30th January 2018: After returning from two weeks exploring the fascinating island of Sri Lanka, I've put together my pick of the top gems there. After touring for the first week and then relaxing for the second, I had an amazing time here, and I hope this list inspires you to make the most of your trip too.
This temple is made up of five caves filled with hand carved statues of Buddhas and kings. The walls and ceilings are covered with amazing paintings. The colours and statues really are a must see and my favourite from the trip.
King Kashyapa built his palace on top of this rock for protection from his brother. Now all that remains are ruins. Wandering through the gardens and up iron walkways to the very top of the rock, the views are breathtaking and well worth the climb. Try to visit early morning to avoid the heat.
There are many options to see elephants in Sri Lanka. Firstly there's the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala and secondly there's the National Parks of Udawalawe, Yala and Minneriya. During my time, I visited Minneriya and chose for an experienced guide to help us explore this fascinating place.
We travelled in an open-top jeep which allowed us to see the wild elephants up close. During our time here, we also saw buffalo, crocodile, monkeys and eagles.
A walk around the walls of this Dutch fort is a must. Inside the fort's walls are shops, churches, mosques and a British-built lighthouse. Surrounding the fort, there are many beaches which offer the most glorious views out to sea.
Known affectionately as 'little England,' this area of Sri Lanka has rolling hills, deep valleys and beautiful waterfalls. The region is is also famous for tea growing. So naturally you can visit some of these tea factories or if you'd prefer, you can stop for a spot of tea and cake.
Home of the famous Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka's most visited site, is home to the tooth relic. Legend has it the tooth relic is an actual Buddha's tooth!
Not only this, Kandy is also home the 147 acre Botanical Gardens. Taking a stroll here is so relaxing, the beautiful gardens are well looked-after and contain flora and fauna from around the world.
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is made up of many historic temples and buildings. This large site needs at least half a day to explore and a visit to the museum will give you greater understanding of what you are seeing.
As some of the temples are sacred, visitors to the site are asked to remove shoes and keep shoulders and knees covered as a mark of respect in certain areas, so please keep this in mind when you're choosing your clothing for your visit here. If you're lucky you might just catch a glimpse of some of the wild monkeys which roam around these ruins.
Sri Lanka has so many stunning beaches to choose from. The main beach areas on the island are on the south, east and west coasts which are the best beaches for activities such as swimming, water sports and wildlife spotting.
There are however, so many other beaches here too with lively and quiet beaches and also options closer to the airport.