Our very own Naina Karsan has just returned from a twin-centre break to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Land of leopards and elephants, hot tea and hotter curries, ancient architecture and timeless scenery, Sri Lanka is the destination on everyone’s lips, so we just had to check in. Read the interview to hear about eye-opening markets, alligator-petting, and how to totally upgrade your elevenses, Sri Lanka style.

Hi Naina! We hear you’ve just come back from Sri Lanka. How was your trip?

My trip was incredible. Even though I only spent a few days there, I was really able to get a snapshot of what Sri Lanka has to offer. The country exceeded my expectations and I will definitely be going back for at least 7 days next time to do a tour around Sri Lanka, ending my holiday with a relaxing stay in a 4 or 5* beach resort.

Sri Lanka travel diary

Naina enjoying the mangroves and beaches at Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa.

We know there are some incredible hotels out there. Where did you stay?

I stayed at the stunning Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa, which is located in Bentota. It has an amazingly unique location with the Bentota River on one side and the breathtaking Indian Ocean on the other. We were spoiled with the range of facilities on offer, which included: a spa practising authentic Ayurvedic techniques, traditional Sri Lankan cooking lessons, tea tasting sessions, exciting water sports on the river, river wildlife safaris and so much more.

The treats didn’t stop there as the food was an experience in itself. We had a chance to taste some incredible Sri Lankan cuisine. I loved waking up to Hoppers (rice flour and coconut pancakes) for breakfast, to which I’d add local spices, sweet caramelised onions, and toasted coconut meat. Lunch and dinner consisted of a variety of fantastic curries.

Sri Lanka travel diary

Incredible facilities, hospitality, and cuisine at Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa.

Favourite memory you’ll take away from it all?

There are too many to pick just one! The welcome ceremony we were greeted with at Centara Ceysands was truly outstanding, with traditional Sri Lankan dancing and candle lighting. I’ll also remember the beautiful sunsets forever – especially when I was lucky enough to see a rainbow over the river at the same time. I can’t go without mentioning the river safari either – embarking from the hotel, we saw many fascinating wild animals, such as the monitor lizard, the chameleon, kingfishers, parrots, bats, and much more. I even got to touch a baby alligator…

Sri Lanka travel diary

A well-disguised chameleon lurks in the lush foliage aside the Bentota River.

Sounds amazing! What’s the best thing you ate?

The food was stunning I tasted Sri Lankan, Indian and Thai food at the hotel. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Sri Lankan cooking experience, where visited the colourful local fruit and veg market with the chefs and were able to pick up ingredients for our class. I saw vegetables that I’ve never seen before, such as the Snake Gourd, Thalana Batu, Banana Flower and more. During the experience, we learned some traditional methods, like grating coconut on a wooden board with a hand-held scraper. By the end I had prepared some delicious authentic veg dishes, like lentil dhal and potato curry.

During our stay we also enjoyed a tea tasting experience with Dilmah, which I have never done before. Who knew different plantation elevation levels affect the flavour of the tea, and that there are specific snack pairings that work with different types of tea? From now on, I know to have my peppermint tea with a chocolate brownie, chamomile tea with an apple pie, and breakfast tea with a vegetable samosa.

Sri Lanka travel diary

Vibrant vegetables spotted in the market before the cooking class began.

Will you do anything differently next time you go back?

I will definitely be going back for a week or even longer to visit some of Sri Lanka‘s most important cultural sites, like Sigiriya Rock, Galle and Kandy. I’d also want to go on a few more wildlife tours and to visit he different tea plantations around Sri Lanka experiencing tastings at each – especially Nuwara Eliya!

Thanks, Naina! If you’re keen to book your own Sri Lankan escape, call 020 7749 9296 or simply visit our website to find out more.

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