Things to do in down south Sri Lanka

Down south Sri Lanka is not a superstar in the Sri Lankan tourism industry but it offers some very exciting tourist hotspots and you will find countless things to include in your Sri Lanka south coast itinerary. Tour packages to the south such as Sri Lanka 4 days tour and Sri Lanka 3 days tour includes a fascinating collection of tourist attractions from Forts, wildlife parks, ancient temple, beaches, and many more. With a population of just 2.4 million, southern Sri Lanka is one of the least densely populated regions in Sri Lanka and has also flown under the radar when it comes to mass tourism. Popular cities in southern Sri Lanka like Tissamaharama, Matara, and Galle have a mix of medieval streets, modern city life, and seaside promenades, while most parts of southern Sri Lanka are still covered by a large extent of forests, plantations, rice paddies, lakes, rivers, and pristine beaches making it easy to escape the hustle and bustle and find some solitude.

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Down south Sri Lanka for a peaceful holiday

With a population of just 2.4 million, southern Sri Lanka is one of the least densely populated regions in Sri Lanka and has also flown under the radar when it comes to mass tourism. Popular cities in southern Sri Lanka like Tissamaharama, Matara, and Galle have a mix of medieval streets, modern city life, and seaside promenades, while most parts of southern Sri Lanka are still covered by a large extent of forests, plantations, rice paddies, lakes, rivers, and pristine beaches making it easy to escape the hustle and bustle and find some solitude.

What are the 10 best things to do in the southern Sri Lanka tour itinerary?

  1. Swimming with sea turtles
  2. Spotting blue whales
  3. Diving and snorkeling
  4. Beach hopping
  5. Surfing
  6. Visiting blowhole
  7. Visiting Katuwana Fort
  8. Visiting Ramba Vihara
  9. Spotting leopards at Yala national park
  10. Sampling delicious seafood
  11. Visiting Bird sanctuary Hambantota

What are the 10 best places to visit in down south Sri Lanka?

One common feature of Sri Lanka’s south coast tourist attractions is that they are very rich in natural beauty. Most tourist places on the south coast are still unpolluted, and uncrowded. The temple and historical sites are surrounded by lush green vegetation, the beaches are unpolluted and uncrowded. Even the cities and towns are not busy and roads are not full of vehicles like in Colombo and most other west coast cities. Therefore traveling to the south coast is a wonderful experience for travelers who like a peaceful holiday.

Some of the places listed below are very popular among travelers while a few places such as rumba vihara are not popular with gaming travelers, especially among foreign travelers. Places like Yala national park and Udawalawe are tourist hot spots in sri Lanka and the south coast beaches also attract a large number of travelers every year. These popular tourist sites are part of most of Sri Lanka’s south-coat tour itineraries. However, it is well worth visiting other tourist attractions on your trip to the south, because those places are also packed with natural beauty, historical importance, and unique architecture.

  1. Blowhole
  2. Katuwana fort
  3. South coast beaches
  4. Blue beach island
  5. Yala national park
  6. Udawalawe national park
  7. Kumana national park
  8. Bird sanctuary hambantota
  9. Mulgirigal temple
  10. Ramba Vihara

Down south Sri Lanka for pristine wilderness

With only fewer travellers than most beaches holiday destinations such as the west coast, southern Sri Lanka offers the perfect opportunity to lose yourself in the pristine countryside, towering forests, and crystal-clear lakes of the country’s idyllic national parks. Add a dash of wildlife such as leopards and elephants roaming free; then chuck in the Midday Sun, while dipping in the torque blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

Fast-developing down south Sri Lanka

Southern Sri Lanka has a very promising future in terms of economic development and development in the tourism industry. The newly opened southern Internation harbour and the airport are expected to create rapid development in the region.

The outer circular way of Sri Lanka’s southern expressway opened on 7th November 2019, which connects the southern highway that leads to Matara from Colombo and the airport highway, which means travel time between southern Sri Lanka holiday destination and Colombo airport going to be curtailed by about 1 hour.

