This holiday will take you on a journey of discovery of Sri Lanka’s highlights, and along the way you will have exciting encounters with wildlife, visits to historic attractions and plenty of delicious cuisines!
Meet fisherfolk in the town of Negombo and sample the freshest seafood; explore the ancient kingdoms of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya and unravel their mysteries; visit the northern peninsula and taste the absolutely unique Jaffna Crab Curry; witness sacred rituals in Kandy and explore a world famous botanical garden; pluck fresh tea leaves and learn the art of the perfect brew in the cool hills of Nuwara Eliya; watch safely from a distance as a leopard stalks its prey in the jungle; and experience the multi-cultural smorgasbord of cuisines, arts and architecture at Galle Fort!
Your accommodation will consist of handpicked hotels, designed to minimize time spent in travel, so that you can have the maximum time to focus on your Sri Lankan cultural holiday and enjoy your hotel, destinations, and the amazing cuisine in the area.
Ideal For – Anyone who would want to experience and explore Sri Lanka. Recommended for Solo Travelers / Couples / Friends / Families with kids and teenagers / Small groups consisting of friends and family.
Highlights at a glance
- Examine the amazing architecture in the ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Yapahuwa.
- Encounter ancient engineering marvels and breath-taking panoramas at the 5th century Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
- Witness age-old Buddhist rituals in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Kandy.
- Explore the historic caves in the Dambulla Cave Temple, which contain paintings, statues and relics accumulated over a period of 2,000 years.
- Trek through Horton Plains, a high altitude nature reserve.
- Go on a Boat Safari to see the largest mammal on earth, the Blue Whale* or experience the Ceylon Cinnamon Trail.
- Stroll through the 650-year-old Royal Botanical Gardens, featuring more than 4000 species of plants.
- Journey into the hills, visit a tea plantation, and tour a tea factory.
- Relax on golden sandy beaches and experience the vibrant marine life of the South Coast.
- Stay at a Tented Safari Camp bordering the Yala National Park, experience guided safaris and a delicious BBQ dinner served by a roaring campfire.
- Experience regional culinary specialities and engage in culinary lessons with specialist chefs.
- Explore the eclectic streets of the Galle Fort, a Unesco World Heritage site.
- *The Whale Watching excursion is a seasonal activity and will be possible only from November to March.
The first day of your tour to Sri Lanka can be enjoyed at your own pace. You will be picked up from the airport by your private chauffeur and taken to your hotel. If you arrive during the day, you can explore the town and catch some sun on the wide, golden beaches. At night, the best place to visit is ‘Hotel Road’, which is packed with bars, seafood restaurants and hotels.
After an early breakfast we will leave Negombo and head to Yapahuwa. The drive is quite scenic and your chauffeur will make a few stops along the way to enjoy fresh, exotic fruits and refreshing King Coconut. There’s plenty to see at the ancxient stronghold of Yapahuwa including moats, ramparts, caves, ancient stupas, Chinese-style lion statues (an indication of the ties with China at the time), and its biggest showpiece, a massive ornamental stairway. You will head to Anuradhapura next, arriving in time for an authentic Sri Lankan lunch. The rest of the day is left free, for you to explore your surroundings at leisure.
This vast city is full of amazing ancient Sri Lankan architecture and you will visit: Ruwanwelisaya – one of the world’s tallest ancient monuments which houses the Buddha’s relics, Thuparamaya – the first Buddhist temple, Lovamahapaya – a nine storied skyscraper of the ancient world, Isurumuniya – famous for its intriguing carvings, the 4th century CE Samadhi Statue carved out of dolomite marble, Kuttam Pokuna and Eth Pokuna – elaborately constructed bathing ponds, and the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi – the 2,250 year-old sacred Bo tree, grown from the southern branch of the sacred Bo tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment.
After breakfast, you will be heading to Jaffna. You will arrive at your hotel in time for an authentic local lunch featuring the famous Jaffna Crab Curry and other signature specialities. After a brief rest, feel free to explore the city at your own pace and experience the colourful culture, and sample street foods, alcoholic palm toddy (made of palm tree sap), and the popular soft drink ‘Nelli Crush’ available across the city.
