Resting just below India in the midst of Southern Asia is Sri Lanka. Boasting a rich history, the people of Sri Lanka can trace their culture back to the late sixth century and by the third century, Buddhism was beginning to take its shape in the country. Formerly under the rule of the Portuguese, Dutch and British, Sri Lanka’s official name is the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka officially gained their independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. The official Day of Independence in Sri Lanka is February 4, 1948. It was formerly known as Ceylon and the capital is Colombo. The country officially changed its name to Sri Lanka in 1972.
There are two main political parties in Sri Lanka, the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. There are nine provinces that compose various Sri Lanka districts. These provinces are as follows: Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western, North Central, North Western, Sabaragamuwa and Uva. Much of Sri Lanka’s weather is prone to monsoons with the month of November, April, and May being those that don’t have either southern or northern monsoons. The Southern monsoon season runs from May until July and the Northern monsoon season runs from October until January. The Sri Lankans are made up of various ethnic groups. These include the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Moors, Indian and Lankan Tamil and others. The predominant religion is Buddhist with the remaining relations being a mix between Islam, Hinduism and Christianity.
The official language in Sri Lanka is Sinhala with Tamil following there are many in official positions who speak English and a small portion of the public speaks English. Those traveling to Sri Lanka will need to understand their currency, which is the Sri Lankan rupee. Though there are English speakers in the country, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some Sinhala to make certain you can communicate easily with others. Several cities are popular destinations for tourists. These include Ratnapura, Polonnaruwa, Nuwara Eliya, Kurunegala, Kandy, Jaffna, Galle, Colombo and Anuradhapura. Most people flying to Sri Lanka will need to take a direct flight from Asia or the Middle East. There are several direct flights from Europe, however, there are none from North America. Several cruise lines include Sri Lanka in their destinations, making this a popular choice for many travelers. Make certain to understand various rules and regulations regarding needed visas before planning your trip.
There are many great sites to see in Sri Lanka. Here is a list of the top 18 places to visit in Sri Lanka on your stay.
1. Sri Lanka Day Tours – Those visiting Sri Lanka may wish to participate in one of the exciting Sri Lanka day tours. With a number of packages including adventures in the rainforest, white water rafting, deep-sea fishing, kite surfing, exploring Adam’s peak, enjoying a river safari, whale and dolphin watching, exploring caves or diving there is certain to be an adventure for everyone. Sri Lanka Day Tours are operated by Eco Team, located in Colombo.
2. Horton Plains National Park – Horton Plains National Park is located in Central Province near Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. It was established as a nature preserve in 1969. The park’s former name was Maha Eliya Thenna but it was renamed by the British. There is a fee required to enter the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and kept in beautiful array. Once home to the Sri Lankan Elephant, the park is now home to a number of other animals including the Sambar Deer, Kelaart’s Long-clawed shrew, toque macaques, stripe necked mongooses, rusty spotted cat and the Sri Lankan Leopard. Horton Plains National Park is a popular tourist attraction and is well revered for its beauty.
3. Nuwara Elia and Tea Country – Located in Nuwara Eliya, the Tea Country is a free trip that tourist may venture on as it is a scenic area with plenty of walking paths and views. Be prepared to enjoy the beautiful scenery while visiting many of the retail shops and enjoying a variety of teas. Those how have an appreciation for the historical aspects of Hindu temples will find this a wonderful trip.
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You’ll need to pay to visit this religious site located in Anuradhapura, but many say it is well worth. The area is considered a Buddhist holy site and features an incredible rock summit that may be climbed and explored. Once on top of the rock you can see a magnificent view of Sri Lanka.
5. Nallur Kovil
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In the midst of Jaffna is another religious site that is a popular tourist attraction. The temple is stunning to see and is a beautiful example of Sri Lankan architecture, style and design. The temple is free to enter, but men must take off their shirts and women must ensure their legs and shoulders remain hidden under their clothing.
6. Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications – A fee based historic site located in Galle, the fortifications and the city provide plenty of activities for those who enjoy sightseeing and want to explore some of the local shops will find that the town is a great spot to visit. You can view the Mirissa Beach from the area and many enjoy a day of dolphin watching from the water.
7. Polonnaruwa – The Polonnaruwa Resthouse is a hotel located in Sri Lanka. The hotel is located in a beautiful atmosphere as it overlooks the water. Those looking for a place to say in Polonnaruwa may choose to stay at the Resthouse.
8. Dambulla Cave Temple – Located in Dambulla, the cave temple is sometimes referred to as the Golden Cave Temple. It’s free to explore. Go with a guide and view the many Buddha statues that reside in the temple. The cave temple is a very popular tourist attraction.
9. Muthurajawela Marsh – Muthurajawela Marsh is a natural wildlife preserve in Negombo, Sri Lanka. There is an entrance fee required but it is well worth it. You’ll enjoy beautiful animals that call the Marsh home including monkeys, and water monitors.
10. Gregory Lake – Gregory Lake is located in Nuwara Eliya and a fee is required for entrance. The lake is serene and is the perfect setting when you want to take in the tranquil scenery of Sri Lanka’s natural wonders. There are boats available for water activities as well.
11. Labookellie Tea Centre – Take a factory tour of the Labookellie Tea Centre located in Nuwara Eliya. The guided tour is free and there is a splendid gift shop where you can enjoy the delicious flavors of Sri Lankan tea.
12. Ruwanweliseya Dagoba – An incredible fee based tourist attraction in Anuradhapura, Ruwanweliseya Dagoba is an amazing architectural structure and religious site. The Ruwanweliseya Dagoba is considered the most sacred Dagoba throughout all of Sri Lanka.
13. Negombo Beach
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One of Negombo’s most popular attractions is the beach. You must pay a fee to enter and you’ll find the sands are golden and the water is a pristine blue. You can enjoy deep sea diving in the waters as well.
14. Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple – Located in Dambulla, the Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple is a revered Buddhist holy site where the rocks display a graphic demonstration of the Buddhist Hell.
15. Somawathie Chaitiya Sanctuary – The Somawathie Chaitiya Sanctuary is a religious attraction n Polonnaruwa, that is free to access. A beautiful park area, the Sanctuary features amazing architecture with Buddhist statues and sculptures. There is a small store inside the sanctuary.
16. Lihiniya Gems – Those visiting Galle will want to check out the shopping opportunities at Lihiniya Gems. With several specialty shops, you’re bound to find the perfect souvenir to remember your trip by. Lihiniya Gems specializes in jewelry and many find that the prices are fair. Whether shopping or sightseeing, the Lihiniya Gems shop is a great choice.
17. Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil – The Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil is a religious site located on the island of Nainativu in Jaffna. It features the Sri Nagapooshani Amman Temple, which is believed to have been used by earl natives for the worship of the serpent god, Nayinar.
18. Dagoba of Thuparama – Located in Anuradhapura, the Dagoba of Thuparama is the oldest in Sri Lanka and is believed to house the Buddha’s collarbone.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful place that sits adjacent to the Indian Ocean. The water ensures that there are numerous activities to engage in and Sri Lanka has no shortage of water sports. There are more than three hundred waterfalls in the land and more than two-hundred and fifty botanical gardens to enjoy. The historical aspect of Sri Lanka is evident to see as there are numerous Dagobas, temples, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and archaeological structures to keep tourists busy throughout their trip. The climate makes it a popular tourist destination, however, many tourists avoid traveling to Sri Lanka during the monsoon season as the weather can be quite tumultuous during that time. Those visiting the area will want to ensure they utilize various tour guides to make certain they take in all of the wondrous sites that Sri Lanka has to behold. Sri Lanka is rich in cultural history and diversity and there is always something exciting and festive to do. With numerous sporting events, top of the line hotels and a rich array of food choices, those who visit Sri Lanka will also find there is incredible wildlife to behold. Sri Lanka offers numerous benefits to the traveler and is one of Asia’s top tourist destinations.