The new expressway reduces travelling time on your Sri Lanka south coast itinerary

Now travellers can travel direct from the international airport of Sri Lanka (Bandaranayake international airport) to southern Sri Lankan beach cities such as Galle, Matara, and Mirissa while bypassing the chaotic traffic in Colombo. It had been around a 3-hour drive from Colombo to Galle and about a 4-hour drive between Matara and Mirissa. However, with the opening of the connecting part of the southern expressway and airport highway, now travelers can reach Galle in 1 hour 30 minutes, while it takes around 2 hours to reach Mirissa and Matara from Colombo. Therefore, travellers can explore the most important tourist places in southern Sri Lanka on a Sri Lanka day trip.

Un-crowded and peaceful beaches for Sri Lanka’s south coast itinerary

The time taken to reach other pristine beaches near the southern tip of Sri Lanka such as Tangalle beach, Hambantota beach, and Ranna beach is also going to be reduced by around 1 hour. This means travellers now can reach Tangalle in 2 hours and 30 minutes and Hambantota in 3 hours. The less crowded, isolated beaches in southern Sri Lanka will be hot beach spots in the near future, and a tourism boom is expected in the region in the near future.

Sri Lanka beach holiday in down south Sri Lanka

  • Koggala
  • Ahangama
  • Weligama
  • Matara, Mirissa
  • Tangalle
  • Hambantota

Head to southern Sri Lanka to see the untapped Marvellous beaches in Weligama, Matara, Tangalla, and Hambantota. These beaches were spared from tourist traffic in the past due to the long journey from the Airport. and underdeveloped tourism infrastructure was another reason for the lethargic development of the industry.

Before the opening of the southern expressway, travellers could visit southern Sri Lanka tourist places only on multi-day Sri Lanka trips. Southern Sri Lanka tour itinerary had been at least a 2 days affair in the past, such as Yala and Galle 2 days trip.

Thanks to the newly constructed highway it has never been so easy to travel to the southern coast and the time spent on travelling has been drastically reduced. Today you can visit Yala national park in Sri Lanka for one day trip from Colombo and you can make a whale-watching trip from Colombo within a day.

They are still not as crowded as Bentota beach, Negombo and Kalutara. If you are the kind of person who values the calm, serene atmosphere and likes to have peace of mind, then go to southern Sri Lanka beaches before it gets crowded.

International hotel chains are slowly starting to build large-scale accommodation facilities along the coast in Galle and southern Sri Lanka, in view of catering to the growing demand. With the opening of the International airport and international harbour, Southern Sri Lanka is well on the way to becoming a major tourist destination in the future.

Southern Sri Lanka possesses an interesting blend of nature, culture, and history of the southern part of the country. Southern Sri Lanka the home of many national parks such as Yala, Udawalawa, and Kumana. The abundance of historical sites including Tissamaharama, Kataragama, and Kirinda keeps southern Sri Lanka an important place to study the rich historical past of Sri Lanka.

The hinterland of down South Sri Lanka has remained much the same as it was in the days when monarchs-in-exile concealed themselves in cave monasteries or jungle hideouts in its remote recesses or rebel heroes galloped along those devious pathways that momentarily yielded a narrow clearing to be almost immediately curtained off by the thick briars and impenetrable foliage densely growing on either side after they had passed by.

In those distant times when merchants pluckily plodded in their bullock-drawn carts and wagons to buy and sell the product, they collected from innumerable villages. Today these remote hamlets in the Deep South are popular places for Sri Lanka beach tours. Large numbers of travellers flock to pristine beaches that invite a peaceful holiday in Sri Lanka.

Things to do on a holiday in southern Sri Lanka

This a question with many answers, however, what isn’t there to do in southern Sri Lanka? With so many natural and man-made attractions and things to do in southern Sri Lanka spanning from Yala national park to Kataragama temple through the downtown of Tissamaharama.

You need many days to round up all the places with a visit. But with so many interesting places to visit, southern Sri Lanka was out of the scope of areas that considered being places for a holiday in Sri Lanka. Perhaps, it was because of the long distance from the Colombo international airport. It had taken as much as 7 hours to reach southern Sri Lanka before the opening of the southern expressway.

