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Sri Lanka Essential

8 days 7 nights


Category Sri Lanka Classic Tours

  • Group Size 1-11 persons
  • Difficulty Level 2
  • Trip Starts From Negombo
  • Trip Ends At Colombo
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Negombo Anuradhapura Sigiriya Kandy Nuwara Eliya Colombo
Dates & Prices
Please, contact us for the price and the dates for this trip


After the end of the three-decades-old military insurgency in 2009, Sri Lanka opens its doors to the travelers of the world to explore this tropical haven in the Indian Ocean! Inhabited by one of the oldest and most hospitable civilizations on earth, Sri Lanka has a glorious history, rich cultural heritage, breathtaking scenery, and warm-hearted people.

In this week-long trip, we will visit some of the UNESCO world heritage sites, Buddhist temples, enjoy jeep safari, witness the herds of wild Asian elephants in Minneriya National Park. Also, explore the complex of cave temples in Dambulla, pay a visit to the sacred tooth relic temple of Buddha in Kandy, and relax in the cool breezes of the colonial town of Nuwara Eliya.

We will also have stops in the spice garden, botanical garden, and tea-factory.

Is this trip for you?

  • Sri Lanka has a typical tropical climate, and it's scorching during the mid-day (86-90 degree) and has extreme sunlight.
  • This trip has some long day drives. The longest journey is from Yala to Bentota, which is about 5.5 hours. Roads are generally in good condition.
  • Climbing Sigiriya Rock Fort is strenuous, and it's not for everyone! People with knee problems and height issues should not attempt it! The steps are uneven walkways and narrow.
  • The trip involves visiting a good number of temples and religious shrines. You need to remove your shoes, including socks, and walk barefoot and so need to avoid the mid-day heat as the stone slabs or walkways are very hot. Please dress modestly, covering your arms and legs.
  • En suite bathroom with running hot and cold water and western style flush toilets are available in tourist class restaurants and hotels.
  • The trip does not include meals, but all the hotels do have on-site restaurants and dining places in the town, and they serve local as well as western-style dishes!

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Colombo

Upon arrival at Colombo International Airport, complete immigration and customs formalities and meet your chauffeur guide at the arrival gate. You can obtain electronic travel authorization ETA online in advance and get an actual visa sticker on your passport upon arrival!

From the airport, take a scenic half-an-hour drive to Negombo- beach town. Check-in hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure. If you wish, you can take a stroll through the street or beaches! Time permitting, visit Sri Lanka's Fish Market.

Day 02~Negombo-Yapahuwa-Anuradhapura

After breakfast, check out the hotel and proceed for the Anuradhapura. Before we leave the town, we take a quick stop to view the fish market of Negombo. Here the fishermen bring their fresh catches that include crabs, prawns, and other marine products.

In about two and a half hour or a little more, we arrive at Yapahuwa - a temporary capital of medieval Sri Lanka. Here, we stop to visit the citadel built around a huge granite rock, standing dramatically a hundred meters above the surrounding lowlands! It can be challenging to climb a series of about 500 steps, but it's worth it! Atop are the old temple ruins and of course-the 360-degree views!

Once in Anuradhapura, we visit the ancient city- a UNESCO world heritage site. Visit Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya- a sacred fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens, which is believed to be a sapling of the original Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya, India. It was under this tree where Lord Buddha meditated and attained Enlightenment! Nearby is Ruwanweliseya Stupa, a 338 ft tall white structure, which was built in 140 B.C. and contained Buddha's relics.

Another significant temple is Thuparamaya, which is among the earliest stupas of Sri Lanka. Time permitting, visit the Abeygiri and Jetawana monasteries, rock-cut statues of Lord Buddha and ruins of palaces and Isurumuniya rock temple.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 03~Sigiriya and Minneriya National Park

After breakfast, we bid farewell to the ancient city and travel to Habarana (2 hours). Check into your accommodation and soon proceed to visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress- a UNESCO world heritage site- a must-visit place! Sigiriya, which means Lion Rock, is a massive column of rock, almost 660 ft high, on top which King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) built his capital! After the king died, the capital and the palace was abandoned. Then they used it as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.

Optional: Jeep Safari in Minneriya National Park.

Minneriya National Park was created to preserve the massive ancient reservoir built by King Mahasen of Anuradhapura in the third century AD. Initially, the reservoir covered 4670 acres. The reservoir and the area around now makes a great ecosystem and habit to the diverse wildlife that includes elephants, deer, leopards and various species of birds such as storks, pelicans, hornbills, cormorants, herons, bulbuls and more!

