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From the crazy open shack parties on coastal beaches to luxe wild parties in the capital city and some chill vibes up in the hills – partying scenes in Sri Lanka has something or the other for all your party expectations. 

We’ve curated a list of best places to party at, while in Sri Lanka so you don’t have to work on it. Let’s get the party on, shall we?

1. Rhythm and Blues, Colombo

If loud music, good food, and jazzy lights are your thing, you’d have the time of your life at Rhythm and Blues in Colombo. It is centrally located in the heart of Colombo 04 and is a 5 minute walk from the Majestic City shopping mall. The bar by the dance floor has a huge ceiling to floor light display that will leave you enchanted for the rest of the night. People usually find themselves grooving to live music till the wee hours of morning and chilling over some delicious cocktails and drinks. Do note that the party doesn’t usually begin before 9 p.m. so be sure to head here only late in the night.

They do charge an entry fee of 1000 LKR for stags like any other nightclub in the city, but we promise it’ll be worth it! 

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Timings: 8 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Cost for 2: 3500 LKR with alcohol
2. Margarita Blue Pub, Colombo 

A favorite among the youth of Colombo, this night club is a great place to hang with your buddies at and spend the night grooving to some amazing music. They have live band performances most days of the week and if alternative rock and oldies are usually your thing, then a trip to Margarita Blue Pub in Colombo is a must. They also have darts and a pool table to keep you entertained.

Their menu boasts of good food and drinks at some really affordable rates so this makes it a perfect place to chill over drinks without burning a hole in your pocket. They also have Happy Hours every day from 5pm to 7pm when the drinks are available at 50% off. Do we need to convince you any further?

They do have a small entry fee over the weekends when the nightclub tends to attract all the young souls in the city, but nothing too steep. 

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Timings: 4 p.m. – 4 a.m. (Tuesday – Sunday) Monday closed
Cost: 2500 LKR for two with alcohol
3. Ceysands Disco, Bentota

Bentota is a small resort town by the beach in Sri Lanka, a place where pubs and discos are hard to come by. Enter Ceysands. A part of the 4 star Centara Ceysands Resort and Spa, this is a stunning floating disco right on the Bentota River, with the river on one side and the majestic Indian Ocean on the other. Accessible only by ferry, this is the perfect place to party the night away over some thumping beats, heavenly views and exotic cocktails. Don’t forget to look up at the sky between dances to feel one with the stars, owing entirely to the open air ambience. 

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Timings: 24×7
Cost: 5000 LKR for two with alcohol
4. Floor by the O!, Colombo 

The capital of Sri Lanka has no shortage of nightclubs and this list will prove exactly that. Situated at a pretty lively area in Colombo 07, Floor by the O! is another local favorite when it comes to nightclubs. Happening music, spacious dance floor and delicious food – this place has it all. 

This place charges 2000 LKR for stags as entry fee but is redeemable in whole inside. The entry charge makes sure that they attract only decent crowd and you’ll always find yourself surrounded by friendly party-goers.

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Timings: 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. (Mon – Thursday) 11 a.m. – 12 a.m. (Fri – Sun)
Cost: 3000 LKR without drinks
5. Le Garage, Kandy

Le Garage is a premium night club with the rugged looks of an actual run down garage up in the Hills. Famous for its themed nights – from retro themed nights to contemporary techno nights, this is a great option for party goers and is situated inside the famous Amaya Hills Resort in Heerassagala. 

Apart from great drinks, this Ave also offers some of the most lip smacking food that go perfectly well with the atmosphere. 

There might be a small entry fee so make sure you contact them in advance for the details.

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Timings: 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. (daily)
Cost: 2000 LKR for two
6. Sopranos Karaoke, Colombo

Located in Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 04, Sopranos Karaoke is a local Karaoke bar, exactly as the name suggests. This is the best place for some drunken Karaoke with your friends while in the city. Do note that this place attracts the kind of crowd that like to have a chill evening so if you’re looking to party hardcore, this place isn’t for you. 

The interiors have a rustic charm to them – almost homely and you’ll find yourself having a chill time singing to old tunes. The drinks and food are on the affordable side, to help you have a great time, without having to spend a bomb on a night out.

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Timings: 7 p.m. – 5 a.m. (daily)
Cost:  2000 LKR for two with alcohol
7. Chiller Room, Colombo

The Chiller Room is the latest addition to Colombo’s happening nightlife and has quickly become a public favorite. This place is a simple 15 minute walk away from the Galle Face beach and is easily accessible by public transport. 

The amazing music and competitive pricing make partying here a complete win-win. The light system here is one of a kind, and is guaranteed to win you over.

We’d also recommend going to their famous Speakeasy, Ask for Fern for a delicious dinner, before you burn those calories off on the dance floor. Thank us later! 

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Timings: 9 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Cost: 3000 LPK for two with alcohol
8. The Love Bar, Colombo

If you’re looking for a premium nightclub with a beautiful ambience and decent crowd, then Love Bar in Horton Place, Colombo is the best choice for you. This is a rooftop bar situated on the top of Flamingo House. The shimmering lights and the floral wallpaper will win your heart and the good music will close the deal. You’ll always find the dance floor by the entrance fully packed, so make sure you go grab a table a little early in the evening. 

The signature cocktails are priced decently and the menu has some really good options for finger food. We definitely recommend calling in advance to ask about the entry fee for stags.

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Timings: 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. (can go on till later)
Cost: 3000 LKR for two with alcohol
9. Bally’s Casino, Colombo

How can this list be complete without us including the biggest casino Colombo’s nightlife has to offer? Known for its amazing hospitality, Bally’s in Colombo is a clear favorite when it comes to casinos. It offers free food for everyone and free drinks too for the playing customers. 

You can place bets for as low as 100 rupees and go as high as you can. The sky’s the limit, folks. But no matter how much you bet, Bally’s promises a slice of luxury for all its guests and is worth a visit on your next trip to Sri Lanka. 

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Timings: 24×7
Cost: Free food and drinks, stakes up to you
10. My Kind Of Place, Bentota

Situated within the premise of Vivanta by Taj, this place is majorly a restaurant which transforms into a nightclub post sunset. Groove to some of the best dancing tunes while gorging on a delicious array of seafood here.

The location of the place guarantees a decent crowd and is a good place to party in the otherwise sleepy town of Bentota.

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Timings: 24×7
Cost: 4500 LKR for two
11. Loft Lounge Bar, Colombo

With interiors done up to ensure a rustic industrial vibe, Loft Lounge Bar in Colombo is another great party haven in Sri Lanka. This place is located on top of Hotel Colombo Courtyard and is just a short walk away from The Majestic City Mall. This place has some of the best signature cocktail drinks in Colombo and you must take advantage of their Happy Hour (5.30 p.m. – 7 p.m.) to give these a try. Not that their usual pricing is expensive in any way.

The good music and the rustic ambiance will make sure you have a good time chilling with your buddies. Their seafood options are to die for, so make sure you order some for your tummies as well. 

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Timing: 4 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Cost: 4000 LKR for two with alcohol
12. Koha Surf Lounge, Unawatuna

Restaurant by day, nightclub by sunset, this is another cozy little nook placed beside the Unawatuna beach. You can either choose to watch the sunset while sipping on chilled beer, or dance the night away over some loud music and cocktails. The wraps here deserve a special mention, so make sure to grab one in between drinks to pace yourself.

Go here for the affordable drinks, good music and chill vibes. 

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Timings: 1 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Cost: 2000 LKR for two with drinks
13. Yula Beach Bar, Hikkaduwa

The Yula Beach Bar is exactly what the name suggests, a bar by the beach. You can choose to chill over some beer with friends and locals while grooving to some loud music by night. This is a great option for you if you’re looking to party by the beach, but don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket. You can also enjoy the Happy Hours every day from 5 – 7 p.m. and again from 9 – 11 p.m.

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Timings: 4 p.m. – 3 a.m. (daily)
Cost: 1500 LKR for two with alcohol
14. ON14 Rooftop Bar & Lounge, Colombo

A beautiful rooftop bar, ON14 is another party attraction in the heart of Marine Drive. It is situated on the 14th floor of the OZO Hotel, and offers beautiful panoramic views of the city. This coupled with the delicious cocktails available here, make this place a must visit if you’re in the mood to party. While the food can be a bit expensive, you can take full advantage of the Happy Hours (1+1) and try to set off the bill this way. 

It also has an infinity pool (only for hotel guests) on the same floor which adds to the charm of the place. Did we mention this is an open-air bar by the way? Go here for the fantastic views, breezy atmosphere and lively music and you’ll thank us for a wonderful night. 

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Timings: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. (daily)
Cost: 5000 LKR for two with drinks
15. Vistas Bar, Colombo

This rooftop bar is another big party attraction in Sri Lanka and is known to offer some amazing views of the city. If you’re looking to have a chill evening overlooking the sea while sipping on drinks and tripping on good music, this open air bar is definitely the place for you. Go here for the amazing hospitality and the views, you won’t regret, promise!

Its location on the busy streets of Colombo 04, make it easily accessible by public transport. 

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Timings: 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. (Thurs- Fri) 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. (Sat- We’d)
Cost: 3000 LKR for two with alcohol
16. In…On The Green, Colombo

Imagine a busy English pub in the heart of Sri Lanka, that’s In…On The Green for you. Blessed with some typical bar vibes, this place is a go-to for some downtime with your buddies. The live band performances are a great way to spend the evening singing along and the affordable drinks prove to be good accompaniments. This bar also has sports viewings with the bar filling up quickly with sports buffs, so make sure you grab a table early on sports nights. 

In…On The Green is located right on the busy Galle Road and is easily accessible by public transport. 

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Timings: 4 p.m – 12 a.m. (daily)
Cost: 3000 LKR for two with alcohol
17. Lake View Pub, Nuwara Eliya

While coming across a happening nightclub in the hills of Nuwara Eliya is a distant possibility, the Lake View Pub at the Alpine Hotel is your best bet for some chill time. The rundown and wooden interiors make for a cozy atmosphere and will remind you of a typical European bar. Chill over some beer in between a round of Pool or throw some Darts instead. There is also an attached balcony/terrace with views of the lake and those of the hills in the distance. 

The drinks and food here are very reasonably priced and we promise you’ll have a great time without spending a bomb.

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Timings: 4 p.m. – 12 a.m. (daily)
Cost: 3000 LKR for two with alcohol
18. Zephyr Restaurant And Bar, Mirissa

Mirissa is known to be a beach town and is famous for beachside shacks and for its nightlife. While you’ll find some really good beach parties post-sunset, Zephyr can be the best of the lot. Known for its delicious seafood and affordable cocktails, people go here to spend some laidback time by the beach. Is there a better way to spend your nights while in Mirissa?

