Controversially south Asia was not a region I’d fallen in love with travel-wise.
With its great beaches, epic cultural attractions and rich culinary traditions, I’d enjoyed my travels across Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos and beyond, but this wasn’t a region that had really grabbed my heart like South America or southern Africa.
Or at least it wasn’t, until I visited Sri Lanka.
Invited by Sri Lanka tourism, I of course didn’t want to refuse the opportunity to travel this part of the world again (press trips are pretty much the holy grail in the travel blogging world), but I did have some reservations about how much I would love exploring here.
But I needn’t have worried!
Because almost instantly, I fell in love with Sri Lanka – and finally understood why so many other travellers love this region!
So here’s how Sri Lanka quickly shot its way into my heart and my list of top 5 fav countries!
- Colombo to Kandy Train: All You Need to Know
- Ultimate 10 Day Sri Lanka Itinerary
- Top 21 Things to Do in Sri Lanka
My trip to Sri Lanka was sponsored by Sri Lanka Tourism but, as always, all views are my own.
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
The Perfect Combination
To start with Sri Lanka ticks a lot of my travel boxes.
It is a small, but near-perfect package.
From amazing food and wonderful authentic culture, to beautiful coastline and stunning highlands, not to mention layered history, epic wildlife safaris and standout hospitality, Sri Lanka offers an almost unparalleled breadth in its travel arsenal.
And Let’s not forget about the iconic train rides, the surfing, the whale watching, the tea tasting, the cricket or the hiking either!
Just about anything you want from a trip, Sri Lanka offers.
And it offers it all in a fairly condensed area, an easily navigable island which for its size offers a dazzling level of diversity.
Add to this the tropical climate and warm weather here (which means Sri Lanka is a good spot to visit almost year round), and you’ll start to get an idea of why I think this island is the perfect travel combo.
Press Trip Reality
And I say all this, despite my trip being sponsored!
Of course, many people always ask whether the accolades I pour onto a country are based on the fact that I feel under pressure to say nice things having been invited there!
And I always reassure people that’s not the case.
For a start, my opinions are always my own regardless of why I find myself in a certain part of the world.
Secondly, when you’re a press trip you rarely have a bad experience because tourism boards always want to showcase the best of their country and ensure you have an amazing time.
And while this was absolutely true of my Sri Lankan trip, the island itself shone out way beyond the brilliance of the official curated itinerary and 5* stays.
If a country has an undeniable magic, it shows, regardless of the gloss an organised tourism trip can layer on top.
And never was this more true than with Sri Lanka.
The charm and unassuming culture here absolutely grasped me from the off.
Be that through my interactions with local people, or the unique festivals I got to experience, Sri Lanka’s authenticity blew me away.
My Sri Lanka Highlights
And attending the Poson festival was definitely a highlight for me here.
A truly local affair, where our press group were the only non-Sri Lankans in attendance, getting a window into this very authentic and important religious festival was one of those unforgettable travel moments.
Gathering late in the evening, we arrived at the festival after dark, as thousands of Sri Lankans lined the streets to watch the performers celebrate the arrival of Buddha on this island in the 3rd century BC.
The celebration went on for hours, late into the night, as hundreds of performers from across Sri Lanka filled the parade and streets of the small city of Tissamaharama.
The night culminated in us receiving an impromptu tour of the important Buddhist monastery here care of a head monk!
Buddha himself had been to this temple and, as the ground filled with local people bedding down for the night outside, I realised I was getting to experience something very special and utterly unique.
This, for me, is Sri Lanka all over.
From the amazing elephant gathering at Minneriya National Park, described by National Geographic as one of the best natural spectacles in the world, through to only my second sighting of a leopard on safari, the Sri Lanka highlights just kept rolling.
Jumping onboard the iconic tea train railway, seeing the Nine Arch Bridge cruising past, picking tea in organic plantations, seeing the Golden Tooth Temple in Kandy and touring the UNESCO city of Galle, in just 10 days I saw a phenomenal amount of Sri Lanka and, quite frankly, loved it all!
And of course, I loved the luxury elements too!
For while I started this blog as a budget backpacker and still do love a good wild off beat adventure, I’m also at the age now where I don’t mind a bit of luxury as well!
Flying to Sri Lanka I got to experience my first business class flight (care of Sri Lankan airlines) and what a game-changer it was!
Direct from London to Colombo overnight, having a bed for that 10 hour flight, as well as a personalised service, made the all the difference to how I felt when I arrived in Sri Lanka, trust me!
And this is especially true when on a press trip for, while they might appear to be holidays, they are also very much work trips; meaning from the moment you arrive, until you the instant you leave, you’re pretty much on a non-stop itinerary!
This means being fresh from the start, aside from a touch of jetlag of course, certainly helped!
But the indulgence of my Sri Lanka adventure wasn’t just contained to the flight because, throughout the trip (where we moved hotel every night), I got to experience 9 incredible 5* properties across Sri Lanka – check them out here.
Arriving every time with the traditional lamp lighting experience that historically welcomes guests in Sri Lanka, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the island’s hospitality.
It really is something else!
For me, it’s always the people that make a place and I’m delighted to say that the Sri Lankan people sealed the deal!
Incredibly courteous, kind, welcoming and warm, there really is no level of hospitality better than the one I was shown across this delightful island.
Now a sold up fan of this part of the world, Sri Lanka quickly shot its way onto my list of top 5 countries… and I think it might be there to stay!
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
Have you visited the beautiful island of Sri Lanka?
Did you love visiting it as much as me?
I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments box below…