Northern Sri Lanka: 7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Jaffna

For almost 30-years, Jaffna had been cut off from outside world due to one of the longest running civil war in Asia. Some people might question the sanity of visiting a former war zone that is still hard at work rebuilding itself. Personally, we can’t think of a better time to visit Sri Lanka’s northern province than right this very minute. If you’re a off-the-beaten-track lover like us, this is the perfect time to explore the wild and authentic city before more tourists arrive here.

Don’t Miss: Kandy To Ella – One Of The World’s Most Scenic Train Rides

Get time-travelled to the past

Even though the civil war had ended almost 10-years ago, there are still many colonial buildings riddled with bullet holes or not yet recovered from explosives. There are no bars, no tourist restaurants and the curious locals speak little English. What I really love about this city is that the shops are still using hand-painted signboards and antique folding doors!

Be mesmerized by the grand Hindu temples

If you had not visited India or enter a Hindu temple before, you should make it a must-go place in Jaffna.

Nallur Kandaswamy Temple – This is also where you witness puja

Witness the holy puja

Unlike other Hindu temples we had visited before, temples in Jaffna are treated as holy place and not as tourist attractions. Temples are only open for entry during puja ceremony which takes place at 5:00 a.m, 10:00 a.m, noon, 4:15 p.m, 4:30 p.m, 5:00 p.m and 6:45 p.m daily. This is also the only time you can enter and have a look inside the temple. Do take note that men are expected to remove their top during the ritual.

Indulge in Indian influenced food

Located at the most northern tip of Sri Lanka, Jaffna is closest to India where you get to have a taste of delicious food based more on Indian cuisine than on Buddhist Sri Lankan. Even though we had a language barrier, we were treated like honored guests as they kept piling us with food.

  • Malayan CafeBakery-like Indian place serves all their food on banana leaf. You will see 99% locals here and it’s busy throughout the whole day.
  • Harry HotelNot one you can find in guidebooks! They have pretty awesome Biryani and only serve during lunch time.
  • Rio Ice CreamThey have many kinds of flavors but be warned, this is not your Italian gelato. Sri Lankan people love their sweets and luckily so do we!

Catch sunset on top of the ruins

Build in 1618 by the Portuguese, Jaffna Fort is the second biggest Dutch fort built in Sri Lanka. Though it had been heavily destroyed during the 30-years civil war, this star-shaped fort is nevertheless great to do a walk through or catch the sunset from the seaside.

Experience a boat trip to nearby islands

There are 2 islands which can only be accessible by ferry from Kurikattuwan jetty in Jaffna. It is possible to visit both islands in a day.

  • Delft IslandAn island used to be taken over by Dutch and still kept its charm from the old days.
  • Nainativu IslandThis island is a popular place for locals worshiping and the journey only takes about 15-minutes of boat ride.

Read More: Exploring The Northern Islands From Jaffna

If not now, then when?

I’m pretty sure in another 5-years or so, Jaffna will be flooded with tourists like central Sri Lanka. During our 3-days in Jaffna, we came across less than 10 travellers (2 were our bunk mates). We just love how authentic this city is without any influenced of outsider, yet.

Getting in and out

There is a direct train from Colombo to Jaffna.

If you are leaving from/ going to Kandy, you will have to change bus or train at Dambulla or Anuradhapura.

To Trincomalee is about 5-hours bus ride.

Getting around Jaffna

Most of the sightseeing in the city are within walking distance so we didn’t rent a bike. Buses are easily available and the locals are happy to help you getting on to the right bus. If not, you can always squeeze in a shared tuk-tuk!

Where we stay

Yaarl Hostel is probably the only hostel in Jaffna. We glad that we stayed here rather than guesthouses as we really want to meet other travellers. If you would like to do some workout during your stay, you can even use their in-house gym!

Rs1,100 (USD6) per bed per night

Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!

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Aloha! I'm Bunzy, a curious dreamer who is passionate about roaming around the world getting lost, experiencing new cultures and meeting the locals. My superpower is to be able to sleep anywhere, anyhow!

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