Culture vultures, nature lovers and beach babies alike will find plenty to relish in diverse Sri Lanka. A melting pot of tropical beaches, ancient landmarks and abundant flora and fauna, this picturesque island is a haven for the explorer in search of untouched natural beauty. Roam its rolling countryside, luxuriate on its pristine beaches, or wander the vibrant streets to discover its fascinating colonial heritage.
Packed with homely guesthouses and converted colonial buildings, Sri Lanka’s accommodation is wonderfully authentic. From traditional B&Bs in Kandy, to extravagant five-star mansions in Galle, the selection boasts tradition, taste and quality. Some gorgeous boutique villas can be found nestled within the hill country, while friendly guesthouses are often the cheapest (and most authentic) option for budget travelers. It is custom to bargain for cheaper rates in these budget hotels – which often advertise separate local and tourist price sheets.
Historically, Sri Lanka was long renowned for its intricate handcrafts and home-grown produce. Popular goods included batik, lacework, metalwork and ivory carvings, while natural resources such as tea, spices and gems were, and still are, the country’s trademark. Yet, in recent years, it has seen a decline in such creativity thanks to an overhaul of government-run stores and mass production. While the state-run Laksala shops produce homogenous goods and tourist tat – such as brightly painted masks, elephant carvings or Dutch-influenced batik, some hidden corners are still home to authentic creativity and elaborate craftsmanship.
Not for the faint hearted, Sri Lankan food is a gastronomic explosion of fiery spices and flavors. As a result of its dynamic colonial past, the cuisine is a colorful blend of global cooking styles. While strong influence draws from the fare of its Indian neighbor, traces of Portuguese, Dutch and British culinary favorites are woven into its style, creating one of the world’s most dynamic cuisines.
Shaped like a teardrop hanging off the south coast of India, the island of Sri Lanka holds an assortment of enchanted charms within it’s palm-fringed borders. Pristine beaches encircle green highlands, where tea plantations line wildlife reserves, and ancient temples protrude through the canopy. Witness a spectacular elephant gathering, learn to pluck tea leaves, or celebrate a sacred Buddhist relic during one of the many festivals that occur year-round on this enthralling island.
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