Sri Lanka, a lush tropical island emerges as an international tourist destination.

It was step 5,500 and I had finally achieved a spiritual high atop one of Sri Lanka’s highest peaks, a spot that also doubles as a place of worship. I had been busy spotting elephants the day before and was heading over to a beach town the next day. With all it has to offer, Sri Lanka can leave a traveller exhausted and enamoured in equal parts. Still recovering from the pillage of its colonial past and a civil war, Sri Lanka is not the easiest destination. Public transportation is not from this century and the weather switches between sweltering heat and a steady downpour without notice.

But with its lush rainforests, distinctive culture and picturesque beaches, this pearl in the Indian Ocean is attracting more and more visitors. Though the landscape can be spectacular, the hospitality and laid back vibe is what turns first-timers into repeat visitors.

Here, four places to start exploring the country.

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