Fun Fact #1: One of Buddha’s teeth is housed in a temple in the town of Kandy! Every year, Kandy hosts the “Festival of the Tooth” to honor Buddha.
Fun Fact #2: Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to have a female Prime Minister.
Adventure #1: Kandy, Sri Lanka
Our first big stop was the town of Kandy, Sri Lanka. Much like Lake Tahoe in California, it is a fun little town nestled by a lake between a few mountains. Rather than taking taxis, you travel around town in little tuk tuks.
While we were in Kandy, we visited the Royal Botanical Gardens, which you could spend an entire day exploring.
We also visited the “Temple of the Tooth” – a Buddhist temple that actually houses one of Buddha’s teeth! Just a quick drive from Kandy, we also visited Sigiriya Rock, which is a famous ancient rock fortress with sweeping views for miles once you arrive at the top.
Definitely worth making the day trip if you have time. While in Kandy, we stayed at The Elephant Stables hotel, which was a beautiful hotel converted from an old Victorian mansion. Our hotel arranged for our pick up from the airport, and we ended up keeping in touch with our driver who agreed to be our driver and personal tour guide for the rest of our trip! Traveling around Sri Lanka is pretty difficult, so if you find a trustworthy driver that you get along with – definitely snag him/her!
Adventure #2: Take the train from Ella to Nuwara Eliya
This was my all time favorite thing about Sri Lanka, and something I had on my bucket list for years – taking the train from Ella to Nuwara Eliya. Ella was a tiny little town nestled high up in the mountains. It had a very jungle, laid back vibe. When we were there, we hiked Little Adam’s Peak, did some yoga, and took some Sri Lankan cooking classes. We stayed at 98 Acres Resort, which I would HIGHLY recommend if you are willing to splurge for a few nights.
Not too far from Ella, we also went white water rafting and ziplining! There are tons of great outdoor adventures in the surrounding area. After a few days in Ella, we took the train to Nuwara Eliya.
The train ride was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen – you drive through sweeping green forest and tea plantations and oftentimes you were above the clouds. A first class ticket was only $7! Tickets are hard to come by, so definitely speak with a local to try to arrange for one because the train fills up FAST and the website isn’t that great. Once we arrived in Nuwara Eliya, it felt like we were in Europe. The town itself has a heavy British influence. Nuwara Eliya is famous for its tea plantations, as tea is one of Sri Lanka’s greatest exports.
The hotel we stayed at was actually a converted tea factory, and their restaurant was a converted train! The views here were amazing — and you can even arrange to make your own tea!
Adventure #3: Galle, Sri Lanka
Our last stop was the southern coastal town of Galle. On our drive from Nuwara eliya to Galle (with our rad driver!) we managed to stop for a quick safari drive in Yala National Park, where we saw a family of baby elephants. I wanted to squeeze them all. Galle is a unique little surf town that is built (literally) within the walls of an old Dutch fort. On either side, there are sweeping coasts of beautiful beach. When the huge tsunami hit back in 2004, the walls of the Dutch fort actually held tall and managed to save countless lives.
Galle is very relaxing, with a lot of fun restaurants with great views. Some fun activities we did there were to visit a turtle conservatory, go on a river tour to see wildlife, and lay on the beach with drink in hand. It was the perfect way to end the trip!
Blog and photos submitted by Danielle Brennan
Follow along her adventures at dani__alyssa