SHORTLIST

Best of Sri Lanka

This tour eliminates guess work and immerses you in the must-sees, must-tastes and must-meets of this beautiful country. In other words, the best stuff. Like summiting Lion Rock in Sigiriya, cycling through sprawling ancient city ruins in Anuradhapura and touring massive granite Buddha carvings in Polonnaruwa. But the best dsn’t just mean the biggest. The best is also having lunch with a Tamil tea worker in their home, relaxing with a cold beer and your feet in the sand in Mirissa and hiking between plantations and villages in Haputale. In fact, we think the best is doing all that and more in one 15-day tour.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. In the wet season, we occasionally need to alter the length and itinerary of the Hill Country hike due to weather conditions.
3. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking for train tickets. Fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.
4. Train tickets are in very high demand. We always try our best to secure tickets, but on the rare occasion that we cannot book them, you will continue your journey by private vehicle.

Tour details
Tour Provider Intrepid Travel
Price From
$3,411
Number of Days
15
Start Location
Negombo, Sri Lanka
End Location
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Age Range
Avg. 30+
Group Size
1 to 12
Tour Style
Standard
Tour Themes
Adventure
Physical Rating
Moderate
Itinerary Open all
Day 1: Negombo
Ayubowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your adventure begins in the town of Negombo, located close to the international airport. There are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5.30 pm. Those who arrive early can get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and perhaps feasting on fresh seafood. The beautiful surrounding countryside is best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent with help from the hotel reception.
Day 2: Anuradhapura
You will leave Negombo after breakfast, and along the way visit the Negombo Fish Markets. Your private vehicle takes you to ancient Anuradhapura via the small town of Chilaw. Those keen on history and archaeology might like to visit Mihintale, the sacred birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism, a recommended optional activity. The price of this will depend on the number of people sharing the vehicle.
Day 3: Anuradhapura
A guided bicycle tour of the city will take place today. Among the ruins, you'll see the sacred old Bo Tree, a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and the inspiration for Anuradhapura's great buildings. The ruins themselves are spread over quite an area, some in woodland settings and others appearing park-like with columns and ponds dotted about.
Day 4: Polonnaruwa
Travel on to Polonnaruwa via Maradankawala by public bus and private vehicle, the capital of the Indian Chola Dynasty after Anuradhapura was conquered in the late 10th century. These ruins are close together and generally in much better repair than those you have just seen. Cycling amid the remains of 1000-year-old Polonnaruwa is once again the best way to get around. Once the heat of the day has eased you'll visit more palaces, temples, and stupas. A likely highlight will be the massive stone Buddhas: 14-metre-high granite carvings of the iconic reclining Buddha which represent the zenith of Sinhalese rock carving. You'll also visit the well laid-out museum, which has scale models of many of the buildings to show how they would have existed in their time.
Day 5: Dambulla
Depart Polonnaruwa this morning and travel to Dambulla by private vehicle. Explore the amazing Dambulla Cave Temples which are located high on a stone cliff face, with numerous steps to enter. Some 150 Buddha images adorn the five caves, with fascinating frescs and paintings on the walls and roofs. In the afternoon, you may like to relax by the hotel pool or take an optional wildlife jeep safari to Minneriya, Kaudulla, or Eco National Park where you might spot some wild elephants with a bit of luck. Which park is available to visit depends on the season, but both Minneriya and Kaudulla are within easy reach of Dambulla.
Day 6: Sigiriya – Kandy
Early this morning, before the heat is too intense, head to Sigiriya. This ruined fortress is one of Sri Lanka's premier sights. Those who make it to the top are rewarded with astounding views. Make sure you are wearing sturdy footwear, as this is a very steep climb with some uneven slopes. Those unable to climb to the top can explore the gardens at the base of the rock and still get some fantastic shots of the fortress from below. Return to the hotel to freshen up before heading to Kandy. On the way, there's the option of stopping at one of the region's wonderful spice gardens for lunch and to learn about the medicinal properties of ingredients used in cooking and treatments. In beautifully located Kandy, visit the Dalada Maligawa (aka Temple of the Tooth), Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist site, and mingle with the white-clad pilgrims who come here to worship. Time permitting, you'll have the option of visiting the National Museum or the world-class Botanical Gardens.
Day 7: Kandy
Today you will visit a nearby tea factory and take a guided tour to learn about the production of Sri Lanka's best-known beverage. Of course, you will also sample some of the delicious varieties while you're here. 
Your hotel in Kandy, located far from the noise and bustle of the city, is a great place to unwind with lovely views over the town.
