4 Strange Things to Eat in Iceland

4 Strange Things to Eat in Iceland

Iceland.. the land of surreal landscape, unpronounceable names, geothermal hot-springs and Northern lights. Yes, these are the images that flash in literally everyone’s  minds at the mention of this country. But hey, have you ever heard about Icelandic food? I’m specifically talking about Iceland’s strange but interesting food local food that every meat lover should try if they like to get adventurous with food.

Due to Iceland’s harsh weather conditions, the locals are known to preserve their food for a long time so that nothing goes to waste. Not just cultural significance, these dishes also hold a tremendous historical importance. Even if you have already seen pictures of Icelandic food, these below things are sure to shock you. In fact, the first picture did shock me on Instagram, which in turn inspired me to write this post.

Strange Things to eat in Iceland –

01 | Svid (Svið) – Boiled Sheep Head

Svid is a local delicacy in Iceland that is made with a boiled sheep head. Sounds disgusting? But here’s the thing – this dish originated from the time when people couldn’t let any part of the caught animal remain unused. Would you ever try it? I’m not sure if I will. If your imagination hasn’t run wild already, here are a few pictures that I found on Instagram that will make you go crazy.

 

#svid #bsiterminal #reykjavik

A post shared by Stella Brewer (@stella677) on

 

02 | Hákarl (Kæstur hákarl) – Fermented Shark

Hákarl is fermented shark and is Iceland’s national dish. It is usually made with Greenland Shark which has high content of urea and is poisonous when it’s fresh. To prepare this, freshly caught shark is cured with preservatives and hung to ferment for four to five months. It is usually consumed as a side dish but also alone.

 

Hákarl #aspiringphotographer #photography #hákarl #iceland #travel #nature

A post shared by Sara Genke (@saragenks.photography) on

See ya next time #hákarl #myprecious #fermentedshark

A post shared by @instabjoerne on

 

03 | Súrsaðir hrútspungar (picked ram’s testicles)

Súrsaðir hrútspungar is picked ram’s testicles, which again shows that Icelanders did not waste any animal’s part after catching it.

Þorrablót! Tried some crazy stuff.. #hákarl #harðfiskur #súrsaðirhrútspungar #þorrablót

A post shared by Dani Christianson (@dhaneemuhrhee72) on

 

04 | Harðfiskur or Saltfiskur

 

Saltfiskur is dried and unsalted codfish. This dish again demonstrates Iceland’s old tradition of preserving food by drying. Many locals describe it as a local equivalent of bread.

 

About to become a delicacy #harðfiskur #Iceland #dry #fish

A post shared by Iva (@malaiva3) on

#harðfiskur #Iceland

A post shared by Iva (@malaiva3) on

Just a little afternoon snack…. #harðfiskur #Dill #Reykjavik #restaurantinabarn

A post shared by DILL Restaurant (@dillrestaurant) on

Jei Ísland! #heima #harðfiskur #happy #namm

A post shared by Herdís Jónasdóttir (@herdisanna) on

Ohhh yeah 😍. Icelandic treat for me. Give me all the protein 💪🏻😂

A post shared by Kristinn Arnason (@kristinn1986) on

 

Like this list? Well, I found an amazing infographic about food in Iceland on Dealchecker.co.uk. Here, take a look.

The Best Icelandic Foods Infographic by DealChecker

The Best Icelandic Foods Infographic by DealChecker

What’s the weirdest food that you have tried while traveling? Let me know in comments.

7 Thoughts That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump

7 Thoughts That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump

“Your turn”, said Olly, the jump instructor at Jumping Heights, Rishikesh.

“OMG Whaaaaaat”, I thought. However, I smiled and said “Awesome!”

I could hear my heart in my ears! I was standing at the edge of the bridge, 83 meters above the ground, ready to take a leap of faith. This was the first time I was going to bungee jump!

What felt like an eternity but in reality was just a couple of seconds. In that moment, a lot of thoughts flashed through my mind but only a few of them I remember today. The common phrase is “butterflies in the stomach” but what I felt was more like a tornado through my nervous system. The tingling started from my toes, went up to my knees, made a circle in my stomach and rose up from my spine and I felt a little dizzy.

Things That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump:

What if I accidentally pee while bungee jumping?

Don’t laugh but this can happen to anyone. Blame it on that MasterCard commercial where a guy actually poops in his pants while bungee jumping so the thought stuck in my head. What if I’m too scared while jumping and I end up peeing in fear?

What if I puke while bungee jumping?

Even though I had eaten a very light breakfast, I could still feel my it in my stomach. I was hoping it wouldn’t come out while jumping. What if I puke while bungee jumping? Will my puke fall back on my face?

What if my chord breaks while bungee jumping?

There is a reason why bungee jumping is a leap of faith. It’s because you have to trust the system. I still remembered a news article that I had read about an Aussie woman whose chord snapped in Victoria Falls and she fell into the water.

What if my back breaks during the bungee jump?

It just suddenly struck me that they had asked me if I had a back problem before I registered for the bungee jump. Is it because a jump can break someone’s back? What have I done?

What if I get a heart attack while bungee jumping?

What if this rush of excitement is too much for my heart? What if my heart cannot handle it and gives up. Do I have a strong heart? I was going to find out now.

What if I am too afraid to bungee jump?

What if I’m not as much of an adrenaline junkie that I thought I was? What if I chicken out? At this point, I was really hoping that it wouldn’t happen.

Am I crazy to be doing this?

Not completely crazy, but only a little. No sane person would ever jump off a bridge just for kicks. Why can’t I just eat chocolate and enjoy the rush? Or some form of intoxication for a decent high.

My first bungee jump in Rishikesh, India

My first bungee jump in Rishikesh, India

Yes, I did end up jumping and NONE of the above mentioned things happened. In fact, as soon as I jumped, the fear vanished and I was let out a sound that was a mix of laughter and scream.

Oh and by the way, I was jumping with the famous Dangal girls – Fatima Sana Shaikh (“Geeta Phogat” in Dangal movie) and Sanya Malhotra (“Babita Phogat” in Dangal movie). In fact, Sanya did Jumping Heights’ 50,000th jump. It’s crazy but the first three jumpers at Jumping Heights were also women. Talk about celebrating girl power, eh?

