LAHORE-If anyone ever asked me what my lifelong wish was, I would definitely say it was ‘the whole world’ to travel. I went through my Instragram to travel in the best countries and suddenly decided to make a short trip to Asia-Sri Lanka for nine days.

After a gruelling five- hour flight from Pakistan, Lahore, I landed slightly past noon at Colombo International Airport and immediately set out to explore the sites of interest.

Sri Lanka has a combination of ancient and modern culture that coexists in harmony. Despite the drastic modernization, however, it remains one of the region's most traditional cities.

Kindness and inspiration are two of the things I have personally found in Sri Lanka 's people. It's a country with a high pace, of course, but I would like to say that there are definitely places to go when you want to relax.

When you board Srilankan airline, you are welcomed with a warm ‘Ayubowan’ (May you live long) just as the charismatic people of Sri Lanka would invite you to their homes.

On board Sri Lankan airlines, it is easy to forget that you are 30,000 feet in the air, because no matter what class you fly, every passenger receives unobtrusive and individual attention.

Complimentary drinks, imported wines and an elegant choice of main dishes from the finest of Europe to the most spicy of Asia are served in an elegant manner.

Unlike Hong Kong or Singapore, Sri Lanka has not succumbed to the grim westernization. The Lankans value their heritage very much, and this is why tourists from around the world prefer to visit their country.

Sri Lanka definitely has its time in the equatorial sun, and change is rapidly coming. This country is revived because of its mixture of religions and culture, its timeless temples, its rich and accessible wildlife, its growing surfing scene and its people who challenge all odds with their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict.

A few months ago, the whole tourism and hospitality trade, in particular, and the general population of Sri Lanka , were pleasantly surprised and proud that the Lonely Planet Publishers considered the small island of Sri Lanka the best country to visit in 2019.

Colombo

Colombo has a lazy charm of the bygone era combined with modern verve and vivaciousness. It's a lively town with a cosmopolitan culture. It's the meeting place for beaches in South Sri Lanka . It is the ultimate entertainment hub with a spectacular view over the Indian Ocean, the amazing elegance of the casino will always remain in your memory as one of the most creative masterpieces Sri Lanka has to offer in terms of hospitality and entertainment.

National museum Colombo

Colombo National Museum was founded in 1877 and is the country's biggest museum. The museum displays the natural and cultural heritage to the tourists. The place is very informative and gives you a better representation of the country's history and culture since ancient times.

The museum is an Italian architecture colonial type mansion which was founded by British governor of Ceylon at that time, Sir William Henry Gregory. It also maintains a library that has a vast collection of rare historical books and chronicles of history lovers.

Pettah

The Pettah, which was earlier on the outer fringe of the fort, is the busiest shopping bazaar in the city. Tourists from around the world come here to buy clothes, bags, crafts and electronic gadgets.

Light house

A landmark at fort Colombo is the clock tower light house, a legacy of British colonists. It carried out the dual task of being a beacon of ship sin in the Indian Ocean for almost 100 years while keeping time. You can enjoy the view of the ocean by standing at that place and get photographed with its stunning view behind.

Gangaramaya Buddhist temple

There are quite well known temples in Colombo, but the famous one worldwide is Gangaramaya. The temple has an interesting collection of Buddha statues and God figures from Buddhist countries around the world.

The beautiful arch of the dragon at the entrance to the temple is decorated with various events in the life of the Buddha. The exterior of the temple is decorated courageously with elaborate designs and golden decorations. The temple is famous for its splendid architecture and statues of Sri Lanka , China, Thailand, Burma and other artistic styles. So if you're in Colombo, it's a must-see.

Independence memorial hall

Every architectural square inch of this monument is filled with lavish symbols of islands rich history and political freedom. At the entrance to the building is an imposing statue of D.S. Senanayake, Srilanka’s first prime minister, surrounded by four menacing stone lions with protruding eyes. The independence hall is the ideal choice for those who are looking for a fast and relaxing city gateway.

Tuk-Tuk

Tuk-tuk’s can be found anywhere in the city. Colombo and a number of other major tourist destinations have metered Tuk-tuks, which start on average from Rs 40 per km, but if you make a package with them they will get you explore the whole Colombo in LKR 2,000, within a day. ‘Uber’ and ‘Pick me’ are the best apps in Sri Lanka to order your ride at a reasonable price.

Mount Lavina Beach

With a large sandy foreshore mountain Lavina beach is the ideal place for a relaxing and peaceful holiday. The majority of tourists in Srilanka go to the southern coastal beach destinations, mainly in Colombo. Each destination has developed its own distinctive character and features, all of which are easily accessible from the capital. The beach is usually full of life. There are also high end restaurants such as Lavinia breeze, long feng, steamboat and many more.

Jami Ul- Alfar Mosque

The Red Mosque of Sri Lanka , or Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid, is one of the world's architectural wonders. Located in the busy district of Pettah, one of the oldest parts of Colombo, its tall minarets can be seen from almost every street, overlooking the busy streets of the neighborhood. The mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo and a popular tourist site in the city. So if you are in Colombo don’t miss the chance to visit it.

KANDY

After two days of visiting Colombo, I went to the mountain town of Kandy. Designated a World Heritage Site, Kandy is one of the most sacred places for Buddhist followers with Tooth Temple being one of the major attractions.

The King of Sinhala was only able to keep this part of the island free of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists, although it was finally annexed in 1815 by the Britons. It is also the old capital of Sri Lanka when Kings ruled this country.

I booked a guesthouse which was located on the rich green slopes. Overall Kandy was a great place to experience Sri Lankan culture and cuisine surrounded by a beautiful natural environment. Its botanical garden is a place worth seeing.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

A two and a half hour drive through the lovely countryside of Sri Lanka takes you to Pinnawala. Your first stop at the Oya River will be to watch the elephants swim and socialize. You can buy a LKR 3000 ticket and get an elephant ride there.

So, be sure to bring a camera and capture the beauty and antics of these majestic animals. In the afternoon, see the elephants from closer-up and watch some of the older or smaller being fed. 

Geragama Tea Factory

The Geragama Tea Factory is a time travel experience on the road from Colombo to Kandy. Not much has changed since the establishment of the factory in 1903. You can take a guided tour through the operational areas and see how tea is processed, from newly harvested green leaves to high-quality dried and graded tea ready for use. At the end of your visit there is a lovely degustation room where you can sample and buy tea.

Nuwara Eliya

This genteel highland community, often referred to as ‘New England’, has a rose- tinted, vaguely British- country- village feel, with colonial bungalows, Tudor- style hotels, well- kept hedgerows and beautiful gardens.

Some of the main festivities include golf tournaments, horse racing, motor crossing, clay pigeon shooting and carnival. With thousands of local tourists flocking to Nuwara Eliya, hotels and guest houses offering budget accommodation during the season and reducing accommodation options are being filled by foreign tourists.

Gregory Lake Nuwara Eliya

Lake Gregory, which covers an area of 91,2 hectares, was built by the British colonial governor, William Gregory, to make use of the water flowing past Nuwara Eliya from the Nanuoya river. The boat house in Lake Gregory offers boating opportunities for the visitors. Take time to relax around Lake Gregory. You will find people cruising on the lake with boats and jet skis. You can go do horse riding or play in the kindergarten.

Things not to do

You will come across many Buddha statues but make sure you do not take any pictures with them in the background. Standing with your back to Buddha statues is considered extremely disrespectful.