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Updated by Joanna James on Nov 20, 2019
Headline for 5 things you must do in Sri Lanka - A first-time visitors guide to ancient Ceylon
Joanna James Joanna James
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5 things you must do in Sri Lanka - A first-time visitors guide to ancient Ceylon

Sri Lanka has a bit of everything: beaches, wildlife, rain forests, ruins, religion, culture, and a busy metropolitan. These are five things you have to do during your Sri Lanka vacation.


Visit the nine arches bridge

There is no place more picturesque and testimonial to the old colonial charm than the nine arches bridge. Located in the small city of Ella, it is a bridge that is made entirely of stone with no steel involved. It is a bridge for the train, reminiscent of the pod bridges you see in England. As the name implies, it is in nine arches, and you can see the sky in nine parts when you stand at the foot of the bridge (thus its local name Ahas Nawaye Paalama).


Swing on a palm tree

If you had not visited a local beach and swung on a palm tree, can you even say you've visited this tropical paradise? Have one of the travel agents in Colombo arrange around the coast trip for you. If not, at least visit the South coast which is the most easily accessible and home to gorgeous stretches of sand. Lining almost every beach are coconut trees, a staple in Sri Lanka. Locals have often tied a rope with a tire or a loop at the end on to these trees, thus creating make-shift swings. It is customary for all visitors to swing on a palm tree.


Take the train from Kandy to Ella

The Sri Lankan railway system is still very much a colonial legacy. Therefore, the hill country route winds around mountains and passes through tea estates creating the most charming journey for you. The most picturesque is the stretch between Kandy and Ella, where the weather turns mild, cold, and mild in turn while the mist rolls over the tea estates. You will see tea pluckers on either side of the track waving at you. Leaving behind civilization as you know it, the rhythmic chugging of the train makes the perfect soundtrack for this journey.


Go on a safari

Wildlife spotting is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. It has many reservations and wildlife parks, most of which have safaris. If you want to do an exclusive trip of these, you can talk to an experienced agent like Tangerine Tours and have them arrange one for you. You can see leopards, elephants, wild buffalos, wild bears, deer, sambars, peacocks, and many migratory birds in these national parks. There are distinct safari times and the parks are closed during certain parts of the year. So having someone guide you in this would be useful.


Explore the ancient ruins

Leaving behind the more popular southern and central regions, moving to the north-central part of the country brings you to the ancient kingdoms. Two of the oldest kingdoms in Sri Lanka were in this region, and the ruins can be seen to date. In addition to the massive ruins of palaces, monasteries, and hospitals all made of stone, you will find a lot of temples here; Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were as known for their patronage of Buddhism as they were for art and culture.

  • A true believer that the pen is a mighty weapon, ventures into reaching the minds of every reader with the earnest hope of leaving an indelible stream of thought.

    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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