A luxury holiday in Sri Lanka is everything you’d hope it would be. An exotic paradise packed with things to see and do, you’ll find impeccable beaches, lush mountains, magnificent wildlife and no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites.
You’ll enjoy a well-established tourist infrastructure, welcoming people and an abundance of first-class hotel resorts, making your 5-star getaway one you’ll never forget. Among the magical experiences awaiting you during your holiday to Sri Lanka are witnessing elephants and leopards close up in the wild, soaking up the atmosphere of a sacred temple and snorkelling over coral reefs. Or how about climbing a rock fortress, strolling down cobbled colonial streets and watching fishermen spear their catches while balancing on stilts? For a relatively small country, this island is full of places for memory-making moments.
You’ll see attractive terraced tea fields dotted all around the inland areas of Sri Lanka, and of course, the country is famous for growing the renowned Ceylon leaves since British colonial times. It’s well worth paying a visit to a plantation estate for a chance to learn more about the country’s most famous export. You’ll get the chance to see local women picking the tea leaves and then learn about the entire process of preparing the tea; from fermentation to rolling, drying, cutting, sieving and grading. Many of the plantation houses also have pleasant teahouses where you can enjoy traditional Raj-style afternoon tea overlooking the lush tropical forests and terraces.
You’ll discover that the Temple of the Sacred Tooth is probably the most important Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka and one which attracts pilgrims from around the world. The gold-roofed temple itself is well worth a visit, with its pink buildings surrounded by a deep moat. You’ll learn that the sacred tooth was said to have been snatched from the flames of the Buddha’s funeral pyre and smuggled into Sri Lanka in the 4th century, hidden in the hair of a princess. Visit early in the morning to beat the queues waiting to see the tooth’s golden casket. You should try to catch the monks as they carry out ritual prayers four times a day.
If it’s wildlife you’re after, Sri Lanka has it in abundance. You might think Africa is the place for safaris, but holidays to Sri Lanka have just as many fantastic animals in its 26 national parks. Yala National Park has the highest concentration of leopards in the world and Minneriya park is the place to head for The Gathering, an amazing sight when hundreds of elephants, the most ever recorded in one place, meet at its lake. If you want to get even closer to nature on your animal adventure, go hiking across Horton Plains to the dramatic drop called the World’s End. The view is breath-taking and along the way, you’ll spot deer, monkeys and langurs, wild boar and maybe the very rare red slender loris.
Wherever you choose to stay, Sri Lanka holidays offer cultural sites and magnificent beaches. But where you base yourself could depend on the time of year you’re travelling. You’ll always be able to find sunshine and warm temperatures, but be aware that it rains more in the west and south from May to September and then from October to February in the east and north.
You’ll most likely arrive in the capital of Colombo, with its colonial splendour and bustling markets. Head north up the west coast to the pretty beach town of Negombo with its unspoiled coastline dotted with fishing boats and palm trees. At nearby Waikkal, you’ll discover more exotic butterflies than tourists.
Heading south from Colombo, Kalutara was once an important stop on the spice route and is now an attractive town with superb hotels. For something a little different, you could stay in naturally beautiful Bentota Beach, spectacularly located between a river bank and the seafront. Or you may think that the jewel in the crown of a Sri Lanka holiday is a stay in Galle, a majestic colonial town on the Indian Ocean which offers the perfect combination of relaxation, nature and culture.
Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, with wet and dry seasons, and the island’s size means that different weather patterns affect different parts. For this reason, Sri Lanka is considered to be a year-round destination because despite its weather patterns, half of the island is always in season. Broadly speaking, the inter-monsoon period between August and September is generally dry and warm, with rainfall being confined to short, sharp showers in the evenings rather than during the day. Outside of these times, it’s good to base yourself either on the southwest coast, which is best experienced between October and January, and the northeastern coast, which has lower rainfall between May and July. These are broad guidelines, and you may experience unseasonal weather outside of these periods.
Time difference: 6 hours in front of GMT.
Currency: Sri Lanka Rupee.
Language: English, Sinhala and Tamil.
Flight time from London: Approximately 11 hours.
Arrival Airport: Bandaranaike International Airport.
Entry details for British passport holders: A short stay visa needs to be obtained before departure through an online visa application process, the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Charges apply. Passports need at least 6 months validity from your date of entry. Before you depart, check the latest travel advice at www.fco.gov.uk.
A local Signature representative will meet you at your arrival airport and direct you to your pre-booked transfer vehicle. Depending on where you are staying, this may be a direct transfer courtesy of your hotel, via a boat, vehicle or domestic flight. You'll receive a welcome pack containing local information and all contact details. A welcome meeting will be held at your hotel, or should you need advice during your stay, the local office is available to answer your questions.
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