Here, you can watch this video

Have you ever bungee jumped? If so, let me know about it in the comments.

Note: Cover picture credit

Or, watch San’s first bungee jump in Last Resort, Nepal. This is Asia’s second highest bungee spot.

Like it? Please subscribe to our YouTube channel for more travel videos!

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her partner in crime (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sonal Kwatra Paladini

How to Experience the Maharaja Life in Bikaner, Rajasthan

How to Experience the Maharaja Life in Bikaner, Rajasthan

Some are lucky enough to be born in royal families, but the rest can just dream of it.

Ever visited a palace and wondered what your life would have been if you were a king? Or maybe you imagined yourself to be Queen Daenerys and living in a massive castle with dragons? Ok, if you’re a practical daydreamer, I will talk about the present day scenario – what about being a part the royal family of Wales and being either Prince William or his beautiful Princess bride – Kate Middleton?

Yes, there is a reason why these thoughts are called “daydreams” because they are so far fetched that turning them into reality is nearly impossible.

What if I told you that there is a way you can experience “the Royal life” of a bygone era and pretend you’re a Maharaja (or a Maharani) for just a few days?

It is possible because I just did it and so can you. Yes, it is a tad expensive, but not THAT expensive that you will burn a hole in your pocket. Why? Because there is a new luxury hotel that was once a grand residence for a Maharaja is offering an introductory price for a year and curating special “royal” experiences.

In case you’ve been crushing on my Instagram pictures where I’m posing like a Maharani, I will do you a favor and NOT let this place remain a secret. Yes, I got to live the Maharaja life (or Maharani in my case), got pampered and spoilt beyond imagination during my time in this Red city of Rajasthan. I will share exactly how you can experience the royal like in Bikaner like I did.

How to live like a Maharaja and Experience the Royal life in Bikaner:

01 | Get Pampered at Narendra Bhawan – the last Maharaja’s residence

Experience the Royal Life at Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner

Experience the Royal Life at Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner

The easiest way to experience the royal life is by staying in a royal residence. I picked Narendra Bhawan, and I highly recommend you do so too. What was once the grand residence of the last reigning Maharaja of Bikaner is now a boutique hotel. This beautifully preserved Haveli actually tells the story of His Highness Narendra Singh Ji (1948).

As a guest, I received a memorable welcome with drums as soon as I got out of the car. While entering, I noticed a few beautifully decorated tables, perfect for a cozy soiree outside the main door. As soon as I stepped inside, my eyes literally popped out as I noticed the opulence of the décor inside. My first instinct was to run around like an excited little girl and click thousands of photos. In all due respect, I was in a palace and was being treated like a royalty, so I tried my best to behave like a “lady”. Later I got to know that Ayush Kasliwal (yes, the same guy who designed Delhi’s beautiful T3) and Karan Singh (the President of the hotel group) are the hands and brains behind the décor.

The stunning interior of Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

The stunning interior of Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

During my stay here, I was amazed to see that there is so much to see inside the hotel itself. There are corners where His Highness Narendra Singh Ji’s memories are displayed as photographs, travel souvenirs and a few daily use items in a setting that’s influenced by south Mumbai’s timeless architecture and Bombay art deco. Btw, Bombay Art Deco style emerged in the 1930s and 1940s before the official end of British raj in India.

I have so much to talk about the hotel that I think I will write a separate post with pictures of the interiors, courtyard, lobby, food, rooftop pool, baby grand piano and my furry friends here – Eton, Simba and Nala.

Eton, Nala and Simba - Narendra Bhawan's furballs

Eton, Nala and Simba – Narendra Bhawan’s furballs

Wondering what my room looked like from the inside? Well, I wanna show you a 360 degree video because a single picture won’t suffice.

Don’t even get me started on the food here because even the fanciest of my words won’t do justice. I really enjoyed eating the royal Rajasthani cuisine – crescent thali, maas curry and kebabs. On my first day here, I tried the typical Rajasthani breakfast of onion kachori, thali peeth, sabudana cheela with chaach. Yes, their local Rajasthani food is heavenly but I was very happy to know that their international food was equally good. I love their pumpkin soup, cauliflower soup, grilled chicken salad with sundried tomatoes, sandwiches and pizzas. My favorite of course is their Mad Hatter bakery where I fell in love with their chocolate and apricot dessert which was very flavorful, yet light.

Enjoying a lazy meal in bed with beer in Narendra Bhawan

Enjoying a lazy meal in bed with beer in Narendra Bhawan

Being a professional travel writer, I have stayed in many five star hotels but the hospitality that I experienced in Narendra Bhawan is like no other. The staff in their comfortable looking imperial attire always said “Jai Jai, Ma’am” when they saw me. From simple things like never failing to give me a glass of iced lemonade as soon as I entered the lobby to something as fancy as pearl encrusted holders for water bottles – they definitely won me over.

Honestly, Narendra Bhawan is not the only royal resident in Bikaner. There is also the famous Laxmi Niwas Palace that is owned by the same group as Narendra Bhawan, and it’s bigger and obviously more expensive. Laxmi Niwas has a bit of subdued décor while Narendra Bhawan has more of a glamorous touch. You can also check out Lalgarh fort and Gajner Palace but none of them match the kind of lavishness that you can find inside Narendra Bhawan.

Note: If you want more information, you can check out Narendra Bhawan‘s website or find deals on Booking.com.

02 | Go for a jeep safari at Gajner Sanctuary and enjoy a Lakeside Meal at Gajner Palace

A Dry Patch in Gajner Sanctuary near Bikaner

A Dry Patch in Gajner Sanctuary near Bikaner

Around 30 kilometers outside Bikaner is a lakeside palace with a wildlife sanctuary next to it. This place is called Gajner Palace and right next to it is Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary.

Back in the early days, the royals often visited this place when they’d go hunting and then later enjoy a meal of their fresh kill. No, I don’t endorse game hunting and you should know that it’s illegal in India. However, I do recommend you visit this place and go for a safari in the sanctuary and then later enjoy a lakeside meal.

