Insight /

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Local life and cultural highs

Sri Lanka’s one of our favourite all-rounder destinations, thanks to its winning blend of timeless ruins, roaming wildlife, verdant tea-country landscapes and palm-fringed shores. Yet despite all of those elements, it’s often memories of its people which linger longest with visitors.

Authentic Sri Lanka

We have curated a series of activities to help you experience local lifestyles and culture through face-to-face engagement. Now you can take tea with a monk, teach a class in a rural school or get up close and personal with an elephant to experience Sri Lanka through the eyes of its people.

The Lowdown

  • Getting there

    SriLankan Airlines fly the 10.5-hour direct route to Colombo, plus there are good-value indirect options.

  • When to go

    Sri Lanka’s practically a year-round destination, though weather varies from region to region, season to season.

  • Combine With

    The Maldives’ idyllic atolls are just an hour away, ideal for some post-adventure downtime.

    Meet A Monk

    Alms-giving to monks has been a sacred tradition in Sri Lanka since time immemorial. Considered to ensure long life, participation in this ritual also therefore offers a unique insight into local customs.

    On a wooded mountainside deep within the Cultural Triangle’s Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve lie the mysterious restored ruins of a forest monastery. After exploring this extensive cave complex, you’ll get to meet a group of forest-dwelling hermit monks and serve them one of their two daily meals.

    Accompanied by a local family and your guide, who acts as translator, you’ll dish up fragrant plates to the holy men while engaging in conversation. Find out how they came to be monks and learn about their day-to-day lives in this area, where solitude-seekers have settled since the 3rd century.

    Elephant Encounter

    Elephants are synonymous with Sri Lankan culture. Working closely with our local partners, we’re now able to offer intimate and exclusive ‘tusker’ encounters for those seeking closer contact provided ethically.

    You set off from Dambulla, again within the Cultural Triangle region, to a remote village beside the Kandalama Reservoir. From here you’re whisked aboard a waiting catamaran for the short journey to Kap Ela, to be greeted upon arrival by the wondrous sight of two tamed elephants bathing.

    There’s not another soul in sight aside from their mahouts, who’ll invite you to help wash their charges using coconut husks. After scrubbing the elephants’ rough skin, you’ll then treat them to some tropical fruits in a pachyderm pampering session before enjoying a refreshing king coconut yourself under shady trees.

    Village Cricket

    Where better than Sri Lanka to enjoy a crash course in cricket? We can arrange a friendly game with the locals of a rural village.

    Your experience begins by meeting a villager in their own home, who’ll hook you up with all the necessary equipment. Then you’ll head out for a knock-around as the locals display their ‘A’ game, and spectators gather to cheer teams on. After the match, ice creams are served and we donate the sports equipment to the local children.

    Get Spicy

    Spend the day learning how to cook a traditional Sinhalese meal at a beautiful, private paddy island just north of Galle, close to the palm-fringed south coast.

    The cooking staff, all from surrounding villages, will first take you to the local markets. Here is delivered an introduction to lesser-known ingredients such as bitter gourd and wing beans, before you pick up turmeric, cinnamon and other staples from brimming buckets.

    You’ll then make your way to the serene surrounds of the open-air kitchen to prepare an authentic Sri Lankan lunch overlooking the rice paddies. Scrape coconuts to extract the all-important milk, and grind vegetable and herbs using a typical stone slab. Later, enjoy the fruits of your labour by tucking into aromatic curries and coconut sambols at an al fresco dining pavilion.