Top 5 ways to spend Christmas in Sri Lanka

Although Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, spending Christmas here is a truly magical experience. Whether it's seeing whales or elephants for the first time, or savouring a delicious Sri Lankan feast, here's how to make it a Christmas to remember...
Tea picker at work. Photo: Shutterstock
Tea picker at work. Photo: Shutterstock

Sri Lanka is stunning any time of year but with two monsoon seasons there is often confusion around when is the best time to visit. December is the perfect month to visit the south, west and central regions of the island. So, bearing this is mind, here are our recommended places that will make a Christmas stay on the island truly memorable

1. Whale watching at Mirissa (Thalpe)

Whale watching is a truly awe-inspiring experience and you are pretty much guaranteed to see them off the coast of Mirissa in season, which runs from November to April. Insight Guides offer a whale-watching boat trip with the guidance of an experienced naturalist as part of our Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast trip. Not only will you see a variety of whales (blue whales, sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, pilot whales) and dolphins (common dolphins, spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins) but also turtles and whale sharks. The trip also includes a two-night stay at the luxurious Frangipani Tree Hotel.

The Frangipani Tree.Experience total bliss at the Frangipani Tree Hotel this Christmas. Photo: Trip provider

2. A 25-course Sri Lankan feast in Matale

Christmas usually involves lots of eating – and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing on this fabulous excursion to Matale, as part of our Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast trip. This lunch takes place in the picturesque hilltop batik workshop Artist’s House. You can enjoy seeing the batik artists at work or you can mingle in the kitchen and meet your chef. Sri Lankan food is world famous and here you will have the opportunity to sample no less that 25 authentic dishes. Be warned though: Sri Lankan food is probably spicier than your usual Christmas fare.

3. Elephant-spotting at Minneriya, Eco and Kaudulla National Parks

Nothing beats seeing wild elephants mere metres from your jeep. Our jeep safari excursion, included in our Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast trip is organised in such a way that there is a choice of three parks to visit depending on up-to-date information on the location of the elephants at any given time. You will be travelling in the safety of a well-equipped jeep and accompanied by an experienced naturalist on hand to point out all the various animals encountered along the way. This is a fantastic excursion if you are travelling with children, who will marvel at the spectacle of the gathering herds, often with many baby elephants in tow.

Minneriya elephants.Meeting baby elephants at Minneriya National Park is a truly unique Christmas experience. Photo: Shutterstock

4. All things tea at Giragama tea factory

Over one million Sri Lankans are employed in the tea industry. It's safe to say, tea is big news in Sri Lanka and you'll find plantations dotted around the island. Our fantastic Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast trip features a visit to Giragama tea factory, one of the oldest in Sri Lanka. Here you will visit the plantation and see the harvesters at work, then you will learn all about tea processing in the factory itself. Drinking a cuppa will never feel the same again...

5. Gangaramaya temple, Colombo

First and foremost, Christmas is a spiritual time and, whereas Christmas isn't officially celebrated on the island, this is a good opportunity to learn about Sri Lanka's main religion, Buddhism. And there's no place like the Gangaramaya temple in Colombo, featured in our Perfectly Sri Lanka trip, to learn about this ancient religion. This bustling complex in the city-centre comprises a museum, a library and a lakeside temple. The trip also takes in a variety of other major Buddhist sites such as the Mihintale Rock and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth in Kandy.

Seema Malaka Temple, part of the Gangaramaya temple complex in Colombo. Seema Malaka Temple, part of the Gangaramaya temple complex in Colombo. Photo: Shutterstock

This article was originally published on 7th November, 2016

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