Today southern Sri Lanka has become an emerging holiday hotspot on the island. The southern part of Sri Lanka is booming as a holiday hot spot and infrastructure is also improving on par with the increasing demand for facilities. It has never been so easy to travel to the southern tip of the country before.

The new international airport and the international harbour provide a new opening to the island for international holiday lovers. A large number of hotels and other forms of accommodation are being added to this emerging holiday destination. Don’t wait till it is too late to explore this fascinating corner of the island.

Shipwreck, Beach hopping, and surfing on down south Sri Lanka itinerary

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Most travellers don’t think that the Southern coastal belt offers many interesting places for beach sports, holidays, and diving. If you plan your Sri Lanka south coast itinerary with a beach holiday, you have chosen one of the best places for your holiday. The pristine beaches of the southern coast are perhaps a lot better than the beaches on the west coast, this is because south coast beaches still attract far fewer travellers compared to west coast beaches.

Unlike the west and east coast beaches on the southern coast such as Mirissa and Unawatuna is suitable for sea bath at any given time of the year. Have a leisurely stroll along the borders of the Indian Ocean and enjoy the interesting formation of nooks, bays, mangroves, sand dunes, small tide pools, and swaying palms along the way.

The southern sea off the Dewundara is the international naval route between the west and east and this was in use as early as the pre-Christian era. Even today hundreds of ships traverse this area on a daily basis. The great barrier a few kilometres from the Sri Lanka coast near the naval route is the giant coral reef that caused many ships to perish in the region, in the early days. Therefore, the southern sea is a popular spot for diving enthusiasts on the island.

It is one of the best places to explore shipwrecks. Some of the shipwrecks here are dating back many centuries and today they are dwelling places of various sea creatures such as exotic fish species, sea plants, and coral species.

Narigama, the surfing hot spot on the southern coast is just a few kilometres from Matara. The waves and wind are very favorable for surfing on the southern coast, especially in places such as Tallalla. The waves rise up to 3ft during the months of December, January, and February. These are the most crowded months of the surfing spots in southern Sri Lanka.

Down south Sri Lanka visiting blowhole

The blowhole is one of the most visited natural tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, which is located in the southwest corner of the island. The blowhole is situated in the village of Dikwella and it is about 15 kilometres from Matara. This natural attraction is visited by a large number of local and foreign tourists. A blowhole makes a very beautiful sight when it pushes water into the sky. This natural fountain is not occurring very often but it occurs occasionally.

In geology, the blowhole is formed as sea caves grow landwards and upwards into vertical shafts and expose themselves towards the surface, which can result in quite spectacular blasts of water from the top of the blowhole if the geometry of the cave and blowhole and state of the weather is appropriate.

Katuwana Fort- places to visit in down south Sri Lanka

Twenty miles from Tangalle, on the road which passes Walasmulla and Kirama, is the little-known Katuwana Dutch fort. The fort stands on a low round hill and overlooks a river that bends around its base.

To the east of this hill, there lies a flat country covered with low jungle and thicket. This matted curtain hides from view the few small villages which have saved the track from being described as an absolute wilderness. On the south and west, a similar type of country stretches into the distances; but to the north, there lies a forest-clad mountain range on whose side, in the bright morning of the north-east monsoon, each tree stands clearly defined. In the hot weather, this range shimmers in the heat and looks more mirage than land; and in the wet months of May-July, it looms vaguely as a bank of clouds.

In all these vagaries of mood, this great irregular rampart separated the plain where the Dutch held sway from the realms of the Kandyans. It was the one object visible from the little fort that mattered, for from its heights there dropped the only track which for miles on either side of it gave access to the plains. From this pass might issue at any time a force of nimble Kandyan who would swarm over the plains, plunder whom they dared, and generally regain their hills successfully.

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Down south Sri Lanka Surfing

Surfing is one of the very popular activities in southern Sri Lanka and Weligama is the most popular locality for this sport. Surfing is one of the best activities to be included in the southern coast tour itinerary and Ahangama, Weligama and Mirissa provide plenty of breaks to suit surfers of all levels. The main surfing season on the Southern coast begins in October and lasts until the end of March when the ocean is glassy, the wind is more offshore and the swell is solid.

