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 scorching cuisine and incredibly kind people. This 14-day Premium adventure through Sri Lanka will take you straight to the heart of the country’s wealth of cultural riches. Explore the ancient ruins of past civilizations, search for rare and beautiful animals, relax on palm-fringed beaches and receive a welcoming embrace from the locals. A shining gem in the Indian ocean, the teardrop isle will bring nothing but smiles.


Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination
Sri Lanka
Style
Premium
Theme
Explorer
Code
HPPS
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.

  • Experience the country’s colonial past first-hand when you stay in a Georgian style mansion in the hills of Nuwara Eliya - your feature stay for this trip.

  • Discover the breadth of Sri Lanka’s diverse food scene during a cooking class in Galle, a tea plantation tour and a sophisticated high tea in Nuwara Eliya, and dinner at a local’s home in Negombo.

  • Search for crocodiles, elephants, monkeys and the ever-elusive leopards under the cover of darkness on an evening safari through the wild grasslands of Yala National Park.

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

  • Climb the narrow steps that wind around the cliff-carved rock fortress of Sigiriya, emerging triumphant at the world’s oldest landscaped gardens that sit 200 metres high.

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 involved 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.

  • Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, resulting in a huge increase in visitors to Yala National Park. Overtourism and lack of sustainable management practices are of major concern to Intrepid, so in order to reduce our impact on wildlife and the environment we are trialling visits in a less-touristed section of the park known as Block 5 or Veheragala. If we determine that Block 5 is also too crowded to visit responsibly, we will change our itinerary to visit Udawalawe National Park and Bundala National Park. Udawalawe is home to wild elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards. Bundala is home to crocodiles and birds.This is the same itinerary we follow from September to mid-October when Yala National Park is closed annually for infrastructure development and rejuvenation.

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 during a 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive early, perhaps take some time to relax on the golden-sand beach under a canopy of blue sky. After your welcome meeting, your leader will take you to the home of a Negombo local for a delicious home-cooked dinner. Sri Lankan food is famous for its rich scents, spices and flavours, and this evening you’ll find out why as you sample fresh seafood and local favourites like pol sambol (a tasty coconut dish) and roast paan (crispy roasted bread). Learn the secrets of Sri Lankan cuisine as your taste buds go on a journey.
Accommodation
  • Pledge Scape Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Negombo - Home-cooked welcome dinner
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
The arrival transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through us. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.
Rise early this morning for a visit to the Negombo fish market. Morning is the best time to visit the market – your leader will help you navigate the organised frenzy of vendors displaying delicacies like crab, lobsters, and squid. Say goodbye to Negombo and make the drive to Dambulla, where you'll spend the next three nights. Settle in to your hotel then in the late afternoon, head out for one of the highlights of any visit to Sri Lanka, a visit to the magnificent palace of Sigiriya (Lion Rock). This dramatic rocky outcrop, rising from the surrounding plains is topped by a ruined palace. It's a good workout to get to the top – your leader will share stories of the ancient civilisation who once lived atop the rock as you climb, and the sight at the top makes it well worth it. In the evening, return to Dambulla for a Sri Lankan style barbecue dinner. Tuck into a delicious array of fresh grilled fish, meat and vegetables, and watch a demonstration on how to make chilli and coconut sambol, so you can recreate the taste of Sri Lanka at home.
Accommodation
  • Amaya Lake Dambulla Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Negombo - Fish market
  • Dambulla - Local BBQ dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today's total driving time is approximately 5 hours.

