If you’re looking for some insider tips and travelling to Sri Lanka, check these out. I’m yet to travel to Sri Lanka with the baby so these are just some of my faves growing up…. last I was in Sri Lanka was in 2009 so hopefully these tried and tests spots are still open!
THINGS/PLACES TO SEE
1. Dambulla – Dambulla rock temple was built by king Walagambahu in the 1st century B.C. and it is a World Heritage Site. It is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of five caves with over 2000 sq. metres of painted walls and ceilings, is the largest area of paintings found in the world. It contains over 150 images of the Buddha of which the largest is the colossal figure of the Buddha carved out of rock and spanning 14 metres.
2. Sigiriya – Climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress which is a world heritage site, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock. Visit the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster. When you’re here try to stay at the Kadalama Hotel…haven’t been there in 3 year’s time, but it’s one of my favourite hotels …the entire hotel is built in a rock. Wear comfy shoes to climb the rock and be prepared to spend half a day at this spot- earlier in the day the better, beat the afternoon sun on your climb if possible!
3. Kandy – Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Site. The name “Kandy” conjures visions of splendour and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the Kandy lake built by the last Sinhala king, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town and bazaar, the arts and crafts centre, a gem museum and a lapidary. Also visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. A good hotel is the Tree of Life (great ayurvedic massages)
4. Elephant Orphanage –A MUST!! The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, established in 1975, commenced with seven orphans. Today some of these orphans enjoy the fortune of seeing their grandchildren born in the same location. The original objective of establishing the orphanage inclined more towards tourism, but is soon became a conservation and educational centre. With the help of local and foreign elephant experts, Pinnawela started a scientific captive-breeding program for elephants.
5. Horton Plains– Visit Horton plains, which is located on a high windswept saddle at about 2134 meters above the sea level. The plains are an expanse of misty grassland with scraggy trees and ice-cold rivulets. Visit the World s End, considered to be the finest view in all of Sri Lanka. The awesome escarpment drops vertically for about 4,000 feet, hence its name. You can also see the beautiful Backer s falls. (Walk is about 14 km). The park shelters mammals such as Sambhur, Leopard and endemic Bear Monkey and famous for its endemic lizards. This area is a home for over 20 endemic bird species including Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Orange-billed Babbler and Yellow-eared Bulbul
6. Nuwara Eliya– Nuwara Eliya, because of its invigorating mountain climate and scenery, is Sri Lankas most popular hill resort. Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of Sri Lankas tea country producing a significant share of the world s best tea. Sri Lanka s highest mountain Pidurutalagala (8282 feet) is located here. Nuwara Eliya also has one of the finest 18 hole golf courses in South Asia (supposedly…haven’t tried it out myself!)
7. Colombo– best place for shopping and some sightseeing. Good restaurants and decent clubs/lounges.
GOOD RESTAURANTS IN COLOMBO
1. Koluwo – Kolpity Colombo 3
This is situated on the Duplication Road. Western fusion dishes.
2. Sri Lankan Authentic Food:
- Raja Bojun – (meaning Kings’ Food) – Colombo 3, Gall Road (opposite Cinnamon Grand Hotel walking distance from Gall Face Hotel on the same side towards Bambalapitiya, Colombo 4). They have lunch and dinner buffet. Very good fresh juices. They have all types of Sri Lankan food.. mainly Sinhala food, i.e. Hoppers, String Hoppers, Pol Rotti, rice and curry, etc. AWESOME SPOT FOR AUTHENTIC FOOD
- For North Food, Jaffna Food –“Palmeirah Restaurant at Hotel Renuka”, Colombo 3, Kotpity on Gall Road. They serve all North Sri Lankan Food (Tamil food from Jaffana).
- Majestic City – Food Court -There is a restaurant that serves Sri Lankan Rice & Curry on Banana Leaf. I would recommend if you are shopping there to go here for lunch. There is Amarawathie Restaurant also here.. they serve Dosa, and North Indian food which the Sri Lankan Tamils eat. If you are shopping and would like a quick snack try Chariot – cold coffees, rotis , spring rolls and kimbulla banis (all local favourites!)
- Sea Food: (Must eat) “Wadiya” – On Marine Drive, Colombo 4, Near KingRoss Club opposite Global Towers. Please book a table before you go.
Kinjou Restaurant at Colombo 5, Havelock Town off High Level Road.
Their Chinese food is really good but do not go to any other branch the main chef resides at this branch and he’s the one with the good Sri Lankan Chinese!
4. Thai Food: “Orchid” at Cinnamon Grand Hotel .Authentic Thai Food.
BEACH – the following ones aren’t too far from the city a day trip can be done but it’s fun to spend a night. There’s tons of beaches but these 2 are where we go often…That said Maldives is probably best for beach activities and Sri Lanka for cultural exploration.
2)Hikkaduwa – awesome place for corrals and scuba divinfg/glass boat (apparently)
3) White water rafting in Colombo is supposed to be very good. I haven’t done it in Colombo but have heard good things – Approximately 80 kilometres from Colombo on the A7 – the road to Nuwara Eliya via Avissawella – is Kitulgala where one can white water raft..(ask driver/tour guide)
a. Souvenirs and SriLankan Handicrafts:
- “Viskam” at Thummulla Junction – on the little roundabout coming down from Highlevel Road, Bambalapitya Junction off Galle Road going towards Borella.. Any taxi Driver knows when you say Thummulla Junction. This is a semi Government place where they have all types of handicraft.
- “Laksala” Fort, Colombo1. This is a government run place. Good selection.
b. Sri Lankan Batik
- Prasanna Batik – Majestic City
- Pretty Things – Majestic City
c. For Clothes:
- ODEL (TownHall)
- House Fashion (Bambalapitiya, Colombo 4 on Duplication Road)- Not a huge fan of this spot, though tourists seem to dig the place.
d. For Noritake Dinner Sets:
- Ceylon Ceramics Corp, Kolpity Colombo 3.. at the border of Bambalapitiya. Awesome deals on dinner, coffee, tea sets. Half the price of Noritake in North America!
- “Dankotuwa” Kolpity Colombo 3.. on Duplication Road. This is also a part of government owned Ceramics Corp.
e. Ceylon Tea:
- Ceylon Tea Board – They sell all types and brands of Tea
- Dilma Tea – You can buy this from a supermarket, though for fresh packs, their outlet at Crestcat shopping mall at Cinnamon Grand Hotel is your best bet.
- Mlesna Tea – Outlets at Majestic City, Liberty Plaza. I would recommend this spot for tea themed souvenirs and gift packs.