Map of Premium Sri Lanka  including Sri Lanka

Discover Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Encounter a country that radiates warmth – from its glorious sunshine to its spice-laden cuisine and incredibly kind people. This 9-day Premium adventure through Sri Lanka will introduce you to the country’s wealth of cultural riches. Explore the ancient ruins of past civilisations, spot rare and beautiful creatures in their natural habitats, relax among swathes of green tea fields at a hilltop retreat and receive a warm welcome from the locals. A shining gem in the Indian ocean, the teardrop isle will bring you nothing but smiles.


Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination
Sri Lanka
Style
Premium
Theme
Explorer
Code
HPPC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

premium accommodation

Our best accommodation and highest level of service.

premium experiences

Unusual, exceptional and authentic on-trip experiences.

premium knowledge

Led by our most experienced and highest rated local leaders.

  • Learn about the country’s past during your Feature Stay at the gorgeous Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya – established in 1891, this colonial-era hotel has a modern outlook on sustainable practices.

  • Discover the beauty and mastery of Sri Lanka’s craft traditions and try them for yourself – from brass making and pottery to woodwork and ancient palm leaf writing.

  • Get an exclusive and immersive look at rural life in Ambagasthenna, where you’ll walk through tea plantations and paddy fields and learn about sustainable farming with a local guide.

  • Spot elephants, monkeys and tropical birds on a safari through the wild grasslands of Minneriya National Park.

  • Uncover ancient treasures in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle as you explore the temples, ruins and stupas of Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Kandy with the expert guidance of your local leader.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The Rock Fortress – or Lion Rock – of Sigiriya is spectacular. However, those with a fear of (or even an aversion to) heights may wish to sit the excursion out. Scaling the rock involves walking up lots of rough, narrow steps and tight walkways.

  • There are a couple of long travel days on this trip. Journeys may take up to five hours but are a great opportunity to get to know locals, fellow travellers and the diverse scenery.

Itinerary

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, you will be met by an Intrepid representative and transferred to your hotel in nearby Negombo. Here you will meet your leader and fellow travellers at a 6 pm welcome meeting. If you arrive early, perhaps take some time to relax on the town’s golden-sand beach under a canopy of blue sky.

After your welcome meeting, you’ll get to know your group and leader a little better over a round of complementary cocktails and a welcome dinner of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine – prepare for rich scents, bold spicing and tongue-tingling flavours.
Accommodation
  • Regal Reseau Hotel & Spa or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Negombo - Welcome Dinner
Meals Included
  • Dinner
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. Please provide flights details at least 14 days in advance so we can arrange your airport collection.
This morning travel inland, driving northeast towards Habarana. On the way, stop at the Ridi Vihara shrine, a Buddhist cave temple dating back to the second century BC. There are thought to have been almost 500 monks living in these hillside caves at its peak. Watch locals demonstrate ancient traditions and craft techniques, such as palm leaf writing and wood and stone carving, and explore the caves filled with Buddha statues and floral offerings.

Share lunch at a local restaurant before travelling to Habarana, your home for the next three nights. Once settled at your hotel, head out to visit the magnificent Sigiriya (Lion Rock). This dramatic rocky outcrop rising from the surrounding plains is topped by a ruined palace. Your leader will share stories of the ancient civilisation that once lived here as you climb; it's a steep hike but the far-reaching views from the top are worth it.
Accommodation
  • Cinnamon Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ridigama - Ridi Viharaya shrine visit and cultural experience
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock Fortress Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today's drive time is 4.5 hours
Set off at around 7.30 am in your private vehicle to reach the ruins of Ritigala Monastery in the foothills of Ritigala Mountain. Explore the shaded complex – which includes stone baths once filled with medicinal herbs and oils from the surrounding forest – before receiving a blessing from local Buddhist monks. Next, make your way to the village of Muriya Kadawala, where you’ll learn about traditional Sri Lankan pottery techniques and try your hand at the craft yourself. You’ll also sample a local herbal drink accompanied by a piece of halapa, a sweet treat wrapped in kenda leaves. Drive back to Habarana to debrief over a traditional lunch served on a rattan mat and eaten the local way – with your hands. You’re free to spend the rest of the day as you wish. If time permits, hire a hotel bicycle to explore the village, or visit Hurulu Eco Park.
Accommodation
  • Cinnamon Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ritigala - Monastery Tour and Blessing
  • Muriya Kadawala Village - Pottery Making Experience
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today's drive time is 3 hours
After breakfast, make your way to Polonnaruwa to continue your explorations of the cultural triangle. Hop on a bicycle to discover well-preserved temples, tombs and stupas in Polonnaruwa’s ancient Quadrangle complex – it’s not hard to imagine what this place looked like in all its former glory. Visit the remains of a seven-story royal palace, the rock temple of Gal Vihara and the statue of 12th century king Parakrama I - at 100 metres tall this is a truly impressive sight.

