Sri Lanka Insight Guide (2012)
There are many different guide books available – all covering the basics of What to see , Where to stay /eat/drink/be amused and, something of the history of the countries/cities/areas of the and fauna/flora. Travel essentials and local customs are also covered. Which book you select (and we have tried most of the available guides – all of which had something to offer) comes down to what you want, how recent was the guide updated, and sometimes the price. We tend to visit far off lands from cruises or from land tours where the accommodation is pre booked. What we mainly look for is a guide of what to see/do/special requirements, some history and particularly any information on flora and fauna. We like pictures, maps and diagrams and tend to get the DK Eyewitness series but when we were in Sri Lanka in 1995 we used the 1994 Insight guide which matched our tour in its treatment and content and proved invaluable – hence our update to the 2012 version this time for a fleeting 2 days visit to Colombo by cruise ship in November. Whilst it is now some years since the ravages of the Tsunami (2004) and upheavals after the Tamil Tiger conflicts and terrorist outrages in Kandy, I was curious as to the current state of the island.
The book has shrunk somewhat since 1994 (328 pages vs. 376) but still covers the essentials of this diverse country.
Starts with brief summary of “Best of” attractions before plunging into a brief history from prehistory to colonial times to post independence. It moves onto the peoples their religions (Festivals), their culture (Architecture and music), their food and the local wildlife. Some 130 pages cover places (starting with the capital Colombo) working round the South Coast, across the central mountains to Kandy to the and then up to the old ruined capital of Polonnaruwa and up the Jaffna in the North (most of which was off limits to us in 1995 with the Tamil Tiger “civil war”). At the end are the obligatory travel tips, some details on accommodation and eateries. There is a good “Further reading” section
So in detail, we expect some or more of the following:-
Articles – These give an excellent background to the history, the country, and its peoples. The articles post Tsunami and the “end” of the Tamil Tiger” conflict show a country where , despite the losses recovery has occurred but some have won , many others lost in this country ruled nepotistically ( if not quasi dictatorially)
Maps – Certainly key areas like Colombo, Kandy, and the historical sites are well covered in detail. There are the general maps for the various districts covered.
Photos – A good selection of photos capture the essence of the countryside and its peoples. (Some different to last time)
Rating – Whilst there are elements of the earlier guide that have disappeared, this latest offering covers the essentials and I rate it 5 star for general content. (Other guides may offer more detailed information)
on 30 October 2013
As I am shortly visiting Sri Lanka for a holiday, I wanted to find out more about history, geography, colonialism, culture, etiquette, and traditions of the country as well as the back ground on the usual tourist sights. This guide provides all that information and more besides. Excellent colour pictures enhance the well written text. I am enjoying using it as a reference to plan my visit and as a book to browse and ponder. I know it will be very useful on my trip!
This latest edition, reprinted in 2013 of the ‘Sri Lanka Insight Guide’ builds on previous guides. It has been updated by Gavin Thomas and others with extensive experience of travelling around Sri Lanka, and with detailed knowledge of the country’s history, culture, religions etc. in addition to places and features to visit, and informed recommendations and explanations about transport, eating, accommodation etc. Publicity blurb refers to ‘guide’ but with in-depth treatment and a host of colour photographs it is much more – it is an almost exhaustive encyclopaedia. It is rather large and heavy for carrying around and therefore may be best suited for reading and planning before arriving in Sri Lanka – with a ‘pocket guidebook’ when you get there – and maybe a good map as these are limited and small-scale in the ‘Insight Guide’.