New Year. New Resolutions. New Travel Plans.
Every year, my family and I go to Goa first week of January. This year we decided we wanted to take a break from Goa, and explore a new place, or a new Country even. Beach bums that we are, it was a prerequisite that the place have beaches in plenty! Sri Lanka wasn’t even on my mental list of places to be covered, but thanks to the sudden hike in flight prices for Bali, we settled for Sri Lanka. I’m thankful for that because, otherwise, I never would’ve visited this beautiful jewel-shaped country!
I scribbled multiple itineraries, scourged the internet for suggestions, booked the flights and then, just like that, our first trip for 2018 was planned!
To cover all of Sri Lanka, you would need at least a fortnight, and I had just half of that, so I settled for the West and South of Sri Lanka, which was a good choice for the season too, but I ended up picking the sea and the ocean over the places of historical interests!
In this post, I will show you through the first 3 days of my trip in which we covered Negombo, Colombo and Bentota.
We landed in Colombo on the 1st of January, and headed straight to our stay for the night, in Negombo. Funny thing is that Negombo is closer to the Colombo airport than Colombo city itself. Whaaaaaa? Yeah, that’s right.
I booked an Airbnb property, Oreeka – which, being just 9 kms from the airport, was perfect for a one night stay. We reached there to find a cute little place nestled between a swarm of coconut trees, overlooking a pool and a beautiful garden. It was only until next morning that we got to see how beautiful the place was!
It had a boat in the garden, a boat, yes! And multiple vintage cars, and a great pool, and a big garden and a DJ console and dancing area. It was just perfect!
We spent the morning lazing around the place, finding out about Negombo and Colombo, chomping down some bacon and sausages. So, the places you should expect to see in Negombo are:
- The Dutch Canal
- Negombo Beach (you can find much better and prettier beaches in this country though)
- Angurukaramulla temple
- Mary’s church
Having said that, you can totally skip Negombo and head to Colombo directly. You won’t be missing out on much.
On the 2nd, began our actual trip. We moved to a more luxurious resort – Amagi Aria.It is built right by a lagoon which has tastefully done up rooms with bright paintings. My room opened directly to the pool, and the lagoon. It was a mesmerizing view, to say, in the least. The buffet breakfast was exceptionally good, the lunch options not too much. The staff is very helpful, almost going out of the way to help their guests. We dived into the pool the minute we checked into our rooms, to enjoy the sinking sun by the lagoon. We went on with our touristic pursuits in the latter half of the day.
We visited the following places and you should totally check them off your list too, if you’re in Colombo!
- Gangaramaya Temple – This one is not only one of the most beautiful but also one of the most iconic Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. It is more than a century since this temple was constructed. The ceilings and walls contain pictures and miniature paintings that explain stories from Buddhism religion. In the main sanctorum, a huge Buddha statue exudes a brilliant sense of calmness in the devotees. Built in a mix of various architectural styles including India, Burmese, Thai and Chinese, this temple also houses a museum.
- Beira Lake – Close to the Gangaramaya Temple, in the heart of Colombo, is a huge lake – Beira Lake. In the middle of the lake is a small island containing the Simamalaka Shrine, which makes for a beautiful place to just sit, relax and meditate.
- Galle Face Green – This one is right by the Galle beach, a huge stretch of road for all the nature lovers. Go there for a nice walk post dinner, enjoy the winds from the Indian Ocean and lip-smacking treats from the vendors on the road! This road has all the five star properties and makes for a great sight!
- Old Dutch Hospital – No, it isn’t a hospital. It houses some of the best sri lankan restaurant, cafes and shops! Go there for a good meal sometime
- Odel – Odel is the shopping hub of Sri Lanka. Expect some expensive shopping. Do not buy your souvenirs from here. The courtyard right outside Odel is something I loved. Absolute Thalassa feels (for all Goa lovers) amazing food, great ambience and lovely live music!
- Pettah Market – This is the street market of Colombo. Do not expect Sarojini and lajpat prices, but you can find yourself some good souvenirs, batik print clothes and also the famous Sri Lankan masks. You can bargain and get yourself a good price here.
- Nelum Pokuna Art street – One of my favorites from the city, this street bang opposite the Viharamadevi Park is full of artists displaying their art on the roadside. Such talent that I was awestruck! Must visit!
We also went to the Pettah Floating Market – not at all worth it. Just skip it.
These were just the places that I could manage to squeeze in to my itinerary. You could also visit the National Museum, Mt. Lavinia and Buba Beach, Viharamadevi Park. The Old city Hall and Independence Arcade area are other places tourists visit when in Colombo.
The next day, we traveled to Bentota for a day trip– which is on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, all of 110 kms from our resort, and just 85 kms from Colombo. The beach in Bentota is a fold of pristine gold sands along the mighty Indian Ocean. We spent the entire day till sunset at the bentota beach, monkeying around, making time lapses and sipping on to beer! From the beach, we headed straight to one of the turtle conservation projects. You can find many in this part of the country. They have varieties of turtles and you can even release a turtle into the water. Good for a one-time experience!
This pretty much summed up my first three days in Sri Lanka!
So here’s a list of some of the things I loved about Sri Lanka:
- The people – so warm, makes you feel as if you’re in India 😊
- Egg hoppers!!! Egg hoppers are the Sri Lankan version of egg in the hole, where an egg is cracked open into a paper-thin bowl shaped Dosa and cooked. It’s delicious. Must try!
- Coconut water – everywhere!
- Beaches – so pristine – amazing for surfing and scuba diving!
- Tuk tuks – Sri Lankan version of Indian Autos, except they’re much more vibrant- in bright blues and greens and reds!
- MANGOES – All year round! Can you beat that?
Things I did not like about the country:
- Travel is expensive, by road – A six seater or an eight-seater van cost us 6500 LKR for 60 kms
- The rupee has no value at all – I didn’t understand the pricing there at all. It was absurd. A packet of lays costed 300 LKR, a Dairy milk silk priced at 1050 LKR, and even tampons were priced at an exorbitant 1500 LKR! Very weird
- Shopping – Sri Lanka wouldn’t exactly be a shopaholic’s paradise. The country is great for its varieties of Tea, and the masks, but other than that you won’t really find anything else!
If any of you plan to visit the country anytime soon, let me know, and I can include the list of must-visit places, eateries and whatever else you guys need to know in the very next blog post!
Hope you guys enjoyed reading 😊
Till the next time then!