Sri Lanka Travel Tips – 13 Things You Need To Know

Sri Lanka Travel Tips – 13 Things You Need To Know

Sri Lanka Travel Tips article is a must read for your Sri Lankan adventure.

If someone asks me to describe Sri Lanka in just one word, I’d say “green”. It doesn’t matter where you go but you will surely see a lot of green. The entire country feels like one massive national park and you’re guaranteed to see a wild elephant or two if you spend more than a few weeks here.

You must have noticed a lot of “green” pictures from Sri Lanka on our Instagram account, now it’s time we share more details with you. We spent close to a month here and we have some useful tips to share with you. If you’re wondering where to go for your next vacation, you must consider visiting this beautiful island country. If you end up booking your tickets, here are 13 important travel tips that you should keep in mind before visiting Sri Lanka.

Travel Tips for Sri Lanka –

01 | Visa for Sri Lanka

Unlike many other Asian countries, Sri Lanka doesn’t offer a visa on arrival. Instead, there is a very easy process to apply for an electronic visa or eVisa. An eVisa is a double entry visa for 30 days, which is usually enough for most of the travelers. The fee for an eVisa is $35 for all the countries but is only $20 for SAARC countries. Yes, India is a part of SAARC so I had to pay only $20 while San paid $35. Although we did get our visa confirmation within a few hours, I’d recommend you apply at least a week in advance. You can click here to apply for your eVisa to Sri Lanka.

Please be very careful in filling up the eVisa application because even a single wrong digit will impact your entry and you will be forced to apply again at the airport. If you’re a citizen of Maldives, Singapore or Seychelles, you don’t need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. For a longer stay visa, you can apply directly at the embassy.

 

02 | Do you have a Buddha Tattoo? Hide it!

Sri Lanka has a zero tolerance for tourists with Buddha tattoos. In fact, there have been cases in the past wherein tourists with Buddha tattoos have been arrested and deported. A few weeks back, a friend of mine was stopped by the police at Kandy railway station for carrying a bag with Buddha face but luckily she escaped trouble. Oh, and also, one of the pop musicians Akon was also barred an entry to Sri Lanka because one of his music videos featured a Buddha statue next to skimpily clad women. Back in 2012, three French tourists were sentenced to 6 months in jail for clicking pictures of them kissing a Buddha statue.

I’m not religious but it makes sense to me because some countries regard the usage of religious objects and symbols in ornaments or fashion as disrespectful. Don’t be an asshole while traveling and respect Sri Lanka’s culture. In fact, don’t disrespect any country’s culture and religion. If you have a Buddha tattoo, please hide it while you’re in Sri Lanka.

 

03 | Negambo vs Colombo

Negombo Beach - Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Negombo Beach – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Wondering why this point is even on the list? Well, because when you book your flight to Sri Lanka, your ticket will say that you’re flying to Colombo. In reality, it’s not Colombo but the suburb area of Negombo, which is a different place entirely and is an hour away from Colombo. Maybe it’s good this way because I didn’t particularly like Colombo but I definitely enjoyed Negombo. It is less stressful and has a massive strip of uninterrupted beach. Moreover, for your journey to other parts of Sri Lanka, it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re in Negombo or Colombo because they are both well connected by a network of trains and buses.

On a side note, it was pretty funny because San booked our hotel in Negombo and for the first few hours that I was in Negombo, I thought I was in Colombo. It happened because I suffer from a selective hearing disorder and assumed that Colombo is massive and Negombo is a part of it.

Read: That one time we slept in a tree house in the middle of Sri Lankan forest

04 | Tuk Tuk Scams

Living in India, I have faced more scams than most of the people and because of this, I am not easily “scammable”. Despite a lot of pre warnings, we were scammed on our very first day. Every tuk tuk driver quoted 5x the rate as we landed in Sri Lanka. How do we know it was 5x? Well, because we asked a few locals what should be the normal price for reaching our hotel. At last we finally found a tuk tuk driver who agreed to a lower cost, which was still double of what the locals told us. However, within a few minutes he stopped the tuk tuk mid way even though, he had agreed that he would drop us at our hotel. He started yelling and after a while, we gave up and ended up paying extra because we were very tired and just wanted to reach our room.

Don’t get me wrong, Sri Lankans are very nice, humble and honest but many tuk tuk drivers are not. Another scam that I encountered was how the drivers tried to convince us at many bus stops that there was no bus that was going to our destination in an attempt to get us to spend on a tuk tuk instead. By then, I had done enough research to know that they were fooling us. These scams are highly prevalent if you travel to touristy places.

 

05 | The Best way to travel internally is by Train

Picture this – you’re sitting in a cute train coach and everywhere you look, you see tea estates, forests, waterfalls, hills, monkeys.. and maybe even an elephant if you’re lucky. From time to time, you can walk around and even sit by the door and get lost in the beauty (but please hold the door handle firmly if you do).

Me enjoying a scenic train journey - Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Me enjoying a scenic train journey – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

San and I sat by the door all the time and didn’t want to leave. We even bought a few snacks on the train and ate them as we sat by the door. I was such a “tourists” here and couldn’t stop clicking and making videos for my Instagram. Trust me when I say this, but this was the BEST thing we did in this beautiful country. Oh, and I must tell you that it was dirt-cheap. We traveled on a third class coach, which was comfortable and clean.

Nothing can match the experience of riding a slow moving train through Sri Lanka’s scenic hill countryside. It may not be the fastest way, but it is the most beautiful way to travel internally. Alternatively, you can travel by buses too, but you will not be as comfortable as compared to the train because the bus seats in Sri Lanka are very small. Oh and you should know that the train ride from Kandy to Ella is supposed to be the most scenic one.

