Sri Lanka’s Well-Kept Secrets: Authentic Places & Food

Long time ago, Marco Polo described Sri Lanka as the most beautiful Island in the world. And he was totally right. A list of the things-to-see-and-do in Sri Lanka is nearly endless. From spiritual temples, colonial architecture, jungle safaris to astonishing gardens, marvelous sandy beaches and delightful cuisine, this exotic country is finding its place in more and more travel itineraries every year.

Enchanting Hidden Places

Whether you travel to Sri Lanka for leisure, work, or maybe as a charity organization volunteer, your ‘must-see’ list will almost certainly includes some of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. However, if you are in search for exciting, authentic places to see and unusual food specialties to try in Sri Lanka, your hunger for exploring won’t stop here. Besides, you probably want to avoid long line- ups, expensive admissions and overcrowded tourist attractions. Check out these authentic places and national dishes and enjoy the taste of true Sri Lanka.

Pidurangala Royal Cave Temple

Pidurangala Royal Cave Temple is located a few kilometers north of famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress or The Lion’s Rock. According to folklore, the Royal Cave Temple here dates back to the 3rd Century BC.

The remains of the temple are still there and you can visit it and enjoy the amazing view of the neighboring Sigiriya. To reach the temple, follow the steps climbing steeply up the hillside behind the Pidurangala Viharaya. You’ll see a statue of Buddha under a huge rock.

After the temple the path to the top to Pidurangala rock becomes narrower and more difficult, so keep this in mind, especially if you are hiking alone. The hiking is very pleasant, however, as you walk through the temple ruins and thick forest. Not to mention, the result is worth the effort. Once on the top of the rock, you’ll be able to enjoy the splendid view while taking pleasure in the privacy of this secluded place.

Bonus advantage of Pidurangala rock is that the place is not as crowded as Sigiriya Rock. Plus, the admission is lower as well.

It takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top of the Pidurangala rock.

Forest Monastery of Ritigala

With a height of 766 m above the sea-level, Ritigala Mountain is the highest mountain in the north-central dry part of Sri Lanka. And the ancient Buddhist Monastery of Ritigala is nothing like Sri Lanka’s famous cultural attractions, such as Sigiriya or Kandy. This quiet and mysterious place that is nestled in the deep forest of the Ritigala Mountain, exudes beauty and magic. Cushioned by the misty forest and a variety of rare flora including the wild orchids, you will discover monastery’s ruins that date back to 1st Century BC.

If you are looking for a non-typical tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, the mysterious Forest Monastery of Ritigala is a definite must see, especially if you are flora enthusiast.


Jathika Namal Uyana

This is another Buddhist temple hidden in emerald ironwood forest in the mountains. Not only that. In this forest you’ll have opportunity to see one of Asia’s largest pink quartz mountains. According to some sources, pink quartz from this ironwood forest was used during Taj Mahal’s construction and today you can find it built in famous mausoleum’s magnificent ornaments.

Mulawella (Sinharaja Rainforest)

This place is a delight for nature lovers. You will need a permit to enter this nature reserve, but once there, you will find indescribable beauty and peace. Hike through the rainforest offers unique views of surrounding landscape. In addition, this pace is ideal if you get tired of the crowds, since Mullawella is a secret not only to foreigners, but for many locals as well.

Mirissa Beach

Visit to Sri Lanka is simply not complete without spending a day or two on one of country’s splendid beaches. Experience remote Mirissa beach, with miles of sandy coastline with coconut palm trees touching sparkling turquoise waters, where only footprints in the golden sand will be yours.

On This tropical beach you will enjoy amazing sunsets in quiet and dreamy settings. In addition, you can find small, traditional restaurants along the coast where you can devour fresh daily seafood catch.


Sri Lankan Cuisine

After your exciting excursions you’ll definitely be hungry and excited to try some of Sri Lankan tasty, exotic food. Keep in mind, however, that most of traditional Sri Lankan specialties are very hot and intense, so this can be a tricky one if you’re not a spicy food fan. Other thing to take care of is food hygiene. Always buy your meals in hotels and restaurants, to avoid possible complications like food poisoning. It’s good to follow the rule: the higher frequency of customers a restaurant has, the greater possibility the food is clean and fresh.

Sri Lankan cuisine is rich with fruits and vegetables and the meals can be very spicy or mild.  It’s typical that the same dishes are differently prepared in different regions of the country. We’ll bring some of the most common Sri Lankan food in front of your eyes, to explore it before you try it.

Rice and Curry

The island’s signature dish, rice and curry is something you simply have to try. Kiri hodhi or “milk gravy”, is typical Sri Lankan curry.It is made from coconut milk mixed with chilly and other spices and you can try it in every restaurant in the country.

String Hoppers

This dish is served with the coconut sambol and chicken. Traditional Sri Lankan coconut sambol is made of fresh shredded coconut and includes crumbled maldive fish, onion, spices, lime juice, green and red chili powder(if it has deep red color think twice before you try it – it can be very spicy). If you are a vegetarian you can order coconut stambol without the maldive fish.

Egg Hoppers and Plain Hoppers

Great choice for those who don’t like heavy, spicy food. These pancake baskets are very popular as breakfast meal and they can be served with creamy dhal, sambol or kiri hodhi.


The main ingredient of Kottu, also known as kottu roti is a type of flat bread called “Godamba roti”. In addition, it consists of a great variety of spices, vegetables and meet. Be careful when buying kottu from street vendors, since this version sometimes can be made in very unhygienic conditions.

And this is just to scratch the surface of the abundant treasures that Sri Lanka has to offer to its visitors. One is for sure: if you visit this fascinating country once, you’ll definitely come back again.

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