You may have noticed the media buzz that's been surrounding Sri Lanka for a while now. Weather aside, this Indian Ocean island is one of the hottest destinations of the moment, as tourists rediscover the country after a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009.
British Airways will resume flights to Colombo, the capital city, on 31 March after halting flights in 1998 due to the civil war. Boeing 777 flights will depart from London Gatwick three times a week and fly via the Maldives. The stopover at Male airport makes the journey around 12 and a half hours. Return flight prices with BA start at £605 per person.
From ancient temples and UNESCO World Heritage Sites to rainforests and beaches, there's much to explore in Sri Lanka. As Lonely Planet says, "its appeal and pleasures are myriad". This place has something for everyone. Let’s dive in...
Loners and Beach Bums
Rejoice! "You can find yourself the only tourist in the traditional villages, and the only person on some of the country's most beautiful beaches. Indeed, those beaches on the east coast have fine sand and calm, clear waters, unlike the surf destinations on the west," says Condé Nast Traveller.
Explorers and Nature Lovers
With a terrain that includes mountains, jungles, beaches, hiking trails and 103 waterfalls, Sri Lanka is paradise for those who want to leave the city behind and get back to nature. The civil war helped to keep large-scale developers off the scene, so there are many unspoilt locations. One highlight is Horton Plains National Park, which offers hikes on a plateau that combines grassland with forest, rocky outcrops, waterfalls and lakes, and finishes at World's End, a cliff that drops down 880 metres.
For a country that's roughly the same size as Ireland, Sri Lanka has an impressive eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These include the Golden Temple of Dambulla and the Sacred City of Kandy, home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth which contains a relic believed to have belonged to the Buddha.
With the civil war now a thing of the past, so too Sri Lanka's reputation as a danger zone has been consigned to history. Accordingly, 5-star properties have started to spring up. Properties like the 5-star Serene Pavilions have been highlighted by Condé Nast Traveller and won a TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice award this year.
If you're inspired to visit, check out our Asia Pacific section where you might find a Sri Lanka gem.