Top 7 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Image: Wikimedia / Ji-Elle - CC BY-SA 3.0

For those who like to bounce from site to site while on vacation, Sri Lanka is an ideal destination. Sri Lanka boasts rolling surf and beautiful beaches, historical ruins, welcoming locals, trains, famous tea and food and eight Unesco World Heritage Sites. There’s also plenty to experience in the country’s rainforests. No matter where you visit in Sri Lanka, you’re bound to enjoy it. Read on to learn more about the top seven destinations in Sri Lanka.

Uda Walawe National Park

national park Uda Walawa Sri Lanka
Image: Wikimedia / PIERRE ANDRE LECLERCQ – CC BY-SA 4.0

This national park is one of the nation’s most beautiful. It features elephants, sambar, deer, giant squirrel, wild buffalo, mongooses, water monitor lizards, leopards, jackals, and crocodiles. It also features more than 210 species of wild birds and 30 types of snakes. Although the park has vegetation on it, you’ll still be able to see the animals as the vegetation isn’t dense.
You’ll walk 2 km into the park before you can buy your tickets. The vast majority of visitors come with their hotel as part of a tour. However, if your hotel doesn’t offer this package don’t worry. There’s usually a guide or two waiting outside the park entrance with an ATV for tours. The cost of admission to the park includes a park guide, but they do expect a tip, so be prepared.

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park Sri Lanka
Image: Wikimedia / Colby Otero – CC BY 2.0

Bundala National Park is a shelter for nearly 200 bird species and up to 60 elephants at a time. Its park grounds include a different maze of waterways and sand dunes. Moreover, Bundala National Park is a wetland sanctuary that’s been recognized by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This park’s animal life varies depending on the season, as many species use the park as a migration destination. Upon entering, visitors walk through a visitor’s center that looks out over the marshes. From this point, you’ll be able to see everything, including the large crocodiles present in the park.

Gal Vihara

Gal Vihara Sri Lanka
Image: Wikimedia / Bernard Gagnon – CC BY-SA 3.0

Gal Vihara is a wildly popular destination that features a group of rock-carved Buddha images. All of the Gal Vihara images were cut from one slab of granite, but at the time of creation, each separate image was housed in separate enclosures.
Of all the images, the 7-meter tall standing Buddha is the finest. This image was believed to be of the Buddha’s disciple Ananda, who is grieving for his master’s departure to nirvana. However, many accept the fact that all the images are likely of the same Buddha.
The 14-meter tall reclining Buddha is said to depict the Buddha entering parinirvana (nirvana-after-death). The other two images feature a seated Buddha. All in all, this destination depicts great craftsmanship and is definitely a site to see.

Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay Sri Lanka
Image: Wikimedia / Kondephy – CC BY-SA 4.0

If you’re looking for a laid-back beach scene, look no further. Arugam Bay is regarded by many as the best surf spot in the country, as it’s home to a point break. Although it’s small, many still come to visit. For those who don’t surf, there’s still plenty to enjoy. From going to ocean-side restaurants to relaxing in a hammock on the beach, there’s plenty here to enjoy. Note that from November to April, lots of the businesses close down as it’s the low season, but don’t let that discourage you from visiting. Some even say that the quietness of the low season is even more relaxing.

Mirissa

Mirissa Sri Lanka
Image: Wikimedia / Ji-Elle – CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re young and looking for a good time, you need to check out Mirissa, a small crescent beach. In high season, you can find many other young travelers and DJs playing music into the early hours of the morning. In addition to the beautiful beach, you’ll find modest guesthouses and simple restaurants along the sand. You can also watch for whales here.

Dambatenne Tea Factory

Dambatenne Tea Factory Sri Lanka
Image: Wikimedia / Adbar – CC BY-SA 3.0

Founded in 1890 by Sir Thomas Lipton, this tea factory tells the story of tea. This tour, which is available every day besides Sunday, walks through the processes involved in making tea, which include its fermentation, drying, rolling, cutting, sieving and grading. This tour is regarded as the most comprehensive tour you can get. What’s more? You get to enjoy a cup of tea after your trip.

Mulkirigala Rock Temples

Located among a forest of coconut trees you can find the rock temples of Mulkirigala. After you climb up approximately 500 steps, you’ll reach a series of seven different caves, which hold Buddha statues and detailed wall paintings. At the very top of the temples, you’ll be able to see views of the surrounding nature. While temples have been around for quite some time, historians date these specific ones to be from the 18th century.
Located near these temples is a Buddhist school for young monks. A British official found Pali manuscripts in this library, which unlocked Sri Lanka’s history for Europeans. To get to Mulkirigala, you can travel by bus.

Summary

If you’re looking to go on a vacation that you’ll leave wanting to go back and explore more, Sri Lanka is the place for you. You could stay for months and still find that there’s more for you to uncover and explore.

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