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HomeFar East Holidays & ToursSri LankaThe best of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka | 15d/12n:

The best of Sri Lanka

SMALL GROUP TOUR – ALL DEPARTURES GUARANTEED.

Highlights of this tour:

The elephants at Pinnewela, The Lion Rock of Sigiriya, the Cave Temple in Dambulla, the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale, The Pub in Kandy, a visit to a tea factory and plantation, Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, a train ride in the highlands between Kandy and Haputale, Kataragama, safari in the Yala National Park and the fort in Galle.

The following is included in the tour:

  • Return flight from the UK to Colombo
  • 12 x nights at 3-star hotels
  • 12 x breakfast (day 3-14)
  • 1 x dinner (day 6)
  • 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 are included:

  • The Lellama fish market in Negombo
  • The elephants at Pinnawela
  • The Lion Rock of Sigiriya
  • The Buddhist Cave Temple in Dambulla
  • Visit to the Spice and Herbal Garden in Matale
  • Visit to The Pub in Kandy
  • Introduction to Sri Lankan cooking
  • Visit to a tea factory and plantation
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Train ride in the highlands from Peradeniya/Kandy to Haputale
  • Kataragama
  • Safari in the Yala National Park
  • Guided tour of Galle
  • 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 £485
Discounts for large groups

Choose this tour because…

On this tour, you will experience the best of Sri Lanka. No fewer than five of the places you visit are UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Lion Rock of Sigiriya, the Cave Temples of Dambulla, the ancient capital Kandy, Sri Lanka’s highlands around the Horton Plains National Park and the fort in Galle. Your journey is peppered with an exciting visit to a Spice and Herbal Garden, a tea factory and the Yala National Park, where a safari awaits you. Look out for crocodiles, elephants, monkeys, buffaloes and so on. If you are really lucky, you might even spot the rare leopard.

You have a driver/guide with you for the entire journey, who will do his utmost to ensure that you enjoy the best travel experiences in his amazing country.

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

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 – Negombo
Day 2: Arrival in Colombo – Negombo

On your arrival at the airport in Colombo, you will be picked up by a driver and taken to your hotel in the beach town of Negombo, which is about a 30-minute drive from the airport. Your driver will be waiting for your with an Asia Tours sign, making him easy to find.

During the colonial period, Negombo was an important trading town, but today, fishing and tourism are the area’s largest source of revenue. There is a wide range of hotels, restaurants and small shops selling souvenirs in the pleasant seaside town. In Negombo, you will also find the canals built by the Dutch to transport goods back and forth. The canals stretch for more than 120 km. In the city, there are several reminders of its colonial past in the form of its beautiful administrative buildings and the Dutch fort, to name but two.

When you get to the hotel, you have the rest of the day at your leisure. You can explore Negombo or simply relax and take a stroll along the wide, golden sandy beach, which the city is famous for.

Overnight stay Paradise Beach Hotel 

Day 3: Negombo – Pinnawela – Sigiriya
Day 3: Negombo – Pinnawela – Sigiriya

Negombo offers a good mix of tourism and local life. Many of the locals still make their living from fishing, and early in morning, the fishermen come ashore and get their catch ready to sell at the small Lellama fish market. Be sure not to miss out on this experience. You will be picked up early at the hotel by your driver/guide who will take you down to the fascinating fish market, where you can walk around and look at the night’s exciting catch and experience the authentic atmosphere.

After this experience, you will be taken back to the hotel where you eat breakfast and check out before continuing to Sigiriya.

On the way, you will make a stop in Pinnawela. The town is known for its elephant orphanage, where orphaned and injured elephants can come and enjoy a good life. A couple of times a day, the many elephants walk through the high street down to the river to bathe. It is a wonderful sight to behold, the elephants splashing about merrily in the water. Your driver/guide will help you find a restaurant from which you can see the elephants while enjoying your lunch.

After lunch, you have a little free time to go shopping in the small town. You can also choose to visit the elephant orphanage and see how the elephants live.

You arrive at Sigiriya in the late afternoon.

Drive: approx. 4½ hours

Overnight stay Hotel Fresco Water Villa 

Day 4: Sigiriya – excursion to Lion Rock
Day 4: Sigiriya – excursion to Lion Rock

It goes without saying that, in Sigiriya, you have to experience the iconic Lion Rock. You leave the hotel early to ensure that it is not too hot to hike up the 1,000+ steps to the top of the almost 200-metre-high 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.

It is a wonderful experience to stand on the top and look out over the beautiful scenery, and it is easy to understand why King Kashyapa chose this very location for his palace. Ruins of the palace remain on the top.

On the way up to the top, you will see old, but very well preserved, frescoes of beautiful women. When you are a little over halfway, you reach the Lion’s paws, which mark the magnificent entrance to the palace on 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).

You have the rest of the day to yourself.