Day 8: Bandarawela
Start your day with a scenic train journey to Bandarawela, passing through tea plantations and winding along mountains into the highlands. Once in Bandarawela, you will visit a local home for a cooking demonstration to learn some secrets of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. Enjoy the delicious meal afterward.
Day 9: Haputale
Drive to the starting point for our walk today. This hike takes you through picturesque tea plantations and small Tamil villages. Lunch will be arranged at Tamil tea worker’s house. Tonight's accommodation is in a comfortable local lodge.

Total walk distance: 12km Time: 4-5 hours
Day 10: Udawalawe Jungle Camp
Embrace an early start this morning and take the train to Idalgashinna. Take a walk to explore more of the beautiful surroundings of Sri Lanka's Hill Country (walk will take approximately 4.5 hours). Enjoy this chance to meet the tea pickers along the way and stop for an included lunch in Haldummulla. After eating, make the drive to tonight’s jungle camp accommodation at Udawalawe, stopping en route at Diyaluma Falls. Your accommodation this evening is a lake-facing camp that backs onto a forest reserve where many herbs used in ayurvedic medicine are grown. When you arrive, you can choose to go on a short tour of the local village.
Day 11: Mirissa
There’s a chance this morning to take an optional excursion to Udawalawe National Park to look for elephants, just keep in mind that participating will require a wake-up call of around 4.30 am. Alternatively, you could sleep in and then choose to head to a nearby ayurvedic medicine manufacturing centre. Speak to your leader about these optional activities in advance for details. Later, set off to Mirissa by private bus. This is your paradise for two days of relaxation, with your comfortable accommodation just metres from the water.
Day 12: Mirissa
Enjoy a day of beach splendour in Mirissa. The beach itself is a long curve of sand with lovely clear waters for swimming – a great spot to watch the sunset. Consider taking a bicycle ride or tuk-tuk to nearby Weligama, where colourful fishing boats bring fresh fish to sell along the shore or Explore the UNESCO World Heritage coastal city of Galle by bicycle. From September to April there is an optional whale-watching excursion. Please ask your leader as you'll need to book at least one day in advance.
Day 13: Galle
Head further down the coast. Arrive in Galle, home to an impressive World Heritage-listed Dutch fort with extensive walls and many interesting old buildings. Along the way stop near Galle Fort entrance and meet our local artisan friend Mr Sunil. A traditional woodcarving expert, he will take you through a practical demonstration of the craft and encourage you to give it a go yourself. In the evening, enjoy a stroll around the historic fort and watch the sunset from the ramparts.
Day 14: Colombo
Leaving Galle, we travel on to Colombo by train, the nation's capital. Stop by some of the city's main sights on a bus tour including Independence Square, Parliament, and past the National Museum, finishing with a shopping opportunity for a good cause at the Barefoot Fairtrade Store. Here you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the country and support small cottage industries. If you are lucky enough to be in Colombo on a Saturday, visit Good Market, a local market full of stalls showcasing social enterprises and responsible businesses. Tonight there's an optional final group dinner to celebrate your journey together.
Day 15: Colombo
Your trip comes to an end today, with no activities planned. If you'd like to stay longer, just speak to your booking agent.
Inclusions
  • Meals: 12 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners.
  • Transport: Private vehicle, Public Bus, Train, Bicycle.
  • Accommodation: Hotels (11 nights), Lodge (1 night), Guesthouse (1 night), Permanent Tented Camp (with basic facilities) (1 nt).
  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple.
  • Anuradhapura - Bike tour.
  • Polonnaruwa - Bike Tour.
  • Dambulla - Cave Temples.
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth.
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock Fortress Visit.
  • Kandy - Tea factory visit.
  • Bandarawela - Cooking demonstration & local meal.
  • Kandy to Bandarawela – Scenic train ride.
  • Hill Country trek.
  • Galle - Walking tour.
  • Galle - Traditional Sri Lankan Wood Carving - demonstration and participation.
  • Colombo - City tour by bus.
