Dave’s Guide to Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka, an island nation brimming with diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and rich history, offers a unique travel experience for every type of traveler. Our seasoned Travel Consultant, Dave Rowley, recently embarked on a memorable journey to this tropical paradise and shares his firsthand experiences, insights, and travel tips –

“I was extremely lucky to be given the chance to visit Sri Lanka with a small group with Mercury Holidays, it was going to be a busy week exploring the island visiting historical sites, religious temples, beach resorts, wildlife parks plus much more, here is a brief story of my week and the things we got to experience. 

Monkey Sri Lanka
Railway Sri Lanka

Top Spots to visit in Sri Lanka

Tourists in Sri Lanka
Sunrise at Sigiriya Rock

A 5.30 am start for our visit to Sigiriya Rock. The surrounding gardens are filled with stunning plants, trees and flowers and are home to many many families of monkeys. We took the 1200 hundred step to visit the ancient ruins of the former king’s palace which was also once a Buddhist Monestry, en route we learnt about the history of the palace and saw the remaining fresco paintings.

After reaching the summit we were treated to amazing views of the surrounding jungle as the sun was rising. Within the palace ruins there are still certain features that are obvious such as the swimming pool area and the throne used for watching the daily entertainment.

The journey back down the rock was slightly easier and gave me the chance to really appreciate the beautiful surrounding scenery.  This was a fantastic excursion I recommend any visitors to Sri Lanka experience.

A Day in Kandy: Spices, Traditions, and Sacred Temples

We set off after breakfast on the way to Kandy and on route stopped at a traditional spice garden to learn about the traditional herbal remedies and the benefits of the different spices that are grown in Sri Lanka, from pain relief to weight loss.

On arrival in Kandy, we were treated to a lovely lunch at a local hotel and witnessed the start of a traditional Sri Lankan wedding. We arrived in the city centre to have a guided tour around the street food markets and the local bizarre.

Later in the day, we were taken to see a traditional cultural show showcasing local dancing styles including fire dancing and fire walking. 

The day finished with a visit to the temple of the Tooth where the Buddhist monks were performing their daily ritual. The grounds and building of the Temple of the Tooth are immaculately kept and have the story of the Buddha and more on the history and life of Buddha.

A Heartwarming Visit to a Sri Lankan Preschool

Mercury Holidays sponsors a preschool in Sri Lanka and has done so since it was set up for orphans after the Tsunami in 2004.

We arrived and were greeted by the children and teachers with bunches of flowers and the children singing a welcome song. We got a chance to see their classrooms, their workbooks and have a little chat with the children. The teachers continued their lessons while we watched the children learning English and drawing pictures. It was great to see that a British tour operator is making a difference in young children’s lives.    

Fantastic Places to Stay In Sri Lanka

Occidental Paradise Dambulla

This hotel is set in the middle of the jungle and a half-hour drive from Sigiriya Rock. A village-style hotel with a single-storey building in the gardens as rooms with an open plan reception and bar area.

The rooms we were allocated were duplex rooms with a mezzanine floor with additional beds if you had children with you. The garden areas were stunning and the pool area was inviting.

We ate in the hotel which was a buffet dinner and breakfast and the standard of food was exceptional with a great selection of fresh food including many types of curry, rice, vegetables, fruit and brilliant desserts.    

Amaya Lake

Set on the banks of the lake at Dambulla the stunning hotel was one of all of our favourites that we visited. Surrounded by acres of lush gardens with two glorious pools to choose from. Another village-style hotel with an open-air reception bar and restaurant and the rooms spread around the grounds with golf buggies to transport you around.

Food was a great standard with lots of choices for any taste. The rooms we incredibly spacious with a huge shower and an additional Jacuzzi bath. This was a magnificent place to relax after the long climb of Sigiriya rock earlier that day.

Citrus Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka

Citrus Hikkaduwa

A great beachfront location with plenty of bars shops and restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel.

This is a great hotel for younger travellers to use as a base to explore certain areas of the country and is a more budget option hotel despite being really nice. The restaurant and bar are next to the beach allowing a lovely sea breeze to cool you down as you relax.

Embracing the Beauty of Sri Lanka

Within 24 hours I fell in love with Sri Lanka and decided that I would definitely be coming back on holiday in the future, a wonderful country full of history culture amazing food, places to visit and friendly people. Sri Lanka is a destination that has something for everyone and will give you memories that will last a lifetime.

If you are feeling inspired to soak up some sunshine in Sri Lanka, come and visit me in Falmouth and I can plan the perfect package for you.”


– Dave Rowley, Travel Consultant in our Falmouth Branch

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