Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful tropical paradise lands on the Earth. It is an island in the shape of a teardrop, located south-southeast of India. For this reason, many people call it “the Teardrop of India”. The country is situated just north of the Equator, surrounded by the blue and clear waters of the Indian Ocean. And its interior reveals the wonders of the equatorial geographic zone, as well as a lot of historical remains and unique culture. Is all of this worth visiting and exploring? Definitelly yes! So, let’s built a bucking list of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka and go on a journey there!
Basic facts about Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a tropical island- a compact piece of land, and an independent state with Colombo as a capital. Its coastline presents various types of coast, including stunning beaches. Some of the beaches are long and opened to the ocean, great for surfing. Other beaches are smaller and pristine, surrounded by tropical rainforests.
The interior of the island is mostly hilly, and some of the mountains are really unique, with some wonderfull formations like the giant cliff, called “the World’s End” and the volcanic rock of Sigiriya. Most of the country is covered by equatorial rainforests and the lower places- by agricultural lands.
Sri Lanka has about 3000 years of known history and you can see its traces all over the country. Today, it is a harmonious mixture of Sinhalese and Tamil cultures, combined with foreign influence.
You can explore all of the above by visiting many places around the country, but several of these places are the best, and you should include them in your Sri Lanka bucket list, especially if you visit it for the first time.
Best places to visit in Sri Lanka
These places not only present the best of Sri Lanka, but also offer some exciting adventures. So, let’s go visit them!
Yala National Park
The Yala National Park is one of the amazing places to visit as you can see many diverse animals here and it can be quite amazing for you. There are Elephants, Leopards, Crocodiles and much more for your attractions . You can see around 200 species of the birds residing in the park. This national park is a place full of attractions and excitements for the tourists from all over the world. You can see the flora and fauna in the area, there are many historical places in the Yala national park, which can be great for your curiosity.
The Adam’s Peak
Adam’s Peak is one of the most famous places in the world. Most of the believers do believe it is the place where Adam takes the first step on the earth. You can see many Buddhist, Muslim and Christian visitors coming here on pilgrimage. But along with it, this mountain offers great hiking opportunities. The peak rises more than 2000 m above the sea level, and during your hike you cross several vertical geographic zones. Finally, when you reach the summit, you can enjoy some of the most breathtaking views in South Asia.
The central part of the island is full of mountains with some interesting, and even unexpected spots. Here is the Horton Plains- a plateau-like ridges with valleys, covered by lush rainforests. And if you walk on one of the ridges, you will suddenly end at the edge of a deep abyss. Here the world “ends”!
In fact, this is a more than 1000 m (4000 ft) high cliff, offering spectacular views of the “other world” down below. There is another one nearby, “only” 400 m tall, called “Mini World’s End”. Both of them can be reached by an amazing hike on a trail through the jungles, and the views from their edges are a great reward.
Sri Lanka keeps a lot of ancient ruins. But one of its ruin sites is different than any other, not only in the country, but in the whole world. It is because this site is built on a massive rock, rising about 200 m above the surrounding land- a lava remnant from an ancient volcano.
The ruins are remains from an ancient fortified palace, that takes us on a time travel to the 5th century AD. And the rock itself is surrounded by a system of gardens, canals, and reservoirs. All of this bring the visitors on a and adventurous journey to a fairy tale, considered by some as “the 8th wonder of the world”.
For the surfing lovers or just for those who love playing with waves, Arugam Bay is the best place to visit in Sri Lanka. It is the capital of surf in the country. This spot is located at the southeastern seacoast, near the resort town of Pottuvil. But even if you are not a fan of surfing, Arugam Bay still has a lot to offer- local natural formations, beautiful tropical nature, nice local people, and still- great beaches with all the beauty of the ocean.
Although Sri Lanka is a compact island, it has some small satellite islets and interesting coastal formations. One of them is the Lagoon of Kalpitiya (Puttalam), surrounded by 14 small islands. It is another great spot for wind and kite surfing, due to the good winds in the area and the calm waters in the lagoon.
But Kalpitiya offers more than that. It is well-known for the marine wildlife, especially dolphins and whales. They visit the lagoon and the outer ocean seasonably, and there are the best tours to enjoy these gorgeous animals.
Since Sri Lanka is located in the equatorial geographical zone of the Earth, you can expect to see here what present it the best- the equatorial rainforest. And the best place you can find it is here- in Sinharaja Forest Reserve. This is a great place for those who want to explore the real jungle, its green kingdom, its wildlife, and its fantastic landscape. For this reason, Sinharaja Rainforest is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Let’s take a look also for an urban type of adventurous place. It is located in the capital Colombo, and it is worth visiting too.