After breakfast you will head out on a ferry to Nagadeepa, home to many famous temples, and then to Nallur Kandasami Kovil which has a rich history and plays host to the 25-day long Nallur Festival. After that you will head to Dambakola Patuna, the place where the sacred sapling from the Bodhi Tree first arrived in Sri Lanka. After lunch, you will visit more significant sights in Jaffna including the Fort, Nilavarai Bottomless Well, Point Pedro and other locations. In the late afternoon you will head to Jaffna’s most famous beach, Casuarina beach, on Karaitivu island to relax and take a dip in the warm, pool-like waters of the Indian Ocean.
You will head to Sigiriya after breakfast. Excursion to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is set for late afternoon. At the Fortress, you can take your time leisurely exploring the vast boulder gardens and water gardens before heading up. The climb up the rock is quite easy, as it is made up of walkways and steps with guide rails. Halfway up the rock, you will encounter the famous Sigiriya frescoes and you will reach the summit just in time to catch a gorgeous sunset highlighting the panoramic view all around you.
After breakfast, your cultural holiday continues with a scenic drive to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Polonnaruwa. This ancient capital of Sri Lanka is steeped in historical and religious significance, and famed for its well preserved sculptures and architecture. Here you will see strong Indian influences melding with a growing Sri Lankan identity in the architecture, art and sculptures of this sprawling ancient city. At lunch you will be treated to an authentic clay pot meal experience that is packed with delicious Sri Lankan dishes and sweets. After lunch you will take off on a safari to Minneriya National Park to enjoy some wildlife sightings as well as witness ‘The Gathering’.
A short drive after breakfast will bring you to the Dambulla fruit & vegetable market which is a massive hub for fresh produce trading. After touring the market and sampling various produce, you will head over to the Dambulla Cave Temple. You can explore the 5 sacred caves of this World Heritage Site and also climb Dambulla Rock to enjoy the panoramic views. After a delicious lunch you will resume your journey and arrive in Kandy, in time to visit the Temple of the Tooth (the Sri Dalada Maligawa, where the sacred relic of a tooth belonging to Lord Buddha is kept) and also witness a daily sacred ritual known as Thewawa.
Next day is a short drive to Peradeniya, to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. A sprawling garden of about 60 hectares, hemmed in by the Mahaweli River, it also has a suspension bridge to cross to the other side of the river! You will be amazed by the impressive diversity of flora: from orchids, local indigenous plants, magnificently tall Burma bamboo, the stately avenue of royal trees (also named as Cannonball fruit tree) and of course the iconic Javan fig tree that sits in the lawn; a singular beauty with its ever-reaching canopy of shade. You will see bats, monkeys, amidst birds and butterflies too.
After breakfast you will catch the train to Nuwara Eliya. Travelling on 19th century British-built train tracks, you will encounter the usage of Single Line Train Tablets during your ride. This is a method devised in the late 19th century to avoid collisions on a single railway line, which is still in use today on some railway lines in Sri Lanka. After reaching Nuwara Eliya you will head to a tea factory, to find out how tea goes from being a leaf on a bush, to a warm cup of golden goodness! Later on you will head out on a walking tour of Nuwara Eliya town which has a great mix of colonial and Tudor architecture, historical sites and temples. A hike in Horton Plains is set for the next morning.
A pre-dawn start will see you heading up to Horton Plains. The easy circular trek should take you a couple of hours and you will head back to your hotel for breakfast. The drive to the safari camp bordering the Yala National Park is a little long, but is quite scenic. After resting from the long drive, you will head out on an afternoon safari in a private jeep, along with a professional and experienced naturalist and tracker. At night you will be treated to a bbq dinner under the stars, and partake in a night walk along the borders of the Park, to continue your encounters in the wild!
You will be going on a morning safari to witness more wildlife at Yala National Park. After that you will be travelling to Galle. Galle is a picture book UNESCO heritage city that will mesmerize you with its many charms. Depending on what time you reach your hotel, you can relax here with the sea breeze, or venture on a walk into the city. Galle Fort itself spans 90 acres overlooking the ocean. Your chauffeur will be happy to accompany you and show you the Meeran Mosque, the Fort Lighthouse, the Dutch Reformed Church, restaurants, live music bars and quaint houses on cobblestone streets. Galle boasts of a museum you may like to visit, that offers an interesting historical insight of its past. There is also the Dutch Market and numerous spice shops to see.
