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The Most beautiful Sri Lanka places to visit in 2022

sri lanka sunset

If you are searching for a pristine beach getaway that is not too far from the mountains, surrounded by kaleidoscopic culture and rich history, Sri Lanka should be atop your travel list for 2022.

“The teardrop of India” has built a reputation as one of the most beautiful island destinations in Asia along with 8 UNESCO world heritage sites, vibrant culture, and exotic cuisine. It offers everything from relaxation to adventure all conveniently packaged on a bite-sized island.

Moreover, the Sri Lanka visa for Canadians, EU citizens, Americans, British, and several other countries is free and easy to obtain. The country is safe and affordable with experiences for every budget and more than enough things to do to keep you busy for a couple of weeks.

Take a look at the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka to get you in the mood to pack your bags in 2022.best places to visit in Sri Lanka

The seven best places to visit in Sri Lanka

Colombo

You can learn so much from a country’s capital city and Sri Lanka’s capital is no different. It is an amalgamation of urban development and the country’s strong ties to its recent colonial history. In the past, it was settled by Portugal, the Netherlands, and Britain and former Ceylon played a massive part in early European trading routes.

All these influences can still be seen in art, culture, architecture, food, and traditions. The city is also on the coast and the beach and green spaces on the Indian Ocean are unlike anything you have seen in a city before.colombo sri lanka

Udawalawe National Park

Asian elephants are endemic to Sri Lanka and at Udawalawe National Park in the South East, you can see these majestic creatures in the most beautiful natural setting. The park is on the edge of the dry and wet regions of the country making it a diverse biosphere for a large array of animals.

Birdwatchers frequent the area and you can also expect to see small deer, monkeys, and even a leopard if you are very lucky.best places to visit in Sri Lanka

Galle

If you want to sink your teeth into the 17th-century colonial history of Sri Lanka, look no further than Galle. The city is one of the best UNESCO sites in Sri Lanka and is a preserved area in its entirety. It is filled with precious boutique hotels, shops, and restaurants and the city is easily explored on foot. Stroll through the historic streets of the walled fort to get a feel for the spirit of the city. It is here where you can also see Sri Lanka’s iconic “stilt fisherman” trying to bring home the catch of the day.villa templeberg sri lanka galle

Yala National Park

Seeing a leopard in the wild is one of the most awe-inspiring moments you could hope for. These majestic creatures are highly endangered and famously elusive so spotting one is a high effort but a high reward. Yala National Park has done a great job of protecting these magnificent creatures and you are likely to see one here on your trip to the south of the island.

There are also elephants in the park and the park’s diverse flora is equally breathtaking. Move between grasslands, tropical forests, and coastal areas and see some fascinating ruins along the way too.places to visit in Sri Lanka

Tea Country

Despite its size, Sri Lanka is the world’s second-largest tea exporter and tea plantations are an integral part of the country’s economy and livelihood. The central hills of Sri Lanka are known as tea country and there are several cities, towns, and villages that dedicate their existence to the production of tea.

Here Thomas Lipton started his tea empire and in towns like Nanu Oya, Hatton, Ella, Dikoya, Badulla, Bandarawela, Haputale & Ratnapura you can explore the magnificent tea plantations that hug the hillsides. For an extra memorable experience, take the slow train from Kandy to Ella and wind through the lush green hills of central Sri Lanka.Tea country Sri Lanka

Tangalle

The beaches in Sri Lanka are undoubtedly one of the main attractions of the island. Tangalle is on the southern coast of the island and offers the biggest range of beach experiences because not everyone’s taste in beaches is the same.

Whether you are looking for a remote section of the coast or a private tropical cove, a wide-open windswept beach, or a bustling beach with all the amenities, Tangalle is where you will find it. You will find plenty of resorts with stunning beachfront accommodation too. East of the town is Rekawa beach, known for its excellent conservation efforts around the sea turtle nesting area.sri lanka beach

Anuradhapura

A big chunk of your Sri Lankan itinerary should be taken up by exploring the country’s ancient ruins. Anuradhapura was once the ancient capital of Sri Lanks and is still a thriving city in the north of the country. The ruins around the city are well preserved and give a glimpse into the history of the ancient Sinhala civilization.

There is a variety of temple structures, pools, and statues and at the center of the complex is what is to believed to be the oldest tree planted by a human. It is called the Sri Maha Bodhi and was planted around 200BC in the Mahamewna Gardens.places to visit in Sri Lanka

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High Tea and Hiking in the Highlands of Malaysia

cameron highlands mossy forest

Kuala Lumpur crushed our quest for endless summer earlier this year when, for the first time, we were absolutely defeated by the heat. We fled to the Cameron Highlands, rumored to be the coolest place in Malaysia with year-round temps of 73 degrees (23 Celsius).

boh tea plantation cameron highlands

The Cameron Highlands – a very different Malaysia!

