By Shereen Shabnam
My first visit to Sri Lanka was when I was working as the Head of PR for Air Arabia, and we decided to take a family trip to get to know the latest destination for the airline that became part of my life when I lived in Sharjah.
Thanks to the extensive research I did for the destination before the maiden flight, we came prepared to enjoy the tropical climate, endless beaches, famous tea, trendy fashion boutiques, best seafood and fresh flavorful dishes that makes Sri Lanka irresistible.
We had a week to discover Sri Lanka’s myriad of charms through its history, culture and natural beauty that are undeniably alluring. It is a country that has beautiful beaches, high mountains, tropical forests and lots of wild animals like elephants, leopards, sea turtles, dolphins and whales.
To keep my daughter entertained, we stayed on a beach resort at the Mount Lavinia Hotel that had amazing staff and the best food one can have in a hotel. The evenings were memorable as we dined under the stars each night on the beach, sand between our toes as we selected our fresh sea food from the day’s catch and the chef cooked our meal according to our preference. the hotel had live performances in the weekend as well.
The beaches in Colombo have sports activities like flying kites, diving, snorkelling, hiking, sailing and much more. The best thing to do in Sri Lanka is to escape the tropical climate of the coast and head for the hills to explore the tea plantations and rainforests. But the capital city of Colombo is just as intriguing as it combines the incredible culture and history of the island with modern attractions and amenities.
The city’s unique colonial history (Portuguese, Dutch, and British) is evident in the buildings, the food and the museums that illustrate the country’s rich history. Our host took us to a Portuguese fort, which guarded the harbor area and we went past the Galle Face Green, a large oceanfront park.
The National Museum of Colombo is also a must visit as it takes you on a journey over the thousands of years of Sri Lankan culture through artifacts such as jewellery, clothes, coins, arms, and craftwork. The displays showcase both the cultural and natural heritage of the country. Nearby is the Viharamahadevi Park which is home to a large, 15-foot-tall Buddha statue. There are also other museums and temples worth a visit.
Animal lovers will be thrilled at the Colombo Zoo which hosts almost 3,000 different animals of all shapes and sizes and has daily demonstrations with keepers of various animals. There is one for the zoo’s friendly sea lion, one in front of the elephant enclosure, a bird presentation, and one on snakes.
If you are a culture enthusiast, head to Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre, a modern performing arts complex that has music, dance, and cultural performances and modern pop concerts. Performances are held in the main auditorium or in the open-air amphitheater.
Pettah Floating Market is the best for retail therapy. It has so many vendors selling their wares along a canal, lined with sidewalks and wooden boardwalks. It is a fun area for shopping, strolling, and people watching with great street food, clothes, handicrafts and lovely costume jewellery.
Sri Lanka is spectacular, affordable and still untouched by large crowds of tourists. Now is the best time to discover this incredible land.
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