Sri Lanka tour | ‘The Island of Serendipity’
Our 2-week Sri Lanka tour takes you from World Heritage ancient cities, through Kandy and the scenic hill country, to spectacular national parks and unspoilt coastline
The Island of Serendipity
This fascinating 2-week Sri Lanka tour takes you from our starting point in coastal Negombo, via the spectacular ancient cities and UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites of the Central Plains and Cultural Triangle, through the ancient mountain capital Kandy, the scenic hill country, tea estates and national parks and on to a beautiful and relatively undeveloped section of the southern coast. We’ll discover the flourishing wildlife and stunning landscapes of Yala and Horton Plains National Parks as well as visiting no less than 6 of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites while ensuring a leisurely pace and ample time for relaxation and opportunities to ‘do your own thing’.
Some of the exciting and varied activities include; exploring the jungle ruins of Ritigala, discovering ancient cave temples at Dambulla, an early morning ascent of the dramatic rock fortress of Sigiriya with its famous Maidens of the Clouds, Kandy’s prestigious Temple of the Tooth, tea tasting at highland plantations, a hike through spectacular Horton Plains National Park, taking jeep safaris in Yala National Park, a stay in a tranquil South Coast resort and even – weather permitting – a whale watching option at Mirissa.
With a wide variety of sites, landscapes, flora and fauna and activities (not forgetting, of course, the wonderful Sri Lankan curries, this tour is a perfect introduction to the magnificent island of Sri Lanka.
We offer 2, seasonal, versions of our Sri Lanka tour; the below is suitable for November to April while for the May to October period please see our Sri Lanka Discovery – Ancient Cities and the Tea Country tour
Note also: for those with a few more days to spare and in addition to beach extensions in various parts of the island, we propose a highly unusual and fascinating off-the-beaten-track Maldives tour or a more classic stay at a Maldive Islands’ island eco-resort.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Negombo and arrival in Sri Lanka
Our tour begins a short hop from Colombo International Airport at Negombo on the Island’s West Coast. Afternoon to explore the area, check out the scenic Dutch period canals or perhaps try one of the famous traditional Ayurvedic massages?
Overnight: Negombo Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Colombo - a tour of some of the sights
Optional early morning visit to the lively fish market before a tour of some of the sites of Sri Lanka’s bustling capital Colombo. Visits include the well-laid out National Museum, a look at some of the city’s colonial architecture and a walk through the hectic but fascinating Pettah Bazaar street market.
Overnight: Negombo Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 3 - Ritigala - into the interior
Time to head into the interior where our first stop will be the 2,000-year-old ruined Buddhist monastery at Ritigala – an atmospheric and rarely-visited site amid jungle and huge granite boulders. In the afternoon we’ll continue to Habarana – our base for our 2-day exploration of the Cultural Triangle.
Overnight: Habarana or Dambulla Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 4 - The Cultural Triangle - Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa
Early morning ascent of the rock fortress of Sigiriya for the magnificent views with a tour of the rock palace, cliff paintings and lush gardens. From here we’ll travel to the nearby, picturesque, medieval capital of Polonnaruwa – also a World Heritage site – for a cycling (or tuk-tuk) tour of its historic temples and exquisitely carved statues.
Overnight: Habarana or Dambulla Transport: Minibus, Bike, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 5 - Dambulla - World Heritage cave temples
Time to head to another World Heritage site, Dambulla, location of Sri Lanka’s finest cave temples, dating back to the 1st century BCE, before continuing south to Kandy via a fascinating spice garden at Matale. The famous mountain town comes with a picturesque, lakeside setting and rich historical and cultural heritage.
Overnight: Kandy Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 6 - Kandy - the ancient capital
Morning visit to the celebrated and highly prestigious Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka’s most revered religious relic before heading out of town to the beautiful and lush Peradeniya Botanic Gardens. Some time at leisure to explore the town further or stroll around the lake with an optional, evening traditional dance display.
Overnight: Kandy Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 7 - Nuwara Eliya - tea plantations and the hill country
Departure from Kandy for a scenic drive into the hills, passing (and of course visiting) tea plantations and spectacular waterfalls on our way to Nuwara Eliya. Afternoon to discover the quaint colonial town, former British capital of the Hill Country and Sri Lanka’s highest town at some 1,900 metres.