A five hour ride from the Pudu Sentral bus station in Kuala Lumpur led us up into the highlands, where there are two towns to choose from for lodging – Tanah Rata and Brinchang. We chose to stay in Tanah Rata, which turned out to be the right choice for us. The shiny new Starbucks in the center of town became our office, and the dirt-cheap and delicious Indian food right next door was our daily go-to. As it turns out, Malaysian food is very meaty, so we survived on Indian cuisine throughout the country.

Cameron Highlands Indian Food

Our hardest hike ever

The next day, it was time to transform from our standard uniform of flip-flops and shorts into jeans, socks and hiking shoes, drop $1 on a map of hiking trails and head out on our first Cameron Highlands hike. Only five miles apart, buses and taxis efficiently connect Tanah Rata and Brinchang, but we decided to hike the trail between the two instead.

Jess hiking in the Cameron HighlandsUp a path, on a paved road through a neighborhood, left into a farm, back into the forest, the hike started off like any other. Occasionally grabbing onto a vine when footing was slippery, then increasingly stopping to catch our breath, suddenly we realized what kind of a mess we had gotten ourselves into. The hike connected two trails, one moderate the other labeled ‘challenging’.

Over two hours in to the hike, the terrain went from ‘challenging’ to literally hanging on a vine sliding down a nearly vertical, muddy slope only to look directly up at another, equally vertical mud wall to scale. At some point, a sign said 1.1km to the Chinese Sam Poh temple, our goal. Fifteen minutes after descending into and crawling on all fours back up out of yet another ravine, the sign at the top read Chinese Sam Poh temple 0.9km, and after the next up and over it read: 0.8km.

cameron highlands rootsWe were overcome by fits of laughter, a combination of pride at being able to even accomplish this level of hiking and utter exhaustion to the core. At this point, we would not have been surprised for the sign to say 1.2km and that we somehow, in this hiking twilight zone, had gone backward in time and space.

We pushed through and, as easily as it started, reached the temple at the edge of Brinchang. Hands and faces streaked with thick layers of mud cut with rivers of sweat, we came out onto the main road, all too aware that Tanah Rata was just a quick 10-minute car ride behind us.

cameron highlands chinese temple

Sweet, sweet strawberries and a long walk home

To say we had taken the hard way is an understatement. Arriving at the Big Red Strawberry Farm, we earned every single bite of strawberry goodness in all its forms. The farm also grows hydroponic lettuce and other greens, but the sight of big, bright red strawberries hanging from hundreds of rows of strawberry plants was almost too good to be true. At the food counter, we ordered a Spinach and Strawberry salad, a strawberry sundae, deep-fried strawberry ice cream, a strawberry yoghurt honey parfait…and all of it was delicious. Even on a weekday afternoon the farm was hopping, and those who took the easy way up here may have looked at us with our mud stained shoes, gobbling up food as though we had never eaten before and judged, but the moment for us was glorious.

strawberry sundae

What happened after was not.

Back to the road, we slumped onto a bench at the bus stop and waited. And waited. 40 minutes later, no bus had come, the food had re-energized us just enough and so we walked the sidewalk all the way back to Tanah Rata. It was downhill and paved, so even though it took about 50 minutes to get back to the hotel, it felt like a breeze.

Cameron Highland house

The highlight of the Cameron Highlands

The next day we hopped on a tour that covered the main sights of the Cameron Highlands: the Mossy Forest, the Gunung Brinchang viewpoint (second highest of all the highlands) and the BOH tea plantation. The Mossy Forest was unlike anything we had ever seen – a magical forest where the trees, the ground, branches, roots, everything was covered in a soft, green moss, where countless orchids bloom, and where unique frogs, birds, snakes and insects thrive among the blankets of peat moss. Between the morning rain and low clouds, the views from Gunung Brinchang were less interesting, but that didn’t matter much to us: We were in it for the tea.

cameron highlands mossy forestThe BOH tea plantation is home to hillsides covered in waves of tea bushes so steep it is a wonder how workers even reach the tea. Unfortunately the tea had just been harvested two days before our visit, so we would never see the process first hand, but learned about it in the plantation’s museum. Luckily, we had plenty of steaming hot tea and buttery scones and jam on the terrace of the on-site restaurant overlooking the plantation, which was one of the most memorable experiences of our time in Malaysia.

boh tea plantation Founded in 1929 by BJ.A. Russell, the BOH Plantations proliferated during the British colonial era and, as their success grew, workers were imported from southern India and Sri Lanka, also part of the British Empire. Today, the Highlands, like much of Malaysia, are home to third and fourth generation Indians, resulting in scores authentic Indian restaurants to sample. Since we are both huge fans of Indian food, we were more than happy to eat Indian food three meals a day, and tea and scones during the rainy afternoons as though we had never left Britain two years before.

Tea and scones in the Cameron HighlandsExcept, of course, that after five days of heat relief, we moved on to beach hopping in Penang and Langkawi, two of Malaysia’s hottest and sunniest islands…

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Singapore on a shoestring

singapore skyscrapers
Don't let rumors of high prices in Singapore put you off a visit there. With a bit of planning, a
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