A verdant paradise nestling in the Indian Ocean just three degrees above the equator, Sri Lanka is an island of beautiful citadels, sacred cities and golden sands. In the cultural triangle, ancient monuments hide away in impenetrable jungle; palaces, temples and magnificent dagoba shrines pepper the landscape. Yellow robed Buddhist monks chant their hypnotic religious invocations as the pilgrims arrive in their thousands for the vivacious annual pageant. It is a heady mix of the tropical and the mystical…a land where elephants roam freely and water buffalo idle in paddy fields, where miles of white sand beaches are flanked by palms and bamboo groves. Mount Lavinia beach, overlooked by splendid colonial buildings, has a special beauty, whilst along the coast by a placid lagoon, the ruins of a seventeenth century Dutch fort provide a glimpse into the past of the old cinnamon trading port of Negombo. Take a stylish tour of hectic Colombo in a gleaming vintage car, or for cooler pursuits head for the verdant, lake-dotted hills where ladies in their colourful saris move serenely along the rows of tea bushes. Stay on a charming tea estate before flying from hill country past Adams Peak down to the beaches on the south coast, ready to feast on spicy Sri Lankan cuisine – a heavenly blend of exotic fruits, succulent seafood and delicately spiced curries. Not too big to overwhelm, small enough to savour, Sri Lanka offers a rich variety of sights and sensations.
The best time to visit is generally from November to March when the weather is hot and at its driest, however the ancient cities are best visited from April to September. August is also a popular time to visit, and those travelling during the summer months will benefit from good hotel offers.
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