Large sri lanka train kandy to tea country

Sri Lanka Highlights - Value

A 13 day budget-friendly, privately guided itinerary exploring Sri Lanka’s fascinating culture and stunning landscapes. Highlights include the historic Cultural Triangle, an atmospheric train journey through Tea Country, and elephant spotting in Uda Wallawe National Park. Wander the ancient cobbled streets of Kandy and Galle, and explore tranquil countryside and bucolic waterways by bike and boat. Enjoy stays on a tea estate and in charming, independent boutique guesthouses.

Tailor-made Classic 13 days

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

Flights are typically an additional $1,008 per person economy class from London

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…We were really happy with the service we got from Tourdust which can be best described as friendly, efficient and expert.....

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Itinerary

Overview


  • 13 day privately guided Sri Lanka holiday

  • Take a train through Tea Country

  • Explore the Cultural Triangle and Sigiriya

  • Rural cycling and elephant spotting

  • Great value independent guesthouses

Day-by-day

DAY 1: ARRIVE SRI LANKA AND TRANSFER TO KOTUGODA
On arrival at the airport you will be greeted by your chauffeur and make the brief 30 minute transfer to your hotel in Kotugoda. Spend a restful night in a garden suite at the stylish Wallawwa Hotel, a delightful boutique property with tropical gardens, a spa, and a lovely pool.
Accommodation: The Wallawwa

DAY 2: TRANSFER TO THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE (4HRS DRIVE). CLIMB SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS
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. In the cool of the evening, enjoy an informative, privately-guided excursion to the impressive Sigiriya. Note that it is a steep 30min to 1 hr climb up and 30 min back down again (depending on walking speed). It is certainly doable for anyone with a good level of fitness, and is well worth the effort; the views from the top are magnificent. Light clothing, sun cream, lots of water, and a hat are recommended.
Accommodation: The Other Corner

DAY 3: CULTURAL TRIANGLE - ANCIENT CITY OF 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. In the afternoon relax and enjoy the pool at your hotel.
Accommodation: The Other Corner

DAY 4: TRANSFER TO KANDY (4HRS) VIA DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLE
En route to Kandy today visit Dambulla Cave Temple. Dambulla first gained significance when it was used as a refuge for King Valagambahu in 1st century BC. Concealed here by the local monks upon returning from exile to his throne at Anuradhapura, Valagambahu showed his gratitude by building a magnificent cave temple for them, which consists of a complex of Buddhist image houses. The temples rock ceiling is one large sweep of colourful frescoes, some of which date back over 2,000 years, which depict Buddhist mythology, and the tales of the Buddha's previous births. This cave temple has the largest number of Buddha statues all housed in one place, including a colossal, 14-metre-long figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the rock. The climb from the base is not strenuous, and can be done at a leisurely pace. It takes approximately 30 minutes. Your guide will buy your entrance fee and climb with you. There are approximately 200 steps. The best time to climb is in the early morning or the late afternoon to avoid the heat. You will need to cover your knees and shoulders – and access the inner chambers barefoot or with socks.
Accommodation: Clove Villa

DAY 5: KANDY - BOTANICAL GARDENS & TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH
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’. 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.
Accommodation: Clove Villa

DAY 6: TRAIN JOURNEY TO THE TEA COUNTRY (3HRS)
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.
Purchasing train tickets remains one of the most challenging parts of organizing a tour in Sri Lanka, purely due to the very high demand for seats, coinciding with limited availability of seats as there are only three trains per day, of which only a few carriages have reserved seating. Accordingly, train tickets are strictly subject to availability, and can be confirmed only 10 days prior to the date of the journey. By default, we try to reserve seats on the First Class carriage for all our travellers, unless they specifically request a different carriage. Unfortunately, due to the very high demand, we are sometimes unable to obtain First Class tickets. In such instances, we try our best to get any and all possible alternative tickets.
Accommodation: Amba Estate

