It is about time that we start planning to bring in the New Year. Sri Lanka is a country that has mesmerised us here at Eccentrips. You may remember other posts about the country like the one about places where the Hindu epic Ramayana comes alive. The Pearl of the Emerald Isle, as it is known, is a destination for all seasons. With its swaying palms, Buddhist serenity and azure seas; its growing popularity post the civil war comes as no surprise.
Despite its growing popularity, Sri Lanka still isn’t over-run by tourists. And you know what? It won’t nearly have half the crowd as Goa, Thailand or Ibiza, your regular New Year’s eve destinations. Well of course, if you are looking for the wildest parties on the planet, then Sri Lanka isn’t hosting them, yet. But if you are looking for smaller gigs, a little relaxation, some introspection and good conversations; then the island country just might be what you need.
Even within the island country some destinations are more popular than the others. Like Negombo, Hikkaduwa and Arugam Bay are on the list of most backpackers to the country. But staying true to our promise we are going to focus on the lesser known destinations which can make for a fab end to the year in Sri Lanka. So here we go…
Jungle Beach, Unawatuna:
If I could I would be here for this New Year’s eve(and hundred other places). This beach close to Galle and Unawatuna offers some spectacular views. The beach with an interesting name is a narrow stretch and right over the hillock is the Peace Pagoda. The Pagoda offers some of the best views the country has to offer.
The hillock has a couple of hostels and cottages, and is great for long walks amidst greenery. Though it attracts a lot of the local crowd, it is still not as busy as Negombo or some other places close to the capital,Colombo.
Kandy may seem like an unlikely destination for New Year’s. But allow me to make a case for it.
This capital of the erstwhile Kandian kingdom is pretty much the highlight of Sri Lanka’s hill country. Surrounded by hills and the countryside, homestays in and around Kandy are a great way to reconnect with family, friends or your partner. While it may not be the party capital(quite far from it), many would love to start the New Year with a touch of spirituality and serene sights.
And when it comes to that, Kandy’s tooth temple and the lake hardly have any competition within Sri Lanka.
During our travels. we stayed at Priyanthi’s home stay and were bowled over by the gracious couple’s kindness and hospitality. Here is their Airbnb listing, look them up if you are planning a visit to Kandy.
Not very far from Kandy is Ella at the southern edge of Sri Lanka’s hill country. In fact, a few hours of a scenic train ride from Kandy will get you to this backpacker haven. With treks, waterfalls and caves, it is a place for the young and the active. The town lives up to its reputation with a street that is lined with restaurants and cafes. It seems like travelers outnumber locals in this town.
If you are looking for some like-minded company, then Ella is a good place to search for it. And evenings looking at the sloping farms with the local Lion beer in hand, is a nice way to spend time. Ask us, we’ve already done that.
Both Mannar mainland and its namesake island lie towards the north-west of Sri Lanka. Thalaimannar on the island of Mannar is separated by India only by 30 kms. Beyond the geographical specialty, Mannar region has great natural sights to offer, a beautiful Dutch fort and an old, dilapidated pier.
If you want to, you can also go up to the second island with one of the fishermen from Adam’s beach. It is said that these islands are a part of Adam’s bridge or Rama Sethu(Rama’s bridge). A ride to the islands has the ability to bring together geography, history and mythology. Not a bad way to start the New Year, right?
Picture courtesy: Leisure Travels and Tours
Galle, the old fortified city in South-Western Sri Lanka is probably the most popular destination for travelers. So it should come as no surprise that it is on this list. Just that most travelers do not think of it as a New Year’s destination. But with its beautiful light house, quaint streets and relaxed atmosphere, it will make a great place to bid the year good bye.
This magic region falls on the eastern coast of the country, and is embedded with beautiful lagoons and slow swaying palms. We spent amazing couple of days cycling around Batti(as the locals call it). If slow travel, lagoons and beaches are your thing; then Batti offers all of that. And since mass tourism still hasn’t taken off, you will still feel like the first few people to have got here.
And if you are ready for the risk, park yourself on Kallady bridge on new year’s night and pray that you hear them. I am referring to the ‘Singing fish of Batticoloa’. Over the years, these sounds have diminished, but if you are lucky on a starry night you can still listen to the musical notes of fishes that have guided fishermen in the lagoon for years. Not many can boast that they brought in the New Year with fish singing to them, right? May be you could.
The shallow waters of Nilaveli and Uppuveli beaches make for a great setting. It doesn’t matter if you are partying late into the last night of the year or waking up early for a swim on the New Year’s first day. These beaches are perfect for families with kids, especially toddlers.
That Trincomalee is a natural harbour with an old fort and beautiful temples, must tempt you even more to make this your new year destination.
Colombo for New Year’s eve? Yes!
Yes, Colombo. Sri Lanka’s capital and the most urbanised region in the country is skipped by most travelers for other more touristic destinations. But my reason for including and concluding the list with Colombo is pretty personal. And that is Colombo City Hostel.
This place was literally our home when we spent a month traveling in Sri Lanka chasing eccentric stories. Ranil and Mohan, the guys who run this brand of hostels are the two of the most interesting people you will meet on the island. They also know how to get a party started, Ranil with his enthusiasm and Mohan with his easy going ways. And probably because of that some of the coolest travelers also end up here. So if you are in Sri Lanka for new years and cannot decide where to go, drop into Colombo City Hostel. There is bound to be one hell of a party.
Well, the caveat is that I am not sure if Ranil and Mohan themselves will be in town. They might be downing shots somewhere else, but the hostel, I am certain, will still put up a good show.
So, ready to move your New Year plans to a new and, shall I say, a better destination?
If you can’t make up your mind, ask your questions in the comments and we will help you 🙂