The ‘pearl of the Indian Ocean’ has to be seen to be believed
Time Out Dubai staff
Stay... Budget Waterfalls Guesthouse: After a hair-raising ride in the guesthouse’s tuk-tuk up a mountain in Ella, you’ll hit an extremely welcoming abode. The breakfast table overlooks a stunning waterfall, and the in-house chef’s curries are renowned. The lodge’s resident cat is also extremely friendly. www.waterfalls-guesthouse-ella.com
Blue Ocean Cabanas: Set right on the beach in Arugam Bay, these are run by two German surfers who just never wanted to go home, and are exactly as they sound: little blue cabanas. www.blueoceanguesthouse.com
Luxury Tintagel Colombo: In Colombo, stay at the Tintagel Colombo. It’s set in the middle of the city’s most expensive neighbourhood, boasting 10 individually-designed suites, and it’s also located in a historic heritage building: three of Sri Lanka’s political leaders have lived here in the past. The private dining room is also suitably impressive. www.paradiseroadhotels.com
Eat... Budget In Arugam Bay, head to any of the small curry houses and ask for some of the local curry cuisine: you’ll be fed a dish which tastes like a spicier pad thai, yet involves mashing bread along with other typical curry ingredients (in an extremely noisy manner).
Expensive Governor’s Restaurant: Located at Mount Lavinia, this is an eatery serving both regional and continental specialities with lots of old, colonial-era charm. 100 Hotel Road, Mount Lavinia.
Must see... Attractions include the Sigiriya (rock temple), the Ancient Cities (Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa), Kandy for the Temple of the Sacred Tooth and the Perahera festival, as well as tea plantations, beautiful beaches on the south and east coasts, Galle Fort and Yala national park for leopard spotting. There’s no end of things to do!
Must do... Have surfing lessons – it’s a great place to learn, the water’s not too rough and it’s less competitive than Bondi or Hawaii. www.surfcampsrilanka.com
Flight time Four hours. Getting there Flydubai flies to Colombo from Dhs700 return, including taxes, with four flights per week. www.flydubai.com
Time Out recommends Catching the train somewhere and sitting in the second-class carriage. You’ll meet locals – they all screamed as we went through any tunnels! The scenery from the train through the mountains is also unforgettable.