1. Visit The Sacred Cities Of Anuradhapura And Polonnaruwa
Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are not too far away from each other. However, there are many sites to observe within each city. Anuradhapura is one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world and has been recognized accordingly by UNESCO. It was the Island’s first capital founded in 380 BC. It hosts many Buddhist temples and veneration sites like Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Mirisawetiya and Ruwanwelisaya which identifies with the rich Buddhist culture of the Island. These have been built by the Kings that ruled from Anuradhapura. The city also shows the intelligent works of the ancient architects and engineers in their irrigation systems and buildings which stand strong even to date.
After Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is the oldest Kingdom of Sri Lanka. King Parakramabahu was a well-known and respected King that made this city his capital. He built an excellent irrigation system; Parakrama Samudra being one such creation, to provide water for paddy cultivation which was the main source of income in the country. It was also known as the ‘Monkey Kingdom’ as there are many toque macaques observed in here. The sites to be observed in here are many; Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Statue of King Parakramabahu and Gal Viharaya are just a few of them.
2. Explore The Rock Fortress Of Sigiriya And Rock Temple Of Dambulla
The rock fortress of Sigirya is the 8th wonder of the world and was built by King Kashyapa to hide himself from the wrath of his brother. It is a rock which stands at 200 meters of height and a masterpiece of creativity and intelligent designing. Out of the various things to do in Sri Lanka, many people climb this rock, which can be a difficult but worthwhile task because the view from above is breath-taking. Sigiriya has many important sites to observe; the lion staircase, western wall of frescoes, mirror wall, water gardens, and many other. It is a popular site of attraction among both locals and tourists. Best to be avoided during weekends and Full-moon Poya days, which has a religious significance for people in the country.
The rock temple of Dambulla looks white from outside built on the side of Dambulla Rock and was the home for ancient Buddhist hermits. Here, there are four caves; The Deva Raja Viharaya (temple of King of Gods), Maha Raja Viharaya (temple of the Great King), Maha Alut Viharaya (Great new temple) and Paschima Viharaya (Western temple). Cave no. 1 is known for the statue of Lord Buddha’s Parinibanna or the last moment which is a 47 meters long statue. Cave no. 2 has a beautiful interior where the top arcs downwards towards the center. It has many paintings and statues of Buddha preserved well even to-date. Cave no. 3 has 50 Buddha statues and many of them are standing statues. Cave no. 4 is similar to other caves, but has a large Buddha statue in the meditation pose. All the roofs of these caves are painted with colorful ‘torana’ which adds to its beauty.
3. Get Blessings From The Temple Of The Sacred Tooth Relic
The temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, known as Sri Dalada Maligawa by locals, is situated in the city of Kandy and is known for containing a tooth of Lord Buddha in a stupa containing 6 stupas in decreasing size guarding it. The things to do in Sri Lanka are many but most locals and tourists visit the temple to catch a glimpse of this stupa, as it is considered to give you blessings. This holy place must be visited wearing an appropriate dress code. Shoulders, arms and legs must be covered and shoes removed when entering the temple. Interior architecture, shrines, paintings, and decoration should be appreciated.
Take a walk outside around the temple to enjoy its beautiful grounds and gardens as well. The temple is excellent for tourists as there are very descriptive information written on important sites almost making it seem like a museum. It is situated next to the Kandy Lake where you can take a boat ride. The temple is visited by school children on their trips and also by many other locals. As a tourist, it is best to visit it on a weekday when the crowd is less to experience a complete and peaceful tour of the temple.
4. Enjoy A Stay In The Hills Of Sri Lanka
5. Feed The Elephants At Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
6. Explore Flora And Fauna At Horton Plains And World’s End
7. Take A Boat Ride To View The Whales And Dolphins
The seas that surround Sri Lanka is home to many Dolphins and Whales. If you wish to catch a glimpse of them, take a boat ride to Dondra Point which can be reached from the Galle, Hikkaduwa and Mirissa beaches. Here, you will be able to observe both humpback and blue whales gliding past you. Occasionally, if you are lucky, you will be able to spot a sperm whale as well. These whales are easily viewed at Dondra Point as they pass it during their migration from Australia to Africa. There might be Dolphins as well but they are most commonly observed in the seas of Trincomalee and Kalpitiya. Dolphins are quite friendly and mischievous mammals who will put on a fun show for you. They will splash their fins in water and smile away.
You can organize a boat tour which will last 3 to 5 hours, where snacks and water will be provided for you. The boats are equipped with safety precautions including life jackets. However, beware! It is common to become nauseous during these rides, so take some antiemetic with you just in case.
8. Catch A Wave To Surf Away!
There is no better place to spend a surfing holiday than in Sri Lanka. It is an island filled with beaches which are ideal to catch a good wave to surf. While some beaches are more suitable for beginner surfers, others for more experienced ones. The best beaches for beginner surfers are the Weligama, Arugam Bay, Mirissa, Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna beaches. In Weligama, the beach breaks in both right and left sides makes the waves very mellow. In Hikkaduwa, the beach break falls progressively and as it gets closer to the shore. In Mirissa, there is right side reef and the waves break when it gets closer to the deep waters making it safe for beginners.
In Arugam Bay, there are many right sided sand bottom pits making it all the more easier to surf. Tangalle and Unawatuna are better for experienced surfers. But each of these beaches have varying points and breaks, which can be used by both types of surfers. There are many surfing schools around these beaches. Visit them and get instructed on where to go, to catch the wave ideal for you.
9. Go On Safari To View Wild Animals In Their Natural Habitats
The wildlife in Sri Lanka is vast and you can go on a safari to catch a glimpse of it. There are 14 national parks in this island and they cover 8% of the total area of land in the country.
The most popular national parks among tourists are Yala, Wilpattu, Minneriya and Udawalawe. Yala National Park is known around the world for having the largest amount of leopards. Some of these leopards are even endemic to the country. Wilpattu National Park is the oldest one in Sri Lanka and is quite large. Here too you will see leopards and bears drinking water from their natural lakes. Minneriya National Park is related to the Minneriya tank, a man-made lake in the third century during the rule of King Mahasen. Udawalawe National Park is known for their elephant population. These parks can be explored in safari jeeps, even during the evenings when the animals come out more often. The parks contain many species that are endemic to the Island. Some animals are so used to humans that they will try to even approach you out of curiosity.
10. Take A Hike To Catch A Breathtaking View Of Nature