Oh beautiful Sri Lanka! If you’re looking for an adventure off the beaten track, get thee to this incredible island. There are very few tourists outside of the main historical sites, so Anne and I were frequently the only foreigners in local restaurants and shopping areas. What to do in Sri Lanka? Well, I do have a few suggestions:
1. SEE SOME OG SHIT
Sri Lanka has been around the block, y’all. There are 8 Unesco World Heritage Sites packed on the small island, each boasting impressive historical ruins of kingdoms long past. We got a little ruin-ed out towards the end, so pace yourself and hit up these 3 hot spots:
Scale SigiriyaBack in the day (~450 AD), a king named Kassapa squashed his pops and built his new kingdom on top of a gigantic boulder. Now sweaty foriegners climb hundreds of stairs to reach what remains of his palace, work on their tan lines and soak in the breathtaking view. Stretch those quads and hike on up.
Bike PolonnaruwaRent a bike for 300 rupees (<$3 USD) and explore what’s left of the Chola and Sinalese kingdoms that reigned a thousand years ago. Go early or late and steer clear of the crafty monkeys. Hang with the Big B 100 ft golden Buddha? Check. Buddhas in a cave? Bring it. Buddha frescos? Oui mon cherie! Kill three birds with one stone at Dambulla cave temple. Buddha Buddha Buddha rockin’ everywhere. 2. SNAP THE SICKEST SELFIESWith all the wild elephants and red-faced monkeys loitering about, snap any iPhone pic and you’re instantaneously a national geographic photographer.
3. EAT YOUR CURRIED HEART OUT If you don’t leave Sri Lanka with a carb baby, then you’ve done something wrong. Curry and rice is a staple, and at breakfast you’ll be served baskets of toast with orange jam or crepe-like pancakes called “hoppers.” Two words: eat everything. The island is home to many spices like cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and nutmeg, so the curries and stews you’ll eat for lunch and dinner will be packed with robust flavors. 4. GET DOWN WITH AYURVEDA After we climbed Sigiriya, I got slicked down with oil for an Ayuvedic massage and then bolted into an Ayurvedic sauna (If you’re curious, Google wooden open-faced steam coffin). Anne got a head and neck massage at a spice garden. If you’re into pampering on a dime, Sri Lanka has got you covered.
5. MIX WITH THE LOCALS Since our trip happened to overlap with the Sri Lankan New Year, our driver invited us to his family’s festivities. (Sidenote: hire a driver – he will hook it UP. This is common, cheap and not bougie whatsoever so just do it.) We watched the family give blessings to their elders, played games with the kids and ate our hearts out. It was a really special experience. Sri Lanka is ripe with life at every turn. It is truly a beautiful country with a very old soul, and the locals are equally gorgeous and soulful inside and out. Even despite the deathly heat, we had an incredible 6 day journey to this spectacular country. Thank you Sri Lanka!