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Timings: 10 a.m. – 11.45 p.m.
Cost: 3000 LKR for two with alcohol

And that concludes our list of the Best Places to Party in Sri Lanka. We get that Sri Lanka is primarily known for its magnificent beaches and temples, but with this list now, you know the right places to head to, with a party on your mind. What are we waiting for then, Christmas? (Actually, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to wait for Christmas, you know. Sri Lanka around this time gets exceptionally beautiful with all the holiday festivities around).

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Sri Lanka isn’t just a small island nation braving waters of the Indian Ocean. It’s a country with rich history, beautiful beaches, remarkable wildlife, magnificent temples and stunning landscapes. Parippus and Kottu Roti dominate palates, Dutch forts and colonial buildings dot landscapes, brilliant gemstones, fragrant Ceylon tea, ancient ruins, magical stories and so much more await you in Sri Lanka.

With tourists flocking to this beautiful country in larger flocks every day, here’s our list of the best places you absolutely shouldn’t miss out on, while in Sri Lanka.

1. Galle Dutch Fort, Galle

Galle is a fortified city located on the south-west point of Colombo. The city is home to the famous Dutch Fort declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, first established in the early sixteenth century. While the city saw the transfer of power through many colonial hands; from the Portuguese to the Dutch to the British and finally back to the people, this fort city continued to stand tall through centuries of war and transformation.

The fort also houses a beautiful, reformed Dutch Church that goes back to the 18th century and the Galle Fort Lighthouse, together making for some beautiful pictures. You’ll find quaint cafes, shops selling local handicrafts, narrow picturesque lanes, museums and colonial buildings that promise a satisfying stroll through the city. The fort is also blessed by a natural harbor overlooking the Indian Ocean so make sure you catch the stunning sunset from the top of the fort!

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How to get there: Situated 150 km from Colombo, you can reach this place by a direct train, bus or taxi.
2. Polonnaruwa

Situated over 200 km away from the city of Colombo, Polonnaruwa was once a thriving religious and trading hub. Home to various archaeological sites, this city is full of ancient temple ruins, statues and tombs dating back 800 years. This town has a vibrant history, culture and professes stories of the ancient past, making it a must visit for history buffs.

The archaeological site called the Quadrangle is a hot favorite among tourists. The place owes its name to a collection of ruins sitting on a raised platform surrounded by a wall and probably has the most concentrated collection of ruins in the city.

The best way to explore the city is on foot or on a bicycle. People usually make day trips from Dambulla or Sigiriya, but there’s decent accommodation available in here too. There are various elephant national parks close to the city so if you’re lucky enough you might just spot a few during your visit. However, make sure these are ethical establishments, if you’re visiting any.

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How to get there: There are 2 direct trains every day from Colombo and direct buses running to and fro, although taxis are more comfortable.
3. Sigiriya

A 5-hour drive from Colombo, Sigiriya is a small city steeped in rich culture and perched on the plains of central Sri Lanka. This city is perhaps known best for the Sigiriya Rock in its heart of hearts. Also known as Lion’s rock, this archaeological wonder was once home to a royal palace built on top of the rock, the ruins of which can still be found on your way up.

The plateau you come across, right before you reach the top, is adorned by a lion’s statue that was once said to be a part of the gateway to the palace. You’ll also find ruins of water reservoirs on this plateau that were somewhat a technological wonder ahead of their times.

Sigiriya is also home to the Pidurangala rock situated right opposite the Sigiriya rock and is well worth a climb to the top. You’ll find some of the most visually pleasing sights from the top, especially of the Sigiriya rock in all its glory.

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How to get there: Sigiriya is more than 200 km from Colombo and can be reached by buses (Colombo – Dambulla – Sigiriya) or by trains (Colombo – Habarana – cab to Sigiriya) and will take you anywhere from 7 to 8 hours depending on the mode of transport. A direct taxi will reach in less than 4 hours.
4. Dambulla Cave Temple, Dambulla

Dambulla is a small town located just 20 km from Sigiriya and 148 km from Colombo.

This city is characterized by the Dambulla Cave Temple which is the largest and the best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Declared a World Heritage Site, this complex houses a few temples, with over 150 stunning statues of Buddha, along with wall paintings and carvings. The history of this temple goes back to over 2000 years as legend would have it. If only the walls could speak!

The cave temple provides some of the most breathtaking views of the green landscapes around, along with that of the Sigiriya rock some distance away.

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How to get there: There are direct buses running from Colombo that take around 5 hours to reach.
5. Trincomalee (Recommended)

Situated in the South-East Province of Sri Lanka, this culturally abundant city just recently cropped up on tourist maps only after the end of the long sustaining civil war. And thank god for that because this city is one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka. You’ll find a mix of some of the best beaches here (Nilaveli, Pigeon Island, Marble and Upaveli) along with temples (Koneswaram, Pathirakali, Gokanna) and historical landmarks.

The Swami Rock cliff is a popular vantage point for blue whale watching and the Gokannna temple provides beautiful panoramic views of the city. The Marble and the Nilaveli beach are some of the most stunning beaches you’ll ever see – complete with soft golden sand and turquoise blue water, while the Pigeon Island is a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving amidst rich marine life and is perfect for a day trip.

Built in the year 1624, Fort Fredrick in Trincomalee is another hot tourist attraction and is known to have been built from the debris of the Koneswaram Temple.

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How to get there: Situated 265 km from Colombo, there are direct trains, buses and flights running from Colombo daily.
6. Kandy

Kandy is a city situated less than 150 km from Colombo and is surrounded by mountains on all sides owing to which the climate is quite pleasant.

The main attraction in the city is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple known to house the relic of the tooth of Buddha. The room housing the relic is open to devotees during prayers and the relic is kept in a small enclosed stupa. The main temple complex also houses museums, shrines and a few smaller temples.

Another famous attraction is the Kandy lake situated right beside the Temple of the Sacred Relic and is good for long strolls with loved ones.

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How to get there: There are direct trains and buses running from Colombo that take around 4 to 6 hours.
7. Ella

This little town is situated in the central hills of Sri Lanka and is a green, lush paradise offering mountain hikes, tea plantations and stunning waterfalls to visit. The climate here in the hills is a lot colder and several times more pleasant than the rest of Sri Lanka.

Ella is famous for its tea plantations so make sure you visit one of the many in this town. The Diyaluma Falls located in Ella is known to be the second highest fall in Sri Lanka and must absolutely be a part of your itinerary while here. You can choose to swim in the natural pools and enjoy the most out of your trip here.

Adventure seekers can choose to hike up Little Adam’s Peak (45 minutes from Ella) which takes around 15-30 minutes to climb. The view of the valley from up top is stunning, something you’ll definitely remember for the rest of your life. There’s also Ella rock that takes around 2 hours to hike to, for people interested in a more difficult climb. Getting to the top is truly an accomplishment and the views from the top are definitely worth it.

Ithaka pro tip: Take a direct train from Colombo or Kandy to Ella. This 4-hour train journey is one of the most scenic journeys in Sri Lanka and is world famous for the views.
8. Mirissa Beach, Mirissa

This beautiful beach situated on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka is hands down one of the best beaches in the country. This beach provides some of the most stunning sunsets in the country so make sure you spend a day (or two) witnessing this.

Golden sand, crystal blue water and tall palm trees are just some of the selling points for this beach. The shore is also lined with quaint beach cafes and shacks so make sure you stick around post-sun-down to experience one of the many beach parties. This is also a popular spot for dolphin and whale watching and you can book day boat tours in plenty. You’ll make memories of a lifetime!

Also, make sure you find your way to the Secret Beach located just a short walk away from the Main Mirissa Beach. While not such a secret anymore, this beach offers a little more seclusion and good snorkeling spots.

Pro tip: The whale watching season is Mirissa is from November to April so make sure you plan your trip accordingly.

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How to get there: Get a train from Colombo to Matara (7km from Mirissa) and then take a tuk-tuk to Mirissa.
9. Nuwara Eliya

This little town in the midst of the hills in Sri Lanka is a hot tourist attraction in the country. Famous for its numerous tea plantations, you can visit one of the lush green farms, go on a tea factory tour and buy some delicious tea for back home, right at the factories!

You can take a walk on the Moon Plains or take a boat ride across the Gregory Lake or even visit the colonial post office in the middle of the city. The city is populated with winter markets which offer some super affordable winter clothes, locally made and sourced.

A trip to Nuwara Eliya would be incomplete without a visit to the Horton Plains National Park, home to more than 750 different species of plants and over 150 wild animals. The biggest attraction inside though is the World’s End hike where the plateau suddenly ends in front of a deep plunge of over 800 meters. The view from the end of the plateau is breathtaking and a memory you’ll never forget.

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How to get there: There are direct buses and trains from Kandy and Colombo which take anywhere from 4 to 7 hours. We’d recommend taking the scenic train ride from Kandy to Ella that passes Nuwara Eliya.
10. Yala National Park

When you think of Sri Lanka, you think of National Parks with their remarkable wildlife. The Yala National Park is the second largest National Park in the country housing more than 215 species of birds, the highest density of leopards and other animals like elephants, sloth bears, wild water buffaloes etc which you can spot on a safari.

This National Park also has a beautiful beach, one of the best in the country with clearest waters. Swimming isn’t allowed though, owing to the rough and choppy waves.

Visit this park to look at Sri Lanka’s wildlife and forests and promise you wouldn’t regret it!

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How to get there: Take a direct bus from Colombo going to Tangalle and step down at Yala on the way. The journey will take more than 7 hours one way.
11. Beira Lake, Colombo

This is the biggest and the most beautiful lake in the capital city of Colombo and is accessible from all areas of the city. The Beira Lake is famous for paddle boating and you can spot ducks and other birds in the Lake.

The Seema Malakaya temple is situated in the middle of the Lake on top of 3 linked platforms rising out of the waters. This is a famous Buddhist temple that houses a shrine, Buddha statues and a Bodhiya tree in the premises. It is perfect for some calm and serenity while offering prayers.

The Lover’s Island is also a famous attraction by the Lake and is perfect for couples looking to spend some quality time. This place is lined with trees, wooden benches and beautiful pathways and can be accessed by a string bridge decorated with stunning lights.

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How to get there: Can be accessed by tuk-tuks, taxis and buses throughout the city.
12. Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, Kosgoda

A short distance from Bentota, this sea turtle hatchery is located in the town of Kosgoda on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. Dedicated to nursing injured sea turtles, this hatchery also nurtures endangered species in its premises. They also run informative programs and tours for visitors, a great way to gain deeper knowledge about the sea- turtles.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also get to release the baby turtles into the ocean, a beautiful experience to be a part of.