The visit to Lion Rock takes around 3.5 hours in total. From the Lion's Paw there is a steep, 30-minute climb over often narrow walkways and steps to reach all of the points of interest at the site. Those who do not want to climb can wait at the Lion's Paw until the rest of the group return. You must climb in order to access sites like the water garden, boulder garden, frescoes and the mirror wall. Today’s total driving time is approximately 5 hours.
Today you will head to Anuradhapura, the northern point of Sri Lanka’s ‘cultural triangle’, which also contains Polonnaruwa to the east and Kandy to the south-west. This area is bursting with stunning temples and sites of cultural and religious importance. The city of Anuradhapura is one of the country’s most historically significant places and its first ancient capital. Take a step back in time as your leader guides you through the giant stupas of Ruwanweliseya and Jetawanaramaya, and ponder the rise and fall of ancient civilisations as you explore crumbling temples and ruins. Pay a visit to the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree Temple – home to a sacred bodhi tree planted in 236, believed to be the oldest human-planted tree in the world. Stop by the ancient temple of Isurumuniya and see its beautiful carvings that tell stories that are thousands of years old. Return to Dambulla for an evening at leisure.
Accommodation
  • Amaya Lake Dambulla Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple
  • Anuradhapura - World Heritage Site of ancient kingdom ruins
  • Anuradhapura - Isurumuniya Temple
  • Anuradhapura - Ruwanweliseya Stupa
  • Anuradhapura - Jetawanaramaya Stupa
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 3 hours.
After breakfast you will make your way to Polonnaruwa to continue your explorations of the cultural triangle. Following Anuradhapura as the Sinhalese and Chola capital in the 10th century, the area is strewn with ancient riches, in better condition than the ruins of its predecessor. Discover well-preserved temples, tombs and stupas in Polonnaruwa’s Quadrangle complex – it’s not hard to imagine what this place looked like in all its former glory. Visit the remains of the seven-story palace built by King Parakramabahu, the rock temple of Gal Vihara, the giant stupa of Rankot Vihara and the ancient Buddha image house of Lankatilaka, covered in intricate carvings and housing a towering statue of Buddha. Stop by the incredible statue of Parakrama I, at 100 metres tall this is a truly impressive sight. Later in the afternoon, head back for a final evening in Dambulla, where you may like to enjoy a refreshing drink by the lake.
Accommodation
  • Amaya Lake Dambulla Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Polonnaruwa - Site of ancient ruins
  • Polonnaruwa - Statue of Parakramabahu I
  • Polonnaruwa - Rankot Vihara
  • Polonnaruwa - Quadrangle
  • Polonnaruwa - Lankatilaka
  • Polonnaruwa - Gal Vihara
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 3 hours.
This morning you will take a short drive to the incredible Dambulla Cave Temple. Here you’ll discover five caves filled with around 150 beautiful statues and paintings of Buddha – some as many as 2000 years old. Explore the magical cave complex as your leader explains why this World Heritage-listed site has been a place of worship for thousands of years. In the afternoon, start your journey 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. Continue on to Kandy where you’ll have a free evening to explore. Though it’s the second-largest city in the country, Kandy maintains a laidback atmosphere. Perhaps take a peaceful stroll around the city’s centrepiece lake, or ask your leader where you can get your hands on a tasty Sri Lankan curry.
Accommodation
  • OZO Kandy or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Matale - Spice Garden
  • Dambulla - Cave Temples
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 2.5 hours.
This morning, meet with a local botanist and enjoy their expert insight as you take a guided tour of the Royal Botanical Garden. Your guide will help you spot Yellow Fronted Barbets, Layards Parakeets and Sri Lankan Hanging Parrots, and introduce you to an unbelievable array of orchids. You will also pay a visit to the gem museum and lapidary, where you can learn about the history of gem mining in Sri Lanka and see how gems are turned into beautiful pieces of jewellery. Today’s lunch is particularly special as you will dine at Hela Bojun, a social enterprise founded by the Sri Lankan government to empower, train and employ women from rural communities. In the afternoon you will be welcomed into the home of a local dancer where you’ll have the unique opportunity to watch an exclusive cultural performance in an intimate environment. This evening, visit the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic. Located in the heart of town, this is the most important shrine in the country, housing a relic of a tooth of Buddha taken from his funeral pyre. Arrive in time and you may have the chance to witness the pooja, a small ceremony of reverence involving drummers and dancers.
Accommodation
  • OZO Kandy or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth with pooja ceremony
  • Kandy - Private cultural dance performance
  • Kandy - Lunch at Hela Bojun
  • Kandy - Gem museum & lapidary workshop visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Depart Kandy and board a morning train bound for Nuwara Eliya. Nestled even deeper into tea plantation country, Nuwara Eliya sits at an elevation of 1800 metres, making it one of the coolest regions in Sri Lanka. Favoured by the Scots and English during the colonial-era, remnants of the past can be seen in sculpted gardens and manor homes decorating the city today. On arrival, visit the wonderful AMMA Textile Workshop. The workshop employs mothers from nearby communities, giving them a source of income and teaching transferable skills. Chat with the local women as you learn how their beautiful pieces are woven and dyed. After your visit, enjoy some time to explore the charming town before heading to your accommodation. Tucked away among tea plantations and scenic hills is the Jetwing St. Andrew’s Hotel, a restored Georgian-style mansion and your feature stay for the next two nights. A nod to the colonial history of the region, rooms are classically beautiful with all modern amenities included. At its core is the hotel’s sustainable practices which focus on conserving the land it sits on and giving back to nearby communities. This evening perhaps take the time to explore the hotel’s palatial gardens overlooking lush greenery, or settle in for a first-class dining experience at the excellent on-site restaurant.
Accommodation
  • Jetwing St. Andrew’s Hotel (feature stay) or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nuwara Eliya - AMMA textile workshop
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s train journey is approximately 3.5 hours.
Train tickets from Kandy to Haputale are in very high demand, especially over high season (December - April, and August).While we always try our best to secure tickets, on the rare occasion that we cannot you will be provided with a private vehicle.
