An Insider's Sri Lanka

Our Insider’s Sri Lanka holiday showcases the country’s lesser-known gems, taking you to out-of-the-way places where you can rub shoulders with the locals. Embark on immersive adventures, enjoy relaxing pauses, go wildlife spotting in Uda Walawe, feast on Colombo’s dynamic streetfood and lay back on Arugam Bay’s secluded sands.

At a glance

  • Graze at the locals’ favourite Colombo cafes
  • Witness the Temple of the Tooth relic is revealed to waiting pilgrims
  • Climb Adam’s Peak for breathtaking views over the town
  • Travel in classic style on a train through Tea Country
  • Get close to elephants in lesser-known national parks
  • Chat with locals on Galle’s ramparts, getting tips on where to eat dinner
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Colombo - 2 nights

Sri Lanka’s modern capital, Colombo, is much more than just an arrival and departure point. Its busy streets combine colonial and contemporary architecture in picturesque vignettes, from the English-style cricket green, to the pensive memorial of Independence Hall, to the sunset vistas from the Galle Face Hotel terrace. Tour around this multi-cultural town’s many eateries and cafes sampling an array of ‘short eats’, stroll along the seaside promenade, and perhaps even take in a cricket match and see the sport played at its passionate best.

Day 1 - Arrive Colombo

On arrival in Sri Lanka, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Day 2 - Pettah Market, Evening foodie experience

Includes:

Meander around the labyrinthian Pettah Market, the biggest and busiest bazaar in Colombo, lined with stalls selling a sensory overload of fresh fruit and veg, meat, seafood, jewellery, clothing and electronic goods. Having perused the market’s cornucopia of fresh, local ingredients there will be plenty of time to relax back at your hotel or continue exploring independently, until late afternoon when you will be met by your guide for a culinary exploration of the town’s vibrant foodie scene. Head for the sociable seaside promenade and lawns of Galle Face Green, where numerous streetfood vendors congregate. Try spicy isso wade prawn fritters, and traditional achcharu sweet-sour pickles, washed down with fresh lime juice. Nana’s serves arguably the best Tandoori Chicken in the city, and is a Galle Face institution - you can’t leave without trying some! Tuk-tuk to The Old Dutch Hospital (tastefully revamped to house shops and restaurants) to sample some of Sri Lanka’s finest tea and Pol Roti Kottu coconut-infused stuffed flatbreads. Leave room for traditional Sri Lankan jaggery sweets, and return to your hotel with your appetite fully satisfied

Click to discover more...

Kandy - 1 night

The ancient city of Kandy is a revered UNESCO World Heritage site, home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, and host to the exuberant Esala Perahera festival. Walk through the ‘forbidden forests’ of Udawatta Kele reserve with your guide, finding unusual plants and wildlife along the winding paths between its three Buddhist monasteries. Continue to the Dalada Maligawa - the Temple of the Tooth Relic - where, Buddhists believe they have enshrined a tooth of Lord Buddha in a golden casket, revealed to waiting pilgrims twice a day to a flurry of prayers.

Day 3 - Drive to Kandy, Udawatta Kele Sanctuary & Temple of the Tooth Relic

Includes:

Morning departure for the sacred city of Kandy. In the afternoon, take a walk through the forest reserve of Udawatta Kele, once declared a ‘forbidden forest’ by the Sinhala Kings as only members of royalty were permitted to visit. Continue on to Kandy's most famous site - the Temple of the Tooth Relic - where Buddhists believe a tooth of the Lord Buddha is enshrined.

Click to discover more...

Hill Country - 2 nights

Sri Lanka’s southern hills are carpeted in a vibrant blanket of green fields, where mile after mile of the finest tea in the world first sees the sun, before being harvested by expert pickers. The region is dotted with waterfalls and deep, cool valleys where you can retreat from the heat of Sri Lanka’s lowlands. Gently ascent to the top of Adam’s Peak, known as the Butterfly Mountain, for towering views over the the surrounding hills, and visit the temple at the summit that protects a revered Buddhists relic.

