FOR a small island, Sri Lanka has many nicknames: Serendib, Ceylon, Teardrop of India, Resplendent Isle, Island of Dharma, Pearl of the Orient.
This colourful collection reveals its richness and beauty, and the intensity of the affection it evokes in its visitors. Head for the rolling hills to escape the heat of the plains in the cool of tea plantations. The entire island is teeming with bird life, and exotics like elephants and leopards are not uncommon. To top it all off, the people are friendly, the food is delicious and costs are low.
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
66,000 sq km
Sinhala (official); Tamil (official)
Sri Lanka is a typically tropical country with distinct dry and wet seasons, but the picture is somewhat complicated by the fact that it is subject to two monsoons: the Yala season (May to August), when the southwest monsoon brings rain to the southern, western and central regions; and the Maha season (October to January), when the northeast monsoon brings rain to the north and east of the island. Temperatures in the low-lying coastal regions are high year round but they rapidly fall with altitude and in the hill country, where it feels like perpetual spring. The highest temperatures are from March through June, while November to January is usually the coolest time of the year. Rainfall is heaviest in the south, southwest and central highlands; the northern and northcentral regions are very dry. The best time to visit the west, south coast and hill country is between December and March. May to September is best on the east coast.
Visitors from the USA, most western European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong do not require visas. Automatic entry for between 30 and 90 days is given on arrival.
Currency and Cost
Sri Lankan Rupee: $1 = Rs102
Average Room Prices
Low: Rs300-600, Mid: Rs600-1500;
High: Rs1,500-6,000; Deluxe: Rs6,000+
Average Meal Prices
Low: Rs50-250; Medium: Rs250-450;