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The Very Best of Sri Lanka Tour

Home Icon 17-day The Very Best of Sri Lanka from £2,295pp

Sri Lanka is an irresistible destination. Lapped by the Indian Ocean, this tranquil island encompasses idyllic beaches, ancient ruins, verdant tea plantations and oodles of elephants.
 
Our Sri Lankan adventure begins in Colombo, the nation’s lively capital and ends in the historic former Dutch town of Galle. In between, we explore the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka’s interior, packed full of ancient ruins and sacred sites – the cave frescoes of Dambulla, the ancient site of Sigiriya, and the sacred Temple of the Tooth. We travel into the hills and tea plantations, see elephants in Minneriya National Park and search for leopards in Yala, Sri Lanka’s most famous National Park.
 
Our Very Best of Sri Lanka tours will have a maximum of 24 people per group. Small group touring gives our guests the opportunity to explore a little closer, enjoying a much more personalised experience and more of a chance to get to know your tour guide and fellow guests. With fewer travellers in our groups, you’ll spend more time seeing the sights. You will form friendships and bond through shared experiences, and memories that will last a lifetime.
 
As an alternative to Small Group Touring on our Very Best of Sri Lanka tour, we offer the option of Private Touring. Whether you prefer to travel with family, as a group of friends, or you are a couple celebrating a special occasion, Distant Journeys’ private touring holidays provide flexibility and affordable exclusivity for groups of any size. Private Tours enjoy the same carefully planned itinerary and personally-chosen hotels, but with the added benefit of travelling in your own private vehicle with your own friendly and knowledgeable driver/guide and your own choice of departure date.

Very Best of Sri Lanka itinerary

With so many unmissable sights and activities, including the elephants of Minneriya National Park and the cave frescoes of Dambulla, Distant Journeys’ brand new 17-day escorted tour of The Very Best of Sri Lanka is a must for anyone wanting to explore this beautiful country. Read more below.

 

17-day The Very Best of Sri Lanka, from only £2,295pp

  • Day 1: Depart UK
  • Day 2: Colombo, 2 nights
  • Day 3: Colombo
  • Day 4: Habarana, 3 nights
  • Day 5: Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park
  • Day 6: Sigiriya
  • Day 7: Kandy, 3 nights
  • Day 8: Kandy
  • Day 9: Kandy
  • Day 10: Nuwara Eliya, 2 nights
  • Day 11: Nuwara Eliya
  • Day 12: Yala, 2 nights
  • Day 13: Yala
  • Day 14: Galle, 2 nights
  • Day 15: Galle
  • Day 16: Depart Sri Lanka
  • Day 17: Arrive UK

Day 1: Depart London Heathrow or Manchester with Etihad Airways.

All flights travel via Abu Dhabi, and no matter which airport you choose, there is no extra cost.

 

Included meals: In-flight meals and drinks

 

Day 2: Colombo, 2 nights

On arrival we transfer to the iconic Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, for our first two nights in Sri Lanka. This afternoon will be ours to spend at our leisure. Later, enjoy a welcome drink with our Tour Manager and fellow travellers, where we become better acquainted with our forthcoming adventures ahead.

 

Included meals: In-flight meals and drinks and dinner

 

Day 3: Colombo

Following breakfast, we take a sightseeing tour of Colombo, with its fascinating mix of cultures, religions and colonial influences. Visits this morning include the stately New and Old Parliament and Independence Square. We also visit the Pettah, a neighbourhood famed for open-air bazaars and markets, and the captivating architecture of Gangaramaya Temple. The remainder of our day is free to do as we please.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 4: Habarana, 3 nights

We travel inland to Habarana where, on arrival, we visit an inspiring school project, which was established using charitable donations, and engage with the local school children. Afterwards, we travel to the Cinnamon Lodge Hotel, our home for the next three nights. Our fabulous hotel is surrounded by over 2000 trees that provide a home to serpent eagles, kingfishers and monkeys.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 5: Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park

This morning, we explore the medieval city of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the grand Royal Palace complex, including the majestic Kings Palace and Audience Hall. Also witness the spectacular Gal Vihare complex featuring four gigantic images of Buddha, cut from a single slab of granite – a dramatic highlight of ancient Sri Lankan rock carving. This afternoon, experience a game drive in either Minneriya or Kaudulla National Parks, both set in captivating Sri Lankan countryside, where wild Asian elephants roam in abundance.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner

 

Day 6: Sigiriya

Tour Highlight

We take an early breakfast before visiting the famous site of Sigiriya to discover its fascinating history. Surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, the most celebrated site is Sigiriya Rock with its flat-topped summit, some 200 metres above sea level, that contains the ruins of an ancient civilisation. The more adventurous and energetic amongst us will have the opportunity to climb to the summit, passing remarkable frescos and the famous ‘Lion’s Paws’ along the way. On our free afternoon, we have the option to visit the ancient, Buddhist Mihntale Temple and the Isurumuniya Temple, visit a local village and community, or simply relax in the surroundings of our hotel.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 7: Kandy, 3 nights

This morning, we embark on our journey to the Last Kingdom of Sri Lanka, Kandy. En route we visit the Cave Temple of Dambulla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This amazing complex of magnificent caves dates back to the 1st century BC. Later, we stop at the Sri Lankan Garden in the rural village of Matale, a working spice and fruit farm, to learn about the local trees and crops in the company of our host. Enjoy a traditionally-prepared rice and curry lunch, and continue to Kandy and the charming Cinnamon Citadel Hotel for our next three nights.

 

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

Day 8: Kandy

We begin our day with a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth, commonly known as “Sri Dalada Maligawa”. A significant shrine for Buddhists worldwide, the temple holds the blessed tooth relic of the Lord Buddha himself. We arrive in time for the morning ceremony and have time to explore the temple grounds. Later, we journey to the elegant Royal Botanical Gardens. With origins dating back to 1371, and once reserved exclusively for Kandyan royalty, these stunning gardens boast some 150 acres of graceful trees, lawns and flowering shrubs. This evening, a cultural show awaits – a fascinating performance of traditional Sri Lankan dances.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 9: Kandy Freedom Day

Enjoy a full day at leisure. Relax by the hotel pool, or perhaps hop on a tuk tuk and navigate the rural setting of Gampola to explore three lesser-known temples with a knowledgeable guide. Alternatively, trek through a nearby rainforest, rich in many species of birdlife, including Layard’s Parakeet, Gold-Fronted, Blue-Winged leafbirds, and Spotted and Emerald Doves. You may prefer to visit Bhikkhuni Monastery, where you may learn the history of Buddhist nuns and meet a bhikkuni who will describe the ordained life.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 10: Nuwara Eliya, 2 nights

Today, we journey towards the cooler climates of Sri Lanka’s hill country. For those of us who wish to experience the journey by rail, there is an opportunity (at a small extra cost and subject to availability) to join a local train and travel through an idyllic panorama of forests, villages, tea estates and waterfalls. We arrive into Nuwara Eliya, which retains a colonial ambiance with its gentlemen’s clubs and mock-Tudor buildings. Enjoy a brief city tour, before arriving at the Jetwing St Andrew’s Hotel, offering scenic views of the surrounding countryside.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 11: Nuwara Eliya

Sri Lanka is recognised as one of the finest tea producers in the world, and today we learn about the region’s tea plantations. During our tour, we explore a vibrant tea plantation and discover the leaf-picking process. We visit the plantation’s factory and learn about rolling and drying the tea, as well as the art of tea tasting. Later, we conclude our day dedicated to Sri Lanka’s tea production in the best possible way, with a fabulous high tea.

 

Included meals: Breakfast, high tea and dinner

 

Day 12: Yala, 2 nights

After breakfast, we leave the hill country behind. As we descend, we travel through local villages dotted on the mountainside. Marvel at the vistas of tea plantations, forests and waterfalls in an area blessed with some of the most beautiful views in Sri Lanka. This afternoon, we visit the Elephant Transit Home, a wonderful facility which rehabilitates orphaned baby elephants with a view to releasing them back into the wild. Later, we arrive at the stunning Jetwing Yala Hotel, our home for the next two nights.

 

Safari camp experience
2 nights from £395 per person supplement
For those wanting to get closer to nature, there is the opportunity to spend two nights in one of Sri Lanka’s amazing safari camps. Set in remarkable locations, you’ll enjoy two safari drives into lesser known areas of Yala and all meals, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Please call for details.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 13: Yala

We have an early start this morning as we venture into the scenic Yala National Park, the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Yala is home to an eclectic array of wildlife including elephants, bears, crocodiles and wild boars. Whilst elusive, the park also boasts the world’s highest concentration of leopards per square kilometre and provides the best opportunity to spot this majestic animal. Our afternoon has been left at leisure to enjoy our hotel, or should we wish, maybe further explore Yala National Park, during an optional afternoon safari.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 14: Galle, 2 nights

Following breakfast, we say goodbye to Yala and travel towards Galle, a striking and historic city on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The main maritime port for the country for more than 200 years, Galle is famous for its Dutch fort with its colonial buildings, stylish cafés and quirky boutique shops. We take a brief sightseeing tour before arriving at the Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel, sat impressively atop a hillock, overlooking the sapphire waters of the Indian Ocean. This unique hotel was built by the renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, and inspired by Dutch colonial design.