The best time to arrive here is early in the morning like we did; otherwise, it can get really hot. We arrived here at 7 am and then went on a jeep safari. As soon as we entered the sanctuary, we spotted a deer. It had twisted horns and later I got to know that it was actually a blackbuck. Yes, that’s the same animal that Salman Khan apparently shot in Rajasthan for “game hunting”. (Yes, I hate Salman Khan after this episode).

Jeep Safari at Gajner Sanctuary, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Jeep Safari at Gajner Sanctuary, Bikaner, Rajasthan

This is a small sanctuary and on 4 occasions we spotted a deer (or maybe it was a blackbuck or chinkara). At one point, we even saw an antelope. It is worth noting that everything around was beige and so were all these animals. I’m sure we missed many of them because they blended perfectly with the background. I did not manage to capture them on a picture because they move very fast. However, I do have a video from very far away where an antelope is running and looks as small as a dot.

A little deeper in the sanctuary we even saw a few structures that were used many years back by the royals as “shooting pods”. These were covered from all the sides and had holes from where they could look out and shoot.

After spending around an hour inside the wildlife sanctuary, we went back to Gajner Palace for breakfast. The location is really gorgeous but the food is average. I can imagine how pretty the ambiance would be around the lake after the sunset.

03 | Watch the Sunset with a few Drinks in the Hinterland

Deepti and I enjoying our sunset drinks in Bikaner

Deepti and I enjoying our sunset drinks in Bikaner

What would you do to cool off after spending a day exploring Bikaner’s famous landmarks? No need to think, I’ll suggest the best option. Head out to the outskirts of Bikaner to find an oasis in the middle of the barren land and watch the beauty around you with a cocktail as the sun goes down.

Having no idea about the location, my friend Deepti and I dressed up for the occasion and sat in the car with Faisal, ready to be surprised. By the way, Faisal is Narendra Bhawan’s Area General Manager and is an amazing company.

We drove for around 30 minutes and reached the outskirts of Bikaner. The barren land around me reminded me of Portugal’s Idanha-a-Nova where I went for Boom festival. Suddenly our car turned into a little lane and we reached our destination. We were in an oasis!

As we got out of the car, we heard the music of a flute. There was a lake on our left side and green grass all around it. There was a bar, a live grill and a sitting area that was completely white. This was our spot for the evening.

Perhaps it was because of the music of the flute or the beauty of the lake but it was one of the most memorable sunsets. We sat next to the lake and forgot about work as we sipped our cocktails, as the sky grew orange and then eventually dark.

Our set up in Darbari, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Our set up in Darbari, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Our beautiful set up for the evening in Darbari, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Our beautiful set up for the evening in Darbari, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Sunset drinks in the hinterland with Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

Sunset drinks in the hinterland with Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

Keeping in mind the legacy and lifestyle of His Highness Narendra Singh Ji, the staff at Narendra Bhawan has designed this epic sundowner experience for their guests. This is how he would occasionally enjoy his gratifying drinks after a long day of attending to his paperwork and guests.

 

04 | Go for a Sunset Swim and a Royal dinner at Laxmi Niwas Palace

Swimming Pool at Laxmi Niwas Palace

Swimming Pool at Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner

You can’t just visit Bikaner and not visit one of the grandest palaces of this city. Just like Narendra Bhawan, even Laxmi Niwas Palace was once the grand residence of one of the Maharajas of Bikaner – Maharajah Ganga Singh. This palace is massive with a humungous sized garden area.

Apart from the garden, my favorite part of this palace turned hotel is the swimming pool. If you’re a guest of Narendra Bhawan, you can visit Laxmi Niwas Palace and enjoy a swim without paying extra because the same group owns them. This is how you can cool off from Bikaner’s heat, like a Maharaja.

Carry something special to wear after your swim so that you can enjoy the signature “Royal Dinner” in the lawn area of Laxmi Niwas Palace. Something worth noting is that you need to book this meal in advance and have to pay extra. (obviously)

Deepti and I enjoying our Royal dinner at Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner

Deepti and I enjoying our Royal dinner at Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner

We did a royal dinner in Laxmi Niwas Palace the day after we went for our sunset drinks in the desert. We didn’t expect to be very impressed after an experience like that but a royal dinner in Laxmi Niwas Palace was something else entirely.

With a backdrop of the grand palace, we walked on a path that was lit by rows of candles to reach our table. This table was decorated with a generous amount of rose petals and marigold flowers. There were candles on the table and literally everywhere around.

Just like the movie “Midnight in Paris”, I stepped into a forgotten era as I saw on my chair. I sipped my favorite cocktail with Bombay Sapphire gin and nibbled on tender Galauti Kebabs as I enjoyed being a queen for those hours.

Next day, as I narrated my experience to my husband, his reaction was “how will you ever get back to normal life?”

What to eat at Laxmi Niwas palace? Well, I ate here twice and I really enjoyed the food. For starters, vegetarians can order corn kebabs and hara bhara kebabs. I also had a mini roti here in starters with corn but I don’t remember the name. Non vegetarians will really enjoy mutton khasta kebabs, galauti kebabs, stuffed chicken tangari kebabs. For main course, vegetarians and non-vegetarians will both enjoy the typical Rajasthani crescent thali that has a variety of curries, veggies, rotis, papad, raita and optional meats. You can also order mutton biriyani, special Rajasthani laal maas and daal.

You can click here to find deals for booking a room at Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner.

 

05 | Go on a Merchant’s trail on a Horse Carriage

Merchant's Trail in Bikaner on a horse carriage

Merchant’s Trail in Bikaner on a horse carriage – picture by Deepti Asthana

If you have traveled extensively in India, then I’m sure you know that almost every famous city in Rajasthan has the architecture of a different color. Most of the people know that Jaipur is “the pink city”, Jodhpur is “the blue city”, Udaipur is “the white city” and Jaisalmer is “the Golden city”.

Did you know that Rajasthan has a “Red city” and that city is Bikaner? It is because most of the palaces, Havelis and temples were built using red sandstone many years back. Oh, and by the way, a Haveli is a kind of old school Indian mansion with an open courtyard in the middle.

