Last Updated on September 15, 2020 by Jeremy
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We get it. The idea of traveling in India can be daunting.
The country is a constant assault on your senses and many long-term travelers have had to cut their travels in this country short because they just couldn't handle the never-ending sensory overload that is India.
While I hope our previous articles about India have encouraged otherwise (especially this one about Varanasi), we now have a foolproof alternative to propose if you are still nervous about visiting this amazing country.
Go to Sri Lanka first.
Sri Lanka is “India Light”
When you think of all of the scary things travelers are worried about when visiting India, you can come up with an incredibly long list. For those who have thought about it, you may have come up with items like:
- Getting sick for days on end.
- Enduring horrible pollution.
- Over-crowded everything
- Run down infrastructure.
- Scammy travel agents.
- ..and a whole lot more.
These are just a few that you will be almost guaranteed to encounter during a trip to India, especially if you are traveling in the north. (By comparison, the South is a much friendlier place for travelers who have the above fears.)
When I was invited to attend a blogger's tour and conference about Sri Lanka tourism, an island nation located off the coast of India, I was a bit worried about what I was going to find.
I knew that there were some similarities in culture between the two, but other than a few facts here or there the knowledge I had on the country was quite minimal.
Was it going to give me the same experience as traveling in India did?
If you have this same thought as I did, rest easy. You'll find none of those issues in Sri Lanka.
It took me a while to figure this out, but after a few days touring the country, I kept getting the feeling like I had been there before.
With rickshaws everywhere, friendly local people giving smiles and asking how I was liking the country, incredible scenery, and more delicious coconut curry-based meals than I could eat in a single visit, my trip to Sri Lanka truly felt like I was returning to places in India Angie and I explored earlier this year.
Except something was a bit off- all of those issues I mentioned above were not there. Not even in the slightest.
Sri Lanka ended up being this magical destination that had all of the good of India, and none of the bad.
I Hate To Say It – Why Bother Traveling in India?
By the end of exploring the many places to visit in Sri Lanka, the group of bloggers I was with had the joke of Sri Lanka being “India Light.”
Upon reflection on this I had to go one step deeper and pose the question: “why go to India at all?”
If Sri Lanka has all of the good things of India in a more compact and visitor-friendly environment, why not just cancel your trip to India and spend a full month in Sri Lanka rather than splitting time between the two?
This, of course, should be taken with a bit of humor because it is obvious why you should visit both countries.
While you can see gorgeous nature, tea plantations, and beaches in both destinations, there are still many things you can only see and do in India (and likewise others you can only experience in Sri Lanka).
No matter what, you will never get to see the Taj Mahal, forts of Rajasthan, or the backwaters of Kerala if you do not take a trip to India.
And even though the Sri Lankan food is incredibly delicious, and in my opinion the more flavorful of the two, the sheer size of India lends itself to having dozens of cuisines you'll never get to try if you go to Sri Lanka alone.
Likewise, Sri Lanka is home to amazing Buddhist temples, elephant and leopard sanctuaries, as well as incredibly unique marine wildlife viewing opportunities found nowhere else in the world, not even just India, making both destinations unique spots that we highly recommend visiting.
But for those who have their reservations about all of those subtle nuances about India that make foreign travelers fearful (many of which are justified), we highly encourage you to schedule a trip to Sri Lanka first.
This wonderful country will give a great introduction to the region and encourage you to explore more- a valuable feeling needed before tackling the beast that is India.
Just don't be surprised if you find you do not want to leave.
I didn't want to either.
I'd like to thank Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts for organizing the TBC Asia conference and tour in November 2014 along with the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (of which we are members). They provided me with a wonderful introductory experience to the country and I look forward to returning again soon. As always, all opinions are our own.
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About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.