Departure dates
Start End Availability Price NZD
24 Apr 2024 08 May 2024 4 $3,411
28 Apr 2024 12 May 2024 1 $3,975
10 May 2024 24 May 2024 1 $3,930
26 May 2024 09 Jun 2024 1 $3,750
05 Jun 2024 19 Jun 2024 7 $3,605
09 Jun 2024 23 Jun 2024 4 $3,750
16 Jun 2024 30 Jun 2024 4 $3,750
28 Jun 2024 12 Jul 2024 6 $3,790
07 Jul 2024 21 Jul 2024 6 $3,790
14 Jul 2024 28 Jul 2024 6 $3,830
19 Jul 2024 02 Aug 2024 11 $3,755
21 Jul 2024 04 Aug 2024 5 $3,830
24 Jul 2024 07 Aug 2024 12 $3,605
26 Jul 2024 09 Aug 2024 8 $3,605
28 Jul 2024 11 Aug 2024 10 $3,605
31 Jul 2024 14 Aug 2024 5 $3,680
02 Aug 2024 16 Aug 2024 12 $3,605
04 Aug 2024 18 Aug 2024 5 $3,715
08 Aug 2024 22 Aug 2024 7 $3,715
10 Aug 2024 24 Aug 2024 3 $3,715
14 Aug 2024 28 Aug 2024 12 $3,605
16 Aug 2024 30 Aug 2024 11 $3,605
18 Aug 2024 01 Sep 2024 4 $3,785
21 Aug 2024 04 Sep 2024 12 $3,605
25 Aug 2024 08 Sep 2024 12 $3,785
28 Aug 2024 11 Sep 2024 7 $3,715
01 Sep 2024 15 Sep 2024 9 $3,680
08 Sep 2024 22 Sep 2024 7 $3,645
13 Sep 2024 27 Sep 2024 8 $3,605
20 Sep 2024 04 Oct 2024 7 $3,680
25 Sep 2024 09 Oct 2024 10 $3,605
29 Sep 2024 13 Oct 2024 10 $3,605
04 Oct 2024 18 Oct 2024 11 $3,755
06 Oct 2024 20 Oct 2024 9 $3,755
13 Oct 2024 27 Oct 2024 10 $3,755
18 Oct 2024 01 Nov 2024 7 $3,755
20 Oct 2024 03 Nov 2024 9 $3,755
23 Oct 2024 06 Nov 2024 12 $3,755
27 Oct 2024 10 Nov 2024 5 $3,865
03 Nov 2024 17 Nov 2024 12 $3,755
08 Nov 2024 22 Nov 2024 6 $3,755
10 Nov 2024 24 Nov 2024 10 $3,755
15 Nov 2024 29 Nov 2024 10 $3,895
17 Nov 2024 01 Dec 2024 10 $3,895
22 Nov 2024 06 Dec 2024 12 $3,895
24 Nov 2024 08 Dec 2024 12 $3,895
29 Nov 2024 13 Dec 2024 12 $3,895
01 Dec 2024 15 Dec 2024 5 $3,970
06 Dec 2024 20 Dec 2024 10 $3,895
11 Dec 2024 25 Dec 2024 12 $3,895
14 Dec 2024 28 Dec 2024 9 $3,895
18 Dec 2024 01 Jan 2025 7 $3,935
20 Dec 2024 03 Jan 2025 11 $3,895
22 Dec 2024 05 Jan 2025 10 $3,895
25 Dec 2024 08 Jan 2025 11 $3,895
27 Dec 2024 10 Jan 2025 10 $3,895
29 Dec 2024 12 Jan 2025 11 $3,895
03 Jan 2025 17 Jan 2025 10 $4,125
05 Jan 2025 19 Jan 2025 12 $4,125
08 Jan 2025 22 Jan 2025 11 $3,975
12 Jan 2025 26 Jan 2025 11 $3,975
15 Jan 2025 29 Jan 2025 10 $3,975
19 Jan 2025 02 Feb 2025 12 $3,975
22 Jan 2025 05 Feb 2025 12 $3,975
26 Jan 2025 09 Feb 2025 12 $3,975
29 Jan 2025 12 Feb 2025 7 $3,825
02 Feb 2025 16 Feb 2025 12 $3,825
05 Feb 2025 19 Feb 2025 12 $3,825
09 Feb 2025 23 Feb 2025 8 $3,825
12 Feb 2025 26 Feb 2025 12 $3,825
14 Feb 2025 28 Feb 2025 12 $3,825
16 Feb 2025 02 Mar 2025 12 $3,825
19 Feb 2025 05 Mar 2025 12 $3,825
23 Feb 2025 09 Mar 2025 8 $3,825
26 Feb 2025 12 Mar 2025 12 $3,825
28 Feb 2025 14 Mar 2025 12 $3,825
02 Mar 2025 16 Mar 2025 12 $3,975
05 Mar 2025 19 Mar 2025 12 $3,975
07 Mar 2025 21 Mar 2025 12 $3,975
09 Mar 2025 23 Mar 2025 12 $3,975
12 Mar 2025 26 Mar 2025 12 $3,975
14 Mar 2025 28 Mar 2025 12 $3,975
16 Mar 2025 30 Mar 2025 12 $4,125
19 Mar 2025 02 Apr 2025 12 $4,125
21 Mar 2025 04 Apr 2025 12 $4,125
23 Mar 2025 06 Apr 2025 2 $4,320
26 Mar 2025 09 Apr 2025 12 $4,125
28 Mar 2025 11 Apr 2025 12 $4,125
30 Mar 2025 13 Apr 2025 12 $4,125
02 Apr 2025 16 Apr 2025 12 $4,125
04 Apr 2025 18 Apr 2025 12 $4,125
06 Apr 2025 20 Apr 2025 12 $3,975
09 Apr 2025 23 Apr 2025 12 $3,975
11 Apr 2025 25 Apr 2025 12 $3,975
13 Apr 2025 27 Apr 2025 12 $3,975
16 Apr 2025 30 Apr 2025 12 $3,975
18 Apr 2025 02 May 2025 12 $3,975
20 Apr 2025 04 May 2025 12 $3,975
23 Apr 2025 07 May 2025 12 $3,825
25 Apr 2025 09 May 2025 12 $3,825
27 Apr 2025 11 May 2025 12 $3,825
02 May 2025 16 May 2025 12 $3,825
07 May 2025 21 May 2025 12 $3,825
09 May 2025 23 May 2025 12 $3,825
