Tailormade tour Highlights of Sri Lanka tour Sri Lanka

6 nights/7 days

Sigiriya • Kandy • Nuwara Eliya • Colombo

This highlights of Sri Lanka 6-night tour with a driver-guide is ideal for those who want an overview of the country visiting briefly the major areas that reflect the diversity of the country. You will visit the Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Tea Country and Colombo. There is a choice of luxury or value accommodation.

Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,090 per person.

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of the highlights of Sri Lanka with Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Tea Country and Colombo

This 8-night touring holiday of Sri Lanka with driver-guide is ideal for those with limited time or for those who just want an introduction to the country. Our Highlights of Sri Lanka touring holiday visits the key places in the Cultural Triangle, Kandy and Tea Country and gives you an insight into this fascinating country. If you'd like to spend longer exploring Sri Lanka, view full information of the two week 'Best of Sri Lanka' tour. Alternatively, extend your holiday with some relaxation time on the beach or add nights at any of the places mentioned in this tour. This holiday can be undertaken staying in a range of hotels. To make things simple initially we are giving a Luxury option and a Value option. Each combination is based on tried and tested hotels within given price ranges but any other hotels we feature in the respective regions can be included instead and of course, Luxury and Value hotels can be mixed.

Highlights

Sigiriya • Minneriya National Park • Polonnaruwa • Dambulla • Kandy • Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage • Nuwara Eliya • Colombo

Day by day

Arrive in Colombo and meet your personal chauffeur guide who will be your travelling companion throughout your tour of Sri Lanka. You drive inland to the Cultural Triangle (approximately 4.5 hours’ drive). The Cultural Triangle is a melting pot of heritage, culture and wildlife and home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Four of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be found in the Cultural Triangle, telling a captivating story of Sri Lankan civilisation. You spend 2 nights in Sigiriya.

This morning you visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of Sri Lanka’s eight World Heritage Sites. The 5th Century Sigiriya Rock Fortress is one of the island’s most awe-inspiring archaeological sites and is a prime tourist location. This ‘Fortress in the sky’ is perhaps the most fantastic single wonder on the island. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace on the summit of the 600ft high rock. For just two decades in the 5th Century AD, King Kashyapa set up his capital here at Sigiriya. His creation was a remarkable feat of engineering and a true work of art. To fully appreciate Sigiriya, it is worth climbing up the steep steps to the summit. In the afternoon, continue for Polonnaruwa via Habarana, Minneriya and Giritale. Passing through Minneriya National Park, it is likely that you will see wild elephants, sometimes in large herds. This is the site of the ‘Elephant Gathering’ between July and October; where up to 300 elephants can be seen gathering around the tank in the late afternoon. Polonnaruwa is another World Heritage Site and contains the well-preserved monuments of the mediaeval capital of Sri Lanka, located amongst undulating woodland. The well-preserved ruins of Polonnaruwa tell a story of Buddhism, royalty, kinship, war and power and provide you with the opportunity to experience the grandeur of this period and marvel at the artistry of the island’s early craftsmen.

After breakfast, visit Dambulla, another World Heritage Site and home to marvellous cave temples whose walls are covered with murals exceeding 21,000 square feet. This visit involves a walk of about 10 to 15 minutes uphill, with wonderful views at the top. The caves of Dambulla are home to a wealth of history, most notably sheltering King Walagamba during his fourteen years of exile. Once he had regained his throne, he built the most magnificent rock temples to be found anywhere on the island. Then you will head south towards Sri Lanka’s spectacular hill country. On the way pause to visit a famous spice garden and to see some of the island’s best batiks at an authentic arts and crafts centre where there is the option of a rice and curry lunch (Sigiriya to Kandy is approximately 3 hours’ drive). Spend the afternoon at your leisure exploring Kandy, the royal capital of Hill Country. In central Kandy, British legacies remain in a few grand old buildings and hotels. There is also a lively market and numerous shops and arts and crafts workshops. You spend 2 nights in Kandy. Optional: Evening of contemporary art. If you choose this excursion you visit local artist, Rahju, at his hillside cottage near Kandy, and enjoy a 2-hour experience of Rahju’s spectacular paintings. He will give you a private viewing of his collection, where his life story, his inspirations, his ideologies and philosophies are illustrated. Rahju and his equally talented daughter Rudrani will discuss their works with you over tea and show you around their studio, giving you a glimpse into life of a truly talented Sri Lankan artist.

