The Best Countries to Spend Christmas

There’s no place like home for the holidays. But if you can’t make it there this year, these are the best countries to spend Christmas in instead!

Sometimes, going home for Christmas and New Years just isn’t possible because of distance, cost, or lack of vacation time. When I taught in the UAE for two years, I couldn’t afford to fly back to Ohio for my three week break, and instead spent Christmas traveling elsewhere.

The Best Countries to Spend Christmas list was created from a combination of factors. Cost of living, Christmas spirit, weather, and overall vibe are some of the most important that I weighed. If you can’t (or don’t want to) make it home for the holidays, consider planning a trip using my list of the best countries to spend Christmas in!

 

1. Germany

Weather: December average of low 30s in Berlin
Cost of Living: Consumer prices are 2% lower and restaurant prices are 2% lower than in the United States
Why it’s one of the best countries to spend Christmas: Christmas Markets

 

 

Germany is well known as the country where a lot of our beloved Christmas traditions originated. I’m listing it as one of the best countries to spend Christmas because I spent one here in 2015, and it was magical. The absolute best part of Christmas in Germany is the Christmas markets!

These large markets set up in parks and squares across the cities and sell Christmas crafts, mulled wine, pretzels, sausages, meat, candy and snacks, roasted nuts, chocolate… everything festive and delicious is here in one place. They usually have large Christmas trees and sometimes even skating rinks inside. I visited five or six markets in Berlin alone and never got tired of them. They are also throughout the country, with the city of Cologne being widely recognized as hosting the best.

I spent eight days in Berlin over Christmas and had an amazing time. Berlin is one of the cheaper cities to visit in Europe, and is also full of history. Just make sure you get an apartment with a kitchen and cross off your to-do list before Christmas, because almost the entire city of Berlin shut down for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. If you want a snowy and cozy traditional Christmas that won’t break the bank, though, this is the country for you.

 

2. Thailand

Weather: December average of 78 degrees Bangkok
Cost of living: Consumer prices 52% lower and restaurant prices 199% lower than in the United States
Why it’s one of the best countries to spend Christmas: Festive atmosphere, beautiful beaches, new experiences.

 

 

I spent the holidays in Thailand in 2014, and it was clear why this is one of the best countries to spend Christmas. First of all, the weather absolutely can’t be beat. It was warm and sunny (but not too hot) every day of my three week vacation except for one. Just make sure you are traveling on the inner islands and not the outer coast, though, which experiences the rainy season at this time.

While in Thailand, we experienced something totally new. Gorgeous ornate temples, lush rain forests, exotic animals, amazing foods, and long, bustling, crazy markets. The markets were my favorite part of the country, and the best were in Chiang Mai. Here, Daniel and I got drunk and wandered the winding streets and stalls to buy Christmas gifts for each other. The souvenir game is next level and you definitely won’t be leaving Thailand without some Chang shirts, patterned elephant pants, or at least a knock-off watch.

We also spent New Year’s Eve on the island of Koh Tao. This is the most popular time of year to visit Thailand, so the atmosphere is fun and full of people (but not too over crowded which I was afraid of.)The beach was full of partiers, restaurants and cafes were spilling onto the sand, and fire performers, Thai lanterns, and fireworks lit up the skies. The hundreds of paper lanterns set off over the ocean was a magical sight I’ll never forget. Then, the next day we woke up to start the new year with a scuba dive. It really doesn’t get better than that.

Spend your Christmas in Thailand if you want PERFECT beach weather, super cheap travels, and a totally unique experience.

 

3. USA

Weather: Depends! Snow and cold in the North and West, warm and sunny in Florida and parts of the South.
Cost of Living: Most expensive on this list
Why it’s one of the best countries to spend Christmas: One of the most festive & decorated countries in the world

 

 

Maybe I’m biased (I am) but no other countries do Christmas like the US. It’s just a fact. When the songs and cards say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, they’re not exaggerating. Christmas spirit and decor infuses pretty much every aspect of life in America during December.

