It may not be your dream destination. Compare it with any other countries around the globe and it might seem to lack the charisma of Switzerland, the pizzazz of the world's fashion capitols and the other glorified historical relics. Yet the Isles of Serendipity is one of the must places to visit as it unfolds the topographical variety, historical remains spanning 3,000 years and the unexpected natural uniqueness branching out with diverse flora-fauna and finally the wide blue stretch of the Indian Ocean. With three decade civil war coming to an end in 2009, Sri Lanka's tourism is witnessing a boom in tourism sector. The government had targeted one million tourist arrivals for 2012 and revenue of $1 billion from foreign direct investment. "By 2016, we hope to reach 2.5 million arrivals as Sri Lanka has been listed among the five new emerging travel destinations by the World Travel Market's industry report in November 2012. Key factors as infrastructure, investments and beautiful locations have favoured Sri Lanka's re-emergence as one among 10 top destinations around the globe," said Lal Perera, head of worldwide sales, SriLankan Airlines.
Starting from the pristine shores overlooking the Indian Ocean to the rolling mountains, a home to wide range of wild animals and thousands of Asian elephants as well as extensive growth of valuable and diverse species of flora, Sri Lanka is a place worth a visit once in your lifetime. Situated at the southern tip of the world, it is just four hours flight from Muscat. The "Pearl of Indian Ocean," can be a perfect trip for your anniversary or even a small getaway trip abroad.
Nuwara Eliya or Little England
The city of lights otherwise known as Little England, dramatically unfolds the history of Indian Epic. A 5- 6 hours drive from the airport, takes you through the serpentine route clipped with mesmerising waterfalls before you reach the Queen of the Hills of Sri Lanka.
Situated 1,890 metres above sea level, Nuwara Eliya is Sri Lanka's highest town and as such blessed with a temperate, invigorating climate. The town itself is small enough to explore on foot within a few hours. All around, there are sloping tea plantations, some stretching right into the outskirts of town. Must see: Ravana Falls, Rambodha Falls, Sita Temple, Ella, Ashok Vatika, Gregory Lake, Golf Course.
The Citadel of Sigiriya
Sigiriya is a magnificent archeological site locates in central Sri Lanka built by King Kasyapa in 477 - 495 AD and it's a popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. Visible for miles in all directions 600 feet rock stands high above the surrounding plain with magnificent complex gardens, pools and fountains. Path through the gardens along stone stairways come to the Lon Gate which is now degenerate to massive pair of brick paws. Only the paws remain from the huge head of a lion. Half way up to the rock along the iron staircase is the mirror wall and its frescoes beautifully drawn Maidens still seen today. Theses paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock. However many more have been wiped out.
This is the place to test your physical fitness: Adam's Peak is Sri Lanka's fourth highest mountain (2,243m) and the country's holiest pilgrimage site. On the peak, you find an oversized "Footprint of the Buddha", but even non-Buddhists revere the mountain. The ascent is ideally started at about 1 or 1.30am, so as to arrive in time for sunrise — a spectacular sight from the peak. Depending on your state of physical fitness, it may take two to four hours to reach the peak.
Kandy was the last bastation of the Sinheles kings. The valley of Kandy is surrounded by magnificent hills which made it difficult to capture until 1815. Above 465 metres from the sea level Kandy is a charming city with full of arts, crafts, music and dance. The main highlight of the city is the temple of tooth relic and the Kandy pageant
Wildlife parks of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is famous for its natural beauty and wildlife. The magnitude of bio diversity found in Sri Lanka has led to rank Sri Lanka as the 10th highest in bio diversification present per square area. Many species are endemic.
There are many beautiful national parks which are rich with flora and fauna. Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are located all around the country which is very popular among local and foreign travellers. The most prominent is Yala National Park which is about 309km from Colombo. The park is very popular for Jeep safaries among local and foreign tourists. The park is home to elephants, spotted deer, barking deer, sloth bear, wild buffalo and wild boar. More than 120 species of birds are living in the park.
Another popular is Wasgamuwa National Park which is located in Matale and Polonnaruwa districts. This park is home to elephants, sloth bear, leopards, crocodiles. More than 143 species of birds are found in this park.
The other parks which can be visited include Udawalawa National Park which is situated about 170km from Colombo. As the park lies within the dry zone mostly the vegetation is grassland and Gal Oya National Park which is situated 314km from Colombo is in Inginiyagala district. The park is famous for its extraordinary elephant population which is about 150. The ideal way to watch animals of this park is to have a boat Safari around the tank.
Beaches of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is blessed with over thousand kilometres of palm fringed coastline. The long stretched deserted golden beaches of East, West and South are the most popular among visitors and the glistening clear waters will guarantees year around water sports, swimming and sunbathing. Among the popular beaches are Beruwala which is located in the south west cost of Sri Lanka about 60km from Colombo.
It will take an hour's drive to take you to Beruwala and it is treated as the starting point of the southern cost beach resorts. Another beach which is very famous is Bentota beach which is 62km away from Colombo in Galle district.
Unawatuna, which is about 120km from Colombo is a popular tourist destination. And if you are looking for shorter stay in Sri Lanka then you can opt for Negambo Beach which is just 8km from the airport. Lagoon of Negombo is famous for lobster harvesting.
How to go
SriLankan Airlines and Oman Air have direct flights from Muscat to Colombo.
Best time to go
Climate is fairly temperate throughout the year but avoid May-August as this is the time for heavy rain.
Auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) is most convenient. Always negotiate and agree on a price before you take a trip. Taxis are also a good mode of transportation and safer as well. You can also ask your hotel to arrange the transportation.
Must see and do
Mt. Lavinia at sunset, water sports in Bentota and jeep safari in one of the national parks.
Where to stay
Jetwing Hotel Sri Lanka is a leading name in Sri Lanka hotels with 13 distinctive properties spread around the country from Negombo to Galle and Nuwara Eliya. For more log into www.jetwinghotels.com