Luxury Multi Centre Holidays
Sri Lanka, with its central location in the Indian Ocean between Arabia and Asia, is ideally suited to a multi-centre holiday. You can make the most of your time away by combining dynamic Dubai or Abu Dhabi with Sri Lanka's idyllic beaches and wildlife. Or you can divide your time between Sri Lanka's mountains and ancient cultures, and the beautiful island landscapes of the Maldives.
Featured Hotels in Sri Lanka
Luxury Sri Lanka Holidays
Often called the pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a land of golden beaches, misty mountains, jungles roamed by leopard and elephant, ancient and mysterious ruins, and exquisite temples. After decades of civil war, and with a government set on healing the scars of the past, peace has opened up this wondrous isle to increasing numbers of visitors, and it has again become the serene land that gave it its ancient name of Serendip. Few islands in the world can boast such a combination of ancient culture and legendary beauty.
The natural environment of Sri Lanka is mind-blowing -- the unique climate and geography have given this tiny island a range of biodiversity normally only found across entire continents. The necklace of beaches encircling the island are so pristine that, from the air, the island appears to be outlined in white. Dense rainforests rise up just metres back from the coast, the national parks teem with wildlife, and coastal lagoons and mangrove forests overflow with marine and bird life.
With all its extraordinary cultural and natural attractions, Sri Lanka is still best known for its beaches, which are among the most unspoilt and unpolluted in the world. For an authentic local beach experience, head to the south coast, where fishermen cast their lines while perched on stilts dug into the sand -- the best-known beach in the south is Silent Beach, half a mile of fine white sand fringed with palms, close to Tangalla. On the east coast, the beaches are still largely undiscovered, Arugam Bay in the south-east being the best surfing spot on the island, while most resort hotels are located on the developed west coast.
However, one of the main reasons to visit Sri Lanka has to be its incredible wildlife, found in its wide choice of spectacular National Parks. The most visited is Yala, a beautiful area of lowland dry scrub along a stretch of the south-eastern coast, punctuated by rocky outcrops. Here you have the best chance of spotting the elusive leopard, and other mammals that could be sighted include sloth, wild pig, mongoose, jackal and langur monkey.
The best place for wild elephant is the Uda Walawe National Park, just south of the central mountains, where elephant sightings are virtually guaranteed. The Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve is the nation's premier rainforest, where more than half the trees are found nowhere else in the world. As well as leopard, barking deer and langur monkeys, there are flocks of several species of beautiful birds of paradise endemic to the island.
Cultural Triangle -- a Must-see
The truly unique attractions of Sri Lanka are found in a small area north of the second city of Kandy, where the highland hills tumble down into the arid northern plains. This area, known as the Cultural Triangle, is the location of the island's earliest great civilisation, and the amazing profusion of ancient temples, palaces and dagobas (dome-like structures) bring reminders of this golden age. Within this small area are no fewer than 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites, making it a treasure trove of some of the finest monuments in the world.
At the corners of the triangle lie the mediaeval city of Kandy, the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura to the north, and Polonnaruwa to the east. Anuradhapura was the capital of the island from the 3rd century BC to 993 AD, and its ruins are dotted with vast monasteries, intricate palaces and monumental dagobas. Probably one of Sri Lanka's most iconic sites is the spectacular rock citadel of Sigiriya, a royal palace in the sky,dating from the 5th century AD, and also not to be missed are the marvellous cave temples of Dambulla, a 2,200-year-old monastery built into the walls of a cave, encompassing five ancient sanctuaries.
World's Best Train Rides
While in Sri Lanka, everyone should take at least one train ride -- the scenic trails are considered the most beautiful train rides in the world. You can choose the mountain route, from Colombo to Kandy across high country, through tea plantations and across beautiful rivers. Or travel from Galle in the south-west, along the west coast to Colombo -- take an afternoon train so you can watch the sun slowly sinking into the sea.
Steeped in history and legend over so many centuries, even the name of Sri Lanka casts a magical spell, and for those who visit, the magic lasts long after they leave. It is virtually impossible in one holiday to see all the wonders this island has to offer, so don't rush around. The best way is relax, take things slowly, and drink in all the enchantment and beauty, so that the spell will last a lifetime.