Overnight: Nuwara Eliya Transport: Minibus, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 8 - Horton Plains - hike to World's End
An early morning hike through the heath-land and rhododendron forest of Horton Plains National Park to catch the awe-inspiring views at ‘World’s End’. Opportunities to discover the park’s abundant flora and fauna as well as the picturesque Baker’s Falls while in the afternoon we’ll continue by a scenic train ride to Ella. Time at leisure to explore the picturesque little town.
Our hike can be tailored to any fitness levels
Overnight: Ella Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 9 - Yala - jeep safari in the National Park
Drop down from the Hill Country to the southern plains and continue to Yala National Park for an afternoon jeep safari. The park is noted for its large elephant population as well as being home to leopards, jackals, crocodiles, several monkey species and no less than 150 bird species. Overnight on the edge of the park in a resort or safari camp depending upon availability.
Overnight: Yala, safari camp Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 10 - Elephant Home and on to the picturesque south coast
Early morning jeep safari at Yala before a leisurely drive south to the picturesque and laid-back Indian Ocean town of Tangalle. We’ll stay in a secluded beach resort with the afternoon to relax or explore the area.
Overnight: Tangalle Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 11 - Tangalle - at leisure or visit some wetlands
At leisure in Tangalle – relax on the beach or visit the town’s colourful fishing port. Another option for early risers is a boat safari through the lagoons and mangroves of Kalametiya National Park and Bird Sanctuary, a coastal wetland teeming with bird species and bountiful wildlife.
Overnight: Tangalle Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
Day 12 - Galle - ancient town and World Heritage Site
Continue along the southern coastline with a stop to catch the admittedly touristy, but iconic, stilt fishermen, to UNESCO-listed Galle, a spectacularly-sited walled town, jutting into the Indian Ocean on its rocky peninsula. Sunset hike along the ramparts of the Old Dutch Fort.
Overnight: Galle Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 13 - Galle - explore the lanes or take a whale watching trip
Free morning to explore Galle’s narrow lanes and Moorish and Dutch architecture or an optional whale watching boat trip at nearby Mirissa where sperm, humpback and blue whales are occasionally spotted as well as pods of dolphins. Afternoon return drive north up the West Coast to Negombo.
Note - the whale watching option is dependent upon weather and sea conditions, but can be booked locally without prior reservation.
Overnight: Negombo Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 14 - Negombo and departure
Morning at leisure in Negombo. Relax by the pool; a last dip in the Indian Ocean, or pick up some last-minute souvenirs and late morning end of the tour.
Extra accommodation in Negombo before or after your tour is available if required.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.
Transport: Minibus, Meals: B,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Wonderful and highly varied scenery, national parks and their abundant wildlife, relaxing at the coast, plus no less than 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Late afternoon and early morning jeep safaris through famous Yala National Park
- Tour the picturesque Hill Country - serene landscapes, waterfalls and of course tea plantations!
- Visit the charming lakeside town of Kandy nestled in the mountains - home to the famous Temple of the Tooth
- Visit the dramatic Sigiriya rock fortress - truly spectacular and another World Heritage Site
- Historic Galle - a walled port town perched dramatically on a headland jutting into the Indian Ocean
- And last but not least, plenty of opportunities to meet the friendly inhabitants and sample the superb local food
Air Departures (UK)
- 12 December 20 2,270 GBP
- 16 January 21 2,270 GBP
- 13 February 21 2,270 GBP
- 6 March 21 2,320 GBP
- 27 March 21 2,320 GBP
- 30 October 21 2,320 GBP
- 20 November 21 2,270 GBP
- 18 December 21 2,270 GBP
- 13 December 20 1,645 GBP
- 17 January 21 1,645 GBP
- 14 February 21 1,645 GBP
- 7 March 21 1,595 GBP
- 28 March 21 1,595 GBP
- 31 October 21 1,595 GBP
- 21 November 21 1,645 GBP
- 19 December 21 1,645 GBP
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Colombo
*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.
We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...