06 | Where to go in Sri Lanka

Most of the people think that Sri Lanka is mostly about the beaches, but no they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, my favorite places here were very far from the beaches. Broadly speaking, Sri Lanka can be divided into four zones – the beaches, the hill country, forests and historical places. The beaches are pretty but it is the middle area that made us fall in love with Sri Lanka. Our favorite was the hill country, (Nuwara Eliya, Haputale, Elle, etc.) where everything was greener than the color green. We also enjoyed the forest area around Sigiriya and Pottuvil, where we saw a lot of elephants and a few crocodiles at a safe distance. Lonely Planet markets Sri Lanka as a “beach lovers paradise” but I think it is more of a nature lovers’ / forest freak’s haven. Anyway, I will soon write a post about a suggested itinerary which can help you plan your trip.

07 | Tap Water in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the locals were mostly drinking tap water but we stuck to bottled water. Although it is safe for them, but it may not be for you because it may contain micro-organisms that your body is not used to. Don’t take a health risk while traveling and please stick to bottled water. In my experience, the cost of bottled water was a little higher if you compare it to most of the Asian countries.

08 | Costs can be extreme (Low and High both)

Travel costs in Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Travel costs in Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

When we first arrived in Sri Lanka, we got a shock because everything was expensive in Negombo. Maybe it was because we were comparing it to India but even basic things at supermarkets were expensive. We did eventually find a few affordable eating options but there were not too many. Beach Towns like Arugam Bay, Negombo were definitely more expensive than the hill towns. On our train to Ella, we spotted a cute village called Haputale with breathtaking views, and decided to jump off here. It ended up being our favorite and the most affordable place in Sri Lanka for us. If you’re traveling on a budget, then you should consider spending more time away from the beach towns.

Read: 20 Travel Mistakes that can ruin your trip

09 | ATMs and Banks

After traveling to many countries, Sri Lanka was the first country where my ATM card refused to work in most of the ATMs. I tried many, but the only ATM where my card worked was at Bank of Ceylon ATM. I met a few people who faced the same issue, even after alerting their banks that they were going to Sri Lanka.

I suggest you carry a few US Dollars or Euros to be safe if such a situation arises.You can always head to a bank to exchange currency in case your card doesn’t work. Another important point to note is that most of the banks in Sri Lanka shut at 3 pm, which is quite early as compared to international standards.

 

10 | About Sri Lankan Food.. and restaurants are called Hotels

Sri Lankan Rice and Curry - Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Sri Lankan Rice and Curry – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

One word: delicious! Sri Lankan food is similar to South Indian food but with very a mild difference. I fell in love with Rice and Curry meal combos, which were usually served with more than one curry, daal, beetroot salad and “Sambal”. Sambal (or sambhal) is a dry preparation of shredded coconut with red chilies, curry leaves, and a few herbs that Sri Lankans eat with their food. Sri Lankan roti is like India’s Malabari Parotta, which is my favorite kind of Indian bread. This roti can be shredded and mixed with spices, egg, meat or fish to form a delicious meal called “Kothu”. In fact, Kothu (or Kottu) is what Pad Thai is for Thailand – an affordable meal that is popular with backpackers. I also enjoyed egg samosas in Sri Lanka, which are very spicy and way different than Indian’s samosas. In smaller towns, a meal can cost around 100 LKR (less than $1), but can go as high as 500 LKR in bigger towns. I experimented a lot with Sri Lankan food and will try to write a full blog post about it.

 

11 | Drinking Sri Lanka’s Local Brew – Arrack & Lion lager

San and I always make it a point to try a new country’s local brew, so Sri Lanka was no exception. If you compare the costs with the neighboring countries, drinking in Sri Lanka is expensive. Arrack is Sri Lanka’s local spirit, which is like rum and is made with coconut flowers. (I didn’t even know that coconut trees had flowers!). We saw a lot of price and quality variations when we bought Arrack. At one time we spent 1200 LKR (around $7) but 2000 LKR (around $13) on another occasion.

The most popular local beer in Sri Lanka is Lion Lager and it costs 250 LKR ($1.5) if you buy it from alcohol shops. Of course it costs double or even triple when you buy it in bars and restaurants.

 

12 | Plug Points and electrical sockets in Sri Lanka

In most of the hotels in Sri Lanka, I saw two kinds of plug sockets – one with round holes (type D / M) and the other with rectangular prongs, which can easily fit UK plugs (type G socket). We didn’t carry a universal adapter and didn’t even need one in Sri Lanka. We were able to use our Indian as well as European plugs (both plug type C) in Sri Lanka without a problem. Yes, our Indian and European plugs had two spikes but could fit the Sri Lankan plugs without a problem. It is obviously recommended that you carry a good quality universal adapter so that you don’t end up harming your gadgets.

 

13 | Is Sri Lanka safe for solo women travelers?

Is Sri Lanka safe for solo female travelers - Sri Lanka travel tips

Is Sri Lanka safe for solo female travelers – Sri Lanka travel tips

I don’t have a one-word-answer for this. Although I traveled with San but I often met women who were traveling solo and didn’t face any issues. Sri Lankan people are polite and extremely helpful but I did see several instances of local men persistently trying to befriend international women tourists. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being friends but please be careful when they invite you for parties because there are enough horror stories on the Internet. Just like India, you will need to appear confident and at times intimidating to ward off trouble. As a rule of thumb, dressing sensibly, befriending other travelers for company and trusting your sixth sense will go a long way in keeping you safe.

 

Is Sri Lanka safe for Solo Female Travelers - Sri Lanka travel tips by Drifter Planet
Train Ride in Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka Travel Tips
Negombo Beach - Sri Lanka Travel Tips by Drifter Planet

Do you have any points to add in this post about Sri Lanka travel tips? Let me know in the comments.

Tips for celebrating Holi in India from an Indian

Tips for celebrating Holi in India from an Indian

So you want to celebrate Holi in India and want some basic information before you start? You’ve come to the right page!

Being an Indian, I have celebrated Holi all my life at many locations all over the country. As per me, it’s the most awesome festival in the world! Based on my experience, I want to share some tips with you so that you can enjoy my favorite festival as much as I usually do.

A little clarification – Holi is not a type of party, but it is a festival that’s celebrated in India and Nepal. No, it’s not a psychedelic music festival but a traditional Hindu festival, which is of course, can be psychedelic because it’s colorful. And yes, it is more colorful than you imagined it to be!

I felt a need to explain the basics because I did met a few people while traveling who mentioned they love “Holi parties”. I later found out that thought that Holi is a kind of a trance party where colors are used while dancing because that’s how they celebrate it in Europe.

When is Holi celebrated?

There is no fixed date when Holi is celebrated (at least not as per the international calendar). It is celebrated at the arrival of spring, which is the full moon of the Falgun month as per the Hindu calendar, which can be in the month of February or March. To be exact, the actual day when people apply color on each other all over India is usually a morning after the full moon of Falgun.

Where in India should you travel for Holi?

San and I celebrating Holi in India

San and I celebrating Holi in India

Well, don’t just change your itinerary based on Holi because it is celebrated pretty much all over India with slight variations. In some parts of UP state of India, Holi is celebrated for a longer duration. UP is also famous for Lath Maar Holi, which is mostly celebrated in Barsana town near Mathura where women playfully mock – beat men with sticks. The state of Uttrakhand celebrated Kumaon Holi, which is a musical celebration. In most of the Indian states, Holi is actually a two-day (or longer) celebration with Puja on the first day and color games on the second. If you want to know more about how it’s celebrated in each state, you can see this.

Anyway, I don’t want to confuse you, but I know you’re most likely interested in the second day of Holi (gotcha!). Truth be told, I have hardly ever participated in the puja part of Holi and have celebrated the second day, which is the color day”. So just go to any part of India where you have friends (or at least can make some) and celebrate! Or what if you’re traveling solo? Read my next point.

What to do for Holi if you’re traveling solo?

While it’s a different thing to go to a music festival alone, but celebrating Holi in India alone as a girl is a whole different matter. I love my country, but sadly a lot of my countrymen will leave no chance in groping women when they can get away with it. Holi is one such day when they think they can get away with it. They will find reasons to touch you, maybe at pretense of putting color on your face before they grope and run away. Sadly, crime rate against women is very high on this day, so please don’t venture out alone.

Try to make friends before Holi at your hostel or around. The best would be if you can find local women / families and just ask them if you can celebrate with them. If you don’t know where to find them, you can join this women travel group from India. Don’t worry; you won’t be forcing your company on them because most likely, they’d love to show you how they celebrate Holi.

What to wear for Holi?

My cousin and I celebrating Holi in our oldest clothes

My cousin and I celebrating Holi in our oldest clothes

Find your oldest clothes, because you won’t be able to wear them again. This goes for your undies too because they will also catch the color.

A lot of websites say you should wear white on Holi but I have mixed thoughts about this. If you’re a girl, you should definitely avoid wearing white because people will throw water on you and many will openly see through your clothes. While in Western countries you may just only receive attention, in India you will receive way more than that.

Wear clothes that are comfortable, can dry quickly and can’t be ripped off easily. I normally wear an old tee shirt with cotton pants or shorts. I always wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from the color and I highly recommend you do the same!

How to protect your skin and hair on Holi?

This point is for both boys and girls. You do need to protect your skin and hair because you can never be sure what kind of color people are applying on you. The easiest thing to do is to apply layers and layers of baby oil on your skin and hair. Make sure you even apply it on your neck and around your ears. Don’t just put it on your exposed skin, but even under your clothes. Not only will you protect your skin from rashes and dryness, but you will make it easier for yourself to remove the color. I also wear a headscarf or a hat to protect my hair because my cousin throws eggs on our heads to take Holi a level higher.

Where to go to celebrate Holi?

Usually the best (and the safest) places to go are local parks, colleges, or a local family’s house. Try to find a Holi party if you can. I usually know of a few, so email me if you can’t find one.

Where should you keep your valuables on Holi?

Carry a waterproof pouch and keep a little money. Try not to carry your phone, but if you still insist, at least invest in a waterproof bag or a pouch. For many years I just carried a little money in a plastic bag and kept it in a cheap pouch.

So do people just apply color on each other?

Many of them do, but mostly it’s like a color war. While some people will politely put a few dots on you, others will take this opportunity to get rid of their yearlong frustration and literally bash you up with colors. More than just colors, it’s also watercolors and waterballoons.

Don’t get shocked when you see people throwing eggs at each other, its pretty normal for a few of them. Back in Punjab, I also saw a few boys who were putting grease on each other’s faces!

About buying Holi Colors, Waterguns and Waterballoons

Holi in India - Holi colors on display in a street market

Holi in India – Holi colors on display in a street market

If you love colors, you’re going to love Holi markets because they’re full of colors. Buy chemical free colors that are made of herbs so that you don’t cause any damage.

You don’t have to buy all the shades but just one or two will suffice. Trust me you will look like a rainbow by end of the day, because everyone would have picked different colors to apply on each other.

Want to go a level higher than colors? Get a water gun! I’m sure if my mom would shake her head in disapproval if she ever reads this article. I don’t personally carry one but I am lucky that I celebrate it with my nephew and I borrow his from time to time to annoy my friends. Water balloons are even a level higher because they can seriously hurt! I don’t ever carry them but normally I get thrown at.

What is Bhang?

Bhang is eatable preparation of marijuana. It is usually in the form of milk-based drink such as lassi or thandai. Lassi is a yogurt drink and thandai is a milk and almond drink. It can also be in food, such as pakodas. It’s much more potent than just smoking a joint. You will not feel the effects while consuming it but it can really hit you hard after an hour.

On Holi, people openly consume Bhang in form of thandai, pakodas or lassi. So please be careful of what you drink or eat.

