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Updated by Fritzjames Stephen on Jun 18, 2015
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Amazing Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka – Experience the Extraordinary

It is not an exaggeration to say that Sri Lanka offers a diversity of scenery archaeological and cultural treasures and exciting things to do in one compact space. This means that visitors can get to destinations within a few hours enabling them to enjoy different sights and sounds daily.



With a written history of more than 3500 years Sri Lanka has plenty of heritage sites dotting the length and breadth of the country reflecting the various stages of its history.


Cultural Triangle

See some of the earliest Buddhist architectural sites in the world in and around Anuradhapura, the capital of the North Central Province along with the country's first irrigation works, the most visible of which are a series of picturesque lakes.

Polonnaruwa the capital from the 11th to the 13th century shows a different type of architectural heritage, this time mixed with Hindu influences. On the way back stop at Sigiriya a 5th century site that has been awarded world heritage status by UNESCO for its excellence in urban planning. However the biggest draw is frescoes painted on one side of its distinctively shaped rock.



Travel up to Kandy, another ancient capital, from the 14th to the 19th century, to see well preserved heritage buildings in the city centre among which is the Temple of the Tooth, a part of the old royal palace, housing Buddha's tooth relic. Take time to visit Peradeniya Botanic Garden one the best of its kind in Asia. Consider staying at the property of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and exploring this ancient citadel.


Historic Coastal Cities

For rather more recent heritage sites travel to Galle, an hours' ride on the expressway from Colombo, and walk the lanes in the 17th century Dutch fort there. Negambo, easily reached on the expressway, is the place to see Portuguese era and at least 50 other historic Catholic churches. Colombo too is full of heritage sites. Walk around Fort the city centre and the Pettah to discover some really well preserved British Colonial and Dutch era Buildings that are still in use.



On the theme of antiquities, the country has an excellent collection of museums in Colombo and Kandy and at heritage sites, visits to which can be quite enlightening.


Natural Attractions - Wildlife Parks

Change the pace to enjoy the country's natural attractions such as wildlife parks that offer amazing sightings of elephant, Sri Lanka leopard, bear, other mammals, reptiles and birds. Yala and Udawalawe are among the best known.



If travelling around has taken its toll relax at the many gorgeous beaches around the country that offer excellent swimming, water sports opportunities and whale and dolphin watching.


The Hills

When the plains are too hot take to the hills. Take a train or drive up into the hills to experience cool air that is sometimes really cold. Not to be missed is Horton Plains National Park, the highest plateau in the country that offers excellent trekking routes, montane grasslands, cloud forests and 750 species of plants. Hakkgala Gardens a temperate zone botanic garden is also worth a visit. On the way enjoy fabulous waterfalls, forests, tea plantations, spectacular gorges and views of distant hills.


Things to do - Diving

That the country harbours some fascinating diving destinations is no secret. Start at Negambo, the site closest to the airport and drive to diving spots along the southern coast before traveling east to Trincomalee. They all offer corals, a multitude of reef fish and pelagic varieties, even pods of dolphins, large marble rays, turtles, mantas, octopus and wrecks in clear blue water with excellent visibility.



While the rivers, lakes, lagoons and coastal areas provide great kayaking opportunities the greatest kayaking experiences are to be had on the grade 4.5 rapids along Kaluganga, grade 2 rapids on the Walawe Ganga and the grade 2 to 6 rapids along the Mahaweli, that offers challenging descents to the eastern plains. Kitulgala is the most popular kayaking site where the Kelani River goes wild with seven, grade two and three rapids. Kayaking is one of the best ways to see the interior of Sri Lanka at really close quarters and to explore quiet creeks and set up camp on secluded sandy beaches by its rivers.


Visit a tea plantation

For those interested in knowing where the 'cuppa' they are enjoying comes from a visit to a working tea plantation is a must. Tours can be easily arranged and it is the best opportunity to learn how the tea is picked and processed to make several varieties of black tea that tastes and smells different.



The southern coasts of the country offer terrific surfing opportunities especially during the monsoon when gale force winds whip up those giant waves so dear to a surfers heart. Head to Arugambay a coastal city in south east Sri Lanka where the best surf is to be found.


Spa Treatments

Many visitors find that traditional holistic spa therapies offered at specialized spas in Sri Lanka are just the thing to help with general well being and even treat specific problems. Many of these spas offer long term treatment options under the care of Ayurvedic physicians. Stays cover accommodation, special diets and daily exercise and meditation regimes.