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SRI LANKA HOLIDAY TIPS

SRI LANKA TOURIST PLACES-BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka tourist places can be categorized broadly under historical places, natural tourist attractions and adventure tourist sites. Sri Lanka is a small island with diverse terrain – from Adam’s peak to Indian Ocean coastal belt-and history goes back to 5 millennia. In the central province, the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka includes many UNESCO world heritage sites and tourist places such as Sigiriya rock, massive water storage facilities such as Parakrama Samudra that equipped with an advanced water management system. All around the country is endless palm, fringed beaches that suitable tourist places for refreshing saltwater activities and leisure.

Sri Lanka is a popular holiday destination in Asia but still, a large number of people are still not well aware of things to do and see on the island. Usually, we receive a large number of email from our readers and they ask questions like, what are the interesting places to visit in Sri Lanka? what are the important historical places in Sri Lanka? What are the must-see places in sri Lanka? what are the famous Sri Lanka tourist spots? Can you suggest a few beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka?

I have written a few blog posts about Sri Lanka tourist place but still, we keep on receiving email fro our readers with the questions that I mentioned earlier. Therefore, I thought of writing another fresh content of 35 beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka.

Here is the list of top 35 best tourist places to visit in Sri Lanka for a perfect Lanka holiday.

Tourist places in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle

  1. Anuradhapura ancient city
  2. Dambulla golden cave temple
  3. Kandy
  4. Sigiriya rock fortress
  5. Polonnaruwa historical city
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1. Anuradhapura – The Historical City

Anuradhapura historical site is the first capital of Sri Lanka and home to thousands of crumbling historical monuments. The historical monuments spread over 40sq km and comprised of Dozens of palaces, Buddhist temple, Buddha statues, ponds, gardens, and many other historical monuments. Anuradhapura was the ruling capital of Sri Lanka from 3rd century BC to 11th century AD and therefore, Anuradhapura was the capital of Sri Lanka for more than 1000 years. During its heyday, Anuradhapura remained as stable and durable centres of political power and urban life in South Asia. Anuradhapura is a sacred city and houses some of the most sacred Buddhist temples like Srimaha Bodhi and Ruwanweli Stupa.

What you need to know about this Sri Lanka tourist place

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 168 km
  • Time take on the drive: about 4 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Anuradhapura: $115 USD
  • What to see: historical monuments dating back to 3rd century BC to 11th century AD

2. Dambulla Golden cave temple

Dambulla, a popular tourist hotspot lies in the central province of Sri Lanka. Dambulla golden cave temple is UNESCO world heritage and located in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, near the Sigiriya rock fortress. This 1st century BC cave temple is one of the oldest and one of the biggest cave temples in the world. The impressive Buddhist temple is comprised of 5 natural, granite caves and there are more than 150 Buddha statues are to be found in the temple.  A large extent of the ceiling and the walls of the temple are hidden with ancient religious paintings.

Dambulla golden cave temple is the most important tourist attraction in Dambulla and the largest quartz mountain in Asia known as iron word forest, Dambulla international cricket stadium, Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site (discovered recently) are following in terms of importance. Ibbanwala burial ground is not only a historical site but also it provides evidence on the existence of advanced indigenous civilizations long before the arrival of Indian influence on the island nation. Ibbankatuwa if just 3 kilometres away from Dambulla cave temple.

Few points about tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 128 KM
  • Time takes on the drive: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Dambulla cave temple: $ 100 USD
  • What to see: Buddhist temple, ancient paintings, Buddha statues
  • Activities: exploring Buddha statues, paintings, historical monuments

3. Kandy – The home of the sacred tooth relic

Kandy better known as Maha Nuwara is the cultural and religious hub of Sri Lanka, where a large gathering of Buddhist devotees can be witnessed at any time of the day. Kandy is the home to the most sacred Buddhist temple of Sri Lanka, the tooth relic temple, which proudly posses the left eye tooth of Buddha. Kandy is one of the 7 UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka and located within the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Kandy is the capital of the Central Province and Kandy District. Kandy is picturesquely located in plateau and surrounded by a ring of mountain peaks. Kandy produces one of the most important commodities of the island, the tea; which helps the island to earn a large portion of its hard currency.