 

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

Day 15: Galle Freedom Day

With so much on offer, today’s Freedom Day is the perfect opportunity to explore this fascinating region in a way that suits you. For those happy with an early start, there is the option to take a whale watching cruise, in search of the magnificent blue whale. For the adventurous amongst us, we can take a tuk tuk safari – a fun-filled ‘off the beaten track’ adventure to explore lesser known areas of Galle. Alternatively, discover how to paint traditional Sri Lankan masks with help from a renowned artist or learn to cook like a local. For a more relaxing day, be sure to take advantage of the many facilities our hotel has to offer, including spa treatments and two outdoor swimming pools.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 16: Depart Sri Lanka

All good things must come to an end. Nevertheless, we have our final day at leisure including complimentary late check-out, allowing us to further explore the area of Galle, or enjoy one last relaxing day by the poolside to recharge our batteries and freshen up before our evening flight.

 

Included meals: Breakfast and in-flight meals and drinks

 

Day 17: Arrive UK

All flights travel via Abu Dhabi. This morning, we arrive into London Heathrow or Manchester, as our Sri Lankan adventure comes to an end.

 

Included meals: In-flight meals and drinks

 

Departure dates & prices

At Distant Journeys we believe our Small Group touring holidays to Sri Lanka deliver exceptional value for money. Please see below for dates, prices and availability. If you‘d like to take advantage of our Private Touring option and enjoy the exclusivity and flexibility of travelling as an even smaller group or as a couple, you can find below the supplements to the main tour price.

The Very Best of Sri Lanka departures

 Departure date Price (pp) Availability
 2022
 24 January £2,295 JUST LAUNCHED
 07 February £2,295 ONLY 7 ROOMS LEFT
 07 March £2,295 JUST LAUNCHED
 2023
 23 January £2,395 JUST LAUNCHED
 06 February £2,395 ONLY 5 ROOMS LEFT
 06 March £2,395 JUST LAUNCHED

 

Private Touring Supplements

 Number of Guests Tour Supplement (pp)
 All Dates
 2 guests £395
 3-4 guests £295
 5-9 guests £195
 10-14 guests £95
 15+ guests No extra charge

 

Prices: Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

Single occupancy supplement:
01 September 2021 – 31 August 2022 £545.
01 September 2022 – 31 August 2023 £595.

Deposit: £500 per person if travelling in economy class, £1,500 per person if travelling in business class.

Flight upgrades: Etihad Airways upgrade to Business Class flights from £2,495 per person return.

Private touring: Guests choosing a private tour may select their own departure date. Please note, alternative airlines may be considered or further supplements may apply in certain periods when international flight prices are higher.

Visa information: An e-Tourist visa is required for travel to Sri Lanka. For more information on applying for your visa and the associated costs, please refer to our Important Information on pages 42-43 of our India & Sri Lanka brochure.

Important information: Prices are subject to availability but the correct price will always be confirmed before you book. For full terms and conditions see our terms and conditions page.

So much included

Our tours to Sri Lanka have been carefully crafted to offer exceptional value for money. When you book the Very Best of Sri Lanka tour, you can be assured that so much of what you will do and see on holiday is already included in the price. That’s all your scheduled international flights, overseas transfers, hand-picked hotels, an experienced local tour manager, and many wonderful excursions, all taken care of. We also include breakfast and dinner every day, plus a lunch and a high tea, so you can enjoy all the gorgeous food Sri Lanka has to offer.

Flights with leading scheduled airlines

  • Return economy class flights with Etihad Airways from London Heathrow or Manchester
  • All airport charges, security charges and any applicable fuel surcharges
  • UK Air Passenger Duty

Carefully selected hotels

  • Superior hotels in great locations
  • All hotel porterage
  • Applicable hotel taxes

Many meals worth £491 per person

  • 14 breakfasts
  • 1 lunch
  • 1 high tea
  • 14 dinners

Unforgettable experiences

  • Sightseeing tours in Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Galle
  • Visit a remarkable charity-funded school
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa
  • Safari in Minneriya National Park
  • Explore the ancient site of Sigiriya
  • View the caves and frescos of Dambulla
  • Witness the ‘Temple of the Tooth’ ceremony, Kandy
  • Tour the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
  • Visit a tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya
  • Search for leopards on safari in Yala National Park
  • Explore the old Dutch Fort of Galle

On the ground

  • Services of an experienced Tour Manager and local guides
  • All overseas transfers
  • Modern, air-conditioned coaches throughout

100% confidence

  • Your holiday is covered by our Price Promise
  • Your holiday is covered by our Covid Guarantee
  • Your holiday is fully ATOL protected

The Kingsbury, Colombo

Enjoying spectacular views of Colombo Harbour, The Kingsbury is a 5-star hotel offering superb accommodation, extensive leisure facilities and a wide range of dining options. The Kingsbury is located in the heart of Colombo, the country's commercial capital and a… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4-5
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana

Surrounded by lush forests and the sound of birdsong, the Cinnamon Lodge is a blissful escape just a short drive from Minneriya National Park. Cinnamon Habarana makes the most of its stunning location, and its accommodation has been sympathetically designed… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy

Kandy is known as one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka. Surrounded by lush green hills, Cinnamon Citadel Kandy sits in an elevated position over 1,600 feet above sea level. Its large outdoor pool has spectacular views over… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Jetwing St Andrew's Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

Set high above the coastal plains and tea plantations of central Sri Lanka, the city of Nuwara Eliya is nicknamed ‘Little England’ for its quaint charm. The colonial British once retreated here to enjoy the cooler climate, and built hill… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-3-5
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Jetwing Yala Hotel, Yala

Perfectly positioned between the Indian Ocean and Yala National Park, Jetwing Yala Hotel sprawls over 38 acres of land bordering coastal wilderness at the end of Sri Lanka’s south eastern shores. Each hotel room boasts an open-air balcony or terrace… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4-5
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Safari Camp Experience, Yala

Renowned for its leopard population, Yala National Park straddles the southern coastline of Sri Lanka, its varied landscapes creating a rich eco-system. The diverse topography of grasslands, scrub, forest, wetlands and lagoons hosts a wealth of wildlife, including elephants, crocodiles,… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel, Galle

Boasting beautiful views of the vast Indian Ocean, the Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel is set on a hilltop just outside the historic city of Galle. The hotel is minimalistic and elegant, built in a colonial style which takes its inspiration from… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4-5
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Habarana: Hiriwaduna Trek

For a taste of authentic Sri Lankan rural life, join this afternoon’s visit to the village of Hiriwaduna. Home to around 2,000 people, the village is unspoilt and scenic. Stroll...

From USD $25/ GBP £20 Read More >

Habarana: Mihintale & Isurumuniya Temple

Mihintale is a site of great importance for Sri Lanka, as the city is regarded as the place from which Buddhism developed in Sri Lanka. This optional excursion will introduce...

USD $45/ GBP £37 Read More >

Kandy: Udawattakele Trek

Udawattakele was originally a pleasure garden used by the royals of Kandy, but today it is an abundant, lush rainforest and a birder’s paradise. Our trek, led by an experienced...

USD $15/ GBP £12 Read More >

Kandy: Bhikkhuni Monastery

A bhikkuni is a female Buddhist monk, and this tour takes us to a monastery on the outskirts of Kandy where our host will teach us about the history of...

From USD $45/ GBP £37 Read More >
Pre-booking required

Kandy: Rail Journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Instead of journeying from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya by road, travel in the style of the British during the colonial times on the original train tracks laid in 1864. Board...

From USD $20/ GBP £16 Read More >

Kandy: Three Temples of Kandy

For something a little different today, hop on a tuk tuk to be taken to the rural setting of Gampola to explore three lesser-known temples with a knowledgeable guide. Start...

From USD $45/ GBP £37 Read More >

Yala: Additional Safari in Yala National Park

Yala National Park is the second largest of Sri Lanka’s National Parks, but probably its best known. Stretching over 97,800 hectares in extent, the park is home to a multitude...

From USD $45/ GBP £37 Read More >

Galle: Cook Like a Local

Sri Lankan cuisine is famed for its delicate spicing and vivid flavour combinations, influenced by the nation’s different ethnicities and rich history. This optional activity gives us the opportunity to...

From USD $70/ GBP £58 Read More >

Galle: Mask Painting

Brightly painted, wooden masks are a familiar sight throughout Sri Lanka, and this excursion to an artist’s gallery in Galle Fort will teach us about the painting of these traditional...

From USD $60/ GBP £49 Read More >

Galle: Whale Watching

Following an early start, we will be taken to the harbour to meet our naturalist guide for the day and his crew before boarding our vessel and heading out to...

From USD $55/ GBP £45 Read More >

Galle: Tuk Tuk Safari

This is a fun-filled ‘off the beaten track’ adventure taking us to explore lesser-known areas of Galle. Distinctive and characterful, the tuk tuk is a brightly coloured, three-wheeled vehicle, and...

From USD $55/ GBP £45 Read More >

Customer reviews  feefo logo

Distant Journeys’ escorted tour of Sri Lanka is a brand-new itinerary. The inaugural departure is in January 2022, and we will update this page with reviews as soon as our returning customers have been contacted by Feefo, the independent reviews company. In the meantime, why not take a look at the reviews for our other tours? We’re very grateful to have received lots of wonderful reviews from our happy guests.

 

View more reviews

The Very Best of Sri Lanka Tour

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