A tear-drop shaped island floating on the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is considered by many to be an island jewel. Fringed by golden-sand beaches, the island is making a resounding comeback after the devastation from the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Relics of Sri Lanka's golden age, visit the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sirgirya. Travel to Arugam Bay to immerse yourself in the laid-back, soothing, beach village where Sri Lankans and visitors alike enjoy watching or participating in the best surfing on the island. Explore the lagoon and the wildlife here as well. Visit Ella, a peaceful little village that is the perfect base camp from which to plan a walk through tea plantations, explore ancient temples or enjoy the sites and sounds of the many waterfalls. Yala National Park offers safaris, where it might be possible to spot the ever elusive leopard. Many visitors take the night-time pilgrimage up Adam's Peak. This revered mountain is the best spot on the island for the glorious view of the sunrise! Finally, visit the historic town of Galle. Even the locals take a sunset stroll around the ancient battlements and will invite you to join them.
Sri Lanka is a country that currently has only one international airport. Located in Colombo, visitors from all points of the globe must go through the Bandaranaike International Airport in order to explore this exotic island. Weerawila International in Wirawila, is currently under construction, hopefully to be completed in 2009. Flights to Sri Lanka from most countries will require a connection in Austria, the Middle East or Asia.
Sri Lanka also has ten regional or local airports that offer service for domestic flights, private planes and helicopters. You can fly into Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Bentota, Colombos' Ratmalana Airport, Dickwell and to Koggala Airport in Galle. The Amparai Airport in Gal Oya, the Kankesanturai Airport in Jaffina, the Katukurunda Airport in Kalutara and Trincomalees's China Bay Airport are also domestic destinations within the country and serviced by the Sri Lankan Airlines and tour helicopters.
Sri Lankan Airlines is the national carrier for Sri Lanka. They offer a number of domestic and international options. The fares are reasonable and stay much the same year round, except during the festivals in July and August. One note of caution though. Sri Lankan Airlines is famous for bumping those that do not re-confirm their flights 72 hours in advance. What happens is that an airline flying into Sri Lanka may be a 200-seater but only has 80 seats booked so will send a smaller plane instead. The problem arises when there are more passengers waiting to leave Sri Lanka than what the plane that was sent will hold. Reconfirming your flight will allow the airlines to plan better and will also give you a much better chance of being the passenger that is not bumped.
As your choices for flights into Sri Lanka are limited, your best money savings will be in getting to the connection point. Research these flights carefully, as they can differ widely. December through March is considered the 'high' season, when most of Europe is seeking to escape the winter weather. Christmas also sees a huge influx of foreign visitors to the island, so avoid travel during that time, unless you have planned far in advance and don't mind paying the higher fares. Book accommodations first, as these are easy to cancel, but it would be tragic to book airline tickets and then find that no accommodations are available. July and August is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera, a ten-day festival of the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. The Kataragama Festival in the south is during this same period of time. Hotel rates will double and treble both before and after these festivals, as will air fares. Sri Lanka's climate is unpredictable, though somewhere along the coast the weather is just right for the beach. Avoid the 'high' season to get your best fares and count on the fact that it doesn't rain every day during the 'low'.
Sri Lanka will satisfy your wanderlust at a reasonable price. The ocean temperatures hover right around 81 ?F year round, as do the coastal air temperatures, so any day can possibly be a 'beach' day. Being a tropical location, the rains are hard to predict, but sunny days outnumber the rainy days in most years. Visit Sri Lanka for an easy-going, uncluttered vacation.
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