Ask any Singaporean for their favorite holiday destination, and the answer will surely include places like Bangkok, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Phuket etc. True enough these short holiday getaways are evergreen locations, and I swear we will never ever get tired of visiting these places over and over again.
Perhaps you’re a tourist looking for a road less traveled, a place to explore your inner self or even an exotic getaway where you could mimic what Julia Robert did in her film ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, which is to find herself. We need to do something different once in a while and I bet visiting Sri Lanka has never been one of your top 10 travel destinations.
What if I tell you there’s more than meets the eye in what you can do in Sri Lanka? What if I tell you that Sri Lanka has one of most friendly people that I have seen? What if I tell you the pleasures of eating Sri Lankan Crabs is akin to a tiny taste of heaven?
With a sponsored trip by ZUJI.com recently, I was transported to a world where I found Peace, Solidarity and love.
Well here are 8 super reasons why you should make Sri Lanka your next holiday destination.
1) Climb the SIRIGIYA Rock Fortress
Sigiriya was inscripted into UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982
Tell me, how often can you visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the central Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This site is one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning and it is the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka.
Half way up the Fortress
As I was staying in Kandy City, for convenience reason, we hired a local tourist agent to bring us around. The traveling time took close to two and a half hours to reach Sigiriya. Once you reached the fortress, the majestic structure ‘Lion rock’ exudes a gentle quietness and steadiness from afar. The climb to the top of the fortress took us an hour. Trust me, once you are at the top of fortress, you get a sense of peace in your heart. People were seen sitting on the rocks and meditating along with yoga music while enjoying the wind blowing on their faces. While I was simply gazing at the magnificent view of the city, and appreciating every little things I have in my life.
Overlooking the Kandy City from the top of Sugiriya
2) Feast at Ministry of Crab located at Colombo
Look how big the Sri Lankan Crabs are!
This was the note on the table upon arrival
Before leaving for Colombo, I casually asked about the ‘must-go’ places in Colombo on my Facebook and the suggestion of ‘Ministry of Crab’ keeps appearing. With some research, we book the place in advance and went there on a Wednesday evening. The place was packed upon reaching and I was glad we made it there as I witnessed how a waiter has turned down two walk-in customers.
The ordering was seamless as the friendly servers explained their restaurant’s signatures and helped us to order the dishes based on our preferences. We ordered two large crabs, one cooked with chili, the other with butter. Some other ‘must have’ side dishes include the clams, garlic and leek rice and not forgetting the chicken wings.
We were awfully impressed with the food quality and did not even bother to check the prices. The bill came up close to SDG300, which is affordable for 3 persons. No regrets at all!
Look at how the place is beautifully decorated with Bird Of Paradise Flowers
Visiting Ministry of Crab was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Apart from the delicious and flavorful dishes, one unique feature is that the restaurant decorates and livens up the place with Bird of Paradise flowers all around. The attention to its details in every aspect inspired me to do even better in the things I do.
3) Stay at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo
Posh Exterior of The Kingsbury Hotel
Overlooking the Indian Ocean, this refined luxury hotel is 2 km from Galle Face Green Park and Beira Lake. Chic, traditionally furnished rooms with ocean or harbour views and warm decor feature marble bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and tea and coffeemaking equipment.
The Night scene of the Indian Ocean from the Hotel
Be pampered like a king at this hotel as this is a leading 5 star hotel with beautiful views of the Indian Ocean.
I knew I made the right choice the moment I entered the hotel. The hotel was surprisingly modern with a touch of opulence with friendly staff.
One of the best Buffet line-ups I have
The view from our room was magnificent. We were able to catch the whole of Indian Ocean from our room. One of the highlights staying in this hotel was the tantalizing spread of buffet breakfast. I was fascinated by the variety of food from local to international and I dare say it’s possibly the best 5 star buffet spread in Colombo. Trust me, it’s that impressive.
4) Visit Kandy City Center for an Afternoon Stroll
Beautiful Landscape in Kandy City
Striking a pose for the camera man
Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city located in the mountainous center of the island. It is considered by some as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, and was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. A cooler climate and smaller size make this city a much more pleasant and accessible than Colombo.
Spend half a day around Kandy City area and explore shops that you probably won’t get to see in Singapore or the region. We saw interesting shops selling jerseys, jewelleries, IT, toys, street food, etc
The beautiful and romantic lake of Kandy City.
Strolling around the lake is a romantic thing to do if you are with your loved ones. There are many protections put in place for Kandy Lake, one of them being the prohibition of fishing. The lake has reduced considerably over the years, to having a perimeter of just less than 3.5 kilometres, although when initially built, it was much bigger than that.
5) Walking along the Galle Face Green
The most surreal activity I did in Colombo was walking along the Galle Face Green, a long stretch of lawn facing the sea. It was originally cleared by Dutch to give the cannons of Fort a clear line of fire. Today its broad lawns are a popular rendezvous spot both for locals and tourists.
Certainly it is a pleasant enough space even on a midweek afternoon as there were a fair number of people. On weekends, this place is turned into a bazaar as vendor stalls start popping up selling local Sri Lankan Street food, Desserts, drinks and even toys.