Today you will have a number of excursions around Kandy, the last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom. Today Kandy is still an important cultural and spiritual centre and an absolutely must see on your visit to Sri Lanka. The centre of town is close to a picturesque lake and is a delight of antique and gemstone shops, a bustling market and numerous restaurants. You will pay a visit to the Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya, Sri Lankan’s largest and finest gardens. Originally established as a pleasure garden for Kanydan nobility, the British transformed it into botanical gardens in 1821, laying the foundations for what it has become today. The gardens contain more than 5,000 different species, including over 150 palm trees, and highlights include the huge Javan Fig and the orchard house. You will then visit Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, (approximately 1 hour’s drive), a government-run orphanage. You will see more than 65 elephants, including baby elephants born in captivity. The best time to see them is at feeding time and bathing time in the river. In the evening, join the crowds to visit Kandy’s famous Temple of the Tooth located within the Royal Palace complex. This is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists, containing the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Optional: Kandy architectural walk This architectural walk starts at 08.30 hrs and gives you a fantastic insight into ancient Kandy and its architecture while also experiencing local lifestyles with visits to open air markets and trying local produce and street food! Your guide, a qualified architect, will take you through the town, showing you landmarks of significant architectural, historical and spiritual interest. You will make a visit to a Temple and are advised to take appropriate clothing for this.

After breakfast leave for Nuwara Eliya (approximately 2 hours). Today’s drive is one of the most scenic in the country as you pass through tea country with the mountains carpeted in tea, numerous waterfalls and tea pickers. Stop at a tea factory to see the processing and taste some of Sri Lanka’s famous tea. The hill town of Nuwara Eliya is the centre of ‘Little England’, with British influences clear throughout the town. In this quirky market town, enjoy a stroll in Victoria Park, wander alongside ponies on the ‘high street’ and enjoy strawberries and cream from the local market gardens. You will stay here for 1 night. Optional: Take the train with observation coach from Kandy to Tea Country A leisurely way of experiencing the scenery is to take the train travelling in the first-class observation coach from Peradeniya to Nanu Oya (for Nuwara Eliya). The train leaves at 12.30 and arrives at 15.50.

After breakfast, you will be driven to Colombo (approximately 6 hours). The tea plantation scenery continues this morning and includes two very high waterfalls, the St Clair and the Devon. There is a stop at the Tea Centre for a cup of tea chosen from more than 100 different blends. At Kitulgala see the location of the Bridge over the River Kwai and tropical rainforest. You will stay in Colombo for 1 night. Optional: Colombo City Walk Once you have arrived in Colombo, you will have the chance to go on a guided personalised city walk through Colombo. This evening you will spend 3-4 hours exploring this fine city at dusk. You will be shown all the lesser known parts of Colombo; the secret alcoves, the historical landmarks, the fantastic architecture and Colombo’s beginnings as a tiny trading port.

After breakfast, you will be collected for the return transfer to the airport for your onward flight or for a beach extension to this touring holiday.

We were incredibly impressed by our guide/driver. He helped make the trip. The holiday exceeded our expectations.
Mrs A, January 2019

Holiday price guide From about £2,090 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG05

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of the highlights of Sri Lanka with Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Tea Country and Colombo

Arrive in Colombo and meet your personal chauffeur guide who will be your travelling companion throughout your tour of Sri Lanka. You drive inland to the Cultural Triangle (approximately 4.5 hours’ drive). The Cultural Triangle is a melting pot of heritage, culture and wildlife and home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Four of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be found in the Cultural Triangle, telling a captivating story of Sri Lankan civilisation. You spend 2 nights in Sigiriya.

