East Coast Sri Lanka

Our East Coast Sri Lanka holiday is perfect for those travelling during the UK summer, taking advantage of the wonderfully deserted eastern beaches. Explore the Cultural Triangle and Minneriya National Park, lay back on lesser visited east coast sands, travel by train through picturesque Tea Country and wander in Colombo’s historic streets.

At a glance
  • Explore extraordinary ancient temples in the Cultural Triangle
  • Search for elephants in Minneriya National Park
  • Learn to cook Sri Lankan style by preparing snacks with the locals
  • Discover the tranquility of Sri Lanka’s eastern beaches
  • Stand with pilgrims to catch a glimpse of the Temple of the Tooth Relic
  • Tuk-tuk between traditional flavours on a streetfood tour of Colombo
Price & Hotels

Kotugoda / Kaleliya - 1 night

Begin your Sri Lankan adventure with a night in the country's rural landscape at a choice of boutique properties which are both conveniently located within 45 minutes drive of Colombo airport. Enjoy a night at the Wallawwa or Notary’s House: soak up the serenity in the secluded gardens, refresh with a dip in the pool or treat yourself to a relaxing massage.

Day 1 - Arrive Colombo, drive to Kotugoda or Kaleliya

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

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.

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Cultural Triangle - 2 nights

Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle stretches from Anuradhapura at its northern point, to Polonnaruwa in the east and Kandy in the south. The region covers approximately one thousand square miles, incorporating five of the country’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, with the Sigiriya rock fortress and the cave temple of Dambulla at its heart. Explore scores of temples, ruins and dagobas scattered throughout the region, and roam through the Minneriya National Park, which hosts the largest annual gathering of Asian elephants in the world, finding wonder in a new wilderness.

Day 2 - Drive to the Cultural Triangle, Minneriya National Park safari


Morning departure for the Cultural Triangle region. Late afternoon take a safari through the stunning Minneriya National Park, famous for its 200-strong elephant population, keeping your eyes peeled for some of the park’s 24 species of mammal, including sambar, spotted deer, those elusive leopards, sloth bears and toque monkey as well as water monitors, swamp crocodiles and over 160 species of bird.

Day 3 - Sigiriya Rock, Rural Experience


After breakfast visit the rock fortress of Sigiriya – one of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. This immense rock dominates the surrounding landscape, rising 650 feet above the ground, and the view from the flattened summit is spectacular. Those without a head for heights can stroll around the ramparts and pleasure gardens, or take in the famous Sigiriya frescoes found partway up the rock, as your guide tells you some of the legends surrounding the site. In the late morning you will have the chance to experience traditional, rural life, away from the ruins and try your hand at preparing Sri Lankan food. In a small village close to Sigiriya you will be welcomed into the modest, mud-walled home of one of the families, where you will assist your host in the preparation of a typical Sri Lankan lunch, using authentic cooking methods and traditional clay pots. After eating return to your hotel for a relaxing afternoon.

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East Coast Beach - 4 nights

Sri Lanka's relatively undeveloped east coast is a tropical beach haven, especially between April and September, with Passekudah the top pick of the bunch. The reef-protected bay allows for excellent swimming compared to the wilder waters of the south, and you can explore the surrounding area by bike, visiting local fishing villages and colourful markets as yet unseen by most visitors. Arugam Bay is a blissful beach further down the coast where surfing takes centre stage during high season, and there are opportunities to explore Kumana National Park, the nearby temples, and embark on lagoon safaris through the mangroves.

Day 4 - Polonnaruwa, drive to Passekudah


Head east towards the UNESCO listed, ancient capital of Polonnaruwa, built over a thousand years ago alongside carefully-engineered reservoirs that provide the region's water to this day. As you stroll around the ruins, you’ll get a feel for what Polonnaruwa was like during its heyday as a thriving commercial and religious centre, stopping to see the statue of the great Sinhalese King Parakramabahu, who built the reservoirs. Wander through the fascinating area known as the Quadrangle, and pause at the feet of the impressive Gal Vihara – four separate Buddha images perfectly sculpted into one large piece of granite. Leave atmospheric Polonnaruwa behind to head east to your beach resort, arriving mid-afternoon where the remainder of your day will be at leisure.

