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Sri Lanka | 11d/8n:

Enchanting Sri Lanka

SMALL GROUP TOUR – ALL DEPARTURES GUARANTEED.

Highlights of this tour:
Colombo, train ride to the highlands, Kandy, tea factory and plantation, Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale, the Cave Temple in Dambulla, the Lion Rock of Sigiriya, bike ride from Madatugama to Aukana, the Aukana and Ras Vehera statues and the ancient capital of Anuradhapura.

The following is included in the tour:

  • Return flight from the UK to Colombo
  • 8 nights at 3-star hotels
  • 8 x breakfast (days 3–10)
  • Local, English-speaking driver/guide on excursions and trips
  • Travelling in a car or minibus with air conditioning
  • 24-hour manned emergency telephone throughout the trip
  • Departure guarantee – the trip goes ahead regardless of the number of participants

The following package of excursions is included:

  • Train ride from Colombo to Peradeniya (near Kandy)
  • Visit to a tea factory and tea plantation at Kandy
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Introduction to Sri Lankan cooking
  • Visit to the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale
  • The Buddhist Cave Temple in Dambulla
  • Lion Rock of Sigiriya
  • Bike ride from Madatugama to Aukana
  • The Buddha statues at Aukana and Ras Vehera
  • The ancient capital of Anuradhapura
  • Admission fees to the sights and attractions mentioned

Our promise to you:

  • The top highlights along this travel route
  • A well-constructed travel itinerary. No time wasted & world class logistics
  • Guaranteed price, with no hidden surcharges
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants

Single room supplement £250
Discounts for large groups

Choose this tour because...

Sri Lanka is a wonderful travel destination where you will be greeted by a welcoming population, stunning scenery, a fascinating history. You start your journey in Sri Lanka’s largest city Colombo, where Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial rulers have left their mark. From there, a scenic train ride takes you up through Sri Lanka’s lush highlands with mountains and tea plantations to Kandy.

On this tour, you will visit several sacred Buddhist pilgrimage destinations, such as the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, the Cave Temple at Dambulla, and you will also see the large Buddha statues in Aukana and Ras Vehera.

Last but not least, you will experience the two ancient capital cities of Sigiriya and Anuradhapura, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will not only be fascinated by the exciting history of the place, but also the view from the top of the almost 200-metre-high Lion Rock.

Detailed Itinerary
(Click an image to view at full size)

Day 1: Flight from the UK

Departure day, where you will fly to Colombo with connecting flights along the way.

Day 2: Arrival in Colombo

You arrive at the airport in Colombo and pick up your luggage. Your guide is waiting for you in the arrivals hall, holding up an Asia Tours sign, and you will feel the warm Sri Lankan hospitality immediately. You drive to your hotel in the centre of town where you will be staying the night – a drive of about an hour.

Colombo is an exciting, dynamic capital city, which was once a thriving port connecting East with West, and which is now a fascinating city offering a charming blend of past and present. Modern, new business districts, apartment complexes and skyscrapers are shooting up, while a great deal of effort is going into restoring the old colonial buildings from the Portuguese, Dutch and English rule.

You have the rest of the day to explore Colombo at your leisure. You might like to visit the city’s popular landmark, the 100-year-old bell tower that marks the entrance to the Pettah bazaar. The bazaar is a fascinating labyrinth of exciting little shops where you can buy everything between heaven and earth. Pettah is a multi-ethnic neighbourhood with mosques, churches and Hindu and Buddhist temples. Here, you will meet Tamil women in their beautiful, colourful saris, Christians with crosses around their necks and older Muslim men with skullcaps, all living peacefully side by side. The place is incredibly fascinating and quite unique!

Overnight stay ZMAX Fairway ***

Day 3: Train ride from Colombo to Peradeniya (Kandy)

You will be picked up from your hotel in a tuk tuk and driven to the railway station in Colombo for departure to Kandy. You only need to bring your hand luggage as your driver and guide for this round trip will drive to Kandy and drop off your luggage at the hotel where you will be spending the night.
Travelling by train in Sri Lanka is a wonderful experience. You not only meet the local people at close quarters, but you also experience the beautiful, lush scenery that passes by as the train slowly makes its way from the big city and through small, sleepy villages. The train journey takes around 3 hours.

On your arrival at Peradeniya, which is located near Kandy, you will be picked up by your driver who will take you the last steps of the way to your hotel in Kandy.