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How to get there: Take a direct bus from Colombo to Bentota and then hop on a tuk-tuk to the Hatchery.
13. Wijaya Beach, Unawatuna

This is an offbeat beach located 15 minutes away from Unawatuna and is frequented by backpackers. The clear water and calm shores offer exciting opportunities for a swim, while the abundant marine life makes for a great snorkeling experience. More often than not, you’ll spot a sea-turtle swimming past you underwater, no kidding!

You’ll also find some good restaurants by the sea serving amazing sea-food while the sunbeds outside make for a perfect sunset watching spot over a chilled beer.

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How to get there: Hop on a tuk-tuk from Unawatuna.
14. Udawalawe National Park

Sri Lanka is home to some of the most diverse National Parks and this one’s no different. Home to more than 250 Sri Lankan elephants, this park is a great place to spot one, while on your safari. Other wildlife includes leopards, sambar deer, axis deer, grey langur and water buffaloes amongst others.

It also houses the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home known to care for abandoned elephant calves. It’s a great place to guarantee an elephant sighting and do your bit to nurture them.

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How to get there: Take a bus from Colombo to Udawalawe junction (6 hrs).

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In Short

With karst limestone mountains and baby blue waters at its wake, Krabi provides the perfect backdrop for the adrenaline fueled adventure of kitesurfing.

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Best For: Water Sports, Views, Extreme Sports, Adventure
Cost: A one-day beginner lesson starts from 4000 baht
What’s So Awesome About It

Kitesurfing is an extreme sport that has recently become a worldwide rage. The sport involves harnessing the power of a large controllable kite to propel the surfer and his board across the water. Surfers can achieve speeds of up to 40 miles an hour versus the 10 – 15 mph achieved while surfing a large wave. It is an extreme sport and Thailand, with its long coastline enjoying different wind speeds on its different frontiers throughout the year, is the ideal location for the thrill seeker in you. The best time for kitesurfing in Krabi is from December through to February.

What’s The Catch

Krabi isn’t the breeziest of places, hence, it is best to check wind conditions before booking lessons. Kitesurfing is a solo activity and requires physical fitness.

Things To Keep In Mind

It is recommended that guests do some training sessions beforehand as it can be quite dangerous. Kitesurfing requires a high level of physical fitness.

Where You Can Book It From

There are some kitesurfing schools in Krabi near Ao Nang Bay, the most popular among them being Kite Boarding Asia. You can them for further information.

Pro Tip

The best places to kitesurf in Krabi are Nopparat Thara in Ao Nang and Railay Bay.

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Thailand has long coastlines hugging the landscape from both sides flanked by several tiny islands, making them home to some of the most idyllic beaches. Many of these are drastically different from one another, and offer something unique for every kind of traveller.  While many of these beaches are touristy, still many more are secluded and take an off-the-beaten path, so much so that you feel like you’re on your own private piece of land surrounded by territorial sea. One thing is for sure, these beaches are in utmost need of preservation, which is why some beaches like the Maya Bay in Phi Phi are indefinitely closed for tourists.

If you are taking a vacation to Thailand, you will most likely not be able to visit all of these beaches, so take your pick out of the beaches that appeal to you most and add them to your bucket list.

1. Patong Beach, Phuket Popular

Perhaps the most touristy beach of all, Patong beach is also its unofficial party capital making it equally popular with the locals. Although busy, Patong beach looks incredibly beautiful with its white sands and its crystal clear waters silhouetting calm and quietly waves.

Patong offers multiple options in water sports too – jet skiing, parasailing and banana boat rides being the most popular. The most happening bars and restaurants line the beach alternating street food stalls.

Why You Should Go There: With so many truly amusing things to do at Patong, you should go there especially if you want to experience its nightlife and do not really mind the crowd.

2. Ao Nang Beach, Krabi

A scenic beach with karsts dotting one of its edges, Ao Nang has soft white sand stretching for kilometres, so you can walk the shoreline. Around the beach you have international food chains galore, so you don’t go hungry either.

Why You Should Go There: Go to Ao Nang Beach in the evenings for its elaborate views of the sunset. During the day, take a long-tail boat ride to any of the nearby islands; keeping in mind its extreme popularity with tourists though.

3. Karon Beach, Phuket

Karon beach is a delight for those who enjoy a peppy nightlife as well as serenity during the day. The beach has great public facilities for you to be able to enjoy its cool blue waters throughout the day, including a lifeguard on standby. That been said, you will find some king waves here which may not be suitable for children to swim around. It also offers delightful restaurants, clubs and shopping areas within easy reach.

Why You Should Go There: If you like stretches of white sand to laze around in and warm waters to come kiss your feet, head to Karon beach.

4. Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui

The 7-kilometre long beach of Chaweng has a lively vibe with a scattering of tourists and locals alike. It is also a popular spot for swimming, and sunbathing. Come evenings and sections of the beach transform with people coming in to gather around bars, groove to music, or simply getting entertained by fire shows.

Why You Should Go There: If you are looking to try your hand at snazzy new water sport options, Chaweng beach has many many to choose from, like jet board surfing and stand up paddle boarding.

5. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi Recommended

Phra Nang beach is a short 20-minute walk from Railay beach or a kayak-ride away. A clean beach, it’s got some beautiful rock formations next to the shoreline where you can even try rock climbing or explore the caves. The beach is also home to the Princess Cave where locals typically offer stone phalluses to the mythical sea princess for fertility.

Why You Should Go There: If an adventurous itinerary that includes rock climbing or kayaking is your thing, Phra Nang beach is one of the best beaches in Thailand to arrive with a bucket list.

6. Hua Hin Beach, Prachuap

A weekend getaway for Bangkok natives, Hua Hin beach has come to be known as Thailand’s seaside resort city. Given its luxury resorts, it has emerged as Thailand’s latest destination for spas and wellness centres.

The beach itself has about 5 kilometres of white sand and clear water. It’s pretty laid back with sun loungers and horse-riders. Once at sea, you’d find tourists and locals jet skiing and kitesurfing to the rip tides.

Why You Should Go There: If you want to experience the sea and the sand from the lap of luxury and quietude, Hua Hin beach is the perfect setup for a nice couple of your days.

7. Railay Beach, Krabi Recommended

Accessible only by long-tail boats from Krabi or Ao Nang, Railay beach is reckoned especially interesting. Its pristine and clear waters and robust rock formations jutting out at sea, give you a magnificent view, especially from the west side, during sunset.
Railay also has a few beachside restaurants serving tasty Thai food.

Why You Should Go There: Railay usually hosts a small crowd, a chilled-out vibe and beautiful scenery, enough to make it a must- visit destination when in Krabi.

8. Nai Harn Beach, Phuket

Nai Harn is one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket where snorkelling close to the beach assures plenty of fish to keep you company. There are various food vendors selling fresh fruit, smoothies, barbecued chicken and fish, for those hunger pangs.

Why You Should Go There: For a clean, short beach that has plenty of space to swim, snorkel, grab a meal and get an open-air massage, Nai Harn has proved to be a great option compared to the more touristy beaches.

9. Pattaya Beach, Pattaya Popular

Pattaya beach is a tourist hub thanks to the wide variety of activities you can indulge in. Being the landmark of the city, expect to find hotels and attractions in and around the beach, making it constantly bustle. Yet, it is big enough for you to take up a shed and relax by the sea. During the day, the waters get really crowded and you find dozens of parasails up in the air, all at the same time, dotting the skyline with colour pixels. By evening, the nightlife at the restaurants and go-go bars next to the beach take over.

Why You Should Go There: At Pattaya Beach you can explore a lot of options in water sports and if you manage to bargain your way out, you can enjoy the sport for a very cheap deal.

10. Freedom Beach, Phuket Offbeat

Freedom beach is tucked away in elevated landscape and will need you to trek to, from Patong. Limited accessibility makes Freedom beach an virgin paradise. After a steep descent of stairs, once you see the beach, you will have your breath taken away by its reticent beauty. No wonder that the beach has an entry fee of 200 baht!

Why You Should Go There: This secluded beach gets enough shade from its palm trees for you to lounge for hours on end. While you can swim the waters, there’s also one area cordoned off for snorkelling.

11, Jomtien Beach, Pattaya

The 6-kilometre long Jomtien beach is the quieter version of the Pattaya beach. There is something to do for everyone in here; you can laze around on a sun deck, play a game of volleyball, try your hand at water sports or just try some great barbecued food from the vendors at the beach. The jet ski world cup event takes place annually at Jomtien beach.

Why You Should Go There: As a much quieter beach in Pattaya, it is ideal for travellers who don’t like touristy places. Jomtien is one of the best windsurfing destinations in all of Thailand. Here you can also go paragliding, kiteboarding, scuba diving, and catamaran sailing.

12. Kamala Beach, Phuket

With a steady high tide during the day and restaurants by the beach to serve scrumptious snacks and cocktail, Kamala is a fun beach to spend at least half a day at. Families come and go throughout the day, with mornings being slightly busier. It makes for a good spot to get a Thai massage by the beach or rock some water sports. They also have a memorial built at the end of the beach in remembrance of those that lost their lives in the 2004 Tsunami.

Why You Should Go There: For the most part, you’d only be able to hear the waves and the wind hitting the chords. Since the water is not too deep for a distance, it is an ideal place to bring kids to swim to.

13. Koh Nangyuan Beach, Surat Thani Offbeat

Three small islands make Koh Nangyuan with three beaches connecting them, the only place in the world that has an unbroken stretch of clean white sand. It is a pristine paradise-like location with very limited accommodation options. Swimming here will make you feel like it’s your own private beach. If you go for snorkelling, you can see magnificent views of coral reefs and a variety of vividly coloured fish.

Why You Should Go There: Whether you want to snorkel or go trekking to Koh Nangyuan’s viewpoint, swim in the sea or just sunbathe by the beach, you are bound to have a unique experience at this offbeat destination.

14. Kata Noi Beach, Phuket

Trek across a hill at Kata, to reach a smaller beach that’s got the name, Kata Noi. It feels like another private beach with just one restaurant serving up cool drinks and food and renting out umbrellas, hammocks and sun decks. At the Kata Noi beach you can easily spend a couple of hours basking in the sun. More often than not, the waves are quite strong, making it unfit for non-swimmers.

Why You Should Go There: Kata Noi is ideal for couples who want to enjoy a pristine white beach and a laid-back day, sunbathing.

15. White Sand Beach, Khao Lak

White Sand Beach makes for an extremely relaxing and casual day out with the family. The beach is pristine clean with soft, white sand and the surf is mild and gentle. Tiny huts and tables can be found set up at the beach itself and the restaurant provides for some great cocktails and coconut based drinks. You’ll also share the beach with many hermit crabs that dart away on contact

Why You Should Go There: The White Sand Beach is much less explored by tourists and seldom do you have a large yet quiet beach in Thailand, almost to yourself. The beach is apt for kids as the sea’s calm.