Many decades back, Bikaner was a trade hub and a preferred caravan route between Central and Western Asia. The noble families and merchants of Bikaner profited immensely because of the location of the city and the trade route. They built many Havelis in Bikaner’s old city. These Havelis are still there in the old town and some of them are very well maintained.

The Famous Rampuria Haveli of Bikaner, Rajasthan

The Famous Rampuria Haveli of Bikaner, Rajasthan

An exploration of this area is one of my favorite “royal” experiences that was designed by Narendra Bhawan because it really did feel like things had not changed here for decades, except for a few cars that were visible occasionally.

We arrived in Bikaner’s old city by car and sat on a horse carriage that was waiting for us. There was a sudden change in the architecture because everywhere around us we could only see red Havelis with blue or green doors. Almost all of these Havelis display a mix of Victorian and Mughal architecture.

There were many narrow lanes and at times a little traffic jam. We would have been completely lost if our exploration was not chaperoned. We even got to enter one of the Havelis that was maintained by Narendra Bhawan and looked like a dollhouse from inside.

This area of Bikaner was so beautiful that we woke up the next day at 4 am just to go back and click some pictures.

06 | Discover Bikaner’s Places on a Royal Trail

I have mentioned the famous Laxmi Niwas Palace and Gajner Palace, but there is so much more to see in Bikaner. If you’re visiting Bikaner, I recommend you take out a day from your schedule to go on a Royal trail and see palaces and museums.

You can visit the famous Junagarh fort, which was built by Raja Rai Singh. The fort does look majestic from the outside but trust me it is the insides that will take your breath away. There are several sections that have a different theme and were built in different times.

They say that Junagarh Fort is one of the best-maintained ones in Rajasthan. As I explored the interiors, I understood why. When we entered, everything around was beige, but soon we reached a white section with a few blue rooms and later even saw a golden room and a silver door.

Apart from Junagarh fort, you can also check out Lalgarh palace and Sadul Singh museum. I was so mesmerized by Junagarh fort that it is my favorite out of them all.

7) Experience one of a kind Museum Dinner at Narendra Bhawan

Museum Dinner in Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Museum Dinner in Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner, Rajasthan

This is perhaps the most royal of them all. Imagine, sitting at the same table where the King sat decades back. Yes, it is called the “Museum Dinner” for a reason. Instead of just admiring the items from a bygone era, you’re a part of the whole setting yourself.

This table is actually in the main dining area but is in a separate enclosed space to ensure privacy. The enclosure is in the form of thick curtains on one side and wall on the other. Under the low hanging lamps, there is a long dining table that can seat six to eight people. The chairs around this table have a “golden” look with a soft cushioned seat. There are a few highly ornate mirrors on the walls with small lamps in front of them. The carpet is thick and dark and looks Egyptian (I’m guessing but I can be wrong). The ceiling is light with a lot of off-white and a few traces of gold. This little room actually looks like it is a part of a museum!

In fact, on my first day at Narendra Bhawan, I had reached this part of the restaurant just by accident while exploring. I was delighted when Faisal told me that we would be eating here the next day.

 

Final Thoughts – experience the Royal Life in Bikaner

Now that I have talked so much about Narendra Bhawan in this post, you must be thinking that it is a very expensive hotel. You couldn’t have been more wrong. They have an introductory offer going on for the first year and you can book a room for two for as low as INR 6000 ($100). I found even better deals on Bookings.com. This is a steal if you compare it to the other hotels because the services are better than any five-star hotels’. (Yes, Rajasthani hospitality beats everything else). In fact, this is the perfect gift you should buy for your life partner, or even your parents if you want to pamper them.

PS: This is just a glimpse of what I did in Bikaner. To see more pictures, check out my hashtag #SonalinBikaner on Instagram.

Have you visited Bikaner already and have a few stories to share? Let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Bikaner on a press trip. As usual, the views expressed in this article are mine.

Living life Maharani style - How to experience the Maharaja life in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India
Rampuria Haveli in Bikaner, Rajasthan - how to experience the Maharaja life in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India
Maharani style in Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner - How to experience the Maharaja life in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

Why I love Visiting Old Manali

Why I love Visiting Old Manali

Old Manali may have the prefix “old”, but it is way more awesome as compared to main Manali. While latter is one of the busiest summer destinations of India, the former is like a breath of fresh air. Geographically, the only thing that separates them is Beas River but everything else is completely different. Don’t get me wrong; Main Manali is a good destination for honeymooners or families. In fact, family travelers may not like Old Manali at all because as per them, it has too many hippies. However, if you’re a backpacker or a hippie at heart (like me), you’d definitely prefer Old Manali. You must have read about Old Manali already in my post about hippie destinations in the Himalayas, but here are more details.

Here’s why I love visiting Old Manali –

01 | Nature Trails

One of the most magical aspects of visiting Manali is the beauty of nature. Perhaps this is the reason why this place invokes spirituality in many of its visitors. The air always smells nice because it’s pure, the water always tastes good, because in most of the places, it comes from waterfalls that emerge out of glaciers. Moreover, it’s a lot of fun to walk around in Old Manali to discover new viewpoints and secret trails where one can be in the lap of Mother Nature. In fact, if you love walking and can go for hours, you can also reach the nearby Vashisht or Prini villages. Tip: find budget Manali hotels in the lap of nature so that you can make the most of your visit.

 

02 | Food

When in Manali, a meal of freshly caught river trout is not to be missed. This is butter garlic grilled fish from Kathmandu Cafe.

A post shared by Sonal ✈️ Travel Blogger (@drifterplanet) on

No, I’m not talking about only Indian food here, but also international cuisines.

Over the years, the restaurant owners have learned international recipes because backpackers from all over the world frequently visit Old Manali. Whether you’re craving lasagna or shakshuka, you will not be disappointed when you eat in Old Manali. In my multiple visits to Old Manali, I have never gotten bored of the food here. We even managed to find a decent cup of espresso here. I love the fresh river trout at Kathmandu café and Yak cheese sandwich at the German bakery.

 

03 | Weather

How can I not add the most important point why people visit this place? Of course, if you’re visiting the Himalayas, the weather would be one of your main reasons for doing so. People mostly visit Old Manali (and Manali) in summers but I also enjoy visiting this area in winters. In my opinion, its a year round destination and it looks even more beautiful in winters. In fact, my fondest memory of Manali is when I saw it during winters because of sudden snowfall.

