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, Lonely Planet’s hottest destination 2019, 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)

golden rock temple sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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.

female solo traveler on top of sri lanka hill lonely planet top destination
sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019
cave temple sri lanka lonely planet

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

sigiriya sri lanka lonely planet top destination

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.

sri lanka sigiriya lion claws lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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

the top view from sigiriya sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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’!

herbal tea with foot massage in sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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.

the temple of the sacred tooth relic sri lanka lonely planet
temple of the sacred tooth relic sri lanka lonely planet top destination
sri lanka temple of the sacred tooth relic lonely planet
female solo traveler walking outside the temple of the sacred tooth relic sri lanka

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

woman posing at ramboda waterfall sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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…

woman in the middle of sri lanka fea field lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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

tea varieties at sri lanka tea factory lonely planet top destination
travel blogger posing at sri lanka town post office lonely planet
female tourist send postcard from town post office sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination

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.

feminine woman at the hill club sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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

female traveller on ella kandy train ride sri lanka lonely planet

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

sri lanka scenic train ride lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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).

ella 9 arch bridge sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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!

girl looking down from ella 9 arch bridge sri lanka lonely planet
girl sitting in the middle of ella bridge train track sri lanka lonely planet destination
girl at gregory lake sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

Day 5 – The Galle Fort, Bentota (Bentota)

girl in red dress at galle fort sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination

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.

bentota premium with swimming pool in stay sri lanka lonely planet destination

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

fit girl in bikini at bentota beach sri lanka lonely planet top destination 2019

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)

colombo temple sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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.

buddha temple sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019
buddha temple colombo lonely planet destination

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

multiracial friends sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

*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…

vintage female traveler on the train track sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination 2019

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??

girl in red dress at little adam's peak sri lanka lonely planet hottest destination

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…

Also read: Nuwara Eliya: An English Tale in Sri Lanka

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

i visit lonely planet's hottest destination 2019 and regret

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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