What you need to know about this tourist attraction in Sri Lanka

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 104 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 3 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Kandy: $ 80 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums

4. Polonnaruwa – Crumbling ancient city

Polonnaruwa was the second most historical capital of Sri Lanka and played the role of the capital city in the 10th and 11th century AD. King Vijayabahu I made it his kingdom in 1070 AD after defeating the Chola army of south India and united the country under his rule.

Few things you must know about this Sri Lanka tourist place

  • Distance from Colombo airport to this historical attraction: 193 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Polonnaruwa: $ 150 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums

5. Sigiriya rock fortress-5th century marvel

Sigiriya rock, a monolithic huge granite rock lying in the central province of Sri Lanka is the most visited, iconic tourist attraction in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. This impressive historical monument dates back to 5th century AD and King Kashayapa converted it to his royal residence. The Sigiriya royal palace is consisting of a landscaped garden, which regarded as one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Apart from the garden swimming pool, granite throne, ancient paintings, natural fountains, ponds and foundation of the twin floors building also can be seen in the city.  Sigiriya is included in most Sri Lanka tour packages, especially in Sri Lanka cultural triangle tours.

Few important facts on this tourist hotspot

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 143 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Ratnapura: $ 120 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums
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  • Highlights-Water rafting, Boat tour, Rainforest trek, Visit temples, Jeep safari
  • Duration-4 Days
  • Places- Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Kithulgala, Tooth relic temple, Sinharaja forest, Udawalawe national park, Mirissa, Galle Fort, Bentota
  • Start/End-Colombo
  • Transport-Private vehicle
  • Accommodation 3-star hotel
  • Meals-Breakfast and Dinner
  • Availability-From Nov 2019 to Nov 2021

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Other popular historical places in Sri Lanka

6. Hambantota-Manchester of South

Hambantota is a laid-back rural town in southern Sri Lanka is given its due place in the world sea route map, very recently, thanks to the newly built Hambantota international port. Hambantota is located at the heart of the arid zone, where the least rainfall of the island is recorded. However, it has been able to provide a large portion of Sri Lanka rice, vegetable and fruits consumption. Hambantota is a place to see a large number of historical sites and religious places such as Katargama and Yataltissa Dagoba

What you need to know about this historical site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 260 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 4 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Hambantota: $150 USD
  • What to see: historical monuments, religious sites, beaches, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: visiting historical monuments, wildlife exploration, beach holidays, trekking, hiking

7. Adam’s Peak-The temple in the sky

Adam’s peak is the 3rd highest mountain (2243 meters, 7359 ft) of Sri Lanka, also known as Sripada. The cone-shaped mountain is popular being a destination for Buddhist pilgrims for many thousands of years and it is the longest trekking site in the country. The moonlight hike to the summit lasts more than 5 hours on average. At the summit, the sacred footprint of Buddha is to be found.

Few helpful facts about this Sri Lanka tourist place

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 131 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 4 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Adam’s Peak: $150 USD
  • What to see: breathtaking scenery Buddhist temples
  • Activities: Hiking, Trekking

8. Galle-Old world charm and Colonial heritage

Galle, the capital of southern Sri Lanka was a trade emporium in the medieval time. Today it is a tourist hotspot and one of the leading beach holiday destinations on the island. Galle is a UNESCO world heritage site due to the presence of Galle Fort, which is the best-preserved fort in Asian built by Dutch East Indian Company in 1656.

This archaeological masterpiece hides thousands of houses, mansion, bungalows, storage compartments, churches and labyrinth of cobbled streets connecting all corners of the inner-city. The entire city looks like an old European city and separates from the rest of the world by a huge wall. Today it is visited by foreign travellers and old constructions are converted to hotels, guest houses, restaurants, pubs, shops, galleries, museums and restaurants with Sea view.

More facts about historical places in sri Lanka

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 154 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 2 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Galle: $ 100 USD
  • What to see: Beaches, historical monuments
  • Activities: beach holidays, water sports.

9. Jaffna, better known as Yalapanum

Jaffna or Yalpanam is the largest city in northern Sri Lanka. The most residence of Jaffna is believers of Hinduism with Sri Lankan route. The rest of the Jaffna community consists of Sinhalese and moors people. However almost all Muslims and Sinhalese lived in the northern peninsula were chased out from the area by Tamil Tigers, who fought for a separate country in northern Sri Lanka.   

