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Sri Lanka's East Coast

Feel the sun on your shoulders and the wind in your hair as you travel down Sri Lanka’s stunning East Coast. This 13-day Sri Lanka East Coast Exploration itinerary takes you through the sunshine towns of Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Passekudah, Arugam Bay, Haputale, Kandy and Colombo. Enjoy touring ancient ruins one day and relaxing on the pristine shore the next! There’s plenty of sunshine and adventure as you make your way down the coast. 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Give surfing a try at the famous Arugam Bay beach town with its laid-back vibes and rolling waves
  • Explore the Temple of the Tooth and see where one of Buddha’s actual tooth is kept
  • Discover the inland beauty of the Ceylon Tea Fields
  • Enjoy Sri Lanka’s incredible nature and culture in the postcard-perfect town of Kandy
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

After arriving in Colombo, you will be transferred by private vehicle to nearby Kotugoda, where you will find your charming colonial-style bungalow at The Wallawwa. Indulge in a much-deserved rejuvenating massage after your long trip into Sri Lanka. This deluxe boutique hotel is the perfect place to relax and explore Sri Lanka’s lush natural landscape.

Day 2

Rise early and make the scenic 4-hour trip to Dambulla, in the center of the northern region of the island. Here, you will lay eyes on one of famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa's creations - the 1994 Heritance Kandalama. Bawa coined the hotel as “an austere jungle palace.” The hotel is integrated seamlessly into the jungle surroundings and appears to be a part of the cliff face, giving guests breathtaking views of Kandalama Lake. Visit the area’s magnificent ancient Buddhist cave temples. Pay a visit to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Spend the night in luxury at the Heritance Kandalama.

Day 3
Dambulla - Polonnaruwa - Passekudah

Take the northeast coast road for a scenic 2.5-hour drive to Passekudah. Along the way, we suggest stopping in Polonnaruwa. This ancient kingdom was Sri Lanka’s reigning capital during Medieval times. For a history of the city, stop by the museum. Continue on to tour the actual ruins themselves for a full understanding of the once bustling city. Reach the postcard-perfect coastal town of Paseduka. Rest your head at Maalu Maalu Resort and Spa. This is an eden of a resort, resting on an untouched white strip of the Passekudah Bay.

Day 4

Spend the day enjoying what the area is famous for - the idyllic, pristine beaches met by sparkling, turquoise waters. Explore the quaint local fishing village and observe a quiet way of life. Find the freshest fish you’ve ever tasted as you explore the coastal area.

Day 5

Once, if ever, you’ve had enough of lounging on Passedudah’s spectacular shores, travel the short distance to the town’s sister beach - Kalkudah. You can decide for yourself which area has the most beautiful beaches. Return to Maalu Maalu for a final restful night.

Day 6
Arugam Bay

Take the southern road for 3 hours, following along the eastern shoreline as you travel to Arugam Bay. The area is considered one of the top ten surf spots in the entire world. Indeed, this place feels like its own separate little world with its isolated beaches and laid-back vibes. We recommend staying at the Stardust Beach Hotel, where you can enjoy coastal lounging. Treat yourself to a delicious meal in the hotel’s restaurant.

Day 7
Arugam Bay

If you’re feeling adventurous, give the area’s famous sport a try! Pick up a surfboard and join in the never-ending summer. The beach break in front of the Stardust Hotel is perfect for beginners, and those just looking to body board. Other recommended spots include; the Point, Pottuvil Point and Crocodile Rock.

Day 8
Arugam Bay

If you’ve had enough surfing or are simply looking for a change of pace, the area is nearby several ancient ruins. The Lahugala National Park is a spectacular location to see Elephants roaming free in the wilderness. Retire to the Stardust Hotel for your final evening in the area.

Day 9
Arugam Bay - Haputale

Leave the coast behind as you head 3 hours inland to visit the lush southern highlands. Along the way, you will see stunning peaks, picturesque waterfalls and sprawling tea plantations. Reach Haputale and enjoy incredible views of the southern plains from the town’s ridge location. Spend the evening at the Kelburne Mountain View Cottages. The cozy cottages offer unrivalled views of the vistas below.

