Few places in the world can offer the traveller such a remarkable combination of stunning land scapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location. You will find 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometers of coastline, with pristine beaches, 15 national parks, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens and 350 waterfalls with a culture that extends back over 2,500 years.
Sri Lanka has a tropical climate and temperatures vary throughout the country. The mountainous areas in central Sri Lanka are often much colder. The north-eastern coast, the hottest part of the country, has an average temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius. Temperatures on the coastline of the south-western half of the country average 27-29 all year round.Sri Lanka has two distinct monsoon seasons. The Yala monsoon and the Maha monsoon. The wet season brought by the Yala monsoon winds lasts from May to July and affects the south-western half of the country. The Maha monsoon wind brings rains to the north-eastern half from October to January. The eastern beaches are therefore in season when the southern beaches are not.January to March is a great time for Whale Watching in Sri Lanka, with the majority of visitors to Sri Lanka come between December and April.
Sri Lankan culture is a rich blend of the interaction of diverse cultural patterns both indigenous and derived from, trade, religions, as well as, western colonization. The cultural patterns of Sri Lanka today show the lasting impact of a diverse range of cultures. The overall culture is largely the result of the impact of the introduction of Buddhism, more than 2,300 years ago. This does not erase the heavy influence of Hinduism, together with other religions. From the early 16th century Sri Lanka came under the strong influence of the Christians, who came in search of its much valued spices, peacocks, gems and elephants and stayed over. The advent of Buddhism saw the emergence of an entire civilization that reached a very high degree of development, especially in construction and architecture and the science of hydraulics. The rulers gave their patronage to the construction of great Buddhist "dagabas" or relic chambers for the spiritual upliftment of the people and gave considerable importance to the Buddhist clergy. They also gave similar importance to the temporal needs of the people, and commissioned the construction of great irrigation works that survive to this day.
Historically the country has seen a great flowering of arts, especially architecture, sculpture and painting. What is left of a whole gallery of the most exquisite frescoes painted on the face of a rock, The Heavenly Maidens Of Sigiriya, is now a UNESCO recognized site of the artistic heritage of man.The cultural development of Sri Lanka was closely associated with the links that the people had with the temple, or place of worship. The essential feature of Sri Lankan society, for many centuries, had been the simple livelihood of the people.
Colombo is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka and is located on the west coast. It is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern and colonial impressions. Colombo has wildly varying architecture that span centuries and depict various styles, including those inspired by the Portuguese, Dutch and British exist alongside structures built in Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Indian and Contemporary architectural styles. Colombo boasts many shopping malls that offer brand name clothing at highly discounted prices and has become an important shopping destination among tourists.
While on your city tour you will visit one of the world heritages as well as a sacred place for the Buddhists all over the world; namely the Temple of tooth Relic. Your next visit will be to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens which was restored with over 300 different varieties of orchids, other spices, medicinal plants and Palm trees. Be sure to visit the Gem Museum. Sri Lanka produces the finest quality of gems in the world, including semi-precious gems, the sapphires of Sri Lanka, which are very exclusive and comes in shades of blue, red, green, white etc. In the evening you can watch a traditional cultural dance show.
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. The city which lies on the banks of the Malvathu river is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient city is considered sacred to the Buddhist world and is surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles. Anuradhapura is also significant in Hindu legend as the fabled capital of the Asura King Ravana in the Ramayana. City tour: You will be able to explore the tallest brick built stupas of the ancient world. Ruwanweli saya, Abhayagiri and Jetawana Dagabas constituted the central edifices of the monasteries, Mahaviharaya, Abayagiri Vihara and Jetavanarama respectively. Sri Mahabodhi the sacred tree shrine of the Mahaviharaya, planted in the 3rd Century BC still remains its vitality and receives veneration of the Buddhist world all year around. Visit the Thuparama Dagaba, the historical Stupa built by King Devanampiyatissa. It has been converted in to a circular Chaitya Shrine ( Vat adage). Visit the Twin Ponds and the Isurumuniya. (Entrance fees to sites not included.)
Negombo is the well known fishing Village in Sri Lanka. It is a charming town set in the midst of green groves of coconut palms, warmth of golden sand and spirit of the sea. You will be able to taste the best of sea food to your hearts' desire. Apart from beaches and sea-food Negombo has a unique charm of its own with narrow streets, small boutiques and Catholic Churches dotting the landscape. During the city tour you will explore the old Dutch fort gate built in 1672, the Dutch Canal which was then a supply route to the Dutch administration, old churches and fishing villages. The 100km long canal running through the town is still being used and is an attraction for those who want to see the country from a different perspective.
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Actually it consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public; and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names also, like Ruhuna National Park and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometers (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometers (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and along with Wilpattu it was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals and is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilizations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, are situated within the park. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage on the Yala National Park and 250 people died in its vicinity. The number of visitors has been on the rise since 2009 after the security situation in the park improved.
Bentota is the city of the Golden Beaches. You will be able to relax and feel the spirit of the sea and the warmth of the soft sand. The day is divided in between swimming in the water and bathing in the sun. Bentota provides the perfect turf for unfurled vacation at the beach. While enjoying the sun, sea and sand the water sports lovers can enroll themselves in various water sports bringing in the unique pleasure of this locale. On your city tour you will enjoy a boat ride along the Madhu River. It is a scenic tour with mangroves and you will enjoy the natural rhythms. If you are looking for more exclusive experience, the Turtle Hatchery is the prime turtle nesting site which was open by the Wild life Protection Society in 1981. Visitors can see huge tanks filled with new born turtle hatchlings. After being fed, the baby turtles are taken to the sea and released when they are 2-4 days old, usually during the safer hours of darkness. (Entrance fees to sites not included.)
No specific inoculations are needed to enter Sri Lanka, but these regulations can change at short notice so it is best to check with your nearest Sri Lankan embassy before travelling. All travellers are recommended to be vaccinated against hepatitis, tuberculosis and Japanese B encephalitis just to be safe.The biggest health risk in Sri Lanka comes from consuming contaminated food and water. Although most restaurants in the main cities and resort towns should be up to international standards of hygiene, be careful at smaller food shops or roadside stalls. Ensure that any meat or seafood has been thoroughly cooked and avoid raw vegetables or unpeeled fruit. Water should be considered unsafe to drink everywhere on the island. Bottled water is readily available so stick to that for everything from drinking to brushing your teeth.With so many beautiful beaches it is easy to forget that the tropical sun this close to the equator is extremely strong. You can get sunburn in less than an hour, so use plenty of sunscreen and wear a hat when venturing out.Should you get seriously ill, there is adequate medical treatment at the government hospitals and clinics in the larger cities. Colombo National Hospital has 24-hour treatment, and is probably the best place to go in an emergency. Many upscale hotels also have their own doctors. Buying travel insurance is highly suggested for a trip to Sri Lanka, as it will cover any unforeseen medical care.The number for Colombo National Hospital is +94 11 2694731.