Day 4 - Tea Country train & drive to Hill Country

Includes:

Hop aboard a train at Kandy station for a scenic ride through the tea country that surrounds the city. From the comfort of your carriage, you’ll get a different outlook on the idyllic countryside, at a pace reminiscent of travel’s Golden Age. Meet your guide at Haputale train station, and head to the boutique Living Heritage Koslanda for an afternoon at leisure. Trek through the surrounding forest to impressive waterfalls, sample tea at the nearby Poonagala tea estate, learn how to cook Sri Lankan cuisine with the hotel chef, and soak up the scenery from a lounger beside the infinity pool.

Day 5 - Relax & explore

Includes:

Spend a day at leisure at the Living Heritage Koslanda, being as active or laid back as you wish.

Click to discover more...

Arugam Bay - 3 nights

Arugam Bay (or A’Bay to those in the know), on Sri Lanka’s crescent-curved south east coast, is the ultimate laid-back beach resort, boasting legendary breaks that offer some of the best surfing in the country. Spend a few days leaning in to the region’s laid back vibe, a world away from the usual tourist trail. Visit hidden temples, keep your eyes peeled for a myriad birds and wildlife in quiet, lesser known national parkland, or simply soak up the mellow vibe on those picture perfect sands as the waves gently lap at the shore.

Day 6 - Drive to Arugam Bay

Includes:

Descend from the hills in the direction of the east coast. Your destination is the laid-back beach resort of Arugam Bay. Having checked in to your hotel the remainder of your day will be at leisure.

Days 7 & 8 - Kick back & relax

Includes:

Enjoy a few days relaxing on the beach.

Click to discover more...

Kumana National Park - 2 nights

Originally known as Yala East, Kumana has fewer visitors than its more well-known neighbour, and a calm, uncrowded feel even during high season. Spread over 137 square miles, the park is home to Sri Lankan elephants, leopards, sloth bears, white cobras and wild buffalo, but it’s the birdlife that enthusiasts flock to see. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded within the park boundaries, including pelicans, storks, spoonbills, plovers, sandpipers and cormorants, which are all commonly spotted on bird watching safari, and the Kumana Bird Sanctuary is regarded as one of the most important breeding grounds in the country.

Day 9 - Drive to Kumana National Park, dusk safari

Includes:

Depart Arugam Bay in a southerly direction to Kumana National Park. Meet the local Mahoora team at the park entrance and travel by safari jeep to the Mahoora campsite deep within the park itself. This immersive camp experience includes a generously sized tent complete with a comfortable bed and fully equipped en-suite with a hot-water shower, allowing you to enjoy a little luxury within the wild surroundings. Settle in and freshen up before heading out on a dusk drive through the park, accompanied by a local naturalist, spotting the animals as they wake to hunt or find water. Return to camp as darkness falls to tuck into a BBQ dinner around the campfire before settling down in your tent. Fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle.

Day 10 - Dawn & dusk safaris

Includes:

Rise at dawn to join your naturalist for a morning drive through the park, looking for wildlife. For many, the morning is the most exhilarating time, watching and listening as the park's inhabitants noisily greet the new day. Find a shady spot for a picnic breakfast, and head back to the campsite mid-morning. Spend a few hours relaxing in your tent before boarding your jeep again and heading even further into the park for a final dusk safari, returning for another campfire dinner and last night under canvas.

Click to discover more...

Uda Walawe National Park - 1 night

Uda Walawe was established in 1972 as a sanctuary for wildlife displaced by the construction of the Uda Walawe reservoir, and protects around 76,160 acres of stunning Sri Lankan countryside. Around 500 elephants call the park home, and it’s not unusual to see whole herds feeding, bathing or just simply playing in the water. The park is also home to water buffalo, water monitors, lizards, sambar deer, monkeys and the occasional leopard, and many beautiful species of bird. Settle in to your lodge or luxury camp just outside the park and the remainder of your day is at leisure to sit back and listen to the sounds of the wilderness.

