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TOP 10 COUNTRIES

Find out the greatest destinations to add to your wishlist in 2019 – then turn to p56 to read our feature on the winning country: Sri Lanka

1 SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka is having its moment in the sun, and change is coming swiftly. With its mix of religions and cultures, its timeless temples, rich and accessible wildlife, growing surfing scene and its people, who defy all odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict, this is a country revived. The north and east, including areas previously off limits, deliver new discoveries – turn to p56 for our feature on this glorious region.

In 2014, renovated rails carried train services to Jaffna in the north for the first time since 1990, while brand-new controlled-access expressways have drastically reduced travel times to the south as far as Matara (with more routes to come). Scheduled and charter flights now speed travellers between most major cities. Destinations that once required determination and endurance to reach are now a comfortable ride away. An increasing number of quality hotels, sustainable tour operators and diverse experiences are meeting rising needs. Chances for expanded exploration abound: water sports, surfing and whale watching; jungle hikes, safaris and nature-based experiences; cooking lessons and village homestays; and yoga retreats and Ayurveda centres.

UNMISSABLE EXPERIENCES

* National park wildlife highlights include Minneriya’s annual gathering of 300-plus elephants (July to October), the elusive leopards of Yala and the birds of Udawalawe.

* The Hill Country’s horizon-filling tea plantations are best appreciated on a scenic train trip.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - December 2018
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