16 May 2025 30 May 2025 12 $3,825
23 May 2025 06 Jun 2025 12 $3,825
30 May 2025 13 Jun 2025 12 $3,825
01 Jun 2025 15 Jun 2025 12 $3,825
04 Jun 2025 18 Jun 2025 12 $3,825
11 Jun 2025 25 Jun 2025 12 $3,825
15 Jun 2025 29 Jun 2025 12 $3,825
18 Jun 2025 02 Jul 2025 12 $3,825
25 Jun 2025 09 Jul 2025 12 $3,825
29 Jun 2025 13 Jul 2025 12 $3,825
02 Jul 2025 16 Jul 2025 12 $3,825
06 Jul 2025 20 Jul 2025 10 $3,825
09 Jul 2025 23 Jul 2025 12 $3,975
11 Jul 2025 25 Jul 2025 12 $3,975
16 Jul 2025 30 Jul 2025 12 $3,975
20 Jul 2025 03 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
23 Jul 2025 06 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
27 Jul 2025 10 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
30 Jul 2025 13 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
03 Aug 2025 17 Aug 2025 10 $3,975
06 Aug 2025 20 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
10 Aug 2025 24 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
13 Aug 2025 27 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
17 Aug 2025 31 Aug 2025 12 $3,975
20 Aug 2025 03 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
24 Aug 2025 07 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
27 Aug 2025 10 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
29 Aug 2025 12 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
31 Aug 2025 14 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
03 Sep 2025 17 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
07 Sep 2025 21 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
10 Sep 2025 24 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
14 Sep 2025 28 Sep 2025 12 $4,125
17 Sep 2025 01 Oct 2025 12 $4,125
21 Sep 2025 05 Oct 2025 12 $4,125
24 Sep 2025 08 Oct 2025 12 $3,975
28 Sep 2025 12 Oct 2025 12 $3,975
01 Oct 2025 15 Oct 2025 12 $3,975
05 Oct 2025 19 Oct 2025 12 $3,975
08 Oct 2025 22 Oct 2025 12 $3,975
12 Oct 2025 26 Oct 2025 12 $3,825
15 Oct 2025 29 Oct 2025 12 $3,825
19 Oct 2025 02 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
22 Oct 2025 05 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
26 Oct 2025 09 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
29 Oct 2025 12 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
02 Nov 2025 16 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
05 Nov 2025 19 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
07 Nov 2025 21 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
09 Nov 2025 23 Nov 2025 12 $3,825
12 Nov 2025 26 Nov 2025 12 $3,975
14 Nov 2025 28 Nov 2025 12 $3,975
16 Nov 2025 30 Nov 2025 12 $3,975
19 Nov 2025 03 Dec 2025 12 $3,975
21 Nov 2025 05 Dec 2025 12 $3,975
23 Nov 2025 07 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
26 Nov 2025 10 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
30 Nov 2025 14 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
03 Dec 2025 17 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
05 Dec 2025 19 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
07 Dec 2025 21 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
10 Dec 2025 24 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
12 Dec 2025 26 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
14 Dec 2025 28 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
17 Dec 2025 31 Dec 2025 12 $4,125
19 Dec 2025 02 Jan 2026 12 $4,125
21 Dec 2025 04 Jan 2026 12 $4,125
24 Dec 2025 07 Jan 2026 12 $4,125
26 Dec 2025 09 Jan 2026 12 $4,125
27 Dec 2025 10 Jan 2026 12 $4,125
28 Dec 2025 11 Jan 2026 12 $4,125
31 Dec 2025 14 Jan 2026 12 $4,125