Just off the southeast coast of India sits an island roughly the same size as Tasmania, with a history that stretches back at least 2,500 years and where elephants and leopards still roam free within its national parks. It’s home to a melting pot of cultures including Sinhalese, Tamil, Moors, Malays and Chinese, with a cuisine that reflects this wonderful diversity. There are daily, 11-hour direct flights from Melbourne to its main gateway city of Colombo and yet, Sri Lanka is really only starting to appear on the radar as a tourist destination for most Australians.
If palm-fringed beaches and verdant tea plantations, ancient temples and soaring peaks sound like an appealing combination to you, here’s a snapshot of what you need to know.
When to visit:
Sri Lanka sits just north of the equator, which means that it enjoys a tropical climate, but is also affected by monsoon winds arriving from the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. As a result, various parts of the country experience periods of heavy rainfall so it’s best to check with your personal travel manager as to the best time to visit, based on what you want to see.
What to do:
Whether you’re a wildlife lover, a bird-spotting enthusiast, a history nut or a beach bunny, you’ll definitely have no trouble finding things to see and do as you plan your itinerary. Hit the beautiful white-sand beaches of Tangalla in the country’s southeast, gaze in awe at the ancient temples and dagobas of Anuradhapura, or escape the heat of the lowlands and for the hilltown of Ella, which is an ideal base for hiking or to visit a tea plantation.
How to get there:
Direct flights operate on a daily basis between Melbourne and Colombo with connections to other major Australian cities, but you may prefer to extend your trip and travel via another south-east Asian city such as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore: your personal travel manager can help you choose the best option. Once you’ve arrived, travelling on one of the world’s most spectacular rail journeys, east from Colombo to Ella through the Central Highlands, is a must on any itinerary.
The warmth of the Sri Lankan people and their obvious pride in their history, their culture and their beautiful country are possibly the biggest drawcard, and one of the main reasons that this small country, known as “the Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, keeps popping up near the top of “must-visit” lists.
For more information on Sri Lanka, please contact one of our personal travel managers here.