 

04 | Adventure

Due to its location and ease of reaching, Old Manali is a very good base for nearby treks to Spiti Valley, Pin Valley, Lahaul Valley, etc. Not just small treks but several intermediate treks start from here. More than just treks, you can also try rafting, paragliding, zorbing, rappelling, rock climbing, etc. In fact, I love trekking and a lot of my treks started from old Manali. You can read my posts about Chandra Taal, Kheerganga, Kasol and Hampta pass for more information about these treks.

 

05 | Flea Market

Do you like unique handmade things that can’t be found in big shopping malls? Old Manali is the place for you. As you cross the bridge that connects New Manali and Old Manali and walk uphill, you will notice many colorful roadside shops. Here you will woolen clothes, jewelry, bags, poi pairs, hula-hoops and even flag patches for backpacks. This market is cheap and is geared towards the needs of backpackers. At the beginning of this shopping road, you will also find a “rasta” shop under Kathmandu café where you can get dreadlocks made. I got some of my dreadlocks made here. Wanna see?

06 | People

The most important reason why Old Manali has an amazing vibe is because of its people. Himachalis by nature are very hospitable people and the locals of Old Manali are one of the nicest. Many of them go out of their way to help people. In fact, I left my phone in one of the shops last year and was delighted to see that the owner still had it when I went back after three hours to check.

 

07 | Parties

Apart from Goa, Old Manali is one of the few places in India where I have attended some really good parties. From old school psychedelic trance to reggae, Old Manali definitely has a very good party scene. If you like dancing on Bollywood or Rap music, then these parties are definitely NOT for you and you will get bored here. I have also attended a psytrance festival here in 2016.

 

Please respect the locals and travel responsibly

Yes, I did say that Old Manali is an amazing place and the party culture is awesome, but please travel responsibly. Respect the locals and don’t get drunk and be loud on the road. It is very sad to see the remains of broken beer bottles in some places around Old Manali. If you’re visiting this beautiful place, please don’t mess with Mother Nature and ALWAYS remember to pick up your trash.

 

Why I love visiting Old Manali in the Himalayas, India

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A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sonal Kwatra Paladini

Chandra Taal – The Moon Lake in Spiti Valley

Chandra Taal – The Moon Lake in Spiti Valley

Have you ever stretched your limits to see the place of your dreams? I did a few months back when I trekked for five days to reach Spiti Valley from Manali. In these five days, I crossed the Hampta pass with GIO Adventures, camped at a new spot every night and eventually got to see one of the bluest lakes that I have ever seen. This lake is called Chandra Taal and it is in the middle of Spiti’s wilderness.

Chandra Taal - the lake of my dreams

Chandra Taal – the lake of my dreams

Chandra Taal in Hindi directly translates into “the moon lake” or “the lake of the moon”, because of its crescent shape. Some locals in Spiti Valley believe that fairies frequently visit this lake at night. I felt a need to visit this lake because I had a dream that I was flying over it. (Maybe I am a fairy and I don’t know it? Hehe)

Chandra Taal Lake – Legends and Fables

There are many legends that are associated with Chandra Taal but I will only tell you about two. The first is from Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic of ancient India. It is believed that this lake is the location where the rain God Indra’s chariot took the eldest Pandava, Yudhishthira to heaven.

Chandra Taal Lake - no picture could capture the real blueness of the water

Chandra Taal Lake – no picture can capture the real blueness of the water

The second legend associated with this Chandra Taal is something that locals believe. As per this fable, once upon a time, a shepherd often visited this lake with sheep. On one of his visits, he met a beautiful fairy that emerged out of the lake. He fell in love with that fairy and often spent time with her and away from his wife. The fairy made him promise not to tell anyone about her; else she would leave him forever. Years went by peacefully but he eventually broke his promise to her in a fit of rage. He went back to the lake but obviously, she had disappeared. He cried in front of the lake, pleading the fairy to return. The locals believe that the decedents of the shepherd still visit the lake in a hope to meet the fairy.

Where is Chandra Taal Lake?

Chandra Taal is located in Spiti side of Lahul and Spiti valleys in Himachal Pradesh. These two valleys are a part of tribal Himalayas and are remote. These valleys are arid and that’s why this area is called “cold desert”. While most parts of Himachal Pradesh are green, the barren beauty of Spiti valley is something that I had never seen before. Most parts if these valleys are inaccessible from the months of October to May.

Perhaps it is the air of mystery.. or the magic of fables but as per me, this part of the Himachal is insanely beautiful. The strange beauty of Spiti is something that I will remember for life.

How to reach Chandra Taal?

Hampta Pass Day 4 - Spiti Valley's Barren Beauty

Spiti Valley’s Barren Beauty

If you remember I mentioned that I trekked for 5 days to reach Chandra Taal. My last camping location before visiting this lake was Chatru, which is in Lahaul valley. Fatigue won over adventure on the last day and we decided to take a taxi from Chatru to Chandra Taal. If you’re visiting from Manali, you can hire a car from there to reach this lake. Please don’t drive here yourself because the condition of the road is treacherous after Batal. Alternatively, you can trek to Chandra Taal from Manali or Batal.

From Chatru to Chandra Taal

The roads in Spiti Valley are definitely some of the worst ones that I have ever seen in the world. They call them treacherous for a reason. The drive from Chatru to Chandra Taal was bumpy and torturous. The fact that I got the most uncomfortable seat in the car did not help because I had very little space in the back of my car to move. I ended up hurting myself every time there was a bump on the road, which was often. I got this seat because everyone in our group was sick except me. The next day, I had massive blue marks on my thighs because of repeated bumps.

Spiti Valley's narrow roads and traffic jam

Spiti Valley’s narrow roads and traffic jam

On our drive from Chatru to Chandra Taal, I often saw boulders on the road and at times even streams that had overflown on the road. One of these streams is named “pagal nala”, which means “insane stream” and true to its name, it had flooded the entire road and had caused a massive traffic jam. It took a little more than an hour for the traffic to move. It was pretty impressive how the local drivers encouraged and help each other to get out of the mess.

