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Sri Lanka & Maldives: Southeast Asia destinations you shouldn’t miss

Two “must-visit” destinations from Singapore are Sri Lanka (“the Pearl of the Indian Ocean”), and the perennial favourite of honeymooners, the Maldives. Here we’ve collected a handful of ideas and itineraries to help you plan your escape to one or the other – or both!


What:  Clingendael
Where:  Near Kandy

Ideally placed as a base from which to explore one of the oldest and grandest of all Asian festivals, the upcoming Kandy Esala Perahera (the Esala procession of Kandy), Clingendael is a boutique luxury hotel that has the beautiful Knuckles Mountain range and the area’s dramatic tea country as its backdrop.

This year’s festival is taking place from 15 to 30 August, and will feature dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers and up to 70 lavishly decorated tusker elephants.

Clingendael is more than an upmarket hotel. Its par-73 Victoria Golf Course has been named as one of the world’s 100 most scenic courses by Golf Digest USA, and was recently listed by The Independent in its summary of great golf hotels, in company with the renowned accommodation at Gleneagles, Scotland, and Pinehurst in the United States.

The hotel itself is furnished with refurbished Dutch antiques and surrounded by plush lawns and vibrant bougainvillea, recalling the opulence of bygone colonial days.


What:  Family-friendly travels with Scott Dunn
Where:  Kotugoda, Wilpattu National Park, Sigiriya, Gampola (Sri Lanka) North Ari Atoll (Maldives)

Tour operator Scott Dunn’s 13-night Sri Lanka and Maldives getaway offers a mix of activities and destinations that will pique the budding curiosity of any young traveller.

This is a great trip for animal lovers; it includes the chance to spot leopards in Wilpattu National Park, where you’ll spend two nights on a luxury camping safari. You’ll encounter elephants, too – if you’re travelling in summer, visit Minneriya National Park to see over 100 elephants gather during their annual migration; there’s also a trip to an elephant orphanage.

The kids can then channel their inner Indiana Jones, scrambling over ancient ruins and riding on bikes in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. They’ll also visit local rural villages, markets and tea plantations.

The trip concludes with some beach time in the Maldives – for example, at Constance Halaveli Resort, with its excellent family villas, the superb beach and the “Kuda Club” for children aged from four to 12.


What: Maalifushi by COMO
Where: Thaa Atoll

Maalifushi by COMO opened in the Maldives in January last year. It’s the first resort of its kind in pristine Thaa Atoll, a 60-minute seaplane trip from the capital, Malé.

Maalifushi boasts tropical greenery, white beaches and a lagoon of cobalt blue, complemented by Koichiro Ikebuchi’s design that showcases a sensitive approach to nature and culture in the resort’s villas and suites.

The resort is also an ideal base for exploring the surrounding seas through surfing, sailing and diving, with instruction for all those activities available on site.

There are three popular dining spots: Thila, for family-friendly cuisine; Madi, for local, Mediterranean, Indonesian and Thai-style dishes; and Tai for gourmet Japanese.

Guests can enjoy holistic Asian therapies at the COMO Shambhala Retreat at Maalifushi, which also offers yoga and a fully equipped gym.


Special offer: Summer Bonus Night: stay four nights at Maalifushi by COMO, and pay for three; or stay seven nights, and pay for five. The offer is valid for stays up until 25 December this year. Book at least 30 days in advance for a 5 percent Early Bird discount, or at least 60 days for 10 percent off.

What: Amilla Fushi
Where: Baa Atoll


Newly opened Amilla Fushi – literally meaning “my island home” in Dhivehi – aims to offer genuine, laid-back service, with an emphasis on cutting out the “bill shock” that so many guests to the Maldives can feel.

So, there are no hidden charges for opening a bottle of water, or connecting to Wi-Fi to Instagram another pool-selfie. Furthermore, all the resort’s water sports – non-motorised and motorised – are complimentary; guests can enjoy a daily 50-minute spa treatment as part of the room rate; and child care is also complimentary, from the Kids’ Club to au pairs and babysitters.

Amilla Fushi is home to more purpose-designed island houses with two or more bedrooms than any other Maldives resort – ideal for families and groups of friends. Choose from Beach, Tree, Lagoon, Ocean Lagoon and Ocean Reef Houses, ranging between 200 and 600 square metres, each with its own large pool, or one of 12 bespoke Beach Residences with three to six bedrooms.

The house reef boasts its own renowned “Blue Hole” dive site within snorkelling distance of the beach, and there’s also a wide range of luxury scuba diving services for new, beginner and experienced divers alike.

Amilla’s restaurateur is acclaimed Aussie chef Luke Mangan, and his emphasis is on cocktails, barbecue flavours, zingy ceviches and tropical ingredients, whether at relaxed over-water restaurant Lonu, or at Bazaar, which curls around the Maldives’ biggest swimming pool and offers global cuisines at multiple outlets – even a proper fish-and-chippery. There’s also a General Store that sells fresh fruit and vegetables, plus deli-style sandwiches, and a Cellar Door wine shop.

Special offer: Book a stay at Amilla through amilla.mv until 30 September 2015 and mention “ExpatLiving” to receive a complimentary upgrade to full board (a saving of up to US$400 for two people per day).

This story first appeared in Expat Living’s July 2015 issue.