School, work, home… all of it is filled with lights, gifts, holiday foods and parties. This is by far one of the most festive countries to spend Christmas. Start with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, and watch a Christmas scene unfurl before your eyes over the next few weeks. Christmas specials on TV, Santa in every mall, and an overwhelming feeling of magic in the air define this time of year.

Everyone is nicer, everything is more beautiful, and the world is just a better place during Christmas in the United States. If you want to experience a Christmas that you only ever see in the movies, America is the place to be.

 

4. Brazil

Weather: December average of 77 degrees in Rio
Cost of Living: Consumer prices 48% lower and restaurant prices 77% lower than in the United States
Why it’s one of the best countries to spend Christmas: Biggest New Year’s Eve party in the world

 

 

South America is a great place to spend Christmas because almost the entire continent is Roman Catholic, so they take the birth of Jesus pretty seriously. The cities are decorated with lights and trees, and families go to mass, exchange gifts, and cook delicious dinners to celebrate. However, there’s another reason why I added Brazil to the list (despite being the only country of the four where I haven’t personally spent a Christmas)… Rio de Janiero boasts the biggest New Year’s Eve party in the world!

Soak up the sun and gorgeous beaches of Brazil in the days between Christmas and New Years, then head to Rio for New Years Eve. Travel Channel reports that over 2 million people celebrate the stroke of midnight on the Copacabana beaches for a New Year’s Eve fiesta. If you’re a party animal or beach lover then Brazil with their sunny weather, low cost of living, and party atmosphere is definitely the place for you.

 

This list of best countries to spend Christmas contains some of my favorite places that I’ve celebrated the holiday. Each country is different but great in its own way. If you want fun and sun, Thailand or Brazil are the best plans for you. If you prefer traditions and a cozy, festive atmosphere, head to the US or Germany for Christmas. No matter what you decide, I hope you have a very merry Christmas and magical New Year 🙂

All my love,
Di

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The Complete Dayton Brewery Guide

It’s about time for a complete Dayton brewery guide. I’m home from the holidays, and have made it my mission to visit, review, and let you know about not just the best breweries in Dayton, but ALL the breweries in Dayton. That meant visiting five in one day (for research of course) and creating and cataloguing a list of the rest that are outside of downtown. If you’re ready to drink local, this Dayton brewery guide has everything you need to know.

 

Location: Downtown Dayton

There are six breweries in downtown Dayton, and five of them are within walking distance of each other. Uber downtown to hit the first one and create your own local Dayton brew crawl by walking to the rest. If you want to visit all six, I recommend hitting ’em in this order…

 

Carillon Brewing Company

Ok, let’s start with the outlier. This is the only one not within walking distance of the others on my Dayton brewery guide, so it should be either first or last on your list.

Where: 1000 Carillon Boulevard, Dayton, OH 45409
I recommend: Checking this out if you’re a history buff, because they make beer with the same equipment and recipes as they did in historical Dayton.
Learn more here

Why you should visit: The Carillon Brewing Company is located in the beautiful Carillon Historical Park, which makes it a perfect day trip all on its own. Walk around the grounds and museum, and then visit the Carillon Brewing Company for lunch or dinner and a couple pints. Just be warned, though, the only house brews here are sour beer… it’s worth trying, but definitely is an acquired taste!

Next: Drive to Fifth Street Brewpub to start your walking tour of Dayton’s breweries

 

Fifth Street Brewpub

Where: 1600 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45403
I recommend: Start your walking brewery tour of Dayton here! Also, try the mint cookie stout.
Learn more here

Why you should visit: This pub is unique because it’s in a restored house, and because it is a nonprofit organization. The pub is run as a co-op, so you can buy ownership with a one time fee of $125 and receive discounts for the rest of your life. The Fifth Street Brewpub regularly holds charity events and donates to local organizations, and any leftover profits at the end of the year are invested back into the bar. It’s great because not only do they do good, but they also brew good. We tried eight of their nine home brews on tap, and they were all delicious. My favorite was definitely the mint cookie stout! Sooooo tasty, and perfect for the holidays.

