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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Explore Sri Lanka - A Top Holiday Destination For any Budget

Sri Lanka has a whole host of options for the traveller, from lying on a picture postcard beach to scaling great rocks and seeking out ancient cities. There are impressive landscapes to take in, friendly Buddhist monks to talk to, and free-roaming monkeys to keep an eye on. In keeping with its range of sights and activities, it offers holidays for an array of budgets: five star hotels and spas for those looking for luxury, and cheap guest houses style accommodation among the locals for those wanting to experience an authentically Sri Lankan reality. 

Explore the City of Colombo

Colombo is a functioning city, often moving at a frenetic pace, with fascinating sectors to discover. The district of Fort is the historic centre and boasts a number of old colonial buildings, which look classical and attractive next to more modern structures. To the east of Fort is the bazaar district - a bustling sector full of market stalls and small shops selling a wide variety of goods which can provide the traveller with a genuinely Sri Lankan experience.
Typically, tourists only stay in Colombo for a couple of days before moving further along the coast, or travelling inland to visit the ancient cities, but if tours of ancient cultures or finding the ideal beach aren't foremost on the agenda, Colombo has a great deal to offer in the way of really seeing a different side to Sri Lanka, and is worth exploring, either on foot or by tuk tuk.
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Visit the Cultural Triangle

Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle is the name given to a selection of cultural and archeological sites which are markers of an ancient and rich civilisation. These are located at the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Kandy, the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, the Cave Temples of Dambulla, and the famous 200 m outcrop of rock at Sigiriya - the Lion Rock.
See the Esala Perahera in Kandy
If you find yourself in Sri Lanka at the end of July and the beginning of August, you may be in time for theperahera - a grand parade with elaborate costumes and a long procession of elephants, held in the town of Kandy. The festival is Buddhist in origin and is thought to have begun in the 4th century A.D., when what is called the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was taken to Sri Lanka from India by Princess Hemamala.
Sri Lankan legend tells that when the Buddha was cremated, his left canine tooth was taken from the pyre and passed on to the king, to become a royal possession. The belief took hold that whoever held the Sacred Tooth Relic had the divine right to reign over that land. The legend has it that Sri Lanka was chosen as its home due to the Lord Buddha's declaration that his religion would be safe in this country for two and a half thousand years.

Read on 

Sri Lanka boasts a number of upmarket and unique hotels for the discerning globetrotter. Current trends show an increase in boutique hotels catering to wealthy tourists.
The perahera lasts for days and is counted as one of the world's more spectacular street festivals. Those wanting to see the perahera should claim their roadside spots early in the day and be prepared to sit there until the parade begins in the evening.

Traditional Kandy, Town of Temples

Kandy, where the monkeys are swinging from the trees, offers an utterly alternative experience to that of Colombo. A quieter, less industrial town, it is home to an abundance of temples and is more likely to capture the heart and eye of the traveller.

Sri Lanka's Beaches

It is generally agreed that the north east coast has the whitest sand to offer, but there are beautiful beaches to be found all around the island, and the south, in particular, has some picturesque stretches of coast to be stumbled upon.
Certain beaches are affiliated, or belong to, resorts or hotels, but it is also still possible to find a small, uninhabited beach simply by traveling along the coast and talking to the locals. Visitors can easily find themselves offered accommodation with a family who live next to the sea through something like a chance encounter at Colombo railway station. Although most of the locals are friendly, it is wise to exercise caution and a policy the more trustworthy with a room to let have is to carry books, filled with photographs and the handwritten testimonies of previous visitors.
One island-wide factor tourists must be aware of before booking any tickets is that Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons and the tourist season is considered to be the period between these rainy onslaughts. This is November to April - the driest season - in the hills and on the south west coast. For those aiming to visit the east coast, May to September is considered the best time as this is when it's dry. Which part of the island you visit will, eventually, probably depend on when you want to go but for those who are eager to explore Sri Lanka, there is the assurance that there will be an ideal part of the country for any time of year.