16. Surin Beach, Phuket

Known as ‘Millionaire’s Row’ Surin Beach has big waves and is frequented only by a handful of people at a time. You’ll find travellers staying at the high-end resorts that line the shore, sunbathing by the beach. Also, you’d seldom find ad hoc food stalls at the beachfront.

Why You Should Go There: Surin beach has plenty of shaded areas to relax by the seashore and is usually cool and windy. Owing to the exclusivity of the luxury resorts, you may find yourself spotting celebrities too.

17. Kantiang Beach, Koh Lanta Offbeat

A little-known haven, Kantiang beach is part of a bay to the west of Koh Lanta, the perfect combination of breathtaking sunsets, cool waters and perfect waves. The bars at the beachfront make for a lovely sundowner while the fire show every evening is a fun experience too.

Why You Should Go There: Kantiang beach is uncrowded and has an idyllic spot to swim in the crystal-clear waters and learn how to scuba dive.

18. Haad Rin, Koh Phangan

Haad Rin is one of the best examples of how Thailand’s beaches can transform owing to its visitors. Set on an island at Koh Phangan, once a month Haad Rin hosts a full moon party that witnesses thousands of tourists, gathering and dancing the night away at electronica concerts. Through the rest of the month, the ambience is in complete contrast, so just enjoy the quietude and sunbathe through the day by the beach.

Why You Should Go There: If an all-night music festival hosted on an island beach has been on your bucket list, then you must pick the right date in the month and head to Haad Rin. On the days after the full moon party, the island picks up the vibe and keeps quite lively too.

19. Koh Kradan Beach, Trang Recommended

The island of Koh Kradan brings visitors looking to snorkel and take a tour of the island. The water is azure, yet so clear that you can easily spot a fish swimming around. At a low tide, towards the north of the beach you can even walk for a distance to visit the coral reefs. Restaurants and resorts here are limited, hence you won’t see too many people thronging this beach. Expect to get breathtaking views of both sunrise and sunset depending on which side of the island you’re on.

Why You Should Go There: For a first time snorkelling experience, Koh Kradan beach is a good start since you can start right from the beach itself. Moreover, the water is warm through the seasons, so you can swim for longer.

20. Puek Tian Beach, Prachuap Offbeat
Puek Tian Beach via Annette Pettifer

The most fascinating thing about Puek Tian beach is its many sculptures flanking the sand and the water. These sculptures are fictional characters out of a poem popular in Thai culture. Though the most charming sculptures are at sea, on low-tide days you may actually be able to walk up to them.
Why You Should Go There: If you are looking for a diversion from the usual beaches of Thailand and are travelling past Hua Hin, you can stop by Puek Tian beach and take a look at the strange artwork that also makes for great stories.

21. Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe

If you start your morning with the rising sun at this beach, you are bound to find magnificent views of the sea. Through the day, you’ll see many tourists come by long-tail boats to visit the island, yet leaving the beach with plenty of empty spots that you can sunbathe in. Once in the water, look out for a varied shoal of fishes even before you begin snorkelling. Soon enough, as you go deeper, don’t miss the corals. Apart from the brilliant sunrise, evenings and nights are also magical under the dimly lit moon on the beach.

Why You Should Go There: While you spend a good part of your morning in the water at Sunrise beach, there are more leisurely activities that can keep you occupied through the day. Since the tide is calm and low for the most part, you can kayak your way to the neighbouring islands.

The post 21 Best Beaches In Thailand – 2019 Guide appeared first on Ithaka.

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Lopburi, located in Central Thailand, is the country’s oldest city that still retains vestiges of the past Khmer Empire. Divided into two distinct parts –the New Town and the Old Town – Lopburi offers immersive sights and experiences, which is why the province finds itself in the bucket list of travelers.
There is quite a lot of history to the city since it was briefly the capital of Ayutthaya Kingdom. But what makes Lopburi unique is the presence of macaques who strut the street tops and co-habit with the city’s residents.

Lopburi is easily accessible from Bangkok and if you are in the vicinity, do not miss a visit to the city. There are quite a lot of things to see and do here, which would add to your travel escapades.

1. Monkeys and Towers of Prang Sam Yod

Phra Prang Sam Yod, which means ‘three holy prangs’, is Lopburi’s oldest landmark. It is a set of towers erected in the centre of the town by Khmer King Jayavarman VII. What makes this place unique is the thousands of macaque monkeys that have made this historical site their home. The monkeys can be aggressive and try to snatch personal belongings, so exercise caution when in proximity with the primates.

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Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Entry Fee: 0.87 USD
2. Witness King Narai Fair

An annual fair held in honour of King Narai the Great, a 17th century monarch, it is a celebratory event complete with music and a sound-and-light show. The fair takes place at the Phra Narai Rachaniwet, and if you are in Lopburi during this time, make sure to pay a visit. You can enjoy the festivities, the ceremonies, and the market.

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Time To Visit: February
Entry Fee: Free
3. Stroll Around Phra Narai Ratchaniwet

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet is the home of King Narai the Great, and is also the location for the King Narai Fair. The palace complex, now in ruins, has a unique architectural aspect of having a mix of French and Khmer influences. It also contains the King Narai National Museum, where you can learn the history of past monarchs and see their belongings on display.

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Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday; 8.30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Entry Fee: 4.35 USD
4. Trace History with Lopburi Heritage Walk

Lopburi is a historical trove. Explore the stories of the past through the Heritage Walk that starts at Phra Narai Rachaniwet in the town centre, and winds it’s way through many sites. The whole trip would consume a day, and you will have stops for snacks. This is also a great way to observe the local life and culture up close.

5. Visit Ban Wichayen

Ban Wichayen, also called as the Wichayen House, was King Narai the Great’s building for housing ambassadors and envoys during the 17th century. The House is named after Chaophraya Wichayen, a Greek envoy, who was a royal minister to the Thai Government.

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Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday; 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Entry Fee: 1.45 USD
6. A Banquet with Monkeys

Lopburi’s human population shares the province with thousands of macaques, and in November every year they throw a sumptuous feast for their simian friends. Tables will be spread with varieties of fruits, vegetables, sodas, and cartons of juice and water. There will be large monkey statues on display, besides food stalls, competitions and street wares for sale. You will be astounded by the visuals of monkeys jumping on to the tables, grabbing the food of their choice and running off with the booty.

7. Enjoy the Sunny Sunflower Fields
Sunflower Fields via seashore14

If you are visiting Lopburi during the months between November and February, then do not miss visiting the sunflower fields. A vast blanket of striking yellow spreads over the land lending it a surreal feel. Most tuk tuk drivers would know which fields would be in full bloom, so either get the local transport or ride in your own vehicle.

8. Witness the Bats of Wat Khao Wongkhot

Nestled within the mountains of Lopburi is Wat Khao Wongkhot, a cave temple. Hike up during the day to splendid views of the province below and an assortment of religious statues that adorn the temple. Also, be privy to the numerous bats that live in the chambers. Stay till dusk and you will see the bats emerge, numbering in hundreds. The mass exodus of black figurines is an impressive sight in the fading light.

9. A Trip to Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, or more commonly known as Wat Yai, is a 650 years old temple that holds the Phra Buddha Chinnarat statue. This is the second-most famous statue of the Enlightened One in Thailand. Aside from the statue, the ruins, the temple, and the vendors all around will make your visit worthwhile.

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Opening Hours: 6.30 a.m. – 6.30 p.m. daily; closed on public holidays

Entry Fee: Free
10. Impressive Thai Architecture at Kraison Siharat Hall

Kraison Siharat Hall stands for the traditional Thai architecture that serves as a remainder of the 17th century. The structure was mainly used by astronomers as an observatory to study lunar and solar eclipses. Since the ruins are situated in the outskirts of Lopburi, you wouldn’t find the place crawling with tourists.

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Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Entry Fee: From 1.45 USD onwards
11. The Portuguese Connection at Wat San Paolo

This is a Jesuit church that was erected by the Portuguese in 17th century. All that remains of the ruins now is a brick wall, an octagonal, 3-story observatory, and a tower.

12. Hangout at Ang Sub Lek

Get to the outskirts of Lopburi town and spend some time at the Ang Sub Lek reservoir. It is a scenic place with small mountains in the distance and an island in the middle. The place is relatively deserted during the weekdays so you will have plenty of peace and quiet.

13. Visit Wat Sao Thong Thong

Wat Sao Thong Thong is a holy Buddhist place that contains chedis instead of stupas. The structures are believed to be hundreds of years old. There is a quaint amulet market nearby where you can get amulets and charms, if those catch your fancy.

14. The Leaning Chedi of Wat Mani Chonlakan

This is a 19th century structure built on a riverine island. What makes it noteworthy is the three-tier design that has standing Buddha images in 12 recessed corners and niches. The chedi also leas slightly to the left, which gives it an odd look.

15. Spirituality of Phra Kan Shrine

This is a popular shrine that holds the remains of Khmer period. Thais frequent this place of worship, so a thriving business of flowers, incense, and other items for offerings are sold in stalls around the shrine. An interesting thing to lookout for is the collection of colourful statues of animals and peoples inside.

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What You Should Remember: Visitors should dress modestly. Shoulders should be covered and sheer clothing is prohibited.

The post 15 Things To Do In Lopburi appeared first on Ithaka.

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Bo Derek had very famously said, “Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” No trip is complete without some retail therapy to soothe the soul, and a trip to Sri Lanka is no different. A country stocked with some of the most beautiful gems, local handicrafts, teas and Ayurvedic products – you’ll find something for every type of shopper in Sri Lanka.

Here is our list of the best shopping hubs in Sri Lanka for you to check out on your next trip! 

1. Odel Departmental Store, Colombo (High End)

This famous Sri Lankan retail brand has its own departmental store in Alexandra Place, Colombo and is a huge hit with locals and tourists alike. Located within a beautiful colonial building, Odel houses products from its own brand along with those from other global brands. The indoor section is stocked with shops selling Clothes (Women, Men and Kids), Accessories, Shoes, Perfumes, Books, Luggage and Souvenirs. You’ll find brands from Nike to Adidas to Mango in addition to local brands – making it a mix of high end as well as some budget shopping.

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Timings: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (daily)
2. Arcade Independence Square, Colombo (High End)

Another shopping mall housed inside a restored colonial building, this hub consists of many international brands to browse from, along with a really nice movie theatre on the top floor. Shopping here can prove to be a luxe affair owing to its wide array of expensive brands, but it’s worth a visit nonetheless. It also consists of a few eateries along with a lounge for you to unwind at, after a busy day shopping. Don’t forget to shop for some of the world famous Ceylon tea for back home from the t-lounge by Dilmah (Sri Lanka’s best tea) located on the ground floor too!