You have the option to purchase the following tour:

Overnight stay Hotel Fresco Water Villa 

Day 5: Sigiriya on your own
Day 5: 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 6: Sigiriya – Dambulla Cave Temples – the Spice and Herbal Gardens in Matale – Kandy
Day 6: Sigiriya – Dambulla Cave Temples – the Spice and Herbal Gardens in Matale – Kandy

After breakfast, it is time to bid Sigiriya farewell. 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 stands at the entrance to the Golden Temple, and hidden behind the temple are five cave temples housing 157 Buddha statues and beautiful frescoes.
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 Sri Lanka’s Buddhists.

The walk up to the Cave Temples is via a steep staircase, but it is worth every bit of effort. You can encounter playful little monkeys on the way up, so make sure you put anything edible away, otherwise they can become a little aggressive.
The Cave Temples at Dambulla are a wonderful experience and – not surprisingly – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From here, we head for Matale, which is known for its many spice gardens. You visit one of these gardens, where you are given an exciting introduction to the healing effect of herbs and spces. This faith in natural remedies is widely used in Sri Lanka. After the guided tour, you can buy spices, herbs and oils in a small shop, if you wish to test the effect on your own body.

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.

In the evening, you will visit The Pub, where you can enjoy a refreshing cold beer, and then you simply must try the famous Sri Lankan dish “Kottu”, which can be found in one of the side streets. “Kottu” is made of flat bread, vegetables, eggs and/or meat and spices.

Drive: approx. 3 hours

Overnight stay Hotel Suisse 

Day 7: Make your own breakfast – Visit a tea factory & plantation and Temple of the Tooth
Day 7: Make your own breakfast – Visit a tea factory & plantation and Temple of the Tooth

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 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 participate in the ceremony 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 takes place at the annual Buddhist festival, Esala Perahera. The festival falls on different dates in July/August, when you can experience a large, colourful procession with music, 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 8: Train ride from Kandy to Haputale
Day 8: Train ride from Kandy to Haputale

Today, a scenic train ride through Sri Lanka’s lush green highlands awaits you. Your driver/guide will pick you up at the hotel and drive you to the train station in Peradeniya, which is located just outside Kandy. The train snails its way through the hilly landscape, and outside you can see women in colourful saris picking tea in the numerous tea plantations you pass.

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

Drive: approx. 1 hour. Train ride: approx. 5 ½ hours

Overnight stay Hotel Melheim Resort 

Day 9: Haputale on your own
Day 9: Haputale on your own

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.

You have the day at your leisure in the town or you can choose to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Hotel Melheim Resort 

Day 10: Haputale – Kataragama – Yala
Day 10: Haputale – Kataragama – Yala

At around noon, you drive from Haputale along the winding mountain roads to Kataragama, which is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. 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 Yala in the late afternoon.

Drive: approx. 4½ hours

In the morning you have the option to purchase the following tour:

Overnight stay Elephant Reach 

Day 11: Safari in the Yala National Park
Day 11: Safari in the Yala National Park

You have the morning on your own to relax at the resort. In the afternoon, you set off on 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 12: Yala – Galle
Day 12: Yala – Galle

After breakfast your driver/guide drives you along the Sri Lankan coast to the historic coastal town of Galle. Along the way, you stop at Weligama Bay, where you can watch the fishermen sitting on poles and fishing in the traditional way. Today, they mostly do it for the tourists, and if you want to take a picture of them, you should be prepared to pay them a small amount for it.

Galle is known for its impressive fort, which was built by the Portuguese in 1589. In 1640, the Dutch took over city, and not much of the original fort survived. The fort you can see today was built in the 17th century by the Dutch. The city was the country’s largest port for more than 200 years, and an important stop for merchant ships sailing between Asia and Europe. However, in 1796 Galle came under British rule, and they decided to make Colombo the country’s main seaport the late 19th century.
Galle is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Drive: approx. 5 hours

Overnight stay Lady Hill 

Day 13: Tour of Galle
Day 13: Tour of Galle

You have the morning to yourself. If you are prepared to get up early, you can, in the season from November–April, purchase a whale safari, during which you may be lucky enough to experience the world’s largest whale, the blue whale.

In the afternoon, your guide will give you an exciting guided tour of the fort. As soon as you step inside the thick walls and see the massive towers and bastions, you will be struck by a sense of history. There is a very special atmosphere here, and your guide takes you through the narrow streets to the most interesting buildings in the fort, and tells you about the exciting and dramatic history of the place. The tour lasts approximately 1½ hours, and is made on foot.

You have the option to purchase the following tour:

Overnight stay Lady Hill 

Day 14: Galle – the airport – the journey home starts
Day 14: Galle – the airport – the journey home starts

From Galle, you have a 2-hour drive 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. 2 hours

Day 15: Arrival in the UK
Day 15: 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

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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info@asiatours.co.uk

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