There was no cellphone connectivity here but on our way to Chandra Taal, I saw a sign that said “PCO”. Having not spoken to my family since the last few days because of no phone coverage, I was very happy to see this phone booth that was operated by the Indian Army using satellite phones. A little phone call to my family made me forget the torture of the car journey.

Anyway, the drive from Chatru to Chandra Taal parking lot took around a little more than two hours including the one-hour traffic jam. There were just around 3 cars parked and from here we had to walk for a kilometer to reach the lake.

Chandra Taal – so much blue

At the parking lot outside Chandra Taal, I couldn’t believe we were near the lake because everything around me was barren. How in the world can a water body really exist in this arid landscape?

As compared to our last 5 days of trekking, the walk to the lake was very easy. However, it was the high altitude and thin oxygen that gave some of us headaches. After all, it’s 4300 meters above the sea level, literally half the height of Mount Everest.

My headache was soon forgotten because in the middle of all the dull colored landscape; I finally saw a splash of blue. The sight of this blue dot was like a sip of coffee on a lazy morning because I felt suddenly energetic. This shiny turquoise pendant on Spiti’s barren collarbone grew bigger and bluer as I got closer. Finally, I was at the edge of this lake.

Drinking in Chandra Taal's beauty

Drinking in Chandra Taal’s beauty

At this moment, I felt I was a part of my computer’s wallpaper that I had stared at for a long time, except it was way more beautiful in reality. Maybe it was in the air or the Buddhist prayer flags but I felt a magical energy that the lake was radiating. I felt a need to stay quiet as I stood next to it. It was time to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings and be thankful for life and Mother Nature for her wonders.

Buddhist Prayer Flags next to Chandra Taal

Buddhist Prayer Flags next to Chandra Taal

Maybe it’s a good thing that Chandra Taal is a little hard to reach.. or Amir Khan chose Pangong Lake instead of this lake for his movie Three Idiots, else the area around this lake would not have been as tranquil as this. A few years back, it was possible for people to camp right next to the lake but I’m glad it’s not allowed anymore. As of now, the nearest campground is a little more than 3 KMs away from Chandra Taal.

Have you ever worked very hard to see the place of your dreams? Let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer: I was invited by GIO Adventures for a trekking trip where I crossed the Hampta Pass and visited Chandra Taal. The trip was complimentary but the opinions expressed in this article are mine. If you’re planning a trek or any other adventure in the Himalayas, then do get in touch with them – they’re AWESOME.

Chandra Taal - The Moon Lake in Spiti Valley. I trekked for 5 days in the Himalayas (India) to reach this spot.

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A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her partner in crime (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

13 Amazing Things to do in Sri Lanka [in 2017]

13 Amazing Things to do in Sri Lanka [in 2017]

Sri Lanka, a country that is so green that it feels like one big tropical rainforest national park. No matter where we went, we usually woke up to the music of birds. During our month long trip in Sri Lanka, there were at least five instances where we saw wild elephants near the main road. Although there are hundreds of things to do in Sri Lanka, but here are some of our favorites and we highly recommend you consider doing some of them on your visit to Sri Lanka. Don’t stress yourself to do all of them but include only some that fit your itinerary so that you can travel at a leisurely pace and enjoy. Oh and by the way, you can check the visa requirements for Sri Lanka for your nationality here.

 

Things to do in Sri Lanka

01 | Enjoy a Scenic Train Ride in Sri Lanka

Me enjoying a scenic train journey - Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Me enjoying a scenic train journey – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Train rides in Sri Lanka are so much fun that they are “bucket-list worthy”. These trains are surprisingly clean, affordable and comfortable. It felt like a mini country tour because the views outside were breathtaking. Although it is easy to get a seat but we realized that the most popular seat was the door seat. Many locals just sat by the door, eating and enjoying the view. So did we! We saw hills that were completely covered with tea plantation, forest, waterfalls, streams, small villages, monkeys and more. It rained a little during the train ride and the forest around us looked even greener than before. After every few minutes, we would spot a food vendor selling delicious and cheap snacks inside our coach. Honestly, it was the most entertaining train ride of our lives.

We traveled by third class and bought our tickets at the station just before the ride. We didn’t even need a prior booking on a part of Sri Lanka’s most famous train route – Kandy to Ella. I met a few people who couldn’t find train tickets for the same route because they were looking for only first or second-class seats.

Suggested Reading: Essential Tips for Traveling in Sri Lanka

02 | Visit a National Park and See Elephants

Elephant at Kaudulla National Park - things to do in Sri Lanka

Elephant at Kaudulla National Park – things to do in Sri Lanka

Do you know that Sri Lanka has around 25 national parks? This is a big number considering the size of this island country. There is at least one national park after every few hundreds of kilometers and we highly recommend you visit one. Yes, we did say that Sri Lanka feels like one big national park and it is possible to see the elephants on the streets, but visiting one is an experience to remember. It is different catching a quick glimpse of wild elephants from the bus as compared to an open-air jeep safari where you can get closer to them and watch them eat. Not just elephants, but you can also see exotic birds, big lizards, crocodiles, deer, and panthers. The fee for entering most of the national parks is the same and is between $10 and $15 for a day. You will also need to pay for the jeep safari, and it’s economical if you go in a group of 6 people. We visited Kaudulla National Park, which is an hour away from Sigiriya. Depending on your itinerary, you can also visit Yala National Park, which is near Arugam Bay; Uda Walawe National Park, which is in South Central area of the island; or Minneriya National Park, which is near Sigiriya.

 

03 | Go Fishing with the Locals

A local fisherman in Arugam Bay

A local fisherman in Arugam Bay

On one rainy day in Arugam bay, San and I sat next to a backwater lagoon and decided to have a lazy day. In a distance, we could see local fishermen who were trying to catch tuna with their simple net. Half an hour later, somehow we were all friends and were standing next to them as they explained their process.

After a few hours, they invited us to their house where we drank tea with their families. They invited us to join them at 5 am next day for fishing. San loves fishing and as per him, this was the best thing that he had ever done in Sri Lanka.