Read more at Suite101: Explore Sri Lanka - A Top Holiday Destination For any Budget http://sri-lanka-travel.suite101.com/article.cfm/exploring-sri-lanka#ixzz0tiZ9VXTx

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Middle East Tourists Flock To Sri Lanka As H1 2010 Tourist Arrivals Surge 102%

Ms Heba Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau
12 July 2010
"Sri Lanka emerging as a destination of choice for discerning Arab travellers" - Ms Al MansooriSri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau's (SLTPB) Middle East office reported an enormous surge of Arab travellers as Middle East Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka rose by an unprecedented 102 per cent in the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period last year, according to statistics compiled by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

"Regardless of apprehensions of an unsteady global economy, Middle East's discerning travellers are spending time and money on travel and Sri Lanka has been one of the preferred destinations of choice with a meteoric rise in tourists during H1 2010," observed Ms Heba Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB.

"We have just closed in on the results of the first six months of 2010 and we're up 102% as compared to H1 2009," Ms Al Mansoori said. "While 2009 was when the recovery process started, with the end of three decades of war, the rebound has been robust and rapid and the recovery is being driven and led by the Middle East with strong growth from key markets including the UAE up by 209%, Saudi Arabia up by 96% and Kuwait up by 50%."

Sri Lanka's tourism industry is resilient and the government is sparing no efforts to revitalize the tourism industry as they recognize that tourism has a key role to play in the country's economic recovery and stability.

"Our outlook remains positive for the rest of the year as we have successfully built a relationship of trust with both regional consumers and the travel trade and will continue to reap benefits with the gradually improving economic situation," Ms Al Mansoori stated.

Apart from the Middle East, regions that proved to be a major source market for Sri Lanka and recorded growth in H1 2010 included North America (up by 70%), Western Europe (up by 45%), Eastern Europe (up by 22%), Africa (up by 18%), East Asia (up by 44%), South Asia (up by 53%) and Australasia (up by 44%).

While commenting on SLTPB's Middle East marketing drive, Ms. Al Mansoori said, "We have had to adapt to the changing needs of the consumers and capitalize on trends such as late booking, increasing use of the internet to look and book by increasing Sri Lanka's presence in the web domain regionally."

Ms. Al Mansoori noted that in the Middle East in particular, travelling closer and for shorter periods of time and demanding value for money, seem to have been accentuated during the post crisis period. "The regional outbound market is evolving and inescapably requires changes as we need to know and understand consumers better to be able to market to them," she said.

SLTPB opened its office in Dubai in May 2008 to maximize the opportunities emerging throughout the Middle East while strengthening support for the travel trade in the region. Since then the Dubai office has co-ordinated all of Sri Lanka's tourism promotional activities in the Arab markets including exhibition participation, marketing visits, presentations and road shows, brochure distribution, public relations, as well as familiarization visits to the island for influential business and travel journalists. The office also functions as the preliminary contact point and enquiry processing centre for travel trade companies and tourists in the region.

Sri Lanka is now on the threshold of developing to its full potential as a prime tourism destination with diverse offerings for members of the whole family whether it is beaches, shopping, visits to wildlife reserves, relaxing at a spa, or simply enjoying the cuisine.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sri Lanka: The teardrop paradise

I am woken in the middle of the night by the silence. A world away from the all-night bustle that is the bus stop outside our London flat, I have been disturbed by the absence of noise. When I step on to the veranda, the night sky is crowded with stars, the Moon is a sliver and the hills that surround our cottage are lost in darkness.

They are back in the morning, edges blurred by early mist but stretching out as far as the eye can see. Karan, our houseman, says you can see the sea on a clear day but not today. Wildflower Cottage sits in the middle of hundreds of acres of tea, a tiny remnant of Rule Britannia, surrounded by terraces of sturdy green bushes on the slopes of Sri Lanka’s hill country.

The tragedies that have afflicted this teardrop-shaped island off India’s southeast coast are well documented. Three decades of civil war have left deep scars on Sri Lanka and her people while the 2004 tsunami brought fresh wounds. It is little wonder that tourists have stayed away.

But following the end of the war a year ago, visitors are returning to Sri Lanka, perhaps unable to resist her wonderful array of beaches, jungle and culture. The figures tell the story: Visitor numbers were up 60 per cent (year on year) last February — and even The New York Times has picked Sri Lanka as its No 1 holiday destination for 2010.

Into the suburbs
Many will come for the beaches and surf culture of the west coast, flitting between the laid-back Hikkaduwa, charms of Bentota and newly spruced up Unawatuna and Mirissa down south. But after an overnight stop by the Indian Ocean, we ignored the draw of the sea and headed inland.

