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I grew up in Kandy, the country's hill capital. Then sometime later I decided to discover every corner of my island. And now, I'm putting here what you can experience in Sri Lanka, like I did.
To begin, did you know that after a 30-year civil war and the devastation of the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka again gained the popularity by ranking as the 'best country to visit in 2019' by the Lonely Planet? More than 2 million people visited Sri Lanka in 2016 from different countries – and that's four times more than before the tsunami.
If people of different nations come to explore this island country, why won't you try it like a local?
Whether you prefer the west coast or the east coast, you'll find some nice palm-fringed beaches. The Southwest coast of Sri Lanka is a little crowded but is famous for coral reefs and snorkeling; for example, Hikkaduwa. If you are seeking a secluded beach, ones in East of Sri Lanka are the best like Pasikudah.
Sri Lanka is also one of the best places to see the Big four- the Sri Lankan leopard, the Asian elephant, black bears & Blue whales. Catch a safari jeep in one of the national parks of Sri Lanka, Yala or Udawalawe to spend the day with elephants, leopards and bears. Or you can take a boat tour in Mirissa, Kalpitiya or Trincomalee to spot the blue whales and playful dolphins.
Take a cycle tour along the cultural triangle. You can walk along the large reservoirs of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, climb up to the floating rock of Sigiriya and Visit the Cave temple of Dambulla adorned with beautifully painted murals and hundreds of statues.
Then comes the cultural capital of Kandy, the place I love most in Sri Lanka. With the Scared Temple of Tooth, Kandy lake, museums and the Peradeniya Botanical gardens this is like a small paradise on earth. Then take a scenic train ride through the Kandy - Ella iconic blue train through tea plantations and trek the mountains in Ella, the Little Adams peak and the Ella rock.
Another interesting thing to do is kite surfing available at the Kalpitiya beach. Or you can learn to surf and try it out in one of the beaches like Arugam Bay or Weligama. You can also explore the least explored region of our country, Jaffna. Everything is different there starting with people to the south Indian influenced cuisine.
Another adventure – one of a lifetime experience is riding a hot air balloon. Hot air ballooning tours are available from the north-central plains of the island and the balloon will carry you away far to reach the blue skies over the beautiful landscapes dotted with pristine paddy fields and cascades of waterfalls.
This is not all you will be experiencing in Sri Lanka. It may be a tropical sandy beach, exciting wildlife safari or a stroll through the ancient ruins of Sri Lankan kingdoms. But it's also about the people one of a kind who are considered the friendliest and the warmest with all smiles. Therefore you should also take the time to dine in family homes, catch public transport and visit markets to get to know the real Sri Lanka.
Spend time to talk with the tea plucking women in the tea trails or with the children in rural areas, they love it. Ask how their life is. There is no better way to understand the Sri Lankan culture and way of life than by staying with a local family. Where ever you go try to stay in homestays, eat homemade food, visit the neighbors and make friends on the way. The benefits are massive if you are traveling like a local. You know about the places you travel, you can get cheaper food, and some sites will not even have an entrance fee - While its LKR 500 for tourists in Pidurangala, locals are free to explore the fascinating site without an entry ticket!
So get ready to experience the inexperienced, as a local. But don't stress yourself to do all of this at once. You live here on this miraculous island; therefore all of this is yours to travel at a leisurely pace.
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