Known to early Arab traders as the Island of Serendipity and to the British colonists as Ceylon, Marco Polo, after a 13th-century visit, is said to have declared Sri Lanka to be “the finest island of its size in the world”. And we reckon that serendipity – meaning of course. a ‘fortuitous discovery’- is the perfect name for this magical island.
With a stunning coastline; the picturesque forests and tea plantations of the hill country, spectacular national parks, the World Heritage Sites of the ‘Cultural Triangle’ – Sigiriya, Dambulla and Pollonaruwa – historic towns of Kandy, Galle and Nuwara Eliya, bountiful and accessible wildlife, plus a world-renowned, rich cuisine and super friendly inhabitants the island of Sri Lanka just about has it all.
There’s also a wealth of activities too, from cycling through 1,000-year-old ruined cities, hiking through lush forests, visiting tea and spice plantations, nosing through colourful local markets, jeep safaris through Udawalawe or Minneriya National Parks, hiking to World’s End in Horton Plains or just hanging out and meeting the friendly residents in a local tea shop.
The island’s relatively small size, decent transport and accommodation infrastructure plus both west and east facing coastlines, make Sri Lanka absolutely perfect for tours at any time of year.
Consequently, two seasonal options are available to allow for weather patterns with ‘The Isle of Serendipity‘ offered from November to April and our ‘Sri Lanka Discovery – Ancient Cities and the Tea Country‘ from May to October.
Just a few of our favourite things to see, do and experience in Sri Lanka
UNESCO World Heritage sites - our tours cover no less than 7 of Sri Lanka's UNESCO inscribed sites; Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Galle, Kandy and the Central Highlands
The mountain capital - visit lakeside Kandy, nestled in the hills with its famous botanical gardens and prestigious Temple of the Tooth
Udawalawe National Park
Wildlife - including elephants, crocodiles, leopards, turtles, whales, dolphins plus exceptional birdlife
A mountain-top fortress - check-out the mysterious ruins atop a dramatic rock outcrop; take in the spectacular views from the summit plus of course the charming and enigmatic Cloud Maidens on your ascent
Food - discover the varied and justifiably reputed cuisine with its Indian, Arab and Southeast Asian influences but ultimately unqiue and original style
Culture and Customs
Knowing what to expect from local culture and customs will help you get more out of your Sri Lankan tour
The island of Sri Lanka, (formerly Ceylon) lies just to the southeast of the Indian mainland's Tamil Nadu State, between the Bay of Bengal to the northeast and the Indian Ocean to the south and west
Coastal regions are generally low-lying and humid with high, cool & lush mountains in the southern centre and an extensive dry zone to the north of the island
A tropical climate with warm all year temperatures though highlands can get cool. Due to a complex geography weather is unpredictable but southwest monsoon is May-Oct & northeastern Dec-March
Sinhalese account for around 75% of the population with Muslims of Arab origin & Sri Lankan Tamils forming around 10% each. Indian Tamils, employed by the British to pick tea are the remaining 5%
Approximately 70% of Sri Lankans are Theravada Buddhists with significant minorities of Hindus (12%), Muslims (10% ) and Christians (8%)
Whether Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim the clear food influences to a visitor are Indian. As an island, fish and seafood are important and with its southerly location coconut is an important element
Genuine local knowledge is what turns a good travel experience into an unfforgettable one. Here's our shout-out to the locals that help maket that happen.'
Priyantha Christopher Balakrishnan (Bala)
Our 'main man' in Sri Lanka, Priyantha Christopher Balakrishnan, also (fortunately) goes by the easier to remember name of Bala and originates in the old port town of Trincomalee on the northeast coast. Bala reckons taking people around the ruins of Anuradhapura or introducing them to the famous local curries are just about his favourite parts of any tour though you're pretty much guaranteed to find him with a smile on his face at any stage.
Things To Know
Useful information and practical tips you should know before you travel to Sri Lanka
Helpful Country Info
c 20 million
Sri Lankan Rupee
ATMs widely available
230V; sockets, 3 pin, square or round
WiFi in all hotels
3G/4G SIM cards available
Sinhalese & Tamil with English widely spoken
Buddhist & Hindu with Muslim & Christian minorities
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?
Complex geography makes for complex micro-climates on this small island but generally speaking, temperature and rainfall vary little, apart from a dry season of December through to February. Our two itineraries are designed to reflect the best time of year at the places visited.
What innoculations do I need?
For Sri Lanka, there are no compulsory inoculations – however, Hep A, Polio, Typhoid and Tetanus are recommended. If you are considering antimalarials we recommend you consult a health professional, but whatever you do or don’t do about antimalarials, we recommend a 50% DEET based insect repellent. A useful resource for information on travel health is http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/
Do you recommend your tours for people travelling on their own?
Our small group tours make ideal holidays for solo travellers. Small fully escorted groups, eating together, family style, no compulsory single supplements all go towards making you feel like you are travelling with a group of friends. If you don’t want to share then ask about single room supplements.
If we book flights through you, which airlines do you use?
We are happy to book your flights from the UK to Columbo. There are no direct flights but we can offer a wide range of options, from regional airports as well as London using most major airlines – most often Sri Lanka Airlines or Emirates. Prices on the website are a guideline and we find the best prices and routes for you. Upgrades to Premium Economy or Business class are available.
What’s your policy for tipping?
Tipping is discretionary. People always appreciate a gesture for their hard work and dedication but staff are paid and don’t rely on tips. It’s hard to give a guideline before a tour as it does depend on the group size. The tour leaders don’t collect money for tips but are happy to advise. What often works well is if the group appoint someone to collect and distribute tips on behalf of the whole group.
How do I pay for the holiday, and is there a surcharge for credit cards?
We ask you to pay a 10% deposit upon booking your holiday with the balance being due 60 days prior to departure. There is no surcharge for paying by credit card. There is no charge for debit cards. We accept most major credit cards including American Express.
Packing light is a virtue, it'll make getting around easier and gives you room for souvenirs and the special things you find along the way. Packing "as little as possible" doesn't mean you have to forego comfort and any items you may forget are usually available locally for a fraction of the price.