DAY 7: VISIT A TEA FACTORY
Today you will visit a historic tea factory to observe processing methods, followed by the opportunity to enjoy a tea tasting. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea with a roaring tea industry that dominates the island’s central highlands. Introduced to the country by British tea planter James Taylor in 1867, tea irreversibly changed the topography, and even the demography of the country. In the wake of Sri Lanka’s coffee blight, British planters were quick to discover that tea was a more lucrative industry. As the number of tea estates rose, there was an increased need for human labour. The production of tea involves a tedious procedure of plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing and drying – a process that requires heavy machines and plenty of manpower. Workers were shipped over from Tamil Nadu in India to maintain the plantations, and these people, an often overlooked ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, are still the main employees in the tea industry today. A visit to a tea factory has become a staple of every Sri Lanka travel itinerary, and for good reason! If you look past the crowds of tourists and the sometimes amusingly gimmicky tea tours on offer, you’ll find a fascinating subject matter – the epic story of the tea industry, a central theme to the story of not only Sri Lanka, but also the post-industrialized world.
Accommodation: Amba Estate

DAY 8: WALKS IN THE TEA PLANTATION WITH GUIDE
The climate in the hills is warm during the day yet fresher and cooler at night, and ideal for long walks. Scenic hikes through the tea fields are a highlight of your stay. There are a selection of walking trails on and around the property.
Accommodation: Amba Estate

DAY 9: DRIVE TO UDA WALLAWE NP (3HRS). AFTERNOON GAME DRIVE
Relax during a scenic 3 hour drive down from the Tea Country to Uda Wallawe National Park. After lunch, enjoy a late afternoon game drive in the National Park. This is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see elephant, with a population of 500 elephant living in the park. It is also comparatively free of tourist traffic, making for a peaceful wildlife experience. Other animals that you may see include deer, wild buffalo, water monitors, and crocodiles.
Accommodation: Kalu's Hideaway

DAY 10: TRANSFER FROM TEA COUNTRY TO GALLE (5HRS)
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. Beyond Galle – largely south of the town where Galle's influence is at its strongest – is a glorious collection of beaches.
Accommodation: Mango House

DAY 11: GALLE COUNTRYSIDE CYCLING
Galle’s inner landscape comprises patches of jungle, rice paddies, cinnamon plantations, lowland tea fields, and quaint mud roads joining small villages, and is home to beautiful tropical plants and lots of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Begin your journey with a peaceful boat ride down the Kapu Ela River, accompanied by a light-hearted, entertaining local naturalist who is very knowledgeable about the area’s bird and reptile life. Float slowly along canals, passing local village hamlets, rubber and cinnamon plantations and tea fields, and watch as grey fish eagles soar through the air and water monitor lizards haul themselves out of the river and cling to the low branches along the bank. Disembark from the boat and mount your bikes for a 9km cycle along the narrow mud lanes between the villages, passing picturesque paddy fields and small villages with markets selling vibrant local fruits and vegetables. Stop along the way at a wattle-and-daub hut for a cup of herbal tea and traditional hoppers cooked over a fire, before getting back on your bike and cycling to the pick-up point. If you are tired, you can be driven from here.
Accommodation: Mango House

DAY 12: GALLE - FREE DAY
Day at leisure to enjoy Galle and its surrounding beaches.
Accommodation: Mango House

DAY 13: DEPART
Transfer to Colombo Airport for your flight home.

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

The Other Corner

Cultural Triangle

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 2

- Spacious and tranquil eco-resort
- Verdant grounds, pool, restaurant
- Great location for Cultural Triangle

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Close to central Kandy
- Peaceful location
- Good facilities

Amba Estate

Tea Country

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 2

- Farm-stay on peaceful tea estate
- Rural setting with splendid views
- Simple, rustic accommodation
- Hiking, cycling, estate tours

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Charming eco-friendly rural retreat, 14 rooms
- On site birdwatching and complimentary bikes
- Near Uda Walawe national park
- Pool, volley ball, games room, fishing lake

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Intimate, stylish boutique hotel
- Historic property with lovely garden
- Excellent central location

Details

Getting there

From the UK
Flights from the UK to Sri Lanka tend to be overnight on the way to Sri Lanka and day time on the way back. Only Sri Lankan Airlines currently ooffers direct flights between the UK and Sri Lanka with a 10-11hr flight time. Indirect flights 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 $1000 - $1500 per peron and an overall flight time of around 18-22h. 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 pp an an overall flight time of 21-22 hours. Please get in touch for a detailed quote including international flights from the US.

Price includes

Price is a guide price for 2 people sharing (or for the family price, the average per person price for a family of 4 in 2 rooms). The quoted price includes accommodation (BB basis), a private driver guide throughout, guided activities and entrances for locations mentioned in the itinerary.

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?

This great value, 13 day itinerary is aimed at reasonably active travellers looking to explore Sri Lanka’s fascinating culture, diverse wildlife, and stunning scenery. Involves some easy cycling and hiking, with characterful accommodation in small, independent guesthouses.

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 501 reviews

(5.00/5)

  • We had a wonderful time! Our transfers (besides a bit of a wait when we arrived) were smooth. The gentleman that drove us to and from the airport also drove us to our hike and he was very nice and helpful, clean car and very accommodating.
    Our tour guide on the first day, Mandy, was charming and insightful. It was a slow day in the markets but we appreciated the space and gave us a chance to hear all about the Souks. The gentlemen who was with her was a wealth of knowledge and both did a very nice job!
    Our hike was awesome and our guide was great- he even took us to a cool waterfall and took great care of us; lunch in the mountains was delicious!
    The hotel was so lovely and the staff was very accommodating and helpful. The food was great and the rooms very comfortable!
    I did a good amount of damage in the market (often accused of being Berber;) and truly hope to be back next Spring... maybe a girls trip or perhaps I’ll bring my kiddos!
    Thank you for organizing such a nice getaway for my husband and I; we will confidently recommend Tourdust to our friends!!

    MissingJennifer H reviewing Boutique Marrakech & Atlas Mountains on 12 June 2019

  • We had an amazing trip. Everything was well thought out and so much fun. What a great way to truly see the country and learn the culture.

    Joseph was the perfect guide. Very kind, professional, knowledgeable and patient. The kids loved Joseph and keep asking when will they meet him again. He found the Big 5 for us which was unforgettable! Please pass along our appreciation to Joseph.

    Maji Moto was also another incredible experience. They had great customer service and we loved experiencing their culture.

    Sunbird was absolutely beautiful and I wish we had more time there. We loved the view of the lake!

    One suggestion to make the trip even better for other guests in the future would be to have a cooler with drinks and snacks in the Jeep at all times because a ton of driving is involved and it would be helpful to have a cold drink and snacks during the long trip.

    Thanks again for organizing this experience of a lifetime for us!

    MissingBrandon H reviewing Maasai Family Adventure on 12 June 2019

  • Both hotels were excellent. Sari Konak is in a superb location for visiting all the iconic sights. Our family suite was spacious, newly decorated and very clean. There was a separate room for our son and a kitchenette with ‘fridge and kettle. Good choice at breakfast and served on lovely roof terrace. Great views of Bosphorus. One evening, we caught the commuter ferry to Kadikoy for an evening meal. A great option if there isn’t time to fit in a Bosphorus cruise. Also recommend The Old House restaurant which is very close to the hotel. We were in Istanbul during Ramadan so there was a family atmosphere in the city late into the night.

    Esbelli Evi was delightful; a huge cave suite, great character, two bathrooms, sitting room and kitchenette with a fridge well stocked with beers and soft drinks. Private, quiet courtyard with gate to communal areas. Breakfast choice was really good and plenty of outdoor seating. Easy walk into village. Favourite options for dinner were Ziggys (stylish outdoor roof terrace) and Urgup Pide (popular with locals).

    Really must mention owner Suha Ersoz and his staff - all of whom are extremely kind and helpful.

    All our transfers went smoothly. Our driver and guide (Gaia) in Cappadocia were excellent and our itinerary was fast paced and interesting. Lunch options were great, especially on the river at Ilhara. A highlight for me was spitting a wild tortoise!

    Balloon flight with Kapadokya Balloons was well worth the money and well organised.

    MissingTim S reviewing Istanbul & Cappadocia Family Holiday on 07 June 2019

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Speak to a specialist

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Call 855 686 7694 9am and 6pm GMT Monday to Friday

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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 $6,628 pp plus flights

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

Flights are typically an additional $1,008 per person economy class from London

Families from $5,929 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 $1,008 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 $2,770 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 $1,008 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 $3,674 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 $1,512 per person economy class from London

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