Bentota Sri Lanka – After visiting Colombo, I decided to head south of Sri Lanka, Bentota being my first stop. Many people head directly to Galle when visiting the region but if you have time to kill, I recommend you stop by Bentota. Needless to say, it is a beautiful coastal town with wonderful beaches but it also has many other attractions you can visit.
I’ll be telling you more about them in a while but first, let’s go over a few practical tips to organize your stay.
How To Get There
The most convenient and economical means of transportation to go to Bentota from Colombo, Negombo, or Galle, is the train. To give you an example, the train ride from Colombo lasts about an hour and a half and costs between 60 to 110 rupees (just a few cents) depending on the class. If you are traveling from Galle, the trip is going to be one to two hours long, depending on the class of course. To check train schedules, make sure to visit this website.
If you’re staying in Negombo, you’d ideally choose a hotel that is not too far from the train station and the beach. The Bentota train station is just a stone’s throw from the beach, by the way. The ideal location for your accommodation would, therefore, be the area around the station. For small budgets, you can get a double room for a little more than $10 in the Aayu Guest guesthouse. It is clean and tidy and located right next to the train station.
If you can afford better, try the magnificent Paradise Road The Villa. It is a very nice and luxurious hotel which is also close to the train station and the beach. The rooms are decorated in a beautiful colonial style with canopy beds and old wooden furniture.
The villa also offers access to a great pool and a very good restaurant. If you are traveling with a partner or your family, Paradise Road The Villa is the place to be! 🙂
What to do in Bentota?
Tips aside, here are my top 5 attractions to visit in Bentota. You’ll need at least a day or two to visit and enjoy them.
- Ventura Beach
- The Kande Viharaya Temple
- The Brief Garden by Bevis Bawa
- Sea Turtle Conservation Center
- Lununganga Estate
Bentota Sri Lanka – Ventura Beach
Ventura Beach is the main beach of Bentota. This stretch of sand is quite vast and very few people visit it. You will find some umbrellas you can use to relax in the shade and there are also some restaurants on the beach, The Loft is one of them.
Bentota Sri Lanka – The Kande Viharaya Temple
One of Bentota’s must-see attractions is the Kande Viharaya Buddhist temple. At the entrance, you can buy offerings. You can do like the local people and buy a basket of flowers or fruits for the temple.
Then, after climbing a few steps, you will get to see the impressive seated Buddha statue. The statue measures no less than 48 meters high, which makes it one of the largest seated Buddha statues in the world! By the way, the base of the statue is actually a lotus flower; it is often considered a sacred flower in Hinduism and Buddhism.
At first, you don’t really realize how big the statue is but when you get there, it makes you feel very small!
If you go around the statue, you will see a beautiful palm tree forest. The view is absolutely spectacular! 🙂
The Kande Viharaya temple is right behind the Buddha statue. I was lucky to visit the temple on a wedding day, so I joined the party! 🙂
Bentota Sri Lanka – The Brief Garden Of Bevis Bawa
Entrance: 1000 rupees (~ $5)
The Brief Garden is actually the name given to the beautiful garden of the house of Bevis Bawa, a famous Sri Lankan landscape gardener who died in 1992. He left behind a beautiful house with a beautiful garden that is now open to the public. I went there on a scooter but you can take a tuk-tuk if you like. It is about 10 minutes from downtown Bentota by scooter.
You will cross a beautiful flowered alley of reddish soil…
…to get to the entrance of the garden. It should take less than an hour to visit. You can also visit some parts of Bevis Bawa’s house.
Bentota Sri Lanka – The Sea Turtle Conservation Center
Entrance: 1000 rupees (~ $5)
There are many turtle conservation centers in southern Sri Lanka and the one I visited is called the Sea Turtles Conservation Research Project (exact location). Ever wondered why there are so many sea turtle conservation centers in Sri Lanka? It is simply because turtle hunting is intensively practiced and sea turtles are therefore an endangered species in Sri Lanka. This is also the case in the Philippines and also around the world.
Why are sea turtles hunted? They are actually sold mostly in China but also in Japan to be cooked in soups.
Even though the Sri Lankan authorities are closely monitoring turtle hunting nowadays, poaching continues and attempts to increase sea turtle population to prevent species extinction are crucial. This is where sea turtle conservation centers step in.
What they do is that they retrieve sea turtle eggs from the surrounding beaches. The eggs are then preserved and hatch in the center. The young turtles are kept for about two days and finally returned to the sea.
It is important to know that between egg-laying, hatching and getting to the sea, the majority of sea turtles are at risk of being eaten by predators. Only a small percentage has the chance to reach the sea. By protecting them during this journey, more young turtles end up reaching the sea.
Make sure to visit this conservation center to learn more about the protection of sea turtles in Sri Lanka. 🙂
Bentota Sri Lanka – Lunuganga Estate
Entrance: 2000 rupees (~ $10)
Opening hours: Entry at 9 AM and 2 PM only.
Lunuganga Estate is actually the home of Geoffrey Bawa, a renowned Sri Lankan architect who is none other than Bevis Bawa’s brother (remember the Brief Garden earlier?). I didn’t know if I should give this attraction a try because I’m not what you could call a fan of architecture. But this was actually my favorite place in Bentota! 🙂
I think images speak louder than words so have a look at these pictures and let me know what you think!
I didn’t know you could spend the night in Lunuganga Estate but apparently, you do! Book here.
This was our last but certainly not least stop in Bentota. Nice city, don’t you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 😉