When I was very young, I came across a quote that goes: “Go see it, and see for yourself why you shouldn’t go see it.”
I haven’t really been able to completely grasp the full meaning of it until I started travelling extensively. I was in Sri Lanka a couple of months ago and I enjoyed all the 10 days that I was there. I visited in April and while people have been marvelling at photos from the trip, they also were understandably curious if it is safe to go to Sri Lanka.
It’s been more than three months since the incident, and the official word from DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) is that Sri Lanka is now safe to travel to, as long as you exercise a high degree of caution – but we all do that in any country or city we go to anyhow.
Australian tour operator Inspiring Vacations was one of the first companies to have resumed their Sri Lanka tours as soon as there was word from DFAT that it is safe. Customer safety is paramount to them so they will never recommence tours unless it has been officially declared safe by the government.
Personally, I felt absolutely safe while I was there, and would also like to encourage you to discover Sri Lanka yourself. It’s a country so rich in culture and wildlife with very welcoming people.
To further entice you, I’ve come up with 5 good reasons why you should visit Sri Lanka:
1.) Their culture and people are peace-loving.
Not many people know that Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country. I myself only found out when I went there. Buddhism is essentially a very peaceful and non-violent religion, and its precepts do not support violence at all as a means to solve conflict.
I did not go to any Buddhist temple during my visit to Sri Lanka, but I actually felt this from the locals. They generally have a relaxed and friendly disposition, not at all aggressive or overly friendly which I really liked and made me feel more at home.
2.) The hackneyed term ‘breathtaking scenery’ is very real here.
For reference, Sri Lanka is about four times smaller than the size of the UK. And for a relatively small country, Sri Lanka is home to many of the finest landscapes anywhere in the world.
From the famous ancient rock fortress Sigiriya, to what is known as the world’s most scenic train ride (Kandy to Ella), Sri Lanka is seriously naturally beautiful and because it’s not too big of a country, it is very feasible to create an itinerary to see most of these sceneries in one trip.
3.) There’s a beach for every bum.
Sri Lanka has 1,340 kilometres of tropical coastline so they are not short on beaches. I was there for barely ten days yet I’ve seen different kinds of beaches – from the touristy Unawatuna Bay where surfers frequent, to the fine and sandy beaches of Tagalle, popular for honeymooners.
On my last day there, I even found myself in a beach in Yala National Park, where I saw elephant foot prints in the sand. Which means, yes, that beach is for the wildlife residing in the national park. So when they say there is a beach for everyone in Sri Lanka, they quite literally mean it, extending even to the animal kingdom.
4.) You should give Sri Lankan food a try.
Sri Lankan food is not as popular as its neighbouring countries’, so my first go at it was when I was actually in Sri Lanka.
To my delight, there are a lot of curries, and because Sri Lanka is mainly Buddhist and is a coastal country, there’s an abundance of seafood and it is quite convenient to come across vegetarian food.
And because Sri Lanka was under three colonies for over 400 years – the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, Sri Lankan food has a lot of food influenced by these countries. Just as an example, they have Dosi (Fruit preserves), which originated from the Portuguese language, ‘doce’, simply meaning sweet. They also have Kokis, crispy yellow deep-fried cookies which originated from the Dutch.
Hopper is also a common but tasty Sri Lankan breakfast which I can best describe as a cross between a pancake and a sunny-side up.
Sri Lankan food is also best eaten with your bare hands and visitors should definitely try this. After all, when in Sri Lanka…
5.) The Wildlife
If there’s only one thing that I must visit Sri Lanka for, this will be it. Sri Lanka is home to many national parks, and many tourists go on safari tours in an attempt to see the Big Five of Sri Lanka: Leopards, Elephants, Sloth Bears, Blue Whales and Sperm Whales. I was able to see 3 out of the five (all the land animals), and it was an exhilarating moment, one worth waking 3:30 in the morning for.
Sri Lanka’s national parks are also home to many luxury camps that provide safari tours. Staying in these air-conditioned luxury tents is already amazing enough and coupled with seeing Sri Lanka’s animals in the wild, it really makes for an incredible, unforgettable experience.