Next: walk 13 minutes to Toxic Brew Company

 

Toxic Brew Company

Where: 431 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402 (the Oregon District)
I recommend: Visiting this if you’re only going to one, because of its awesome location in the historic Oregon District
Learn more here

Why you should visit: This brewery is in the heart of the Oregon district, so it’s super convenient to visit, and usually has a pretty chill ambiance. I like it because their house brewed beers are good, and they also serve some other local beers as well as meads, wine, and mixed drinks. So, it definitely has something for everyone. There’s also free popcorn and boardgames to play, which is always great. If you’re visiting the historic Oregon district, definitely don’t miss Toxic Brew!

Next: Walk 7 minutes to Warped Wing Brewing Company

 

Warped Wing Brewing Company

Where: 26 Wyandot St, Dayton, OH 45402
I recommend: Ermal’s Vanilla & Cranberry Cream Ale was my favorite, but I also enjoyed the Piroque Black with Coffee, 10 Ton Tiramisu Stout, and trying their Esther’s Lil Secret Winter Ale made with Esther Price chocolates!
Learn more here

Why you should visit: Warped Wing is located in a giant industrial building and has a cool ambiance. It was named after Dayton locals Orville and Wilber Wright’s invention of a flexible “warped wing” for their airplanes, the missing link that allowed them to be the first in flight (and no, North Carolina can’t claim them no matter how badly they want to.) The super high ceilings and large windows in Warped Wing make it the perfect place to day drink. You can also see back into the brewery itself, and even take tours for $10 on Sunday afternoons. Warped Wing Brewery is great because their branding has a super old school cool retro Dayton look, and they had 20 of their own beers on tap. It was interesting to try some very unique brews!

Next: Walk four minutes to the Dayton Beer Co.

 

Dayton Beer Company

Where: 41 Madison St, Dayton, OH 45402
I recommend: Visiting in the summer to enjoy the outdoor beer garden, and also bringing your pup along to their dog-friendly outdoor patio
Learn more here

Why you should visit: The Dayton Beer Co. is encouraging the city to “Think Dayton, Drink Dayton” which I absolutely love. They pride themselves on being Dayton’s first local brewery in 50 years. The Dayton Beer Co has a huge selection of beers, from their own home brews (I think there were about 13 on tap when we visited) and from around the state and country. Their coffee beer was one of the best I had tried all day. If you want a large selection and outdoor seating, this is the brewery for you.

Next: Walk 4 minutes to Lock 27 Brewing

 

Lock 27 Brewing

Where: Dayton Dragons Plaza, 329 E. First St. Dayton, Ohio, 45402
I recommend: The ghost pepper beer! It’s super spicy but has a great chocolatey flavor. Also, try the food. The wings, pretzels, and salmon we ate were all amazing.
Learn more here

Why you should visit: This is the second location for Lock 27 Brewing, but they still have the equipment and make their beers in house. They had seven or eight of their own beers on tap, and we tried six of them. The ghost pepper beer was probably the most unique flavor I have ever tasted, and the spice lingered in my mouth for a good couple minutes after each sip. The IPA was also good and not too bitter, which I like. My favorite part of this brewery was the food though. The soft pretzels and dry rubbed wings were both delicious, and the salmon was really flavorful too. If you need to eat, I think this brewery is the one for you.

Next: This is the end of the Dayton brewery tour! You can still check out some other awesome local bars within walking distance, though, listed below…

 

ProtoBuild Bar This is only 3 minutes walking distance from Lock 27 Brewing. My dad really wants me to include this one, because apparently it’s a 3D printing lab and bar all rolled into one? I’m honestly not too sure how it works, but it sounds interesting. Read more about it here, and if you visit comment below to let me know how it is!

Crafted and Cured This bar is near the Oregon District, only a few minutes from Toxic Brew Pub. The bar has 60 beers and ciders on tap, and an old fashioned vintage ambiance. They also have a meat and cheese bar, where they serve delicious charcuterie platters. Finally, you can grab some beers or a bottle of wine to go from their retail selection as well. The food isn’t cheap, but it’s unique, delicious, and presented well. You can learn more about it here… it’s definitely worth checking out in my opinion.

 

 

Ok, these are the six companies that make up my Dayton brewery guide. However, I’m not gonna leave it at just that! I also took the time to track down the names and locations of every brewery within reasonable driving distance, for those of you that are ready to branch out for more. I haven’t been to these yet, but am hoping to check a few more off my list while I’m home for the holidays. Eight more local breweries as listed below, sorted by location.

 

Miamisburg

Star City Brewery Company  319 S 2nd St, Miamisburg, OH 45342  Website

Lucky Star Brewery  219 S 2nd St, Miamisburg, OH 45342  Website

 

Centerville

Heavier Than Air Brewing Co.  497 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Centerville, OH 45459  Website

Lock 27 Brewing (original Location)  1035 South Main Street Centerville, Ohio 45458  Website

 

Springboro

The Crooked Handle Brewing Co.  760 N Main St, Springboro, OH 45066  Website

 

Vandalia

The Hairless Hare Brewery  738 W National Rd, Vandalia, OH 45377  Website

 

Kettering

Eudora Brewing Company  4716 Wilmington Pike, Dayton, OH 45440  Website

 

Yellow Springs

Yellow Spring Brewery  305 Walnut St, Yellow Springs, OH 45387  Website

 

Beavercreek

The Wandering Griffin  3725 Presidential Dr, Beavercreek, OH 45324  Website

 

Well, there you have it. The complete Dayton brewery guide, not just of the best breweries, but all the breweries. Cause if you’re a beer lover like me, I know you’re gonna want to try them all! Do a walking tour of the five breweries downtown, or take a short trip to hit up the rest. As always, comment below to let me know what you think!

All my love,
Di

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The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

I live out of my backpack for the majority of the year, and travel full time. So, I made the perfect holiday gift guide for travelers on your list. I know they’re hard to buy for because you don’t want your gift thrown in storage, and of course you want to give them something they’ll actually use! So, I made this up as a combination of things I’m asking for this year, things I can’t live without, and things I found myself wishing I had as I traveled. I promise, if you have an avid traveler on your list, this holiday gift guide for travelers will have something for everyone (and every budget!)

 

Travel Gifts Under $10

 

Waterproof Cell Phone Case $6.99
Shop Here
Love it because: I am always super careful and concerned with my phone on dive trips, boat tours, and at the beach.
These waterproof cell phone cases protect the phone from water completely, while still keeping it available for
photos through the transparent case. So perfect.

 

 

Spotify Premium Subscription $9.99/month
Shop Here
Love it because: I can’t live without music. However, both the free versions of Pandora and Spotify limit international listening. With Spotify premium, you can listen as much as you want to their extensive music collection ad free, and best of all, download music for offline play on long bus or plane rides. As an avid traveler who gets motion sickness from reading, music is everything on those trips. Plus, right now you can get the first three months of premium for only 99 cents! Nice.

 

Vintage Travel Wall Posters $8.99
Shop Here
Love it because: This classic look never goes out of style. Buy one as a thoughtful gift to commemorate
a meaningful city or trip abroad

 

 

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World $9.75
Shop Here
Love it because: You can’t go wrong with a good, inspirational book. Any travel lover (and book worm) will enjoy this.

 

 

 

Travel Gifts from $10 to $25

 

 

Universal 3 in 1 Camera Lense Kit for Smartphones $12.49
Shop Here
Love it because: It’s an easy and small kit for a beginner photographer to experiment with, and take a few cool photos without lugging around a giant camera bag.

 

 

Jackbox PartyPack $24.99
Shop Here 
Love it because: These games are just fun as hell. They also load directly on a computer and are played with
smartphones, so they require zero additional packing for a heavy traveler.

