Sri Lanka is only three and a half hours from Thailand, but it is an unpopular destination for Thais compared to Japan and Korea. In fact, Sri Lanka is very rich in Buddhist culture and history and offers abundant places with religious and historic significance, amazing archaeological monuments, vibrant cultures, mist-shrouded mountains and wildlife. Travel from the east through the south and go farther to the west, and you will be amazed by the beauty of the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”.
Climbing Adam’s Peak, at 2,243m the fourth highest mountain in Sri Lanka, is one of life’s great experiences. At its summit lies a huge holy relic of mysterious origins: a 1.8m footprint carved in stone. Some claim this is a footprint of Adam, or Buddha, or Lord Shiva, etc. Though it’s subject to debate, this sacred place is crowded by local people, young and old, especially during the pilgrimage season from December to May. Make sure you start climbing at midnight so you have a chance to reach the summit by drawn to see the sunrise.
Kandy is the most religious site in Sri Lanka. The 17th-century Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) located in this town is among the most important and popular pilgrimage destinations for locals and people around the world. This sacred place is believed to house the left upper canine tooth of the Lord Buddha and is regarded as a representation of the living Buddha.
A resort city in central Sri Lanka 180km from Colombo, Nuwara Eliya (City of Lights) is my favourite town. The weather is cool, around 10-12C year round, and the people are friendly. Locals call it “Little England”, as the British tried to create a typical English village. Sri Lanka is famous for Ceylon tea, and tea plantations are big business as tea is a major export along with rubber and spices. It’s a pleasure strolling around one of the plantations watching Tamil women pick tea leaves amid breathtaking views of valleys, mountains and greenery.
Yala National Park
Located in southeast Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is the country’s most visited and second largest national park. The park covers 979 square kilometres and is an ideal place for adventurous travellers to see a variety of wild animals like elephants and leopards, birds and snakes. Stay in the South African-style tent offered by Leopard Safaris and let the owner, Noel Rodrigo, who has passion for wildlife and is an expert in leopards, take you on a jeep and discover leopards up close in the national park.