Surfing can be done the rest of the year too, but the setting is not that much on the side of surfers because the Ocean is dumpy and waves are inconsistent. Weligama, Ahangama, Talalla, and Mirissa are considered the best beach town for surfing and they have a number of surf breaks to suit all levels.

The water temperature is constant and it is 27 degrees Celsius, which means warm water and no need to wear a wet suit. Due to the high demand for surfboards you find here a large number of board rental shops, there are no sharks in the Sri Lankan waters and there are plenty of un-crowded breaks.

If you are a novice and like to learn surfing, there is a large number of surfing schools on the south coast, The surfing schools conduct one-day surfing programs to multiple days surfing programs. You can choose the best program depending on your skills and time availability. If you are a free surfer and like to surf without attending any surf school or surf program, there are plenty of surfing spots on the southern coast to choose from.

If you are a novice and like to have a little bit more experience then head on to Weligama or Hiriketiya beach and one-off surf lessons or board rentals. SK town, Lazy Left, and Kabalana are very suitable for surfers with intermediate-level experience. Polhena beach, near the southern tip of Sri Lanka, Ram’s, and Madiha are places with reef breaks and are suitable for very experienced surfers.   

Sri Lanka wildlife holidays

By far southern Sri Lanka is the most popular province for Sri Lanka wildlife tours. Most travellers, who wish to explore Sri Lanka’s rich wildlife are heading either to Yala national park or Udawalawe national park. Both of these national parks are located in southern Sri Lanka and both of them give very valuable experience for wildlife enthusiasts. Kumana national park which is also located in the southern province is also a popular place for wildlife tours. Perhaps it is not as popular as Yala and Udawalawe, however, it is a good alternative for both Yala and Udalawawe national parks. Usually, most of Sri Lanka’s south coast itinerary includes a wildlife tour based on either Yala national park or Udawalawe national park.

Down south Sri Lanka Blue Beach Island

Blue beach island is located in Nilwella, Dikwella, Matara in southern Sri Lanka. Blue beach island and the mainland are connected by a sandbank, and travellers can reach the island by taking a walk on the sand bank. The sea around Blue beach island is considered to be ideal for snorkelling. Despite its natural beauty, Blue beach island remains an off-beaten path tourist attraction in Sri Lanka and only a few local travellers come to this island.

Down south Sri Lanka bird sanctuary Hambantota

The bird sanctuary of Hambantota is located near the Hmabnatota international conference hall. The bird sanctuary of Hambantota is not a popular tourist attraction like most other tourist places such as Yala national park. However, it is worth visiting the bird sanctuary if you have time. It is a very rare opportunity to see a large number of bird species in a sanctuary. In order to reach the Bird sanctuary, the travellers need to travel about 10 km towards the interior of the country from the Colombo-Hambantota main road. A large number of bird species are residing in the bird sanctuary and the number exceeds 180. Around 3200 birds are residing in the sanctuary. The Hambantota bird sanctuary spreads over 35 acres and it is restricted to only the birds.

Down south Sri Lanka visiting Mulgirigala temple

If you like to explore historical places and religious sites on holiday destinations you travel to, then you should thoroughly consider visiting Mulgirigala temple on your trip to southern Sri Lanka. Mulkirigala temple or better known as Mulgirgala Raja Maha Vihara is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. Despite its historical and religious importance, this archeological site is not popular among foreign travelers. Most tour operators do not pack it into the Sri Lanka tour packages. However, I have seen many local travelers visit the temple on their Buddhist pilgrimage tours to southern Sri Lanka. But visiting this temple is well worth it if you have time.

The temple is tucked away in the deep south of Sri Lanka about 200km from Colombo. The temple is surrounded by lush green natural vegetation. It would take about 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach the temple from Colombo. Apart from its historical importance, the temple is unique due to its location. The temple is located on a monolithic rock. The temple is built on natural rock, which rises up to 205 meters from the surrounding area. The temple is surrounded by another four monolithic rocks, namely Benagala, Kondagala, Bisogala, and Seelawathiegala. Travelers need to travel two kilometers toward the interior of the country from the coast. Mulgirigala can be conveniently reached either from Dikwella or Tangalle city.