Day 11 - Dawn safari, drive to Uda Walawe National Park

Includes:

Enjoy a final dawn safari through Kumana before departing in a westerly direction to Uda Walawe National Park, which is home to hundreds of elephants. Having settled into your lodge or luxury camp, the remainder of your day will be at leisure.

Click to discover more...

Galle - 2 nights

Galle’s striking fortifications form another of the country’s historic UNESCO sites, with signs of its time under Portuguese, French and British rule evident in Old Galle’s architecture and elaborate interiors. In contrast, New Galle, outside the walls, is like a miniature Delhi or Mumbai, with bustling markets tempting you to explore. Stroll around the ramparts, looking over the streets and cricket ground below, chat with the locals as you enjoy breathtaking views over the town and out to sea, and cycle to surrounding villages, passing shadowy mangroves along the way.

Day 12 - Dawn safari, drive to Galle via Elephant Transit Home

Includes:

Set out on an early morning safari drive through Uda Walawe, hoping to spot the animals as they wake and look for food. After breakfast, head for the south coast, stopping at the Uda Walawe Elephant Transit Home to learn about how orphaned elephants are cared for before being released back into their natural habitat. All efforts are made to minimize human contact with the elephants, but you’ll be able to watch them being fed and bathed. Continue to Galle, arriving mid-afternoon where the remainder of your day is at leisure to explore the town’s rich history, or find a cafe to sit in and watch the world go by.

Day 13 - Lagoon & Village cycling tour

Includes:

Saddle up at Unawatuna for a morning of cycling. Follow your local guide along side roads and gravel tracks, passing a lagoon, mangroves, paddy fields, temples and villages; witnessing the rhythms of daily local life as you explore the scenic landscape. After around 3 hours of leisurely cycling, return to base where your guide will meet you for the journey back to Galle to enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Day 14 - Depart Colombo

Includes:

Transfer to Colombo airport for your onward flight.

Click to discover more...

We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
First Class £2,447US$3,205 £2,236US$2,929 £2,159US$2,828

Lake Lodge

Tucked away in a quiet residential area in the heart of Colombo, Lake Lodge is a charming family-run guesthouse with a welcoming ambiance. Despite its central location... See more

OZO Kandy

If you’re looking for a convenient, central Kandy location, then the OZO Kandy certainly ticks that box: being close to the lakeside and within walking distance of the Temple of the Tooth. The design is more modern and sleek... See more

Living Heritage Koslanda

Living Heritage Koslanda is a very special, small property; more akin to a private Sri Lankan home, but with the service and attention to detail you would expect from a luxury hotel. Its location in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country... See more

Arugambay Roccos

Roccos is a chic, modern retreat on a gorgeous private beach, just a few minutes from the famous surf of Arugam Bay... See more

Mahoora Tented Safari Camps

Imagine experiencing Sri Lanka's wilderness from your very own safari camp. Expertly hosted and supervised by experienced rangers, eco-camping in Sri Lanka is one of those life adventures that move you.… See more

Kalus Hideaway Hotel

Uda Walawe is one of Sri Lanka’s most abundant national parks, and Kalu’s Hideaway is right outside it, less than a mile from the park’s famous Elephant Transit Home... See more

Deco on 44

As its name suggests, Deco on 44 is located in an outstanding Art Deco-style property that has been refurbished throughout to ensure your stay is as comfortable... See more
Superior £2,523US$3,305 £2,325US$3,046 £2,255US$2,953

Galle Face Hotel

One of Colombo’s Colonial masterpieces, the Galle Face Regency is unquestionably amongst the pick of city’s historical treasures. Built in 1864, the hotel is split into two wings... See more

