Once known as Serendib, Sri Lanka still lives up to this name by being a  paradise island. Visitors are instantly embraced by the warmth of the country and swept away by the serenity Sri Lanka holidays provide. There are so many who return to the island's warm shores to find rest and relaxation as they are pampered by the hospitable locals. Laze around on the beach sampling the freshest seafood or feast your eyes upon unparalleled scenic beauty as you sip a freshly brewed cup of Ceylon tea in the hill country.

Sri Lanka has so many experiences to offer and the bliss is that you can decide on the type of experience you want to experience. Time comes to a standstill as you absorb yourself in the country's history, seaside, wildlife or trek through the green plains in the up country region. Find your blissful moment in Sri Lanka. Come visit Sri Lanka, the wonder of

     Shopping in Sri Lanka, means international designer labels are not the only items on that ever increasing shopping list. Passion, quality and imaginative design, combined with more than a dash of marketing savvy, are the hallmarks of locally manufactured merchandise, must haves on the gift list as you leave the paradise isle.

The best of fabrics, clothing, homewares, wood carvings and brasswork are made by artisans in their own homes or craft centres, and are not mass produced for export and are one of a kind. The exquisite handicrafts of Sri Lanka, batik works, lace creations and the stunning jewellery in both modern and traditional designs provide yet another reason to visit the
enchanted isle.

If you are looking for that inner calm, an eternal bliss brought from the freedom of the physical from the emotional, then Sri Lanka is the ideal place to explore your mind through meditation.

Meditation is a fundamental means to control one's mind, freeing it of disruptive thoughts, a process that can only be achieved through rigourous practice. In the land where the teachings of the Lord Buddha are largely practiced and passed on, the methods and forms of meditation are freely shared at temples and meditation retreats. Special courses on meditation are conducted at retreats that focus on Vipassana meditation through week-long or 10 day courses.

     Colombo teems with restaurants that offer a spectrum of international gourmet and fusion cuisine. If the high-end fine dining isn't what you are after then a number of deli's offer good and reasonably priced fare. For a feel of local cuisine and roadside dining then, Colombo offers numerous roadside cafes that serve up the tantalising Kottu - a Sri Lankan favourite - stringhoppers, hoppers, pittu and rotti.

     From chic relaxing cocktail lounges, and modern international restaurants - to lively pubs, tapas bars and sports bars boasting snooker tables and large-screen TV's, there's something for everyone.

With ever-popular karaoke bars, nightclubs showcasing new musical talent, and pulsating discos - the choice is endless. And if you're feeling lucky, Colombo's five casinos offer roulette, baccarat, poker and blackjack - and a lot more besides.

     Pink frangipani flowers float in terracotta bowls, their sweet fragrance a counterpoint to the earthy herbal notes of the oil being gently massaged into your feet and body.  As you lie on a neem wood table, with dried neem leaves hanging from the ceiling to purify the air, you slip into that elusive state where body and mind are in complete harmony, the only reminder of the outside world being the soft sigh of the Indian Ocean in the background.

One of the world's oldest forms of healing, Ayurveda - derived from the Sanskrit words for life (ayuh) and knowledge or science (veda) - originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and soon spread to Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese kings established Ayurveda treatment centres in the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

In Ayurveda, a combination of herbs, diet, massage, hydrotherapy and oil treatment is used to treat everything from stress to diabetes, migraine, asthma, arthritis and high blood pressure.  Ayurveda specialists will tell you that this form of treatment also helps boost the immune system, promotes a general sense of well-being and even helps delay the
ageing process.

With many in the West turning from medicine which treats only the body, towards a more holistic approach, Sri Lanka has become destination for those seeking solace in the Ayurvedic principle of body, mind and soul.

Principles of Ayurveda
     The basis of Ayurveda is the belief in a combination of five basic elements which form three types of energy or dosha within the body: vatha (a combination of air and space); pitha (fire and water) and kappha (earth and water).  Ayurvedic practitioners believe that illness arises when these dosha are out of balance, and work to restore harmony.  Comprehensive treatment not only includes massage, herbal baths, oil treatment and a special diet, but also involves meditation, yoga and music to help the mind and soul.

The pharmacopoeia of Ayurvedic preparations includes an amazing range of leaves, roots, bark, resin, spices and fruits, with familiar ingredients such as black pepper, ginger, cinnamon bark and sesame oil joined by many more esoteric items.  There's everything from aloe to zedoary, with such exotica as black cumin, blue water lily and white poppy seed.

Ayurveda practices and resorts
     There are around 6,500 registered Ayurveda practitioners in Sri Lanka, with around twice that number practicing informally in the villages. Specialised Ayurveda resorts cater almost exclusively to visitors to Sri Lanka.  They may opt for a minimal weekend stay, but are generally encouraged to stay up to two or three weeks to obtain the maximum benefit from a combination of pure fresh air, a largely vegetarian diet, yoga, meditation and individually designed Ayurvedic treatments.

In addition to a range of Ayurvedic treatments, Ayurvedic resorts offer yoga, meditation and lectures and the chance to learn how to cook food according to Ayurvedic principles, as well as go on excursions to nearby places of interest. .