1 612 869 8502 

Quintessential Sri Lanka

11 days 10 nights

Code SLSG10

Category Sri Lanka Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-16 persons
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Trip Starts From Negombo
  • Trip Ends At Colombo
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Negombo Sigiriya Polonnaruwa Anuradhapura Kandy Nuwara Eliya Yala Galle Bentota Colombo
Dates & Prices
Please, contact us for the price and the dates for this trip


Sri Lanka- formerly known as Ceylon- a small island country in the Indian Ocean offers visitors so many options to choose from that one can get easily overwhelmed! This trip is a perfect balance of everything that Sri Lanka has to offer. Ruins of ancient citadels and forts, religious temples, monasteries and stupa, rock-carved temples, colonial towns and forts, serene views of the hill country with lakes, tea plantations and waterfalls, excellent national parks abundant with rich wildlife including the elephants and the leopards, welcoming people and culture based on Buddhism and Hinduism! 

We hike the rock-top fortress, temples, and caves. Explore the ruins of the former capitals, embark on the thrilling jungle safari excursions, get an insight into an age-old industry of spice that lured Europeans merchants into this island. And unwind ourselves on the beaches of the Indian Ocean!

An experienced chauffeur guide leads the tour, and we use local expert guides in the historical and religious places. Hotels are deluxe four-star properties blending Sri Lankan hospitality with modern amenities. There will be your breakfast and dinner provided in the hotel, and we will pay fees for sightseeing activity on the spot.


Highlights of the trip

  • Elephant orphanage in Pinnawala that takes care of orphaned and injured elephants abandoned by the herd.
  • Polonnaruwa- the ancient Royal Capital- the best planned archaeological relic cities in the country.
  • Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress atop a 660 ft high rock column- a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Exciting jeep safari in Minneriya National Park and Yala National Park and view the Asian elephants, leopard, deer, among others.
  • The ancient capital of Anuradhapura and Mihintale- the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
  • Rock-cut cave temples of Dambulla- the largest and the best-preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka, dating back to the first century BC.
  • Spice garden where you get an insight into the age-old spice industry that lured the European merchants into Sri Lanka!
  • Visit the most sacred Buddhist temple in Kandy- the Temple of Tooth that enshrines the tooth relic of Buddha.
  • Enjoy the hill country scenery, tea estates, lake, and the natural scenery in the colonial hill resort of Nuwara Eliya.
  • Walk on the Nine Arch Bridge- an iconic engineering marvel, built without the use of steel, in Ella.
  • Colonial Galle Fort- a UNESCO recognized site.
  • Relax on the beaches of the coastal town of Bentota.
  • Explore the city's attractions and the Galle Face Green in Colombo.
  • Take a chance to watch the traditional Sri Lankan dances.

Is this trip for you?

  • Sri Lanka has a typical tropical climate, and it's scorching during 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 and Mihintale may be strenuous for some! People with knee problems and height issues should not attempt it! The steps are uneven, and walk-ways are narrow.
  • The trip includes 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 will be 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.

Trip Cost

From May to October

US$ 1810 per person on a double occupancy basis.
US$ 998 Private room supplement.

From November to April

US$ 1960 per person on a double occupancy basis.
US$ 998 Private room Supplement.

Trip Dates

2019: 11 Sep, 10 Oct, 09 Nov, 09 Dec.

The trips time will unite with Poya (Full Moon) celebration in Anuradhapura.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Colombo.

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Meet and greet service is not included. Meet and greet service with our driver (Sedan car) costs $50, or you can take a pre-paid cab from the airport to the hotel. It takes about 25 or 30 minutes to get to the hotel in Negombo.  

Take rest to recover the jet lag or spend time leisurely on the ocean side. Here you can indulge in watching the old world fishing crafts like the outrigger canoes and the catamarans bringing a variety of marine fishes like seers, skipjacks, pomfrets, and amber-jacks. Or visit the lagoon where lobsters and prawns are caught and served as fascinating delicacies in the restaurants. 

Negombo once proclaimed the island's leading spice town, that progressively evolved into the biggest fishing port and a center of Roman Catholicism. This place now serves as a gateway to many destinations in Sri Lanka. As compared to other destinations, there are not many historical or cultural attractions but a quaint atmosphere, with bustling little streets, delightful canals, interesting creeks, extensive lagoon, and few impressive architectures here and there. 

