Bandaranaike International Airport
Bandaranaike International airport, named after the former Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike is the state airport owned by the government of Sri Lanka. This could be considered the best avenue where Sri Lankan airline industry thrives. The airport offers its premium services for all the clients inclusive of Economy, Business and VIP classes.
By the mouth of the Negombo lagoon with its calm waters, the city plays home to a humble and religious population of 144,551. The city is located about 37 kilometers North of the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. In contrast to the peace and calm of the lagoon, Negombo is also home to the beach on the Western Coast with its white waves rhythmically crashing against its shore.
Ella is much similar to Nuwara Eliya with its very green mountains, hills, climate and breathtaking view. It is a common attraction to hikers and trekkers from within the country and worldwide. While it is quite famous for its Nine Arches bridge in Demodara, other places to visit while you are in Ella include the Ella Rock, Rawana Falls, Little Adam’s Peak, Bambaragala Peak and the Ella Gap.
Bentota is considered one of the most fascinating and iconic tourist attractions of Sri Lanka. The Bentota beach is the most prominent element around which tourism industry of the area is based. Among the activities that are highly celebrated in the region, one can visit the beach, the Bentota River, the Sea Turtle Protection Centre and the La Luna Water Sports Centre.
Uda Walawe National Park
Beautifully constructed with much attention to detail by the Portuguese during the 16th century, Galle is a historic walled city in the south west of Sri Lanka. It is home to the Galle Dutch Fort which happens to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage and is also the largest fortress remaining in all of South East Asia.
Yala National Park
One of the largest national parks in Sri Lanka, only second to the Wilpattu National Park by size, Yala National Park contains 978.8 square kilometers filled with exotic wildlife. Managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka, the Yala National Park hosts many birds that are endemic to the country such as Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, etc.
Dambulla Cave Temple
This is one of the iconic historical sites which distinguish the ‘Caves’ that are celebrated for their touch of antiquity in Buddhist history. The cave temple structure or the system was a habitual locale for the Buddhists hermits to engage in meditation.
Galle - The Walled City
Beautifully constructed with much attention to detail by the Portugese during the 16th century, Galle is a historical walled city in the south west of Sri Lanka. It is home to the Galle Dutch Fort which happens to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage and is also the largest fortress remaining in all of South East Asia.
Owing to a reputation as being a World Heritage City and a prime tourist destination, Kandy receives a larger amount of visitors per day throughout the year. The scenic natural beauty of the hills and mountain ranges of Hanthana, Udawatta Kele Sanctuary and the Kandy View Point provides any person one of the best experiences of sightseeing in greenery.
The history attests itself for the proud heritage that runs within the roots of the reputation of Polonnaruwa. The city in ancient history was yet another momentous kingdom. The Brahmanic monuments of the Cholas are amidst the finest historical representations of Polonnaruwa.
Known by its many names such as the ‘City of Lights’ and ‘Little England’, Nuwara Eliya as a whole is a breathtakingly green city with its mass vegetation of trees and tea plantations. On your way there you will not be able to stop yourself from stopping to soak in the view of the many magical and white waterfalls you will come across.
Jaffna is the capital city and administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It was formerly known as “Yalpanam” in Tamil and “Yapanaya” in Sinhala. During the pre-war period, Jaffna was the second largest city next to Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo. However, post war Jaffna is currently the 12th largest city with a population of approx. 88,000. The majority population of Jaffna were pre-dominantly Sri Lankan Tamils who were Hindus, the minority Sri Lankan Moors and a small population of Sinhala Buddhists. The post war rehabilitation projects have now been completed to a large extent, the roads and highways leading to Jaffna from Colombo have been repaired and most of the other infra-structure are in place. Some of the main hot spots in Jaffna are the Nallur kandasamy temple, Jaffna Fort, Archeological museum and the Public library which were damaged during the war are now rehabilitated. Jaffna which was hitherto closed for the general public and foreign tourists during the 3 decades of war has now re-opened for public view. Lots of hotels, tourists resorts and guest houses have opened up to cater to the basic needs of the local and foreign tourists.The highly sophisticated underground bunker and hideout of the LTTE leader which has now become a major attraction is also open for the public view.
