If you are a cultural enthusiast, yoga nut, wellness warrior, adventure lover, beach bum, wildlife spotter, or spiritual seeker, here are 10 reasons why Sri Lanka should be your next destination:
1. Buckle Up for an Elephant Safari Expedition
Sri Lanka has 22 different National Parks, making jeep safaris to see the wildlife the an adventure of a lifetime. The top three most popular areas to take a safari are Yala, Udawalawa, and Habarana / Minneriya National Park. Animals such as elephants, peacocks, monkeys, leopards, exotic birds, and monitor reptiles can sometimes be spotted on your wild ride.
2. Seek Stillness at a Vipassana Meditation Retreat
Buddhism is very prevalent in the Sinhalese Culture. Many spiritual seekers look to Sri Lanka to experience a 10-day silent Vipassana Meditation Retreat. These are authentic and monastic retreats taught out of the Theravada Buddhism lineage. There are other, less intensive, meditation formats offered at different monasteries. Most are found near Kandy, Sri Lanka and applicants should apply a month before their visit.
3. Experience the Healing of Ayurveda
Although Ayurveda is rooted in Indian tradition, it is very prevalent in Sinhalese culture. Sri Lanka offers many ways to experience Ayurveda, from high end luxury spas, to local Ayurveda practitioners, to village Ayurveda drug stores and options to take courses at an Ayurveda medical school. There is a wide range of offerings and opportunities for any budget and experience level.
4. Connect Deeper with Your Spiritual Practices
Wellness, holistic, and yoga communities are thriving in Colombo, the capital, and the south coast of Sri Lanka. Any given week you can find a sound healing, kirtan, breathwork workshop, vegan cooking class, energy healing, etc. In Sri Lanka I have experienced the most beautiful and scared yoga spaces, along with the most high quality and transformational yoga offerings.
5. Trek Along Monks on a Popular Buddhist Pilgrimage
Adam’s Peak is the holiest mountain in Sri Lanka. This rock formation is known as Sri Pada, meaning sacred footprint, because Buddhist believe this is the last place Buddha stepped on the Earth before attaining nirvana. The journey typically begins between 2 or 3 in the morning. Pilgrims trek to reach the top by dawn to witness the sunrise over what is known as Sri Lanka’s Garden of Eden.
6. Hop Aboard the World’s Most Beautiful Train Ride
Train travel is a mode of transportation one does not miss while visiting this country. The most popular train ride is taken from Kandy to Ella. This is a 6 hour ride taken through mountain ranges, tea plantations, cultural villages, and lush nature preserves.
7. Stay Afloat with Sea Turtles
There are five different species of sea turtles that can be found on the shores of Sri Lanka. In season, tourist can visit specific shores to get a closer look and swim with the turtles. If you are traveling in the off season there is an opportunity to visit one of the rescue conservatories that home a wide range of turtle refugees.
8. Learn to Catch a Wave
In the last 10 years, the surf culture in the South Coast of Sri Lanka has been growing exponentially. All throughout the coast there are surf camps, surf instructors, surf towns, and surf schools. Sri Lanka offers many waves that are the perfect size for beginners, along with waves that will challenge the experienced surfers.
9. Find Your Cup of Tea
Sri Lanka is the world’s second largest tea exporter in the world, right behind China. In the late 1800’s, westerners came to Sri Lanka and found land that was perfect for tea plants. Popular tea brands such as Lipton, Dilmah, Zesta, and many more all grow most of their leaves in the plains of Sri Lanka. There a plethora of plantations to visit and sip some of the highest quality tea in the world.
10. Engage in Cultural Exchanges with the Locals
All of the villages and attractions have an abundance of homestay options. There are also a wide range of luxury resorts to budget hostels, but I prefer homestays because I think it helps to foster a richer relationship with the culture. Staying with a family creates a direct shift in perspective and experience in what it is like to live in a foreign place.