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13 Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka

Cedric Angeles Dameeka, an 11-year-old monk at Pidurangla Temple, at Sigiriya.

Photo: Cedric Angeles

This exotic island nation may have been forever altered by political unrest and natural disaster. It is often said of Sri Lanka that it is the size of Ireland and almost as often that its history is even bloodier than that other island's. Yet with the highest literacy rate in the region, generally high health standards, vast natural resources, and fairly evolved government conservation policies, there was reason then to buy into the belief that Sri Lanka was poised to become the next great destination.

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Destinations: Galle · Dambulla · Colombo · Kandy · Polonnaruwa

Inspired by: Return to Sri Lanka — by Guy Trebay, Published Aug. 2006

Hotels (4)

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    Taj Samudra

    Minutes by car from Colombo's city center, this 300-room hotel features a geometric pool that complements the property's modern suites.

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    Fort Printers

    Dutch and English influences abound at this 18th-century mansion, whose five suites are decorated in jewel-toned velvets.

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    Heritance Kandalama

    Carpeted in vegetation and hugging the side of a jungle hill, Heritance Kandalama, when viewed from afar, resembles an ancient temple grown wild wi... More
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    Amangalla

Restaurants (1)

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    Barefoot Café & Shop

    Textile designer Barbara Sansoni serves fresh seafood and pastas and just-squeezed, sweetened lime juice in a cool, inviting garden shaded by frang

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Activities (8)

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    Dambulla Cave Temple

    What Lies Beneath: Hundreds of gilded Buddhist statues, some 50 feet long, sit, stand, and lie beneath 21,000 square feet of tapestry-like cave pai

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    Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa)

    Erected in the 18th century to guard the Buddha's sacred tooth, the pink temple is open 24 hours; there are daily prayer sessions, and a museum ope

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    Sigiriya

    The Mount of Remembrance, originally a king's fortress, sits atop a 560-foot-high rock. Buses depart hourly from Dambulla.

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    Polonnaruwa

    The ruins of Sri Lanka's medieval capital can be toured on foot or bicycle. Several buses make the trip from Kandy to Kaduruwela, the closest bus s

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    Peradeniya Botanic Gardens

    Founded in the 16th century, the largest botanic garden in Sri Lanka is 2 1/2 miles from Kandy, the country's second-biggest city.

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    Gangaramaya Temple

    Visit this peaceful temple in Colombo, near Beira Lake; the resident elephant is a highlight.

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    Galle Fort

    The UNESCO-preserved fort, built by the Dutch in 1663 on Galle's southern isthmus, completely surrounds the city's Old Town.

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    Colombo National Museum

    Antique furniture, Buddhist bronzes, and royal dress are all on display. There are live puppet shows on weekends in the first-floor Children's Muse

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