The first destination to get the map treatment is Sri Lanka. It’s a small country but it’s packed with sights and gorgeous hotels…so there are definitely a lot of options! One important thing to consider if going there is the climate. There are two rainy seasons on the island: one from May to August in the South, West and Center and one from October to January in the North and East. So, chances are, if you happen to be on the wrong coast at the wrong time, you’ll be drenched in water, monsoon style!
I really wanted to see the UNESCO sites in the cultural triangle, so May was definitely the best time to go. This meant the more touristic (and developed) Southern coast would be under the rain, so if we wanted to go to the beach it would be on the Eastern coast.
WHEN : LATE MAY
HOW LONG : 15 DAYS/14 NIGHTS
TRAVEL AGENT : SRI LANKA TAILORMADE
TRANSPORTATION : PARIS-COLOMBO FLIGHT VIA DUBAI, TRAIN AND PRIVATE DRIVER
WEATHER : HOT (32°C/90°F) AND SUNNY IN THE NORTH AND EAST, OVERCAST WITH SHOWERS IN COLOMBO, KANDY AND KOTMALE
TOURIST CROWD : VERY FEW AND MOSTLY SRI LANKANS
The Wallawwa (1 night)
We didn’t want to embark on a long car ride on our arriving day, so we picked up an hotel close to the airport to stay the night. The Wallawwa was such a great place that we could easily have stayed longer. This time of the year the weather is kind of so-so, but it would be a great plan during the dry season.
Mas Villa (2 nights)
We drove to the depth of the countryside to find absolute calm on the banks of the Kotmale Reservoir. I loved the intimate feel of the Mas Villa, this was the perfect introduction to the country’s soothing side. Home cooked meals, picnics and long hot baths were on the menu.
I was curious about the famous scenic train rides through the tea plantations, so our driver took us up in the hills to Nuwara Eliya. We visited a tea factory and then took the train to Kandy. The views were indeed quite gorgeous, even if I might have fallen asleep at some point!
Kandy house (2 nights)
We arrived in Kandy by train and stayed in town at the fabulous Kandy House. Exploring Kandy was great, this was the first Sri Lankan town we really saw and were quite excited! It was Vesak Poya when we were there, which made it extra special. We also visited to the rather chic Royal Botanical Garden.
Jetwing Vil Uyana (3 nights)
This was the core of our trip, we got to see the ancient city of Anurhadapura and the scared rock of Sigirya and even a taste of Geoffrey Bawa’s tropical modernism with Kandalama. It felt like there were a lot of things to see and do in the area. It was pretty hot though, and sometimes hard to leave the paradise of an hotel that’s Vil Uyana!
Jungle Beach Resort (5 nights)
We finally drove to the Eastern coast, up to Trincomalee and stayed a few miles north of the town in a recently opened resort, right on the beach. This really felt like a totally different part of the country. Surely there were less “touristic” attractions, since the region has suffered very much during the war, but we were definitely happy to be there. It seemed as the people were even nicer (and that’s saying something, since Sri Lankans are extremely welcoming)! We loved to explore Trincomalee with its markets and hindu temples. We went snorkelling at Pigeon Island, ate fresh crab, walked on the beach, lounged by the pool and of course spent countless time petting our domesticated spotted deers.
IF I COULD RE-DO IT
I would spend a couple more nights in the cultural triangle, which was my favorite part of the trip. The ancient cities are extremely vast and you need all the time you can get to explore them properly.
I would spend a little less time on the beach, which are nice but not to the point of spending 5 nights (maybe that’s just me!).
I would skip the detour to Nuwara Eliya, the winding road up there was a bit of a challenge for me.
I would try to spend more time biking and walking, we did it a little but not enough, and I hear there are nice paths around Sigiriya.
IF I GO BACK
I would go there in the winter to explore the other side of the island. I’d love to see more of Colombo, the Natural Reserves of the South and other Geoffrey Bawa buildings, especially Lunuganga!