Colombo Lotus Tower
The Colombo Lotus Tower is the most attractive and the tallest urban tourist destination in Sri Lanka . You may be amazed to see its beauty and height. The tower is the hub of TV and Mobile phones Antennas. And the views from its deck are spectacular.
The Lotus Tower is around 1168 feet or 368 meter and a best place for an Instagram short and facebook movies .
Sri Lanka travel tips
Besides these amazing places, Sri Lanka is full of many more destinations for adventures or just relaxing. Some of these places are urban, others are located in the wild nature. Some are at the seacoast, and some are in the interior. And some are quite popular, and some are off the beaten.
But let’s see how you should prepare for a journey to Sri Lanka.
Visa policy of Sri Lanka
All the foreigners need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. But for the citizens from the most countries in the world it is easy- they can just get a visa on arrival when they reach the airport of Colombo.
There are the following documents required for the Sri lanka visa for US citizens. And the same documents are required for citizens from almost all other countries (there are only a few exceptions).
Documents required for the Srilankan visa:
The documents required for the Sri lanka visa US citizen is full of excitement and thrill. You need to be amazed to see the beauty of the country.
A valid passport:
You need a valid passport for getting the Srilankan visa. A valid passport is one that has 6 months remaining in its validity.
The processing fee:
The processing fee for the Sri lanka visa for US citizens is around $ 61 for the normal processing. For the Rush hour processing the fee is around $ 91 and for the Super Rush Hour processing it is around $ 103.75. The tourist does enjoy getting the fastest processing by submitting the fee of around $ 103.75. This is amazing for the visitors and it is essential for the businessman and also for the people who need to travel to the country on a contingency basis.
The email ID:
It is essential to provide a valid email ID for getting the Srilankan visa. All the communication is done via a valid Email ID.
Transportation in Sri Lanka
Once you go out of the airport, your journey around the country starts with a transport to your hotel, to a restaurant, or to a destination that you have planned. But what are the transportation options here?
Fortunatelly, Sri Lanka has a well-developed transportation system. The most commont transport is taxis and buses. You can also rent a car, and it would be very convenient, however, you would need to obtain a special permit for this purpose.
Besides these, there are some more exotic ways to travel around the country. There are air taxis that can take you from the airport to some of the popular destinations. For short distances, or for more adventurous routes, you can rent a bike and travel around Sri Lanka for one or more days. But maybe the most attractive way of travel is by Tuk Tuk.
Accommodation in Sri Lanka
Being a popular tourist destination, Sri Lanka offers a lot of accommodation options. There are all kinds of hotels, from budget to splurge, and you can find them everywhere, but especially around the tourist sites. And besides hotels, there are a lot of guesthouses, homestays, bungallows, and villas.
But if you want something more adventurous and cheaper, you can go to a hostel. There are hostels in Colombo and in other cities around the country. Yes, the privacy in the hostels can be limited, but you can meet many new travel mates or just friends to share each other’s experience, or just to relax.
Finally, you can go to a campsite. There are not too many campsites in Sri Lanka, but they are another exciting way to spend the night. Of course, you can put your tent everywhere, but it is not recommendable- it can be dangerous. Anyway, with a good company of friends, especially with some locals, camping can be a special experience in the nature.
In general, Sri Lanka has two seasons. The dry season is from October to April, and the wet (monsoon) season- from April to October. And both of them have their pros and cons. Besides, these seasons are not the same in the whole island.
This is the peak season in Sri Lanka, especially for the southern and western part of the county. The weather is sunny, and the fresh winds from the west bring good swell for surfing in the west coast. This is also the best time for hiking and exploring the nature. But as you can expect, this is the most touristy time and it can be crowded.
Wet (monsoon) season
This is the monsoon season, with frequent short but intensive rains. So, the weather can limit your activities in the southern and western parts of Sri Lanka. But in the east and north, the weather is still a little more sunny. Besides, this is the best surfing season for the east. And most importantly, this is the low season, with lower prices and less people.
This is Sri Lanka in short. And this is only an initial glipse of what the country looks like. You can start from these best places to visit in Sri Lanka, but if you stay longer time, you can proceed exploring the country more deeply, penetrating into the secrets of its mountains, forests, and coastal formations. And you can get more familiar with the local people, their culture and their lifestyle. All of the above makes your Sri Lanka journey an opportunity for a great travel experience.
Take a look at this video for more impressions from Sri Lanka:
Check some travel books about Sri Lanka:
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.