Few helpful facts on this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 360 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 7 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Jaffna: $230 USD
  • What to see: Historical monuments, forts, religious sites
  • Activities: visiting historical monuments, visiting religious sites, exploring culture, visiting Forts

Best places to visit in Sri Lanka along the beach

10. Arugam Bay-The surf paradise

Arugam Bay, the surfing capital of Sri Lanka, is a laid-back beachfront village sits in the eastern corner of Sri Lanka, a few kilometres northward from Yala national park.  The Distance from Colombo to Aru Gam Bay is 320 km and it takes around 5 hours to reach Aru Gam Bay from Colombo airport. 

Arugam Bay is not only a surfing spot but also a very popular beach holiday destination, holds a reputation being an affordable beach holiday destination on the island. Aru Gam Bay attractions many travellers every year, however, its development as a holiday destination is lagging behind compared other beach holiday destination on the island such as Bentota and Galle. There had been a development in eastern Sri Lanka with the ending of civil war in 2009; however Aru Gam Bay has not been much profited with it and the development in Aru Gam Bay is very negligible during the past few decades.

Few helpful facts about this famous tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 360 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 7 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Aru Gam Bay: $250 USD
  • What to see: Beaches,
  • Activities: water sports and beach holiday

11. Batticaloa-Beach galore

Batticaloa is a beach resort on eastern Sri Lanka and home to dozens of wide, sandy beaches.  Batticaloa is largely unexplored; it was totally isolated until 2009 due to the political unrest prevailed in the area. The doors of Batticaloa were opened to the people with the ending of Civil war in 2009, since then it has become a popular beach resort on eastern Sri Lanka.  However, the beaches are still not well-prepared to play a big role in the tourism industry due to the lack of infrastructure; there is an acute shortage of accommodation and other facilities.

Few helpful facts about tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 280 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 6 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Batticaloa: 5 hours
  • what to see: Beaches
  • Activities: water sports, beach hopping

12. Bentota Beach-Blue seas and unspoiled beaches

Bentota is the most popular beach on the island and about half of the tourist crowd takes refuge in Bentota and surrounding area. Bentota is also called “Golden mile”, owing to its golden-coloured, wide, palm-fringed, and sandy beaches. Bentota is in the west coast of Sri Lanka and it mainly caters to middle class to high-end luxury seekers. By far Bentota is the coastal town that prepared best for the tourism industry with a wide range of accommodation possibilities, and recreation activities. The beach resort of Bentota is located on a strip of land that spread alone the beaches and it is surrounded by waters on 3 directions.  Bentota River flows to the sea, hugging other 2 sides of the Bentota beach resort and other side is flanked by the Ocean.  The access method to most hotels in the Bentota beach from the mainland is the ferry or boat.

  • Highlights- Yala national park, Galle fort, pinnawala elephant orphanage, Spice garden, Tooth relic temple, Tea factory and plantation, Bentota beach, Galle, Madu River Estuary, Sea Turtle Conservation Center
  • Duration-8 Days
    Places- Yala, Galle, Kandy, Mirissa, Bentota, Colombo, Nuwara Eliya
  • Start/End-Colombo
  • Transport-Private vehicle
  • Accommodation 4-star hotel
  • Meals-Breakfast and Dinner

Special Price US$ 690, save $100, Regular Price US$790

Helpful information about this tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 100 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Bentota: $ 70 USD
  • What to see: Beaches,
  • Activities: water sports, beach hopping

13. Beruwala-Beaches and sunset

Beruwala is located near the popular beach resort of Bentota and which is also a popular destination among the beach holiday lovers.  Beruwala is considered being the first Moorish settlement of the island. It is believed that Arabian traders made the first settlement in Beruwala in 8th century AD, later it grew and expanded throughout the island, still there is a large Muslim population in Beruwala.

Beruwala is more popular for the fishing industry than tourism; here you get one of the biggest fishing harbours on the island.  Some of the most popular gem merchants of Sri Lanka are coming from Beruwala (china town, Masjid-ul-Abrar, is the most popular landmark in Beruwala, which regarded as the oldest mosque on the island, built by Arabian merchants on a rocky peninsula overlooking the town.

Helpful information about this famous place in Sri Lanka

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 90 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 1 hour
  • Cost of the trip to Beruwala: $ 60 USD
  • What to see: Beaches, historical monuments
  • Activities: water sports, beach hopping, visiting religious monuments

14. Colombo-The city of dreams

Colombo is one of the oldest seaports in the region and frequented by merchants from Arabia, Greek, China and India. The strategic location on the East-west Sea route made Colombo an important port of call for most sea-farers and the city was known to the world 2000 years ago. Later it was occupied by Portuguese (1505 – 1656) and the shipping activities of the port was further expanded.