Kandy was built in 1798 by the last king, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. The city enjoys an incredibly scenic location by the artificial lake of the same name, and is surrounded by mountains and tea plantations of 500 metres in height. Wherever you are in the city, you can see the 26-metre-high Buddha statue above the Bahirawakanda Temple, which is approximately 1 km from the city centre. The view from here is fantastic, and you can spot the sacred Temple of the Tooth, which is located on the lake’s shore.

Kandy is known as the city that clung to its freedom long after the rest of the island came under colonial rule. The city has managed to preserve its unique traditions and culture, which live on to this day through music, dance and architecture.

Overnight stay Hotel Suisse ***

Day 4: Kandy – Visit a tea factory, plantation and Temple of the Tooth

Sri Lanka is famous for its tea production, and today you experience the Giragama tea factory and plantation, where some of the world’s best tea is grown. You will learn about the whole production process, from when the tea is picked until it is finished and steaming in the mug. There will be time to taste the delicious Ceylon tea from one of the world’s best tea factories.

After the visit to tea factory, you have time to explore Kandy’s bustling streets on your own, where you will encounter many beautiful colonial buildings. If you like jewellery and gems, the city is known for its many jewellery shops. You also have the option of purchasing a tour to Kandy’s Botanical Gardens. See more below.

In the afternoon, your guide will take you on a guided tour of the Temple of the Tooth, which is one of the most important Buddhist relics in Sri Lanka. As the name suggests, one of Buddha’s teeth is indeed to be found here. It is said that the tooth was smuggled to Sri Lanka in a princess’s hair in 1590, and is now preserved in a gold casket, with a wealth of lotus flowers in front of it. Three times a day, a religious ceremony is performed, which is a really exciting experience. You can see the many devout Buddhists in their beautiful clothes and even participate if you wish.

The casket is only opened once a year, causing pilgrims to flock to the temple for a glimpse of the tooth. This is done at the major annual procession, Esala Perahera, in July and August, where you can experience the many talented dancers and elephants, which are adorned with lavish garments.
The complex houses several interesting temples and museums, and your guide will give you a fascinating insight into the significance of the temple.

After visiting the Temple of the Tooth, you have the option of purchasing a ticket to a cultural dance show, which Kandy is very famous for. See more below.

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Hotel Suisse ***

Day 5: Kandy – Introduction to Sri Lankan cooking

This morning, you will be cooking your own breakfast. The hotel’s chef gives you a small introduction to Sri Lankan cooking and demonstrates how the dishes are made. Then it’s your turn to put what you have learnt to the test and, of course, eat the delicious dishes afterwards.

The rest of the day is your own.

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Hotel Suisse ***

Day 6: Kandy – The Spice and Herbal Gardens in Matale – The Buddhist Cave Temple in Dambulla – Sigiriya

After breakfast, we head for Sigiriya. Along the way, you stop at a Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale, where you are given a fascinating introduction to the exotic spices and healing herbs, and their medicinal effect, to which great importance is attached in Sri Lanka. Before leaving Matale, you have the option to buy herbal tea, oils and spices, so you can test their effect on your own body.

Not far from Sigiriya, you will visit the Buddhist Cave Temple in Dambulla. From the outside, the temple complex is quite unimposing, but it is worth every step of the hard climb up the steep stairs. Inside you will be greeted by a wonderful world of magnificent murals and amazing Buddha statues. Pilgrims have flocked to these caves since King Valagamba sought refuge here more than 2,000 years ago, and Dambulla is still an important pilgrimage site for the island’s Buddhists.

Arrival at Sigiriya in the late afternoon.

Drive: approx. 3 hours

Overnight stay Hotel Fresco Water Villa ***

Day 7: Sigiriya – excursion to the Lion Rock

Today, you will visit the almost 200-metre-high iconic Lion Rock of Sigiriya, which rises steeply in the landscape and is known for its ruin complex of an ancient civilisation on the top.
You can choose to climb all the way to the top, or stop by the Lion’s paws if you find it too strenuous. Remember to bring water with you for the hard climb to the top, where you will be rewarded with stunning views of the green landscape with its jungle and mountains.

(It takes around 2 hours to climb and descend the rock + the time you spend on the top).

In 477 AD, King Kashyapa moved from Anuradhapura to Jaffna and made it the capital, due to its strategic location. The king built a enormous palace with surrounding gardens and large water pools and sculptures. The entrance to the palace was a giant lion – hence the name Lion Rock. Today, only the enormous lion paws remain. On the way up to the top, you also get to see beautiful, well-preserved frescoes.