Trincomalee also was known as Gokanna, is the Administrative headquarters of the Trincomalee District and a major resort port city of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.It is located 113 Miles South of Jaffna and 69 miles North of Batticaloa. According to history spanning over 2500 years, beginning with the civilian settlement vastly associated with the famous Koneshwaran temple where the Fort Frederick. served as the entrance to this temple.Trincomalee, which is a natural harbour, served as a key maritime seaport in the international trading history of the island due to its strategic position. It has attracted several seafarers from Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and East Asia during ancient times.It is believed to be one of the 5th largest Natural deep water harbours in the world. The China bay RAF airfield in Trincomalee, was the former air base of the British air force before World War 2. This airfield and Trincomalee harbour which served as the home port of the Eastern Fleet of the Royal Navy, was attacked by a carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy as part of the Indian Ocean raid, in 1942.Trincomalee is also home to some of the most picturesque and scenic beaches in Sri Lanka namely the Nilaveli and Uppuveli beach. Trincomalee is home to the seven hot springs of Kinniya and the Trincomalee War cemetery worth visiting.
Pasikudah is a coastal resort town located 35 kilometers Northwest of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Although it is an uncommon destination, seldom visited by normal foreign tourists, its golden sunny beaches has now become a paradise and a most popular tourist destination, “Off the beaten track”. The seas are quite calm with dry weather prevailing during the Summer season from May to October each year, when compared with the seas across the much visited South West coastal areas of Sri Lanka. Passikudah beach is well known for the longest stretch of shallow reef coastline in the world. Ideally suited for safe sea bathing and other water based activities, where people can walk several hundred meters into the sea. There are no strong currents around this stretch of beach, when compared with the beaches in other parts of the island of Sri Lanka. In comparison, Arugam bay in the Eastern province which is just 146 Km, South of Passikudah, are much different with high waves, ideally suited for surfing. It has attracted several professional surfers the world over to throng the Arugam Bay beach during this period. Passikudah which suffered economically due to the Tsunami in 2004 and the 3 decades of civil war, were able to come out of the economic crisis by reviving tourism. With govt intervention to develop tourism, it has now attracted several foreign and local investors to further develop tourism in the coastal areas. Of late several newly built star class luxury boutique hotels, medium level tourist resorts and budget hotels have sprung up to cater to the special requirements of upmarket foreign tourists or the budget conscious leisure travellers.
Gal Oya National park
Gal Oya is yet another “Off the beaten track” destination which are seldom visited by normal foreign or local tourists alike. The Gal Oya National park was established in 1954 to serve as a catchment area for the great Senanayake Samudra reservoir which is about the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka and several other reservoirs, built to develop 162,000 hectares of forest for agricultural development. Gal Oya can be accessed by road, or by domestic flight from Colombo to Ampara which is the only closest point from Gal Oya to the airport. The main route by road starts from Colombo via highway to Ratnapura and Pelmadulla, turn right towards Udawalawe, Thanamalwila, Wellawaya, Moneragala and then proceed North from Siyambalanduwa to Inginiyagala. The entrance to the Gal Oya National park is 20 km west from Ampara at Inginiyagala. The tourists are afforded two options to enjoy fully the beauty and the wild life attractions of the park. Option 1, is to go on a boat safari around the Senanayake Samudra reservoir or to go on a 4wd jeep safari or both. One of the main highlights of going on a boat safari is you will have the rare opportunity to see herds of wild elephants swimming from one island to another. However, going on a jeep safari will enable the visitors to view several other animals and perhaps a rare sighting of the the Sri Lankan Leopard.The park is also home to the Sambar Deer, Torque Monkeys, Mugger crocodiles, Star tortoise and 150 species of birds. It will be interesting to note there are a few Veddah families (Wanniale ethos) living in the veddah village nearby. It is possible to arrange guided walking tours to the veddah village on request.
