Large sigiriya

Complete Sri Lanka for Families

This uncompromising itinerary includes all of Sri Lanka's highlights including the Cultural Triangle, safari in Yala National Park, the picturesque Tea Country and the celebrated UNESCO world heritage sites of Kandy and Galle. On this 15-day journey you will have your own private driver and vehicle and will stay in atmospheric colonial hotels, hilltop guesthouses, and beach-side resorts. Please note, this itinerary is only recommended for families who don't mind lots of driving.

Tailor-made Classic 15 days

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Itinerary

Overview

This tailormade family holiday includes all of the highlights of Sri Lanka. If the driving time puts you off, we have several good suggestions which compromise (usually either skipping the Cultural Triangle or Yala National Park).



  • 15 day guided journey showcasing all of the highlights of Sri Lanka
  •  
  • Private car & driver allows you to explore at your own pace

  • Explore the ‘Cultural Triangle’ and climb the incredible rock fortress of Sigiriya
  •  
  • Visit a historic tea plantation

  • Safari game drives in Yala National Park

  • Explore the beaches and historic fort of Galle

  • Relax on the beach in Bentota
  •  

Day-by-day

DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT BANDARANAIKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AND TRANSFER TO KOTUGODA
On arrival at the airport you will be met by a chauffeur and make the brief 20-30 minute transfer to your hotel in Kotugoda. Spend a night in the luxurious family suite at the Wallawwa hotel, a delightful property with well-manicured gardens and a lovely pool to keep the kids entertained.
Accommodation: The Wallawwa Hotel, Kotugoda

DAY 2: TRANSFER FROM KOTUGODA TO HABARANA IN SRI LANKA’S ‘CULTURAL TRIANGLE’
Enjoy the scenic 4 ½ hour transfer through meandering roads and villages to the Cultural Triangle. Steeped in ancient history, this area is home to the remnants of powerful ancient cities established thousands of years ago by Sri Lanka’s many kings, with plenty of temples and holy sites to observe en route. Arrive for a three night stay at the tranquil resort of Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana, where you will occupy two well-appointed rooms within the property’s 27-acre leafy grounds. The large swimming pool will be a great hit with the kids. In the cool of the evening, enjoy an informative, privately-guided excursion to the impressive Sigiriya. Note that it’s a steep 1 ½ – 2 ½ hour climb to the top (depending on walking speed), but there are plenty of gardens for children to explore at the base. Light clothing, sun cream, and a hat are recommended. Return to the hotel in time for dinner.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana
Driving Time: 4 ½ hours

DAY 3: A DAY EXPLORING THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE WITH A VISIT TO POLONNARUWA
Spend the morning enjoying a privately-guided tour around Polonnaruwa. This once thriving religious and commercial centre boasts ruins, statues and stupas rising majestically out of the dense jungle, and houses an informative archaeological museum. Explore the site by vehicle or on foot, and do come prepared for the heat. While young children might not follow the guide’s commentary, there is plenty of space for them to run around in. Enjoy lunch at the historical Lake House on the shores of Pakarama Reservoir, followed by a 1 ½ to 2 hour game drive through either Minneriya, Eco, or Kaudulla National Park, depending on the season of your visit. Children will love the herds of baby elephants. Return to Cinnamon Lodge for a second comfortable night’s rest.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana

DAY 4: CULTURAL TRIANGLE VILLAGE EXPERIENCE
After breakfast, spend a cultural morning in Hiriwadunna, a traditional village framed by a stunning mountainous setting. Experience a scenic tractor ride through paddy fields and fruit plantations, followed by an authentic Sri Lankan village lunch. Children will especially enjoy the bullock cart ride, and do remember to bring hats and sun cream. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon of leisure back at the lodge before dinner.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana

DAY 5: TRANSFER FROM HABARANA TO KANDY, WITH A VISIT TO DAMBULLA EN ROUTE
Today begins with a guided visit to the ancient Buddhist cave temples of Dambulla, Sri Lanka’s largest and best preserved rock cave complex complete with ancient Buddhist statues and paintings. Due to its religious status, visitors should cover knees and shoulders (shawls are provided). Leaving Dambulla, the 2 ½ hour journey to the Buddhist pilgrimage city of Kandy passes by the popular Matale spice gardens. Arrive for a two night stay in the stylish Colonial Suite at the Elephant Stables boutique hotel, an historic property set in the hills above Kandy, with spectacular mountain views and an infinity pool. Spend the afternoon at leisure, relaxing in the gardens and enjoying the stunning panorama before dinner is served.
Accommodation: Elephant Stables, Kandy
Driving Time: 2 ½ hour

DAY 6: EXCURSIONS TO PERADENIYA BOTANICAL GARDENS AND KANDY CITY
This morning, enjoy a private, leisurely 1 ½ hour guided walk around the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, accompanied by a botanist. Sri Lanka’s largest botanical gardens have acres of open spaces for children to explore. Do remember to bring a hat and sun cream, as well as a camera! Lunch is at the Empire Café, followed by a 1 hour walking tour of the bustling markets and streets of vibrant Kandy town, a UNESCO world heritage site and gateway to the ‘Tea Country’. Note that children may need supervision amidst the busy throngs of pedestrians. Afterwards, enjoy a refreshing cup of tea at the historic Queens Hotel. Before dinner, visit the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth, renowned for housing the relic of the tooth of Buddha, and as such a sacred destination for pilgrims for thousands of years. Dinner is served back at the hotel.
Accommodation: Elephant Stables, Kandy

DAY 7: SCENIC TRAIN TRANSFER FROM KANDY TO HATTON IN THE ‘TEA COUNTRY’
After breakfast, depart from Kandy and embark on a scenic 3 hour train ride into Sri Lanka’s ‘Tea Country’. Climbing to 2,000 metres above sea level, this atmospheric journey reveals majestic mountain peaks and cascading waterfalls, lush, emerald tea plantations, and aromatic cyprus and eucalyptus woodlands. The climate here is cooler and more temperate, so dress accordingly, and bring a camera and money for a drink or snack as the train does not have a restaurant carriage. Arrive for a two night stay in nearby Dickoya, in a spacious suite at Mandira Dickoya Bungalow, a colonial guesthouse set on a tea plantation, with superb mountain views. After a welcome lunch, spend the afternoon at leisure getting to know the surrounding area. Explore the numerous hiking trails around the property, and perhaps take an excursion to the nearby Hindu temple at Kovil or to the beautiful old church at Warleigh. Enjoy a rest and dinner back at the guesthouse.
Accommodation: Mandira Dickoya Bungalow, Dickoya
Driving Time: 3 hour train journey

DAY 8: VISIT TO NORWOOD TEA FACTORY
After a tranquil, alfresco breakfast, head for a private excursion to the Norwood Tea Estate and Factory, which has been growing and manufacturing tea for over a century. Guided by a tea planter, witness tea plucking first hand, and learn about the production methods that go into our daily 'cuppa'. Children will love seeing the original machines in action, many of which are still going strong after a hundred years. Finally, enjoy the experience of a traditional tea tasting session, where use of the time honoured spittoon is optional! Lunch will be served back at the guesthouse, after which you are free to spend the afternoon at leisure exploring the local surroundings and wonderful scenery, before returning for dinner.
Accommodation: Mandira Dickoya Bungalow, Dickoya