After just 20 years as a royal seat and capital city, Sigiriya was converted into a Buddhist monastery.

Today, Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka.

The rest of the day is your own.

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Hotel Fresco Water Villa ***

Day 8: Sigiriya – bike ride from Madatugama to Aukana – the Buddha statues Aukana and Ras Vera – Anuradhapura

Today, you experience the beauity of the Sri Lankan nature up close on a little bike ride to Aukana. You will be driven from your hotel to the starting point in Madatugama, where you will be kitted out with a bicycle and helmet, and your cycling guide will take you along the small back roads to Aukana. A support vehicle is with you all the way, should you get a puncture or become tired. It is a bike ride of around 20 km.

If you do not you wish to cycle, you will be picked up from your hotel in Sigiriya a little later in the day and taken to Aukana, where you meet up with the others.

In Aukana, you will see the beautiful 12-metre-high Buddha statue. The statue is in the unusual “Asisa Mudra” blessing position, with its right hand turned sideways to the viewer, as if on the point of delivering a karate chop.

Legend has it that the Aukana Buddha statue and the Buddha statue in Ras Vehera were result of a competition between a stonemason and his apprentice. Whoever completed his statue first would win, and would notify the other of this by ringing a bell. The stonemason managed to complete the Aukuna statue first, and this is said to be the reason why the statue in Ras Vehera remains unfinished today.

After the visit to Aukana, you drive to Ras Vehera to see the apprentice’s unfinished 13-metre-high Sasseruwa Buddha statue, which is carved into a cliff, and which is reached by climbing the 300+ steps. The Buddha is carved in the “Abhaya Mudra” protection position, with the right hand raised to shoulder level, palm facing forward and the left hand facing downwards with the palm forward.

In Ras Vera, there are several ruins of stupas, ancient moonstones, stone inscriptions and cave temples with frescoes.

In the afternoon, you arrive at the old royal city of Anuradhapura.

Drive: approx. 2.5 hours

Overnight stay Hotel Rajarata ***

Day 9: Tour of the city of Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura was Sri Lanka’s first capital, and is said to be the longest-existing capital in the world. The city was founded in the 5th century BC, and existed until the 10th century AD.

Anuradhapura was one of the most important sites in the Buddhist world, until it was conquered by the South Indian Chola dynasty at the end of the 10th century and fell into decay. From the 13th century, the city lay hidden under the dense forest, and Anuradhapura’s many palaces, monasteries, stupas and stone sculptures were not rediscovered by the British until the early 19th century. Following excavations and restorations, the city again became a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, who would visit the many stupas, which are said to contain relics of Buddha himself. Today, the city is known for its ruins of ancient Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On your tour of the city today, you will experience some of the highlights of the ancient capital. Among other things, you will visit the world’s oldest tree, Sri Maha Bodiya, which is the fig tree that Buddha meditated under when he reached Nirvana, as well as the 300-metre-high, massive stupa temple, which contains relics of Buddha. You will also see the Lovamahapaya Palace and the Samadhi Buddha statue sitting in “Dhyana Mudra”, Buddha’s meditation position – both hands resting in his lap, palms facing upwards, the two thumbs touching each other, creating a circle of deep, serene energy.

The rest of the day is your own.

You have the option to purchase the following tour:

Overnight stay Hotel Rajarata ***

Day 10: Anuradhapura – the airport – the journey home starts

From Anuradhapura, the trip heads for the airport in Colombo. From here, you fly to the UK, with stopover(s) on the way.

You have the option of extending this tour with a beach holiday or a trip to Jaffna. See more below.

Drive: approx. 4.5 hours

Day 11: Arrival in the UK

You land in the UK after an eventful tour.

Combination options after your tour

5 days/4 nights | Extension to Jaffna

Price:
Per person in double room: + £450

Single room supplement: + £140

Extend your Sri Lanka holiday with a trip to the northern province, Jaffna. This area of Sri Lanka has always been marked by a dramatic history, not only during the colonial era, but especially in recent times, when the terrible civil war between the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and the Government raged for more than 25 years (from 1983 to 2009). The rebel group, the Tamil Tigers, wanted independence and secession from the rest of Sri Lanka, and this bloody conflict cost many lives and drove civilians from their homes.

Since the civil war ended in 2009, the locals have gradually begun to return to their homes and Jaffna is slowly being rebuilt.

