Are you looking for a cool Asian country that isn’t (yet) riddled with tourists? Guess what, we found it and you better hurry because it won’t stay like this for long!
After returning home to Sydney after spending a month in Sri Lanka we’re already missing the place! As we look back at our holiday snaps and reminisce about the awesome time we had there we’ve compiled our top 5 reasons to visit one of the best kept secrets in Asia…
Here’s our 5 Awesome Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka…
1. The Food
In short, Sri Lankan food is AMAZING. From delectable curries to mouth watering rotis this place has it all. It’s most famous dish? ‘Rice & Curry’. A selection of 3-5 curry dishes served with rice and sometimes pappadums. YUM! My mouth is salivating just thinking about it!
On our first day in Sri Lanka we visited Mount Lavinia Hotel south of Colombo. The buffet at this ocean front restaurant is well worth a visit, you won’t be disappointed. Lots of choice and just delicious. From this point on ‘Rice & Curry’ was our go to meal in most places, we were sold!
At our next stop in Galle we sampled the best breakfast of our whole trip. Hoppers! Imagine a hard crispy pancake served with an egg, fragrant dhal and a zingy tomato salad. This brekkie definitely lived up to the rave reviews on Trip Advisor. I only wish I’d been hungover as I just know this would be the best hangover breakfast ever!
Continuing along the south coast we fell in love with vegetable rotis and lost count of how many we ate during our stay (the scales are testament to that…and the fact that half our clothes are now too tight!). Roti shops are dotted around everywhere in Sri Lanka and are a must when you’re in need of a cheap and tasty snack. They rarely exceed 100RS (less than $1).
Throw in some delish chocolate and banana roti for dessert and our ultimate beer snack of devilled cashews and there you have our favourite eats in Sri Lanka.
2. The People
I was blown away by the friendly peeps in Sri Lanka. Their kindness and honesty is really something special.
Many times people went out of their way to help us. From hotel staff helping us book onward travel to Tuk Tuk drivers making 100% sure they gave you the right change and more importantly dropping us at the correct locations. On many occasions we borrowed mobile phones from people to call ahead to our next accommodation or phone our driver and they never asked for anything in return, they just wanted to help us out.
The people in Sri Lanka are so helpful. Everyone was super friendly, always saying hello, smiling and waving. Loved it!
The other thing that really struck me about this place, it doesn’t seem like people want to take advantage of you (by relieving you of your tourist dollars like other places). Instead of hawkers trying to sell you tacky souvenirs, all the locals want to do is have a laugh and a chat with you.
The innocence and honesty of the Sri Lankan people was so refreshing, definitely a reason to visit!
3. The Surf
When we were choosing a place to visit for a month one of the top things we were looking for was somewhere that we could surf. For me in particular I wanted somewhere with some easy beach breaks that would help me get more confident.
Sri Lanka didn’t disappoint. We ended up spending half of our time in Weligama which has perfect waves that can be surfed even when small. Although it’s not the prettiest beach in the world (suffers from a bit of pollution from the fishing boats) this place was a great place to learn and I loved it. I even dropped in on my first ever wave there which you can read about here!
For the more advanced surfer, down the road is Midigama, home to reef breaks Ram’s Right and Lazy’s Left. Head in the other direction and you’ll find Mirissa Bay surf point, another reef break good for intermediates. We’ve also heard great things about Arugam Bay but didn’t make it over there – next time.
Basically if you love to surf or you’d love to learn how, Sri Lanka is where it’s at!
4. The Wildlife
You may have read about our adventures on safari which was one of the highlights of our visit to Sri Lanka.
With elephants galore and more monkeys than you can shake a banana at, if you want wildlife then this place is for you. Check out Elaina’s account of our safari experience at Uda Walawe National Park. It was awesome!
In addition to the many National Parks in Sri Lanka there’s also the chance to head out into the big blue and see if you can spot the biggest mammal on the planet…the blue whale! Unfortunately, when we ventured out on to the high seas Moby Dick was nowhere to be seen but we did see a few pods of Spinner dolphins and a Bryde whale off in the distance so that was pretty cool.
Conservation of the blue whales is really important so if you do decide to take a boat trip out to see them choose wisely. The cheaper tours have been known to chase the whales which is not cool. We went with Raja and the Whales who were awesome and have the whales welfare at the top of their priorities. You can read about our day out with Raja here.
5. The Culture
Having travelled extensively, I don’t go out of my way to visit churches, museums, galleries etc. I think it’s much more fun to wander around and soak up the spirit of the country, mingling with the locals and chilling over a nice cold beer.
If you like to get your culture intake like this too then Sri Lanka is a great choice. As you move around the country there’s so much to see and experience (for free) by just cruising around and chatting to people.
In Kandy we asked a local what her highlights of the city were and she sent us to one of our favourite places on the trip. The Royal Bar and Hotel is a beautifully restored colonial building that serves mouthwatering food and icy cold beer (not easy to come by in Sri Lanka). With black and white pics on the walls you get a real sense of what the local area used to be like. Sri Lanka is a country with an interesting and varied history and this window to the past is really cool…especially as you can take it all in with a beer in your hand!
Galle Fort is another great stop for your dose of culture. Wander around thin cobble stone alleys, or take a walk around the perimeter along the wall. You’ll spot a few monks out and about too and not forgetting the local snake charmers.
Ella is also a great place to take in the stunning scenery and it won’t cost you a penny. We took a walk along the railway track and ended up being guided by a local man and his dog to the top of Ella Rock passing through tea plantations and waterfalls along the way.
When we visit Sri Lanka again (which we definitely will) the ancient cities are on my list…I just know there’s a cold beer and some devilled cashews waiting for us there too!
For more information about visiting Sri Lanka you can check out Lonely Planet and Rough Guides for some inspiration. Our main advice however is just to go. Whether it’s for a couple of weeks or a few months you’ll be glad you did!
P.S. Thanks for reading! If you like what we do, connect with us on Instagram and follow our travel adventures!
Throwback to sunset surfs in Sri Lanka…where The Freedom Travellers all started! ??☺️✌️ If you’re ever feeling stuck, get away and clear your mind. You already know the path you’re meant to take. Sometimes you just need some time to figure it out! Happy Saturday guys! ✈️✈️✈️ #thinkbig #thefreedomtravellers