Day 5 - Relax on the beach


Enjoy a day at leisure, soaking up the sunshine, feet in the sand.

Day 6 - Batticaloa cycle tour, cooking class & fishing lesson


Make an early start and head south along the coast to Batticaloa. Known locally as ‘Batti’, this picturesque town on a narrow peninsula has a varied and turbulent history, but now exudes a very relaxed vibe. Explore by bike, focusing on the local food scene; visit a bustling morning market; and cycle to a local family home to learn a few secrets of Sri Lankan cuisine as you prepare traditional curries to enjoy together for lunch. Relax and chat with your host family, learning about their way of life, before getting back on your bike and heading to Batticaloa Lagoon - the largest lagoon in the region - to see the mangrove swamps and seagrass beds brimming with water birds and fish. Stop at Batticaloa Lighthouse, where the lagoon meets the Indian Ocean, then meet with a group of local fishermen for a hands-on taster of the traditional fishing methods passed down through the generations.

Day 7 - A day of R&R


Another day at leisure to relax on the beach and make the most of the hotel's facilities.

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Kandy - 2 nights

Sri Lanka's UNESCO-listed former capital, Kandy is best known for its Temple of the Tooth Relic, and as host to Sri Lanka’s most important festival: the Esala Perahera. This festival takes place for ten days during July or August, Filling Kandy’s streets with music, dancing, fire breathing, juggling and other celebrations on the anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment. It's a city rich in culture and natural beauty, with a steep, green valley surrounding it in all directions, making your first descent into its streets a pretty special moment.

Day 8 - Drive to Kandy, via Dambulla Caves


Set off early for the sacred city of Kandy, stopping en route at the 1st century BC Dambulla Rock Cave Temple. Legend tells that during an invasion from South India, the Sinhalese king took refuge in these caves and, through meditation, gained the strength to drive away invaders. Having declared the caves as a sacred area, he built the first temple, with others added by later rulers. Wonder at the spiritually significant caves - an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world - and carry on to Kandy in the afternoon.

Day 9 - City tour, Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, Temple of Tooth Relic


With your guide by your side, explore Kandy at your pace. Get an insight into local life at Kandy’s lively morning market, then perhaps retreat to the tranquillity of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, which house the largest variety of orchids found in Sri Lanka. Escape the heat in a tea shop along the main street, then maybe take a leisurely stroll around Kandy Lake, or a brisk walk through the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary ‘forbidden forest’. One must-see highlight is the Temple of the Tooth Relic, where Buddhists believe they have enshrined a tooth of the Lord Buddha in a golden casket; visit in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. At sunset, we suggest heading to the 88-foot tall Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue that looms protectively over the city, for unbeatable panoramic views.

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Tea Country - 2 nights

Sri Lanka’s southern heart holds an impressive range of hills known as Tea Country. Climbing into the low clouds, you’ll pass through mile after mile of some of the world's finest tea, and see it harvested by expert pickers whose bright saris stand out among the green fields. There are numerous waterfalls and deep, picturesque valleys dotted throughout the region, including the Ramboda falls - some of the highest in the country, -that drop a roaring 350 feet into a pool below. Marvel at the scenery by train, explore Adam’s Peak and sip a few cups of the region’s finest tea.

Day 10 - Tea Country train to Nuwara Eliya, Tea Factory visit


Depart from Kandy station for a scenic train ride through tea country. From the comfort of your carriage, you’ll see mile after mile of tea fields rush past, dotted with waterfalls and valleys. Nuwara Eliya town, in the cooling shade of Pidurutalagala (the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka) contains some intriguing remnants of colonial rule, including a village post office, an English-style church and the ‘St Andrew’s’ golf club, as well as the famous race course. Tour the town and a nearby tea factory with your guide, learning about the history and modern-day production methods of this region's most valuable crop.

