The 2010 It List
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For over 25 years, this beautiful island in the Indian Ocean was torn by a brutal and bloody civil war. But the conflict finally ended in May 2009, and travelers looking for a tropical, low-key getaway are beginning to trickle back. Galle, an atmospheric walled fortress city, has become a cultural hub in the last few years: The country's second film festival will take place there in December 2010, and the city's fledgling literary festival has attracted international talent including Gore Vidal and Vikram Seth, who both shacked up at the luxurious Amangalla hotel. If the Aman is sold out, book a room at one of Galle's new boutique hotels, such as Era, with eight bedrooms and a huge saltwater pool facing the ocean.
From Galle, guests take excursions to discover the fifth-century fortresses that dot the landscape, villages populated by traditional stilt fishermen (pictured), restaurants housed in old colonial mansions, and historic tea plantations where the world's best brews are served with afternoon crumpets and cream. How to wind up the trip? Sybarites might choose to keep lounging—the stylish Amanwella resort promises more pristine tropical beaches, while the beautiful thatched bungalows of Jetwing Vil Uyana are set in a nature reserve with an Ayurvedic spa. The more adventure-minded can pursue elephant safaris in Minneriya and whitewater rafting in Kitulgala.