Day 10

Meander through the Kelburne Tea plantation, feel free to pick some leaves to weigh at the station located at the front entrance. Tour the tea factory and learn about the different processes. You will be able to discern the different grades of Ceylon tea by the end of the day. Finish the day by paying a visit to the monastery or one of the nearby waterfalls.

Day 11

The next leg of your trip will take you to the lush green city of Kandy (3 hours away), the island nation’s cultural capital. This was the last kingdom of Sri Lanka. That night, rest your head at the Kandy House or Earl's Regency Hotel.

Day 12

Take a tour of the Bahirawakanda Monastery, and see how Sri Lankan monks live and worship. See the Temple of the Tooth lit up at night by thousands of tiny white lights: a magical sight to behold. The temple contains the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Spend your final evening of pampering at your hotel.

Day 13

Travel 3 hours from Kandy to the country’s capital - Colombo. Explore the town, reveling in the gorgeous colonial architecture. Tour the National Museum and pay a visit to the Fort. Spend your last night at CASA Colombo - a stylish restored 200-year-old Moorish mansion or the Tintagel.  Prepare to fly home the next day.


Suggested Accommodations

The Wallawwa

The Wallawwa

Situated just 15 minutes from Bandaranaike International Airport, The Wallawwa is an old colonial home that has been restored and converted into 17 guestrooms and suites-- The Mountbatten Suite, two Family Suites, two Wallawwa Bedrooms, and twelve Garden Suites. The property offers well-manicured, lush gardens, a library, a study with computer and complimentary internet access, a swimming pool, and a spa. The Verandah offers Asian Fusion cuisine and is set overlooking the property's beautiful gardens.

Heritance Kandalama

Heritance Kandalama

Designed by famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the unique Heritance Kandalama hotel is set into a cliff face among dense tropical forests, flanked by the Dambulla rock temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel’s buildings were planned to blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment and are covered with hanging vines and flowering plants. Each of the 152 rooms faces either Kandalama Lake or the forest – even the bathrooms were planned to showcase the view – and is decorated in an elegantly simple contemporary style. The Kandalama is the first Green Globe 21-certified hotel in Asia, and the first hotel in the world to be awarded the prestigious LEED Green Building certification. There are three restaurants to choose from, including the Kanchana Café, which has won multiple awards. Among The Kandalama’s amenities are a pool, business center and fitness center, while the world-renowned Six Senses Spa has a location here that offers Asian, Swedish, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massage.

Maalu Maalu Resort and Spa

Maalu Maalu Resort and Spa

Far away from the hustle and bustle lies this exquisite beach resort surrounded by crystal clear ocean water and velvety-soft white sandy beaches, in the coastal village of Pasikuda. The exotic Maalu Maalu is situated in the Indian Ocean, guaranteeing you the most relaxing stay one could wish for. With an infinity pool that has a backdrop of the ocean, coconut palm trees and charming wooden chalets, awake to a new dream while you lose yourself in time, in the graceful elegance of this unique resort and spa. Winner of the 2012 World Luxury Hotel Awards, expect to wine and dine in five-star service, with food lovingly cooked by world class chefs. The menu offers fresh seafood delicacies, traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and international dishes. Sundowner cocktails are a favorite among guests staying in this paradise, while absorbing the natural beach vibe.

Stardust Beach Hotel

Stardust Beach Hotel

Mingle with local traders, experience breathtaking wilderness and walk along endless beaches in this fascinating place situated on Arugam Bay, along the Southeast coast of Sri Lanka. Stardust Beach Hotel is one of the most beautiful hotels the island has to offer. With the Indian Ocean and its white sandy beaches on one side, and an exquisite lagoon impressively located on the other, the hotel provides a spectacular view of elephants showering as the sun goes down. Enjoy a relaxing break, a surfing getaway and an awe-inspiring wild experience in the splendors of Sri Lanka. Families will find a friendly atmosphere here.  

Kelburne Mountain View Cottages

Kelburne Mountain View Cottages

Waking up to the natural melody of tweeting birds and breathtaking views, Kelburne Mountain View Cottages are located at approximate 3000 feet at the top of the historic Haputale Pass. Looking over infinite valleys running in every direction, all five Sri Lankan provinces can be seen from the comfort of your own balcony, including Eastern, Southern, Western, Sabaragamuwa and Uva province. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the waves breaking along the Southern beaches, amidst the impeccable gardens and nearby Hindu temples that are located within the 50-acre tea estate. Liven up your taste buds with traditional Sri Lankan meals served in the comfort of your own cottage. If you’re feeling energetic, enjoy a game of badminton, basketball or the local favorite cricket with some other guests or local people. Alternatively, take a relaxing stroll around the estate where you are likely to encounter one of many chipmunks scurrying around. The three cottages at Kelburne - Aerie, Rose and Wallflower, will take you back to British colonial times, as you sip on tea, observe roving barefoot tea-pluckers dressed in flamboyant colored saris, along the steep tea estate against a backdrop of rolling hills, verdant valleys, swirling clouds and mist.

Earl's Regency Hotel, Kandy House

Earl's Regency Hotel

Located in the centre of Kandy, just a short drive from the railway station and the famous Temple of the Tooth, Earl's Regency Hotel is a luxurious property with splendid views of the mountains around Kandy. All its rooms are air-conditioned and come with a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and a TV with satellite channels. Free WiFi is available in the public areas. The hotel also has a 24-hour coffee shop, as well as the sumptuous Far Pavilions restaurant, which offers local and international cuisine. The spa has massage rooms, a sauna and steam room, and there are also tennis and badminton courts.

Kandy House

This historic dwelling was once the ancestral home of a Kandyan family and was restored to its former splendor in 2005 by Channa Daswatte, Geoffrey Bawa’s protege. The two-story main house is surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens, which have avocado, jackwood, papaya, Sri Lankan orange and Kithul trees - the perfect setting for afternoon tea complete with Kandy House’s desserts made with treacle from Kithul blossoms. Each of the nine guest rooms is furnished with stunning Dutch antique furniture, many with a four-poster bed. The modern en-suite bathrooms provide a washed concrete-style double vanity area and shower area, and a stately Victorian bath. The Verandah rooms - Peacock Royal and Red Spot Duke - are the hotel’s most spacious rooms which open onto a wide wrap-around verandah, dotted with cane chaises lounges, reading chairs and antiques. Although there is no Internet connection and cell phone service is patchy, guests will find plenty to do here with yoga classes, Ayurvedic treatments and hikes through Kandy’s flora and fauna. The restaurant serves Western and Sri Lankan fare, all prepared with seasonal produce fresh from the Kandy market, and homemade cakes and cookies are available at teatime.
CASA Colombo, Tintagel

CASA Colombo

Priding itself on a minimalist design and conveniently-located in the center of Colombo, this retro-chic boutique hotel offers 12 designer suites, a world famous pink pool and exceptional dining experiences within its 200-year-old mansion that has been built to combine comfort with style. The hotel offers impressive international cuisine in an elegant setting of colorful glowing chairs and other modern furnishings. From Casa Domos to in-suite spas, attention to detail doesn’t go unnoticed, and is what contributes to the hotel’s exclusive and personal feel. The hotel’s own Casa Domos are above and beyond any type of butler you may be used to. They will be your contact during your stay and will take care of your every need. From collecting you in a vintage car with complimentary bubbly from the airport, to escorting you to your room and organizing any activities in the city, they live by the philosophy that they should come to you, not vice versa, for a hassle-free, relaxing and enjoyable holiday.



The dramatic and sultry Tintagel property is located in central Colombo, close to Colombo Town Hall, National Art Gallery and Sinhalese Sports Club. The hotel was previously home to three of Sri Lanka’s political leaders, making it an important structure of national heritage. This unique and intimate hotel boasts ten high-ceilinged suites with timber floors, lavishly decorated with a unique blend of color, texture and atmosphere. The spacious bathrooms feature rain showers, bathtubs and large vanities. All rooms include complimentary WiFi, LCD TV screens with DVD/CD players, a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and Egyptian cotton bedding. Selected suites come with a private courtyard or a balcony. There are a range of dining facilities including an alfresco restaurant, a chic indoor restaurant offering international cuisine, a private dining room and a bar with black leather lounges and bronze tables. Other facilities and services of the hotel include a spa with optional in-room service, swimming pool, gym, steam room, library and courtyard.

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From Travelogues
Our co-founder Jay Tindall loves the variety on offer in Sri Lanka, particularly the beaches, ancient ruins, tea plantations and amazing wildlife safaris.
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