Places to visit in down south Sri Lanka- Ramba Vihara

Hambantota is a popular beach holiday destination on the island of southern Sri Lanka. A large number of travellers head to the pristine beaches around Hambantota every year. Hambantota is on the radar of national and international travellers not only as a place for relaxing beach holidays but also as a place to experience nature, culture, and history. This paragraph is about Ramba vihara, which is classic evidence to prove the rich historical past of Hambantota.

Ramba vihara lies beside the Walawe basing of Hambantota district. This is a treasure of historical significance and shows us the antiquity of Sri Lanka. A large number of murals and statues can be seen at the image house of Ramba Vihara, especially the murals narrate the stories that depict the grandeur of Sri Lanka. 

How to find Ramba Vihara

Ramba vihara is situated in the Village of Pallerota in Ethbatuwa Wasama of Goiruwa Pattu East in Hambantota, Sri Lanka. It is picturesquely located on the west bank of the Walawe river and Mamadala stream (a branch of the Walawe river). The nearest city to the temple is Manavulupura or modern Ambalantota, which is around 13 kilometres from the temple. It had been the capital of the medieval capital of the Ruhunu kingdom of Sri Lanka.

Find the way to Ramba Vihara

Nonagame is a major point on the Colombo- Kataragama main road after Tangalle and Ranna. One needs to take the Embilipitiya – Nonagama main road with a left turn in Nonagama. Ramba vihara is situated on the left side of the road about 10 kilometres from Nonagama.

It spreads over a plot of flat land, which is 200 acres in extent.  Excavations started by the Ruhunu Cultural fund are still in progress at the site. The excavations are carried out under the purview of the archaeological department of Sri Lanka.

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The excavation project is divided into 6 stages and 3 of them are already completed. What is excavated so far is comprised of the assembly hall, a hermitage for Buddhist monks, and a shrine room.  One of the oldest marble Buddha statues on the island was recovered during the excavation of the shrine room. Today this valuable Buddha statue is housed in the national museum of Colombo.

An inscription, dating back to the 12th century during the reign of King Nissankamalla, who ruled the country from Polonnaruwa was found at the site. Another three inscriptions were discovered at the site but no studies were done so far. Still, a huge area of the site is yet to be explored. One shrine room that was located near the river was comprised of many Buddha statues. Also, a valuable Buddha statue was recovered from the dwelling area of the temple.

Number of large ponds were discovered during the excavations and archaeologists believe that they were used for maintaining the cool atmosphere on the premises.  There are four Dagobas with historical importance in the temple, one of them is renovated and is used by the people in the area today.

There is one incident involved with regard to the name (Ramba) of the temple. Samba is the first name of the site and became Ramba centuries after the beginning of the temple. In the incident group of monks from Anuradhapura met another group of monks from Situlpawwa while they were wandering in search of water. The incident took place in the 1st century AD during a severe drought on the island and this was the place where they met or samba (Sinhalese term equal to met).

The temple was originally begun in the 3rd century BC during the reign of King Mahanaga. There are many pottery utensils were discovered on the site dating back to this period. The second historical note on the temple was in the 11th century AD, during the reign of King Vijayabahu. It had been the royal temple of King Vijayabahu of Polonnaruwa. Once this temple had been the shelter of Queen Ratnawali (mother of King Parakramabahu) and her children for a brief period.

Today it is being visited by a large number of devotees, especially the people who are on the pilgrimage to Kataragama, due to the proximity of this ancient temple to Kataragama temple.

Visiting Buddhist temples, what do you need to know?

All visitors to these sacred places are supposed to dress in a particular manner to uphold their religious values. There is a set of rules that every visitor to religious sites observes while visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. If you are wondering what these rules are, check out this article “13 RULES TO OBSERVE WHILE VISITING SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TEMPLE, SRI LANKA TEMPLE DRESS CODE TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH DRES’ CODE“.

How much does it cost to rent a surfboard on the southern coast? Renting a surf boat costs around USD 2 (about 500 LKR) for 2 hours