Day 11 - Relax & explore


Your day is at leisure to relax in the cool shade, drinking as much of the region’s world-class tea as you can!

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Colombo - 1 night

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 grand Independence Hall, to sunset views from the Galle Face Hotel terrace. Tour around this multi-cultural town’s many eateries and cafes sampling a vibrant 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 12 - Drive to Colombo, foodie experience


Drive to Colombo, arriving mid-afternoon. There will be time to freshen up before heading out with 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

Day 13 - Depart Colombo


Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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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 £1,870US$2,449 £1,658US$2,172 £1,591US$2,084

Casa Heliconia

Casa Heliconia’s self-styled ‘jungle glam’ offers the best of both worlds: idyllic rural surroundings with convenient access to the area’s top attractions… See more

Hotel Sigiriya

As you’re handed your welcome drink on the terrace of the Sigiriya Hotel, glance skywards and you'll know what your visit is all about…what a view. 

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Laya Waves

Set on pristine Kalkudah Beach on Sri Lanka’s east coast, Laya Waves really does have an enviable location.... See more

Radisson Hotel 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

The Tea Factory

Deep in Sri Lanka's lush tea country, the spectacular Heritance Tea Factory is a converted - well, tea factory, perched atop a Kandy hillside since the 1930s. Nestled in lush organic tea plantations... See more

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
Superior £2,350US$3,078 £2,161US$2,831 £2,094US$2,743

The Wallawwa

Opened in 2008, The Wallawwa is just 15 minutes by car from Colombo’s Bandaranaike Airport, making it the ideal stopover for your first or last night in Sri Lanka. In truth, however, you’d be happy to stay a week... See more

Aliya Resort & Spa

With its astonishing view of Sigiriya Rock, this contemporary hotel is superbly placed for exploring what is known as Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle... See more

Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa

Maalu Maalu is a boutique eco-friendly resort on Sri Lanka’s east coast, its intimate cluster of luxurious wooden villas inspired by a traditional fishing village... See more

Villa Rosa

Drive just five minutes from the centre of Kandy, winding up one of the city’s typically steep roads, and you’ll soon arrive at the gates of Villa Rosa... See more

Stafford Bungalow

Initially built by Scottish planters back in 1884 and set on a 50-acre working tea plantation you don’t get much more authentic... See more

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
Deluxe £2,587US$3,389 £2,399US$3,143 £2,331US$3,054

The Wallawwa

Opened in 2008, The Wallawwa is just 15 minutes by car from Colombo’s Bandaranaike Airport, making it the ideal stopover for your first or last night in Sri Lanka. In truth, however, you’d be happy to stay a week... See more

Water Garden Sigiriya

Offering fantastic panoramic views of the mighty Sigiriya Rock, the Water Garden Sigiriya is located just 6km from the historic site and is conveniently close to the Cultural Triangle cities of Dambulla, Anuradhapura...

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Karpaha Sands

Sheltered by tall palms swaying over a pristine private beach, Karpaha Sands blends the immediacy of tented camp accommodation with premium hotel luxury… 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

Stafford Bungalow

Initially built by Scottish planters back in 1884 and set on a 50-acre working tea plantation you don’t get much more authentic... See more

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

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

  • Depending on the month of travel, you may wish to switch for an alternative beach resort to make the most of Sri Lanka's year round sunshine - your consultant will be happy to advise.
  • You can extend your stay in Tea Country with a few days at an original tea estate, set high in the hills and well away from the trail.
  • 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!
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.


  • 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.


  • 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.




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.


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


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.


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

Ed – Sri Lanka tailor-made specialist

'During the UK summer months, discover the golden sands and clear, shallow waters of Sri Lanka's East Coast beaches, when the weather is at its best on this side of the island.'

EdSri Lanka tailor-made specialist

Speak to Ed on 01273 670 001

Proud to be supporting the Leopard Guardian Project at Yala National Park - read more

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.