Sri Lanka

You might say Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight. Countless scores of travelers have passed overhead on their way to someplace else. But now Sri Lanka has found its place on the itineraries of discerning travelers. Lying between the more trodden parts of India and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka's myriad appeals are undeniably alluring.

Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, fun trains, famous tea and flavorful food describe Sri Lanka. The storied isle of Sri Lanka has always charmed travelers. Few places have as many Unesco World Heritage Sites (eight) packed into such a small area. Sri Lanka's 2000-plus years of culture can be discovered at ancient sites where legendary temples boast beautiful details. Across the island, that thing that goes bump in the night might be an elephant heading to a favorite waterhole. Take a safari tour of Sri Lanka’s pleasantly relaxed national parks to encounter leopards, water buffaloes, all manner of birds and a passel of primates.

You can explore the glorious legacy of an early Buddhist civilization, visit with tea planters and orange-robed monks and sample fragrant curries. When you’re ready to escape the tropical climate of the coast and lowlands, head for the hills, with their temperate, achingly green charms. Verdant tea plantations and rainforested peaks beckon walkers, trekkers and those who just want to see it on a spectacular train ride. The beaches are dazzlingly white and often untrod. They ring the island so that no matter where you go, you’ll be near a sandy gem. Should you beat the inevitable languor, you can surf and dive world-class sites without world-class crowds. Colorful festivals are a wonderful part of Sri Lanka’s heritage, and in Colombo, you may witness a vibrant Buddhist Poya Festival, celebrated around the full-moon day of each month.