Negombo's Fish Market is probably the most visited attraction here. They sell a heap of fishes prawns, lobsters, shrimps, crabs as well as large fishes here. The fish market can be a slippery, smelly, and noisy affair, but it's exciting. 

You will meet the group over dinner.

Overnight: Hotel Jetwing Sea
Day 02~Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and Sigiriya

After breakfast, check out the hotel and proceed on a scenic drive to Sigiriya. On the way, we stop in Pinnawala (47 miles or 75 km, 2-hrs) to visit the Elephant Orphanage! 

The orphanage maintains both adult and young calves. They are either abandoned by herd or injured in the jungle, and they are vulnerable. So, the center's main activity is to rescue and provide care. The orphanage welcomes visitors to volunteer in their daily routine activity that includes bottle-feeding the baby elephants, escorting them to the river to bathe, and playing with them. You can bring some fruits and milk with you or buy locally. The caretakers feed elephants three times a day, 9:15 am 1.15 pm and 5 pm. Since they escort, elephants are escorted to the river right after feeding, and so you must arrive in the center in time. 

After having some fun time with the elephants, we continue to Sigiriya (95 km or 59.38 miles, 2-hours). The main attraction here is the ruins of a Rock Fortress that was built by King Kashyapa of the 5th century. Kashyapa seized the throne from his father following a coup and the rightful heir, Mogglana had to flee the country. But due to the fear of attack by Mogglana, Kashyapa moved the capital from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya, which was more secure. He built his palace on top of 200m (660 ft.) high rock column, which seems nearly impossible in the modern-day. He decorated the sides of the rock with colorful frescoes, and on a small plateau halfway up, he built an entrance with lions gate and used paws for its stairways. In the form of an enormous lion and this is how the place got its name Sigiriya which means the Lion Rock. The palace premises, which are now in ruins, consisting of the most famous archeological gardens of water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens. Other attractions within the fortress include the Frescoes and the mirrored walls.

The Rock Fortress, which is a UNESCO listed World Heritage site, is one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning.

There are 1200 steps and can take about 2 hours for the total trip up and down. We need to avoid the mid-day heat. The spiral staircase upward the Lion's Paw is strenuous and is not for faint-hearted and people with height issues. Once on the top, a 360-degree view rewards you!

Now, you transfer to the hotel for check-in.

Overnight: Hotel Aliya Resort & Spa (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 03~Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park

We should have an early start today. We visit Polonnaruwa (60 km or 37.5 miles, 1.5 hours)- an ancient city of archeological and historical importance- one of the best-planned relic cities on the island, lasting evidence to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's early rulers. Polonnaruwa served as the second capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura. The city saw the reigns of three kings but in turmoil of several invasion and ravages. The city was abandoned in the 13th century in ruins, but still, it retains its glory and elegance. We will enjoy the day touring in Polonnaruwa, capturing the most eye-catching and unbelievable sights ever. We walk across the spread walls and admire the ancient Sri Lankan engineering wonders of this World Heritage Site. There are stupas with resting Buddha statues, irrigation canals, and fantastically carved Hindu sculptures while observing the relic house Watadage that boasts of beautiful stone carvings.

Afternoon time is for a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park. (Park entrance and jeep fee to pay on the spot). Afternoon safari usually starts at 3 p.m. 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 habitat to the diverse wildlife that includes elephants, deer, leopards and various species of birds such as storks, pelicans, hornbills, cormorants, herons, bulbuls and more! In three hours long safari, we can see several herds of elephants-adults and calves, gathering and grazing in the shores of the reservoir during the dry season.

Overnight: Hotel Aliya Resort & Spa (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 04~Excursion of Anuradhapura and Mihintale

After breakfast, we set off for the ancient city of Anuradhapura (74 km or 16.25 miles, 1.30 hours). Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization. It is believed that the city was founded around the time when a sapling of the Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya (India). It was under this same tree where Buddha meditated and got enlightened. And it was brought and planted here in the 3rd century B.C. Although the capital was abandoned following an invasion towards the end of the 10th century, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. And one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.  