Munash and his friend after fishing in Arugam Bay

Munash and Nisad after fishing in Arugam Bay

Fishing is an important part of Sri Lanka’s culture because of a massive coastline and many inland lakes and rivers. Fishing provides daily income and food for many families where men wake up early to fish and women sell their catch. If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, we highly recommend you try fishing with the locals. If you are short of time to make friends with local fishermen, try going for one of the tours. If you’re lucky, you may find the traditional stilt fishing, where locals sit on their stilts and wait for the fishes

 

04 | Explore the Hill Country

Explore the Hill Country - things to do in Sri Lanka

Explore the Hill Country – things to do in Sri Lanka

During out month long trip to Sri Lanka, our favorite area of Sri Lanka was definitely the middle part, which is called the “Hill Country”. It’s sad how many travelers miss this area and just head for the beaches because they’re in Sri Lanka for a short visit. This part of Sri Lanka is covered with tea plantations and you can spot many waterfalls. Yes, Sri Lanka is very green but the hill country has got to be the greenest part because it rains a lot here. In fact, the coldest city here – Nuwara Eliya is also called “Little England” because of the rains and tea culture. It was very cold when we visited Nuwara Eliya but we ended up enjoying it because the weather made our experience super romantic.

San enjoying the view in Haputale - things to do in Sri Lanka

San enjoying the view in Haputale – things to do in Sri Lanka

Another place that you can visit in this area is Ella, which is a backpacker’s hub. Our best experience was in a small town called Haputale in Sri Lanka’s Uva province where San and I explored the tea estates on our own and found many viewpoints. No matter where we looked, we could only see small hills that were fully covered with tea plantation.

05 | Climb Pidurangala Rock and See Sigiriya Rock

View of the famous Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala rock

View of the famous Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala rock

Sigiriya is one of the most famous destinations in Sri Lanka because we expected it to be very busy but it surprised us. Don’t get me wrong, several tourists do visit this city but several areas of the city were surprisingly empty. The only crowded part was the Sigiriya rock because 99% of the people come here to check this off their list. As we explored the area around the Sigiriya rock on a bicycle, we saw the steps on the rock had a little “human traffic jam”, which turned us off. The next day, we woke up at 4:30 am and went to Pidurangala instead, which is right next to Sigiriya and is as high. We climbed Pidurangala rock in dark to see the sunrise on top of it.

The climb is not as easy as Sigiriya because there are parts where we had to climb some really big rocks towards the end, but the view is definitely worth it. On one side, we saw the famous Sigiriya rock and on the other side Kandy’s mountains. We also saw a massive statue of Buddha that was peeping through the rainforest from far away and gave this area a surreal feel. I am not sure how long we stayed up there but it was definitely more than an hour.

If you’re planning on climbing Pidurangala rock too, then please do this in a group because it can be unsafe if you do it alone and get stuck. It gets very hot in Sigiriya during the day, so please try to do at sunrise or sunset. There is no toilet up there, so please use one before you start to climb.

 

5.1 .. or Climb Adam’s Peak / World’s End / other famous viewpoints

Apart from Pidurangala rock, Sri Lanka has many other viewpoints that you can climb, so I’m adding all these options here as a sub-point to my last point. In Ratnapura, you can climb the famous Adam’s peak, which is a 2243 meters high mountain. You can start the trail from a small village called Dalhousie, which is 3 hours away from Hatton. You can reach Hatton by train or bus. If Adam’s peak is too much for you, try Little Adam’s Peak, which is in Elle and is very easy. You can reach Elle by the same train that goes to runs from Colombo to Badulla and crosses Hatton, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.

Another alternative is Horton Plains National Park where you can see the famous World’s End and Mini World’s end without much physical effort. This can be done with Nuwara Eliya as your base but please keep in mind that the entry and transportation costs are high. Moreover, because this part of Sri Lanka is usually clouded, there is no guarantee that you will be able to see the view once you’re here. Although not as famous as everything else on the list, but Lipton’s Seat in Haputale is also an interesting option. It is a 9km uphill climb through the tea plantation, with a panoramic viewpoint on the top.

06 | Sleep in Tree House in the Middle of the Forest

Our tree house in Sri Lanka that was booked through Glamping Hub

Our tree house in Sri Lanka that was booked through Glamping Hub

Sri Lanka is home to several wild animals because most of the land is covered with the rain forest. To protect themselves from the animals, several villagers built tree houses and slept in them. With the increase of tourism, many of these tree houses have been converted into hotels and resorts while still maintaining their rustic charm. If you love forests, you’re going to love your tree house experience in Sri Lanka. We stayed in Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela where we spent 2 days and birds frequently visited our towering tree house in the morning. It was in the middle of Dehigaha Ela’s deep forest and we slept with the sounds of the jungle and felt one with nature. There were a few streams and waterfalls around our tree house and several hiking trails that we tremendously enjoyed. The stream had “spa fishes” and it was amazing getting a free natural foot spa everyday. This place is very 20 minutes away from Sigiriya by car, but we didn’t want to get out because we had never stayed in a place as amazing as this. I even wrote a blog post about this place. Wanna book the same treehouse? Click here to find deals and book.

07 | Visit a Tea Factory

Inside Blue Field tea factory, Nuwara Eliya - things to do in Sri Lanka

Inside Blue Field tea factory, Nuwara Eliya – things to do in Sri Lanka

Drinking tea is a very important part of Sri Lankan culture and the country is one of the most important tea producers in the world. If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, we suggest you try to take a quick tour of the tea factory, which can surprisingly be an interesting experience. It is an educational tour because you get to learn about the entire tea making process and different types of tea produce. Moreover, most of the tea factories are surrounded by tea plantation, which forms a great backdrop for pictures. We visited Blue Field tea factory in Nuwara Eliya where we got a free tour of the factory area, retail shop, and café. It was a short tour that lasted only 10 minutes. At the end of our tour, we even got a cup of black tea in their café that was complimentary. Even though it is free, we recommend you leave a tip for your guide.