What should you keep in mind for general safety?

Don’t move around on the streets alone. There are enough frenzied groups that turn into mobs and circle around on Holi to look for a new target.

Don’t throw colors on animals. It irritates their skin and they end up licking it which can cause them poisoning.

In many places in India, small children hide in the balconies and throw water balloons at people. This doesn’t just happen on the day of Holi, but also a for week before the festival. These balloons really hurt when they hit the flesh, so please keep your eyes open. I once had a water-balloon thrown at me while I was safely sitting inside my car. It was funny and annoying at the same time!

Want epic Holi photos? Buy an action camera like GoPro! (this is an affiliate link, if you click this link and buy something from Amazon, I may earn a little commission at no extra cost to you 🙂 )

Be a child and have fun. Seriously, it is the most fun filled festival that I know of and I hope you make the most of it.

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

10 Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy

10 Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy

Bali, the island of Gods needs no introduction. After all, it is the most visited island in South East. In fact, I had almost written Bali off my travel bucket list assuming that every corner here will be touristy, but I couldn’t help being excited when I received an invitation by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia. So late one night in November 2016, I landed here after changing two airplanes from Raja Ampat – tired but ready to fall in love with Bali.

You know what’s the best part about Bali? It is gorgeous! My excitement started right from the airport where I saw an elaborate Hindu temple. It continued as soon as I reached my hotel – Golden Tulip in Seminyak and saw a roof top pool and yet another temple! Next morning, as we travelled around the island, I was happy to notice that the typical Balinese temple like architecture is everywhere, even at gas stations.

I visited Bali as a social media influencer, so of course Instagram was very high on my list. I did a little bit of research about a few spots to visit and want to share them with you. No doubt there are more than ten beautiful spots in Bali (obviously), but here are ten of our favorites.

Bali’s most beautiful spots –

01 | “Doors of Heaven” at Pura Lempuyang

Not just in Bali, but this is definitely one of the most beautiful temples of South East Asia. There are total seven temples in this complex, out of which the first one is the biggest and the most beautiful one. They all offer good views but the first one is the most photographed one, for obvious reasons. All the shots below are pretty similar, but the lighting is different, which causes a dramatic effect.

 

02 | Penglipuran Village

Penglipuran in North of Bali is a beautifully preserved village which appeared to be unaffected by modernization. For me, this was the most beautiful spot in Bali and I did not want to leave. Later when I saw the pictures, I realized that it’s a perfect place for photos because of the backdrop of little houses that are lined up next to the main street. What makes it even better is that the street is sloped and provides a view till the end! Here’s my picture which was clicked by the talented Japanese photographer, Genta.

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

Every corner in this village is pretty! Look how cute this picture is –

This village is so pretty, that every corner is instagram-worthy! Look how cute this picture is:

A post shared by Riyanni Djangkaru (@r_djangkaru) on

The same background as the first picture, but it’s a portrait.

This is the same spot as the first picture, but a portrait.

A post shared by Pratik Talreja (@sadak_chap) on

 

03 | Bamboo Forest in Bangli

Don’t you just love the roads that are surrounded by perfectly arched trees resulting in a “tunnel” effect? Well, you can find a few of these streets in the village of Kubu Bangli regency. This forest area is very close to Penglipuran village, so you can do #2 and #3 together on the same day!

The below picture is by one of my favorite photographers, Larissa Dening:

Here’s another one by Hikari – a talented Japanese photographer, who is as beautiful as the pictures she clicks.

A post shared by hikari☆。* (@_hikari_____) on

The next one was clicked by Trishita (Overrated Outcast), who’s just 20 but does some serious magic with her GoPro. She’s also a GoPro brand ambassador.

Here’s one by Daniel Tran. I love how all of his pictures have a lot of magic, that they look surreal.

 

04 | Ubud’s Rice Paddies and Cafes with views

You can’t leave out Ubud’s pretty rice paddies when you visit Bali. Some people rent bicycles to explore the paddy fields, while others just find a chic café with a view to enjoy Ubud’s beauty. I recommend Desa Tegalalang or Kampung Café for your dose of Ubud. In fact, to make the most of it, you can also book yourself a room at Kampung Resort.

Here’s a picture from Kampung Cafe by Jongbeom Lee:

🌿 초록초록 가득해서 눈이 정화되는 기분😳 #TripOfWonders #WonderfulIndonesia . #A7ii #sel24240

A post shared by 🇰🇷jongbeom lee (@picn2k) on

I love this bird’s eye view of the rice paddies by Will Cho.

Or this green overdose by Michael Turtle:

This shot by Emily makes me want to want to get lost in these rice paddies!

 

 

05 | Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is perhaps the most iconic landmark of Bali. It has been used for years as a cover image for Bali related things such as in flyers, travel articles, picture postcards, etc. This temple is located at the edge of Beratan Lake and you can often catch the reflection of it in the water.

Everything is perfect about this shot, specially the reflection.

Here’s the same temple but from a different angle. Don’t you just love the sky?

And this! Wow

A post shared by Maged Guirguis (@guirguismaged) on

 

06 | Pura Tirta Empul

Yes, you must have guessed it by now that everything that starts with “Pura” is a temple. This temple is famous for its bathing area and a dip in its waters is supposed to cleanse you spiritually. The words “Tirta Empul” stand for holy spring in Balinese language.

Here’s a shot of Tirta Empul Temple’s stunning door.

🍂 #tirtaempul

A post shared by Megan (@meganlandskron) on

This is inside the temple, where people bathe inside the water for ritual purification.

 

07 | Banyumala Twin Waterfalls

What’s better than a waterfall? Two waterfalls together. These waterfalls are in North Central part of Bali and getting there is definitely not easy. Many people say that these are the best waterfalls in Bali, but why don’t you see the pictures and decide for yourself?

Look how green everything around this waterfall is!