It is believed that Portuguese invented the name of “Colombo”, and the name supposedly derived from the classical Sinhalese term Kolon thota, meaning “port on the river Kelani”. But some others believe that the name of the city derived from the Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means “Harbor with leafy mango trees”. Despite its importance as a port city and economical activities, Colombo was not the capital of Sri Lanka until 1815. The city was given statues of the capital of Sri Lanka during the British colonial period (1796-1815). In 1978, when administrative functions of Sri Lanka were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo lost its status as the capital city, however, Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka until today.

Helpful information about this tourist city

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 30 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 30 Minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Bundala: $ 40 USD
  • What to see: Historical monuments, museums, zoo, beaches
  • Activities: city tour, shopping
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15. Hikkaduwa Beach-heaven of backpackers

Hikkaduwa is a beachfront town on the west coast of Sri Lanka, which is one of the popular beach holiday destinations on the island. Hikkaduwa is popular for pristine beaches and corals. The town was severely affected by the Tsunami in 2004, however, it recovered from the natural disaster within a short period of time, and it was re-built with a much grandeur that it had.  Hikkaduwa a fishing village and tourism is also playing a major role and provide income for a large number of families. Hikkaduwa is a beach resort with options to surf, snorkel and enjoys the sun.

More information about this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 144 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Hikkaduwa: $ 70 USD
  • What to see: Beaches, monuments, reserves
  • Activities: Diving, snorkelling, boating, beach holidays, visiting monuments

16. Kalkudah Beach-A gem of east coast sri Lanka

Kalkudah Kalkuda (Pronounced Kal-Kuda, Tamil translation rock-bay, is a beach resort in eastern Sri Lanka. It was a popular beach holiday destination on the east coast but with the Tsunami in 2004 huge damage occurred to the infrastructure, which is not fully recovered until today. Te 30 year civil war, which ended in 2009 also had been the main reason for lethargic development of east coast beach resort.     

More about this tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 260 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 6 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Kalkudah: $ 200 USD
  • What to see: Beaches
  • Activities: beach holiday, water sports

17. Kalpitiya Beach-The emerging holiday hotspot

Kalpitiya is another beach resort on western Sri Lanka, few kilometres northward from the international airport of Sri Lanka. Kalpitiya is one of the least explored beach front laid-back city and the best place for a calm and quiet beach holiday. Unlike many other beach holiday destinations such s Bentota and Galle, it is highly unlikely that you encounter hordes of tourist here.

Kalpitiya is an emerging Kiting destination in the regions mainly due to the Kalpitiya lagoon, which provides the best conditions for kiting. Whale watching and Dolphin watching is also very popular activities in Kalpaitiya apart from beach holidays and water sports. The Dutch Fort and St Peter’s Kerk church in the town itself are interesting examples of Sri Lanka’s rich history and colonial past. 

More on this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 144 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 3 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Kalpitiya: $ 150 USD
  • What to see: Beaches, wildlife
  • Activities: beach holiday, water sports, village tour

18. Matara Beach-Follore and mysteries

Matara is in southern Sri Lanka was belong to the ancient kingdom of Ruhuna. According to historical evidence (Mahawamsa), the first group of Indian that arrived on the island settled in Matara, along the riverbank of Nilavala. Matara is another stronghold of Sinhalese Buddhist culture for many centuries, which is cauterized by ancient Buddhist temples and religious monuments. Dondra and Devinuwara are most popular Buddhist temples in Matara and both are dating back to the pre-Christian ear.  Matara has earned a reputation being the best whale watching destination in Asia and provide easy access from its harbour in Mirissa to whale commission in the Indian Ocean.

More on this tourist place

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 180 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Matara: $ 150 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums

19. Negombo Beach-Colonial charm

Negombo is a fishing village just north of Colombo international airport, which is the closed beach resort for travellers, who arrive at the Colombo international airport. Negombo is located next to the Negombo lagoon, which harbours a large extent of mangrove and preserves a very important ecological habitat. The economy of Negombo revolves mainly around the fishing and tourism industry while the majority of people in Negombo are Catholics, which is characterized by a large number of churches.  

