Five Things You Must Do In Sri Lanka (Apart from the usual touristy stuff)

By Anupriya DG - January 08, 2017

Ok....so as I start writing my first post of 2017, I realise that I haven't had the chance to send you guys New Year wishes yet....

So.....firstly, A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR cupcakes!!!

Thanks for sticking by me ( and my irregular blog schedule) throughout 2016 and for still wanting to read my posts! Those of you who follow me on Instagram know what I have been up to during the last year, and those who don't, go, follow, NOW - @styleprism! Trust me, you don't want to miss the whole lot of amazing social media content I have planned for you guys this year!!!

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Coming back to the post, you might (or might not) know that I ended 2016 with a holiday to the small but very pretty island country of Sri Lanka!

And needless to say, I have LOADS to share with you guys about travelling to SL!!! So much so, that I'll be breaking up the travelogue into different posts......starting with this one! :)

So, me & the hubby spent around a week in Sri Lanka travelling to three places - Unawatuna/Galle, Kandy and Colombo. Sometimes we backpacked and travelled by unreserved train coaches, while sometimes we splurged and dined at fancy restaurants - but overall, we managed to have an exciting and enriching holiday, getting to experience the real land, places, people & culture of the country.

And now, as I sit on my couch editing the innumerable photos from the vacay, sipping on delicious Mango-Pineapple flavored Ceylon black tea and looking back over the trip, I think I can assure you that these five experiences that I'm listing in this post are absolutely not to be missed if you are visiting Sri Lanka ever!

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1. Chill on the Unawatuna beachside


The south-western part of Sri Lanka boasts of many pretty seaside locations - Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Mirissa - with Galle being the main town on the stretch, which used to house the Dutch fort in erstwhile days. But if you ask me, Unawatuna, which is around 4-5 kms from Galle, is the best beach of the lot! Fortunately, we were not getting any good resorts in Galle when booking the trip 3 months ago (December being season time), and we had unknowingly booked a quaint heritage hotel in Unawatuna for our seaside stay. This small place is frequented by tourists mainly because of its vast stretch of beautiful, clean and serene beachside. The turquoise expanse of the ocean and waves crashing on the sandy beach makes for a perfect spot to do some skinny-dipping, or even taking a boat out to sea. But the best way to enjoy this pretty seaside is by just lounging on a sunbed or on the sand itself (albeit after rubbing on oodles of sunscreen on every naked part of your body) and chilling like a boss! Do some reading, listen to music, doodle in your notebook or just enjoy the sea breeze on your face and treat your eyes to the vibrant scenery of the azure sea. Have lunch at one of the many shacks or eateries who have tables right on the beach which makes the eating experience also lovely (specially when the tables are lit up by candles at night) and hog on some yummy seafood! 
Even though there are a few other tourist attractions in Unawatuna (like the Peace Pagoda and whale-watching), but the best way to enjoy this place is by just laying back and relaxing.....rejuvenation at its best!



Unawatuna beach

Lounge on the sunbeds

Or just plonk down on the sand

#MermaidSoul forever


2. Stroll around the Dutch hospital area of Galle

Galle is a quaint port town and the most prominent seaside destination on the western coast of the country. Apart from the ancient Dutch fort that used to guard the country from enemies in the erstwhile days of Dutch rule, the town also boasts of a few other tourist destinations. But, for me, the best part of my day spent in Galle was the sunny afternoon I spent strolling around the quaint cobbled streets of the town, right from the Galle fort, down towards the Dutch hospital precinct, and on to the shopping haunts of Pedlar street and Hospital street. The clean, cobbled roads flanked by proud buildings boasting of beautiful Dutch architecture on both sides make for a picturesque path and provides you with random photo-ops too! The Dutch Hospital precinct, standing right on the ocean, is a must-explore - and you must not miss to have a meal at one of the numerous eateries lining the first floor of the building overlooking a gorgeous view of the harbour. Continue your stroll down Pedlar street which is full of old world charm with vintage buildings, cute cafes and temptingly aesthetic boutique stores lining the road. Get yourself some quirky souvenirs, grab a cup of coffee or just take a leisurely walk down the streets - a perfect way to spend a lazy holiday afternoon!



Quaint Dutch buildings

Beautiful latticed windows

The Dutch Hospital precinct

Pretty store facades

See what gorgeous backdrops they make?