A post shared by Agusm Photography (@agusm123) on

How blue is that water!

A post shared by TEGREK (@tgk.1997) on

 

08 | Tanah lot temple

Yes, another temple on the list, but I promise it’s the last one. Visit this place a little before the sunset and find a nearby café that overlooks the temple for some stunning photos! Doesn’t the ocean backdrop look stunning?

🌅 #Bali

A post shared by Hειεɴ (@ellchintya) on

Low tide at #Tanahlot #Bali. Hello Guys !

A post shared by Agusm Photography (@agusm123) on

09 | Tibumana Waterfall

This waterfall is in Bangli area and not so far from the Bamboo forest in point 3. Getting here is not as difficult as Banyumala Waterfalls. The trail that leads to the waterfall is small and is a delight in itself. Everywhere around is jungle and you will hear the sounds of birds. The waterfall itself is small but it is the green area around that makes it very special.

A post shared by TEGREK (@tgk.1997) on

A post shared by Lukman Yogatama (@lulukman) on

10 | Ku-De-Ta Lounge and Around

Ku-De-Ta is one of the most famous bars in Bali. The view of the ocean from here is breathtaking, especially around the sunset time. There is a swimming pool inside Ku-De-Ta, which looks very beautiful when the sky turns orange before it gets dark. Not just the bar, but even the beach right outside this place gave us many photo opportunities.
Here’s a picture of the bar and swimming pool inside Ku-De-Ta:

The below three pictures were shot right outside Ku-De-Ta. Look how beautiful this spot looks when sun goes down.

A post shared by Genta (@gnta) on

And this!

A post shared by Najii (@najii66) on

A post shared by Prasad Np (@desitraveler) on

Have you ever been to Bali? If so, I would love to know about your favorite photo spots, so please do let me know in the comments.

 

10 Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy
Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy
Beautiful Spots in Bali

Disclaimer: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to their beautiful country but as always, all thoughts in this article are mine.

Sleeping in a tree house in Sri Lanka.. in the middle of the forest!

Sleeping in a tree house in Sri Lanka.. in the middle of the forest!

You must have noticed pictures of a cute tree house in Sri Lanka on my Instagram page and noticed how I couldn’t stop raving about it. Well, it’s time to share more details because seriously, that tree house was the BEST place that I ever got to sleep. If you have visited Sri Lanka or have seen pictures, I’m sure by know by now how amazing the forest area is! Well, we wanted to experience it firsthand and wanted to stay in the middle of the jungle. After days of searching for the perfect place, we eventually found it on a website called Glamping Hub. Wait, what is Glamping Hub?

About Glamping Hub

Glamping Hub is a website that has a collection of thousands of tree houses, tipis, caravans, luxury tents and unique outdoor accommodations all over the world! In fact, I was shocked to see that this website also has luxurious forest stays near my own Delhi!

Find a tree house on Glamping Hub

Find a tree house on Glamping Hub

If you’re looking for a tree house too, you can visit this website and click on “Collections” and put your country of preference in location section to see a collection. I found 65 in India; let me know how many you find in your country of preference.

About Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

The name of the place where we stayed is Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela and it’s near Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is perhaps one of the most famous destinations of Sri Lanka. An image of Sigiriya Rock is used as a cover page of most of the travel books and articles about Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is famous for its ruins that are on top of a massive “Lion Rock” with lion like paws at the base.

View of the famous Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala rock

View of the famous Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala rock

If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, chances are you’re going to want to visit Sigiriya. If you do, I strongly suggest you stay at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela because there is a lot to do here and you will not want to get out. It’s a nature retreat that’s secluded with unspoilt wilderness around. Yes, it’s completely off the grid!

Read: 13 Essential Travel Tips for Sri Lanka

The Forest around Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Honestly, I have seen many places that claim to be in forest but are just jungle themed resorts. I was so happy to see that the area around Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela is a real forest. Its 30 minutes drive away from main Sigiriya and on our way here, we spotted a few wild elephants because it’s in the middle of dense rainforest. The drive from Sigiriya town to this place felt like a jungle safari.

Inside Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Streams, calcium deosits and waterfall - all inside Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela

Streams, calcium deosits and waterfall – all inside Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela

I have never seen a property that’s as big as this. They have 7 acres of land in the middle of the forest and they have barely utilized 1 acre. Its very beautiful because inside there are a few ponds with lotus flowers, two streams, little waterfalls and a few huge boulders that are so big that you can climb them like hills. If you hike around the streams, you can also see calcium deposits. Needless to say, we did spot a few exotic birds, colorful butterflies, and iguanas inside. Oh and don’t forget that we saw elephants just right outside while we were on our way here! We did however see fresh elephant footprints here but never saw them inside during the day.

Our Tree house

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

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

Nothing can compare to the experience of sleeping in a tree house in the middle of a jungle. We could hear the sounds of the forest at night and wished we could record those. In fact, what’s even better is waking up to the sounds of birds chirping and singing their sweet songs.

We stayed in the oldest tree house at this property – the Kon tree house. It was build by the locals many years back when they wanted to sleep safely and away from the path of wild elephants. This tree house is very cute, cozy and romantic. We had to climb three flights of wooden stairs to reach it. Inside this tree house, was a large bed with mosquito net, bedside drawer and electricity plug socket.

Inside our tree house in Sri Lanka at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Inside our tree house in Sri Lanka at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Yes, its open from all the sides which made the experience of sleeping here truly memorable. The only thing that was protecting us from the wilderness was the height of this tree house and the mosquito net around our bed.

Listening to the sounds of forest at night in our tree house in Sri Lanka

Listening to the sounds of forest at night in our tree house in Sri Lanka

Right under this tree house was our massive room with a sitting area and an open-air bathroom. While the tree house had a very simple and “real forest” feel; the room under it was elaborate and luxurious. We were only two, but an entire family of 5 – 6 people can stay here considering the size of our tree house and attached room.