 

 

World Scratch Off Travel Map $24.99
Shop Here
Love it because: It’s beautiful, and a super fun way to scratch countries off the bucket list… literally

Anker Portable Charger $14.99
Shop Here
Love it because: No more worries about a dying phone on that long layover or bus ride. Now I can listen to music and stream movies to my heart’s content, and charge on every trip to make sure I always have power for more photos

 

 

Eye Love Polarized Wood Sunglasses $24.97
Shop Here
Love it because: Travelers are always on the move, and that means small things like sunglasses get broken or left behind a lot. I’m always replacing mine, so getting an extra pair as a stocking suffer would be amazing!

 

 

Sterling Silver Mini State Pendant Necklace $19.00
Shop Here
Love it because: It’s small, it’s delicate, and its a great way for a traveler to bring a little piece of home with
them wherever they go. Just click the drop down to see any US state.

 

 

Wise Owl Outfitters Portable Hammock $25.95
Shop Here
Love it because: It’s the perfect gift for any outdoor lover or camper on your travel gift list. They’re lightweight, and great to put up and relax in anywhere, making the view even more enjoyable on every hike.

 

 

VIBRANT ALL IN ONE Travel Mug $24.95
Shop Here
Love it because: It’s a tea infuser, hot coffee thermos, and so much more. A great water bottle becomes a beloved family
member to any traveler who spends months on the road. I think this one can stand up to the challenge!

 

 

 

Travel Gifts from $25 to $100

 

AKASO EK7000 4K WIFI Sports Action Camera $74.99
Shop Here 
Love it because: I’ve been blogging for almost a year, and have been dying for an action cam to add better videos to my site. Unfortunately a Go Pro was out of my price range, but after extensive research Daniel found this well reviewed (and waterproof!) camera… for only $74.99. I’m super excited to unwrap it on Christmas and try it out in Mexico!

 

 

Trtl Pillow – Scientifically Proven Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow $29.99
Shop Here
Love it because: I suck at sleeping on long bus and plane rides, and I’ll try anything new that may help. This compact travel pillow is small and super supportive… definitely looking forward to giving it a try!

 

 

Kindle E-Reader $79.99
Shop Here
Love it because: When I’m abroad, my choices are to either lug around heavy books in my small backpack, or search in vain to find bookstores with overpriced books in English. A super light kindle e-reader makes reading on a long-term trip so much easier.

 

 

 

AirBnb Gift Card $25 and up!
Shop Here
Love it because: Everyone knows experiences are better than things. Give the gift of a stress free holiday or weekend away

 

 

 

Travel Gifts over $100

 

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack $180
Shop Here
Love it because: I. LOVE. THIS. BAG. Seriously, any traveler or backpacker in your life would swoon to unwrap this on Christmas day. The bag is super high quality, opens easy, and has a smaller day pack attached as well. I’ll never go back to a rolling suitcase, and no one else should have to either. If you have the budget… this is the best gift for any traveler on your list.

 

 

Kate Spade Going Places Metro Watch $195.00
Shop Here
Love it because: It’s just cute!!

 

 

No more wondering and searching for the perfect gift this Christmas. Everything on my ultimate holiday gift guide for travelers is tailor made to be small, useful, and perfect for any traveler on your Christmas list. Happy holidays!!

All my love,
Di

 

PS This post contains some affiliate marketing links, but I truly recommend everything on this list… promise!

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18 Travel Photos from 2017 That’ll Make You Book a Flight Right Now

2017 is coming to a close, and I can’t believe it. In the past year, I have…

Lived in 3 Countries
Visited 9 New Cities
Spent 6 Months in Colombia
Spent 4.5 Months in Peru
Took 17 Flights (and countless more busses)
And started my travel blog, Slight North!

This blog was started based on two principles… to showcase gorgeous photos, and write simple, helpful, and honest travel articles. This past year has been a dream, working for myself, exploring the world, and documenting it all. Now, looking back, I can’t believe all the beautiful places I was able to visit!

It was a hard choice, but here are my top 18 travel photos from 2017… I guarantee they are all the inspiration you need to book your next flight today!

