Sri Lanka is calling and we must go! The teardrop-shaped island nestled just south of India offers amazing views, yummy cuisine and totally unique local culture. But despite these tempting superlatives and the trendy buzz surrounding the island, Sri Lanka is still often overlooked by travellers compiling a list of their absolute must-visit nations.

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, the country with a population of over 20 million received 2 million foreign visitors in 2016. By comparison, the Indonesian island of Bali with its population of just 4 million received well over 4 million tourists that same year.

We’re on a mission to put Sri Lanka on your bucket list – check out these seven magical reasons to book tickets to Sri Lanka, STAT.

Sri Lanka Views

Surreally Beautiful Beaches

If you’re longing for golden sandy beaches in the tropics but detest crowds, Sri Lanka might just be your ideal destination. The “Sri Lankan Riviera” stretches along the island’s southwestern coastline. The most famous Sri Lankan beaches include Unawatuna and Mirissa on the southern coast. Fine white sand, clear blue waters and a few palm trees swaying in the breeze… We’re there. If you’re looking for a low-key experience in relative seclusion, visit Arugam Bay on the east coast.

Ocean’s Edge Beach Front | South Coast, Sri Lanka
Ocean’s Edge villa sits right on the beach in southern Sri Lanka

Tea, Tea, Glorious Tea

Tea, of course, is one of the things Sri Lanka is best known for. Get better acquainted with Ceylon tea by visiting a tea plantation or joining a hike through the lush green fields. The tea country lies in the heart of the island surrounding the city of Kandy. Visiting one of the plantations and taking a peek inside the factory where the tea is processed is an absolute must. After seeing the antique machinery, you’ll never look at a cup of tea the same way again!

Romance of the Railroad

Hopping a train in Sri Lanka is a convenient way to get around the island. But more importantly, it’s incredibly scenic and a great way to get a feel of the local life and the island’s incredibly diverse geography. Depending on the route, you’ll be treated to picture-perfect views of rainforests, tea plantations and even the ocean. During our team’s visit to Sri Lanka in 2016, taking the train from Ella to Nuwara Eliya was one of the absolute highlights of our whole trip. Very Darjeeling Limited!

Cool Surf Scene (Minus the Crowds)

Surfing is maybe not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Sri Lanka – and that’s the whole point. Unlike in the crowded lineups in, say, Bali, the Sri Lankan waves are yours for the taking. The island gets the same great swell as the more crowded Indonesian islands, so even hard-core surfers will be more than satisfied. There are also some incredibly cool surf camps on the island, including Camp Poe Surf & Yoga in Ahangama. Interested? Check out our guide to surfing in Sri Lanka.

Surfing in Sri Lanka

Historic Charm in Galle

Galle Fort is a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site with old-world charm a plenty. The fort dates back to 1588 and was originally built by the Portuguese and fortified by the Dutch. Today, Galle is one of the most beautiful examples of European influences blending in with tropical surroundings.

You can spend days strolling down the small lanes and stopping by for coffee (or tea, this is Sri Lanka after all) at one of the super cute cafes (Pedlar’s Inn Café is very cute). You can also rent a villa within Galle Fort – a once in a lifetime opportunity to really live and breathe history.

Historic Galle Fort in Sri Lanka

Affordable Luxury

One of the best reasons to head to Sri Lanka now? You can still enjoy real five-star luxury with fraction of the price you’d pay in other tropical destinations. A case in point: Talalla House in Dickwella, which is one of our favourite villas in Sri Lanka. The seven-bedroom villa has a beachfront location, rooftop garden and 20-metre pool –that’s luxury measured on any scale! Sleeping up to 14 guests, the rates for Talalla House start at USD $880 per night – that comes to just $62 per person.

Talalla House Ocean View | Talalla, Sri Lanka

Our Favourite Reason to Visit Sri Lanka

As you can see, there are many amazing reasons to visit Sri Lanka right now. But what we really love about Sri Lanka is the harmonious whole that is made up of many colourful parts. If you visit, say, the Maldives, you’ll most likely stay nestled in your resort bubble and getting a feel of the local culture might be challenging. In Sri Lanka, you might be staying at a five-star villa, but the local fruit stalls, tea plantations and cobble stone streets are never too far out of reach. In a word, Sri Lanka serves the perfect blend of sheer luxury and vibrant local colour.

Biking in Sri Lanka

Ready to pack your bags? Get inspired by Ministry of Villas’ curated collection of luxury villas in Sri Lanka and beyond.

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