You might say Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight. Scores of travellers have passed overhead on their way to someplace else, but years of uncertainty kept Sri Lanka off many itineraries.Now, however, all that has changed. The country is moving forward quickly as more and more people discover its myriad charms. Lying between the more trodden parts of India and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka’s history, culture and natural beauty are undeniably alluring. It’s the place you haven’t been to yet, that you should.
Welcome to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, its biggest city and port. The cosmopolitan face of the country, it is also the financial and commercial capital of the country. Walk through its streets and the colonial buildings speak of a time bygone. But then walk into the next street, and the latest brand stores, apartments, and snazziest cars catch your eye, indicating the coming together of two different eras, the rise of a nation. When in Colombo, visit the national museum if you want to understand the country’s history. Chill at the Galle Face Promenade with your loved one in the evening, or just roam the street bazaar at Pettah and mingle with the locals.
Climatically speaking, the driest (and best) seasons in Sri Lanka are from December to March for the west coast, the south coast and the Hill Country, and from April to September for the ancient cities region and the east coast.
December through March are also the months when most foreign tourists visit, the majority of them escaping the European winter. During the Christmas to New Year holiday season, in particular, accommodation anywhere on the island can be tight due to the huge influx of foreign visitors.
July and August is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera, the 10-day festival honoring the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, and also the time for the Kataragama festival in the South. In both towns accommodation just before, during and immediately after the festivals is very difficult to come by, and rates usually double or treble. Be sure to book rooms well in advance.
Sri Lanka’s climate means that it is always the ‘right’ beach season somewhere on the coast. The weather doesn’t follow strict rules, though – it often seems to be raining where it should be sunny, and sunny where it should be raining. Rainfall tends to be emphatic – streets can become flooded in what seems like only minutes.
Out-of-season travel has its advantages – not only do the crowds go away but many air fares and accommodation prices drop right down. Nor does it rain all the time during the low season.