DAY 9: TRANSFER FROM DICKOYA TO YALA
Today, bid a fond farewell to Tea Country and transfer to Yala on Sri Lanka’s South coast. Your chauffeur will be happy to make a number of rest stops along this incredibly scenic 6 hour route. Yala is Sri Lanka’s most visited National Park, its varying terrain spanning lush jungle, grasslands, rocky crags, and secluded beaches. The region’s impressive diversity of wildlife boasts one of the world’s highest leopard densities, along with crocodile, buffalo, seasonal elephant, wild boar, and monkey. On arrival at Yala, check into the eco-friendly four star Cinnamon Wild resort for a two night stay in the property's atmospheric jungle chalets. The enticing swimming pool and animal trails will keep the children busy. Enjoy an optional evening game drive into nearby Yala National Park, followed by a relaxing dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Wild, Yala
Driving Time: 6-7 hours

DAY 10: GUIDED GAME DRIVE IN YALA NATIONAL PARK
Enjoy a fascinating 3 hour private game drive with an experienced guide in renowned Yala National Park, home to 44 species of mammal plus phenomenal birdlife including peacocks, hoopoes and bee eaters. Game drives take place either morning or evening; the morning drive leaves at 5.30 am, and a packed breakfast will be provided. Alternatively, the evening drive departs at approximately 3.30 pm. Wear cool, light clothing, hats and sunscreen. This is a wonderful excursion for keen photographers and wildlife lovers of all ages. Return to Cinnamon Wild for dinner in the main restaurant.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Wild, Yala

DAY 11: TRANSFER FROM YALA TO GALLE
Departing from Yala, enjoy the 3 ½ hour coastal drive west to the historic port of Galle. En route, catch a glimpse of traditional fishermen at Weligama, perched on stilts in the sea. Sri Lanka’s oldest city, Galle has played host to Chinese, Arab, Persian, and Indian traders over the centuries, along with Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonialists. Today it is a thriving hub of European and Arabic culture, boasting art galleries, literary events and a host of shops and restaurants within its atmospheric, cobblestoned alleyways. The 17th century Galle Fort is a renowned UNESCO world heritage site. Check into Fort Printers, an intimate boutique hotel, located in the heart of Galle Fort, where you will occupy two charming suites for two nights. Later that day, join in a traditional Kolam mask making workshop, led by a local artist. In the evening, choose between dining at the hotel or in one of the many recommended restaurants nearby.
Accommodation: Fort Printers, Galle
Driving Time: 3 ½ hours

DAY 12: TRADITIONAL COOKERY CLASS AND EVENING WALK AROUND GALLE FORT
Today’s activities are based in and around Galle. After breakfast, try out your culinary skills in a traditional Sri Lankan cookery class. After a trip to the local market to purchase ingredients, take a short boat trip to a local chef’s home. Here, learn the secrets of Sri Lankan cuisine whilst preparing a delicious lunch: eight unique dishes such as lentil dahl (parippu), caramelised aubergine (brinjal pahi), and coconut and chilli salad (pol sambola). Aprons are not provided, so we recommend wearing cool clothing that can get dirty if necessary. Later in the afternoon, head out on a 2 hour guided walk around Galle Fort. Learn about the history of this iconic settlement which has attracted traders and travellers from around the globe. Remember to wear light clothing, and bring a hat and water. For dinner, choose from one of the local restaurants, or opt to dine back at the hotel.
Accommodation: Fort Printers, Galle

DAY 13: TRANSFER FROM GALLE TO BENTOTA ON SRI LANKA’S WEST COAST
After checking out of Fort Printers, it is a 1 ½ hour journey to the golden sands and glorious waters of Bentota. On arrival, check into Club Villa where you will spend the next two nights in two comfortable rooms. This tranquil boutique hotel was originally built as a beachside retreat by renowned late Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Enjoy a fun afternoon on the beach or simply relaxing in the hotel’s beautiful gardens and pool. Dinner will be served in the hotel’s main restaurant.
Accommodation: Club Villa, Bentota
Driving Time: 1 ½ hours