More on this tourist place

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 8 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 15 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Negombo: $ 20 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums

20. Nilaveli-Emerging beach spot

Nilaveli is a popular beach resort on the east coast and had been able to come to fore as a tourist hotspot after the civil war. There is upbeat of foreign travellers in Nilaveli since the end of civil war in 2009. The best time to travel to Nilaveli is from April to November. 

Few facts on this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 246 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Nilaveli: $ 200 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums
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21. Pasikudah-Land of palm trees and blue seas

Pasikudah is one of the Sri Lanka tourist places but it is not given its due place. This beachfront resort has wide sandy beaches with torque, warm water that suitable for a perfect beach holiday.

More on this beach holiday destination

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 266 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 6 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Pasikudah: $210 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums

22. Trincomalee-Home of natural harbor

Trincomalee is a port city on the eastern corner of Sri Lanka with one of the biggest natural harbours in the world. Trincomalee has played a big role in many important international affairs such as World War II, in which Trincomalee harbour had been used as the operation hub in southern Asia for allies. Trincomalee is predominantly a Tamil city with a large number of Hindu temples. Trincomalee contributes to the island economy in many ways and it is a beach holiday destination that attracts a large number of leisure travellers.  Trincomalee is one of the main centres of Tamil speaking culture on the island. The historical name of Trincimlaee was Gokanna, or Gokarna and it has been a seaport that has played a major role in maritime and international trading history of Sri Lanka.

More on this beach holiday destination

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 241
  • Time take on the drive: 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Trincomalee: $ 210 USD
  • What to see: Beaches, historical monument, Hindu temples, Forts
  • Activities: beach hopping, visiting cultural and historical monuments

23. Weligama Beach-surf paradise in south

Weligama is best describes as the surfing hub in southern Sri Lanka. A large number of surfers gathering to Weligama and surrounding areas with their surfboards as it provides the best setting for this thrilling adventure. It also fishing towns where a large number of people is engaged in the fishing industry. Recently it has emerged as a beach holiday destination and attracts a large number of leisure seekers. There are few upmarket hotels such as Marriott opened its doors to high-end luxury holiday lovers in the area recently. It is most famous for its distinct stilt fishermen and an offshore islet known as Taprobane, where a dream house of French Count de Maunay was built.

Few more information on this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport:
  • Time take on the drive:
  • Cost of the trip to Weligama:
  • What to see: Beaches, historical monument, Hindu temples, Forts
  • Activities: beach hopping, visiting cultural and historical monuments.

Tourist attractions in Sri Lanka with adventure activities

24. Ella-Home of mountain back packers

Ella is one of the most popular hill stations for nature lovers; most importantly Ella is popular among foreign travellers. Mini Adam’s peak, Ella rock, Idagashinna trek, Lipton seat hike, Ravan Ella falls, Bambaragala peak are some of the places for a memorable hike and trekking in Ella. Ella is blessed with natural beauty and spellbinding scenery in Ella takes the visitors by surprise. Ella is a popular hideout among the young crowd and they are nature lovers and love to do trekking, hiking, rainforest exploration, visiting tea gardens and Bird watching.  Most hotels in Ella are built such a way that it opens its door to the Ella gap or the Ella mountains, giving you a dramatic cinematic-like experience.

More information on this eco-holiday destination

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 234 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 5 hours 40 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Ella: $ 250 USD
  • What to see: Mountains
  • Activities: exploring wildlife reserves, visiting waterfalls, trekking, hiking.

25. Horton plains national park -The world end

Horton plains national park is one of the very popular Sri Lanka tourist places, also known as “Maha Eliya” in the Sinhalese language, is a national park that resides more than 2000 meters above sea level. Horton plain’s is a biological hotspot with a large concentration of endemic fauna and flora of Sri Lanka. Sitting above 2000 meters above sea level means it is under the wrath of heavy wind and cooler temperature, the vegetation of Horton plains is well adapted to these weather conditions. The national park was named after Lady Anne Horton in 1834, wife of Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, then-governor of Ceylon.

