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Sri Lanka Holidays

Sri Lanka
Overview

If you’re looking for a holiday to a destination that offers everything from beautiful stretches of white sand beaches, wonderful local culture, historic sights, amazing food, and an array of exciting activities, then there are few places better than Sri Lanka.

 

Often twinned with Maldives to combine culture and serenity, Sri Lanka is now a beach destination in its own right, as well as being a fabulous choice for an all-round holiday. Choose from one of the many beautiful beach locations along the southwest coast such as Bentota, Beruwela or Hikkaduwa or head to the stunning east coast to the more up-and-coming area around Trincomalee. Offering safe, warm waters, powder soft sand and an abundance of watersport activities including sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and diving, these Indian Ocean beach resorts offer a truly amazing holiday experience. 

 

And why stop at the beaches? Sri Lanka has so much more to offer including the mesmerizing cultural triangle in the north where the famous Sigiriya Rock can be found (and climbed!) along with the enormous reclining Buddha at Polonnaruwa.  Head slightly further south and you’ll come across the Sinhalese capital, Kandy with its intriguing Temple of the Tooth and the town of Nuwara Eliya, with its endless tea plantations.  And if wildlife is your thing, head to the wonderful Yala National Park on the south coast where the highest concentration of leopards in the world can be found.  

 

A holiday to Sri Lanka is at the top of many peoples’ list, and it isn’t hard to see why… 

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Places to go and things to do in Sri Lanka
Cultural Triangle

Cultural Triangle


The north-central plains of Sri Lanka were once known as Rajarata, or the Land of Kings. Today, this area is known as the Cultural Triangle. It includes the historical remains of the Sinhalese Kingdom from Anuradhapura, the subsequent capital, Polonnaruwa, and the highly respected cave temples found in Dambulla.

Possibly the greatest monastic city of the ancient world, Anuradhapura was at its height, home to thousands of monks at numerous monasteries scattered across the city. These days, the many visitors (locals and tourists) tend to seek out the Dagobas (large dome constructions built to house ancient relics of Buddha) that are synonymous with the city, as well as ancient cave temples and the sacred Bodhi Tree believed to have grown from a branch of the Bodhi Tree where Buddha found enlightenment.

Indian elephants are synonymous with Sri Lanka and it if you would like to experience their sheer numbers in their natural habitat, a late afternoon safari in Minneriya National Park is a great way to see these magnificent creatures without compromising their majesty or safety. Often taken out in small groups in traditional 4x4 safari vehicles, you will go out and search for the enormous herds in addition to many other species including monkeys, deer and possibly even leopard.

For a really authentic dining experience, try Jaga Food in Polonnawura. Located in a tranquil setting by the river, and accessed via a dirt track (ideally by a tuk-tuk!), this small family run-restaurant specialises in fabulous Sri Lankan curries and serves up a delicious range of vegetarian, meat and fish curries of varying strength, amazing rotties and mouthwatering desserts.

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Kandy

Kandy


Surrounding a picturesque lake, Kandy, a UNESCO heritage site, boasts revered sites, meticulously designed gardens, and museums rich in culture.

In the months of July and August the number of visitors to Kandy peaks considerably for the two-week Perahera, at the Temple of the Tooth. Elephants, dancers, drummers and other performers come together to parade the sacred Tooth Relic through the streets. Such rituals have persisted for many centuries and there is a belief amongst the locals that the by continuing these traditions, disasters such as famine will be averted. If you plan to visit during this time, make sure you book well in advance as hotels and guesthouses do get heavily booked up.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, take some time to experience the natural beauty of the Udawattekele Sanctuary. Enjoy the 5km walk through this natural reserve where you may stumble across a troupe of monkeys grooming or eating, a Buddhist hermit sitting outs de his home or you may even find yourself looking down on the roofs of the Temple of the Tooth.

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Explore the Past

Explore the Past


Brimming with energy, Colombo, Sri Lanka's maritime metropolis, stands as the nation's economic powerhouse and a favoured pit stop for travellers.

The downtown region of Colombo 1, specifically the Fort Area, is rich with magnificent architectural structures hailing from Sri Lanka's Dutch and British periods. In the past (the British pronounced Colombo as Ceylon's capital in 1815), this district functioned as a literal fort, flanked by the sea on two sides and a moat on the remaining sides.

Nowadays, the Fort Area in Colombo is abundant with beautifully preserved colonial-era architectural gems, harmoniously blended with modern buildings. The Old Dutch Hospital is an exceptional illustration of this synthesis (refer to no. 6 in this guide), and it's definitely worth your time. Additionally, the President's House and a variety of ministry and governmental edifices can be found in this district.

Gangaramaya (Vihara), a Buddhist temple, is said to contain the sacred hair relics of Buddha. The temple is adorned with an astounding number of Buddha representations. Carved in stone, cast in white plastic, or gleaming in gold, the sheer quantity of Buddhas here is staggering.

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Out & About

Out & About


To really experience what life is like in Colombo, all you need to do is explore!

Exploring Colombo on foot can be quite exhausting due to the heat, but thankfully, tuk-tuks are incredibly easy to spot. These quirky three-wheelers serve as the primary mode of transportation for both residents and visitors, adding an element of thrill to your journey. No matter where you stroll in Colombo, tuk-tuks will pull up alongside, and the drivers persistently offer their services.

Pettah, also known as Colombo 11, ranks among Colombo's most historic neighbourhoods. Roaming its vibrant streets offers a sensory fiesta of bustling noises, tantalizing aromas, and intriguing people-watching. Embark on a whirlwind exploration of myriad stores, kiosks, and markets, punctuated intermittently by sights of spiritual edifices like mosques and churches.

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