6 other spots to explore in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's second city is surrounded by hills in the centre of the island and provides a vivid contrast to the sand-fringed resorts of the coast.
It is home to a number of absorbing sights, not least the Temple of the Tooth, the most significant Buddhist shrine on the island.
The city's main landmark is Kiri Muhuda, the lake at its centre, and you can take short cruises.
But perhaps Kandy's greatest gift is its role as a gateway to the dramatic scenery of tea plantations.
WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK
Set in the north-west of the island, this is the largest of Sri Lanka's national parks.
Before the civil war made the region dangerous, it was also its most visited.
Today, its charm lies in the fact that it draws relatively few visitors while also offering excellent opportunities to spot leopards and sloth bears.
The birdlife is world-class too.
The capital is a busy city, with around three million people calling it home.
Its most obvious attractions for visitors are the buzzing bazaar quarter referred to as The Pettah. Most of the goods on sale are practical items rather than souvenirs, however.
You can also head to the historical district known as Fort, where you will find a good selection of museums and colonial buildings.
If you are looking to get an insight into just how deep religion runs in Sri Lanka, this is the place to go.
The small southern town is considered a profoundly important spiritual site not just by Buddhists, but by the Hindus and Muslims too.
It is best experienced in the evening when the main puja (show of reverence) takes place.
Most of the action takes place in an area known as The Sacred Precinct where musicians, dancers and pilgrims combine to create a heady scene of devotion.
JAFFNA AND THE FAR NORTH
The vagaries of the civil war were fiercely felt in the far north, which is home to the majority of the country's Tamil population.
The area holds rich rewards for those in search of a cultural contrast to the rest of the island. The largest town is Jaffna, which sits on a peninsula at the uppermost tip of the country and has a thick Indian influence.
Thanks to improvements in the rail network, it is now possible to go there by a direct train from Colombo.
Hugely popular with independent travellers, Unawatuna sits on the south coast close to Galle and made its name as somewhere to surf and unwind.
You will find activities like snorkelling, yoga, diving and nightclubbing.
Its postcard-friendly setting is helped by a scattering of green rocky outcrops offshore. There is also a vast selection of places to eat and drink, from rice-and-curry houses and seafood restaurants to Italian bistros.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK