Last year I travelled to Sri Lanka with a pretty big group of colleagues. We had a week and we wanted to get as much as possible done. One of these girls stepped forward and organised basically the whole trip and she did an amazing job. Unfortunately our time in Sri Lanka did not live up to my pretty high expectations. I left Sri Lanka feeling pretty disappointed to be honest. This is not to say that you should not travel to Sri Lanka, you absolutely should. But this post will tell you what you should avoid when you make your trip, it also includes a few of the things I did enjoy. So let’s get started.
Sigiriya Rock – We travelled 7 hours on our tour bus from the airport in Colombo to Sigiriya Rock. Google maps tells me 4 hours but as you will find in Sri Lanka everything takes longer than it should! Sigiriya Rock is a quite an unusual large rock that was once a fortress. You basically climb up and get to see the views from the top. The climb itself is pretty moderate, although I found it quite difficult as I had food poisoning and was incredibly unfit at the time! But the views from the top were absolutely breathtaking (or was that the climb up that took my breath away, I can’t quite remember). The entrance charge was 30 USD which is kinda on the steep side for Asia but despite that I would definitely recommend this for those views alone!
Matale Spice Garden – So next we went to this Spice Garden. The owner showed us around and explained all the different plants they grew and what they’re used for. It was pretty interesting. Then there was a presentation where he essentially marketed all his products to us. Next, about 10 men pop out from behind the trees to give us massages with one of the oils they sell. Most of the other girls seemed to enjoy their massages but the man doing me seemed like he wanted to hurt me! He was massaging my arms but asked would I take my top off which is when I ended my rather strange massage. If you have an interest in spices I guess this might be the place for you! Otherwise SKIP!
Temple of the Tooth – This is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy. It is said to house the tooth of Buddha. We went in the evening and we had a tour guide bring us around the temple to explain everything. There was some kind of celebration happening with men playing drums, the sounds filled the whole temple. The place was quite crowded but it kind of added to the atmosphere. There are so many Buddha statues and shrines around this whole temple you could easily spend an hour looking around the whole place. We were shoved into a queue and got to see the tooth of the Buddha for about a second but the tour guide told us we were lucky to see it that long! You will need to cover up if you want to visit, you’ll also have to abandon your shoes outside. But this I definitely recommend!
Tea Factory – I don’t have the name of the one we went to, but I’m sure they are all mostly the same. If you’re interested in how tea is picked and processed then maybe add this to your list, otherwise SKIP!
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – Now this I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of, there are photos all over instagram of this place. The photos are usually of the elephants in the river, they’re brought here to wash. The orphanage is across the road. So we paid the equivalent of 50 euro to go here. We were sat on stones in the blaring sun with no shade for 20 minutes before the ‘show’ started. We were supposed to see baby elephants being fed. Eventually they brought out some pretty massive ‘baby’ elephants in chains! Chains around their feet and neck, I was horrified! Now maybe they had a good reason to put the elephants in chains, I’m no expert, but it certainly isn’t what I was expecting! The feeding lasted 5 minutes. Then we made our way to the river and had lunch with that infamous view. That view was ruined by the fact we watched the elephants being brought to the river in chains again. Definitely not what I was expecting from this Orphanage. I would SKIP this, total tourist trap!
White Water Rafting – This was my absolute favourite thing we did in Sri Lanka. I had never been white water rafting before and I was kinda nervous but our captain was so funny and calmed me right down. He was so bossy shouting instructions at us and splashing us if we weren’t doing a good job! About five minutes into it, the heavens opened and rain poured down. I had one of those pinch me moments looking around at the rainforest, river and all the rain it was just so beautiful! Definitely recommend!
Yala National Park – We spent 8 hours on a bus getting here, 8 hours!! We went on a safari through this national park and were promised leopards. Check out this awesome photo I got of the leopard, cool right?
Yeah apparently he’s somewhere on that rock! There was about 20 jeeps crowded around this ‘leopard’, what a joke! We did see a lot of birds, buffalo and wild boar (more like we bored). No joke, some of my friends actually fell asleep on this safari! Now it wasn’t all bad, we did get to see some actual baby elephants in the wild, which was such a nice contrast from the Orphanage. The park was just too crowded though. Once an elephant was spotted, all the jeeps would head in that direction. At one point we were watching two females and two baby elephants washing themselves, one of the female elephants started to get protective of the babies and made some threatening sounds and started to come for the jeeps, all the jeeps had to rush away! So this I would SKIP! Even though it was lovely seeing the baby elephants in the wild they would probably prefer if we weren’t there!
Hikkaduwa – We spent our last two days here just chilling on the beach and drinking at night. After all the time spent on the tour bus it was such a relief to spend two days in the same place. Hikkaduwa is a nice little town that’s easy to find your way around. There are lots of other travellers here so it’s a great place to meet people. The locals cater for these travellers with cool nightclubs and lovely restaurants. If you want to chill out for a day or two this is the place to do it!
I know this post was kind of on the negative side but I wanted to be honest, and why lie? I don’t have very fond memories of most of my time in Sri Lanka. When I think of Sri Lanka I just think of that bus. But I thought this might be useful to people planning a trip there. One thing I haven’t mentioned enough is just how beautiful Sri Lanka is, the whole country is covered in rainforest and looks so untouched, it’s incredible. If you’ve been to Sri Lanka I’d love to hear about it, did you go to any of these places? What did you think of it? Is there anywhere I didn’t go that I should have? Please leave a comment and let me know! If you liked this post be sure to follow my blog for more travel posts and thanks for reading.
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