Discover Sri Lanka’s beautiful north, which is marked by a fascinating history of good and evil.

Note that on this extension, you will spend 3 nights in Jaffna and 1 night in Negombo.

Overnight stay Jetwing Jaffna *** / Paradise Beach Hotel ***

4 days/3 nights | Beach holiday extension in Negombo

Price:
Per person in double room: + £285

Per child u/12 years: + £150
Single room supplement: + £195

We warmly recommend extending your holiday in Sri Lanka with a beach holiday. The period from December to March is the best time to visit the south and west coast of Sri Lanka, and the resort town of Negombo lies on the west coast, just 30 minutes or so from Sri Lanka’s international airport.

Negombo is known for its wide, golden sandy beach and its pleasant holiday atmosphere. It is a versatile holiday town, where you have every opportunity to relax and enjoy your last few days in Sri Lanka with a good book by the pool or on the beautiful sandy beach.

Negombo has a wide selection of hotels, restaurants and shops, and there is a good mix of tourists and locals.

Below you can see a selection of excursions available:

Overnight stay Jetwing Blue ****

5 days/4 nights | Beach holiday extension in Passikudah

Price:
Per person in double room: + £565

Per child u/12 years: + £180 
Single room supplement: + £265

We warmly recommend rounding off your holiday in Sri Lanka with a beach holiday extension. The period from May to September is the best time to visit Passikudah, located on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

The small coastal town has one of the world’s longest, bathing-friendly beaches. You can walk more than 1 km out into the sea without getting out of your depth. The bay at Passikudah is protected by a reef, which makes it one of the island’s safest places to bathe. It is also a great place to snorkel and see the wonderful colourful fish and beautiful corals.

Passikudah is famous for its picturesque beauty, with palm trees, soft golden sand and crystal clear waters. Enjoy the last days of your holiday here in paradisiacal surroundings.

Note that on this extension for Passikudah, you will spend 3 nights in Passikudah and 1 night in Negombo.

Overnight stay The Calm Resort & Spa **** / Jetwing Blue ****

4 days/3 nights | Beach holiday extension in Hikkaduwa

Price:
Per person in double room: + £300

Single room supplement: + £165

We highly recommend extending your holiday in Sri Lanka with a beach holiday. The period from December to March is the best time to visit south-western Sri Lanka, where you will find the holiday resort, Hikkaduwa.

Hikkaduwa first found itself on the map of the world back in the 1970s and is one of Sri Lanka’s first holiday resorts. In Hikkaduwa, you’ll find plenty of hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and tour operators, who organise trips both above and below the water. Off the coast of Hikkaduwa is a large coral reef where you can snorkel and dive with lots of beautiful fish and turtles.

Hikkaduwa is a popular holiday destination, and rightly so, as, despite its increasing popularity, the town has managed to retain its cosy, relaxed atmosphere.

Below you can see a selection of excursions available:

Overnight stay Avenra Beach ****

SMALL GROUP TOUR – ALL DEPARTURES GUARANTEED.

Highlights of this tour:
Colombo, train ride to the highlands, Kandy, tea factory and plantation, Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale, the Cave Temple in Dambulla, the Lion Rock of Sigiriya, bike ride from Madatugama to Aukana, the Aukana and Ras Vehera statues and the ancient capital of Anuradhapura.

The following is included in the tour:

  • Return flight from the UK to Colombo
  • 8 nights at 3-star hotels
  • 8 x breakfast (days 3–10)
  • Local, English-speaking driver/guide on excursions and trips
  • Travelling in a car or minibus with air conditioning
  • 24-hour manned emergency telephone throughout the trip
  • Departure guarantee – the trip goes ahead regardless of the number of participants

The following package of excursions is included:

  • Train ride from Colombo to Peradeniya (near Kandy)
  • Visit to a tea factory and tea plantation at Kandy
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Introduction to Sri Lankan cooking
  • Visit to the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale
  • The Buddhist Cave Temple in Dambulla
  • Lion Rock of Sigiriya
  • Bike ride from Madatugama to Aukana
  • The Buddha statues at Aukana and Ras Vehera
  • The ancient capital of Anuradhapura
  • Admission fees to the sights and attractions mentioned

Our promise to you:

  • The top highlights along this travel route
  • A well-constructed travel itinerary. No time wasted & world class logistics
  • Guaranteed price, with no hidden surcharges
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants

Single room supplement £250
Discounts for large groups

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