Afternoon safari usually starts around 3 p.m., and reservation is required. Ask your guide to book it for you if you are interested. The jeep safari lasts about 3 hours. You can spot a large number of elephants grazing on the shores of the reservoir during the dry season, many aquatic birds, and other animals such as deer and monkeys.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 04~Dambulla Cave Temple, Spice Garden and Kandy

After breakfast, we check out the hotel as we travel to Kandy today. About 14 miles from Habarana, we stop to visit the cave temple complex of Dambulla. Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka and dates back to the first century BCE. These five caves and they contain beautiful murals and Buddhist statues. The rock towers 525 ft. over the surrounding plains and requires climbing flight of several hundred stairs. So, please, avoid the mid-day heat when you visit the temple.

On the way, you will drive through several spice gardens! We will stop in one of them. The plants in the garden include cinnamons, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, and many others! You will have an insight into an age-old industry of spice production, which attracted many European and Asian merchants to the ports of ancient Sri Lanka.

Once in Kandy, visit the Temple of the Tooth- one of the foremost sacred places of worship of the Buddhist world. The temple enshrines a tooth relic of Lord Buddha; that's what makes this temple so unique!

Optional: Cultural Program (if time permits).

The cultural program showcases the traditional songs and dances of Kandy. The show lasts about an hour and includes several different items and end with fire-eating and fire-walking shows outside the hall! While the songs and dances are great, do not expect much on the hall ambiance and decoration part.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 05~Kandy: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Excursion.

Following breakfast, we visit the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. The orphanage is a nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants located at Pinnawala village. The orphanage was founded in 1975 to care for and protect vulnerable orphaned and isolated wild elephants. The center is home to more than 90 elephants currently.

Next, we stop in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya that covers an area of 147 acres. This botanical garden is renowned for its collection of more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants, and palm trees.

The balance of the day is at leisure.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 06~Nuwara Eliya

After breakfast, we set off for Nuwara Eliya (4.5 hours) in the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka. Situated at an altitude of 6128 ft., Nuwara Eliya has a temperate and cool climate and is the most cooling area in Sri Lanka.

It's a scenic drive through tea estates. We will enjoy the hill country scenery and waterfalls, appreciate the nature-friendly trail abundant with green filled mountains. And waterfalls wrapping the mountains with scenic beauty, beautiful tea plantations draping down from the sides of the mountains as you pass by.

Stop in a tea-factory to learn about the world-famous Ceylon Tea production!

In Nuwara Eliya, enjoy the beauty of Gregory Lake, constructed during the period of British Governor William Gregory. There are quite a few activities offered by locals like canoeing, boating, games if you wish to partake in or gaze the beauty of the area from one of the restaurants on the shore.

Another attraction of Nuwara Eliya is the Haggala botanical garden, where you can take a stroll and learn about the wondrous flora. The garden is located at an altitude of 1745m above sea level under the shadow of the Haggala Rock and offers scenic views of Madulsima and the Namunukula mountain range. The garden has more than 1000 different species that include orchids and roses.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 07~Colombo city highlights

It's a long day drive today (5.5 hours). So, we leave Nuwara Eliya early so that we arrive in Colombo in time for a city tour. The city tour includes the Gangarma Temple, Old Parliament, lighthouse, Independence Square Galle Face Green, and Pettah Market.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 08~Depart Colombo

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in time (1.5 hours) for flight to your next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Accommodation on double occupancy basis.
  • Daily breakfast.
  • All transfers by a private vehicle with English speaking Chauffeur driver with private vehicle.
  • Local monument guide as per the itinerary.

The trip does not include

  • Sri Lanka visa.
  • Airfares.
  • Sightseeing admission and activity fee (Please budget about $ 200).
  • Cultural dance show fee.
  • Lunch and dinner (Please budget $10-12 per meal).
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Extra mileage (Rs 45/km). The total mileage allowance is 1180km.




Negombo: Jetwing Sea

Anuradhapura: Palm Garden Village

Habarana:Habarana Village

Kandy:Mahaweli Reach

Nuwara Eliya:The Black Pool

Colombo:Ramada Colombo


Negombo: Jetwing Beach

Anuradhapura: Palm Garden Village

Habarana:Cinnamon Lodge

Kandy:Cinnamon Citadel

Nuwara Eliya:Grand Hotel

Colombo:Cinnamon Lakeside

Note: Hotels listed above are our preferred properties and are subject to availability.


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 1 612 869 8502