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Timings: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. (daily)
3. Kandy City Center, Kandy (Budget to Mid-range)

The only shopping mall in Kandy, the Kandy City Center is a 5 storeyed shopping hub located at a short walk from the Kandy Lake and the Temple of Tooth. It boasts of some of the most known global as well as local brands and has a wide array of clothing, accessories, electronics and entertainment options available. The top floor also has a huge food court to satiate your hungry tummy after hours of shopping while the ground floor has ATMs in plenty, in case you go overboard with the shopping (which is highly possible).

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Timings: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. (daily)
4. Barefoot, Colombo (Mid-range to High-End)

Think handmade artifacts, traditional paintings and beautiful handicrafts and pair them with top-notch quality. Barefoot souvenirs make for great gifts for friends back home and if you only have time to visit one place for shopping while in Sri Lanka, then let this be it. It also houses a beautiful cafe inside where you can indulge yourself in good teas, coffee and delicious food. 

It’s located pretty centrally on the streets of Colombo 03 and is easily accessible by the local tuk-tuks and taxis. 

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Timings: Mon – Sat: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
5. Franciscan Sister’s Jam Room, Nuwara Eliya (Budget)

A beautiful little shop run by the nunnery in the hills of Nuwara Eliya, this is a great place to visit if you’re looking to shop for jams, pickles and chutneys. These delicious handmade goodies are made with love from locally produced materials like strawberries growing in kitchen gardens. They also have a collection of unique wines – strawberry, ginger and beetroot are just some of the variants you can find here.

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Timings: Mon – Sat: 8.30 a.m. – 6. p.m.
6. Paradise Road, Colombo (Budget to Mid-Range)

Situated in another old mansion, Paradise road is home to locally sourced crockery, handicrafts, artifacts, homeware and all sorts of antiques and souvenirs. Their hand painted black and white plates are particularly famous and something you simply won’t be able to resist buying. 

It’s located in the heart of Colombo near the Gangaramaya temple and can be easily accessed by local transport. 

7. Crescat Boulevard, Colombo (Budget)

Located right next to the Cinnamon Garden hotel, this mall is another good shopping hub if you’re looking to buy local brands. You’ll find shops selling everything from teas, clothes, shoes, linens and souvenirs inside and the selection of local brands available makes this a very budgeted shopping experience. You can also grab a quick bite at one of the eateries in the food court sitting on the ground floor, that provide a number of South Asian cuisines to choose from. 

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Timings: 10.30 a.m. – 11 p.m. (daily)
8. Liberty Plaza, Colombo (Mid-range)

By now, you must have realized that Colombo is bustling with shopping malls and this one’s another on the list. Situated in Colombo 03, Liberty Plaza is another shopping mall complete with apparel shops, a supermarket, food halls and souvenir stores. An added wing called the Uptown Kandy has some of the nicer shops and is better maintained. You can easily spend a few hours shopping and eating here given that it’s also a great option to escape the heat in the afternoon hours. 

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Timings: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (daily)
9. The Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, Galle (High-end)

A huge favorite among tourists, this one’s a hospital building converted into a pretty snazzy shopping mall. It’s lined with some high-end brands and jewelry stores like Cartier in addition to the tea and souvenir shops. 

What makes this place a favorite though, is the amazing sea view it offers during your shopping spree. The various lounges and restaurants within the precinct make for a perfect way to end your day while you catch the sunset at the beach and enjoy a few beers with fellow travelers. 

10. Saturday Good Market Event, Colombo (Budget to Mid-Range)

A big hit with the locals, the Saturday Good Market Event is a street market that comes to life every Saturday at the Colombo Racecourse. This market event features 70 to 90 pre-approved vendors selling fresh organic fruits and vegetables, natural food and snacks, ethical alternatives in fashion, toys, housewares, home and garden supplies along with spa and massage services. 

You can also witness a lot of street side live music performances along with an authentic massage while your kids keep busy with some of the games on site.

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Timings: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (daily)
11. Pettah Floating Market (Budget)

While not a floating market in the traditional sense, the Pettah Floating Market in Colombo is a decent shopping hub built on wooden bridges by a water body. It’s good for getting some shopping done while lazily strolling around the area. There are also some restaurants offering good food by the breezy lake for you to indulge in. 

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Timings: 8 a.m – 10 p.m. (daily)
12. Majestic City Central, Colombo (Budget)

Once the city’s most favorite shopping destination, Majestic City in Colombo has lost its footing when compared to its modern competitors, but still remains a good option for budget shopping. Located at a stone’s throw from Bambalapitiya Railway station, this mall houses affordable local brands selling apparel, accessories and souvenirs. The main attractions though are the food court and the cinema halls – with the food court often running out of space to sit during lunch and dinner time. 

So if you’re looking to grab some affordable souvenirs for back home but don’t want to stray too far from the city centre, then Majestic City in Colombo has your name written all over it!

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Timings: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. (daily)
13. Jewel Arena, Colombo (Mid-range)

Sri Lanka is blessed with beautiful gem mines and a trip to Sri Lanka is incomplete without some precious gem shopping. While you can find some really good jewelry stores all over Sri Lanka, Jewel Arena in Colombo provides some of the best quality gems betraying craftsmanship! Located a short walk away from Viharamahadevi Park, this jewelry store sells beautiful and intricate pieces at some of the most affordable prices. 

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Timing: Mon – Sat: 10 a.m. – 7.30 p.m. Sun: 10 a.m – 5 p.m
14. Mackwoods Tea Center (Damro now), Nuwara Eliya (Budget)

More a tea plantation factory than a shopping hub, the Mackwoods Tea Center (now called Damro) offers a short factory tour explaining the tea making process at no cost. After the free tour, you’re ushered to the terrace overlooking the farm while they offer you a free cuppa in your choice of flavor, to sip on. 

Once you’re done admiring the view, you can move over to their tea shop selling various locally produced exotic teas and buy a few tubs for friends and family back home. They make for excellent gifts, promise! 

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Timings: 8.30 a.m. – 6.30 p.m. (daily)

The post 14 Best Places To Shop On Your Visit To Sri Lanka appeared first on Ithaka.

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Sri Lanka is blessed with one of the most diverse arrays of romantic destinations – from Beaches, National Parks, picturesque train rides to historical landmarks and serene mountains. So if you’re planning a honeymoon or even a short couple’s getaway to this island nation, we promise this list will have you covered. Let’s get started then?

1. Galle Dutch Fort, Galle

This fortified town tucked in the southern province of Sri Lanka, is the perfect little romantic destination to visit with your loved one.

Built in 1663, this fort has a rich ancient history that is still betrayed in its quaint lanes and colonial buildings. Take a walk around the fort area that overlooks the Indian Ocean and explore the Dutch Church and the Galle Lighthouse nearby.

The Maritime Archaeology Museum inside the fort is another attraction you shouldn’t miss. The building that houses the museum was once a Dutch Warehouse.

The pretty lanes outside are lined with cozy cafes, heritage hotels and modern boutique hotels. The entire scene looks like it’s straight out of a bygone era and offers a beautiful day trail for couples.

The colonial buildings are still used for administrative purposes and the town has a whole community that still exists here peacefully, complete with schools, colleges, offices and homes.

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How to get there: Take one of the many buses going to Galle from Colombo.
2. Mirissa Beach

Sri Lanka has no shortage of beautiful beaches, being an island nation. So you might be wondering why this one in particular?

One of the reasons why Mirissa made the top of the list is because it has the perfect balance of touristy, secluded and romantic. The sunsets here, are some of the best you’ll ever spot in this country and beautifully complement the backdrop of palm trees and the ocean. Mirissa is also one of the best places to go for a whale watching tour on, so plan a trip here during sighting season.

The shore is lined with some really great restaurants perfect for candlelit dinners and the resort hotels near the beach make for a relaxing stay while on your trip.

Pro Tip: Do not miss out on visiting the Secret Beach that is a short walk away from Mirissa. This beach is perfect for snorkeling with the rich marine life that it harbors!

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How to get there: Board any South Bound bus from Colombo and get off at Mirissa.
3. Ella

Ella is a beautiful mountain village in the central province of Sri Lanka. Think of hill stations, but better! Ella is surrounded by large tea plantations, mountains and lush greenery. The cool weather here is a complete opposite to the soaring temperatures in the rest of the country which is why we recommend Ella for a romantic getaway.

The best part though is the journey to Ella. The train ride from Kandy to Ella is one of the most scenic ones in the world and people come from afar just to get a glimpse of the breathtaking country roads. We highly recommend taking the train from Kandy to Ella or back at least once to enjoy this beautiful experience with your sweetheart.

So visit the tea plantations, hike up Little Adam’s Peak or the Ella Rock for some spectacular views and spend some calm moments with your loved one.

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How to get there: Ella is a beautiful 4 hour train journey from Kandy. From Colombo, a taxi is the fastest and the most convenient option, but you can choose the 8 hour train journey as well.
4. Trincomalee

Trincomalee is located in the eastern province of Sri Lanka and is a relatively recent addition to the list of Tourist destinations for this country. Mainly because the city just only became accessible to tourists after 2009, post the end of a long, trying Civil War.

Trincomalee offers some of the best beaches and culturally enriched destinations in Sri Lanka. The Nilaveli and Marble Beaches, in particular, are alluring to look at with soft golden sand and turquoise blue water. These beaches are generally more secluded than the ones in the South, perfect for couples looking to spend some quality time together, away from tourist swarms. Don’t miss out on visiting the Pigeon Island nearby with its clear waters and rich marine life, accessible only by boats and famous for its snorkeling and diving sites.

This is another destination, famous for its whale watching boat tours so make sure you visit during the whale season in the East Coast. Trincomalee also has a lot to offer culturally what with its beautiful temples. We recommend checking out the Koneswaram and Chinabay Temples.

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How to get there: There are regular buses, trains and flights running from Colombo.
5. Sigiriya

Sigiriya is again, a culturally rich city situated in the central province of Sri Lanka and is famously known for the Lion’s Rock (also called Sigiriya Rock).

Legend has it that King Kashyapa built his royal palace on top of the Sigiriya Rock, along with a whole fortress complex with water fountains, canals and gardens, the ruins of which can still be found here. The entrance features a rock formation cut to large life-sized lion claws standing since 5th century BC. The climb up the rock is not too difficult owing to the comfortable stairs and the view from the top is spectacular!

Right opposite the Sigiriya Rock stands the Pidurangala Rock offering a mind-blowing view of the former from the top. It takes around 20 minutes to climb to the peak, so get your loved one and climb up to the top before sunset or before sunrise. The view is something that you’ll never forget!

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How to get there: One can take a bus from Colombo to Dambulla and then another bus to Sigiriya or a train to Habarana and then a cab to Sigiriya.
6. Kandalama

This small village is a short distance away from Sigiriya in the central province of Sri Lanka.

