Golden sands and national parks
Down in Sri Lanka's 'deep south', the town of Hambantota sits in the heart of the wildly beautiful Southern Province, wrapped up in a patchwork of national parks.
Perfect for budding adventurers, Hambantota is a brilliant place for safari; you can traverse the Walawe River exploring the rich biodiversity, look for leopards at Yala National Park or visit the bird sanctuary, lagoons and waterways of Bundala National Park. You're also within easy reach of Turtle Beach, where five species of turtles (there are only eight known species in the world) lay their eggs.
Yala National Park is also the site of the Sithulpawwa Rock Temple, a 2,000-year-old Buddhist monastery that's one of the most significant around; a relic of Hambantota's important role cultivating Sri Lanka's Buddhist culture.
Flights from the UK take approximately 10 hours 30 minutes.
Transfer time from Colombo airport to Hambantota is approximately 4 hours 10 minutes; from Mattala Rajapaksa International airport, it's 45 minutes.
Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons – one in the south-west between May and September, and one in the north-east between October and January. Galle and Bentota are in the south-west, and the most popular time to visit is between December and March for hot, sunny weather and an average temperature of 30°C.
UK citizens will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can apply for a 30-day tourist visa online before you travel.
Tipping is common in Sri Lanka. You should aim to tip 100 rupees at restaurants, and the same again per day for hotel maids and porters. It’s not necessary to tip taxi drivers, although you could round up the fare to the nearest 50 rupees if paying cash.
The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil. English is widely spoken too.