Discover ancient cave temples, tea plantations and idyllic beaches

Sri Lanka is jam-packed with ancient sites, fascinating cultures, beautiful wilderness and idyllic beaches and this eight-day Lonely Planet Experience will introduce you to the most memorable. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, climb Lion Rock at Sigiriya, and explore the monkey-filled mangrove forests of Unawatuna. We’ve sorted the nitty gritty so you can focus on soaking up Sri Lanka at your own pace, with plenty of optional activities and the guidance of your local leader to help you out when you’re not sure where to start. Are you an independent traveller who wants to explore Sri Lanka with like-minded people and a local? This is your trip.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination
Sri Lanka
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
HPRS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Check out the awe-inspiring Sigiriya (Lion Rock), a 200-metre-high ancient rock fortress that lies smack-bang in the middle of evergreen jungle.

  • Wander through the golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth in Kandy, which houses one of Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relics – a tooth of the Buddha.

  • Spend two whole days on the gorgeous beach of Unawatuna, where you can either get active in the surrounding jungle or chill with a cocktail while lying under a palm tree.

  • This tour has the option of a 4WD safari through a park known for its wild elephant population. Seeing these big beauties in the flesh is unforgettable.

  • With Lonely Planet Experiences you get local knowledge, decades of on-the-ground operational experience and the freedom and independence to explore at your own pace.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Though its equatorial position means fairly constant year-round temperatures, the summer months in Sri Lanka are very hot with short, sharp monsoons in the south-west of the country. Be sure to use adequate sun protection and drink plenty of water.

  • Beaches in Sri Lanka may be unpatrolled, so please seek local advice on where to swim safely.

Itinerary

Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your adventure begins in the town of Negombo, located close to the international airport. You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5.30 pm. Those arriving 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Negombo - Spirit of Negombo Urban Adventure - USD60
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Those who arrive with time to spare before the welcome meeting might consider joining a local Urban Adventure – Spirit of Negombo. For more info go to https://www.urbanadventures.com/destination/Colombo-tours.
After breakfast, leave Negombo and drive approximately 4.5 hours to Dambulla, arriving just after midday. In the afternoon you may like to relax at the hotel after check-in, or take an optional visit to a nearby wildlife reserve – a jeep safari excursion that takes you into elephant country. Which park is available to visit depends on the season, but both Minneriya and Kaudulla are within easy reach of Dambulla. Another option is the nearby Dambulla Caves with their magnificently decorated interiors.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Dambulla - Cave Temples - LKR1500
  • Minneriya - Jeep Safari - LKR6500
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Early this morning, before the heat is too intense, head to Sigiriya (approximately 30 minutes). 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 for breakfast before heading to Kandy (approximately 3 hours). On the way, there's the option of stopping at one of the region's wonderful spice gardens for lunch. 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.
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day to explore Kandy, a pleasant city surrounded by lush countryside. It’s home to a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants. It was once the capital under the last Sri Lankan king, and the area managed to resist European control for hundreds of years, long after the coastal areas surrendered. Perhaps walk through the town to take in the sights of Kandy – explore the citadel, or take a nature walk at Udawattakele Sanctuary, close to Kandy, which offers the chance to see flowers, birds and monkeys in 160 acres of tropical rainforest. There's also the chance to take a day trip to Nuwara Eliya along winding roads lined by green slopes of tea leaves. This old British hill station is the heart of the tea-growing industry and full of colonial charm.
Optional Activities
  • Kandy - Cultural performance - LKR1000
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens - LKR2000
  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home - LKR1400
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Journey south in a private vehicle to Unawatuna (approximately 6 hours). This fantastic stretch of beach has plenty of local restaurants and bars to relax in. There are no included activities today, so you'll have free time to explore Unawatuna and its surrounds. Perhaps take a walk through the monkey-filled mangrove forest off Galle–Matara road or unwind with an indulgent massage. 
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Sleep in, relax on the beach, work on your tan or grab a cocktail under the shade of a beachside restaurant. Feel like something a bit more active? Today is a good opportunity to pop into nearby Galle for some sightseeing. The city is a memorable collection of Dutch-colonial buildings with boutique shops and cafes to visit. Walk around the perimeter of the Galle fort and cool off with an icy ginger drink in a cafe, then mosey on back to the beach for some more chillaxing.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information


Leave Unawatuna behind and make the journey to Galle, where you'll jump on a train to Colombo (approximately 4 hours). On arrival in Sri Lanka's capital, why not head out on an optional city walk with your leader? 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 is free but your leader will suggest an optional group dinner.
Included Activities
  • Colombo - Market Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This Sri Lankan adventure comes to an end after breakfast.
Optional Activities
  • Colombo - Colombo by Tuk Tuk Urban Adventure - USD55
  • Colombo - Eat, Eat, Repeat Urban Adventure - USD55
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

7 breakfasts

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights)

Included activities

  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Colombo - Market Visit

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Simply Sri Lanka trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip and is valid for all nights on tour.

PASSPORT DETAILS: Full passport details are required for the train journey. Without them we cannot purchase train tickets. Please advise them at the time of booking.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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