Sri Lanka treasure island A teardrop-shaped island 30-miles off the coast of India, Sri Lanka is where the village and beach life of today stands shoulder to shoulder with 2,500 years of recorded history. It’s home to no fewer than seven Unesco-listed world heritage sites which makes it one of the richest treasure troves of natural and man-made wonders in the world.
And as the island is also the oldest continually Buddhist country on earth, it’s little wonder that such an insignificant dot in the ocean (no bigger than Ireland, in fact) still holds the international traveller in thrall. The royal city of Kandy continues to be the biggest draw. The ‘capital’ of the hill country is where the Dalada Maligawa shrine houses the sacred tooth of Buddha - its religious importance is still celebrated with thrice-daily services, the white-clad pilgrims blending in perfectly with the age-old buildings.
Three other World Heritage Sites also await here - Polonnaruwa, the Cave Temples of Dambulla and the Sigiriya Rock Fortress all date back thousands of years and show off anything from royal palaces and reclining Buddhas to story-telling wall frescoes. A wildlife adventure is not far away either courtesy of a national park home to elephants, leopard and purple-faced leaf monkeys.
Yet you don’t have to delve quite so far into Sri Lanka’s past to enjoy a visit here. The country’s more recent Dutch colonial history is still very evident in the remarkable coastal town of Galle, its lovely reef-protected bay complemented by quaint buildings and romantically-named streets. And when it comes to laid-back beach holidays, we’ve chosen tranquil havens like Tangalle and Wadduwa where you can appreciate the palm-fringed golden sands from the comfort of two truly exceptional hotels.
HOW TO GET THERE SriLankan Airlines offer flights to Colombo, the journey taking about 10 hours. Qatar and Emirates also offer services via Doha and Dubai. Plan on spending at least 7 days exploring, coming here first before possibly adding it on to a relaxing week in the Maldives.
WHEN TO VISIT December to March is the best time to visit our featured destinations in the hill country, as well on the west and south coasts of Sri Lanka - you’ll be sure to avoid the monsoon rains then!
OUR RECOMMENDATION Sri Lanka still has its heritage and is up and coming. Definitely a great start to a twin centre with the Maldives.
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