This sacred city was established around a cutting from the 'tree of enlightenment,' the Buddha's fig tree, brought there in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Anuradhapura, a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years, was abandoned after an invasion in 993. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries, and monuments, is now accessible once again. 

There is quite a lot to see! Depending on available time and your interests, we will visit some of them. The most visited attractions are: 

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 same tree where 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. Abhayagiri Monastery, Kuttam Pokuna bathing tank, Jetavanaramaya Stupa (The largest stupa in the world!), Samadhi Statue in Mahaenawa Sculpture Park, rock-cut statues of Lord Buddha and ruins of palaces, Isurumuniya rock temple, etc. 

Next, we proceed to Mihintale (12 km or 7.5 miles from Anuradhapura), a mountain peak. Sri Lankans believe it to be the site where Buddhist monk Mahinda met King Devanampiyatissa and converted him to Buddhism! So, Mihintale is an important pilgrimage site and has several religious monuments and abandoned structures. 

There are three levels and 1850 steps in total. Combined with heat, it may not be for everyone, but that is the only way if you want to explore the entire site. If you wish, you can skip the first climb by taking transport to the Dana Salawa Level, as many locals do!  It may take two and half-hour for the total trip up and down. There will be en-route stops visiting the Alms Hall, inscriptions, and exploring the main platform with tree hills- Aradanagala Gala. It is the actual point of meeting between Mahinda and the king, Mahaseya Stupa, and the Buddha statue. There are also caves- used by monks for meditation and residence. The surrounding is scattered with rock boulders and many other monasteries and statues. 

After a long day of excursion, we will retrace our drive to our hotel in Sigiriya.

Overnight: Hotel Aliya Resort & Spa (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 05~Kandy: Dambulla Caves, Spice Garden and Kandy

As you finish your breakfast, prepare yourself for an exciting day. Shortly from Sigiriya, we stop in Dambulla (14km or 8.75 miles, 30 minutes), to visit the cave temple complex carved into a massive rock that towers 160m or 525 ft. over the surrounding valley plains! It's a steady climb along with a good number of stairs and can take about 25 or 30 minutes for a fit person. This is the largest and the best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Although there are many documented caves in the area, we visit the top five caves that contain Buddha statues and the paintings related to Buddha and his life. 

From the top of the mountain, you will also enjoy serene views over the plains! Beware of the monkeys around! 

Our next stop will be at Matale (55 km or 34.38 miles, 1.5 hours), where we visit a Spice Garden. You will be led by an in-house spice specialist and take you through the plantations and introduce you to the various spices and herbs, which include cloves, cardamoms, saffron, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, sandalwood, margosa, coconut, almond for many others. There is also a sales outlet for spices and herbs. See if you can find anything that interests you there.

Once we arrive in Kandy (26 km or 16.25 miles, 1 hour), our first stop will be at the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple that enshrines the tooth relic of Lord Buddha! The complex comprises of the New Palace, the Old Palace, Audience Hall, International Buddhist Museum, Queens Bath, Moat, Diyathilaka Mandapaya, Golden Canopy, and the Main Golden Roofed Temple.    

Time permitting, take a stroll around the Kandy Lake and enjoy the serene beauty. 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.

Overnight: Hotel Earl's Regent (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 06~The Hill Country of Nuwara Eliya

After breakfast, we leave for the hill country of Nuwara Eliya (77km or 48.13 miles, 3.5 hours). We will enjoy a scenic drive along the mountainous road with great views of the tea plantations, waterfalls, and lakes! We will have a stop in a tea factory to learn about the tea production process.

You will have time to settle into your accommodation, and then your driver will take you around. 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. 

Take a stroll in the town and visit the oldest Post Office- a Tudor style two-storied building.

Overnight: Hotel Black Pool (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 07~Ella and Yala National Park

After an energizing breakfast, we set off for Ella (65 km or 40.63 miles, 2 hours)- a small hill town with cool climate-covered with cloud forests and tea plantations. At Ella, we first stop to see the Nine Arch Bridge- a leisurely walk of less than half an hour from the city center. What's unique about this bridge is that it's built without the use of any steel! The bridge is located in a dense jungle and an agricultural setting. The bridge is a very picturesque spot, especially when the train is passing. 

