Top Solo Travel Destination-Sri Lanka: I quickly discovered why Sri Lanka is trending during my summer visit as the guest of NKAR Travel. The great news is that there is a trip that fits virtually every interest and every budget. Much like I found in Costa Rica, one of the other leading solo travel destinations, is that you can comb the beaches; study the history and culture; explore the countryside and get up and close with a wide range of wild life.
What makes it easy, too, is that you can get a feel for most of the country in one stay. Then you know right away where you want to go back to or combine with an exotic add-on like the nearby Maldives.
If you need more persuading, click this link for this week’s post at Fupping.com on 17 reasons why you should go to Sri Lanka!
A Snapshot View of Sri Lanka’s History:
Sri Lanka’s early history dates back 2,000 years. Major migrations came from India. However, in subsequent years, the country was at the crossroads of many other countries’ trade routes. As a result, Sri Lanka has certain key differences from India. Beyond language, Sri Lanka’s predominant religion is Buddhism while India’s is Hinduism.
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the arrival of the Portuguese. Foreign traders were enticed by the ready availability of local spices and elephants. At that time, Sri Lanka’s capital was based in Kandy where its kingdom had its stronghold. However, independence was not to be as the Dutch and its Dutch East India Company wrestled Portugal’s hold on the country from 1658–1796. The center of power shifted from the traditional capital of Kandy to Colombo where the Dutch governor was based.
The allure of Sri Lanka’s almost unlimited crops led to the arrival of yet a third European power. From 1796–1900, the British East India Company replaced the Dutch and renamed its new dominion as “Ceylon”. World War I and II led to a greater push towards a more independent status. In 1948, the country of “Ceylon” achieved independence. At that time, exports of tea, rubber and coconuts continued to be strong sources of revenue. By 1972 a new constitution was approved, and the country became known as “the Republic of Sri Lanka”. a British Commonwealth Nation. A period of political unrest began in the 1980’s between Tamil and Sinhalese communities. The 21st century began against the backdrop of such unrest and civil war. The 2004 tsunami added an enormous natural disaster with loss of tens of thousands of lives. In mid-2008, the civil war finally came to an end. While the country has stabilized, on Easter morning 2019, hundreds were killed or injured by eight explosions near hotels and churches in Colombo. As the 2020 global pandemic reached Sri Lanka, they took quick action credited with keeping the coronavirus rate lower than in other Southern Asian countries.
Top Solo Travel Destination-Sri Lanka: 5 Tips on Getting There:
- Book your airline as far ahead as possible. For best rates, avoid travel June-Aug. and over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
- Check out regional carriers.
- Break up the trip with one to two nights en route. I flew Qatar Air which I found out goes to 150 places not just the Mideast. I stayed in the capital of Doha and caught up on my sleep before the 5 hour flight to Sri Lanka. (On return, I booked a room in an airport motel since my flight out was at 4 AM!)
- Be sure to apply online for a visa unless you meet a visa waiver category.
- Have a passport with at least 6 months remaining after the date ofyour return flight home.
Top Solo Travel Destination-Sri Lanka: 5 Kinds of Trips to Select:
Sri Lanka affords five types of very different trips. (You can customize to focus on your own special interests and to stay within your budget!)
- Active, hiking and adventure: The highlight is Sigiriya Rock known as Lion Rock. The good news is that you don’t have to be a rock climber to get to the top. There are almost endless steps reaching up to the sky.
- Relaxation on beaches: The top choice is Galle. It is a real paradise with tall palms and pounding surf. When the ocean is too rough, the popular infinity pools are everywhere. Many come with a welcome swim-up bar. For an exotic addition, fly to the nearby Maldives.
- Yoga, wellness or spas: Spiritual retreats abound as do high-end spas in 4 and 5 star hotels. (The 5 star Golden Crown was my personal favorite.)
- Cultural and historical journeys: The former Ceylon gained independence in 1948 the year after the partition of India. Colombo is its commercial capital while nearby Kotte is its administrative capital. Both have a special mix of colonial and modern architecture. Colombo currently has a grand project to rival the Palm Islands of Dubai with a huge commercial center being built on land reclaimed from the sea. High rises meet high style all along the coast. Highlights ranged from the Dambulla cave temple to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and the Temple of the Tooth Relic in the last royal capital, Kandy. (Fashionistas will love the shopping and prices for both fine jewelry and clothing while there are also fun, economical gifts for a wide range of budgets.)
- Eco-tour and wild life viewing: Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, Minneriya safari and Yala national park jeep safari. The area near Yala has 5 star “glamping”. My luxury tent was more like a private villa with my own terry cloth robe and chic amenities, not like camping at all.
Top Solo Travel Destination-Sri Lanka: 5 Ways to Save:
- When shopping for the best airfare, watch out for penalties on bargain online fares.
- Besides shopping for low season lodging, look at sites outside of the major tourist venues and large cities.
- Make lunch your main meal so eating out won’t add up so quickly.
- Prowl the local delis and supermarkets, and make your own picnic.
- Shop for gifts for friends and family where local people shop off the major tourist path.
Sri Lanka: 5 Ways to Stay Healthy:
- Visit a travelers’ clinic or other medical professional.
- Do your own research online.
- Be aware of mosquito-borne risks. Purchase “bugs away” tops and pants, or treat clothing yourself. (Pants with elastic bottoms are best.) Wear socks if possible, especially during dusk and dawn. However, remember that insects may be feeding throughout the day as well.
- Watch the water you not only drink but brush your teeth with.
- Check out your health insurance coverage before leaving home, and plan on accessing additional funds in an emergency.
Sri Lanka: 5 Tips on Where to Go and What to See as a Solo Traveler:
- Snap selfies at the elephant orphanage.
- Visit the last royal capital of Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth
- Explore the Cave Temple.
- Hike up Lion Rock.
- Kick back and relax on beaches at Galle.
Sri Lanka: My Select Personal Observations as a Female Solo Traveler:
- Sri Lanka was incredibly clean, even along public highways.
- It is easy to navigate, and English was spoken everywhere. (US dollars were accepted but with an unusual twist: They must be crisp, new bills with no tears or other damage to be accepted.
- Crime was almost unheard of which as a female solo traveler made me feel very safe. (It has been said that if two bicycles are stolen in Sri Lanka in one day that would be considered a major crime spree!)
- Urban areas such as Colombo are very manageable and lack the intense crowding and challenges seen in much of the world.
- Sri Lanka was an intriguing blend of culture and tradition alongside 21st century archotecture and style in Colombo. Currently, the plan for a massive project in the (commercial) capital looks very much like Dubai with elegant residences and commercial buildings being erected on land reclaimed from the sea.
See also our earlier blog on my travels through Sri Lanka.