 

Guatape Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Machu Picchu Cusco, Peru
read more

 

Girl in a waterfall

Arenales Waterfall Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
read more

 

girl laughing on door step

Walled City Cartagena, Colombia
read more

 

Poblado Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Jardin, Colombia
read more

 

Rainbow Mountain Cusco, Peru
read more

 

Humantay Lake Cusco, Peru
read more

 

Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
read more

 

Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
read more

 

sitting on terrace, grey goose, city view

Boutique Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Laguna 69 Huaraz, Peru
read more

 

Spratt Bight Beach San Andres Island, Colombia
read more

 

Santa Cruz Trek Huaraz, Peru
read more

 

boat and beach

Playa Blanca Cartagena, Colombia
read more

 

Huacachina Oasis Ica, Peru
read more

 

Nevado Mateo Huaraz, Peru
read more

 

Which one is your favorite? Stay tuned for more travel photos from 2018, from Mexico, the US, and many more countries TBD (I really need to get to that whole planning thing…) Thanks for reading, commenting, and coming along with me this year. It’s been a pleasure to share my travels with you and I can’t wait to see what’s next 🙂

All my love,
Di

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The Lima List: My Favorite Restaurants in Surco

I lived for one month in Surco, a suburban neighborhood in Lima. The neighborhood is near Miraflores and Barranco, and a great place to stay for a longer term trip to the city. Of course, while I was here I ate my way through Surco and found some amazing restaurants along the way. Next time you’re in town, don’t miss my favorite restaurants in Surco!

 

1. Guru Indian & Pakistani Cuisine

So, if you read any of my food posts here on Slight North, you know I’m in love with Indian food and have been on the hunt for a great Indian restaurant in South America. While trying restaurants in Surco, I’m happy to say I finally found one! I’m not really surprised, because Lima is one of the food capitals of the world, and luckily Guru Indian & Pakistani Cuisine definitely didn’t disappoint.

Best of all, the restaurant has a happy hour from 5 to 7 on weekdays where all their curries are half off, meaning we got a butter chicken curry for only $5. That’s an amazing deal. We also shared a large garlic naan (seriously it was huge) and a side of white rice. Sharing one meal was definitely enough for two.

Total cost for a dinner for two here during happy hour? Only $12 without drinks. Not too bad.

 

2. Shimaya Ramen

Ahh this place is so good! If you’re into Japanese cuisine, definitely add Shimaya Ramen to your to-do list. So far, we tried the sushi ($6 for a roll of 10 pieces) and two of their different ramen bowls. Both were amazing! The ramen is made with homemade noodles and comes as small, medium, or large. For me, the small was definitely enough for one serving, and only cost $4.50 per bowl.

The ambiance is also great and the place was packed when we went on a Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was so delicious, we ate there more than once during out month long stay. Oops 🙂

 

 

3. Quintessence Tea Shop

I don’t talk about tea too often, but in the past few years I’ve become a major tea lover. Coca tea is super common in Peru, especially on the treks and tours, but I personally prefer the sweeter, fruitier blends. That’s why I was so happy to discover the Quintessence Tea Shop!

First of all, the ambiance is amazing. The shop is small, cozy, and well lit, and best of all, smells amazing. They also have cute products and books lining the walls to browse, but personally I was distracted by the menu. It had a seriously extensive list of different tea types to try in every imaginable flavor, which you can get either by the cup or by the pot. Tea lovers in Lima, definitely don’t miss this unique shop!

 

My three favorite restaurants in Surco all have pretty much nothing to do with traditional Peruvian cuisine or seafood, but hey, it is what it is. If you’re only passing through Lima and want to try the most famous restaurants and dishes here, this list is probably not for you. However, if you’re planning to stick around for awhile and want to try something new in the neighborhood, check out my three favorite restaurants in Surco!

All my love,
Di

PS If you’re traveling through or planning a trip to Lima, check out what to do for a day in Barranco, and my perfect weekend trip from Lima!

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Everything You Need to Know About Uda Walawe National Park

When I was planning my two week trip to Sri Lanka, deciding which national park to visit was a big concern. The national park you choose depends on your itinerary, the time of year you visit, and which animals you want to see.