Our next stop will be at Ravana Falls, locally called Ravana Ella, which is around 25 m or 82 ft high and cascades from an oval-shaped concave rock outcrop. It's believed to the broadest fall in Sri Lanka. 

Now, we continue our travel to Yala National Park (107 km or 66.88 miles, 2 hours). Then get on the afternoon safari that starts at 3 p.m. (There is no jeep safari included. Please ask your guide to book it in advance for you). 

Yala is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka and has the reputation of frequent sightings of leopards! The safari takes you through the tropical wilderness and allows you to witness the awe-inspiring moments of wildlife and magnificent nature! Capture the glimpses of elusive leopards and enjoy as you watch the mud-bathing playful elephants. Other wildlife you may encounter is exclusive sloth bear, wild boar, water buffalo, spotted deer, sambar, and golden jackal. And also many birds, such as peacocks, Flamingos, Pelicans, Spoonbills, Painted Storks, rare Black-necked Storks, Grey Herons, Purple Herons, Night Herons, Darters, Garganeys, Whimbrels, Pigeons, Flycatchers, etc. 

The safari usually lasts about 3-hours. The par is closed for maintenance for 45 days from 01 Sep through 15th October every year.

Overnight: Hotel Laya Safari (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 08~Galle Fort and Bentota Beaches

After breakfast, proceed on a long day drive to Bentota (approximate travel time 5.5 hours, 140 miles). On the way, we have the option to stop at the snake and turtle farm.

Our next stop will be at Galle (175 km or 109.38 miles)- a southwest coastal city of Sri Lanka where the main attraction is the Galle Fort. Initiated by Portuguese in 1588, the fort was later extensively modified and fortified by the Dutch, and the British added a large gate at the main entrance. Then it became one of the most important archaeological, architectural, and historical monuments to illustrate the European influence in South East Asia! On three sides surrounded by the gorgeous ocean view, this UNESCO heritage site is a relaxing place. Visit the most impressive museums that include the churches and museums, browse through the beautiful shops- probably the best place to buy souvenirs for your friends and relatives back home. Also, ocean views, the Fort includes churches or walk to the Clock Tower from where you’ll have a beautiful view over the Fort and on the other side, Galle city.

After a relaxing exploration of the Galle Fort and the areas around, we continue to Bentota (70 km or 43.75 miles, 1 hour)- a resort town on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Its long beach stretches north, where it becomes a sandy strip known as Paradise Island, parallel to Bentota Lagoon. 

Check into your accommodation and spend the balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight: Hotel The Surf (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 09~Leisurely time in Bentota

Spend the day at leisure in the coastal town of Bentota. Enjoy time at the famous beach, step into the sun sand and sea and unwind yourself with the warmth of tropical beaches of Southern Sri Lanka! 

Unwind yourself in the beaches and lagoon, relax in the beachfront or engage in any water sports like swimming, body surfing, diving, skiing, windsurf, parasail, or playing beach games as volleyball. Or take optional excursions to the nearby attractions such as Turtle Hatchery Project that gather turtle eggs and safeguards them until they hatch. It's your day! 

Overnight: Hotel The Surf (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 10~Colombo city highlights

After breakfast, we leave for Colombo (110km or 68.75 miles, 2-hours)- the capital city of Sri Lanka.

You will have time to settle into your room, and then we proceed to see the city highlights. We will visit Gangarama Temple- a famous Buddhist temple with a blend of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture. And the British colonial Old Parliament building- it houses the President's secretariat. We also visit a lighthouse at the harbor and Independence Square with a memorial hall that was built to celebrate Sri Lanka's independence from the British, cafes, and shops.

Enjoy the rest of the day with a relaxed stroll on the Galle Face Green- a 12 acres ocean-side urban park that stretches 1600 ft along the coast. This is a popular place for locals to hang out and very busy, especially during the weekend evening.

