First impressions of Sri Lanka

(Last Updated On: April 23, 2019)

Kate Filer recently experienced Sri Lanka for the first time when she travelled on our 8 day Colombo, Caves and Kandy tour in October. This tour, together with some tailor-made arrangements, made for the perfect introduction to Sri Lanka as a first time visitor. Kate shares her time in Sri Lanka and recommends her pick of must-do experiences for any first trip to this fascinating country. Having the opportunity to visit the ancient sites of Polonnaruwa, climbing the ancient Lion Rock fortress and taking a safari in some of Sri Lanka’s best national parks you will see that this island has something for everyone. Sri Lanka is the perfect mix of beautiful landscape, history and wildlife.

Hill country - First impressions of Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya has some of the country’s most picturesque scenery

Explore the hill country

Nuwara Eliya is undoubtedly most famous for its lush tea plantations and beautiful surroundings. Here you can see white louvered tea factories dotted across the hillsides as you drive along the winding roads that cut through the tea plantations. With scenery like nowhere else in Sri Lanka it’s well worth taking a minute or two to stop and take it all in.

Tea pluckers - First impressions of Sri Lanka
Tea is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest exports and is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea

Watch the tea pluckers

As you climb further into the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya you will start to notice the tea pluckers working in the fields. Often girls will follow their mother and grandmother’s tradition of being a tea picker and it becomes a family business.

Spice garden - First impressions of Sri Lanka
With the wealth of spices on hand, the food in Sri Lanka is delicious

Visit a spice garden

Sri Lanka is famous for its spices. On the Colombo, Caves and Kandy tour you have the opportunity to visit a spice garden and learn about the spices’ traditional uses as well as how they are cultivated. There is also the opportunity to enjoy a cooking demonstration to show you how the spices are used in everyday life in a Sri Lankan household.

Polonnaruwa - First impressions of Sri Lanka
Polonnaruwa is just one of the country’s many UNESCO sites

Discover Polonnaruwa

See some of the most incredible ancient sites on a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Polonnaruwa. The Vatadage is thought to have been built during the 12th Century to hold the tooth relic of Buddha.

Sigirya - First impressions of Sri Lanka
The climb is definitely worth it for the stunning views from the top of Sigirya

Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress

For one of the most amazing views in all of Sri Lanka, climb the incredible Sigiriya Rock. You can only access this incredible granite rock fortress by climbing a steep set of stairs up the side of the rock. It’s not for those scared of heights but the view at the end is definitely worth the climb.

Jeep safari - First impressions of Sri Lanka
A safari in Udawalawe National Park is a real highlight of any trip to Sri Lanka

Take a jeep safari

The best way to get up close to Sri Lanka’s wildlife is to take a jeep safari through one of its many national parks. Whether it be looking for elephants in Udawalawe National Park or spotting something a little more elusive in Yala, a jeep safari is the best way to do it.

Elephant - First impressions of Sri Lanka
The best way to spot elephants in Sri Lanka is in the wild on safari

See Sri Lankan elephants

While Sri Lankan elephants are unfortunately now listed as an endangered species, the good news is that due to conservation they are easily spotted in the Udawalawe National Park where a herd of about 250 are thought to reside. The park also has an elephant home where they look after abandoned calves within the park.

Temple offering - First impressions of Sri Lanka
At Buddhist temples, worshippers offer a range of items

Give a temple offering

As you enter a Buddhist temple complex you will be able to purchase a range of items that are used as symbolic offerings. In this case flowers are the main offering whereas you may find at other temples foods, oil lamps, water and or burning incense.


If Kate’s travels have inspired you to experience the Cultural Triangle, wildlife and tea plantations of Sri Lanka, browse our Sri Lanka group tours

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