Cinnamon Citadel

A lovely modern property with amazing views over the Mahaweli River as it winds through Kandy’s lush wooded outskirts, the Cinnamon Citadel Kandy is relaxed, comfortable and stylish... See more

Living Heritage Koslanda

Living Heritage Koslanda is a very special, small property; more akin to a private Sri Lankan home, but with the service and attention to detail you would expect from a luxury hotel. Its location in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country... See more

Hideaway

As befits its’ name, ‘Hideaway’ is tucked away in a three-acre, secret-garden-like setting of mature trees and tropical shrubs, set back from Arugam Bay’s main strip. Built in 1979 as a family home, this charming property opened its doors to welcome guests a decade later... See more

Mahoora Tented Safari Camps

Imagine experiencing Sri Lanka's wilderness from your very own safari camp. Expertly hosted and supervised by experienced rangers, eco-camping in Sri Lanka is one of those life adventures that move you.… See more

The Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort

The Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort offers good quality, convenient accommodation set in a beautiful...

See more

The Fort Printers

The utterly charming Fort Printers hotel was originally a school house, later a print house before being turned into its latest reincarnation: a boutique-style hotel... See more
Deluxe £3,340US$4,375 £3,142US$4,116 £3,070US$4,021

Residence by Uga

Undoubtedly one of the Sri Lankan capital's hidden gems, the Residence by Uga is everything a city centre hotel isn’t supposed to be: personal, relaxed and informal. The result is simply wonderful... See more

Stone House

Suave and sophisticated, the Stone House wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of an interior design magazine. Couple this with personalised service and attention to detail... See more

Living Heritage Koslanda

Living Heritage Koslanda is a very special, small property; more akin to a private Sri Lankan home, but with the service and attention to detail you would expect from a luxury hotel. Its location in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country... See more

Jetwing Surf

Scattered between tall palms on the sands of Pottuvil, Jetwing Surf’s eco-cabanas are welcoming spaces that bring contemporary architectural innovation to classic coastal comfort... See more

Mahoora Tented Safari Camps

Imagine experiencing Sri Lanka's wilderness from your very own safari camp. Expertly hosted and supervised by experienced rangers, eco-camping in Sri Lanka is one of those life adventures that move you.… See more

Taru Villas - Rampart Street

An elegant combination of colonial charm and modern amenities, The Taru Villas - Rampart Street also boasts an enviable location in Galle's Old Town... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • Spend a few days at the rural Mud House before arriving at the Cultural Triangle - it's the perfect way to de-stress after another year stuck to your desk!
  • Trekking enthusiasts wanting to get off-the-beaten-track should visit Ahaspokuna Bushwalks Camp: an upmarket tented camp in a remote forest location surrounded by nature.

  • At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
    Whilst many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

    The important stuff

    Please note: Sri Lankan hotel contracts are extremely seasonal in comparison to most of their Asian counterparts and therefore you should expect surcharges at various times of the year, not just festive periods. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

    Inclusive:

    • English speaking, local guide
    • All accommodation listed
    • Land transportation by private air-conditioned saloon car / minivan (for small group). Please ask for vehicle upgrade supplement if required.
    • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
    • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
    • All meals listed
    • International flight reconfirmation.

    Exclusive:

    • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
    • Entry visas
    • International airport departure taxes
    • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Drinks, other than water on activity days
    • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
    • Travel insurance
    • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

    Please note

    All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

     

    Extras

    Flights

    We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

    Visa

    You may require a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

    Passport

    Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

    Insurance

    You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

    Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

    You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

    Booking Procedure

    Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

    Travelling Responsibly

    We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

    Make it yours!

    Call us on 01273 670 001

    Get in touch

    Make it yours!

    Call us on 01273 670 001

    Get in touch

    Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

    This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

    Your own private guides

    You'll typically have your own private guides throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.

    Book With Confidence

    For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.