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Sri Lanka | 12d/9n:

Highlights of Sri Lanka

SMALL GROUP TOUR – ALL DEPARTURES GUARANTEED.

Highlights of this trip:

The Lion Rock of Sigiriya, the Cave Temple in Dambulla, the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale, a visit to the tea factory and plantation, the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, a train ride through the highlands between Nanu Oya and Haputale, Kataragama and safari in the Yala National Park.

The following is included in the tour:

  • Return flight from the UK to Colombo
  • 9 nights at 3-star hotels
  • 9 x breakfast (day 3–11)
  • Local English speaking driver/guide on excursions and tours
  • Travel by car or minibus with air conditioning
  • Train ride from Nanu Oya–Haputale
  • 24-hour manned telephone throughout the trip
  • Departure guarantee – the trip goes ahead regardless of the number of participants

The following package of excursions is included:

  • The Lion Rock of Sigiriya
  • The Buddhist Cave Temple in Dambulla
  • Visit to the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale
  • Visit the tea factory and tea plantation
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Introduction to Sri Lankan cooking
  • Train ride from Nanu Oya to Haputale
  • Kataragama
  • Safari in the Yala National Park
  • 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 £355
Discounts for large groups

Choose this tour because ...

Sri Lanka welcomes you with open arms. The gem-shaped island offers a welcoming population, stunning scenery, a fascinating history and exotic wildlife – all the ingredients for a perfect tour.

This tour takes you to the old capital Sigiriya, the almost 200-metre-high Lion Rock and the Dambulla Cave Temples, where more than 150 well-preserved Buddha statues stand. The tour continues to Kandy, where you visit a tea factory and see the production of their world famous tea. A visit to the Temple of the Tooth, where one of Buddha’s canine teeth is preserved, is naturally also a must. From Nanu Oya, you head off by train through the scenic green highlands to Haputale, which is located at the Horton Plains National Park. You visit the holy pilgrimage site Kataragama and end in the stunning Yala National Park, where you go on safari. Here you will see animals such as elephants, crocodiles and leopards.

Detailed Itinerary
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Day 1: Flight from the UK
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 – Sigiriya
Day 2: Arrival in Colombo – Sigiriya

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.

From the airport, you head for Sigiriya. Sit back and enjoy all the new sights zipping past the window.

Drive: approx. 4.5 hours

Overnight stay Hotel Fresco Water Villa 

Day 3: Sigiriya – excursion to the Lion Rock
Day 3: Sigiriya – excursion to the Lion Rock

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.

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

After breakfast, it is your turn to experience the Lion Rock of Sigiriya. The almost 200-metre-high rock rises dramatically in the landscape, and, from a distance, the idea of climbing it may seem a little unrealistic. It is indeed a hard climb to the top, but do it at your own pace. You will be so glad you did, when you are able to enjoy the ancient ruins and the stunning views of the green landscape with its jungle and mountains.

On your way up, you also get to experience the beautiful, well-preserved frescoes that have been protected inside a small cave.
If you feel the climb is too strenuous, you can opt to stop at the Lion’s paws, which are just over halfway up. The paws testify to the grandness of the entrance to the palace at the top. Remember to bring water with you for the trek.

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

The rest of the day is your own.

You have the option to purchase the following tour:

Overnight stay Hotel Fresco Water Villa 

Day 4: Sigiriya on your own
Day 4: Sigiriya on your own

You have this day on your own in Sigiriya, where you can relax or go on an excursion. The area offers numerous exciting excursion options.

 

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Hotel Fresco Water Villa 

Day 5: Sigiriya – Dambulla cave temples – the Spice and Herbal Gardens in Matale – Kandy
Day 5: Sigiriya – Dambulla cave temples – the Spice and Herbal Gardens in Matale – Kandy

After breakfast, the tour heads for Kandy, with two exciting stops on the way.

Not far from Sigiriya is the larger town of Dambulla. A large gold Buddha shows the way to the Golden Temple. But it is actually the caves behind the Golden Temple which are most interesting. Hiding behind the Temple are five cave temples with magnificent murals and 157 Buddha statues. The walk up is via a steep staircase, but it is worth every bit of effort. 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.
The Cave Temples at Dambulla are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From here, we head for Matale, which is known for its many spice gardens. 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.

You arrive in Kandy in the late afternoon.

Drive: approx. 3 hours

Overnight stay Hotel Suisse 

Day 6: Make your own breakfast – Visit a tea factory & plantation and the Temple of the Tooth
Day 6: Make your own breakfast – Visit a tea factory & plantation and the Temple of the Tooth

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.