 

08 | Go for a Nature Trail or a Waterfall Hike

Waterfall in Sri Lanka - things to do in Sri Lanka

Waterfall in Sri Lanka – things to do in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is full of waterfalls and you don’t have to see all of them. Just pick one around you and go. Ask locals and try to find one that is not famous so that you can enjoy it without crowds. It’s even better when you get to hike for a few kilometers and visit one. I don’t remember the name of the one we visited, but it was in the central province. We visited it after it had rained for two days and the hike was a little slippery. The view was highly rewarding towards the end because the waterfall was fuller due to the rains. One of the locals informed us that people normally swam in that waterfall but due to the rains it is not advisable. We also did a nature trail in Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela where we walked upstream and found a waterfall. If you love waterfalls, you’re going to love Sri Lanka because there are many of them around.

 

09 | Hit the beaches and try surfing

Negombo Beach - Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Negombo Beach – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

C’mon, you can’t visit Sri Lanka and not visit the beaches. After all, it is an island country and has a massive coastline. Sri Lanka has so many amazing beach towns that you can visit, that you will be spoilt for choice. When you land in Sri Lanka, you can enjoy Colombo or Negombo. You can then head to the South and visit Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa, or Mirissa. We went to Arugam Bay, which is the Eastern province of Sri Lanka and is one of the top ten surfing spots in the world. Keep in mind that surfing can’t be done all year round. Unlike what the guidebooks mentioned, in Arugam Bay, the waves were not strong enough in the month of January but the locals informed us that the real surfing season is in Arugam bay is in the months of March and April.

 

10 | Dolphin or Whale Watching in Mirissa

We all know that blue whales are the biggest known mammals on Earth, but do you know that you can see them in South of Sri Lanka? The most popular whale watching spot in Sri Lanka is Dondra Point, which can be easily reached from Mirissa, Galle or Hikkaduwa. Several tour operators organize dolphin and whale watching tours that start very early in the morning and cost between $35 and $50 per person with a boat that takes 40 people. You can also do a luxury whale-watching cruise, which can cost anything between $120 and $200. We already saw dolphins in Arugam Bay and didn’t do whale watching, but here’s a picture from our friend, Charlotte. If you like this picture, then do head over to her awesome account and check out the pictures.

Whale Watching in Mirissa by Charlotte

Whale Watching in Mirissa by Charlotte

11 | Try Scuba Diving

Being an island country, it’s no surprise that Sri Lanka is a hot scuba diving destination. If you like wreck diving, there are a few dive sites where you can see World War I and World War II shipwrecks, which are mostly near Colombo and Negombo. The beach towns of Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Galle have some famous reefs. For South Coast, the months from November to April are good months to dive, whereas for East Cost, it’s April to September. The visibility has been reported to be around 10 – 25 meters and the water temperature is usually warm throughout the year. If lucky, one can spot whale sharks, blue and sperm whales.

12 | Explore Small Towns on a Bicycle

San and I riding a bicycle in Sri Lanka

San and I riding a bicycle in Sri Lanka

Surprisingly, the scooter rental costs in Sri Lanka are very high as compared to most of Asia. To make things affordable and more fun for us, we decided to rent bicycles instead, which turned out to be a very good decision. Not only we were able to explore the entire town on our own, we even managed to get lost and find places that we wouldn’t have found if we didn’t have our bicycles. We ended up having a very good day exploring a small town on our bicycles.

13 | Get Close to the Monkeys

Get close to the monkeys - things to do in Sri Lanka

Get close to the monkeys – things to do in Sri Lanka

If you’re an animal lover like me, you’re gonna love Sri Lanka. Monkeys are definitely my favorites because they are mischievous and always up to something. I find them very funny to watch and I wish I had a pet monkey of our own. As we got away from the beach towns in Sri Lanka, we saw a lot of monkeys. We even saw a few while we were enjoying our train ride through the hill country. Having lived in India, I often see monkeys but unlike India, the ones in Sri Lanka didn’t appear to be aggressive. My sister was once bitten by a monkey when we were kids so I never pet them, but I love getting close to them and watching their antics. If you decide to do the same, please hold on to your valuables because monkeys love snatching.

Wait, is that all?

No, there’s more! I have a few bonus points for you which are the “obvious” things that you will anyway do in Sri Lanka wether you read about them or not.

BONUS 1: Enjoy Sri Lankan Food

Egg Rice & Curry in Sri Lanka - things to do in Sri Lanka

Egg Rice & Curry in Sri Lanka – things to do in Sri Lanka

This is not actually added in the original list of unique experiences because if you visit Sri Lanka, of course you’re going to try the local food. Wether you’re a vegetarian or a seafood lover, you’re going to love Sri Lankan food but be careful, it is saucy and spicy! I couldn’t get enough of egg samosas, Kothu, and rice & curry meals.

BONUS 2: Find Peace in Temples

Visit Temples - things to do in Sri Lanka

Visit Temples – things to do in Sri Lanka

The majority of population in Sri Lanka is Buddhist and you will definitely get to see a few temples regardless of where you go. Yes, Anuradhapura is famous for temple ruins but you will be surprised to see old temples in many other places too. In many parts of Sri Lanka, the Buddha statues are massive in size and at times you can see them from a distance. Not just Buddhist, but Sri Lanka has many beautiful Hindu temples, Muslim Mosques and Catholic Churches that are worth a visit.

BONUS 3: Enjoy Tuk Tuk Rides

Ride a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka - things to do

Ride a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka – things to do

If you saw my tips for traveling in Sri Lanka, you must have read about how we got scammed by our tuk tuk driver on the first day. Despite the first bad experience, we tremendously enjoyed our rides on these slow moving scooters. If you end up visiting Sri Lanka, I’m sure you’re going to ride one at some point. Here’s a picture for you to enjoy.

Visit a National Park and See Elephants - Things to do in Sri Lanka
Explore the hill country - Things to do in Sri Lanka
Climb Pidurangala Rock and See Sigiriya Rock - Things to do in Sri Lanka

Even though it’s a small country, there are many things to do in Sri Lanka that can keep you busy while you’re there. Despite spending a month here, we still didn’t get a chance to explore the Northern part of the island that has only recently opened to tourism. We are slow travelers by choice so that we can drink in the beauty and completely absorb the culture. If you’re a fast paced traveler and plan well, you can perhaps check off everything on this list in just two weeks.

If you have visited Sri Lanka already and have a few points to add, let me know in the comments.

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sonal Kwatra Paladini

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