Sitting on a major road junction almost equidistant between Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Dambulla (and close to Sigiriya and Ritigala), the large village of HABARANA is of little interest in itself but has a decent spread of relatively upmarket accommodation, making it a convenient base from which to visit any of the Cultural Triangle’s major sights. It’s also the handiest point of departure for trips to Minneriya and Kaudulla national parks, which offer some of the island’s best elephant-spotting.

The main attraction in Habarana is the fine Habarana Lake, encircled by a small footpath around which it’s possible to walk in 90min or so. Alternatively, a number of hotels and tour operators offer elephant rides by the lake and elsewhere (around $25 for 1hr), although the sight of these mighty animals trudging lugubriously through town beneath a surfeit of chains may leave you feeling almost as uncomfortable as the elephants themselves.