Destinations Asia Holidays & Tours Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Holidays & Tours

Part of Sri Lanka's irresistible charm lies in the way it interweaves past and present. Whilst being forward-looking and progressive, this remains an island deeply imbued with a sense of pride in its traditions. Commuters and taxi drivers will stop on busy highways and queue at roadside temples to pay respects to their ancestors; businessmen will swap the comfort of their air-conditioned offices for an exhausting pilgrimage to the island’s most sacred sites; and the timing of even the simplest events is governed by ritual and religion.

It is perhaps not surprising that Sri Lanka's diverse ethnic groups have clung fiercely on to their traditions in the wake of centuries of invasion by foreign powers. The island’s early settlers migrated from India, establishing a 2500 year old Buddhist tradition that survives here as a potent symbol of the national identity, despite having long since faded in its native land. Hinduism, too, made its mark, proudly protected by Tamils across the nation. Arab traders brought Islam, while in later years the colonial powers of Europe fought over the island’s riches. Their legacy survives in the island’s tumble-down forts and creaking railways, tea plantations and passion for cricket.

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Sri Lanka Holidays & Tours
Sri Lanka’s superb beaches lie all along its coastline and vary greatly in character, with sandy coves and estuaries and long palm-fringed stretches. However, most of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful and interesting sights are away from the coast. By venturing a few hours inland you can explore the island’s phenomenal ‘Cultural Triangle’, which encompasses no fewer than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At one point of the triangle is Kandy, the island’s last Buddhist capital and gateway to the highlands, while to the north are the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

Anuradhapura was the capital for 1500 years, its soaring dagobas (domes containing sacred relics) testament to the lofty ambitions of its kings, while an auspicious meeting at nearby Mihintale sealed the island’s conversion to Buddhism. Repeated invasions from India forced Anuradhapura’s abandonment for the less exposed site of Polonnaruwa, whose city walls today encircle the island’s most rewarding archaeological complex; its unmissable highlight is the serene rock-cut recumbent Buddha at the Gal Vihara. But some of the region’s most inspiring treasures lie outside the ancient capitals: the astonishing Lion’s Rock, atop which lie the remains of a fifth-century playboy’s palace, and the impressive paintings at the cave temple of Dambulla.
Tailor a holiday to Sri Lanka and you'll discover gorgeous scenery in the hills and tea plantations, ancient and ornate temples and an incredible diversity of wildlife from elephants to whales, leopards to spoonbills. Sri Lanka is a charming country, rich in history and tradition, where you will uncover a fascinating culture and welcoming, friendly people.

Country Highlights 

Anuradhapura - An important Buddhist site, Anuradhapura is famous for its shrines, dagobas and most importantly, the sacred Bodhi tree, grown from a branch of the tree under which Buddha found enlightenment. It is Sri Lanka's first capital and dates back to the 4th Century.

Nuwara Eliya - Known as 'Little England', Nuwara Eliya is located in the central highlands, a cool retreat for the colonial Brits where Victorian architecture and pretty rose gardens are surrounded by tea plantations.

Wilpattu National Park - Less visited than other parks in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu has dry jungle and around 60 lakes where water birds flock in their numbers. The park is also home to leopard, elephant and sambar deer.

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