Eight Reasons Why Sri Lanka Nabbed The Lonely Planet Top Spot

Sri Lanka has nabbed the number one spot in Lonely Planet’s list of top destinations for 2019! Included in Lonely Planet’s top ten picks were Germany, Zimbabwe, Panama, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Indonesia, Belarus, Sao Time and Principe and Belize.

To celebrate Sri Lanka’s victory, I’ve decided to put together top ten reasons why you should put Sri Lanka on your bucket list!

Friendly Locals

For me, the difference between a good trip and a truly memorable trip are the locals and their attitude towards visitors to their country. When w revisited Sri Lanka we were absolutely blown away by not only the friendliness of the Sri Lankan people, but their generosity and their genuine willing to help tourists out.

While road-tripping around the country in our rented jeep, we never once got lost thanks to the Sri Lankan people always eager to help us out when there was a lacking of English signposts. One stormy night, when the roads were flooded and the rain was pounding down, we veered off course and got stuck in a ditch. We thought all hope was lost until a family ran out of their house to help, including the kids! Within minutes we were out of the rut and back on the road!


If you like spice, the Teardrop Island is your go-to place! Also affectionately nicknamed the Island of Rice and Curry, the Sri Lankans make liberal use of the local fruits as well as an arsenal of spices. There is an abundance of fresh seafood with its extensive coastline and calm waters.

The most well-known dish in Sri Lanka is roti (also known as kottu). It resembles fried rice, except instead of rice it is made with godamba roti, a type of crispy flat bread. Curries are on every menu throughout the country, with coconut milk used heavily as the base of the curry. If spices aren’t your cup of tea, you can request a milder flavour, no problem.


Sri Lanka has hands down some of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen. The island is ringed with a necklace of palm-fringed beaches, with golden sand and clear waters. The beaches of the West coast and south are more Westernised, while the beaches further up the east coast are more deserted and off the tourist trail, due to the civil war and tsunami.

The beaches of the east coast like Nilaveli and Pasikuda are likened tovtge beaches of the Maldives, with whiter sands and menthol-coloured waters.

The Wildlife

Sri Lanka has a wide range of biodiversity and there are fourteen national parks on the island! There is an abundance of wildlife in these parks including elephants, buffalo, leapords, slothbears and crocs.

If you would like to see elephants in the wild while in Sri Lanka, the national parks are an almost guaranteed place to spot them. Be careful of so-called “orphanges”, where elephants are chained and live in cramped conditions. Be particularly careful of the famous Pinawala Elephant Orphanage- do not let the Instagram posts fool you.

The Culture

Sri Lanka is a country steeped in ancient history, with its religion and cultural ways evident in everyday life. The majority of Sri Lanka is Buddhist, while elements of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are also present. My favourite thing about driving through Sri Lanka was how abruptly the religion and way of life changed from village to village. We would pass through one town and it would be full of colourful saris and beautiful temples, while the next town fifteen minutes down the road would be full of black burqas and mosques.

There are also eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the old fort town of Galle and mympersonal favourite, Sigiriya.


Sri Lanka has some of the best snorkelling spots I’ve seen on my travels! Giant green turtles can be found all down the south coast, particularly in Hikkaduwa and Dalawella. My favourite snorkelling spot by far was Pigeon Island off the coast of Nilaveli beach.

Here you can swim with hawksbill turtles, metre-long reef sharks and schools of tropical fish.


It’s not all relaxation and tan-topping up on the beaches of Sri Lanka, they are also known for their killer waves! Surfers from all ovemrthr globe have been coming to the island for years for the consistent surf all around.

Hikkaduwa and Mirrissa are great beaches for novice surfers, while Arugam bay is where the pros go!


Thanks to Lonely Planet’s announcement, this may be the last year that Sri Lanka stays “off the beaten track”. We travelled on the cusp of low season, which saw a few rain showers, but the place was gloriously quiet!

As mentioned before, the south of the island is more Westernised, and by far the most popular area. Head further north and the crowds thin. When travelling the East coast, we were often the only people staying in our hotels, and the only ones on the beaches!!

Keelin Riley
Keelin Riley

Keelin is an Irish travel writer with a degree in journalism and a background in the Irish media. Keelin’s travel writing has been published in various media publications, and when she’s not off gallivanting around the globe, she enjoys keeping Sun Scribes up-to-date for all those fellow budget travellers out there!

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