Kalpitiya, predominantly a fishing village, is yet another remote “Off the beaten track” location seldom visited by normal tourists. It has now developed to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. It is landscaped by a network of 14 islands, located in the Puttalam district of Sri Lanka. Its natural habitat consists of mangrove swamps, bar reefs, salt marshes and a long stretch of sand dune beaches. It is found to be rich in its bio-diversity and serves as an excellent breeding ground for a number of varieties fish and a variety of crustaceans like prawns, lobsters and crabs etc. It is currently being developed as a tourist destination by the Government of Sri Lanka as a part of the master plan to develop the tourism industry in the region. Going back in history Kalpitiya was associated with the maritime trade and was a smugglers den. It was colonised by the Portuguese in the 17th century and eventually captured by the Dutch who used the Northern end of the peninsula as a strategic military base and a naval outpost for trading purposes with the mainland. Formerly a Portuguese-era Church, now a well preserved Dutch-era Fort is currently occupied by the Sri Lanka Navy. Thousands of Catholic devotees throng to the nearby village of Talawila, located to the south of Kalpitiya annually, to celebrate the St Anne’s Church festival usually held around July every year, to revive the age old Portuguese custom to this day. The nearby Alankuda beach is home to a number of hotels and tourist resorts. It serves as an entry point for whale and Humpback Dolphin watching off the coast of Kalpitiya. Kite surfing has been a great attraction and this location is known to be the most suitable area in the island. Some of the other activities include boat safari to Wilpattu National park with 4wd jeep safari, island hopping, boat tours in the lagoon, Kayaking, horseback beach safaris and other water based activities. Kalpitiya can be classified as one of the perfect hideouts for Honeymooners, Naturalists, adventure lovers and families with kids. This location is so unique that visitors can simply relax and immerse with nature combined with luxury and its memory will cherish even after they leave the shores.
Colombo city is the Commercial capital of Sri Lanka located 37 Km from the Bandaranaike International airport along with Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte as its legislative capital. It is located on the West coast of the island and serves as a multi ethnic, multi religious and multi cultural city with a population of approx. 5.6 million people, of which the majority are the Sinhala Buddhist while the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Sri Lankan Moors form the minority. Other minority groups include the Portuguese burghers, the Dutch Burghers, Malay and Chinese and the Indian origins including the expatriates from the European countries. The city of Colombo Sri Lanka, is a perfect blend of the old pre-colonial era buildings and the newly built sky scrapers. It houses several Govt administrative offices, private sector offices, state owned and private sector commercial banks and various other institutions. Some of the old heritage buildings consisting of the Dutch hospital now converted to a speciality Sea food restaurant, the Dutch reformed church, The Colombo Harbour, The Galle Face Hotel, the Grand Oriental hotel, The Cargills Millers shopping malls, which are still live and operating, bears testimony of the rich colonial era that existed during the past Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. Colombo was well known to ancient traders due to its large harbour and its strategic location along the East-West sea trade routes. Some of the main highlights of the city are the Colombo Fort, Galle Face Green, Viharamahadevi park formerly known as (Victoria park), The Colombo Racecourse, Planetarium, University of Colombo, Nelum Pokuna, Bandaranaike Memorial & Internaitonal Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo Lotus Tower, The Independance Square, Mount Lavinia beach and the Colombo National Museum. It is also home to a number of modern high rise buildings, world class hotels, star class speciality restaurants & bars serving Sea food and other authentic, local, Indian, continental and eastern dishes. Exquisite Casinos, modern shopping malls, discotheques, night clubs and luxury Spas are some of the modern entertainment available in the city of Colombo.
The Knuckles mountains is also listed as one of the unique destinations “Off the beaten track”, seldom visited by the ordinary tourists located approx- 30 km from the Matale town, along the Matale-Laggala-Pallegama road. The road leading to Knuckles is quite curvy with a few hair pin bends but quite picturesque with great views of the surrounding mountains. The Knuckles mountains, known as the “Knuckles National Heritage and Wilderness” area declared as a conservation area for Eco tourism, rich in it bio-diversity, consists of two waterfalls namely the “Sera Ella falls” and the Bambarakiri Ella Falls”. It offers a scintillating experience, to relax on the rock seats of “Sera Ella” which offers some great views of the surrounding natural habitat, relishing the cool breeze. The visitors have the option of taking a refreshing dip in the cool waters of the Thelgamu Oya which will be rejuvenating. If you opt to go on a trekking tour approx. (2.5km) to the misty Riverston peak via Pitawala pathana, it offers stunning views of the central hills across the Mini worlds end, which contains a precipice with a sheer drop of 300 meters, offering a spectacular view of the Knuckles mountain range and the Thelgamu valley below characterised by terraced paddy fields, most unique to most centrally located hills in Sri Lanka. It is home to several rare species of flora and fauna which includes the Rhino horned lizard.
