COLOMBO: Bursting with colour and full of life, Sri Lanka is the ultimate show-off destination. From national parks and botanical gardens, to beaches and ornate temples, the attention-grabbing isle, located south of India in the Indian Ocean, has plenty to see and share with your friends back home.
Here is 10 reasons why you should visit Sri Lanka in 2017:
1. To go wild
Dive with blue whales in season or watch spinner dolphins leap about in Kalpitiya. Sri Lanka also has 5,800 wild elephants ambling about and the biggest concentration of leopards in the world. See them in Yala national park.
2. For cricket
Sleepy Galle is a haven for grown-up backpackers, with Dutch colonial architecture, jewellery shops, ice cream parlours and an almost complete dearth of nightlife. It is also where to catch an international cricket match or have a knock about near an old fort.
3. There’s an entire ministry for crab
Opened by two former national cricket players in an old Dutch hospital, Colombo’s Ministry of Crab serves knockout sweet, succulent and spicy Sri Lankan crab in what is one of the capital’s most beautiful buildings. The restaurant itself was also voted one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants last year.
4. Explore the caves
The Dambulla Buddha caves are filled with Buddha statues, cave paintings and are amazingly atmospheric.
5. To see elephants
Elephants from the orphanage
Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary. Working Abroad has information on positive projects ().
6. For the scenic trains
A newly reopened train route from Colombo to Jaffna promises an eye-opening journey through Sri Lanka. The recent reopening of the Yal Devi (Queen of Jaffna) Express provides visitors to Sri Lanka with an opportunity they have not had since 1990: to travel by train from Colombo to Jaffna. The railway journey between Kandy and Ella is also one to remember.
7. They have the world’s most adaptable snack
You can dine on hoppers for a song. The dish is composed of a thin, crepe-like batter that’s infused with coconut milk and spices and crisped into a bowl shape to hold fried eggs. It’s versatile enough to serve as a breakfast dish, quick snack or hangover cure dependent on your needs.
8. Tea and an early morning hike
Photo: Nuwara Eliya (Fotolia/AP)
Walk past lush green tea plantations on a four-hour trek up to Ella Rock for amazing views.
9. A totally tropical bite
Forget cheese lattices and limp sausage rolls, Perera and Sons sell tasty Chinese rolls, samosas and savoury bites. They’re literally everywhere but cheap and hugely popular in Sri Lanka.
10. To surf and to party
Photo: Arugam Bay (Fotolia/AP)
In the south east of the island, Arugam Bay is a crescent of golden sand that offers barrelling breaks during summer days and beach parties galore on balmy nights. In winter, drag your board to Weligama.