Sri Lanka: Beyond The Ordinary

Our Sri Lanka: Beyond the Ordinary holiday will take you off the well-travelled path to a lesser-known side of this multifaceted country. Experience Colombo’s food scene with the locals, get back to nature at the Mudhouse eco-retreat, search for wildlife in Wilpattu National Park and wander along unspoilt beaches on the remote Kalpitiya peninsula.

At a glance
  • Savour Sri Lanka’s fragrant spices on a culinary tour of Colombo
  • Relax in sustainable simplicity at the Mudhouse
  • Stray far off the tourist trail on Jaffna’s historic streets
  • Walk along the pristine sands of Chaddy beach to secluded sacred sites
  • Explore Jaffna's sparsely populated off-lying islands by catamaran.
  • Watch dolphins play offshore on the Kalpitiya Peninsula
  • Track leopards through Wilpattu National Park
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Colombo - 1 night

Sri Lanka’s modern capital, Colombo, combines colonial and contemporary architecture along its busy streets, from the English-style cricket green, to the grand Independence Hall, to sunset views from the Galle Face Hotel terrace. Your day is at leisure until late afternoon when you’ll embark on a taste-bud tingling culinary tour starting at the busy Galle Face Green seaside promenade. Try isso wade prawn fritters, achcharu pickles and fragrant tandoori chicken; tuk-tuk to The Old Dutch Hospital for some of Sri Lanka’s finest tea and delicious pol roti kottu; finish with traditional jaggery sweets, and return to your hotel with a full belly.

Day 1 - Arrive Colombo, foodie experience

Includes:

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.

Late afternoon head 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

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Anamaduwa - 2 nights

Turn off the main highway and pass through a scattering of regional towns and villages, where you’ll get a feel for Puttalam district’s wild, rural surroundings, where high grasses and wetland pools fill the landscape. The region is known for its curving coastline and shallow lagoons ideal for prawn farming and sea fishing. Once at Anamaduwa town, you can wander in dappled shade around the Paramakanda Vihara Buddhist temple, marvel at the 100 ft long ancient Thonigala rock inscriptions, and get away from it all with a stay at the pioneering Mudhouse eco retreat.

Day 2 - Drive to The Mudhouse, Anamaduwa

Includes:

Morning departure for Anamaduwa, passing through a number of regional towns & villages en route. Surrounded by the unspoilt Sri Lankan wilderness, the Mudhouse retreat leads the way in sustainable accommodation within the region. Upon arrival, you’ll be given a tour of this unique site, before being left to settle in to your very own traditional wattle and daub mudhouse chalet. Try a range of complimentary activities during your stay including nature walks, kayaking, bike riding, and learning to prepare traditional Sri Lankan dishes, or simply sit back, soaking up the undisturbed sights and sounds of the surroundings that will be yours to explore over the next couple of days.

Day 3 - Activities at The Mudhouse

Includes:

Your day can be as relaxing or active as you wish. Take a tuk-tuk to the Paramakanda temple, explore the countryside by bike, kayak on the lake, or simply relax and soak up the serenity.

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Jaffna - 4 nights

Jaffna, in the island’s northernmost region, is one of the oldest habitation sites in South Asia, with a settlement there for at least 4,000 years. The port’s proximity to India, and prominent position overlooking the waters between each country, has made it a tempting prize for a succession of colonial powers, which each left its cultural and architectural legacies behind. Recently reopened to travellers after years of civil conflict, there is a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the region’s future, and a positive buzz in the streets.

Day 4 - Drive to Jaffna

Includes:

Depart north for Jaffna, stopping at Vavuniya, which was on the front line during past hostilities, but is now a friendly, bustling gateway to the north. Continue through the old territory checkpoint at Omanthai, and stop at Killinochi, the Tamil Tigers’ de facto capital until the end of the war. Carry on to the striking Elephant Pass Causeway which connects the Jaffna peninsula to the Sri Lankan mainland across the beautiful Jaffna Lagoon, where you’ll see some of the waterway’s diverse bird population, and travel up the coast to Jaffna town, where the remainder of your day will be at leisure to settle in or begin exploring.

Day 5 - Explore Jaffna Fort & other significant sites

Includes:

Head out for a morning’s sightseeing, starting on the outskirts of Jaffna at the 10th century temple complex of Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil. This huge, significant site, with numerous shrines, a five-storey, ornately carved tower and a beautiful courtyard surrounded by unique red and white striped walls, attracts thousands of devotees every year, especially during the month-long Nallur Kovil festival. Continue to the atmospheric ruins of Jaffna Palace at Manthri Manai, then on to the ruins of the 17th century Jaffna Fort. Stop at Nilavarai’s natural ‘bottomless’ well, imbued with spiritual significance, before arriving at Point Pedro: the northernmost point on Sri Lanka. Enjoy an afternoon strolling around this bustling port town, peppered with pre-colonial Hindu temples, Portuguese catholic churches and some of Sri Lanka’s oldest schools.

Day 6 - Sail Lanka Cruise

Includes:

There are a number of small islands, rich in history and culture, that are dotted off the Jaffna peninsula in the Palk Strait that separates Sri Lanka from Southern India. Most visitors to the region typically only visit sites of interest on the mainland, however by joining a Sail Lanka cruise you will have the opportunity to explore these interesting off-lying islands. Over the course of the day you’ll sail to, and explore, Delft Island with its colonial ruins and Nainativu, an island of significance to both Buddhists and Hindus.