Please note that our feature stay at Nuwara Eliya does not have air-condition in the room as it's not essential in the mountainous Nuwara Eliya where the temperature tends to be lower than other regions.
Make a morning visit to the Pedro Tea Estate. Built in 1885, this fascinating factory still features some original pieces of machinery. You’ll have a new appreciation for your humble morning brew after learning about the production process and discovering how the finest tea leaves are transformed into Ceylon black tea. If touring the factory inspires a thirst, you’ll have the chance to sample some of the final product yourself. Then head to the sky-scraping Single Tree temple and embark on a short 40-minute hike, taking in spectacular views of the surrounding hills and tea fields. After your hike, sit down for a well-deserved lunch at the prestigious Nuwara Eliya Golf Club – one of the oldest golf clubs in Asia. This afternoon, continue your journey into Nuwara Eliya’s colonial past and head to the Grand Hotel for a marvellous high tea experience. Converted from the former home of a British governor, the hotel now offers up an impressive selection of tea, paired with delightful finger food and confectionary.
Accommodation
  • Jetwing St. Andrew’s Hotel (feature stay) or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nuwara Eliya - Pedro Tea Estate visit
  • Nuwara Eliya - High Tea
  • Nuwara Eliya - Single Tree Hill hiking
  • Nuwara Eliya - Lunch at Nuwara Eliya Golf Club
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning, make your way to the sacred town of Kataragama. On the way there, make a stop at a beautiful small town in the highlands, Ella. Here, visit Ella Gap which offers beautiful vistas out across the plains. In the evening, head to Yala National Park, Sri Lanka's premier wildlife reserve. Here you’ll board a 4x4 and embark on a safari through open grasslands, lush forest and tranquil lagoons. Your guide will carefully listen out for the rustling of concealed animals that would go unnoticed by those not in the know. There's a good chance of spotting crocodiles, elephants, monkeys and buffaloes and if you are lucky, you may even spot a leopard – the park is considered one of the best places in the world to see these ever-elusive beauties. After an exciting day of wildlife spotting, retire to your resort for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Grand Tamarind Lake or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
  • Ella - Ella Gap view point
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 4 hours. From September to mid October the Wildlife Conservation Department of Sri Lanka close Yala National Park for the development of infrastructure as well as for plant and wildlife rejuvination. During this period, we instead go on a jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe is home to wild elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards.
Today you will enjoy another safari in Yala National Park. As Sri Lanka’s second largest national park, there’s so much to uncover here. Perhaps take the chance to do some birdwatching; Yala is home to some 215 bird species, including the Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Painted Stork and Crimson-fronted Barbet. Keep an eye out for prideful peacocks strutting their way through the park. If Yala is closed today, the group will visit the fantastic Bundala National Park instead. Enjoy an included dinner at your resort this evening.
Accommodation
  • Grand Tamarind Lake or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
From September to mid October the Wildlife Conservation Department of Sri Lanka close Yala National Park for the development of infrastructure as well as for plant and wildlife rejuvination. During this time our jeep safari today will be in Bundala National Park. Bundala National Park is home to elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, and wild boar.
Take an optional visit Kataragama Temple in the morning to see the shrine dedicated to Kataragama Deviyo (resident god). Later you will transfer to Galle, a beautiful seaside town near Sri Lanka's southernmost tip. Settle into your hotel, then follow your leader on a walking tour through what is considered to be the best-preserved colonial town in Sri Lanka. At its core is a Dutch-built fort surrounded on three sides by the ocean, and its streets hold a treasure trove of ancient mosques and churches, museums, boutiques and more. Uncover Galle’s glory as your leader shares tales from its past through to the present day.
Accommodation
  • The Heritage Hotel Galle Fort or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Galle - Galle Fort Walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 2.5 hours.
This morning you will be joined by a local host who will take you to the farmers market to learn about all the fresh ingredients that make up Sri Lanka’s flavoursome and fragrant recipes. After perusing the colourful market stalls, head back to your host’s Dutch style home and take part in a Sri Lankan cooking class. Get a behind the scenes look at Sri Lankan cuisine as you conjure up some Ambulthiyal fish curry, lentil dhal, eggplant curry and something sweet for dessert. The afternoon is yours to spend. There are some wonderful ways to pass the time here. Perhaps visit a cinnamon plantation just outside of Galle to learn about the process of making the spice. Birders may wish to explore the Hiyare Rainforest Reservoir on the outskirts of the city. As always, speak to your knowledgeable leader for information on how to book or access these optional activities.
Accommodation
  • The Heritage Hotel Galle Fort or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Galle - Farmer's market and home cooking class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Bid farewell to Galle and make your way to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s bustling capital city. On arrival, head to the charming courtyard restaurant in a former home of a family from Jaffna and enjoy a fantastic lunch comprising of dishes from northern Sri Lanka. In the afternoon, follow your leader through the buzzing streets of the Colombo Fort on a walking tour. Make a stop at the Pettah fruit and vegetable market where you’ll be fully immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Colombo as you watch vendors and shoppers go about their business. Visit the striking candy cane coloured Red Mosque and its soaring minarets that can be seen from across the city. Further explorations will reveal Dutch and British influenced architecture, a hangover from the city’s colonial past. This evening you may like to join your leader and fellow travellers for a final group dinner to see out your Sri Lankan adventure.
Accommodation
  • Jetwing Colombo Seven or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Colombo - City walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 2.5 hours.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you’d like to stay on in Colombo, we can help arrange additional accommodation for you on request. Why not soak up all that Colombo has to offer on an immersive one-day Urban Adventure tour? Visit www.urbanadventues.com for more details.


Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, Train

Accommodation

Hotels (11 nights), Nuwara Eliya features stay(2 nights)

Included activities

  • Negombo - Home-cooked welcome dinner
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Negombo - Fish market
  • Dambulla - Local BBQ dinner
  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple
  • Anuradhapura - World Heritage Site of ancient kingdom ruins
  • Anuradhapura - Isurumuniya Temple
  • Anuradhapura - Ruwanweliseya Stupa
  • Anuradhapura - Jetawanaramaya Stupa
  • Polonnaruwa - Site of ancient ruins
  • Polonnaruwa - Statue of Parakramabahu I
  • Polonnaruwa - Rankot Vihara
  • Polonnaruwa - Quadrangle
  • Polonnaruwa - Lankatilaka
  • Polonnaruwa - Gal Vihara
  • Matale - Spice Garden
  • Dambulla - Cave Temples
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth with pooja ceremony
  • Kandy - Private cultural dance performance
  • Kandy - Lunch at Hela Bojun
  • Kandy - Gem museum & lapidary workshop visit
  • Nuwara Eliya - AMMA textile workshop
  • Nuwara Eliya - Pedro Tea Estate visit
  • Nuwara Eliya - High Tea
  • Nuwara Eliya - Single Tree Hill hiking
  • Nuwara Eliya - Lunch at Nuwara Eliya Golf Club
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
  • Ella - Ella Gap view point
  • Galle - Galle Fort Walking tour
  • Galle - Farmer's market and home cooking class
  • Colombo - City walking 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

All travellers on Intrepid trips (outside Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands) are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. From 1 December 2021, all travellers on Intrepid trips, including in Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Read details here.

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, and with it has come a huge increase in visitors to Yala National Park. In order to reduce our impact on wildlife and the environment we are trialling visiting a less touristed section of Yala. Should we determine that tourist numbers here also make it difficult to visit responsibly, we will change our itinerary to visit Udawalawe National Park.
4. Yala National Park is closed in September and October for infrastructure development and rejuvenation. During these months we visit Udawalawe National Park.

Essential trip information

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