On this superb 10 day tour of Sri Lanka, formally known as Ceylon, you will see so many of the country's historic and natural highlights as well as having time to relax. Beginning in the capital city Colombo you travel to Sigiriya, where you find the stunning Lion Rock fortress, visit colourful Kandy, with its beautiful royal botanical gardens and famous Temple of the Tooth. Add to this a few days chilling out at a fabulous beach resort at Trincomalee and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable stay in one of the world's great tourist destinations.
Welcome to Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean. On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be met by your chauffeur guide and driven into the city. Relax at your hotel after the journey then enjoy an afternoon city tour. Colombo, the trade and commercial capital, has long been the traditional gateway to the Orient. Sri Lanka’s largest city is located on the west coast and draws together all the cultures, religions and influences of foreign lands into a pot-pourri of sounds, smells and a kaleidoscope of colour. Overnight at Cinnamon Red.
Today after breakfast you will be driven the three and a half hours to Kandy, the country's hill capital. Then in the afternoon take a city tour of Kandy and watch a cultural dance show. Kandy, stronghold of the Sinhala Kings, is Sri Lanka's most beautiful town and the focal point is the golden roofed Dalada Maligawa. Today you will also visit the lovely Dumbara valley to see the many shrines and temples, with there rare paintings, frescoes, wood and stone carvings. Overnight Thilanka Hotel, Kandy.
After a leisurely breakfast visit the Royal Botanical Gardens which are four miles southwest of the town centre at Peradeniya close to the banks of the Mahaweli Ganga. These gorgeous gardens were planted and laid out for king Kirthi Sri Rajasingha (1747-1780) and cover around 150 acres of trees lawns and flowering shrubs. Under British rule, the royal park became a botanical garden in 1821 and is the largest in Sri Lanka. Later visit the famous Temple of the Tooth - probably the crown jewel of your experience in Kandy.
Kandy to Habarana
Today you say farewell to Kandy and head for Habarana, stopping on the way at the Matale Spice Gardens and the Dambulla Cave Temples. At the spice gardens you can indulge your senses and dabble in homeopathy remedies of the East. Then at Dambulla – located in the north central province, visit this Unesco World Heritage Site which dates back to the 1st century BC and is an amazing complex of five caves full of magnificent carved images within the living rock. Then travel on to Habarana and check into your hotel.
Begin the day by exploring Polonnaruwa, the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. This is the most ancient of the country's kingdoms and has old irrigation systems that are still used today. The Parakrama Samudra (Sea of Parakrama) is a tank so vast that it is often mistaken for an ocean. It circles the main city like a ribbon, acting as a defensive border and lifeline of the people in times of peace. In the afternoon take a safari around Minneriya National Park to see herds of elephants who come to bathe and the flocks of exotic birds.
Sigiriya and Trincomalee
One of the highlights of the tour today when you are taken to Sigiriya, one of the seven world heritage sites on the island. Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress and ruins of a castle, once the home to King Kasyapa. A testiment to ancient artistry and architectural ingenuity, it has many attractions including its gardens, world renown frescos, mirror wall and the dramatic history linked to the construction. An original Lost City, Sigiriya is a must see in the Cultural Triangle. After your visit drive on for a couple of hours to Trincomalee.
The first of two days relaxing at your seaside resort Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Trincomalee sits on one of the world's finest natural harbours and the historic city is old almost beyond reckoning. The beaches here are the big attraction but there is plenty to see and do in town if you tire of soaking up the tropical sunshine. It's easy to spend a day or more exploring the ins and outs of the myriad waterfronts and the fort with its amazing temple. Lots to see and do here and a good place to try some local cuisine.
Another day in paradise! At your resort hotel, the Trinco Blu by Cinnamon you are in the heart of the deep blue of Sri Lanka's east coast with retro interiors and plush comforts to make you feel at home. If you love the sea this is the place for you, as there are a whole host of marine activities on offer including whale watching, snorkelling and diving. This is the perfect place to relax, chill out and top up your tan after your tour and if you can tear yourself away from the beach or hotel pool there are lots of fun things to do in the area.
Trincomalee to Katunayake
Possibly time for a last swim in the ocean after breakfast this morning or some more sightseeing and shopping before saying goodbye to Trincomalee and driving the five and a half hours to Katunayake, where you spend your final night of the tour staying at the Taj Airport Garden hotel. This hotel is perfectly placed for your transfer tomorrow to Bandaranaike International Airport and tonight you can eat in or go out and explore the suburbs of Negombo city, which is in the western province of Sri Lanka.
End of tour
Your wonderful 10 day tour of Sri Lanka comes to an end today when you are picked up from your hotel and driven the short distance to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey back home. This tour is a great way to see most of the stunning highlights of this lovely country, like the town of Kandy, the rock fortress of Sigiriya and the caves and spice gardens at Dambulla while allowing time to relax at a beach resort along the way. Sri Lanka is one of the world's most fascinating tourist destinations and this trip will leave you with lots of great memories.