DAY 14: DAY AT LEISURE IN BENTOTA
Enjoy a day of relaxation and recreation on Bentota’s superb sands. There is a great choice of water based activities available, including swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, canoeing, jet skiing, rubber dingy rafting, and banana boat rides. Sailing is available, and lessons can be arranged. Keen anglers can enjoy river or deep sea fishing, whilst the less energetic can enjoy a relaxing river cruise. Or take an excursion to the beautiful estate at Lunuganga, or to the acclaimed Brief Gardens. After an indulgent day, relax over dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Club Villa, Bentota

DAY 15: TRANSFER FROM BENTOTA TO BANDARANAIKE AIRPORT FOR DEPARTURE
Today make the 2 hour transfer from Bentota to Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, in time for your onward journey.
Driving Time: 2 hours

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

The Wallawwa

Colombo & Around

Our rating

9/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Characterful, historic manor house
- Day trips to Colombo
- Close to Negombo beach
- Elephant sanctuary visits

Cinnamon Lodge

Cultural Triangle

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Peaceful, high-end resort
- Close to Minneriya National Park
- Superb elephant encounters
- Tennis courts, large pool and spa

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Historic property with colonial feel
- Temple visits in nearby Kandy
- Picturesque train journeys
- Lovely infinity pool

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Historic, colonial bungalows
- White water rafting, nearby golf club
- Scenic train rides with waterfall views
- Visit Ella and climb Adam's Peak

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Delightful jungle and beach chalets
- Adjacent to Yala National Park
- Great for animal lovers

Our rating

9/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Characterful boutique hotel 
- Access to lovely beaches 
- Cultural and wildlife activities nearby 

Club Villa

The West Coast of Sri Lanka

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Boutique hotel with lovely gardens
- 17 air-conditioned rooms
- Turtle hatchery excursions
- Variety of water sports

Details

Getting there

From the UK
Flights from the UK to Sri Lanka tend to be overnight on the way out to Sri Lanka and day time on the way back. Only Sri Lankan Airlines currently offers direct flights between the UK and Sri Lanka with a 10-11hr flight time. Indirect lights with one stop and an approximate 13-14hr overall flight time are available with Emirates, Qatar and Oman Air. Flights typically cost between £500 and £1000 per person depending on seasonality and demand. Please get in touch for a detailed quote including International Flights from the UK.

From the US
There are no direct flights from the US to Sri Lanka and the best options tend to have one stop in the Middle East with Qatar, Kuwait or Emirates with prices between $1,000 - $1,500 per person and an overall flight time of around 18-22 hours. From the West Coast there is also the option of flying via Singapore with Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines again with prices between $1,000 - $1,500 per person and an overall flight time of around 21-22 hours. Please get in touch for a detailed quote including International Flights from the US.

Price includes

The quoted price includes a private driver and vehicle in Sri Lanka along with all accommodation (varying board basis) and guided tours mentioned in the itinerary.

Flight prices vary significantly and guidance is given separately on their costs. Please get in touch for an accurate quote.

When is best?

JANUARY - APRIL
Hot and Dry Peak Season
January to April is peak season with hot, sunny and dry weather throughout. It is a perfect time of year for the Coast, and the higher altitudes of the hill country offer a cool respite from the heat. April in particular can be very hot.

MAY - JUNE
SW Monsoon
Monsoon Season in Galle & SW Sri Lanka. During May and June, the South West ofo Sri Lanka (e.g. Colombo, Galle, Tangalle) are affected by monsoon rains during this period. Not as severe as the name suggests, rainfall tends to be short and heavy and passes through quickly.

JULY - AUGUST
Hot and Mostly Dry High Season
Falling between the two monsoon seasons, July and August tend to be hot and dry with the odd shower and after January - April, the next most popular time of year to visit Sri Lanka. West and South Coast beaches tend in the main to be too rough for swimming at this time of year.

OCTOBER, NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
NE Monsoon
The monsoon from the North East affects the whole of Sri Lanka with often heavy rain, albeit rather unpredictable in timing and intensity. The least popular time for visiting Sri Lanka. The monsoons have usually receded come December and it can be a pleasant time of year to visit with sparkling green scenery.

