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Unusual places to stay and things to do on a holiday in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is becoming one of the places to be on an Asian holiday and while the cities offer excitement and traditional pleasure and the countryside and beaches are spectacular, the following are from the “other” side of Sri Lanka, offering something a little different.

When enjoying holiday breaks in Sri Lanka, there are many exciting tour and adventure options available and the following are some suggestions for a different and unique place to stay.

Helga’s Folly, Kandi

Pool at Helga's Folly, Sri Lanka
Photo Helga's Folly by Hewy/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

As for one of the more unusual places to stay while in Kandi, Helga’s Folly takes the cake. This “anti-hotel” is one of the strangest accommodation options that many have seen and experienced.

This meandering and bohemian mansion is located a little off the beaten path in the Sri Lankan jungle outside Kandi and is home to its owner, Helga de Silva Blow Perera, who inherited the building from her parents and has turned it into a fascinating collection of colourful knickknacks and unusual items of all kinds.

Lounge at Helga's Folly, Sri Lanka
Photo Helga's Folly by Hewy/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 
While the décor is at times little strange, the bedrooms are luxuriously comfortable and are decorated with all manner of things including taxidermy, old press clippings from Hollywood and other items of interest. 

Helga’s Folly brags several famous guests from the past, including Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh.

Room at Helga's Folly, Sri Lanka
Photo Helga's Folly room by Nigel Wilson/ CC BY-ND 2.0 

Temple of the Tooth

While in Kandy, take a side trip to visit the Temple of the Tooth. This unusual and elaborate temple was literally built around a tooth.
According to legend, the Buddha’s tooth was presented to the Sri Lankan monarchy back in ancient times and was passed around by various holy men and kings who reportedly moved and hid the tooth a number of times over the years.

Now the famous tooth is housed in a dedicated temple, appropriately dubbed the Temple of the Tooth, where worshipers can visit the relic. The tooth is kept in a golden stupa inside the temple, surrounded by gold and moonstone and Buddhist carvings and offerings.

Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka
Photo Temple of the Tooth by Andrew Hall/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Kumbuk River Resort

Heading to Buttala, the next unusual accommodation experience is at Kumbuk River Resort, where it is possible to spend the night in a two-story elephant villa. Literally.

Kumbuk River Resort is one of the best examples of eco-tourism in Sri Lanka and offers the opportunity for visitors to rent out the entire 14-acre plot and stay in the 2-story elephant-shaped villa with all mod-cons, including a living room, bathroom and a plunge pool.

Kumbuk River Resort, Sri Lanka
Photo: courtesy Kumbuk River Resort 

On site there are various other accommodation options including a chalet, built in the style of a typical Sri Lanka farmer’s house or the Tree Luxuria treehouse, offering beautiful views of the river. There’s no electricity, but solar lamps give all the light visitors could need and you will be right in the heart of nature.

During the day you will see real elephants in the surrounding landscape and to protect the environment, only 12 guests may stay at Kumbuk River Resort at any time.

Room at Kumbuk River Resort, Sri Lanka
Photo: courtesy Kumbuk River Resort  

Wherever you choose to lay your head at the end of an exciting day, Sri Lanka has plenty to offer in the way of history, tradition, beauty and sometimes remarkably unusual activities and options.


Sri Lanka Travel Guide


Latest update:  January 29, 2016