Venture three to four hours inland from Colombo and you’ll discover the city of Kandy. Framed by lush green mountains and anchored by the central Kandy Lake, this city is an authentic slice of Sri Lankan culture. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth is undoubtedly Kandy’s most famous attraction, and the surrounding tea plantations make for a fascinating day trip, too.
For some authentic souvenirs head to the Central Market where you can pick up fruit, vegetables, incense, exotic spices and, of course, Ceylon tea. And, if the tuk-tuk filled streets become too much, venture to the Royal Botanical Gardens for a tranquil escape within the city. By night, the Kandy Sri Lankan Cultural Show makes for great entertainment and is located right by the beautiful Kandy Lake.
What to wear in Kandy…
Kandy is considered to be a very sacred place, so it’s important for men and women to dress modestly here. Ladies – pack a pashmina to cover your shoulders when entering temples, and stick to maxi skirts and jumpsuits. You can even add a touch of glamour to your look with some statement jewellery and embellished sandals.
Sri Lanka is famous for its blissful beaches, and the south-west coast is home to a string of stylish and contemporary resorts. During my trip, I stayed at the Riu Sri Lanka Ahungalla, Heritance Ahungalla, both of which are located right on the beach. The famous stilt fishermen of Galle province are a popular cultural attraction near to both hotels and are well worth a visit. I also spent a final night at the luxurious Vivanta By Taj, which is a little further down the coast in Bentota.
Wildlife lovers will enjoy visiting the Udawalawe National Park,which can be reached on a day trip from the south-west coast. Udawalawe National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest eco-tourism destinations and if you’ve always dreamt of going on safari, a trip here is a must. Elephants and other wildlife roam free in 30,821 hectares of dry zone game reserve. It’s also home to water buffalo, water monitor lizards, sambar deer, monkeys and the occasional leopard. If you’re looking for a sunshine beach break with a side of adventure, Ahungalla, Bentota and Hikkaduwa are all great options on the south-west coast.
What to wear on the south-west coast…
Beachwear is a must on the south coast, but remember to pack plenty of kaftans and cover-ups too – the UV rays in Sri Lanka can be exceptionally strong, so it’s easy to burn. If you’re planning a trip to Udawalawe National Park, consider packing some trainers and neutral coloured safari-style clothing to keep the attention focused on your surroundings.
The charming town of Galle is also located on the south-west coast and is arguably the most stylish destination in Sri Lanka. With boutique hotels, chic shops and a contemporary coffee shop culture, it’s an Instagrammer’s dream. The Dutch 18th-century walled town was my favourite place in Sri Lanka, and it was amazing to see the style revival it’s currently going through.
Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest attractions of the town. Home to the odd snake charmer, it’s rich in history, and the coastal views are spectacular. For artisan coffee with serious interior inspiration, head to Church Street Social and spend an afternoon getting lost among the cobbled streets and gift shops.
What to wear in Galle…
The dress code is a little more laidback in Galle as it’s on the coast and very popular with tourists. Be sure to pack some bright sundresses, bold prints and sunglasses for exploring the streets in style. Pair your outfit with a structured leather backpack for the ultimate stylish traveller look.
Wherever you’re going in Sri Lanka, make sure you have all of The Travelista’s essentials…
Eye mask and earplugs for travelling
Trainers or walking boots
Safari-style clothing for the national parks
Harem pants Mosquito repellent with 50% DEET – an essential ingredient in repellent that protects you for longer.
High SPF suncream
Camera (pack your zoom lens if you want to capture the wildlife)
UK plug adaptor
With beautiful beaches, incredible wildlife, wonderful food and endless culture, you can plan the perfect holiday in Sri Lanka. There’s so much to experience in this fascinating country, and if you choose to discover it you’ll be rewarded with memories that last a lifetime.
Relax under the shade of palm trees at in Bentota, which has huge, sprawling gardens to complement its gorgeous sea views.
Right on Ahungalla beach, the has been built in a U-shape, meaning the hotel has fantastic vistas of the long stretch of sand and the Indian Ocean.
The stunning makes the most of Sri Lanka’s beauty with grounds full of palm trees, natural native shrubs and views overlooking the beach.
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