Sri Lanka

Uncover Sri Lanka and its wondrous marvels!

Sri Lanka is an intriguing enigma, nestled within the encompassing embrace of the Indian Ocean. The island’s shores, kissed by the golden sun, house a location where the vibrant tapestries of nature and culture intertwine. In this land, time seems to stand still, and every moment is wrapped in a surreal, dreamlike quality.

This week, KHAMSA explores the tropical haven of Sri Lanka with a detailed travel guide by Gonca Akkel (@gonca.akkel on Instagram), a German fashion editor, model, and stylist at Bloomingdale’s Middle East. Gonca is a prominent figure in her line of work, having worked with clients like NEUTRA, ATTUALE, REEBORN VINTAGE, and FELT PARIS. She is also an avid traveller and loves to document fragments of her trips and adventures.

Sri Lanka’s emerald-green tea plantations and its symphony of flavours stretches across the land, being caressed by their legendary ancient deities. The air is redolent with the heady aroma of spices and a rich scent of culture, leaving a lingering and intoxicating sensation when one pays it a visit.

Top must-visit food spots in Sri Lanka?

My favourite spots are No.1 Dewmini Roti in Mirissa and Aroma Restaurant in Hikkaduwa. Imagine Indian curry, but with a twist – sweet caramelized onion relish, bitter melon, and scraped coconut, with a crisp citrus punch. Samosas, roti, and exotic curries are plentiful and delicious. Just be prepared for a spicy kick. Ask for no spice, or “just a little spice” if you want to feel the burn.

Where To Stay?

I HIGHLY recommend Mond in Hiriketiya. It is equipped with an excellent café and array of beautiful tree-house style lodges as well as studios, nestled by the ocean. I keep going back to this place, purely because I love their approach to sharing the simple life by the sea in this little town; walking down to the local break at 6 am and coming back to a breakfast prepared in their kitchen is always a highlight. Think Swiss Brutalism meeting a tropical setting. Concrete walls, wooden shutters to let the ocean breeze blow in, the perfect way of indoor-outdoor living or in this case holidaying and connecting to nature.

Source: Booking.com

Farther up on the map in Ahangama, I have made my latest discovery in terms of Boutique hotels. The Hotel SL – sleek design, by the ocean, each room has an amazing view, surrounded by palm trees. If you want to treat yourself to a panoramic view, there is also the penthouse option.

Best places for shopping?

I usually find the most interesting pieces such as beautifully dyed sarongs just wandering around the market town of Dikwella. Sri Lanka is undoubtedly a mix of colours and spices, and it feels most authentic to find your way through all the various, little shops owned by locals, while also watching Sri Lankan women go over their daily errands draped in their most eye-catching saree. Fashion girls will take note for sure.

Galle Fort is also a must-visit if you love collecting antiques and/or care for ayurvedic beauty products. If you want to up your game in the kitchen, visit the famous spice market there as well.

Best Sundowners & Roof-Top Spots?

After a long day in the sun, Ceylon Sliders in Weligama is my favourite place to be for a spicy Margarita. Overlooking the infamous Taprobane island while the waves come in, this space is inspired by tropical modernism, the artists passing by, and the local surfers. Art shows, workshops and special events come together every now and then. Also Mond and BomBora in Hiriketiya are other rooftop bars I love to unwind at.

Must-Do Activities?

١. Surfing

The waves in Sri Lanka are playful and abundant. If you’re around the south coast, Mirissa Beach or Hiriketiya Beach and the surrounding areas have everything you could ever need from surfboard hire to lessons to diversity in waves. It’s a great landing spot if surfing is a priority.

٢. Yoga

Sunshinestories Yoga Retreat was where I spent my first week in Sri Lanka years ago. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to such a beautiful country. A pristine resort with the best wave around right out the back, I started and ended every day with meditation and yoga led by a team of sensational teachers.

What should you avoid?

Keeping doors and windows open when you leave the hotel room – curious monkeys might swoop into your bedroom. I have had an encounter myself in a rather entertaining way, where all the staff gathered in my room was involved. It was us and the monkey – a staring contest.

Must-pack items?

I always make sure to bring a long sleeve shirt with me because the sun can get a bit harsh during walks. I personally find an oversized shirt to be a super handy fashion piece to carry with me on island vacations in general. To pack a mosquito repellent would be a good idea too.

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