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Sri Lanka

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Sri Lanka: Tea Plantation (Photo: iStockphoto/Erkki Tamsalu)

Located off the southern coast of India, Sri Lanka is a country with spectacular wildlife and scenery. From the towering summit of Adam's Peak and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve to the World's End cliff face, visitors can take in plenty of dramatic views. Now that the country has stabilized politically, it might be a good time to consider a visit. Plus, The New York Times named Sri Lanka one of the top 31 places to go to in 2010, and the island's president has declared 2011 Visit Sri Lanka Year.

The southern and western parts of the country experience a monsoon season from May to August, but fewer visitors and the possibility of sunshine make summer more appealing. The northern part of the island experiences its dry season during the same months, so beaches are welcoming.

I compared nightly rates at hotels around the country, and found off-peak savings of up to $148.

Hotel Off-Peak Rate Peak Rate
Aditya $208 $356
Weligama Bay Resort $160 $260
The Wallawwa $160 $185

Off-peak prices are based on travel from July 6 to 13; peak travel rates are based on travel from December 21 to 28. All nightly rates were found on the respective hotels' websites and do not include taxes and fees.

Summertime in Sri Lanka brings lots of festivals, like the Kandy Esala Perahera, when the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is displayed and thousands of visitors participate in parades with torches, elephants, stilt walkers, and dancers. The season also brings The Gathering, when nearly 300 wild elephants assemble in Minneriya Park for food, water, and match-making.

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Although airfare to Sri Lanka may be more expensive than the other destinations on this list, the favorable exchange rate means that the country is an affordable destination for U.S. travelers. Accommodations around the country range from five-star resorts to hostels, so backpackers and luxury-seekers alike will be able to find a place to sleep within their budget.

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