The reason it makes the list for top Romantic destinations in Sri Lanka is because of its hot air balloon site at Kandalama Lake! What says romance better than a hot air balloon ride with your bae, watching the sunset with champagne and spectacular views?

The Kandalama Hotel, a part of the Geoffrey Bawa Project is still one of his best creations owing to its minimal but contemporary construction on rocky terrain. What makes this hotel eye-catching is how the artist has blended the rock formations seamlessly into the interiors of the hotel instead of breaking it down. Stay here to meet this masterpiece and delve into some luxury with your loved one.

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How to get there: Take a tuk-tuk or a taxi from Sigiriya, only 12 km away.
7. Kandy

This city situated in central Sri Lanka is another popular destination for couples looking to explore the rich culture of Sri Lanka, complete with an amazing climate.

Surrounded by mountains, the weather here remains cool and pleasant throughout, making for a great trip. The biggest attraction here is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic which is said to actually contain a sacred tooth of Buddha. Other attractions include the Kandy Lake, botanical gardens, the royal palace and the national museum.

This is a great city for couples looking to explore the cultural side of Sri Lanka and is a must visit on your trip!

Pro tip: The train ride from Kandy to Ella is one of the most picturesque ones, so we recommend taking this train route to or from Ella.

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How to get there: A bus ride from Colombo takes approximately 4hours to reach. If traveling from Ella, then take the train!

8. Yala National Park

Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest and the most visited National Park, that too for good reason. This wildlife sanctuary has one of the most diverse communities of wildlife and fauna inside and is mainly known for the Sri Lankan elephants, leopards and aquatic birds.

Zone 5 in particular is not to be missed, owing to the wide landscape view it offers, of the wildlife unlike Zone 1 that is obstructed by bushes.

The national park also has a beautiful beach at the end of the park that is highly recommended for visiting with your loved one for a short stroll. Swimming is not allowed in the water because of the choppy waves but we won’t blame you for wanting to dip your toes in the crystal blueness.

Other national parks: Sri Lanka is blessed with diverse wildlife which is why it has dozens of great National Parks open to visitors. Some of the good ones are Udawalawe National Park, Minneriya National Park and the Horton’s Plains National Park

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How to get there: Taxis are always most convenient but you can also take a direct bus from Colombo going to Tangalle and get off at Yala on the way. The journey will take more than 7 hours one way.
9. Beira Lake, Colombo

This lake situated at the center of the capital city is a must visit for couples looking to spend some quality time together. It’s a famous bird watching spot and is a favorite among locals.

You can take your beloved on a sea boat ride here in the evening. There’s also the beautiful Seema Malakaya Buddhist temple built on 3 platforms/bridges jutting out of the Lake that you can visit to offer your prayers at and spend some peaceful time together.

The Lover’s Island on the other side of Beira Lake is another great attraction for couples. You need to walk through a beautiful suspended bridge to get to this island that is surrounded with lush greenery, quaint walkways and wooden benches. The bridge is even prettier once the sun sets and the lights roped around them come to life. This place makes for a great picnic date and a stroll with your partner and we promise you’ll walk away with some amazing memories!

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How to get there: Tuk-tuks and taxis are abundant in Colombo and can be taken from any part of the city.
10. Hikkaduwa

This beach resort town is located in the South West coast of Sri Lanka and is perfect for couples looking for a beach getaway with luxury splurges.

Apart from candle-lit dinners by the beautiful beach, you can also visit the Sea Turtle Hatchery and Rescue Centre in the city to see how you care for this endangered species. If you’re lucky, you might even get to let the babies into the ocean during the right season. Trust us; this sea-turtle hatchery is well worth a visit.

Very close to the city, also runs a railway line that you can walk on (when the track is clear) to get some beautiful shots. Please be careful to make sure the path is clear though.

Surfing and snorkeling are also favorite activities in Hikkaduwa and your trip would be incomplete without trying at least one of them.

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How to get there: A direct taxi is the most convenient and will take only 2 hours. One can also board a southbound bus (Galle, Tangalle) and get off at Hikkaduwa.
11. Diyaluma Waterfalls, Badulla

Nature works in mysterious ways and this waterfall proves just that. Located just an hour away from Ella, the Diyaluma Waterfall is the second largest waterfall in the country. You can hike up trails surrounded by long grass to reach different levels of the Waterfall.

Once you reach the first level, you’ll spot a number of natural pools that you can take a dip or swim in. Be ready to be stunned by the various picturesque pools made by the hand of nature. A little further down the trail is another level of the Waterfall with even clearer natural pools running right up to the edge of the falls. The view from this edge is breathtaking and thrilling, all at once.

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How to get there: You can easily get a tuk-tuk here from Ella

The post 11 Best Romantic Places in Sri Lanka appeared first on Ithaka.

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An island nation in the South Asian province, Sri Lanka has absolutely no shortage of beautiful beaches along its coastline. Whether you’re looking for a family friendly beach to have a fun time with kids, or a secluded offbeat beach for some calm and tranquility, or even a beach to enjoy some world class adventure and watersports at – Sri Lanka promises to fulfil all your expectations from a beach vacation. 

Looking for some good beaches and wondering what time is best to visit? We’ve collated a list of our favourite beaches in Sri Lanka including the most popular, offbeat and some personal recommendations so that you wouldn’t have to search farther. 

Sri Lanka’s beach destinations can mainly be divided into 3 groups 

1. The Eastern Province Beaches 
2. The South West Province Beaches
3. The Western Province Beaches

We’ll follow this bifurcation below to make everything easier to understand. So here’s our list of the best beaches in Sri Lanka!

The Eastern Province Beaches

Sri Lanka is a country with a complicated weather cycle because of the two monsoon seasons it experiences in a year. The best time to plan your trip to the beaches in the Eastern Province is between April and September as this area experiences monsoons in the months between November and March.

1. Nilaveli Beach, Trincomalee (Recommended)

Probably one of the largest beaches in this area, Nilaveli is situated on the northernmost point of Trincomalee. This has to be one of the most isolated beaches in Sri Lanka and is generally known to be less touristy. This beach is blessed with pearly white sand and crystal clear waters that let you swim on whims, courtesy the calm waves that quietly sweep the shores for the most part of the day. 

Whale watching is also a popular attraction at this beach during the months of May through September, so book a trip accordingly.

You’ll find a few restaurants, shacks, bars and hotels lining the beach along with their sunbeds that can be rented for a small amount.

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How to get here: There’s a direct train to Trincomalee from Colombo early morning that takes 7.5 hours. Once in Trincomalee, you can hire a tuk tuk/taxi or rent a car/bike to Nilaveli, some 14 km away.

2. Pigeon Island, Trincomalee (Recommended)

Pigeon Island is a small island just 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli and can be accessed by boats operating from Nilaveli. If there’s only one recommendation you take from this list, let this be it.

You’ll find the most crystal clear waters in all of Sri Lanka by the Pigeon Island. Situated in a Marine National Park, this island is home to a lot of coral reefs and is famous for snorkeling and diving. You’ll find yourself spotting exotic fishes, sea turtles and sharks everywhere you turn and the transparency of the water makes it one of the best snorkeling experiences in Sri Lanka.

This place is operable only between 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. so make sure you plan a trip accordingly. There are no shops or restaurants on that side of the island so make sure to carry water along. Littering is absolutely not allowed, so carry a small bag to dump the trash in.

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How to get there: There are ample boats at Nilaveli to ferry you to the Island and back. These boats also offer snorkeling equipment if you’d require.

3. Uppuveli Beach, Trincomalee (Popular)

Located 10km to the south of Nilaveli, Uppuveli is probably one of the largest beaches on the coast of Trincomalee. Soft golden sand, warm waters, calm waves are just some of the attributes that can be used to describe this beach. There are quite a few bars, cafes, and restaurants by the beach, so just choose one for a few hours and grab a sunbed when the sun is at its hottest. 

You’ll find some parts of the beach lined with fishing and tourist boats as this is a famous spot for fishing and boat tours (like Pigeon Island) alike. 

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How to get there: Again, this beach is well connected by roads so you can get a tuk-tuk/taxi or make your way in a privately rented vehicle.

4. Marble beach, Trincomalee (Offbeat)

Situated on the southernmost point of Trincomalee, the marble beach is run and maintained by the Navy. Blessed with soft white sand and transparent blue waters, this Beach is a favorite among locals and foreigners alike. The earlier hours of the day is the perfect time to visit the beach to enjoy some alone time as local kids and families start dribbling in towards the afternoon. The crowd will still be a lot less than what you’re used to so it’ll still feel pretty secluded – a win-win. 

When hungry, you can grab a quick bite at the Naval Restaurant. Some delicious sea food with the waves crashing close is exactly what the heart ordered! 

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How to get there: This beach is about 17km South of Trincomalee and is easily accessible by road.

5. Arugam Bay (Popular)

Situated in the east coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is a hot favorite with surfers and adventure seekers. And why wouldn’t it be? Arugam Bay is known as one of the best surfing spots in the world, after all. You’ll find some incredible surfing points like the Main Point (perfect for intermediate to advanced surfers) and Whiskey Point (perfect for beginners with teaching lessons available).

I know we’ve said it before, but the water here is crystal clear again. Sri Lanka is blessed that way. 

This place is also known for some amazing beach parties and chill vibes. You’ll find some pretty great Yoga classes by the beach during early morning hours, hotels too usually arrange for personal Yoga sessions. We’d recommend staying here for at least a couple of days to experience it all.

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How to get here: The journey can be tiring as it takes more than 12-14 hours. Hiring a direct cab/mini-van is what we’d recommend if you get a chance to split the cost with a few other people as the journey will only take around 7 hours.

6. Pasikuda Beach (Offbeat)

Situated on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, this is a beach frequented by backpackers. The water here is calm and shallow for quite a long stretch from the shore making it ideal for swimming. There are a few beach resorts on the northern side of the beach while the southern point is usually thronged by locals.

You’ll not find a lot of beach bars or restaurants – and hence, not a lot of sunbeds. So make sure you take the heat and the sun into account before venturing out mid-day. 

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How to get there: There are two direct trains to Valaichchenai from Colombo, one early morning and one in the night, 6 hours long and comfortable. From Valaichchenai, Pasikuda is a short distance and can be reached by taxis available outside the station.

The South and South West Province Beaches

These areas experience monsoon between the months of June and October making December through May, the perfect months for a trip this side.

7. Tangalle Beach (Offbeat)

This beach sits in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka and is still, surprisingly virgin. The turquoise blue waters, the palm tree lined coasts and the pristine clean shores make this the perfect tropical destination for people looking for some calm and quiet. Swimming here is usually not recommended as the waves can be rough. A small bay with a sheltering reef nearby catches some of the biggest waves and forms a natural Jacuzzi.

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How to get there: Tangalle is approximately 180 km from Colombo and has a direct bus (#32) running through the major towns of the South Coast, from Colombo and back. You can also hire a personal taxi to reach here.

