Sri Lanka is a really diverse country. I’m talking everything from ancient cities, to rolling tea plantations, amazing beaches, dramatic landscapes, a huge variety of wildlife, colonial architecture, and even a chaotic city scene. So for our itinerary, we utilized the insider knowledge of [embedded content] and [embedded content], two companies who specialize in crafting authentic Sri Lankan experiences. Without further ado here are my top 10 favorite things we did in Sri Lanka.
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1. Go on a Safari.
You know me, I’m all about seeing wild animals in their natural habitats, not locked up in a cage. In Sri Lanka, you can experience wildlife in one of their many national parks. We went with [embedded content] to do both an evening and morning game drive around Wilpattu National Park, where you can spot all kinds of animals, including elephants and leopards if you’re lucky. We were able to spot both luckily.
2. Experience Mobile Camping.
We didn’t just do a safari. We also camped out near the park. Well okay, not like hardcore camping. More like glamping.
On top of that, we also got fed some of the best food we experienced the entire trip. The Leopard Safaris team was even nice enough to accommodate my vegan diet. They seasoned the food extremely well – there were just so many different flavors and aromas. And not only was it delicious, it was colorful too!
3. Explore Anuradhapura by Bike.
This ancient city dates all the way back to the 4th century BC. That’s pretty old. At its height, the city was dotted with monasteries and over 10,000 monks. It has more than a dozen archeological sites, and we cycled through all of them. One of the major highlights from this was visiting the 3 largest man-made stupas in Sri Lanka, which at the time of the Egyptian pyramids, were the 2nd largest man-made structure in the world.
4. Visit the Ritigala Monastery.
I’m almost hesitant to share this one because it was such a rare gem. It spreads across 700 acres of land and was home to forest monks who lived a simple way of life long ago, but now it’s completely abandoned. What makes it so rare is how untouched it is. There were no crowds, no litter, just pure unfiltered nature.
5. Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
You will be climbing 1200 steps to get there, but it’s 100% worth it. Sigiriya is one of the most beautiful historical locations in the world. Combine its beauty with its mythical past of feuding dynasties, and you have a history lesson that you actually want to learn.
6. Walk Through the Sri Lankan Garden.
This is working spice and fruit farm in Matale set against the spectacular views of the Aluvihare mountains. The varieties of exotic herbs, fruits, and veggies found across this land are quite impressive. And afterwards they let us in on some of the magic behind their cooking as they whipped us up an incredible traditional home cooked Sri Lankan meal.
7. Visit the Temple of the Tooth.
Although Sri Lanka’s population practices a variety of religions, the most popular is Buddhism. So According to tradition, a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th Century A.D. and was enshrined right here within the Temple of the Tooth.
8. Explore the Royal Botanical Gardens.
It’s the largest botanical garden in the city of Kandy. My mom was pretty much in heaven here because of her long-time obsession with flowers. She even got an autograph from our guide who was an expert botanist and basically a walking encyclopedia.
9. Visit a modern-day tea factory.
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. The tea factory we visited included a tour of both the fields and the factory itself. I can honestly say after seeing all the work that goes into what seems like a simple cup of tea, I now have a much bigger appreciation of every sip I take.
10. Explore the Architecture Around Galle Fort.
Galle Fort was a huge contrast to everything else we’d seen during the trip – that’s because its of colonial past. It was built by the Portuguese and fortified by the Dutch. We explored the cobblestoned pathways and European architecture and noticed just how multi-ethnic and multi-religious the population is. It’s a melting pot of cultures and communities.
11. Explore the Culture of Colombo.
Colombo provided us a very different experience from the lush jungle landscapes we saw so much of. Here is where we found bustling city streets with lots of tuk tuks, urban temples, and cool architecture.
12. Eat Fresh Fruit.
Do not leave Sri Lanka without pulling over to the side of the road and buying some fresh fruits from a fruit stand. We did this so many times during our trip because the fruit was soooooo good. It was fresh, juicy, and super tasty.
Now there are plenty of ways to get around Sri Lanka. One of the famous ways is by train because it allows you to see stunning views of Sri Lanka’s countryside. We were only in Sri Lanka for a week though, so we didn’t have time to experience a famous train ride.
Instead, we visited all the attractions on my list via a car service that was provided by SriLankaInStyle. Our driver Sunil was so friendly and knowledgeable and was able to give us insight into everything we saw as we were driving throughout the country.
My mom and I had an incredible time in Sri Lanka. I flew her down to treat her to a fun mother-daughter vacation and she enjoyed every minute of it. On top of the authentic experiences they arranged for us, they also found us some of the most beautiful boutique hotels Sri Lanka had to offer, because, you know, only the best for mom right?
I can honestly say that Sri Lanka is one country I wouldn’t mind revisiting.
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