Serendipitous Sri Lanka
FREE Singapore stopover+
Boasting no fewer than eight World Heritage sites, and listed as one of the top 10 biodiversity hotspots of the world, Sri Lanka is a place of sheer delight and unexpected discoveries. Join Sri Lankan native Richard Mendis as he reveals all the magic of this enchanting teardrop-shaped island, from the dazzling Indian Ocean coastline to the undulating tea plantations and verdant highlands. Wander among the ruins of the vast ancient cities of former Sinhalese kingdoms, marvel at ancient and modern architecture, and relish the intoxicating scents from fragrant spice gardens. It’s no wonder that Sri Lanka is called ‘the wonder of Asia’.
Suggested departure on Qantas to Singapore with overnight at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport hotel.
Depart Singapore mid-morning on Sri Lankan Airlines arriving in Colombo around 11am local time. Transfer to the hotel and enjoy some time at leisure before a brief city orientation tour in the mid-afternoon followed by a welcome dinner.
Check out of the hotel and depart for Dambulla, located in the heart of Sri Lanka’s so-called ‘Cultural Triangle’ comprising numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites. After a brief stop en route for lunch, arrive in Dambulla in the late afternoon. Dinner is at the hotel.
After breakfast, visit Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese kingdoms and one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country. In the 11th century it became a magnificent walled city with an extensive irrigation system of channels and lakes. After lunch, return to the hotel for some free time before visiting a nearby elephant sanctuary. Return to the hotel for dinner.
This morning visit Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, a striking terracotta and grey core of rock rising a sheer 200 metres from the ground. It is surrounded by the remnants of an ancient city with a series of moats, ramparts and water gardens, and the remains of a pair of giant stone lion’s paws guarding the staircase that leads to the summit, once occupied by a royal palace. Return to the hotel around lunch time and enjoy some free time before leaving on a late-afternoon excursion to the Dambulla caves complex. The spectacular cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks, is covered with exquisite 2,000-year-old murals while the shrines also house a collection of statues of Buddha, including a 15-metre-long reclining Buddha. Return to the hotel for dinner.
Check out of the hotel and visit the local Dambulla market before driving to Kandy, the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and nestled in the surrounding green hillls of the lush interior. Check in to your hotel and enjoy some time at leisure before visiting the sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics and draws Buddhist followers from all over the world. The Royal Complex, situated around the Temple of the Tooth and Kandy Lake, represents the zenith of ancient Sri Lankan architecture. Return to the hotel for dinner.
This morning, visit the Royal Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Home to nearly 4,000 species of plants and encircled by a river, there is an impressive avenue of coconut palm trees, a fragrant spice garden, giant bamboos, an orchid collection and a gargantuan Javan fig tree. In the late afternoon attend a Kandyan dance performance. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance and the Ginisila, demonstrating power over fire. The entire frenetic and colourful spectacle comes to a climax with the amazing fire-walking act. Dinner afterwards is at a local restaurant.
Depart Kandy for Nuwara Eliya, situated around 2,000 metres above sea level high up in the so-called ‘tea country’ of the central highlands. Founded as a hill retreat for the British during colonial times, several buildings and parks here retain features from a bygone era of fox hunting, polo and cricket. Dinner is at the hotel.
Set out very early this morning with a packed breakfast for the Horton Plains National Park. On arrival, walk to the fabled World’s End, a sheer cliff with a drop of about 1,200 m to the jungle below. On a clear day, spot the Indian Ocean, some 80 kilometres in the distance. Return to Nuwara Eliya for lunch at a local restaurant. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner is at the hotel.
Check out of the hotel and depart Nuwara Eliya, visiting first the Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Located under the mighty Hakgala Peak, they are the highest-set botanical gardens in the world and contain trees like English oaks, Himalayan pines, Japanese cedars and Californian cypresses. Continue to Nanu Oya railway station, departing around midday on the afternoon train that weaves its way through verdant hills to the town of Ella, surrounded by tea plantations. The stunning Ella Gap allows spectacular views across the southern plains of Sri Lanka. Dinner is at the hotel.
This morning set out on a walk to nearby Little Adam’s Peak. A short half-hour climb gets you to the 1,141-metre peak with breathtaking views of the surrounding valley, tea plantations and waterfalls. Spend the afternoon at leisure to enjoy the peaceful surrounds or take a stroll through the vegetable fields. Dinner is at the hotel.
Depart Ella for the Udawalawe National Park arriving in the mid-afternoon. After checking in to the safari resort-style hotel, situated just a five-minute drive from the park’s entrance, embark on a sunset jeep safari drive in the park, with the chance of spotting elephants, sloth bears, birds and possibly even an elusive leopard. Return to the hotel for dinner.
A day of travel takes you from the Udawalawe National Park, via an elephant transit sanctuary for lunch, to the captivating Portuguese and Dutch coastal fortress town of Galle. Dinner this evening is at the hotel.
After breakfast, visit the Galle Fort, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest surviving fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. Built first in the 16th century by the Portuguese, and then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century, some of the most significant buildings remaining include the Dutch Reformed Church, the old Dutch government house, the Old Dutch Hospital, the Meera Mosque, the Anglican Church, Clock Tower and the 1939 lighthouse. Return to the hotel for lunch (own arrangements); the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner is at a local restaurant.
Check out of the hotel and depart Galle for ‘Lunuganga’, the former country estate of celebrated Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Enjoy a guided tour of the expansive gardens. After lunch, continue to ‘Brief’, the former home and garden of Bevis Bawa, brother of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1929, it is a hillside garden overlooking a former rubber plantation. The house, which is also open to view, contains many wonderful artworks including a magnificent mural of Sri Lankan life by Australian artist Donald Friend in the style of Chagall. Arrive in the late afternoon at the beachside hotel in Negombo for your final night in Sri Lanka. Tonight’s farewell dinner is at the hotel.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. Suggested departure from Colombo on Sri Lankan Airlines to Singapore, with onward connections with Qantas to Australia.
Arrivals in the morning.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking
Final payment due
17 February 2017
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner); juices, soft drinks and local beer with meals
- Transfers on arrival and departure if travelling on suggested flights
- Overnight accommodation in transit in Singapore (if flights are booked through Renaissance Tours)
- Comfortable air-conditioned coach transport throughout
- Comprehensive sightseeing including entrance fees as per itinerary
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent)
- Hotel accommodation in transit in Singapore
- Transfers on arrival / departure if not travelling on suggested flights
- Video and camera permits (where required)
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry etc.
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance
- Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)
Prior to travel all tour members must obtain an ETA which can be obtained online (current cost USD 30). ETA holders will be issued a 30 day Short Visit visa at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.
For further information visit
Singapore – Crowne Plaza Changi Airport+
Colombo – Cinnamon Grand
Dambulla – Amaya Lake
Kandy – Thilanka Hotel
Nuwara Eliya – Grand Hotel
Ella – Elle 98 Arcas Hotel
Udawalawe – Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort
Galle – Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel
Negombo – Jetwing Blue Hotel
+Free overnight at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel when you book your flights through Renaissance Tours.
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted