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There’s a real buzz about Sri Lanka right now, with those in the know making a beeline for coastal spots south of Colombo. Lee Marshall has the lowdown on the most beautiful beaches, the coolest hangouts and the best places to stay.

The cynics call it ‘India lite’. Well, yes, you can see what they mean: Sri Lanka is an easy place to visit, with polite, unruffled and uninvasive inhabitants. Walk along any street in Colombo, and passing motor-rickshaw drivers will certainly stop to ask about your transport requirements. But here’s the funny thing: say no thanks, and they will actually give up and go away. You feel like shouting after them: ‘Come on, hassle me – I can take it!’

It’s also true that Sri Lanka lacks a site with the sheer cultural and spiritual overload of, say, Madurai or Varanasi. But this teardrop of an island does have some of southern Asia’s most fascinating, ancient Buddhist temples, cave paintings, and historic hill towns, not to mention a huge variety of landscapes and climates in an area smaller than the Republic of Ireland, including two separate monsoon zones.
Pictured: the view from the main lodge at Amanwella, near Tangalle


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