6) Food Glorious Food
The teardrop of India or Pearl of the Indian Ocean are among many nicknames for Sri Lanka. But a more accurate description of the gorgeous nation might be the Island of Rice and Curry. Making liberal use of local fruits, such as coconut and jackfruit, seafood and an arsenal of spices, Sri Lankan cooking delivers an abundance of incredible dishes.
Fish ambul thiyal (Sour Fish Curry) is one of the most beloved varieties of the many different fish curries available. Over the traffic and noise at any Sri Lankan Market, you’ll likely hear the clanking of metal on metal and know Kottu isn’t far away. Kottu is Sri Lanka’s hamburger that looks like a flat crispy bread. One of my favorite food when I was there is without doubt the Parippu (Dhal Curry, the most common curry in all of Sri Lankan Cuisine. This curry goes well with everything, but is perfect as a dipping gravy for a fresh roti or paratha.
Traveling to Sri Lanka is worth it for the food alone. Bon Appetit.
7) Get cultural at Kandyan Dance Performance
The local agent has suggested we watch a cultural show, which costs approximately USD10 per person. Being someone who loves arts and culture, I immediately said yes to the proposal and coerce my travel mates to agree. The one-hour show was filled with varied dances, music and other forms of artistic expression. At the end of the dance show comes the fire, ‘Fire Eating and walking’. The locals pour on the gasoline as the flames rise into the sky. The adrenaline comes when they walk through the fire and dance through the heat bare footed. Phew!
8) Visit the temples in Sri Lanka
Looking all serious at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Sri Lanka is studded with temples. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy. It is located beside the popular lake and houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. During Puja (offerings or prayers), the heavily guarded temple is open to devotees and tourists. The entire temple covers a large area and as well as the main shrine there are numerous temples and museums within the complex.
Dambulla Cave, with a 15 m long reclining Buddha Façade
I visited the Dambulla Cave temple which is also a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160m over the surrounding plans and major attractions are spread over five caves, which contains statues and paintings. The climbing took approximately 30 minutes and by the time I reach the top, I was exhausted!
Gangaramaya Temple was ordained by Vacissara Nayake Thera on 8 Nov 1954
Gangaramaya Temple is the most famous and iconic Buddhist place of worship in Colombo. The temple is not only a place of worship, but also a school of Buddhist learning and a museum that houses a huge collection of Buddhist relics from all over the world.
Do take note about the attire: one must always bare their feet when they enter and no shorts above knee length is allowed. Tourists could however buy sarongs from nearby shops and wear them to enter the premise
My ZUJI Garang Explorer Experience
My trip has been boosted and made possible by ZUJI, which is one of Asia Pacific’s award winning online travel agencies. Pioneering online travel in Asia Pacific since 2002, they have enabled over 3.5 million trips around the world.
Navigating through the ZUJI website was a breeze. For flights, we settled on Emirates Airlines as I have never flew with this airline before. Within 5 minutes of incorporating the personal details, the flights are booked!
Finding suitable hotels to stay is more of a challenge. As we were staying in two different cities: Colombo and Kandy, I have to ensure that the dates are correct and a suitable hotel is booked in each location. Needless to say, checking the reviews is fundamental in deciding the final choice. Reviews were all very current which makes my assessment a lot easier and accurate. I settled with Galle Face Hotel Colombo and The KingsBury Hotel for Colombo; and Mahaweli Reach Hotel for Kandy.
Here’s an update on some promotional details on ZUJI:
Receive $50 ZUJI vouchers when you apply for The American Express True Cashback Card through ZUJI.
Flight and Package Rebate:
6% Flight/package rebate for 2-to-go (meaning bookings with 2 or more pax)
5% Flight/package rebate for 1-to-go (Solo Travelers)
12% Discount Hotel Coupon code. No Minimum Spending.
Aspirant – From 20-22 June, all Malaysia Airlines destinations will go on sale for 3 days.
My Final Thoughts:
Look how happy I was with just a simple meal!
My personal motto is ‘Live Life and Travel Often’ and every trip is a new experience for me. Travel, it seems, is also the only thing you buy, that makes one richer. Having traveled to many other exotic countries like India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia, Sri Lanka remains as one of my top choices as a destination which helps me to seek inner peace in myself, appreciates the little things in life, and eating exotic food which I will never get to try in my lifetime.
To spread the love, I am giving 5 x 100 ZUJI VOUCHERS to 5 Lucky Aspirant Readers.
The Contest Mechanic is very simple. Simply follow these instructions below and you’ll stand a chance to win the discount vouchers for your next holiday destination.
- LIKE the AspirantSG and ZUJI Fanpages
- Share this Facebook Blog Post Link on your Facebook Homepage
- Comment One Garang Destination which you intend to visit soon and WHY?
Terms and Conditions:
This Contest will run from 21st to 30th June 2016. 5 Lucky Winners will be notified via Email.
Good Luck and Have Fun!
Thank you ZUJI and SRI LANKA for this wonderful experience.