Three of the most popular and commonly visited national parks in Sri Lanka are Uda Walawe National Park, Yala National Park, and Minneriya National Park. After careful research I chose Uda Walawe National Park for our trip, and I couldn’t have been happier with the experience. Here’s everything you need to know about the reserve…

 

 

Uda Walawe National Park

Main Attraction: Elephants
Size: Smaller & Less Crowded than Yala and Minneriya
Location: We visited between stops at Ella in the Hill Country and Hikkaduwa beach
Cost: $30 for a safari for two, and $40 for two entrance fees paid directly to the park (prices may have changed since 2016) Finally, we added another $6 to $10 tip for the guide.
Trip Time: 2.5 to 3 hours
How to Book: The tours can only be done through licensed safari guides, and you can’t just drive through the park with your hired driver. However, it is not necessary to book online and pay inflated prices. Simply show up at the gates and negotiate a price with the guides waiting outside. Don’t forget to specify how much time you want in the park as well.

The main reason why I chose to visit Uda Walawe National Park over the other two options is because I wanted to see elephants. The park is huge (over 100 square miles) and your chances of sighting an elephant or entire herd are very high. Unlike other parks where the herds migrate, the elephants are visible year round in Uda Walawe National Park.

During our 2.5 hour trip, we saw different small herds of elephants eating and drinking. We went in the early morning at 7am to have the best chance of seeing them, but if you can’t make it then the evening safari is the second best option. Our elephant sighting included families, full grown adults, and the adorably cute baby elephants as well. In addition to the elephants, we also saw peacocks (the national bird of Sri Lanka) water buffalo, crocodiles, and many different birds.

 

 

Different Choices for Different Seasons

When choosing which National Park in Sri Lanka to visit, you need to keep in mind what time of year you are visiting. Minnireya showcases huge herds of wild elephants, but you need to schedule your visit around their migration period. If you are in Sri Lanka in the summer and fall, then Minneriya is a great choice. However, in the winter and spring months (November to May/June) the elephants migrate and your chances for seeing them in the park go down significantly. Because we visited in March, Uda Walawe was our best bet.

 

How to Get to Uda Walawe National Park

If you want to see elephants in the spring season this is undoubtedly the place for you. On our detailed Sri Lanka itinerary, you can see we left Ella early in the morning, drove two hours to Uda Walawe to start the three hour hour morning safari at 7am, then continued 3.5 more hours to Hikkaduwa in the same day to hit the beach by early afternoon.

This was a perfect way to avoid the more expensive safari hotels around the park. Although, if I had had more money in the budget, I would have loved to stay to do an afternoon safari too!

If you are traveling from Colombo, the total drive time to Uda Walawe National Park will be about 4.5 hours, and from Kandy it is 5.5 hours. If you are not planning to hit the beaches or southern part of Sri Lanka at all, then Minneriya National Park may be a better choice for you because it is much closer to Sigiriya and Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. Just make sure you are visiting in the right season to spot the elephants.

 

 

Why Choose Uda Walawe National Park

We chose Uda Walawe, instead of the more popular Yala National Park, to avoid the crowds. Because it’s more off the beaten track, Uda Walawe is much less crowded with tourists and jeeps. When we were there in spring 2016, sometimes we were the only jeep watching a family of elephants. At its most crowded, there would still only be five or six other jeeps around us. The experience in Uda Walawe is therefore more relaxing, and more natural, than some of the other more popular parks.

However, one major reason to visit Yala National Park over Uda Walawe is because there are leopards in Yala. Spotting a leopard is notoriously difficult, but if it’s one of your dreams, then Yala National Park is definitely the one for you.

 

Uda Walawe National Park is the only park I visited during my two week vacation in Sri Lanka, and I had an absolutely amazing time there. If your itinerary in Sri Lanka takes you south, consider visiting Uda Walawe National Park instead of Yala on your trip. You’ll see plenty of elephants and other wildlife, and avoid the crowds. Whatever you do, make sure you think carefully about the time of year you are visiting, what kind of animals you want to see, and of course which location fits the best into your itinerary.

As always, if you have any questions about country leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

All my love,
Di

 

 

 

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