This morning you visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of Sri Lanka’s eight World Heritage Sites. The 5th Century Sigiriya Rock Fortress is one of the island’s most awe-inspiring archaeological sites and is a prime tourist location. This ‘Fortress in the sky’ is perhaps the most fantastic single wonder on the island. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace on the summit of the 600ft high rock. For just two decades in the 5th Century AD, King Kashyapa set up his capital here at Sigiriya. His creation was a remarkable feat of engineering and a true work of art. To fully appreciate Sigiriya, it is worth climbing up the steep steps to the summit. In the afternoon, continue for Polonnaruwa via Habarana, Minneriya and Giritale. Passing through Minneriya National Park, it is likely that you will see wild elephants, sometimes in large herds. This is the site of the ‘Elephant Gathering’ between July and October; where up to 300 elephants can be seen gathering around the tank in the late afternoon. Polonnaruwa is another World Heritage Site and contains the well-preserved monuments of the mediaeval capital of Sri Lanka, located amongst undulating woodland. The well-preserved ruins of Polonnaruwa tell a story of Buddhism, royalty, kinship, war and power and provide you with the opportunity to experience the grandeur of this period and marvel at the artistry of the island’s early craftsmen.

After breakfast, visit Dambulla, another World Heritage Site and home to marvellous cave temples whose walls are covered with murals exceeding 21,000 square feet. This visit involves a walk of about 10 to 15 minutes uphill, with wonderful views at the top. The caves of Dambulla are home to a wealth of history, most notably sheltering King Walagamba during his fourteen years of exile. Once he had regained his throne, he built the most magnificent rock temples to be found anywhere on the island. Then you will head south towards Sri Lanka’s spectacular hill country. On the way pause to visit a famous spice garden and to see some of the island’s best batiks at an authentic arts and crafts centre where there is the option of a rice and curry lunch (Sigiriya to Kandy is approximately 3 hours’ drive). Spend the afternoon at your leisure exploring Kandy, the royal capital of Hill Country. In central Kandy, British legacies remain in a few grand old buildings and hotels. There is also a lively market and numerous shops and arts and crafts workshops. You spend 2 nights in Kandy. Optional: Evening of contemporary art. If you choose this excursion you visit local artist, Rahju, at his hillside cottage near Kandy, and enjoy a 2-hour experience of Rahju’s spectacular paintings. He will give you a private viewing of his collection, where his life story, his inspirations, his ideologies and philosophies are illustrated. Rahju and his equally talented daughter Rudrani will discuss their works with you over tea and show you around their studio, giving you a glimpse into life of a truly talented Sri Lankan artist.

Today you will have a number of excursions around Kandy, the last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom. Today Kandy is still an important cultural and spiritual centre and an absolutely must see on your visit to Sri Lanka. The centre of town is close to a picturesque lake and is a delight of antique and gemstone shops, a bustling market and numerous restaurants. You will pay a visit to the Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya, Sri Lankan’s largest and finest gardens. Originally established as a pleasure garden for Kanydan nobility, the British transformed it into botanical gardens in 1821, laying the foundations for what it has become today. The gardens contain more than 5,000 different species, including over 150 palm trees, and highlights include the huge Javan Fig and the orchard house. You will then visit Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, (approximately 1 hour’s drive), a government-run orphanage. You will see more than 65 elephants, including baby elephants born in captivity. The best time to see them is at feeding time and bathing time in the river. In the evening, join the crowds to visit Kandy’s famous Temple of the Tooth located within the Royal Palace complex. This is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists, containing the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Optional: Kandy architectural walk This architectural walk starts at 08.30 hrs and gives you a fantastic insight into ancient Kandy and its architecture while also experiencing local lifestyles with visits to open air markets and trying local produce and street food! Your guide, a qualified architect, will take you through the town, showing you landmarks of significant architectural, historical and spiritual interest. You will make a visit to a Temple and are advised to take appropriate clothing for this.

