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Emerging from years of civil war, Sri Lanka is eager to make up for lost time in the tourism stakes, and is doing just that. Although small compared to its giant neighbor, India, Sri Lanka packs a lot into a limited space, with beautifully neat tea plantations clinging to the slopes of the central hills, dry and dusty plains to the north in the so called 'Cultural Triangle' and the glorious white sand beaches of the south and east coasts.
The geographical heart of Sri Lanka is an area of hills reaching a height of just over 2,500m. With cooler temperatures and seemingly endless views of tea and more tea this is heaven for the challenge-loving cyclist. Kandy forms a center point to this region with its famous 'Temple of the Tooth' housing a relic of the Buddha.
To the north lie dry plains dotted with hills, home to the most significant of Sri Lanks'a cultural treasures including Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. Further north still lie the Hindu dominated regions rarely visited by tourists.
Along the island's fringes can be found a string of white sand beaches, perfect for relaxing or, for the more adventurous, surfing. Add to this the charming city of Galle on the south coast and you can see that Sri Lanka serves up a tasty mix for visitors.
Sri Lankan Rupee
Approx. 21 Million
GMT +5hrs 30 min
Sinhala & Tamil
MAIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS
Rolling hills covered with neat rows of tea bushes, dotted with colorfully dressed tea-pickers. Misty mornings with cool temperatures. Winding roads and wonderful views. This is the Hill Country of Sri Lanka. The main centers of this area are Kandy, Sri Lanka's second largest city, with its important Temple of the Tooth, Nuawara Eliya, Sri Lanka's highest town, in the shadow of Pidurutalagala, the country's highest peak, and Ella, a small, friendly place with a scenic setting at the mouth of the valley know as 'Ella Gap'. Add to this the Horton Plains, a high plateau of montane grassland and cloud forest, and the Knuckles Range, a massif of strikingly shaped peaks, and you have a wealth of things to see and do within a relatively small area.
Sri Lanka's most famous historical sites are located in a area dubbed the 'Cultural Triangle', a region of dry plains and low hills to the north of the Hill Country. The best known and most picturesque of the sites is Sigiriya, a fortress and pleasure palace located on the top of a 200m high volcanic outcrop of rock. Very much the face of Sri Lanka this is one of the absolute 'must-sees' of the country. Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura are the other major sites, both historical capitals of Sri Lanka, replete with stupas, ruins and statues. Dambulla is a smaller site; a colourful complex of Buddhist cave temples carved into a large rock wall.
Sri Lanka has some great beaches, predominantly on the south and east coasts. At certain times of year seas can be large, making for good surfing conditions but not always great swimming at many locations. The beaches are largely composed of soft, white sand and have a laid back vibe. Tasty, fresh seafood is of course the order of the day!
Sri Lanka is well endowed with National Parks that are home to a vast and wonderful variety of wildlife, and the country is becoming a real ecotourism destination. Despite its small size Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world, and was even the first country in the world to designate a wildlife sanctuary - at Mihintale in the 3rd century BC. Some of the best parks include Yala NP, with its leopard population, Uda Walawe NP with a large number of wild elephants, Wasgamuwa NP which is also great for wild elephant spotting, and Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the country's premier rain-forest, home to the rare phenomenon of mixed bird flocks.
Sri Lanka has a rich colonial heritage with the best preserved of the colonial towns being the atmospheric old port of Galle. The walled city is great to explore on foot with its lanes and alleyways, lined with beautiful old Dutch and Portuguese buildings, many of which have been lovingly restored and reborn as boutique hotels, restaurants and museums. Galle cricket ground is considered to be one of the most picturesque in the world, and has been re-constructed following extensive damage during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Coolest time: Temperatures remain fairly consistent throughout the year – Hottest Time: Temperatures remain fairly consistent throughout the year
Wettest time: Varies regionally and is influenced by two separate monsoons – Driest Time: Varies regionally and is influenced by two separate monsoons
Our favourite time: Any Time!
Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, with generally good weather. Two monsoons affect different parts of the country, so one region can be dry while another is experiencing tropical rain showers. March to mid-April is the driest time nationwide, with the first annual monsoon bringing rain to the southwest lowlands and central hills from late May to September and a weaker second monsoon affecting the northeast of the island from November to February.
The hill country is significantly cooler than the northern plains and coast, and can be downright chilly at night! Temperature is strongly affected by altitude with higher destinations such as Nuwara Eliya and the Horton Plains experiencing minimum temperatures in single figures (centigrade) during winter months.
When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?
Although Sri Lanka boasts good weather year-round, you’ll find that December through March is the best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country, while the east coast has the best weather from April until September. July, August and January are the months with the highest volume of tourists, so choose spring or towards the end of the year to avoid the crowds.
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