The tree houses at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela are sturdy and were built way before “tree house themed resorts” became a fad. All the tree houses here appeared to be different and we even saw one that had their own living room.

Natural Fish Spa – free!

Natural Fish Spa in Back of Beyind, Dehigaha Ela

Natural Fish Spa in Back of Beyind, Dehigaha Ela

Ever tried a fish spa? If you have tried one in Thailand where you have to put your feet in the middle of a tub full of hungry fishes, then I bet you would have hated it. I did too! Trust me when I say this but the experience is very different and pleasant when the process is natural. In Back of Beyond, they have several streams and there are spots where you can sit and put your feet in water while these “spa fishes” gently nib your skin!

At first I couldn’t stop giggling because it was ticklish but soon I relaxed and let myself get lost in the beauty of nature. San and I ended up sitting here for hours watching the waterfall, trees and everything around. Never in my life I thought something like a foot spa could be a romantic experience, but it was. Needless to say, our feet were looking very pretty by the end of our stay, haha.

Nature Trail Hike

This cute little yellow bird sand beautiful songs every morning

This cute little yellow bird is called Black-Hooded Oriole. It sang beautiful songs for us every morning

I can’t stress enough how big this property is and there is a lot do here that will keep you busy and you will not want to get out. We did multiple hikes on our own along the stream but decided to do a nature trail hike on one of the mornings. The hike started at 7:30 am and was led by Kasun.

He told us a lot of history about the area and Back of beyond. We were amazed to know that Back of Beyond has taken an initiative for reforestation in Sri Lanka. Their conservation efforts are outstanding and in all of their properties, they take great care to learn the ways of the land before they start building cottages and tree houses to minimize disruption to any of the existing natural patterns of the land and its life. They also practice rainwater collection and have created mini lakes for storing excess rainwater that provides water to the wildlife during dry seasons. They also have solar powered electricity for each cottage at the property. Moreover, they really know the area well and have also published a book called “Sigiriya and Beyond” with pictures and information of places in and around Sigiriya that no guidebook will tell you about.

We were also amazed to know that in this same property, a few things of archeological importance were found that are currently in Sigiriya museum. In fact, at the end of the hike we climbed on a boulder and saw markings of treasure that was hidden here but was dug out many years back. From this boulder, we also saw an amazing bird’s eye view of the forest around us. San and I jokingly called it “Mini World’s End”.

San and I at the end of our nature trail hike

San and I at the end of our nature trail hike

Apart from learning about the history and the environment, we also got to see many interesting species of insects, birds and trees which made our hike both fun and educational at the same time.

Other Activities

Hiking along the stream at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Hiking along the stream at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

There is so much to do in and around this property, that you can easily spend a week here without getting bored. We hiked along the stream, swam in the water, saw calcium deposits, spotted a massive water monitor lizard and ended up reaching an open field with peacocks!

San swimming in a natural pool in the middle of the forest

San swimming in a natural pool in the middle of the forest

Sadly we were not at this place for as long as we wanted and couldn’t be a part of every single activities that they offer. You can also hike through a nearby village where you eat with the locals. Moreover, they can also arrange bird watching trips and cycling trips to the main Sigiriya city where you can visit the famous Sigiriya Rock and Pidurangala rock.

Delicious Food

Back of Beyond may be in the middle of the forest, but is a luxurious retreat. They have a massive dining area that overlooks the ponds. We have memories of spending hours here and eating delicious meals. The quantity is surely more than we could handle but San took it as a challenge to finish everything on his plate, haha!

Our breakfast at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Our breakfast at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

For our first breakfast, we had an elaborate fruit salad, eggs, toast and sausages. On our second day, we got to eat South Indian breakfast of Dosa and sambar. Of course the meals were served with coffee and tea. I really like the Sri Lankan coffee here, which reminded me of Turkish coffee. Our dinner was excellent too and the portions were massive. We ate curry, rice, dal, chicken, fried rice and a unique dessert that was a mix of yogurt and a maple syrup kind of a liquid.

The staff is very attentive and sweet. They really pampered us and made us feel like royalty.

If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, then please do yourself a place and spend a few days at Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela. To know more or to book your own tree house, you can click on the link. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a few elephants and won’t have to spend on expensive national park entry fee plus the jeep safari costs. You can get a lot of Sri Lankan bucket list activities checked off by just staying here!

 

Swimming in the stream around our tree house in Sri Lanka
Sleeping in a tree house in Sri Lanka
That one time we slept in a tree house in Sri Lanka

So, have you stayed in a tree house too? Let me know in comments!

11 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lisbon

11 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lisbon

Ola Lisbon, I am hopelessly in love with you! Can I be yours forever?

There are two kinds of people in this world – those who have never been to Lisbon and those who are in love with Lisbon. I belong to the latter group.

My love affair with Lisbon started in August 2016, when I spent a few days being swept off my feet in this charming city. I am not a big fan of metropolitans but Lisbon will always hold a special place in my heart, and that’s why Expedia.com asked me to share my favorite things about the city

If you’ve been living in a cave and don’t know about Lisbon, then let me introduce this place to you. Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. As per Condé Nast Traveler, Lisbon is the most underrated city in Europe because it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Anyway, here is why I fell in love with Lisbon, and you will too:

Here’s why you will fall in love with Lisbon, Portugal

01 | Everything is Beautiful, even the dustbins

View of old town Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal

Just a random corner in Lisbon with an amazing view – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Believe it or not, every spot in Lisbon is worth a picture. From metro stations to cobbled streets, everything is a delight to the eye. The city has a lot of history, which is evident in pretty much every corner here. Most of the buildings look very old, well kept and loved. Not just walls, but also ceilings are adorned with patterns of beautifully painted ceramic tiles called azulejos. Of course the city has many museums but in my opinion, the entire city of Lisbon is like one big museum in itself.

02 | Weather

Me enjoying Lisbon's warm weather - Falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Me enjoying Lisbon’s warm weather – Falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

No matter how beautiful a place is, but a visit when the weather is bad can limit your options. I have traveled to many places in Europe and there have been days when I couldn’t explore as much as I wanted because of too much rain. Lisbon is one of the very few destinations in Europe and the world where the weather is pleasant throughout the year. In fact, Visit Lisboa introduces this city as “where the sun shines 290 days a year”, which was an important factor for me to enjoy its beauty. After traveling around for a few months in Europe, I finally got a chance to comfortably wear flip-flops and shorts without a worry in Lisbon’s warm weather.

03 | Happiness is everywhere

Just some happy people in Lisbon - in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Just some happy people in Lisbon – in love with Lisbon, Portugal

There are many reasons why I love Lisbon but one of the first ones that hit me was how happy everyone around me was. It started at the airport where I met world’s most cheerful immigration officer who made us smile. As soon as we got out, a smiling local helped us with Metropolitano de Lisboa, the internal rail. Perhaps it’s the weather but Lisbon is where I met the happiest people in Europe, if not the world! Their smiles were contagious and I felt happier than I had felt in the last few months of traveling while I was here.

04 | Public Transport, especially Tram 28

Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal - falling in love with Lisbon

Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal – falling in love with Lisbon

It is very easy to get around in Lisbon because of its network of metro trains and trams. Yes, these metro trains and trams are beautiful but are very convenient too! My favorite is the iconic bright yellow Tram 28, which goes through Lisbon’s old towns of Alfama, Graça, and Baixa. You can use this tram as a cheap hop on, hop off alternative because it moves through the city’s famous and interesting sites. Even though this tram is usually very crowded with tourists, a ride on it is worth it.

05 | Pretty Streets and Street Art

One of the many pretty streets in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

One of the many pretty streets in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Of course, I have mentioned how beautiful Lisbon is in the first point, but I feel the streets deserve an extra mention. Even if you don’t go to the famous landmarks in Lisbon, walking down its pretty streets is sure to win your heart. For me, the most enjoyable part of being in Lisbon was exploring these streets that were lined with pretty buildings and roadside cafes with chairs on the pavements.

Lisbon Street Art - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Street Art – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

A lot of streets in Lisbon are hilly because of which you can see the view of many other streets that are further up ahead. Also, Lisbon’s streets have a cobbled floor, which gives the city a very weathered down and old look. If things couldn’t get better, there’s street art everywhere! Some of the artwork and murals were so big that they stretched to the entire lengths of buildings.

06 | Old Town Alfama

A beautiful street Old town Alfama in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

A beautiful street Old town Alfama in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

No travel article about Lisbon is complete without mentioning Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama. With Tejo River on one side and São Jorge Castle on the other, Alfama is the icing on the cake of Lisbon’s beauty. You don’t really need a city guide for Lisbon or research about where to go, just visit Alfama. Here you will some of Lisbon’s most beautiful streets, museums and cathedrals. In earlier times, mostly the fishermen and Lisbon’s poorest families lived here, which is evident in the small houses here. Oh and also, Lisbon Cathedral, which is the city’s oldest church, is in Alfama.

07 | Many Viewpoints

View of Lisbon from Christo Rei - Falling in love with Lison, Portugal

View of Lisbon from Christo Rei – Falling in love with Lison, Portugal

Did you know that Lisbon is built on seven hills? The fact that Lisbon is a hilly city, adds another dimension to the beauty and charm of the city because these hills provide extraordinary viewpoints. I found many viewpoints here but my favorite one was on top of Cristo Rei, which overlooks Lisbon’s red-roofed houses, sea, and the famous Vasco de Gama Bridge. Another interesting viewpoint was from Castle of São Jorge, which overlooks the old town of Alfama.

08 | So much color!

Colors of Old Town Alfama - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Colors of Old Town Alfama – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal – photo by skitterphoto

I will be honest; Lisbon appeared to be mostly red and white at first glance because of the houses. However, as I explored the city further, it turned out to be one of the most vibrant European cities because of the brightly colored tiles, street art, and trams. Many houses and buildings are painted in pastel shades of yellow or blue and a few of them in pink. These pastel tones are soothing to the eye in Lisbon’s warm weather and accentuate the happy vibe of this city.

09 | Egg tarts or Pastel de nata

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

“If you go to Lisbon, do eat the egg tarts”.

As soon as we announced our Lisbon trip on social media, not one, but at least 10 different people suggested we try the famous egg tarts here. I’m glad they did because these little mildly sweet pastries are heavenly! These tarts are sold literally everywhere for usually €1 or €2 and are perfect for a light breakfast with coffee.

Little did I know that these egg tarts that are locally called Pastel de nata, have a little history of their own! Catholic Monks created them before the 18th century using the leftover egg yolks. While a lot of monasteries closed down after the Liberal Revolution in 1820, the monks for a little income sold these. A few years later, the secret recipe was sold to a sugar refinery, that in turn opened the famous Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém which still exists in Lisbon today.

10 | Amazing Nightlife

If things couldn’t get better, Lisbon has an amazing nightlife. During my visit here, I visited Bairro Alto district, where there was a nightclub after every few steps. It’s amazing meeting locals as well as other travelers in these clubs where there is a party every day. I may not have a picture of this, but it was enough to make me fall in love with Lisbon even more.

11 | Affordable

Traveling in Europe is expensive but Lisbon is an exception. In my experience, the accommodation was the most affordable in Europe, which is a big deal because that’s a huge chunk of traveling cost. We found a few bakeries and cafes where snacks were as low as 1 or 2 Euros.