Today you will receive a small introduction to Sri Lankan cooking, as you’ll be making your own breakfast. The hotel’s chef demonstrates how the dishes are to be made, and then it’s your turn (naturally with help and guidance!) Afterwards, you can enjoy your delicious dishes.

Your driver/guide then takes you to the Giramama tea factory, where you can see the entire manufacturing process from when the leaves are picked in the plantation to when the finished tea is steaming in the mug. Sri Lanka is world famous for its tea production.

After the visit to the tea factory, you have the option of purchasing a tour to Kandy’s Botanical Gardens. See more below.

In the afternoon, you experience one of Sri Lanka’s most sacred places, “Dalada Maligawa”, also known as the Temple of the Tooth. The temple contains Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic: one of Buddha’s canine teeth. 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 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 7: Kandy on your own
Day 7: Kandy on your own

You have the day at your leisure in Kandy. You can explore the city’s bustling streets, where you will come across many beautiful colonial buildings. If you like jewellery and gems, the city is known for its many jewellery shops. You can also purchase an exciting excursion.

 

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Hotel Suisse 

Day 8: Kandy – train ride from Nanu Oya to Haputale
Day 8: Kandy – train ride from Nanu Oya to Haputale

Now it is time to say goodbye to Kandy and head by car to Nanu Oya train station, which is located in the city of Nuwara Eliya. You board the train here and enjoy a scenic ride through the Sri Lankan highlands, with green mountains and perfectly straight tea plantations on both sides.

You arrive in the pleasant town of Haputale in the afternoon, where your driver/guide is waiting to take you to the hotel.

Drive: approx. 2 hours Train: 1½ hours

Overnight stay Hotel Melheim Resort 

Day 9: Haputale – Kataragama – Yala
Day 9: Haputale – Kataragama – Yala

Today, you can choose to spend the morning on your own in Haputale or get up early and purchase a tour to the nearby Horton Plains National Park. See below.

In Haputale, you can really take things down a notch. Enjoy the fresh air and the scenic surroundings with tea plantations and waterfalls. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to the coast.

In the afternoon, you drive from the mountains on the winding roads towards Yala. On the way, you will visit one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka: Kataragama. Every year, thousands of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims make the pilgrimage to pay their respects, meditate and pray to their gods.

Buddha is said to have meditated at the Kiri Vehera stupa in Kataragama on his third and final visit to Sri Lanka.

You arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon.

Drive: approx. 4 hours

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Elephant Reach 

Day 10: Safari in the Yala National Park
Day 10: Safari in the Yala National Park

You have the morning to relax, and in the afternoon, another major highlight of this trip awaits you, i.e. a safari in the Yala National Park.

The Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s oldest national park, and its second largest at 978,807 km2. The park is home to more than 215 different species of bird and 44 different species of mammal. You may be lucky enough to see elephants, deer, crocodiles, wild boars, buffalo, monkeys and leopards here.

Yala is said to be one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see leopards. However, they often hide in the bushes and are hard to spot. You have a skilled guide with you to help spot the animals and talk about the park’s impressive flora and fauna.

Please note: Yala National Park will occasionally close some sections, or the entire park in the period between September – October. If you are visiting Sri Lanka in this period, please be aware that your safari in Yala may be replaced with a safari in Udawalawe National Park instead.

Overnight stay Elephant Reach 

Day 11: Yala – the airport – the journey home starts
Day 11: Yala – the airport – the journey home starts

From Yala, the trip heads to the airport in Colombo. From here, you fly to the UK, with connecting flights along the way.

You have the option of extending this tour with a beach holiday at one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches. See more below.

Drive: approx. 6.5 hours

Day 12: Arrival in the UK
Day 12: Arrival in the UK

You land in the UK after an eventful tour.

Combination options after your tour
4 days/3 nights | Beach holiday extension in Negombo
4 days/3 nights | Beach holiday extension in Negombo

Price:
Per person in double room: + £276

Per child u/12 years: + £147
Single room supplement: + £160

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
5 days/4 nights | Beach holiday extension in Passikudah

Price:
Per person in double room: + £566

Per child u/12 years: + £180
Single room supplement: + £266

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
4 days/3 nights | Beach holiday extension in Hikkaduwa

Price:
Per person in double room: + £295
Per child u/12 years: + £295

Single room supplement: + £160

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

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