See our guide to the weather on Sri Lanka's Coast for detailed information on the climate and sea state on different areas of the Sri Lankan Coastline during the different seasons.

Is it for me?

It is fair to say this is a rather intense itinerary for a family, being jam-packed with historic, cultural and natural sights an no shortage of long drives. Our recommendation for a family would always be to compromise a little, slow the itinerary down and skip at least on location to reduce driving time. However, not everybody is the same, and this itinerary would work brilliantly if you want to see everything and enjoy a busy holiday in Sri Lanka.

Safety

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office check www.gov.uk/travelaware

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 492 reviews

(4.96/5)

  • Service rating : We've used Tourdust a number of times now as they've always organised the most amazing holidays for us. This time it was Sri Lanka, and the experience they put together for us was once again outstanding! Fantastic accommodation in wonderful locations with plenty of activities to really help us get to know the country. Throughout, all arrangements happened without any fuss or bother and our guide/driver Farzan was lovely, extremely knowledgeable, very flexible and always making sure we were well cared for.
    Product : Ben at Tourdust takes care to make sure the accommodation choices and itinerary both suit our preferences. The result is the perfect holiday for us.

    Ben feefo reviewer verified review for Complete Sri Lanka for Families on 22 September 2018

  • Service rating : Excellent knowledge of the destination, accommodation and possible itinerary, Plenty flexibility with no problem in making changes right up until tickets issued. Support with any queries whilst away was quick and efficient.
    Product : For a special holiday, well worth using a specialist like Tourdust.

    Ben feefo reviewer verified review for Complete Sri Lanka for Families on 06 September 2018

  • The Namibia trip was fantastic!

    Self-driving was brilliant, and the chronology of the itinerary was perfect (against the flow/direction most other travelers took).

    As for specifics:

    OKONJIMA
    This place was the best!
    Best service, best staff, best food, best experiences, best facilities.
    We saw a cheetah kill, leopards, and white rhino (which we were not expecting).
    If you’ve never been you should go...If I ever go back to Namibia I will revisit.

    EMANYA
    The only (slight) disappointment.
    Maybe because it was right after Okonjima, but the service was lacking, the facilities were a bit run down, it was the only place with mosquitoes in the room with no net and no spray. Food was marginal. Not sure if there are better options in the area, though.

    OKAUKEUJO
    Etosha Park was amazing. There was so much wildlife with so little crowds.
    The Okaukeujo Camp had the best watering hole with animals coming in at all times of the night. A great experience exclusive to the camp.

    DORO NAWAS
    Beautiful place. Very private. Food and service excellent.
    A nice stopping point on the drive.

    SPITZKOPPE
    An amazing place...How they laid out and built it.
    Enjoyed exploring the grounds and the local area/sights.
    The staff was on par with Okonjima.
    2 days were perfect.

    Ivin provided us with good advice/information/recommendations along the route, along with a cell phone and cooler for the trip. The car was perfect.
    They represent Tourdust well!

    Again, another great trip you put together...Thank you!

    MissingEarl Wong reviewing Northern Namibia Highlights - Self Drive on 17 October 2018

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

Luxurious 15 day guided family trip exploring Sri Lanka’s treasures, including the ‘Cultural Triangle’, ‘Tea Country’, glorious beaches and ri Lanka's finest lodges.

Tailor-made Luxury 15 days

Adults from $6,654 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $1,048 per person economy class from London

Families from $5,951 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,048 per person economy class from London

Perfectly balanced relaxing and indulgent 2 week holiday in Sri Lanka with a focus on the wildlife, Tea County and the Coast and plenty of time for fun and relaxation by the pool and beach.

Tailor-made Classic 13 days

Families from $2,780 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,048 per person economy class from London

Combine the best of both worlds with a week exploring adventurous Sri Lanka and a week relaxing in a family friendly resort in the Maldives.

Tailor-made Classic 15 days

Families from $3,687 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,572 per person economy class from London

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