After breakfast leave for Nuwara Eliya (approximately 2 hours). Today’s drive is one of the most scenic in the country as you pass through tea country with the mountains carpeted in tea, numerous waterfalls and tea pickers. Stop at a tea factory to see the processing and taste some of Sri Lanka’s famous tea. The hill town of Nuwara Eliya is the centre of ‘Little England’, with British influences clear throughout the town. In this quirky market town, enjoy a stroll in Victoria Park, wander alongside ponies on the ‘high street’ and enjoy strawberries and cream from the local market gardens. You will stay here for 1 night. Optional: Take the train with observation coach from Kandy to Tea Country A leisurely way of experiencing the scenery is to take the train travelling in the first-class observation coach from Peradeniya to Nanu Oya (for Nuwara Eliya). The train leaves at 12.30 and arrives at 15.50.

After breakfast, you will be driven to Colombo (approximately 6 hours). The tea plantation scenery continues this morning and includes two very high waterfalls, the St Clair and the Devon. There is a stop at the Tea Centre for a cup of tea chosen from more than 100 different blends. At Kitulgala see the location of the Bridge over the River Kwai and tropical rainforest. You will stay in Colombo for 1 night. Optional: Colombo City Walk Once you have arrived in Colombo, you will have the chance to go on a guided personalised city walk through Colombo. This evening you will spend 3-4 hours exploring this fine city at dusk. You will be shown all the lesser known parts of Colombo; the secret alcoves, the historical landmarks, the fantastic architecture and Colombo’s beginnings as a tiny trading port.

After breakfast, you will be collected for the return transfer to the airport for your onward flight or for a beach extension to this touring holiday.

Holiday price guide From about £2,090 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG05

Our prices include ● Scheduled return flights from London Heathrow to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airways
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Sigiriya
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Kandy
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Nuwara Eliya
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Colombo
● Private English-speaking chauffeur-guide in an air-conditioned Japanese car throughout the itinerary
● Entrance fees to the sites/monuments listed (the optional excursions are charged at a supplement)
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Visas (A visa is a requirement for entry to Sri Lanka and can be obtained on line from www.eta.gov.lk)
● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, payable locally to the hotel
● Camera fees where applicable
● Optional excursions – to be pre-booked and at a supplement

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour
Sigiriya
Cinnamon Lodge Value option

Cinnamon Lodge is a luxury 4-star plus hotel in a beautiful rural location. The delicious 'destination' dining and luxurious spa facilities alongside the stunning lakeside setting afford guests a truly tranquil and restorative experience.

Superior room

Jetwing Vil Uyana Luxury option

Jetwing Vil Uyana is a luxury boutique hotel in a stunning rural location. Oneness with nature is key to this hotel and guests can experience it in the cuisine, stunning grounds and excellent spa facilities.

Paddy or Marsh dwelling

Kandy
Earls Regency Value option

Earl's Regency a 5-star hotel in a beautiful natural location. Award winning cuisine and superb spa facilities offer guests a relaxing and restorative experience.

Standard room

The Kandy House Luxury option

The Kandy House is an exclusive, luxury boutique hotel in a beautifully secluded, lush location. Luxuriously comfortable accommodation, excellent cuisine and a spectacular infinity pool with breath-taking views afford guests an intimate idyll from the bustle of Kandy.

Deluxe room

Nuwara Eliya
Jetwing St Andrews Value option

Jetwing St. Andrew's is a 4-star boutique hotel in a beautiful natural location. Colonial style and luxurious, lush gardens alongside delicious cuisine and exemplary service afford guests an idyllic experience in a secluded setting.

Superior room

Jetwing Warwick Gardens Luxury option

Warwick Gardens resembles a luxurious English country home with the added attractions of stunning Sri Lankan mountain scenery, deliciously fragrant curries and friendly service from the Sri Lankan staff.

Deluxe room

Colombo
Zylan Luxury Villa Value option

Zylan Luxury Villa is an exclusive 4-star boutique hotel that has an intimate charm, in an excellent central location. With delicious cuisine, excellent spa facilities and supremely comfortable accommodation, this is the perfect retreat from the bustle of Colombo.