3. Take the train from Colombo to Galle

Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka and the base point from where you'll be entering the country. Colombo city is very well-connected to the other parts of SL via various modes of transport - the cheapest, most frequent and smartest being the inter-city trains. We travelled throughout the country in these trains only, and even though the vehicles and comfort level are not five-star-quality, but I must say that the train service in Sri Lanka is efficient, popular & easily accessible. The tourists (mostly foreigners) prefer this mode of transport for travelling from one place to another. And among all the train routes that I travelled on in SL, the route from Colombo to Galle is hands down the most picturesque and an experience you must not miss! The entire journey from the capital city to the seaside town is made on a coastal route and the sheer beauty of the ocean running alongside the train  is indescribably gorgeous! This was one train journey that was far from boring, and an experience I'll never forget.

P.S.: A word of caution - the trains, being a popular mode of transport, get filled up super-fast. So, I would advise you to book your tickets at least 2 days in advance if possible (online booking isn't an option, you have to book them physically at the railway stations). If you go to buy current tickets, you'll get either 2nd or 3rd class entry (seats will be full, and you'll have to stand all the way to your destination) or might even run the risk of not getting any tickets at all! At least, that's what we faced in December, which is peak tourist season.


Colombo Fort railway station


Views from the train

video



4. Visit the awesome local bakeries in Kandy

Kandy is a pretty as picture hill station in Sri Lanka with the charming Kandy Lake as the heart of the tourist destination. But even if you want to just enjoy the scenic beauty of the place without running around sightseeing like the typical tourist, there's something the town has to offer that you must not miss at any cost - and that's the wide number of local bakeries strewn all around! Typical of most hill stations, Kandy has a whole bunch of bakeries, both big and small, and you definitely won't regret stepping into a few of them. You'll be spoilt for choice if you take a walk around the city centre which is dotted with bakeries displaying their tempting ware in large glass cases. Do taste both the sweet and the savoury confections as both kinds are just mouth-wateringly sumptuous! What's more, the prices are extremely pocket-friendly too!


The quaint Kandy city centre


Bakeries with their tempting offerings on display


5. Spend time at Barefoot store & cafe in Colombo

We spent two days in Colombo, but unfortunately, due to incessant rains, we couldn't see much in this capital city of the country. We chilled in our cute hotel (but that's for another post) and walked around the surrounding area, which fortunately was quite a happening part of the city. Thankfully, the much-renowned Barefoot store was walking distance from my hotel and of course, I had to visit it after all the recommendations I had got about it from my Instagram friends. And when I entered into this vibrant wonderland of Ceylonese handicrafts, fashion and culture; I was more than glad that the rains didn't stop me from visiting this place. Barefoot is a treasure trove of all things inherently Ceylonese - from colorful handwoven clothes to pretty handmade jewellery and from beautiful home decor items to cute souveneirs - thus being the popular haunt of tourists. The amazing handcrafted goods and riot of colors inside the store has to be seen to be believed! You will spend hours taking everything in and once you have shopped enough to want to drop, then head over to the Barefoot cafe inside that'll greet you with some yummy food and drinks in a pretty outdoor setup. So, whatever you see or don't see in Colombo, make sure you don't miss spending a day or half at the Barefoot store and cafe. Trust me, you'll thank me later!



The store facade & colorful windows are enough to lure you in


Barefoot cafe all decked up for Christmas

I had to be satisfied with a pic of this vibrant door, as the store doesn't allow photography inside


So, now that you know what not to miss on your trip to Sri Lanka, plan your next holiday to the teardrop island! It's beautiful, it's picturesque and it's full of these little wonders that'll leave you with a memorable experience. How to plan the perfect trip to SL will be coming up in parts through different blog posts which'll follow soon!

Do drop in a comment or e-mail me if you want to know anything else about planning a trip to this beautiful island nation!

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Hope you all have started 2017 on a happy and positive note!!! :)
Let's make this the best year yet!


Love,
Anupriya


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6 comments

  1. I want to go toooo! Looks so nice Anu!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love how you have written this!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've heard such great things about Sri Lanka...Such a detailed post :)

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  4. Have been following your trip story on your social media. I need to plan a trip to Sri Lanka soon !

    ReplyDelete

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