Sri Lanka’s Splendors

Julien Capmeil

Explore the up-and-coming island country before the throngs get to it first.

Now that the Tamil Tigers rebellion has ended after 26 years, Sri Lanka is emerging as the place to race to before the crowds discover its many appeals. Stay at Kandy House (rooms, from $225; Aunugama Walauwa, Gunnepana; 94-81/492-1394;, a 19th-century manor that’s now a nine-room hotel in Kandy, a city at the heart of the country’s tea-growing region. A good travel itinerary will mix time at a tea plantation and the Royal Botanic Gardens (Colombo Rd., Peradeniya;; a stop at the 15-acre Millennium Elephant Foundation sanctuary (Karandupona-Rambukkna Rd., Randeniya; in Kegalle; visits to Buddhist temples and a few of the 22 national parks (some just reopened for the first time in decades, with wildlife ranging from exotic birds to leopards); and basking on—or surfing at—the glorious beaches. Thalpe Beach, near the UNESCO World Heritage colonial town of Galle, is a favorite. Proofs of the island’s rise: Intrav, which charters private-jet tours, is including Sri Lanka in its Seven Wonders: Journey Around the World package (from $109,950 a person for 24 days; 206-209-5770;