A foodie's guide to Sri Lanka
A new adventure on every plate.
From its pristine beaches to lush rainforest, Sri Lanka’s diverse landscape and culture have made it an increasingly popular destination for Australian tourists.
RACQ Travel Consultant Cassia Fay recently travelled to Sri Lanka to take part in Intrepid Travel’s Real Food Adventure tour.
“The tour was a full loop of Sri Lanka, starting in Negombo, just north of the capital city Columbo,” Cassia said.
“The trip focused on going into local people’s homes, seeing how they lived and what they cook for dinner.”
Cassia’s trip highlights:
From Negombo Cassia headed inland to Dambulla to climb Sigiriya, also known as Lion’s Rock, the most-visited tourist destination in Sri Lanka.
“Climbing Sigiriya is a bucket list item for many people but it’s not for the fainthearted,” Cassia said.
A fortress was established on the 200m high rock in 300BC and has since served as a palace and Buddhist monastery.
“It’s a big climb but once you get to the to the amazing views over the countryside are worth it,” Cassia said.
Cassia visited the tea plantations in Bandarawela to experience a day in the life of a plantation worker.
“The beauty of the tea plantation and seeing how the tea leaves were turned into all the different blends and sitting down to have the tea was something I really enjoyed,” she said.
“We were in the fields with the local tea pickers who showed us how to pick the leaves the right way.”
“Going into the processing plant showed us how they actually sift through the tea leaves to decide which ones are going to be used for which blend.
“As a tea drinker, it was really interesting to see where it comes from.”
Spending time in a local’s home gave Cassia insight into how Sri Lankan people live.
“The focus was local ingredients sourced from people’s farms helping them to make it in their own homes,” she said. “The local people were so humble and welcoming.
“We were eating what the people had in their gardens or at their farms that was easily accessible.
“A lot of the food is curry and vegetarian but when we travelled further south to the coast at Mirissa we found more seafood.
“Sri Lankan’s are all about spices, so every dish is so flavourful and fragrant – you come home wanting to add more spices to your cooking.”
Relaxing on Mirissa beach was on Cassia’s bucket list.
“Mirissa is not very well known and sits between the more popular tourist areas of Galle and Bentota,” she said.
“It was literally palm-fringed white sand beaches and the water was warm – it was heavenly.
“I took so many photos of the coastline – it was so idyllic.”
Cassia’s top tips for travel in Sri Lanka
- Take cash as EFTPOS is not widely accepted and there are few working ATMs outside the larger cities.
- Dress modestly with covered shoulders and skirts or pants that fall below the knee. Long sleeves and pants may be required when visiting religious sites.
- Take good walking or hiking shoes.
- Drink bottled water as tap water isn’t safe to drink.