Early indications were not auspicious. Our trip had begun in Colombo, the least prepossessing in a long line of cities that have been Sri Lanka’s capital. From the airport, the hour’s drive south took us through indistinguishable suburbs, with an accompanying tinnitus of bus horns (low, persistent and bone-shaking) and revving trishaws (high, persistent and eardrum-shattering).

But on the ocean’s edge, the Galle Face Hotel, still proffering a splendidly stiff upper lip, welcomed us in.

That evening we watched kite-fliers on Galle Face Green before repairing to the hotel’s famous chequerboard terrace for a Hollywood sunset.

The following day, it took five hours to reach Haputale (5,000 feet above sea level), on the southern edge of the hill country. But it felt much longer.

Our minibus driver had taken the hairpins without feeling the need for brakes or, indeed, any element of the Highway Code.

Here, the rules have been simplified: Horn-blowing and overtaking on a blind corner are mandatory, trishaws and cyclists can be run off the road without a backward glance and red (state-run) buses stop for nothing, even if — in fact, especially if — they are careering towards you on the wrong side of the road.

We arrived at the narrow, stony track to Wildflower Cottage, feeling as though we had survived a prolonged ride on an Alton Towers rollercoaster — which served to make the magical scene unfolding before us even more wonderful.

Waiting on the steps, Karan, in white dhoti and jacket, smiled broadly and offered us cold towels to wipe the fear off our faces before we were led down a stone path, bordered by irises, snapdragons and impatiens, to Wildflower Cottage. It sits on the edge of the escarpment, 5,000 feet up, looking out at an unimpeded view of valleys, lakes and jungle.

The building is one of three green-roofed, time-capsule bungalows on the estate (the others are Rose Cottage and Aerie Cottage) but each lies in splendid isolation in its own grounds and is looked after by its houseman.

Old-school attraction
Inside, the living room has chintz, a fireplace and Reader’s Digests from 1963. The only thing missing was a flagpole. Outside is The View. From our two terraces, we sit and watch the plantation come to life each morning as the women tea-pickers appear on the terraces below.

It is a silent occupation, with hardly a word exchanged between the workers, so, often, our breakfast is accompanied only by the sound of thumbs and fingers plucking the perfect bud and two leaves from the bushes.

There are no telephones, no televisions, no internet and no mobile-phone trills.

If we need anything, we have a handbell to ring. Karan told us solemnly that each cottage was equipped with a different-sounding bell to avoid confusion.

We rang ours only once, hugely embarrassed to be making a fuss, and discovered that it clanged like a school bell.

We are fed by Stanley, the cook from Kandy (another former capital of Sri Lanka). He appears each morning, in kitchen whites and a chef’s hat, to ask what we would like for dinner. And each evening to ask what we would have for breakfast.

There is much negotiation and head-waggling on Stanley’s part but we usually plump for the national dish of rice and curry.

This entails a spread of six or seven dishes, including sambol (grated coconut with red chillis and onions), chicken curry, brinjal fry (deep-fried aubergine, simmered in coconut milk with chillis and spices), snake gourd curry, sliced okra with mustard seeds, pumpkin curry (all vegetables fresh from the garden) and sublime dhal (red lentils flavoured with garlic, coconut, chilli and ghee). All this — plus nursery-style crème caramel or pineapple cake — cost us about a fiver a head.

Our days are spent lolling on the veranda and talking but we managed to extricate ourselves from the depths of the sofa to visit the Dambatenne Tea Factory, built by Sir Thomas Lipton (he of the yellow labels) in 1890.

When we arrived for a guided tour, full production had yet to begin for the day but it meant that better-informed tourists had stayed away and we had the place to ourselves.

We saw the fresh tea leaves emptied out of the pickers’ sacks to be air-dried in “withering trays” and inhaled the green, peppery scent as they were piled into vast troughs.

Unchanged tradition
The smells changed and darkened as the process — which has remained unchanged for more than 100 years — wound down through the lower floors.

Here the leaves are twisted, chopped and chopped again, sifted, dried in wood-fired ovens, graded and shovelled into paper sacks for despatch.

After the visit, we felt honour-bound to find Lipton’s Seat, a famous viewpoint frequented by Mr Tealeaf himself, and walked the last mile or so when the route defeated even the intrepid trishaw driver.