More on this tourist hot spot

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 178 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Horton plains: $ 200 USD
  • What to see: Fauna and Flora, waterfalls
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, wildlife exploration

26. Kitulgala- the adventure playground of sri Lanka

Kitulgala-also known as the adventure playground in Sri Lanka is one of the best Sri Lanka tourist places for adrenaline-pumping activities. There are many places for adventure activities on the island but none of them is superior to Kitulgala. Kitulgala is a laid-back city (but it is developing fast) with a large extent of the forest around it. The rocky outcrop with rivers, waterfalls, mountain peaks and rainforests creates many dozens of places for rainforest trekking, bird watching, kayaking, waterfall abseiling, mountain biking and white water rafting. Kitulagla is coming under the influence of 2 monsoons (north-east monsoon and south-west monsoon) and drenched by torrential rain. Kitulgala receives one of the highest rainfalls on the island, which is the main reason for maintaining a healthy green cover within its borders. The Academy Award-winning “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was filmed I Kitulgala.

More facts about this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 85 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Kitulgala: $ 100 USD
  • What to see: rainforest, historical monuments
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, rainforest exploration, bird watching, and adventure sports such as whitewater rafting

27. Knuckles mountain range

The Knuckles Mountain Range -One of the most valuable Sri Lanka tourist places in the central province of Sri Lanka near Kandy. As the name suggests there is a series of peaks in the reserve that resemble the knuckles of clenched as you look from certain places, that’s how it got its name, the name derived in the British colonial era and early British surveyors masterminded it. However, the Sinhalese name for the reserve is “Dumabara Kanda”, which means mist-laden mountain range. The entire area is characterized by its striking landscapes often robed in thick layers of cloud but in addition to its aesthetic value, the range is of great scientific interest. It is a climatic microcosm of the rest of Sri Lanka.

More facts about this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 145 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 4 hours 40 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to knuckles mountain range: $200 USD
  • What to see: wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, exploring Fauna and Flora

28. Nuwara Eliya-The little england

Nuwara Eliya is not just one of the Sri Lanka tourist places, it is the most popular holiday spot in the mountains. Nuwara Eliya sits 1800 meters above sea-level and one of the most popular holiday destinations with best healing climates on the island. Nuwara Eliya and surrounding area are characterized by a large extent of tea plantation, which produces the raw material for CELON TEA, one of the most valuable commodities that bring valuable hard currency to the island.     

Few important facts about this tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 154 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Nuwara Eliya: $150 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, lakes, waterfalls
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting waterfalls, visiting historical places

29. Ratnapura-The gem city

Ratnapura is the main city of Sabaragamuwa province, which is most popular for the gem industry. Ratnapura is a Sinhalese name, which can be divided into 2 terms “Ratna” (gem) + “pura” (city) literally means gem city. As the name suggests Ratnapura produces 90 per cent of precious gems stones exported from Sri Lanka thereby making a valuable contribution to the island’s economy.

Ratnapura shines with gemstones as well as with the largest extent of primaeval rain forest known as Sinharaja and Ratnapura is the gateway to Sinharaja primaeval rain forest. There are main access routes to Adam’s peak and starting point one of which is Ratnapura. Agriculture is also a big scene in Ratnapura and produces a wide range of cultural products such as Rubber, Tea, coconut, fruits and vegetable.

More facts about this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 121 Km
  • Time take on the drive: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Ratnapura: $ 150 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: trekking, hiking, visiting national parks, visiting museums
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Popular Sri Lanka tourist places for wildlife exploration

30. Bundala Nationa Park-Wildlife galore

Bundala national park is one of the least explored Sri Lanka tourist places and still not popular among the travellers. However, if you are a bird-lover and on a Sri Lanka bird watching trip, you are supposedly not missing Bundala national park. Most foreign travellers choose warm, sunny western coast of Sri Lanka for their holidays likewise most migrating birds choose Bundala national park as their resting place mainly during the winter in the hern hemisphere. Bundala is the last bastion of the bird migrating route that directs birds to warm southern Asia from the northern hemisphere.

The park resides by a large number of resident birds as well as migrating birds at any time of the year. Bundala is a coastal wetland and one of the best eco-habitat for avian fauna species.  The park is also resided by many mammal species such as leopards, elephants, crocodile, and jackal. Bundala national park resides in the deep south of Sri Lanka on the coastal village of Hambantota. The park is ideal for instant gratification: in a 3-hour jeep safari, the visitors are able to spot elephants, 8ft crocs, flamingos, wild buffaloes.  Afternoon and early morning safaris in the dry season (November to April) provide visitors with the best chance of seeing the wildlife.