Overnight: Hotel Cinnamon Red (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 11~Service ends in Colombo

The service ends in Colombo. There is no departure transfer included. Your guide can help you book the transfer, or you can book it with the hotel concierge. The airport is nearly 1.5 hours' drive from the city and so plan to leave in time to the airport for your flight to the next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip includes

  • Ten nights' four-star hotels on a double occupancy basis.
  • Daily breakfast at your hotel. 
  • Private vehicle with English speaking chauffer guide.
  • Local expert guides in Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla cave Temple, Tooth Temple in Kandy. 
  • For a group of 12 persons more, an accompanying guide with a national license will be provided throughout the tour.

The trip does not include

  • Arrival and departure transfers.
  • Sri Lanka Visa.
  • Airfares.
  • Lunch & dinner (Budget $10-12 for a meal).
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Sightseeing admission and activities fee (Jeep safari in Sigiriya and Yala National Park and 4WD vehicle to Horton Plains National Park). Total estimated $ 300 per person. (there will be updated list with a breakdown on the final trip document). Jeep safari price fluctuates with the group size).
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Extra mileage due to re-routing or deviation from the main program.

Sri Lanka Visa

The remaining validity of your passport must be a minimum of 6 months when you return from the trip. Make sure you have one blank visa page for the visa stamp on arrival.

You can obtain a Sri Lanka visa conventionally from any Sri Lanka embassy abroad. Or you can apply online the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), which costs $ 35 for US citizens.
You can also obtain ETA upon arrival at Colombo International Airport, but it's always advisable to get it in advance.

Weather and climate

Sri Lanka is a year-round holiday and adventure destination.

Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons: The period between May and September is rainy season in the south-west of Sri Lanka, the dry season being from October through April. The north and east coastal areas receive monsoon between October and January, and its dry season is from February through September. There is also an inter-monsoonal period during October and the first half of November when rain and thunderstorms can occur across the country. So, the dry period for both the areas begins in December and lasts until mid-April, and obviously, this period is considered the best time to travel to Sri Lanka.

Colombo and the West Coastal areas, such as Negombo and Bentota, have the highest rainfall between June and September. The average high temperature is 86 degree F, and it rarely falls below that.

The Southern coastal areas of Galle and Yala experience similar weather patterns to the west coast with the best weather expected between late November and April.

Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Minneriya are located within the dry zone. With exceptions of high rainfall in November and December, the weather conditions remain somewhat arid throughout the year, but the months of June and July are scorching.

Kandy is in lower altitude, and so you can experience heat here, but as you travel to Nuwara Eliya and Ella, the temperature drop as you climb the higher altitude.

Travel with Chauffer Guide

You will travel with an English speaking chauffer guide whom you meet upon arrival at Colombo international airport. The chauffeur driver is a trained and certified professional. He will help you check-in hotels and coordinate sightseeing and other tour activities. We hire specialized local tour guides on some destinations such as Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy. For a group size of 12 travelers or more, we will provide an accompanying guide throughout the trip.

Admission tickets and activities fee:

Sightseeing admission tickets and activities such as jeep safari, cultural program, etc. are not included. They are optional. In total, please, budget $300 per person for this itinerary. There will be a splitting of jeep safari costs in the group, and so the price depends on the final group size. Break down of the admission tickets will be provided on the final trip dossier.

Accommodations & meals

The trip includes ten-night accommodation in superior or deluxe category properties, four standards by local standard. The trip includes daily breakfast and dinner in the hotel. The trip does not include lunch. Please, budget $10-12 per meal.

Booking, deposit and payment schedule

We request US$ 300 per person along with the completed trip registration form. Balance payment is generally due 90 days before the trip date. However, some hotels or suppliers, particularly in busy tourist season, may ask for a non-refundable deposit to guarantee the booking, and in that case, we will advise you accordingly.

Balance payment by credit card attracts an additional 3.5% fee. A personal check is welcome. We accept the payment from the traveler's account only. We reserve the right to refuse a certain form of payment due to various reasons. Wire transfer fees are to be borne by the traveler.


jetwing beach thumb
Jet Wing Sea Negombo
earls regent kandy thumb
Earl's Regent Kandy
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Aliya Resort & Spa Sigiriya
the surf bentota thumb
The Surft Bentota
hotel blackpool thumb
Hotel Blackpool Nuwara Eliya
laya safari yala thumb
Hotel Laya Safari, Yala National Park
cinnamon red thumb
Cinnamon Red Colombo



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