Sri Lanka, the ‘Wonder of Asia’, has something to offer everyone, and our 18 day Incredible Sri Lanka trip has it all. Ancient ruins, tea plantations, wildlife safaris, world heritage sites, natural beauty, amazing beaches, fabulous food and spices, not to mention standout shopping.
With a tropical, monsoonal climate, the high season in Sri Lanka runs from December until March, and is weather-wise the best time to visit the southwest part of the country. The weather in Sri Lanka’s north and east is best from May until August. Additionally, the Kandy Esala Perahera festival is held in July/August and we run our annual tour to coincide with this remarkable spectacle.
Here are a some of the experiences you can expect to have on this Incredible tour.
Explore Sri Lanka’s heritage cities
For a small island, Sri Lanka has more than its fair share of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with eight on the list, two of which are cities.
Kandy, in centre of the island, is the country’s second largest city and was the capital from 1592 to 1815. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is believed to contains a tooth which came from the Buddha.
Galle, on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, is a funky and stylish town. Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, taken over by the Dutch in the 17th century and the English in 1796. The place to be is Galle Fort, with its picturesque walls and lighthouse, quaint streets and laneways with a plethora of boutiques, guesthouses and restaurants.
Go elephant and leopard spotting on a wildlife safari
Sri Lanka is probably the best place in the world to spot wild elephants and leopard. More than 200 elephants gather in Minneriya National Park every August and September during a spectacle known as The Gathering. Leopards are found in several national parks and we visit the lesser known Wilpattu National Park to try our luck.
See some astounding Buddhist sites
Roughly 70% of Sri Lankas population is Buddhist, and with over 2000 years of continuous Buddhist history, there are many stupas and statues of Buddha to be seen.
The UNESCO World Heritage Anuradhapura site is quite remarkable for its many stupas and statues, and nearby Mihintale is slated to be the place an emissary from India first introduced Buddhism to the King.
Thr Dambulla cave temples are a series of five rock-cut caves which contain paintings and statues of Lord Buddha and his life.
Get some exercise
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sri Lanka’s has many spots of amazing natural beauty which allow you to enjoy the great outdoors.
One of the highlights of your trip to Sri Lanka will be to climb the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it is quite a strenuous climb the murals half way and the views from the top are more than enough reward.
Horton Plains National Park in the shadow of the southern mountains offers some fabulous walking, including the hike to Worlds End, where you can see villages dotted in valley below and views, if you’re lucky all the way to the south coast.
Take a beach break
Being an island, Sri Lanka is home to many gorgeous beaches. There are party beaches, surfing beaches and resort beaches and just about everything else in between.
The east coast beaches are great during May – August and Passekudah is one of the more relaxed and beautiful beaches. Nilaveli, near the port of Trincomalee, is the jumping off point to Pigeon Island, which with a healthy coral reef, makes for some very cool snorkelling.
Tangalle is the gateway to the south coast beaches which are surrounded by coconut fringed white sands abutting sapphire seas.
Ceylon (Sri Lankan) tea is one of the most famous teas in the world and to miss a visit to the tea plantations would be crazy. The fourth largest tea-producer in the world, Sri Lanka has over 200,000 hectares of plantations.
Nuwara Eliya is one of the main towns of the Hill Country, and was the favoured escape for the English and Scottish pioneers of the tea industry. There are several tea plantations in the area which offer tours and tastings and of course the opportunity to buy.
Take the Train
Train near Nuwara Eliya
Sri Lanka’s railways offer some of the world’s most scenic train rides, particularly through the hills and tea plantations. Although the railway network is a little antiquated, it’s certainly worth taking a trip, even for a short stretch.
Let’s go shopping
Odel Luv SL Store in Colombos Dutch Hospital
Let’s face it – a holiday needs some shopping, and Sri Lanka won’t disappoint, whether you’re picking up a gift for someone at home or looking to take home some beautiful handicrafts or designer products. Sri Lanka is famous for batik, gemstones, masks, woodcarvings, tea & spices as well as clothes.
Galle Fort has some fabulous shopping in some very funky galleries and boutiques, and Colombo is full of markets and clothing outlets as well as boutiques and tourist shops.
Food, glorious food
A sample of Sri Lankan delicacies
Sri Lankan food is amazing and delicious. Not always hot (although it can be very spicy), it’s much more than rice and curry. Similar to Keralan food in South India, with some Indonesian influences, Sri Lankan meals generally comprise a selection of vegetable and meat dishes served with rice and chutneys.
Short eats are what the locals call snacks that are generally consumed for breakfast or quick bites on the go. They tend to be savoury pastries and rolls.
The other must try in Sri Lanka is Kottu – tasty and greasy, it is the indigenous fast food, made from chopped roti (flat bread) with a selection of vegetables and/or meat, served with a spicy curry sauce.