Rugby fans will make easy conversation in Sri Lanka, which brags the oldest rugby club in Asia. The country's national rugby team is a source of great pride. Just make sure you're routing for the right team. Tea lovers will also adore this country, with its endless plantations in the highlands a ‘cuppa’ is never far away.
The Dutch left their footprint in their churches, castles and the walled town of Galle, the British theirs with the tea-plantations, the railways and the bureaucracy. The biggest historical event was probably the introduction of Buddhism back in the day. More recently the end of the 30 year-long civil war has finally ushered in a much longed for peace. Simmering tensions, however, remain between the majority Buddhist and minority Tamils. Despite all the tumult of the past decades and a hammering by the Boxing Day Tsunami, the country’s economy continues to do well. All these historical, political and economic juxtapositions make Sri Lanka an intriguing country to visit.
Most people skip Colombo and go straight to Kandy, taking a picturesque train into the central highlands with its tea-plantations and beautiful views. Along the coast there are white sandy beaches lined with coconut trees, and colonial Gale. A high biodiversity ensures a steady stream of nature lovers who visit one of the many national parks, where you can see elephants, leopards and more. Historic Buddhist ruins will keep the archaeological buffs satisfied.
Sri Lanka is sitting in the morning in a wicker chair on the patio of an old tea-planters house in the highlands with a steaming cup of tea, and watching the mist rise from the tea-fields and the sun rise over the valleys down below… So come and live the dream!
Highlights from Sri Lanka
- Join a wildlife safari through Yala National Park
- See beautiful sunsets and stilt fishermen off the coast in Galle and walk through the historic town itself
- Go hiking in Horton Plains and World's End
- Visit the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, or simply stroll around the lake in Kandy
- Taste freshly brewed black or green tea in Haputale
- Surf the waves at Arugam Bay
- Learn about Buddhism at one of the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa or Sigiriya
- Find a nice stretch of white sand in Mirissa, Unawatuna, Upavelli or anywhere along Sri Lanka’s coastline
- Go up north to un-touristy Jaffna
- Have high-tea at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo
Hints and Tips for Sri Lanka
- Beginning January 2012, visitors must sign-up for a 30-90 day ETA (online visa) at US$20.
- Many parks and sites will charge foreigners much more than locals.
- Watch out for scammers (often one or two persons) offering to take you to a special festival or some nearby location. Such scams are frequent, sometimes involving taxi drivers who overcharge on the return trip.
- Credit card fraud occurs with more frequency here, so it is advised to use cash as much as possible.
- Mosquito repellent is recommended to avoid Dengue, Malaria or Chikungunya.