For lunch you’ll visit a local grandmother’s house, who will show you how to make dhal curry and pol sambol from scratch – you'll even shred coconut yourself using a traditional scraper tool. This afternoon, head to Minneriya National Park to see Sri Lankan elephants in the wild. You're likely to spot plenty of these gentle giants around the watering hole, plus macaques, spot-billed pelicans and more.
Accommodation
  • Cinnamon Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Minneriya National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Polonnaruwa - Bicycle Tour
  • Polonnaruwa - Cooking demo and lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today's drive time is 4 hours
Today you’ll travel to Kandy. Along the way, stop off in the city of Matale where you will visit a local spice garden and learn about the spices that have played such an important role in Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage. Upon arrival in Kandy, take a guided tour of the city, stopping to admire highlights such as the Hindu Pillaiyar Kovil temple and the Buddhist Sri Dalada Maligawa, otherwise known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (the important shrine houses a relic of Buddha’s tooth, taken from his funeral pyre). Despite being Sri Lanka’s second largest city, Kandy is remarkably laid back. Spend your free evening searching for a taste bud-tingling curry, wandering around the glittering lake or enjoying an optional cultural dance performance.
Accommodation
  • Mahaweli Reach Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kandy - City Tour with Pillaiyar Kovil and the Temple of the Tooth
  • Matale - Spice Garden visit
Optional Activities
  • Kandy - Cultural Dance Show - LKR1000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's drive time is 2.5 hours
After an early breakfast, drive to the suburb of Pilimatalawa, known for its traditional brassware, and visit a local artisan to learn about the brass making process. Next head to Ambagasthenna village, where hotel and tea plantation owner Mr Thilina will guide you around his neighbourhood. You’ll visit the tea plantation, learn about the cultivation process, and try a cup or two served the Sri Lankan way. He’ll share inside knowledge about local crops, sustainable farming and ancient landscaping traditions. For lunch, feast on a delicious home-cooked meal made by Mr Thilina’s mother. Later, walk through paddy fields, swing by local temples and pause to rest at an ancient ambalama – a shelter and resting place for pilgrims and travellers. After such a culture-packed day, there’s only one way to end it: by cracking open a beer and watching the sunset from one of the best viewpoints in Sri Lanka.
Accommodation
  • Mahaweli Reach or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ambagasthenna - Tea Plantation and Sustainable Farm Tour
  • Pilimatalawa - Brass Workshop
  • Ambagasthenna - Village and Temple Tour
  • Ambagasthenna - Sunset Viewing with Drinks
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Depart Kandy and board a morning train bound for Nuwara Eliya. Nestled deep in tea plantation country, Nuwara Eliya sits at an elevation of 1800 metres, giving it some of the coolest temperatures in Sri Lanka. Remnants of the region’s colonial past can be seen in the sculpted gardens and manor homes dotting the landscape today. Check in to the Grand Hotel, a gorgeous National Heritage Property and your Feature Stay for the nights. Rooms feature classic décor and modern amenities, but the hotel’s real charm is its sustainable approach – the owners have eliminated single-use plastic and are striving for a zero-waste future. Later, you’ll take an orientation walk of Nuwara Eliya, wandering the peaceful shores of Gregory Lake and touring Pedro Tea Estate before returning to the hotel for high tea featuring pots of Ceylon black, green or spiced tea, plus finger sandwiches and sweet treats.
Accommodation
  • Grand Hotel (feature stay) or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nuwara Eliya - High Tea
  • Nanu Oya - Scenic Train Ride
  • Nuwara Eliya - Orientation Tour
  • Nuwara Eliya - Pedro Tea Factory Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to the green hills of Nuwara Eliya and make the journey by private vehicle to Sri Lanka’s coastal capital, Colombo. Stop in the outdoor adventure hub of Kithulgala and opt to eat lunch at a riverside rest house. Those who want to really blow away the cobwebs after a morning on the road can opt to go ziplining.

Continue to Colombo and take an orientation walk with your leader, who’ll show you Sri Lanka’s colonnaded old parliament building, the National Museum and the best spots for fairtrade souvenir shopping. Tonight, share a final farewell dinner with your group at Ceylon Curry Club, a modern restaurant focused on creating dishes that celebrate Sri Lankan spices, such as peanut-crusted tuna with gotu-kola (pennywort) sambol and fragrant vegetable curry.
Accommodation
  • The Kingsbury Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Colombo - Farewell Dinner
  • Colombo - Orientation Tour
Optional Activities
  • Kithulgala - Zip Line - USD15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today's drive time is 5 hours
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you’d like to stay on in Colombo, let us know in advance and we can help to arrange additional accommodation (subject to availability). Why not soak up all that Colombo has to offer on an immersive one-day Urban Adventures tour? Visit www.urbanadventures.com for more details.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

8 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, scenic train

Accommodation

Hotels (7 nights), Feature Stay (1 nights)

Included activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Negombo - Welcome Dinner
  • Ridigama - Ridi Viharaya shrine visit and cultural experience
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock Fortress Visit
  • Ritigala - Monastery Tour and Blessing
  • Muriya Kadawala Village - Pottery Making Experience
  • Minneriya National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Polonnaruwa - Bicycle Tour
  • Polonnaruwa - Cooking demo and lunch
  • Kandy - City Tour with Pillaiyar Kovil and the Temple of the Tooth
  • Matale - Spice Garden visit
  • Ambagasthenna - Tea Plantation and Sustainable Farm Tour
  • Pilimatalawa - Brass Workshop
  • Ambagasthenna - Village and Temple Tour
  • Ambagasthenna - Sunset Viewing with Drinks
  • Nuwara Eliya - High Tea
  • Nanu Oya - Scenic Train Ride
  • Nuwara Eliya - Orientation Tour
  • Nuwara Eliya - Pedro Tea Factory Visit
  • Colombo - Farewell Dinner
  • Colombo - Orientation Tour

Premium Inclusions

  • Arrival airport transfer
  • Tipping for accommodation, activities and transport
  • Luggage transfer
  • Daily breakfast and signature local meal experiences
  • 24/7 on-ground support

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Premium 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

Travellers on Intrepid trips that start on or before 31 December 2022 are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy.

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
3. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) 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. Travel is always an adventure and, as destinations reopen, there are a few challenges as everyone gets back up to speed and adjusts to the new normal. Our leaders are experts when it comes to dealing with anything unexpected along the journey, so pack your understanding and flexibility, sit back and relax while they take care of the rest.

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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