The idyllic South East Asian island of Sri Lanka is undergoing far-reaching changes which make the country easier and more appealing to visit than ever before, states Mail Online in a report published yesterday (6).
“Colombo was traditionally the city you sped through on the way from the airport down to Sri Lanka's glorious beaches, or up to the ancient Cultural Triangle cities of Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, with their magnificent jungle-set palaces and temples dating back 2,000 years,” says the writer Jennifer Cox.
But these days Colombo is a destination in itself, as stylish restaurants, handsomely restored colonial buildings and lush parks are appearing across the city, she further said.
The reason behind these changes is simple. Peace.
When Sri Lanka's 26-year war ended in 2009, a multi-billion-pound modernization programme was launched: upgrading the national road network; restoring long-neglected colonial buildings and opening a raft of new hotels. This has seen visitor numbers double, and they are set to rise further still after a new British Airways service from Gatwick to Colombo launched earlier this year.
Set in the Indian Ocean between India and the Maldives, Sri Lanka is small - at 41,000 square miles, smaller than Ireland. But it boasts eight Unesco-listed sites, wildlife including elephants and leopards, picture-postcard beaches, and of course famed tea plantations, says the Mail Online.
And all are now easier to reach on the island's new network of roads. We hired a driver to try to see as many sites as we could in a week, starting with a night out in Colombo's new Financial District, which has the beautifully restored Dutch Hospital at its heart.
Now local designers and restaurateurs flourish around its elegant stone courtyard.
Sri Lanka's far-reaching changes seem to be preserving the island's past, even as they pave the way for a new future.
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