Horton Plains is a protected area, close to NuwaraEliya, located on the southern plateau of the Central highlands of Sri Lanka.The peaks of Kirigalpoththa (2,389 metres (7,838 ft)) and Thotupola kanda (2,357 metres (7,733 ft)), the second and third highest in Sri Lanka, are situated to the West and North respectively. Horton Plains is one of the most visited and most popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka due to the Worlds End which forms the main attraction, with a sheer precipice of approx. 2854 feet (870 M), which is visible just before dawn to avoid the mist that sets up after dawn and trekking further down to Baker’s waterfalls. Horton plains serves as the headwaters for the three major Sri Lankan rivers, namely the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe river. The Horton plains’ vegetation consists of acres of montane grasslands and cloud forest. It consists of many endemic woody plants. Among the mammal species found in the plains are Sri Lankan Sāmbhar deer, Toque Macaques, Purple faced Langurs, Rusty spotted Cats, Sri Lankan Leopards, wild boars, and Stripe necked Mongoose. Horton Plains is also an important bird sanctuary with approx. over 21 Bird species endemic to Sri Lanka and only restricted to Horton Plains. The nearby picturesque town of Nuwaraelya, the hill capital of Sri Lanka, is one of the key locations where visitors usually make an overnight stopover before they visit Horton Plains.
Sigiriya- Fortress in the sky
Sigiriya rock also called the fortress and palace in the sky, was built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century AD. It is located in the Matale District, in the North/Central Province of Sri Lanka. According to the Culawamsa (an Ancient chronicle), King Kasyapa, was the son of King Dhatusena, by non-royal consort. Kasyapa murdered his father, by walling him up alive, and seized the throne in 477 CE, which lawfully belonged to his half-brother Mugalan, who was born to the true queen. Fearing from being killed by his brother, Mugalan fled to neighbouring South India vowing vengeance. Fearing his brother might return one day to take revenge, King Kasyapa, dislocated from his residence and traditional capital, Anuradhapura, to a more secure location, Sigiriya. He converted Sigiriya into a complex city, fortified the city with defensive structures, and built his palace at the summit of this rock during his reign from 477 CE to 495 CE. He made some elaborate constructions, paving the inner sides of the rock with mirror walls, created colorful frescoes depicting “Heavenly Maidens” and built beautiful pleasure gardens in and around the rock. It has now become one of the wonders of the world and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu national park- is situated 30 km west of Anuradhapura, 26 Km North of Puttalam and 180 km North of Colombo with an extent of 1317 square kilometers at an elevation of between 0- 152 meters above sea level. It is recognised as one of the oldest and largest National parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu National park is listed as one of the top national parks and world famous for the leopard population. The Wilpattu National park which was closed during the 3 decades of war from 1988 to 2003, was re-opened for the public after 16 years and currently access is limited to only 25% of the park, with the leopards penetrating deeper into the dense forest and difficult to spot them. Wilpattu National Park is home for the Sri Lanka elephant, Sloth bear, Sri Lanka Leopard, water buffalo, Sambhur, mongoose etc. Numerous species of Birds which includes the painted stork, Sri Lankan jungle fowl, owls and eagles were found in Wilpattu. Among the reptiles, it included the Monitor lizard, mugger crocodiles, cobra, Indian python, a few varieties of pond turtles. Currently tourists are encouraged to visit Wilpatttu national park and other national parks in Minneriya, Kaudulla, Wasgamuwa in the North Central province to avoid the congestion caused in Yala.
Sinharaja Rain forest reserve is one of the well preserved major bio-diversity hot spots and a National park in Sri Lanka. It is of great international significance that it has been designated a Biosphere and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is believed that more than 60% of the flora in Sinharaja Rain forest are endemic only to Sri Lanka. The reserve contains an extent of 21 km from East to West, and a maximum of 7 km from North to South. Sinharaja is rich in its bio-diversity that its fauna contains several species of insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and other mammals endemic to Sri Lanka. Among the reptiles, it includes the Green Pit Viper and hump nosed vipers. A trek through this forest will lead the visitors to several streams and waterfalls whereby they could enjoy a cool dip. Visitors should be appropriately attired with raincoats and shoes to face the sudden outburst of rain which may fall from time to time and leeches.
Ratnapura- City of Gems
Ratnapura is one of the major cities in Sri Lanka, and forms the capital of the Sabaragamuwa province and Ratnapura district. It is located on the Kalu Ganga (Black river), in South Central Sri Lanka, about 101 Km South East of the country’s capital, Colombo. The name Ratnapura is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning the “City of Gems”. This city has been traditionally a well established centre for the mining, cutting and sale of gems and several other precious stones including the more popular Blue and star Sapphires and several other precious stones. Apart from gem mining, Ratnapura is also well known for the production of rice, tea and rubber. Gem mining pits are a common sight in and around Ratnapura ditrict. Most of the large-scale gem merchants of Sri Lanka operate from Ratnapura. It is within reach of Adams peak, Singharaja rainforest, Kitulgala and Udawalawe National park which are some of the tourism hot spots in the country.
