices.
Recommended Food to Taste1. Ceylon Black Tea
Ceylon black tea is one of the most famous black tea in the world. It has plain tea and milk tea in terms of flavor. The popular drink way in Sri Lanka is to add natural herbs or spices, and of course, milk. Mackwoods Labookellie Estate is one of the well-known tea factories, which is a good place to taste the local black tea and learn its culture.
The milk-white, thick yoghourt is everywhere in the country, made by local people. Most yoghourt is plain flavored while some has a bag of syrup, which people can put into the yoghourt. Sometimes, adding honey or fruits is also a good choice.
3. Golden Coconut
The name of golden coconuts comes from its golden hard shell. It can be easily found on the street, and its price is also very low. The coconut is big, but don't worry—the seller will open it and stick in a drinking straw. The light, fresh liquid is perfect in hot summer. After drinking the coconut juice, you can ask the seller to open the shell because the meat inside is also succulent.
KuttoRotti is the fried shredded pancake, a kind of local staple food. The hot, fresh pancake is shredded, fried with various spices, vegetables and chicken chunks. The pancake is chewy, chicken is tender, and flavor of spices is not strong.
5. Curry Mixed Rice
Special spices with curry make Sri Lankan mixed rice different from Indian one. Its flavor is unique because curry is hot and spicy.
The coconut water and rice are formed into a round shape and then cooked. Hopper looks like a bowl finally. An egg is usually added on it with fresh coconut meat and spicy onions.
7. Kadala Theldala
Kadala Theldala is fried chickpeas, golden and crunchy. It is more delicious with coconut milk, coconut oil, chilies and spices.
Sri Lanka abounds with seafood thanks to its location, and what's more important is that seafood there is cheap. In southern coastal cities, fresh crabs and lobsters are popular among travelers.