Day 7 - Villages & Islands

Includes:

Visit the small village of Kandarodai, also known as Kandurugoda. After exploring its fascinating archaeological finds - from Roman coins, to Buddhist relics, to 2000-year-old coral stone stupas - head across the narrow Pannai Bridge to a series of small, sparsely populated islands. There are no big tourist attractions here, just timeless Tamil and Dutch architecture, and intriguing religious buildings, including churches, mosques and temples; a testimony to the religions that have coexisted and clashed here over the centuries. Stop at Kayts village, once home to a large, bustling port, now a somewhat quieter place with remnants of colonial buildings, and stroll along the curved sandy shore of Chaddy beach, before crossing to the tiny island of Pungudutivu to see one of the region’s most colourful Hindu temples. Return to Jaffna where the remainder of your day will be at leisure.

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Kalpitiya - 4 nights

Kalpitiya is a relatively undeveloped peninsula off Sri Lanka’s north west coast. Large pods of dolphins, sperm whales, and even occasional blue whales, can be seen swimming just offshore from this idyllic and undeveloped corner of Sri Lanka. Go snorkelling, bird watching or kite-surfing, and relax on sandy beaches with a good book and the lapping waves for company. In the town itself, you can wander between an interesting mix of historical buildings and soak up the laid back vibe of this small fishing community. Once you've arrived at your chosen beach resort in Kalpitiya, your first couple of days are at leisure to begin exploring this beautiful region.

Day 8 - Drive to Kalpitiya

Includes:

Morning departure for Kalpitiya, where, having checked in to your hotel, the remainder of your day will be at leisure to relax.

Day 9 - A day of R&R

Includes:

Your day will be at leisure to kick back and relax on the beach.

Day 10 - Dolphin spotting

Includes:

Start out before sunrise for a morning of dolphin-spotting. The waters off the Kalpitiya Peninsula offer some of the best dolphin watching opportunities in Sri Lanka, especially between November and March when the seas are relatively calm. Board a traditional boat and head out into the open sea, where it’s not uncommon to see sizeable pods of Spinner Dolphins playing in the water, as well as bottlenose, risso and Indo-Pacific species. Savour the moment at each sighting, keeping your camera close at hand for those once-in-a-lifetime shots, and return to the mainland late morning for an afternoon at leisure.

Day 11 - Wilpattu National Park safari

Includes:

Head out into Wilpattu - the largest of Sri Lanka’s national parks - where you’ll be joined by a tracker for a wildlife-spotting jeep safari. Wilpattu covers a range of forest terrains that are home to a wide array of wildlife, including leopards, and a dense population of Sri Lankan sloth bears that exist only on the island. There are over 30 recorded species of mammal within the park’s boundaries, and you can expect to see Sri Lankan elephants and spotted deer as well as wetland bird species such as the Pin Tail, Whistling Teal Spoonbill, and White Ibis. After three hours soaking up the park’s natural magic, make the return journey to Kalpitiya.

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Kaleliya - 1 night

Surrounded by verdant coconut groves and rice fields, the unassuming village of Kaleliya is a world away from the international comings and goings of Colombo airport, just 15 miles south, or the ancient grandeur of Kandy, 30 miles east. Here, local life is simple and hardworking, linked to the land and the seasons, with a focus on hand-crafted items created from pottery and wood. Enjoy some serenity away from the modern rush with a night and day at the chic Casa Heliconia, relaxing with rejuvenating spa treatments amid the dense garden greenery, before transferring to Colombo for your onward flight.

Day 12 - Drive to Kaleliya

Includes:

After a leisurely morning, depart for Kaleliya and check in to the Casa Heliconia Hotel. The remainder of your day will be at leisure.

Day 13 - Depart Colombo

Includes:

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 £1,769US$2,317 £1,462US$1,915 £1,353US$1,772

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

The Mudhouse

No electricity, outdoor showers, walls made of mud (literally), in the back of beyond, no air-con and miles away from civilisation as we know it…and we love it See more

The Valampuri

Conveniently located next to Jaffna Railway Station and within walking distance of town, The Valampuri offers contemporary style accommodation complemented by northern Sri Lankan hospitality... See more

Palagama Beach Resort

Set right alongside one of western Sri Lanka’s loveliest and most interesting beaches, the Palagama is a thoughtful, intimate resort, with just a handful of private cabanas and villas... See more

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
Superior £2,206US$2,890 £1,899US$2,488 £1,803US$2,361

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

The Mudhouse

No electricity, outdoor showers, walls made of mud (literally), in the back of beyond, no air-con and miles away from civilisation as we know it…and we love it See more

Jetwing Jaffna

The location of Jetwing Jaffna couldn’t be more convenient: close to the train station and within walking distance of many of Jaffna’s must-visit sites including the 17th Century Fort; the bustling market... See more

Bar Reef Resort

Backing onto an idyllic beach on the Kalpitiya peninsula, the Bar Reef Resort serves up a no-frills experience which is perfect for a bit of uncomplicated r&r… See more

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

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

  • If you have a keen interest in Sri Lankan history, and can spare a couple of additional days, you may wish to spend some time in the Cultural Triangle and visit the ancient ruins at Polonnaruwa or the abandoned monastery at Ritigala.
  • 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 destination specialist will be happy to advise.
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

Steve – Sri Lanka tailor-made specialist

'A great option for those wanting to see another side of this fascinating country. Go now, before the crowds arrive!'

SteveSri Lanka tailor-made specialist

Speak to Steve on 01273 670 001

Nick - Selective Asia consultant

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.