Sri Lanka travel has taken the top spot on Lonely Planet's 2019 best in travel list, and it's really not hard to see why...
Sri Lankan hospitality is truly one of a kind, and you won’t meet more smiley and helpful people than the Sri Lankans. No matter their status in life, you’ll find a warm welcome from whoever you meet, plus you’re unlikely to be hassled as much as you might be in India. Not only do Sri Lankans love a chat, but don’t be surprised if you get invited in for a meal or a spot of tea.
If you’re a fan of Indian and Thai food, then you’re bound to fall head over heels for Sri Lankan cuisine. Heavy influenced by foreign flavours from its colonial past, Sri Lankan food is eclectic yet hearty. Fish is eaten in abundance, but if you’re vegan, you’ll also be spoilt for choice. Whether you’re eating filling dhal curry, snack-style coconut pancakes, kottu roti (a Sri Lankan staple) or an abundance of fresh and colourful tropical fruit, you’ll certainly never go hungry.
Festivals form a huge part of Sri Lanka’s colourful culture, and as a reflection of the country’s mutli-religious society, many festivals relate to buddhism, hinduism, christianity and islam – and no matter the time of year, there’s always a party going on somewhere. Visiting in summer? Head to the Kandy Esala Perahera festival, where a procession of drummers, dancers and acrobats travel from Kandy to Esala over 10 days.
Alongside landscapes that will have you doing double takes, Sri Lanka also boasts impressive wildlife. No matter where you are – beachside, city or jungle – you’re never too far from wildlife. With the biggest concentration of leopards in the entire world, 5,800 beautiful elephants knocking about, and a sea inundated with wales, tropical fish and sea turtles, it’s the perfect destination to rekindle your love of the natural world.
If you were looking for a destination to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul, you’ve found it. Sri Lanka has been a centre for spiritual healing for over 2,000 years, with practices like yoga, ayurveda and meditation embedded into the culture. The west coast is inundated with spas offering head massages, herbal baths and beauty treatments for every budget. For an authentic Sri Lankan experience, opt for an Ayurvedic herbal treatment.
If you’re a self-confessed beach addict then boy is Sri Lanka the destination for you. Dubbed the ‘Sri Lankan Rivera’, the beaches in the East and West of the island offer sublime views, palm trees that frame golden sands, and super chill vibes that will make you wonder if you just stepped into paradise.
The Nations capital city, Colombo, is every shopaholics paradise. Between the bustling traditional markets and modern shopping malls, you’ll find everything from unique tea blends and spices, colourful local garments, Ayurvedic beauty products, moonstone carvings and precious gems at your fingertips. On top of that, the prices will be so good you’ll have a hard time sticking to your designated souvenir suitcase space. Just make sure you bring extra bags…
Sri Lanka is packed to the brim with sacred temples, ancient cities and UNESCO World Heritage sites, and you’ll have a hard time prioritising which ones to visit while you’re there. From the sacred city of Kandy, a buddhist pilgrimage site in the heart of the country, to the colonial architecture of the Portuguese city of Galle – every inch of Sri Lanka tells a story. Boredom simply won’t be an option.
Convinced on Sri Lanka? You should be. Take a peek of Contiki’s Pure Sri Lanka itinerary to see what goodness lies in wait…