When I set off for Sri Lanka, lots of my friends were surprised at my “bravery” to continue my trip despite the constant headlines about fuel shortages and riots. But my decision to go was based not on blind courage but instead on sound information from traveller websites like Tripadvisor. Everyone actually in Sri Lanka advised that travel was a bit more complicated, but still possible, and there was no reason to cancel.
My own experience was very positive. Finding fuel took up, on average, maybe 15 minutes each day, but apart from that, travelling was very easy. I had many more difficulties getting back home when my plane arrived back in Europe than I ever had travelling around Sri Lanka. I also felt safer and less hassled than in many other Asian countries. The people were wonderful, there were no tourist crowds, and the food excellent (and food hygiene was also good – not a single stomach problem in three weeks).
Most of all though, I liked the variety of things to do and see. Sri Lanka may not have any must-do, “bucket list” sights like the Taj Mahal or Niagara Falls, but instead it crams ancient ruins, busy temples, beaches, mountains and nature reserves into a relatively small area. It never took more than a few hours to get from one interesting place to another – unlike the big distances you might have to cover in larger countries. I had the added bonus of having many of these wonderful places almost entirely to myself.
Here are my most memorable experiences of the trip:
The unexpected Hindu/Buddhist procession at Kataragama
Safaris in Bundala and Kaudulla National Parks
Ruin hunting by bicycle in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa
Staying at the Hill Club
The view from my guest house in Ella and the “tea train” to Nuwara Eliya
Breakfast with an armed guard to scare off monkeys at Polonnaruwa
The Buddhas of the cave temples of Dambulla
Puja (service) at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy
And here is a “best of” list:
Best Hotels (there were a lot!): Heaven Upon Rice Fields, Anuradhapura; Ekho Lake House, Polonnaruwa; Paraiso Guest House, Ella; The Hill Club, Nuwara Eliya; Thaulle Resort, Tissa; Radh Hotel, Kandy; Le Jardin Du Fort, Galle
Best Food: Seafood in Nilaveli; Indian Hut, Galle; Take away Dosas, Kandy; Curry feast at the Radha Tourist home; Dinner at the Hill Club.
Best Beach: Nilaveli
Best City: Galle
Best National Park: Bundala
Overall, as of today (August 2022), my advice is go now. Plan carefully and you should have a brilliant time without crowds. Your travel budget will really help the hotels, restaurants and guides you spend it with. Yes, there is a risk that the political situation gets bad again, so check popular traveller websites regularly to see what is really happening on the ground – not the sensationalist western newspaper headlines. Currently, I evaluate this risk as very low, and it has to considered in the context of a country that is otherwise very safe for travel (low crime, good roads and high driving standards for Asia, excellent food hygiene, no malaria). The Sri Lankans are wonderful people and deserve your help, and their country is one of my favourites!
That’s all for this trip. Please sign up to follow my blog and get automatic email notifications the next time I hit the road. If you would like to ask a question, type it in the section for “thoughts” at the bottom of the page and I will get back to you.
I leave the very last word to one of my fellow animal friends….