On another day, we travelled to the pretty little village of Ella to see Rawana Ella waterfall, an 82-feet torrent. Low rainfall meant it was not in full spate but it gave us the chance to clamber over rocks and dip our feet in its icy waters without being washed away.

We were pursued by touts offering us pieces of coloured glass and other tat but escaped to join a family of four Sri Lankans in the natural pool.

They were, they told us, on holiday too and swam fully clothed while we hovered at the edge. Later, they unpacked suitcases and did their washing in the clear water, with a bar of Sunlight soap.

That night, it was cool enough for a fire. Karan brought wood and a coconut shell of kerosene.
It felt surreal after the heat of the day — a constant 30 degrees.

On the last morning, we had to paint our own nameboard — a Wildflower Cottage tradition — and nail it up on the big signpost alongside those produced by other blissed-out customers.

But we were too busy standing and staring.

Still no sea on the horizon but I have no doubt we will see it next time. We can wait.
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Enthralling And Exploring Tour To Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country situated in South Asia. Owing to neighbor country of India it has similarity of culture, language and religion with it. Sri Lanka is renowned for its production of tea, coconut, rubber and coffee. These productions contribute much in its economy. Real beauty of nature in the form of forests, sea life, wild life and beaches can be experienced by cheap Flights to Sri Lanka. Moreover, Sri Lanka has strong cultural, religious and architectural importance. Historical places like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Mihintale, Dambulla, are much significant from touristic point of view. Ancient civilization and culture of Sri Lanka can be directly observed by visiting these historical places by making a reservation in Sri Lanka flights.

Festivals in Sri Lanka
Like many countries Sri Lankan also celebrate many festivals. Most prominent of these festivals are Esala Perahera, Patti Pongal, Deepavali, and Thai Pongal. Esala Perahera is remarkable festival celebrated in Sri Lanka. Buddhist celebrates this festival with great zeal and zest. They organize dances and adorn elephants.Fire, kandian, whip and several cultural dances are extraordinary.

Safari in Sri Lanka:
Practicing wild life safaris in prominent and famous national parks of Sri Lanka by Sri Lanka flights is a great fun. These wild lives include elephant, leopard, bear, monkey, golden jackal etc. By camping in these parks you can closely and personally observe the wild life. Besides wild life, sea life also leaves a spell on its visitors. Sea creations like Whales and Dolphins can be seen at Dondra point by Flights to Sri Lanka.

Though national sport is volleyball, but the most fastidious and popular sport is cricket in Sri Lanka. You can also enjoy many exciting aquatic sports such as swimming, scuba driving boating and surfing on beaches by cheap flights to Sri Lanka. Football, tennis and athletics are also mostly watchable sports here. Aquatic sports attracts every year a huge throng of visitors not only from Sri Lanka but also from other countries.

Beaches and valleys:
Explore and enjoy the sight of worlds remarkable beaches by flights Sri Lanka. Green water, cold breezes, palm trees and elegant atmosphere will leave an everlasting impact on you. Sri Lanka is also marked with eye catching valleys which are deep, green, soothing and widely visited. Flights to Sri Lanka will lead you to these fastidious beaches and valleys.http://www.srilankaflights.org.uk/
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Sri Lanka we got everything in on place - Salman Khan

Bolywood actor Salman Khan says that he changed the location of his next film ‘Ready’ from Mauritius to Sri Lanka due to the island’s unique combination of breathtaking beauty, infrastructure and warm, hospitable people.

He disclosed this at a media briefing held in Colombo yesterday with the objective of creating awareness for Salman Khan’s latest movie, ‘Ready’.

“This place, as far as film making is concerned, is ideal. We go to Switzerland, Maldives, Seychelles, hill stations, interior villages, etc.”

“We go to different locations which are places where there is grandeur, beauty and forests. So we go to these places because we don’t get everything in one country.)

“Just imagine if we got everything in one place?| which is about two hours away from India. Everybody would want to come here,” said Salman Khan.

Meanwhile, south Indian actress turned Bollywood actress Asin expressed her views on Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka reminds me a lot of home and I’m from the state of Kerala. Whenever I land here I do not feel like I’m in a foreign country. And I think all of you have been very warm and welcoming,” said Asin.
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