GMT +6 hours
Mystical ancient cities, thick jungle, palm-fringed beaches, unique culture and warm, friendly people.
Sri Lanka is awash with colour, vibrancy and beauty from the swathes of gloriously gold sand to the verdant jungles entwined around ancient monuments beneath blazing blue skies. This little country at the toe of India is a brilliant gem, wrapped in gold and lapped by the cerulean Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka is a dream destination, a combination of so many spectacular aspects that people visit time and time again. It has everything from vast stretches of coastline to rolling tea plantations and dense rainforest to antique relics. To experience Sri Lanka is to experience life, to undertake a journey guided by its people who will open your eyes to their culture and share with you their heritage.
When people think of Sri Lanka, it’s often the beaches that spring to mind first and this little island does have some truly magnificent stretches of beach. The southwest coast is especially popular, with resorts such as Negombo and Bentota providing an array of beautiful hotels including everything from old colonial favourites to modern and trendy resorts. Trincomalee on the east coast is also a popular, quieter option off the tourist trail. There’s also diving and snorkelling in abundance, reefs teeming with life, though some are still recovering from the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
If it’s the history of Sri Lanka that draws you in, a tour is an ideal way to see as many as possible. Most people will want to visit Sigiriya or Lion Rock, a monument of stone rising up at the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, the remnants of an ancient city scattered beside it. The two lion paws at the foot of the rock herald you in to the steps that lead to the summit, where once a royal palace stood. The two ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa the first and second capital cities of Sri Lanka respectively, are hauntingly beautiful and the Dutch Fort in Galle is also well worth a visit. Sri Lanka is also well known for its Buddhist relic, housed in Kandy in the Sacred Temple of the Tooth, a tooth from Buddha himself.
Flora and fauna are also in abundance in Sri Lanka, and a plethora of National Parks allow you to really experience the wilder side of the island. Yala, Sri Lanka's second largest national park, is a particular favourite and here you can see leopard, elephant, water buffalo, crocodile and approximately 215 species of bird as well as a whole host of other fauna. Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, though not a National Park, also features highly on many people’s wish lists as you get to watch the elephants be fed and bathed.
If rolling hills and cups of tea is your idea of heaven, Nuwara Eliya and the surrounding area is ideal. Here you’ll find restored tea plantations, colonial mansions and tranquil retreats all nestled within verdant landscape, a serene retreat from the bustle of Colombo and the beaches.
Recommended Sri Lanka Hotels
From the moment I stepped out of the plane and smelt Sri Lanka, I was taken. I fell in love with this beautiful nation from the word go.
If you want to experience the real Sri Lanka you have got to take a tour of the North – elephants, temples, tea plantations etc. Sri Lankans are real patrons of their country and for a good reason. This country is full of culture and stunning scenery, you are bound to come away filled with happy memories. If you are travelling around the country, just be prepared for the long drives."