Sri Lanka

by Philip Briggs

Sri Lanka

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About this book

The new sixth edition of Bradt's Sri Lanka is the longest and by far the most comprehensive guidebook ever published to this alluring island nation, and now includes a brand new, detailed, full-colour wildlife section. Freshly researched and completely rewritten by Philip Briggs, one of the world's most experienced and highly regarded guidebook writers, the new Bradt guide incorporates detailed coverage of every aspect of this diverse and compact land, from the idyllic tropical coastline to the misty forests of Hill Country. Not only does the book provide in-depth sections on all major beach resorts, archaeological reserves, historic towns and national parks, but it also introduces adventurous travellers to a host of intriguing lesser-known sites, along with many emergent destinations inaccessible for decades prior to the end of the civil war in 2009. Extensive hotel and restaurant listings, covering everything from exclusive boutique hotels to shoestring homestays, have been compiled from scratch rather than updated from historical information, with each entry having been cherry-picked by the author based on his personal inspection of hundreds upon hundreds of properties countrywide. More than 70 newly drawn maps cover all towns and resorts of note, as well as the main national parks and their surrounds. Sri Lanka has enjoyed a high level of political stability and safety since the civil war ended in May 2009, encouraging a tourist boom in the south, and the gradual opening of the north and east to independent travel. Beach holidays are an all-year attraction, while a host of fantastic Buddhist-affiliated UNESCO World Heritage Sites ranges from the massive dagobas of Anuradhapura, built in pre-Christian times on a scale to rival the Egyptian pyramids, to the exquisitely painted cave temples of Dambulla. Wildlife-viewing opportunities abound, and this guide provides unparalleled, illustrated advice on making the most of these. Asia's densest wild elephant and leopard populations are protected in the island's extensive network of national parks, and there's also fine offshore whale and dolphin-watching, and a bird checklist of 450 species including more than 30 endemics.

About the author

Philip Briggs is one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable guidebook writers having been researching and writing guides for Bradt and other well-known publishers for over 30 years. For many years his focus was on Africa but recently he has turned his attention to both South America and Asia, authoring the Bradt guide to Suriname and now Bradt's Sri Lanka. Of Sri Lanka, Philip says: 'Sri Lanka is a fantastic all-rounder. Most people know about the sumptuous palm-lined beaches that line the island's tropical coastline. But this small Asian country has so much more to offer, from ancient Sinhalese capitals to the tea plantations of the Highlands where hills roll down towards lush dense rainforests teeming with plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. A network of national parks supports Asia's densest populations of elephant and leopard, while the forest reserves are home to 33 endemic bird species, and the offshore waters host blue whales, spinner dolphins, giant marine turtles and coral gardens swirling with colourful reef fish. Add to that a genuinely hospitable culture where English is widely spoken, a distinctive cuisine dominated by curries and seafood, and an ever-growing choice of accommodation to suit all budgets, and this safe and easy-to-get-around island nation easily ranks as one of the world's most approachable and diverse travel destinations.

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Contents

Introduction

PART ONE GENERAL INFORMATION
Chapter 1 History and Background
History, Government and politics, Economy, National flag, People, Language, Religion, Education, Culture
Chapter 2 The Natural World
Geography and climate, Natural history and conservation
Chapter 3 Practical Information
When to visit, Itineraries, Tour operators, Tourist information, Red tape, Getting there and away, Security and safety, What to take, Money, Budgeting, Getting around, Accommodation, Eating and drinking, Public holidays and festivals, Shopping, Media and communications, Cultural etiquette
Chapter 4 Health and Safety
Preparations, Common medical problems, Other safety concerns

PART TWO COLOMBO AND SURROUNDS
Chapter 5 Colombo
History, Orientation, Getting there and away, Getting around, Crime and safety, Where to stay, Where to eat and drink, Bars and nightlife, Shopping, Other practicalities, What to see and do, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Muthurajawela Wetland Sanctuary
Chapter 6 The Coast from Negombo to Kalpitiya
Negombo, Waikkal, Chilaw and surrounds, Puttalam, The Kalpitiya Peninsula
Chapter 7 Inland of Colombo
The A1 towards Kandy and Kurunegala, Kurunegala and surrounds, Avissawella and the Kelani Valley
Railway
Chapter 8 The Western Resort Coast: Bentota, Kosgoda and Hikkaduwa
Kalutara and surrounds, Bentota and surrounds, The coast from Kosgoda to Ambalangoda and Madu
Wetlands, Hikkaduwa

PART THREE THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE
Chapter 9 Dambulla, Sigiriya and Surrounds
Dambulla, Historic sites south and west of Dambulla, Sigiriya, Habarana, The elephant parks:
Minneriya, Kaudulla and Hurulu
Chapter 10 Polonnaruwa
History, Orientation, Getting there and away, Where to stay, Where to eat and drink, Other practicalities, Tour operators and bicycle hire, What to see and do, Around Polonnaruwa
Chapter 11 Anuradhapura and Surrounds
History, Getting there and away, Where to stay, Where to eat and drink, Other practicalities, What to see and do, Mihintale Monastery, Thanthirimale Temple, Wilpattu National Park

PART FOUR NORTHERN AND EASTERN PROVINCES
Chapter 12 Northern Province
Mannar Island, Jaffna
Chapter 13 Eastern Province
When to visit, Further information, Trincomalee, Pasikuda, Batticaloa, Ampara and Gal Oya
National Park, Arugam Bay
PART FIVE KANDY AND THE HILL COUNTRY
Chapter 14 Kandy and Surrounds
History, Getting there and away, Where to stay, Where to eat and drink, Other practicalities,
What to see and do, Mahiyanganaya and surrounds
Chapter 15 High Hill Country: Adam's Peak, Nuwara Eliya and Ella
Hatton 409, Adam's Peak and Nallathanniya, Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains National Park, Haputale,
Bandarawela, Ella
Chapter 16 Low Hill Country: Kitulgala, Ratnapura and Sinharaja
Kitulgala, Ratnapura, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Kanneliya Forest Reserve
PART SIX GALLE AND THE DEEP SOUTH
Chapter 17 Tissamaharama and the Southern Safari Circuit
Embilipitiya, Udawalawe National Park, Wellawaya, Buttala, Kataragama, Tissamaharama, Kirinda, Yala National Park, Bundala National Park, Hambantota
Chapter 18 The Southern Resort Coast: Tangalle, Matara and Weligama Bay
Tangalle, Towards Matara, Matara and surrounds, Mirissa, Weligama and Midigama
Chapter 19 Galle and Surrounds
History, Getting there and away, Getting around, Where to stay, Where to eat and drink, Other practicalities, What to see and do, Unawatuna and the Rumassala Peninsula, The coast east to Koggala
Appendix 1 Language
Appendix 2 Glossaries
General glossary, Annotated glossary of key historical, legendary and mythical figures
Appendix 3 Further Information
Index