If there’s one thing we cannot forget about our Sri Lanka trip it would be the warm hugs every morning. The cold morning dews and the hotel we stayed in a secluded part of Kandy create a romantic atmosphere. But besides the
cheesiness, there’s more to love about this modest country.
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The mighty elephants, the misty mountains, widespread tea farms and the warm hospitality of the people are some of traveler’s favorites. By digging it up a little more, we found these hidden gems that we suggest you to visit too.
1. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Seeing an elephant in flesh is definitely an unforgettable experience especially to first timers like us. But beside the first impressions, we realized how the country was trying to save its wildlife. In the orphanage, you can witness how the caretakers feed and bathe them. Your heart will be fluttered for sure by the sight of some chained elephants 🙁
- Open from 8:30 to 6:00 pm
- Entrance fees 15 USD or 2200 SLR
- Location is about 2 hour drive from the airport.
- Bathing time is from 10am – 12pm | 2pm – 4pm
- Restaurants line the riverfront where elephants bathe so you can take advantage of the view.
- Caretakers ask for tips when you hand them your camera.
- Cheap souvenirs can be found outside the orphanage.
2. Tooth Relic Temple or Temple of the Tooth
Whether you’re a culture type of traveler or simply an aspiring photographer like us, a visit to this temple is a must. It’s a certain delight for photo sessions as the temple is surrounded by a vast of trees making it a perfect backdrop. And for those who are planning to go inside the temple, please take note that you can’t see the Buddha’s tooth. It’s kept in a gold casket and is heavily guarded.
- During offerings or prayers, the temple housing the Buddha’s tooth is open to devotees and tourists for free.
- Cover up If forgotten (like me!) there’s a shawl sold outside the temple cost 200SR
- Shoes should be removed at the entrance.
- Have photo ops with your partner at the Upper side lake nearby the temple
3. Kandyan Dance Cultural Show
To immensely appreciate a country’s beliefs, one must watch a cultural show for a full understanding of their history and values. I know that these types of shows can be tedious but if it’s a dance performance? It can be totally enjoyable. Besides all the sweet dancing, you can also witness at the end of the show – a man walking on hot ashes and blowing fire. That’s totally crazy but the man nailed it!
- You can watch it just outside the Tooth Temple
- Entrance is 2500 SLR = 17 USD
- Show runs for 1 to 1.5 hour
4. Golden Dambulla Temple
The temple with its historical, archeological and artistic significances is one of the world heritages sites by the UNESCO. Being on this respected list, I believed you should include it your Sri Lanka itinerary too.
- On your way to Sigiriya Rock, you will pass by the temple
- Entrance ticket costs 10 USD or 1500 SLR
- Shoes cannot be worn inside. Storage is available on site.
- Flash photography is not permitted
5. Sigiriya Anura Village Tour
Experience the old ways of living in a village where wild elephants are present at night according to our tour guide. Expect to ride a bullock cart along the mud road. Then another short boat ride while enjoying the humble view. Upon reaching the small and quaint house, watch a lady cooking Sri Lankan spicy food and have it for lunch. Other primitive ways of life will be demonstrated in this tour. A tuktuk ride (a three-wheeled motorized vehicle) sends you to the paved road.
- We pay 100 USD = 13000 SLR for the full tour with lunch which is a SCAM care of a Sri Lankan guy named Amit, he’s our tour guide as you see on the photos. Price in tripadvisor is around 1500 only per person! Good lesson!
Read More: Sri Lanka Travel Cost for 4 Days
6. Sigiriya Rock Fortress or The Lion’s Rock
Another UNESCO heritage site and our favorite in our Sri Lanka trip was perhaps this fortress. Besides it’s the best rock we’ve ever seen! Haha. The historical monument is located between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane on a massive rocky plateau. The main entrance was designed in the form of a huge stone lion. It was a picturesque location perfect for photo sessions.
- Entrance fees is $30
- Opens at 8 AM, better be there at the exact time so you won’t share the view with a bunch of tourist
- An unavoidable climb needed to reach the top of the rock, where there are some ruins and ancient frescoes on the walls.
- Remember to bring water as they don’t sell it inside.
7. Tea Factory and Plantations in Nuwara Eliya
The country offers abundant choices of tea. I mean really good tea! We visited the Glenloch factory and I’m impressed how this tiny bag is made. We learned that Lipton tea is actually exported from here and the company just changes the packaging. The roads are twisted on your way to Nuwara Eliya. But the scenic beauty of the tea plantations and waterfalls are enough to include this on your visit to Sri Lanka.
As we stayed for limited days only, we haven’t seen the other suggested sites by Lonely Planet. This Asian country absolutely oozes beauty and charm in its own unique way. Have you been to Sri Lanka? We would love to hear your recommendations!