Camelot Beach Hotel Negombo view
- Odd name but top spot to relax in before or after your tour
- Comfortable rooms, great service and Indian Ocean views
- Walking distance of market, fishing port and plenty of cafes
The Other Corner Habarana view
- Delightful, eco-style nature resort in a forest setting
- Individual wooden, stilt chalets with private balconies
- Well-appointed with pool, air-con, restaurant and bar
Hotel Suisse Kandy view
- A restored, former British governor’s residence
- Wonderful, central, lake-side location in Kandy
- Pool, garden, spa, bar and restaurant
Oak Ray Ella Gap view
- Convenient, central location in popular Ella Town
- Well-appointed with pool, bar, restaurant and WiFi
- Set amid the spectacular mountain scenery of the Ella Gap
Lagoon Paradise Beach Resort view
- Located on a quiet stretch of pristine, sandy beach
- Mangrove lagoons to explore or a $1.50 tuk-tuk ride to town
- Excellent in-house restaurant and sunset beach bar
Sayura Beach Resort Galle view
- Comfortable, friendly and low-key beach resort
- A short drive from UNESCO-listed ancient Galle Town
- Well-equipped with in-house restaurant, pool, beach bar
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
Visas: available on arrival at Colombo International Airport for $40, but to cut down on queuing we recommend that you obtain an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) in advance for $35. 3 days is officially required but processing is usually the same (working) day.
Tipping: we recommend a kitty system for smaller, daily tips such as hotel/restaurant staff and local drivers and guides but which could also include minor expenses such as group tea/coffee breaks etc. Amounts inevitably vary with group size but would generally be in the region of £20-30 or $30-$40 total per person for the 2-week tour. For your driver and guide/tour-leader tips – both of whom will accompany you for the duration of your 2-week tour – we’d recommend approximately $20 per person total for the latter and $15 for the former though of course, this is always discretionary and performance-related. (Local currency or USD are fine.)
Meals: breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Typical traditional meals involve fish or chicken curry with a selection of accompanying vegetable dishes and salads, Dishes are usually only mildly spicy and both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour-leader at the start of the tour. A number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.
Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3-4* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. (Our 1-night camping is en-suite but fan only.) We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination.
Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.
Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding page of our travel blog.
Here is what out guest have to say about their experience on this tour...
Penny, David, Rose & Chris
" This is our second tour with All Points East, travelling as two couples. We enjoyed the Maldives, eco-resort extension, before joining the Sri Lanka Tour. This tour does it all, from beach side hotel to safari, and the beautiful Hill Country. Our wonderful guide Amara was so knowledgable about his countries history, culture, and local wildlife, there was nothing he didn't know. The tour catered for everyone's abilities, and even though we had not ridden bikes for some years, we enjoyed the gentle ride around the temples of Polonnaruwa. (bus also available) The accommodation was varied and sometimes quirky. Amazing food, spices, oils and of course tea! "February 2020
" The holiday was everything I had hoped for and dreamt of in terms of the varied types of accommodation I experienced, places of interest...culturally and scenic, animals, and the warm-hearted people we met on our journey. The local curries were to just die for....amazing flavours. Our guide was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his country, it's history, wildlife and people. I felt totally comfortable and safe with him. Also, his adaptability and willingness to share his country with us was inspiring. I truly had an exceptional time in a wonderful country with special people.
" I really enjoyed the trip, and it was a fantastic destination with just the right mix of activities and relaxation. I thought the itinerary was well planned and well-paced.
I would particularly like to compliment our guide. He was very well informed, always friendly and helpful and explained everything very well. I really appreciated how he explained about the realities of life in Sri Lanka, which helped you understand the country and what you were seeing much better.
" We had a wonderful holiday and it lived up to expectations.... our tour guide was absolutely wonderful. He was so helpful, informative and went out of his way to ensure we had an exceptional holiday. We would definitely book through yourselves again if & I hope we are able to, book another holiday to such a beautiful area of the world. Thank you very much from all of us.
Igor and Magdelena
" Sri Lanka tour was our third tour with All Points East and again our good experience was confirmed. The tour is a perfect mixture of history and nature of the country. The itinerary led us not only to well-known tourist places but we could meet also local people and know their everyday life. All accommodations provided good comfort and one night in Yala West National Park was an interesting experience.