Sri Lanka 30.03.2015 Transindus
Travelling around Sri Lanka is on the bucket list for a lot of people, with the country one of the friendliest and most beautiful of anywhere in the world. The pear-shaped island off the coast of India has a population of about 20 million people but much of it is still completely unspoiled: natural beauty like the sights you can see in Sri Lanka is becoming less common all over the planet.
Sri Lanka is a brilliant place to go travelling, but what do you need to know before you book?
The island of serendipity
Known as the island of serendipity, Sri Lanka has a hot and wet tropical climate caused by its close location to the equator. Although the island is only a little larger than Ireland, it has a huge amount of diversity. On a trip to Sri Lanka you can enjoy game reserves, the seaside, unspoiled plains and the bustling cities of Colombo and Kandy.
Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons so there is a fair chance you'll get wet on your visit. If you are heading to the capital city Colombo, the season runs from April to October, while the rains come from November through to February on the eastern side of the island. Further inland the island is hilly and the weather tends to be hot and wet all year round.
The Cultural Triangle
The central area of the island is home to the Cultural Triangle, which is understandably on the top of the must-see list for a lot of people going travelling in Sri Lanka.
Here you will be able to see stunningly preserved temples and the most incredible landscapes in the world, as well as the chance to learn all about the rich history of the island. The royal capital of Anuradhapura is one of the highlights of any trip to Sri Lanka, with the location home to the sacred Bo tree and grand, intricate sculptures.
While most travellers head to Colombo, Kandy is arguably a better place to go to during a spell travelling in Sri Lanka. Here is where you will find the celebrated Temple of the Tooth, which does exactly what it says on the tin: it houses the Buddha's eye tooth.
Kandy is particularly fascinating to visit during August as this is when the Perahera festival takes place. The famous tooth - kept under wraps, of course - is paraded through the streets of the city, accompanied by glorious elephants, drummers and dancers.
The east of the country is much less developed than the more touristy west, but if you're happy to head off the beaten trail you will be rewarded with some of the finest beaches in the world.
If beaches are your thing you simply must head to the harbour town of Trincomalee, which is home to idyllic long stretches of palm-fringed sand. Palagama Beach is also worth checking out.
The south of the island has the small town of Tangalle, which is enjoying a growing reputation as a tourism hotspot, while the busiest beach on the island is Unawatuna Bay.
Sri Lanka is a great place to travel if you're keen on wildlife, with the island home to 450 different species of bird, as well as dozens of types of butterflies. Uda Walawe National Park is your best bet if you want to observe elephants in the wild, while the Sinharaja rainforest near Galle and Horton Plains National Park are recommended for bird-watchers.
Yala National Park in the west of the island is the most likely location for leopard-spotting and if you want to have a chance of seeing sloth bears and jackals then Sri Lanka is certainly the place to be as well.
Anuradhapura is one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka, and that is saying something. The ruins include huge dagobas, crumbling temples and ancient pools, although the city itself now has a much more modern feel.
Like in neighbouring India, most Sri Lankans are absolutely mad for cricket and there is usually a game going on somewhere. The passion locals have for the sport is incredible and on a dry day there is little more relaxing than taking in a match.