Deluxe room

The Regency at The Galle Face Hotel Luxury option

The Galle Face Hotel is a 5-star hotel offering the utmost in colonial-style luxury, in an excellent beachfront location. Opulent accommodation, excellent spa facilities, delicious cuisine and exemplary service maintain the property's position as an icon of Colomban luxury.

Regency deluxe room

Holiday price guide

From about £2,090 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG05

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of the highlights of Sri Lanka with Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Tea Country and Colombo

About Colombo

Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, has gradually grown from humble beginnings as a tiny 5th century trading post for gems to become Sri Lanka’s largest city and its most important port. The island’s commercial capital is a hectic mix of old and new, colonial architecture sitting next to modern glass and tree-lined residential suburbs bordered by shacks. Nifty 3-wheelers and the occasional bullock cart vie with noisy buses and 4-wheel drives for supremacy on the streets. There is a lot to see and explore during your stay in Colombo. To the north of the city is Fort, a business area with shops and offices and touches of residual colonial charm. The fort which gave the district its name has long since gone, though the Lighthouse Clock Tower in North Chatham Street and the 18th century ‘Queen’s House’, now the president’s official residence, still exist. To the south is Galle Face Green, a sea-front expanse of green lawn beside an esplanade which is used to host race meetings and sports events and is a popular gathering place, especially for kite-flying or a sunset stroll. At its south end stands the colonial Galle Face Hotel, the oldest hotel in Colombo which was built in 1864. Further south is Cinnamon Gardens, the city’s most fashionable neighbourhood with tree-lined streets and colonial mansions. A small national art gallery borders the pleasant Viharamahadevi Park. The National Museum, on Albert Crescent, has a collection ranging from religious bronzes to possessions of the last Kandyan kings. All around the city, Buddhist temples, Hindu Kovils, mosques and churches give a glimpse into the spiritual vibrancy of Sri Lankan life, especially during religious festivals. Gangaramaya Buddhist temple, in particular, is fascinating for any visitor, as well as the Hindu Temple at Sea Street which is lined with goldsmith's shops, the Dutch Church at Wolfendal, dating back to 1749 and the historic Davatagaha Mosque. Colombo also offers some excellent shopping opportunities: the lively Pettah Bazaar competes with shopping malls and fashion stores and you can buy anything from gems to cricket bats. Stores such as Barefoot, Paradise Road, Gandhara and Odel have a designer-chic range of home ware, fabrics, arts & crafts and clothes.

Highlights of Colombo

Fashion, jewellery, art, trendy homeware and Sri Lankan arts and crafts; Golf at Royal Colombo golf course; National Museum; Variety of restaurants; Afternoon tea or cocktails on the Ocean terrace of the Galle Face Hotel; Walking along the seafront at Galle Face Green; Pettah Bazaar; Buddhist temples (Gangaramaya, Bellanwilla); Colourful Hindu Kovils (Sri Subramaniam and Kailawasanthan Swamidevasthanam, the oldest); Dutch period museum. Near Colombo – Kelaniya Raja Maha Temple; Nightclubs and musical entertainment e.g. jazz, Asian pop bands, calypso, (mainly in the hotels).

Festivals in Colombo

Navam Perahera held in February is a 3-day pageant ending on Poya day (full moon), with dance troupes and decorated elephants, at Gangaramaya temple and along neighbouring streets.

Climate in Colombo

Colombo has an average temperature of 27° C, often reaching above 30° C during the day, slightly cooler in the evenings and during the monsoon season (May to August). It is hot and sticky, less so on the seafront with the sea breezes.

Travel around Colombo and Sri Lanka

We include private transfers with all our holidays to Sri Lanka, and a personal chauffer with all our touring holidays. Driving Distances: Colombo to Colombo International airport: 1 hour Colombo to Bentota: 2 hours, Colombo to Galle: 2 hours, Colombo to Kandy: 3.5 hours, Colombo to Dambulla: 4 hours.

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