Personally, 14 days isn’t enough to explore Sri Lanka properly but it is enough time to get a sense of what the country has to offer. So I thought I would share with you what we did during our visit, an estimation of how long you can spend in each place and some of my favourite places, I highly recommend you visit.
A few things you have to know about our holiday, first of all we decided to hire a car and driver for the duration of our stay in Sri Lanka, which meant we hadn’t pre-booked any hotels other than for our first night in Colombo. The main reason for this was because we didn’t know how long exactly we were planning to stay in certain places or the order we were going to visit them. Now I love spontaneity but I think this was probably something that made me more anxious that I thought it would, mainly because there was no real structure to the holiday, which meant there were occasions where we would visit a number of hotels to find a room for the night. This also meant we more or less lived out of the van we were travelling in, and so had a lot of time just driving from place to place. Although, we sometimes spent hours travelling, the views were spectacular because not only were you driving through the countryside but also small villages and towns.
Day 1-2: Travel Day and Colombo
The first day was mainly travelling, we decided to travel mostly through the night, which meant we got the evening flight from Heathrow and arrived in Sri Lanka in the early afternoon. Straight from the airport, we were picked up by our driver and taken to our hotel in Colombo, so we could freshen up and drop off all our suitcases. We spent the evening in Colombo, grabbing some traditional Tamil food, a lot of the restaurants served similar meals such as Dosa, Roti and spring hoppers. One thing I was quite shocked about was how cheap the food was, especially for the amount you were served. I definitely recommend having a wonder around Colombo during the evening, maybe even a stroll on the beach.
Colombo is very much like a little India in the sense that all the roads are manic, people walking everywhere and streets of brightly lit shops. Personally, Colombo wasn’t one of my favourite places just because of how hectic it was but I would still recommend visiting it even if it’s for a few hours, just to experience the atmosphere.
Day 3: Off to Jaffna
The drive to Jaffna is about seven hours, and most people prefer to drive there in the evening, when the roads are less busy, but we decided to drive up in the morning, just so we could make the most out of the journey. Even though it’s a long drive, it is definitely worth it, not only are you driving through country roads but small towns and villages which allows you to see all of Sri Lanka and visit various places on the way. During that drive we stopped at a fruit stall which was stocked to the brim with fresh exotic fruits, we visited a small town for some lunch and probably saw more cows than people.
There are many reasons I loved the drive to Jaffna, but there was one moment that I will absolutely never forget, the moment we started to drive along a narrow road across the Indian Ocean, I was in total awe of the vast ocean.
Day 4-5: Exploring the Northern Province
By the time we arrived in Jaffna the sun had set and we decided to call it a day and start fresh in the morning. Jaffna Town is much like Colombo in the sense that it’s quite manic but the roads are much smaller, however unlike Colombo, Jaffna felt more like home. Whilst in Jaffna we spent most of our time visiting a few Hindu Temples, exploring the villages my parents grew up in and meeting distant relatives and their school friends.
However there were a handful of places we visited whilst we were in the Northern Province that I definitely suggest you see. Whilst in Jaffna Town I would definitely recommend you visit one of the Hindu temples such as Nallue Kandaswamy Temple, not only are they beautifully crafted, they are very different to the Hindu temple in the UK, so much more simple and humble. There are many temples around Sri Lanka that are widely visited and some I personally think you should visit along the way, along with Buddhist temples and Mosques. In the middle of Jaffna town there is a market open every day where you can buy fresh fruits, the market is surrounded by roads of shops and restaurants, where you can buy some traditional Tamil, and if you plan to visit any religious building then I suggest buying at least one traditional outfit to wear.
Along the coastline of the Northern Province is a beautiful hotel called Thalsevana Holiday Resort, where you can stop for a spot of dinner to watch the sunset over the sea or even have a relaxing day at the beach. I would recommend getting there for about five in the evening, and sitting outside on the patio just so you can fully appreciate how beautiful the sunset really is.
Day 6-7: Eastern Province
After a few busy days in Jaffna, we made our way back down south, this time driving along the coastline in the Eastern Province.
Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear waters I have ever seen, which you should unquestionably visit whilst there. We stayed at a stunning beach resort, The Calm Resort and Spa for a two days, to catch some sun rays, have a dip in the water and a little breather from what was very much a busy few days. The hotel had a private beach which meant you had a lot of space to really relax and take it all in, I spent most of the time sitting out in the sunshine reading one of the many books I had taken with me or just having a swim in the water. If you’re up for an early morning then I suggest waking up before sun rise and watch it from the beach, even if it means going out in your PJ’s because it is absolutely breath-taking.
The first week was mostly spent in Jaffna and the northern Province, but if you are more interested in having a more relaxing holiday, then I would suggest spending less time in Jaffna and making your way down south a day or two earlier. In the next post I am going to talk you through the second week and some more places I would recommend you visit.
Love Sharuni xx
//19th June 2018//