Depending on when you tour in Sri Lanka, you will leave early by 6-6:30am to go whale watching from the Mirissa harbour. This is an exciting adventure when you may sight Blue whales and Bottle-nosed dolphins. Or, you will go on the
Galle Cinnamon Experience; an interactive tour which gives you a sense of a cinnamon farmer’s life – visiting a beautiful, working cinnamon estate. Another option: you will take a walk in historical Galle Fort during your stay in Sri Lanka. Your chauffeur will take you to local restaurants and craft shops where you’ll find batiks, brassware and jewellery.
We’ve reached the end of your 13-night holiday to Sri Lanka and it is time to depart. You will be taken to Colombo Airport in time to catch your departure flight.
- 13 nights accommodation. HB at all hotels.
- Transportation in an Air conditioned Vehicle with an English Speaking Chauffeur throughout the tour including Airport Transfers.
- Jeep Safaris in the above mentioned National Park in private Jeeps including the entry permit costs & government tracker fees.
- Entry Permits to all the sites, temples, museums & monuments mentioned in the itinerary.
- Costs of all experiences, community visits, hikes and village walks mentioned in the itinerary.
- Service charges at the hotels & current applicable taxes by the Sri Lankan Government.
- Any International or Domestic flights.
- Any Visa fee or ETA fee. (Electronic Travel Authorization)
- Christmas & New Year Eve dinner supplement. (24th & 31st December)
- Perahera Supplement at Kandy Hotel during the Perahera Period.
- Any additional beverage or food.
- Early Check-in or Late Checkout Charges at Hotels.
- Any tips to the staff.
- Any expense of personal requirements telephone, laundry, hotel extra bills etc.)
- Any additional expenses , other than mentioned in the inclusions list above.
When it comes to the accommodation, all the reservations are subject to availability at the time of confirmation, and as soon as we have received the payment, our Tour Operations Team will take in charge of your tour and proceed with the reservations. In case a hotel mentioned in your itinerary has no availability, we will find you an alternative. No changes will be done without your approval!
We will make a rough day-by-day schedule for your tour, but won’t set you exact timings for each and every activity – unless there is a an activity which start at a specific time. Since you will be traveling by private vehicle, with a knowledgeable driver-guide, we want you to have your part in decision making. With the help from him, you may tune the schedule to your rhythm.
Along the destinations included in your itinerary, you are free to take as many stops as you want to. When it comes to additional visits and destinations that are located out of the original route, the extra kilometers will be taken in consideration. For your journey, we will calculate a total mileage that is sufficient for the whole tour and mentioned in your itinerary. If this limit is exceeded, we will charge a supplement according the extra mileage.
We’ll do our best to accommodate the programme in your needs and wishes, if something urgent occurs during your tour. In a situation that requires changing the accommodation, the cancellation policies of the hotels concerned are to be taken on account.
Since the 1st of January 2012, all travelers must be in possession of a visa when arriving in Sri Lanka. Citizens from Singapore and The Maldives are the only exempt. Visitors can apply for the official Electronic Travel Authorization (visa) via www.eta.gov.lk, or upon arrival at the airport. There is a small fee to pay, and you must have at least six months left on your passport at the time of travel to obtain one.
MasterCard and Visa are widely used and accepted by many local shops, restaurants and hotels, but it’s always better to double check. Other major cards such as AmEx and DinersClub are accepted often also.
The important stuff
Sri lanka is a nation where religion and culture occupy an important place in the day-to-day lives of the local people. It is important to be aware of the customs and practices that are particular to the location you are visiting, so here are a few general tips to keep in mind during your travels. Your guide will assist you with more detailed information.
- If you plan on visiting any temples, ancient or current, you should wear clothing that covers your body from your shoulders down to your knees. Head coverings such as caps or helmets should be removed and shoes must be taken off at the entrance. White coloured clothing is generally a good choice to go with here.
- Some religious places do not allow photography or videography without prior permission and some may not allow it at all. Refer to signage or ask your chauffeur guide about the policy or protocol. Dont try to photograph or take videos without permission. If you have any tattoos associated with buddhism, hinduism or islamism, its best that you cover them completely in public places. Smoking is prohibited in indoor public places, workplaces and on public transport.
- If you have any tattoos associated with buddhism, hinduism or islamism, its best that you cover them completely in public places.
- Smoking is prohibited in indoor public places, workplaces and on public transport.