Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature’s beauty remains abundant and un spoilt.
Few places in the world can offer the traveler such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location. Within a mere area of 65,610 kilometers lie 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometers of coastline - much of it pristine beach - 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, to a culture that extends back to over 2,500 years.
This is an island of magical proportions, once known as Serendib, Taprobane, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and Ceylon. Discover refreshingly Sri Lanka!
With the end of the three decade long war Sri Lanka is seeing a sudden burst in infrastructure development and a of a new Sri Lanka rising.
Today post-war Sri Lanka is seeing a rapid and wide spread infrastructure development within rural and urban areas as never seen in the country before.
The island-wide road development program is at the center of this effort.
The improved connectivity enabled by road development, particularly rural roads, generates significant economic and social returns. It is having a transformative impact on the lives of people around the country. The completion of the highway network (commencing with the Southern Highway, Katunayake Expressway and Colombo Ring Road) will bring about significant cost-savings that will boost the competitiveness of the economy.
The rural electrification program has now extended power to 91% of the country’s households. It is bringing considerable benefits, particularly to poor and vulnerable households (not least through the improved environment for children’s studies). The completion of the much delayed Norochcholai coal power station has helped to avoid power cuts or recourse to hiring exceedingly expensive barges for thermal generation.
The rehabilitation of the railway network and rolling stock, combined with the road development, will increase mobility and help to contain transport costs which are an important determinant of an economy’s competitiveness.
Port and airport development is also creating the potential for Sri Lanka to become a key transport and tourist/transit hub for Asia. The completion of the Hambantota Port and the Colombo Southport Expansion will increase the capacity to take advantage of the country’s strategic location on the major international shipping lanes.
The growth of Indian trade and China’s appetite for natural resources from the Middle East and Africa creates the conditions for rapid expansion of activity in this sector. The second international airport at Mattala increases the potential for handling increased tourist arrivals and positioning Sri Lanka as a transit hub.
Today Sri Lanka’s Bandranaike International Airport (is the busiest airport in the country with more than 6 million passengers per year, Hambantota International airport in Mattala was declared opened in March, 2013 when Sri Lanka is celebrating a century in aviation. The domestic airports are scattered around the country in Ampara, Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Ratmalana, Jaffna, Trincomalee andWirawila creating an extensive network of domestic air travelling.
Commercial ports of Sri Lanka include Colombo, Hambanthota, Galle, Trincomalee, Kankesanturai and Point Pedro. Although the port of Colombo is the premier port in the country the present government policy for the development of regional ports in the country is seeing rapid development of Point Pedro, Kankesanturai, Trincomalee,Galle and Hambanthota ports.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka is fast gaining popularity in the MICE tourism industry, with 11% of the total visitors coming into the country representing the segment, while the industry anticipates the arrival of 240,000 MICE tourists by 2016, which is nearly 10% of the 2.5 million tourist target. With more than one million tourist arrivals in 2012 the Sri Lankan tourism service providers has set a target of 22,500 rooms in the next five years when tourist arrivals are expected to reach 2.5 million.
With Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, herds of elephants, killer surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea, flavorful food, newly gained peace and improved infrastructure Sri Lanka had been repeatedly named the next tourist destination worth all the investments.
Fuelled by piles and piles of compliments as the best tourist destination in the world and with years of war behind it for good, Sri Lanka is rising and its time you dropped in.
Reasons to visit Sri Lanka:
To get wild
Dive with blue whales in season or watch spinner dolphins leap about in Kalpitiya. Sri Lanka also has 5,800 wild elephants ambling about and the biggest concentration of leopards in the world. See them in Yala national park, along with sloth bears and buffalo.
For cricket in Galle
Sleepy Galle is a haven for grown-up backpackers, with Dutch colonial architecture, jeweler shops, ice cream parlors and an almost complete dearth of nightlife. It is also where to catch an international cricket match or have a knock about near an old fort.
Get lost in caves
The Dambulla Buddha caves are filled with Buddha statues, cave paintings and are amazingly atmospheric.
The kindest way to see elephants is by volunteering at an elephant sanctuary. Working Abroad has information on positive projects around the country.
They have the world’s most adaptable snack
You can dine on hoppers for a song. The dish is composed of a thin, crepe-like batter that's infused with coconut milk and spices and crisped into a bowl shape to hold fried eggs. It's versatile enough to serve as a breakfast dish, quick snack or hangover cure dependent on your needs.
Hotels to get excited about
Plenty of new hotels have opened recently, including a handful of beach resorts, including contemporary KK Beach, with its own beach club near Habaraduwa.
To surf and to party
In the south east of the island, Arugam Bay is a crescent of golden sand that offers barreling breaks during summer days and beach parties galore on balmy nights. In winter, drag your board to Weligama.
Uppuveli and Nilaveli, both close to Trincomalee on the north east, are secluded and stunning stretches of sand. The few accommodation options are spread out, making these beaches perfect for lonely wanderings.
Ad a million more reasons.
Travelers making short visit to Sri Lanka (even less than 30 days) required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). Travelers who wish to travel to Sri Lanka for less than 30 days can obtain Tourist visa with double entries through www.eta.gov.lk. The ETA initially limited to 30 days stay in Sri Lanka from the date of arrival, although it may be extended for up to three months from the Department of Immigration & Emigration, in Sri Lanka by paying the relevant extension fee.
Please note that if you did not receive the approval within 2 working days, you may login to www.eta.gov.lk and on the home page you can check your visa status. Please go to the ETA home page followed by the “check status” then enter your acknowledgement or passport number. If the status mention, your visa has been approved please take a print out of that and take with you when you are going to Sri Lanka.