Life,  Travel

I Visit Lonely Planet’s Hottest Destination 2019 and Regret

Like most of my friends, or should I say, most Asian, Sri Lanka is a country that we never dream of visiting. It doesn’t even cross my mind.

However, my crush tells me that he’s been to Sri Lanka four times and the country is one of travel’s best-kept secrets.

Really? What are the good things in Sri Lanka?

Soon after, Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka as the best country in the world to visit in 2019! I feel so curious. I know that I need to see and experience the country myself.

“You better hurry or it’ll soon become packed with travellers, just like Thailand,” he says.

I book my private tour and flight a week later. #kiasu

Sri Lanka, you’re my birthday trip so I hope you won’t disappoint me, I tell myself. Unfortunately, I feel regret.

If you’re curious about Sri Lanka, here’s a peek of my 6 days budget itinerary (I’ll share the regret part later):

Day 1 – The Golden Rock Temple (Colombo – Dambulla)

After arriving in Colombo airport, drive to Dambulla to visit The Golden Rock Temple. The Buddhist temple is located inside of a cave and been there since 1st Century BC.

The view from the top is wonderful

Day 2 – Sigiriya, Spice Garden, The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Dambulla – Kandy)

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a must-visit destination in Sri Lanka. Basically, it’s a ruin of a 5th Century AD kingdom located on top of a 650 feet high rock fortress.

There are 1,200 steps to reach the top, so prepare your most comfortable shoes!

I feel that the top of Sigiriya is similar to Machu Picchu..

If shopping is in your list, the products in any spice garden sure worth your money. Otherwise, you can enjoy a complimentary shoulder, hand and legs massage from the place. It’s totally worth it after your Sigiriya ‘workout’!

Remember to give some tips to the guide and masseur

After that, get ready to visit one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world – The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It’s where a tooth of the Buddha kept in a beautiful, golden-roof temple.

Day 3 – Ramboda Waterfall, Tea Factory, Town Post Office, The Hill Club (Kandy – Nuwara Eliya)

One of a few beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka, you will pass Ramboda Waterfall on the way to Nuwara Eliya.

Depending on your travelling style, you can rock a dress or casual clothes. As you can see, I’m not going down and soaking my feet in the waterfall…

Sri Lanka is famous for their tea, so you must visit one of their tea factories.

These are the small, finely grind tea leaves
The Town Post Office
You can send yourself a postcard from Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s weather is hot and people there get tanned because of it, but! Nuwara Eliya, a city on top of a hill with English architecture, has pleasant weather that could go down to 3°C at night.

The Hill Club is founded in 1876 by British Coffee planters.
Queen Elizabeth II often visits this place.

Day 4 – The Most Spoken and Sought Train Ride to Ella, Gregory Lake (Nuwara Eliya – Ella)

Travellers rave about this train ride. Some say it’s the most scenic, some say it’s the most beautiful train ride.

Many people suggest taking the Kandy – Ella route (6 hours). However, my guide, Rukshan, says that the most scenic part starts from Nuwara Eliya (Nanu-Oya). It’s better for you to take Nuwara Eliya – Ella route (3 hours).

The Ella 9 Arch Bridge

Yes, it’s beautiful, however since I grow up in Asia, I don’t feel as excited as those non-Asian travellers. However, I agree that Ella 9 Arch Bridge offers a fantastic view!

The Gregory Lake

Day 5 – The Galle Fort, Bentota (Bentota)

The Galle Fort

The Galle Fort is a Dutch historical, heritage monument recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you arrive in the afternoon, you can have a pleasant walk beside the sea.

It’s your last day, treat yourself with a nice stay in Bentota!

If you want to have a quiet, romantic stay at a private beach, swap Tunawatuna or Hikkaduwa with Bentota.

When you’re committed to your workout routine, there’s no need for extreme diet

To give you a clearer picture, it’s like a comparison between Kuta and Nusa Dua (Bali).

Day 6 – Colombo City Tour (Bentota – Colombo, 11pm flight)

From Bentota to Colombo is just 40 minutes, so you can have a late check-out. If you still have a lot of cash, you can opt for a river safari in Madu River plus visiting a turtle hatchery.

In Colombo, remember to visit Seema Malaka Temple, Old Parliament, Galle Face Green and Beira Lake.

The bonus of this trip is a catch up with my university friend, Dilhan. He’s a Sri Lankan and coincidentally stays in Colombo.

After 7 years, Mr. Audio Engineer meets again with Miss Producer (WingsFM)

*Total spending for this solo trip (return flight, accommodation, meals, entrance fees, tips, miscellaneous) = around RM5,200

Do your ‘homework’ thoroughly when you’re organising your trip so you can maximise your experience

I Feel Regret…

Sri Lanka is beautiful and the food is great, but up until today, I still feel regret.

I regret that I don’t hike Adam’s Peak, Little Adam’s Peak or Ella Rock but focusing on creating beautiful photos instead.

Fyi, Adam’s Peak is the mountain where hikers and believers from around the world would come and hike at 2 am to see the holy footprint.

For Buddhists, they believe it’s the footprint of Buddha. The Catholics, Christians and Muslims believe the footprint belongs to Adam, when he first set his foot on earth after being exiled from paradise. The Hindus believe that it belongs to Shiva.

Why oh why I bring only dresses, skirts and Mary-Jane shoes??

Little Adam’s Peak

In addition, I should plan the trip properly and bring hiking shoes. I don’t care if I need to stretch out my travel budget to add a few more days just so I can hike the mountains and visit more waterfalls…

Moral of the story: do your ‘homework’ thoroughly when you’re organising your trip so you can maximise your experience.

With Rukshan, my guide cum driver who turns into a friend

I can’t fit the hiking activities on my itinerary because I don’t have enough time. Moreover, the mountain and waterfall are located far far away. As a result, I finally visit Lonely Planet’s hottest destination 2019 but return with regret.

“It’s ok, you can come again,” says Rukshan. “Hopefully, with that hiking guy!” 😉

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