Adam's Peak-The Sacred Mountain
Adam’s Peak is a 2,243 m (7,359 ft) tall conical mountain located in Central Sri Lanka. In Sinhala it is called the Sri Pada, meaning “sacred footprint”. Its size is believed to be a 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) rock formation at the summit. The Christian and Islamic faith believe it is the footprint of Lord Adam, when he first set foot on Earth after been cast out of Paradise, for which the name denotes, while the Buddhist claims to be the footprint of the Buddha, and according to the Hindu faith it is that of Shiva.Thousands of pilgrims of all religious ethnicities pay homage to this historic site every year from December to May. Sri Pada is first described in the Deepawamsa, and also in the 5th century chronicle Mahawamsa, where there is reference that the Buddha also visited the mountain peak. The Arab traveler Ibn Battuta climbed to the summit of the mountain which he called Sarandīb in 1344 CE. The Italian merchant Marco Polo in his Travels of 1298 CE noted that Adam’s Peak was a place of pilgrimage. John Davy brother of the noted chemist Sir Humphry Davy visited the peak in 1817. He recorded observing an oversized foot print carved in stone and ornamented with a single margin of brass and studded with gems.The commonest route taken by most pilgrims is ascent via Hatton and descent via Ratnapura. Although the Hatton trail is the steepest, it is also shorter than any of the other trails by approximately five kilometers.
Wasgomuwa National park
Wasgamuwa National Park, is a natural park with an extent of over 36,900 hectares bordered by Mahaweli Ganga (Mahaweli river) and Amban Ganga, situated in the Matale/Polonnaruwa Districts, about 225 Km from Colombo and 10Km from Polonnaruwa. Declared a Natural park to protect and provide a suitable natural environment for the wild animals, displaced during the Mahaweli Development project in 1984. Being a well protected nature reserve, it is home to a large number of Sri Lankan Elephants, who are reported seen during the latter and early part of the year, particularly from November to May. However, they migrate to nearby Minneriya and Kaudulla National park, during the rest of the period. Wasgamuwa is also home to Sloth bear, Purple faced langur, wild boar, water buffalo, Sambhur deer and spotted deer. It is also considered an Important Bird Area (IBA), where over 140 species of birds, some of which are endemic to Sri Lanka, include the Red-faced Malkoha, Ceylon jungle fowl, yellow fronted barbet, Sri Lanka spurfowl,and the white necked stork etc. There are 3 wild life bungalows within the park and a few other bungalows just outside the park for the benefit of hard core wild life enthusiasts who would like to directly immerse with nature and wild life. There are also a few standard category hotels nearby to cater to those who need basic accomodation.
Kumana National park
Kumana National Park is the sixth largest park in Sri Lanka with a land of 35,664 hectares. This was earlier known as Yala East National Park. This park is situated in the Ampara District of south-east bend of Sri Lanka. Kumana National Park is very well-known for its 200 hectares of mangrove wetland named “Kumana Villu” within the park which is ocaasionally flooded with sea water. Several lagoons and tanks support the extensive birdlife of the National park. Out of the 495 bird species reported in Sri Lanka, you can spot 215 species in Kumana. Kumana Bird Sanctuary, declared in 1938, is included within the Kumana National Park. From October to April tens of thousands of birds migrate to the Kumana swamp area. Rare species such as black-necked stork, lesser adjutant, Eurasian spoonbill, and great thick-knee are breeding inhabitants. Mugger crocodile, Indian flap-shelled turtle and Indian black turtle are the common reptiles inhabiting the park. Mammals such as Sri Lankan Leopard, Sloth Bear, golden jackal, wild boar, Sri Lankan elephant, European otter, and fishing cat also visit the swamp to feed. The number of elephants roaming in the Kumana is estimated at 30–40. The Kumana area is part of an ancient civilization that goes back to the 3rd century BC. Rock inscriptions belonging to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC have also been found in the region. The Kumana National Park lies on the route of the traditional annual foot Pilgrimage called the “Pada Yatra” to the Hindu temple at Kataragama. Both Tamil and Sinhalese communities take part in this pilgrimage.