The exotic island nation of Sri Lanka has almost too much to offer visiting tourists, states The Times of Malta, the national newspaper published daily in Malta.
In years gone by, explorers believed they’d found the Garden of Eden when they landed on Sri Lanka’s shores, and little has changed to make modern visitors think otherwise, the newspaper further said.
The Times of Malta writer says Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel guidebook publisher, has named Sri Lanka the best place in the world to visit in 2013. We take a closer look to find out why.
Surrounded by emerald-green waters, this Indian Ocean jewel boasts mystical cities, thick jungle, palm-fringed beaches and no less than eight Unesco World Heritage Sites, the newspaper said.
It’s warm, friendly people are rightly proud of their island and the rich tapestry of life it contains.
Here you will find Buddhist monasteries, ancient forts and ruined temples that represent the ancient civilizations that once called this island home, The Times of Malta said.
Rolling tea plantations are evidence of a lifestyle that hasn’t changed for generations, while the primordial cries of leopards and other exotic wildlife can be heard in the mangrove forests.
The writer advises travelers if they want to find out more about Sri Lanka’s fascinating history, visit the Colombo National Museum, an imposing Victorian building in the capital.
While in Colombo, take in the sights and sounds of Pettah, a lively district of bazaars, street markets, temples and mosques.
No stay in the capital would be complete without a visit to Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Temple, built on a site said to have been visited by the Buddha more than 2,000 years ago.
Outside the capital, Kandy is the last stronghold of the Sinhalese kings and well worth a visit for its fascinating historical sites and breathtaking surrounding countryside.
Sigiriya is a granite mountain that rises abruptly 200 metres above the jungle and contains stunning 1,500-year-old frescoes, while Nuwara Eliya is a 2,000-metre-high hill station at the heart of the tea-growing area.
After admiring the grandeurs of the past, visitors can retire to luxury beach resorts, modern city hotels, colonial countryside retreats and jungle lodges.
Children will be just as wide-eyed as their parents in Sri Lanka, where they can play castaway on the beaches and visit elephant sanctuaries and wildlife reserves, the writer adds.