Taking the local trains will trains will give you some of the best views of the country and will allow you to experience one of the few places that are still running these British colonial era trains. The most popular route is between Kandy and Ella. During this eight-hour ride, it’ll be hard to find a seat but you could always sit at the door with your legs out and enjoy the views.
Sigiriya rock is perhaps the noticeable and visited tourist attraction in the country. It’s often called the eighth wonder of the world; and for good reason too. But many tourists overlook the peaceful small town nearby. Filled with hidden gems, one can enjoy a freshly made lunch, be seated above a canal and watch as locals ride in their elephants for baths.
Sir Lanka is filled with many natural wonders. From this small town, you can arrange a local safari tour that can take you to any one of these many national parks housing wild elephants. Most safaris use open top jeeps that allow you to enjoy 360 degrees of uninterrupted views of the landscape.
The coastal town of Mirissa is a tourist favorite. Some of the many attractions here are the beautiful beaches which are perfect for swimming or surfing. The famous Coconut Tree Hill is the perfect place to end the beach day and catch one of the best sunsets on the island. This booming beach town is home to hip new restaurants as well as trendy roadside cafes.
Visiting the nine arch bridge is on the top of most travelers lists while in Sri Lanka. Located near the town of Ella, this picture perfect train pass was built during British occupation and is surrounded by lush green forest and tea plantations. Easily accessible form the local town, you can come here to watch the train pass – which happens every hour.
One of the best ways to get around the country is by renting a motorcycle. Although it’s a more expensive option, it’ll allow you to travel at your own pace, stop and enjoy local restaurants or tea plantations and even take a swim in one for the many waterfalls around the country. Although the country side is less crowded and easier to navigate, the cities can be a bit overwhelming with traffic.
Another popular option is to rent a rickshaw. It’s one of the few countries in the world that allow this and make for a great adventure with friends.
One of my personal favorite experiences during my travels was catching the sunset from Little Adams Peak. Located outside the city of Ella, an easy hike up will bring you to dramatic natural landscapes. Here you can find a nice place to sit down and prepare for a breathtaking sunset experience. The hike up is just as exciting as the sunset itself.
Big Adams Peak, located five hours away form Little Adams Peak, allows you to start a 2 am hike reaching the top right before sunrise. Being the most sacred mountain in Sri Lanka, Along the way you’ll encounter many locals here on a religious pilgrimage. The 5,500 steps are well worth it and don’t forget to walk to the back of the mountain to see its shadow over the landscape.
If you really want to feel like a local, travel around the country on local buses. They’re the most affordable option that can transport you between major cities for under $1. Larger Bags are placed either in the back of the bus or next to the driver up front. Often crowded, in my option, the best seat on the bus is actually on the floor facing the back door or standing at the door itself. You’ll get fresh air and great views.
Sri Lanka being an island, presents no shortage of beachside resorts and hotels. My personal favorite was the Bara Beach House located just outside the city of Galle. Here you can rent little tree huts, grab a drink and watch the sunset right over the Indian ocean. Walking on the beach itself will allow you to explore nearby oceanfront restaurants, cafes and bars; and there’s always live music happening somewhere!
Here’s a YouTube video I uploaded on my channel to summarize this blog:
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