Anatara Kalutara pool view | ELLE UK

5 Things A Luxury-Loving Millennial Must Do In Sri Lanka

Whether it's an aerial view of Adam's Peak from a helicopter ride, to learning the basics of traditional Sri Lankan cooking with a renowned chef in one of the country's most luxurious hotel destinations, you'll find it hard not to fall in love with the high-life in Sri Lanka.

After years of backpacking across the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, and from Hanoi to Saigon in Vietnam, buying earplugs to get through a restless night's slumber in hostels across Madrid and Krakov, and relying on a local café's intermittent wifi to help you find the next bus from Denpasar to Ubud in Bali, there comes a time in every millenial's life when you get tired of traveling on a budget and decide to scrimp and save to splash the cash on a more luxurious trip across the world.

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And, if there's one place everyone – and we mean everyone – is talking about this year, it's Sri Lanka.

Seriously, forget Bali, Greece and Croatia – it's all about 'Lanka' in 2017.

Whether it's the Dutch colonial architecture of Galle, the intricate detailing of the Dambulla Buddha caves, the scrumptious breakfasts of coconut sambol and egg hoppers or the eye-opening scenery on a train ride from Colombo to Kandy and epic surf waves in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka offers the perfect blend of culture, relaxation and delicious culinary delights to suit every twentysomething on the look out for their next, exotic adventure.

With that in mind, here's our top pick of unforgettable things to do in Sri Lanka when you're still young and spritely, but have a bit more 'dollar' in your back pocket:

1. Walk among the 'Lords of the Jungle' at Yala National Park

Travel 260km south east of Sri Lanka's capital city of Colombo to Yala National Park – a designated national park which is home to more than 44 varieties of mammals and 215 bird species, with the most famous inhabitants including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, jackals and crocodiles.

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With the choice of booking a safari jeep to travel across the park's varied landscape – covering grasslands, lagoons and sand dunes – visitors are also invited to stay at the land's numerous wildlife bungalows, eco-lodges, and campsites as well as explore the various pilgrimage sites such as the famous Kataragama temple and Kirinda beach.

Safari

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The best time to visit Yala is between February and July. Full day jeep rental: Approx. £60 (max six people); Adult ticket price: Approx £19.

Find out more here.

2. Indulge in 5* delights at Anantara Kalutara Hotel

With thousands of hotels to choose from in Sri Lanka, if there's one hotel you have to visit it's Anantara Kalutara.

Located on a secluded beachfront along Sri Lanka's southwest coast, you'll find ultimate paradise at this 5* hotel.

During your stay, you'll be invited to take a trip to Lunuganga, the country estate of one of Sri Lanka's most eminent architect's, Geoffrey Bawa – who also designed the hotel – as well as sit back to enjoy several spa treatment's in one of the spot's 11 luxurious treatment rooms (our top pick is the 'Ayurveda massage') before indulging at one of the hotel's three restaurants – Spice Traders (Asia fine-dining), Olu (international all-day cuisine) an Acquolina (Italian).

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With 41 guest rooms (each with private balconies) and seven private villas, you'll also be given the option to take a dip in two swimming pools (where fresh fruit and ice creams are offered poolside every afternoon), relax in the hotel's Bawa-dedicated library containing his designs and the country's most renowned books on architecture, work up a sweat in the resort's private fitness centre and enjoy the sunset on the Upper Deck looking over the Indian Ocean.

The next day, you can choose between several other excursions to the nearby town, such as the 12th Century Richmond Castle, a tranquil picnic beside a waterfall, a sunset river cruise and tours of the nearby tea plantations or take part in a cookery class with one of the hotel's resident head chefs.

Ahead of the cookery class, guests are invited to join the chef at the local market to hand pick the day's menu, from sellers offering delights ranging from fresh fish, aubergines, bombay onions and coconuts, before visiting the local spice market and stepping behind the scenes to learn how the experts ground and roast fresh cumin, chilli and cumin.

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Later, take your station at the beachside pop-up kitchen and learn how to make fresh coconut sambol, spicy fish curries, chilli-infused salads and sweet fried aubergines, followed by a feast in front of the beach's tranquil waves.

Find out more here.

3. Unleash your quirky side at Helga's Folly

A trip to Sri Lanka isn't complete without a visit to Helga's Folly.

After a 10 minute tuk tuk drive from the centre of Kandy, you'll find Helga's Folly – an eccentric hotel/bar/restaurant built in the 1930s, and decorated in an Alice in Wonderland-meets-Moulin Rouge-meets-House of Hackney-inspired design.

With plush red furnishings, three foot tall melted wax candles, skeletons, sun and moon prints and deer antlers covering the interior of the boutique hotel, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd fallen down the Rabbit Hole in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

According to it's website, the hotel is 'surrounded by fairies' and was reportedly loved by Gandhi and Paula Yates.

If that's not enough of a reason to visit, we don't know what is.

With a daily changing menu – with dishes varying from chicken in rum and fish poached in tea – and a drinks menu of soft drinks, wines and cocktails, you'll find it seriously hard to leave this quirky haven in the Kandy hills.

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Find out more here.

4. Be at one with the whales in Mirissa

Escape the green, fruitful landscapes of the Sri Lankan hill country and head south east towards the coast where you'll come across the seaside town of Mirissa.

Famed for its modest guesthouses, café's and white sandy beaches, this is the perfect spot to take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and do some dolphin and whale watching.

Another pod of cuties ! #Dolphins #Mirissa #mirissawatersports

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Sri Lanka's southern coastline is abundant with blue whales, sperm wales and sometimes even killer whales, as well as common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and spinner dolphins.

THE BIGGEST ANIMAL ON EARTH 🐋🐋🐋 #bluewhales #mirissa

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Whale watching season starts in November and ends in April, when the ocean is warmer and calmer, which is incidentally the perfect time to book a last-minute Winter break.

Boats commonly leave after sunrise and the experience normally lasts 3-5 hours so, let's face it, you'll want to take plenty of water and snacks for the journey.

Prices will vary but you should be expected to pay upwards of £20 for an adult ticket. Find out more here.

5. Reach new heights in a helicopter

Now, if you really want to do Sri Lanka's vast landscape properly, the sky literally is the limit.

Well, sort of.

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With a choice of several hotspots including Galle, Tangle, Sigiriya, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, you can hire a helicopter for the day to fly you across the whole of the country. Our tops picks include a heli your of Adams Peaks – a 7,359 mountain also known as Sri Pada ('sacred footprint') where thousands of Buddhists pilgrams climb to the summit each day to see the vast expanse of the country's hill country.

Elsewhere, visit the sights of Sigiriya Rock Fortress, know to others to be the summer palace of 'King Kassapa' in the 5th Century or Galle Fort, with a birds eye view of the historical Dutch fortress, the lighthouse and Galle city.

Find our more here.

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