This kebab burger was only for a euro and a half - Lisbon, Portugal

This kebab burger was only for a euro and a half – Lisbon, Portugal

This little burger styled chicken kebab sandwich was for 1.5 Euro. Moreover, we often found shops that were owned by Indian, Nepalese and Chinese families that were selling everyday things for as cheap as 1 Euro. I bought a pair of flip-flops, headlight and hand fan in one of these one Euro shops.

 

Colorful Alfama in Lisbon - Falling in Love with Lisbon, Portugal
One of the many viewpoints in Lisbon - in love with Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon's legendary yellow tram - tram 28 - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

History, culture, food, art, beaches and nightlife – Lisbon has it all. The city has so much beauty, love, and happiness that I just did not want to leave.

Want to know more?

I will also share a guide with things to do in Lisbon, which will come in handy if you’re visiting my favorite European destination anytime soon.

So, are you ready to fall in love with Lisbon?

10 Awesome Things to Do in Budapest

10 Awesome Things to Do in Budapest

This is a guest post by Eva Green

Budapest will simply leave you spellbound, especially if it’s your first visit. Even if you are going to the favorite city on the European continent for the nth time, you will always come across a new adventure and new things to see and do in Budapest. The famous place offers one the choice and freedom of enjoying their vacation the way they want. There are island parks, funky shops to explore or dig at the delicious local cuisine as well as countless other ways to spend some memorable time. You can hang out with the local Hungarians in the afternoon sipping coffee to save your energy for the nightlife. What do your fancy? Well, if you are still confused, here are some of the top and awesome things to do while in Budapest:

 

01 | Cruise on the Danube River

Budapest simply looks stunning by night as you stand on the banks of the Danube and watch the city lights reflect on the dark waters. Do not miss the chance to take a sightseeing cruise at night. Enjoy the long ride made even more special with the buffet-style dinner. There are one hour sightseeing cruises available for just the evening and those are highly recommended. As you cruise along the river, you come across lush vineyards and ancient castles. Embark on fascinating journeys through sleepy river towns and cities. Look for convenience, comfort and exquisite cuisine on your cruise.

 

02 | Thermal bath

Budapest has made a reputation of sorts as the “City of Spas” and for some good reasons. Get the quintessential Budapest experience at those baths, which are known as “fürdok” and are warmed by natural springs. Ask for the steam rooms and massage services. Different baths around the city supply to different preferences and one can look forward to complete relaxation or look for cures for illness. Széchenyi Baths in City Park and Gellért Baths are amongst the most popular baths. Most of the thermal baths remain open at night during the weekend but there are fewer baths for male- and female-only days. The temperatures can range from warm to hot and carry steam rooms and saunas as well as and rooms for massage.

 

03 | Dohány Street Synagogue

This is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Referred to as Dohány Street Synagogue, the synagogue opened in 1859 and carries historical significance. The place of worship features Moorish Revival architecture and has a connection to the Holocaust. A pro-Nazi party between 1944 and 1945 bombed it. Do not forget to visit the connecting Hungarian Jewish Museum to learn more about the Hungarian Judaism as well as pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial Temple in the courtyard.

 

04 | Wine Tasting in Hungary

Tourists and travelers never get tired of exploring the 22 wine regions of Hungary. Just beneath Buda Castle is the Faust Wine Cellar, which is part of the extensive labyrinth system. The cellar supplies only the very best wines in the region. Moreover, the very romantic setting of the cellar will leave you relaxed, and this is the right way to understand and sour the rich Hungarian wine.

 

05 | Hungarian State Opera House

Miklós Ybl designed the Location of Hungarian State Opera House in 1884, and this historic building is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. Decorated with statues of muses and adorned with opera greats such as Mozart, Liszt, Puccini and Verdi, the interiors will leave you dazzled with marble columns, chandeliers, and gilded vaulted ceilings. The near-perfect acoustics make for an astounding performance and make you keep coming back for more.

 

06 | Fisherman’s Bastion

Located on the Castle Hill, the Fisherman’s Bastion offers a panoramic views of the city. You are sure to get blown away by those views as you explore the fairytale-like structure and the seven ornate turrets. The seven turrents represent the tents of the seven Magyar tribe leaders and their settlement on the Carpathian Basin, which ultimately led to the development of modern-day Hungary.

 

07 | Parliament Building

Hungarian Parliament Building was completed in 1904, and it remains one of the most famous landmarks in Budapest. The building’s architecture reminds one of the Gothic Revival styles and carries a national significance. Travelers come mainly to have a look at the beautiful statues and paintings. This is a prominent symbol of independence and democracy of the nation.

 

08 | Shopping at the Central Market Hall

The Central Market Hall is the biggest indoor market in Budapest. It was constructed in the 19th century and its focus is chiefly on Hungarian products. You will find the popular Hungarian sausages and Hungarian paprika selling on the first floor along with fresh vegetables and fruits. If you are looking forward to enjoy some inexpensive and traditional Hungarian lunch, than you are sure to find it here at Central Market Hall. Look for traditional Hungarian embroidery and souvenirs on the second floor.

 

09 | Matthias Church

Matthias Church has been around for centuries and portrays the Romanesque-style architecture. The Church was built in the 13th century and is the first parish church. However, during the 1541 occupation by the Turkish rulers, it was changed into a mosque and remained an Islamic place of worship for the following 150 years, until Turkish expulsion. Tourists admire its imposing architecture and marvel at the historical symbolism as well as the impressive artwork.

 

10 | Caving under Budapest

The rushing and soothing thermal waters of the famous baths of Budapest have created a huge cave system that is believed to be more than100 kilometers long. Get ready to go under and dirty and don on your overalls, helmets, and headlamps to worm your way through tight crevices as you cross some of the longest cave of Hungary. Mátyás-hegyi cave tour can easily last for about three hours. Do enjoy the adventurous activity through natural parts of the cave.

The above-listed sites and locations are a must-see for any visitor’s first trip to Budapest. Have you visited Budapest already and have some of your own tips to share? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

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