Tailormade tour Magical Gardens of Sri Lanka tour Sri Lanka

9 nights/10 days

Sigiriya • Kandy • Ambewala • Bentota

This is a delightful tour which offers you the chance to visit and explore the magical gardens of Sri Lanka. Alongside the historic, botanical and more contemporary gardens, you will explore the Cultural Triangle, the lake-side city of Kandy and Tea Country. A final highlight of the tour is a stay at Lunuganga, home to the late architect Geoffrey Bawa.

Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,140 per person.

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of Sri Lanka's magical gardens including tea plantations, botanical and colonial gardens

Highlights

Sigiriya • Dambulla • Kandy • Tea Country • Ambewala • Bentota • Hikkaduwa

Day by day

You will be met on arrival and driven by your English-speaking chauffeur guide who will accompany you throughout your tour of Sri Lanka. Drive into the Cultural Triangle, home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, alongside an abundance of wildlife and natural habitats (approximately 4 hours’ drive). You will spend 2 nights in Sigiriya.

This morning there is an early start to set off to climb the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya, with its rocky abode and water gardens. Sigiriya is famous for its rock of golden-hued granite. In the 5th century King Kashyapa ‘tamed’ the Lion’s Rock, by building a palace atop its summit. Then visit the Dambulla Rock Temples which date back to the 5th Century BC. The walls of this World Heritage Site are covered with murals exceeding 21,000 square feet. The visit involves a 10 to 15-minute walk uphill with wonderful views at the top.

This morning, head to Kandy (approximately 2.5 hours’ drive) where you will stay for the next 2 nights. A score of spectacular waterfalls tumble down over rocks and precipices throughout the cool high country of Sri Lanka. Among them is Hunas Falls, which derives its name from Hunnasgiriya peak, the forest covered mountain which overlooks this tranquil landscape.

Explore the Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya containing more than 5,000 species including over 150 palm trees. In the evening, join the crowds to visit Kandy’s famous Temple of the Tooth. This is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists, containing the tooth relic of Lord Buddha.

Journey from Kandy up into Tea Country (approximately 2.5 hours’ drive) which is a world apart from the rest of Sri Lanka. The misty landscape’s cool, wet climate has fostered the growth of a unique ecosystem. You have 2 nights here to explore the area.

Today, visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Highlights here are the mountain orchids (many of them endemic to Sri Lanka), the Fernery and the mature temperate zone trees and plants originally introduced by the British. The cool, temperate climate of the Hakgala area was conducive to the introduction of conifers and cedars, cypresses and pines, English oak and a rose garden.

Leave Tea Country and head towards the south-west coast. Check-in to Lunuganga in Bentota for 3 nights (approximately 6 hours’ drive). This is no ordinary hotel. It’s a blissful patchwork of earth, foliage, water and light which is worth exploring. Lunuganga was created in 1947 from a rubber and cinnamon plantation and launched the career of the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. It offers the rare opportunity to stay in a living museum and is much more historic private house than hotel in feel.

Today you visit Brief Garden which belonged to Geoffrey Bawa's elder brother Bevis. Cannonball trees and frangipani perfume a succession of green rooms in which inside and outside spaces are blurred into one and which is a feature of many of Bawa’s houses. The sense is very much of structure and compartmentalised garden areas. Back at Lunuganga, you will have time to stroll amongst the gardens of one of the world’s most magical retreats and have the privilege of wandering the gardens at will. The hallmarks of Lunuganga are its almost wild, English-style romanticism yet given a Sri Lankan feel with a mix of rubber, rice and cinnamon. By evening choose an idyllic spot from where to sip the hotel’s signature cocktail - the Lunuganga Sour.

Drive to Hikkaduwa and hop onto a glass bottom boat which will offer you fantastic views of a different type of garden – the coral reefs just off shore. Return for the rest of the afternoon and your last evening at Lunuganga.

Transfer to the airport for your departure (approximately 2.5 hours’ drive).

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 £2,140 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG06

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of Sri Lanka's magical gardens including tea plantations, botanical and colonial gardens

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 £2,140 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG06

Our prices include ● Scheduled return flights from London Heathrow to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines in economy class
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Sigiriya
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Kandy
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Tea Country
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Bentota
● Private English-speaking chauffeur-guide in an air-conditioned Japanese car throughout the itinerary
● Entrance fees to the monuments listed above
● 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

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 £2,140 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG06

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of Sri Lanka's magical gardens including tea plantations, botanical and colonial gardens

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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