More information on this tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 270 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Bundala: $ 200 USD
  • What to see: National park
  • Activities: wildlife safaris, camping

31. Minneriya national park-The elephant gathering

Minneriya is a forested locality among the popular Sri Lanka tourist places, it is situated the iconic tourist attraction of Sigiriya. Minneriya is popular mainly due to the 2 things. One is the Minneriya wildlife reserve and the other thing is Minneriya Lake built by king Mahasen. Minneriya national park is tourist hotspots on the island visited by a large number of foreign travellers; it is one of the best places to spot wild elephants. A large concentration of wild elephants is very common sight here especially in the evening, around the lake, where there is a large tract of open grassland. Minneriya Jeep Safari is not available as a standalone tour, most travellers, who visit historical monuments of the cultural triangle makes a jeep safari at Minneriya national park, as it is very close historical sites such as Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa.  

More information about this tourist site

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 160 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 4 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Minneriya: $ 200 USD
  • What to see: cultural site, ancient temples, gardens, wildlife reserves
  • Activities: jeep safari, visiting national parks

32. Pinnawala elephant orphanage-Forster home for orphans

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is among the most visited Sri Lanka tourist places. It is another tourist hotspot started in 1975 to order to afford care and protection to the orphan, sick and old elephants found in the jungle. Soon it has become a tourist hotspot and lived by travellers of all ages. Today more than 80 animals are living in Pinnawala elephant orphanage, making it the largest tamed elephant herd in the world. The elephant orphanage spreads over 25 acres of coconut land near the Maha Oya River.  

More information on this Sri Lanka tourist place

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 83 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Pinnawala elephant orphanage: $100 USD
  • What to see: Zoo dedicated to elephants
  • Activities: Visiting the Zoo

33. Sinharaja forest reserve

Sinharaja rain forest is another popular Sri Lanka tourist places and attracts a large number of nature lovers. This tourist hotspot is the most impressive primaeval rainforest on the island and it is one of the oldest rainforests in the world with its roots going back to Gondwanaland era. This millennia-old primaeval rainforest has a large stock of Fauna and Flora, of which most are endemic to the island. Sinharaja rainforest has a wide range of avian fauna species and it is one of the best places to spot endemic bird species such as jungle fowl. Sinharaja is part of most bird watching tour and nature holiday packages of Sri Lanka. Sinharaja rain forest is the only natural UNESCO world heritage site on the island.

More information on this tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 151 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 3 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Sinharaja rain forest: $120USD
  • What to see: Fauna and Flora
  • Activities: jungle trekking, wildlife exploration

34. Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu national park is the biggest wildlife reserve with 131, 693 hectares in its realm. It is one of the most popular Sri Lanka tourist places on teh island and is considered being one of the best places to spot leopards. The “villus” (Natural lakes) ) – Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater is a distinct feature of Wilpattu and which is not visible in most other wildlife reserves on the island. There are sixty such natural lakes in the park and they are extremely useful while it provides much-needed drinking water to the animals especially during the dry period. The national park is located in north-west Sri Lanka between Puttalam and Anuradhapura (30 km from Anuradhapura).  

Few more information on this tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 140 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Cost of the trip to Wilpattu national park: $120 USD
  • What to see: fauna and Flora
  • Activities: Jeep safari through the wildlife reserve

35. Yala National Park

Even though it is smaller in size compared to Wilpattu. Yala is one of the most popular Sri Lanka tourist places and it is the most visited national park on the island and lies in the south-west of Sri Lanka. Yala is the 2nd biggest national park on the island and it is the best national park I the world to spot leopards (panther pardus kotiya), due to the large concentration of this cat in the park.

This tourist attraction spreads over 979 km², however, only 141 km² are open to the general pu8blic. Yala had been a game park and hunting ground for wealthy British planters and officers in the past (1894), later it was declared as a wildlife reserve. Much of the reserve is parkland, but it also contains jungle, beaches, freshwater lakes and rivers and scrubland. Making a full day Yala safari dramatically increases chances of spotting leopards, wild elephants, bear and many other rare animal species.

More information on this tourist attraction

  • Distance from Colombo airport: 300 KM
  • Time take on the drive: 6 hours
  • Cost of the trip to Wilpattu national park: $180 USD
  • What to see: fauna and Flora
  • Activities: Jeep safari through the wildlife reserve
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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity)

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