8. Mirissa Beach (Recommended)

Located 50kms west of Tangalle, the beautiful beach of Mirissa is known to attract young traveler. This beach is home to some really good restaurants, bars and shacks that ensure an amazing nightlife. It is also blessed with some exceptionally clear blue waters and soft golden sands.

You’ll witness some of the most beautiful sunsets ever, on this beach. So be ready with your camera to try and capture it. 

This is also a famous spot for whale watching tours through the months of December to April so make sure you inquire in advance about their sightings. You can also snorkel, dive and try some of the other popular water sports here. 

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How to get there: The direct bus (#32) runs through southern beach towns from Colombo and back so you can grab a seat there. Taxis are also easy to find.

9. Secret Beach (Recommended)

The warm blue water is not accompanied by rough waves, making it easier to swim here. Although, be careful on the actual sand while walking, as it does tend to be rockier and filled with a significant amount of small stones. Keep an eye out on the dozens of small hermit crabs you can spot while out here.

You’ll find a few shops selling water and juices to keep you hydrated. Get your snorkeling gear and head out to this small beach for a few hours! 

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How to get here: Small 15 – 20 minute walk from Mirissa.

10. Unawatuna Beach (Popular)

You’ll find Unawatuna beach as you go further out, to the west of Mirissa. This is probably one of the most famous Beaches in Sri Lanka and is frequented by a lot of tourists and rightfully so. The calm blue water makes swimming here a favorite attraction.

Owing to its fame, you’ll find a lot of bars and shacks along the shore with sun beds up for rent, in case you want to take a nap or sip on some chilled beer. A short walk to the west of the beach will take you to a trail of small rocks and stairs leading up to a small hill with a Big Buddha statue and a Pagoda at the top of it. The view from up here is absolutely stunning against the backdrop of the beach.  The path here makes for a scenic walk as well. Go here if you don’t mind the crowds. 

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How to get here: The direct bus from Colombo (#32) makes a stop here before continuing its journey further south-east. Taxis and tuk-tuk function every day.

11. Hikkaduwa Beach (Popular)

Hikkaduwa is a popular resort town that attracts a lot of tourists during peak season. While the beach does tend to get quite crowded, this still hasn’t affected the quality of water or the cleanliness around the beach. The waters are crystal blue with soft golden beaches – typical of Sri Lanka.

Swimming and snorkeling here, are a hot favorite among tourists because of the clear waters and the amazing marine life. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find sea turtles moving to the shore to hatch eggs. Make sure you don’t go too near or be aggressive lookers, so as not to scare them off. The popularity of the beach makes sure there are numerous bars and restaurants lining the shore for some downtime. Be sure to check out some beach parties once the sun goes down, as they pop up in plenty! 

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How to get there: Bus #32 and private taxis.

12. Wijaya Beach, Unawatuna

Located less than 3kms from the Unawatuna beach, Wijaya is a small offbeat beach on the Southern coastline of Sri Lanka. This place is usually frequented by backpackers and people looking for a quiet downtime. It also has a natural reef that breaks waves and is perfect for swimming and snorkeling with sea turtles. Swimming beside huge sea turtles at Wijaya is probably one of the best experiences you’ll ever have in Sri Lanka.

There is a swing by a palm tree that you can use by paying a small charge on the beach and you’ll also find a few restaurants by the shore for a quick bite. 

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How to get there: It is located less than 3km off Unawatuna and can be accessed by tuk-tuks/taxis.

13. Bentota Beach, Galle (Recommended)

Stretching along the West coast of Sri Lanka, this is probably one of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in the country. It is still very underdeveloped as compared to other beaches so keep in mind that you won’t find many restaurants and bars on this beach. But if you are looking to have a quiet vacation away from tourists, this is the perfect place for you to be.

People prefer to take a river safari across the Bentota River close by, to experience the wildlife. 

There’s also a sea turtle research center nearby, at Kosgoda where treatments are provided to injured and endangered species before being nurtured back to health. It’s worth a visit, promise!

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How to get there: Around 80 km away from Colombo, the best way to get here is by a private taxi. There are no direct buses or trains, so you’ll have to change a couple of transports to get here.
The Western Province Beaches

The Western province experiences a similar weather cycle as the South Province does, with heaviest rains between July and November. December to April is the best time to visit this region.

14. Negombo Beach (Popular)

Situated at just 10km from the Bandaranaike airport, the Negombo beach is probably the most easily accessible beach in Sri Lanka. While this isn’t the most beautiful of Sri Lanka’s beaches, you’ll still find the typical clear water and clean sandy shore here.

There are a few good restaurants on the beach that you could head to, for a good Sri Lankan meal post a dip in the sea. There are a few water sporting options available and a ride on the catamarans is a must!

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How to get here: The best way to get here is by a direct cab from the Colombo airport or city.

15. Alankuda Beach, Kalpitiya (Recommended)

The Alankuda Beach on the Western coast of Sri Lanka is still a new discovery and is relatively secluded when compared to its Southern counterpart. The main attractions here, are the dolphin and whale sightings with a lot of boat tours available throughout the season.

The strong winds and currents also make this a hot spot for kite-surfing and speed-boat riding. There are a few developed beach resorts offering various luxurious services like pools and massages so you can also choose to stay here for a night. 

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How to get there: The easiest way here is to hire a private taxi from Colombo that is a 150km away. You can also choose to board a train or bus to Puttalam and then take a taxi to Kalpitiya (50 km).

The post 15 Best Beaches In Sri Lanka You Cannot Miss Out On appeared first on Ithaka.

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Once upon a time, Ayutthaya was the centre of commerce and one of the leading urban cities of the world. Now, this city in Thailand is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a favoured destination among globetrotters. Ayutthaya holds many ruins that speak the history of the place, and with many other wonders to go around, the city has lots of things in store.

1. Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet was build as a centrepiece to the Palace by the king and was supposed to be the grandest temple 7 centuries ago. It was ravaged when the Burmese invaded and now only the ruins remain.

2. Wat Phra Mahathat
Ankita Ghosh

This temple gained fame for the Buddha head entwined within the roots of a banyan tree. But there is more to this place than just the head in the roots. There are many prangs, lots more crumbling statues of Buddha, and wondrous ruins.

3. Wat Ratchaburana

This temple was built by Chao Sa Phraya as a memorial to his father and two brothers. The crypts were looted a few decades ago but most were recovered and one can see most of what is left as they descend down into the crypt.

4. Wat Chaiwattaranaram
Ankita Ghosh

Arguably one of the most photogenic places in Ayutthaya, Wat Chaiwattaranaram is a large central chedi with pagodas all around. You can climb up to the top and get an eyeful of the beautiful cityscape. All the chedis here are part of an intricate network of secret passageways, and there are 120 statues of sitting Buddhas adorning the place.

5. Wat Lokaya Sutha
Wat Lokaya Sutha via Simon5591

To the Northwest of Ayutthaya lies the ruins of a monastery called as Wat Lokaya Sutha. This spot is famous for the gigantic reclining Buddha, rising to an impressive 42 meters in height and eight meters in width. This is a must-visit spot when in Ayutthaya. There are lots of ancient ruins to be explored, and the reclining Buddha is worth the visit.

6. Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon
Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon via Louis PERPERE

This place isn’t frequented a lot by visitors, so you might get a relatively calm trip here. Here, you will find another face of Ayutthaya’s historical ruins and rows upon rows of Buddhas. There is also another giant sleeping Buddha whose sole is believed to have magical properties.

7. Ayutthaya to Bangkok by Boat

The waterways around Thailand bustles with cruises and boat trips, and is a popular mode of travel. Experience your own river journey by riding out on a boat cruise along the Chao Phraya river, from Ayutthaya to Bangkok. Along the way, sit back and enjoy the sites adorning the river bank.

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Cost: Starts from $55
8. Visit the Golden Buddha

On the east bank of Chao Phraya River stands Wat Panan Choeng, which houses the Golden Buddha. The statue stands at 19 meters and is 14 metres wide, and is regarded as the deity of mariners. The Golden Buddha is one of the largest and oldest worshiped statues in Thailand, so this is one place to jot down in your bucket list.

Pro Tip: Since the temple is still actively used for religious ceremonies, ensure you are dressed appropriately when visiting.
9. Tour The Bang Pa-In Palace

Bang Pa-In Palace, also known as the Summer Palace, was the residence of Thai monarchy. The palace is still used by the royals as a retreat house and holiday rest home. The architecture of the Palace blends Chinese with Russian and traditional Thai designs. Visitors can climb the lookout tower to get a panoramic view of the city.

10. Viharn Phra Mongkhonbophit

This magnificent structure is a restored ruin that houses another impressive Golden Buddha. The name of the temple means “Buddha of the Holy and Supremely Auspicious Reverence”, and through the years has undergone quite a lot of restorations. The temple once stood as a sanctuary for people during the Siamese – Burmese war. The Burmese were so taken with the beauty of the temple, they left without hurting the structure in any way.

11. Historical Remnants at Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
Ankita Ghosh

The Chai Sam Phraya museum is a good place to learn the history of the place and view the jewellery and artefacts that were saved from Burmese invasion. There are some impressive items on display here, like the stone Buddha heads and recently discovered gold items.

12. The Paintings of Wat Suwan Dararam

Where the River Pasak and Chao Phraya River meet stands Wat Suwan Dararam, a temple famous for the numerous paintings. The popular one is that of a battle involving King Naresuan as he battles the Burmese, sitting atop an elephant. The main Buddha figure here is a copy of the Emerald Buddha, the original of which can be found in Bangkok.

13. Wander at the Foreign Quarters

In its heydays, Ayutthaya was a commerce hub and saw many visitors from all over the globe touching port. Visit the Foreign Quarters and you will see the touch of Dutch, British, French, and Portuguese. There are also a number of Catholic churches in the area that are worth visiting.

14. Enjoy a Roti Sai Mai

A delicious dessert whose origins can be traced back to the visiting Portuguese who came to Ayutthaya. One of the things they introduced the city to was eggs and over the years, Roti Sai Mai took form and is now a favourite of the people. There are many street stalls that sell this delicacy, so make sure you have one when you visit.

15. Stroll Through Chai Phrom Market
Ankita Ghosh

Unlike other markets in Thailand, Chai Phrom market is unique in that it never closes for the day. You will find it a hub of activity at any hour, so head over here to look through some of the local produce as well as electrical and household goods. Since it is a local market, the prices aren’t too exorbitant and it won’t be as crowded as other touristy places.

The post 15 Things To Do In Ayutthaya appeared first on Ithaka.

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Imagine a blue train slowly maneuvering its way around the mountains and through lush tea plantains. Live your dream in Sri Lanka. Land of the tuskers, this place has the perfect mix of sandy beaches and scenic greenery. Here are the top 20 must-visit, albeit offbeat places that you absolutely got to go to, while in Sri Lanka.

