From palm-dotted beaches to ancient temples, Sri Lanka has something to offer everyone
Almost 10 years after the end of its civil war, Lonely Planet has named Sri Lanka the best country in the world to visit in 2019. “Already notable to intrepid travellers for its mix of religions and cultures, its timeless temples, its rich and accessible wildlife, its growing surf scene and its people who defy all odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict, this is a country revived,” said Lonely Planet author Ethan Gelber in the Best in Travel 2019 book, which was published yesterday. Here are five reasons why we think Sri Lanka should be on your bucket list.
The Island of rice and curry, Sri Lanka makes use of local fruit, such as coconut and jackfruit, seafood and an arsenal of spices, to deliver an abundance of incredible dishes. Parippu, or dhal curry, is a staple in every household, while kottu (also known as kottu roti) is everybody’s favourite go-to fast food.
The tea plantations
In the 19th century, the landscape of highland Sri Lanka was changed forever by the arrival of tea. Being one of the largest producers of tea in the world, the country is particularly famous for its Ceylon tea. As many as 28 different grades of Ceylon tea are produced at plantations across the island, from the country’s biggest tea-growing region, Sabaragamuwa, to the sparsely populated Uva province in the south east.
Sri Lanka is well known for its idyllic beaches and from east to west they vary depending on whether you’re looking for golden sands or wind and waves. A must visit is Wijaya beach which offers clean, white sand, plenty of palm trees and even a thriving coral reef for snorkelling.
They might not be as well known as their African counterparts, but Sri Lanka’s safaris offer an unprecedented view of Mother Nature. The Yala National Park claims to have one of the highest densities of leopard anywhere in the world and the country currently boasts over 5,800 wild elephants. During certain times of the year you can also dive with blue whales or watch spinner dolphins leap out of the water in Kalpitiya.
Sri Lanka’s modern day culture is a wonderful melting pot of religions and traditions, drawing from many different aspects of the island’s complex heritage. The country has a rich artistic tradition, with distinct creative forms that encompass music, dance, and the visual arts.
- Words by Gracie Stewart