1. Bentota

Get close to nature at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. The most enchanting destination for animal lovers, you get to see five different endangered species of turtle cared for and reared in clean and hygienic pools in the heart of this hatchery. This conscious effort toward effective conservation of nature will leave everybody spellbound.

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Top Attractions: Bentota Beach, Cinnamon Island, Ambalangoda
Location: An hour’s drive away from Colombo covering 65km will get you to your destination.
Did you know? Damage to Bentota beach during the Tsunami was far less, when compared to other beaches owing to the natural resources surrounding it.
2. Galle

Home to a huge collection of antique museums and archaic churches, Galle offers a perfect blend of beach revelry and cultural hobnobbing. One must visit Galle to enjoy the marvel of Dutch architecture – the Groote Kerk and Amangalla Hotel, among other attractions.

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Top Attractions: Galle Dutch Fort, Surfing at Unawatuna beach, Japanese Peace Pagoda
Location: 130 km from Colombo
Did you know? While diving at Unawatuna, you can spot a 100-year-old British ship that sank with its mast intact
3. Nuwara Eliya

Dubbed “Little England”, Nuwara Eliya has a Seetha Amma temple near Hakgala Garden that is a must visit, for its historical importance in Hindu mythology. Stories reveal that Sita would pray regularly to her husband Rama during her captivity by Ravana at the site of this very shrine.

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Top Attractions: Victoria Park, Gregory Lake, Bale Bazaar
Location: A train journey of 100 km from Colombo would take you to Nuwara Eliya.
Did you know? Hakgala garden is populated by camphor trees. Theories claim that these trees proved to be useful to burn Lanka when Hanuman came in search of Sita.
4. Kandy

Best time to witness the celebrations around Sacred Tooth Relic Temple is during Poya or Full Moon Day. Get spiritually surcharged by a milieu of heady incense hovering in the air and heavy drum beats reverberating through the walls of the temple. Buddha’s tooth is worshipped with supreme holiness here.

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Top Attractions: Kandy Viewpoint, Kandy Lake, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Location: Reach Kandy by bus from Colombo in 3 hours costing Rs.130

Pro Tip:  Take a 20-minute scenic flight with Cinnamon Air which promises a surreal aerial view of Kandy,
5. Colombo

Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka. It is a cosmopolitan city with several cultures and ethnicities coexisting harmoniously. Colombo attracts tourists from all over the world. While at Colombo, do not miss the aerial view of the city dotted with several modern buildings merged with its erstwhile colonial architecture and majestic monuments.

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Top Attractions: Scuba Diving, Pettah floating Market, Dehiwala Zoo
Location: A 45-90 minutes car ride covering about 35km from the airport can take you to Colombo
Did you Know? Colombo has one of the world’s largest artificial harbors.
6. Train Journey

Every tourist that has visited Sri Lanka recommends a train ride from Kandy to Ella. Enjoy the untouched vistas of nature while you can spot lush green jungles on one side and waterfalls on the other side. Also, don’t be surprised to see the elephants crossing the railway tracks.

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Top Attractions: Cute Blue colored coaches, Spotting monkeys, Tea Plantations
Location: Train starts from Colombo and reaches Kandy in 3 hours, Ella in 6 hours.
Did you Know? Most of the postcard-perfect pictures are taken between the stations of Hatton and Haputale.
7. Sigiriya

Built by King Kashyapa, this fortress was used as a Buddhist monastery. Its magnificent Lion staircase leads to the palace garden at the top of the rock. It’s hard to miss the remains of the cave paintings, taking pride of place at the foot of the giant rock.

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Top Attractions: UNESCO World Heritage site, Cave Paintings, Limestone steps
Location: 1 hour train journey from Colombo to Sigiriya operating 5 times a day, so hop on.
Did you Know? This stone fortress is often considered the eighth wonder of the world.
8. Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay is one of the top surfing destinations in Sri Lanka. Its most popular surfing spots include:

Main Point – Catch some good waves for intermediate and advanced surfers.
Whiskey Point – Glide over soft waves best suited for beginner surfers.
Peanut Farm – Visit a highly popular and recommended spot for surfers with experience.

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Top Attractions: Beach Parties, Fishing, Beach Yoga
Location: A 6 hour car drive from Colombo is all it takes.
Did you Know? Mambos’ is a legendary weekly beach party that is an absolute must for all party lovers.
9. Kalpitiya

Along the northwest coast, discover the hidden gem of Kalpitiya peninsula. Book an idyllic accommodation by the beach and enjoy the oceanic experience as the boat crashes against strong waves and stronger water currents of the Indian Ocean.

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Top Attractions: Dolphin Spotting, Kite Surfing, Bird Watching
Location: 3.5 hours car drive from Colombo will take you to Kalpitiya.
Did you Know? Large groups of Spinner dolphins along with whales (occasionally) can be seen offshore.
10. Knuckles Range

Also known as the Dumbara Range, these wild mountains are concealed behind veils of thick cloud and dense forest cover. Trek through its best preserved and biologically most diverse hotspots and explore these hilly terrains on foot.

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Top Attractions: Spot purple-faced Langur monkeys, Indigenous Community, Herbal Plants
Location: Take the B grade road from Hunnasiriya to reach Corbett’s Gap and spot the range.
Did you Know? Its name is derived from the rugged peaks resembling the knuckles of a clenched fist
Best time to Visit: December to September with low rainfall.
11. Ritigala

Enjoy the magical experience of exploring a 5,000 year old Buddhist monastery. Trek down the dense jungles to spot the “meditation walkways” running through groves along with some miniature houses surrounded by tiny moats and connected by small bridges.

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Top Attractions: Forest Monastery, Rock Inscriptions, Ancient civilization
Location: Take the jungle track off Habarana-Maradankadawela-Anuradhapura road.
Did you Know? Ritigala translates to “Safety Rock” providing shelter to warriors and ascetics during wars, back in the day.
12. Nilambe

Calm your senses and find something akin to the purpose of life at the peaks of Nilambe. Located in a rural setting just off the main city of Kandy, Nilambe offers many meditation retreats conducted by a famous instructor by the name Upul Nishantha Gamage.

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Top Attractions: Meditation Centre, Foreign-Friendly, Mental Pleasure
Location: 24 km from Kandy, a taxi ride will cost you Rs. 1200 one way
Did you Know? Instructions at the retreats are offered in the English language for both beginners and experienced meditators.
13. Jaffna

Rent an open jeep and enjoy the fresh breeze chasing from the beaches as you drive on the old A9 highway. Notice the change in prevalent religious practices as you travel from the Buddhism-heavy south to the Hinduism practicing north, inhabited mostly by Tamilians.

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Top Attractions: Kilinochchi War memorial, Elephant Pass, Colonial Architecture
Location: A 7-hour drive from Colombo is all it takes.
Did you Know? The city receives heavy rainfall during December flooding the entire highway, so watch out!
14. Aluvihara

It is one of the most sacred Buddhist temples where oral teachings of the Buddha are said to have been written down, for the first time. The temple houses 13 caves quartering the ancient relics and depictions of Buddha. The main cave houses the brightly colored reclining statue of the Buddha.

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Top Attractions: Cave Temples, Sleeping Buddha, Religious teachings
Location: An hour’s journey from Kandy, the drive covers 25kms.
Did you Know? One of the cave paintings depict hell and gruesome punishment for all souls that have sinned.
15. Handungoda

Treat your palette to the heavenly taste of Sri Lanka’s freshly brewed tea. Visit the plantations and learn about the island’s unique virgin white tea, pruned following practices dating back to the ancient Chinese civilization.

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Top Attractions: Guided Tour of tea production, Tea tasting sessions, picturesque clicks
Location: 2 hours car drive from Bentota will take you to your destination.
Did you Know? This tea is alleged to be the healthiest, packed with antioxidants that are good for health.
16. Arankele

Hover over the best kept secrets of Buddhist learning at Arankele. Discover ancient Brahmi inscriptions, meditation halls, double platforms made of stone, for Buddhist monks that resided in this monastery.

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Top Attractions: Cultural Triangle, Cave Hermitage, Largest hot water pond
Location: 120 km from Colombo, Arankele can be reached via Colombo-Ibbagamuwa- Moragolla road.
Did you Know? A large grinding stone used to prepare Ayurvedic medicines, testifies for the existence of a large Ayurvedic hospital inside the complex.
17. Ratnapura

Famous for its Gems, this city offers best quality sapphires at a comparatively cheaper price. Do not miss the gem mining and gem cutting processes. Purchase some rare stones like Topaz, Ruby, Cat’s Eye, Garnet, Zircon and Tourmaline.

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Top Attractions: Waterfalls, High calibrated gems, Giant Blue Sapphire
Location: 1.5 hours away from Colombo, this can cost you anywhere between Rs. 500 and Rs. 750
Did you Know? The 850 carat blue sapphire from Ratnapura was used, to make the locket featured in Titanic.
18. Mannar

A mythical bridge built over the Indian Ocean connecting present-day India and Sri Lanka, this bridge is believed to have been a relic from the Hindu epic of Ramayana. Lord Rama built it with help from an army of monkeys, so he could rescue his wife Sita from Ravana.

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Top Attractions: Adam’s Bridge, Hindu Legacy, Limestone shaols
Location: 7.5 hour train from Colombo to Mannar station, trains run twice daily.
Did you Know? This 30km bridge was passable on foot up to the 15h Century until a storm deepened the channel.
19. Trincomalee

Situated on Gokarna (Cow’s ears) Bay, it overlooks one of the world’s largest natural harbors. Koneeshwaram temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the greatest architectural marvels built between the 5th and 18th century.

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Top Attractions: Pathrakali Temple, Kinniya Hot Springs, Svayambu Lingam
Location: A 7-hour bus journey from Colombo to Koneeshwaram will cost between Rs. 110 and Rs.150.
Did you Know? Gopuram or Temple Gateway was visible even to the sailors approaching Sri Lanka, back in the olden.
20. Monaragala

Udawalawe National Park is home to 250 tuskers and you can spot them walking, bathing and chilling across 30,000 hectares of grassland. Enjoy with baby elephants and watch the tuskers being fed during the day.

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Top Attractions: Elephant Transit Home, Udawalawe Dam, Jeep Safari
Location: A 5 hour drive from Colombo gets you there.
Timings and Cost: Open from 6 am to 5 pm. Pay Rs. 9000 for 2 persons (entrance + jeep) for half a day of safari.

This paradise offers memories to cherish. Sri Lanka is a very pocket-friendly destination for families and unendingly friendly to those that want to have fun without breaking the bank.

The post Offbeat Destinations in Sri Lanka appeared first on Ithaka.

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