Experience the highlights of this emerald island nation on a luxury 10-day Classic Sri Lanka journey. Criss-cross the island from the historically-rich central province to the verdent mountains in the heart of the island and finally to the southernmost palm-fringed shores. Soak up the culture, history, and landscapes of Sri Lanka as you visit Colombo, Dambulla, Kandy, Bogawantalawa Valley, Tangalle, and Galle, all while staying at some of the most luxurious hotels the country has to offer.This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.
Begin your Sri Lankan adventure in the nation's capital, Colombo. Upon touchdown, you will be met at the airport and privately transferred to your hotel. Check in and freshen up. In the afternoon, step out to explore the lively city. Begin at Gangaramaya Temple, followed by Seema Malaka Temple - both of which are the most important temples in the city. Stop by a local market, a colorful and bustling scene awaits. Then, take a drive around the Fort Area downtown and see the Dutch and British architecture from colonial days as well as various ministry and governmental buildings. Alight at Galle Face Green for a stroll. This long stretch of green lawn next to the narrow beach and sea promenade in Colombo is a peaceful area where locals come in the early evening to leisure activities such as running, playing cricket or football, kite flying, and to enjoy the sunset.
Leave the city behind for Sigiriya, a four-hour drive away. The scenic route is shaded with tall trees and forest foliage. Take in the fresh island air and enjoy scenes of local markets, fruit stalls, humble colorfully painted homes pass you by. Before arriving at your destination, stop for a visit at Dambulla Cave Temple. The largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in the country, Dambulla Cave Temple is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex dates from the third and second centuries and still operates as a monastery in present day. Afterwards, continue onward to your hotel where you can unwind for the rest of the day.
Take a half-day trip to Polonnaruwa, another UNESCO site around 80 minutes away from Dambulla, and a well-preserved ancient kingdom. Explore the time-honored ruins and learn about life in ancient times. Finish the day with a safari at the Minneriya National Park. The park is a wildlife refuge and if you’re lucky, you may even spot elephants feeding. Those especially keen to see elephants will want to visit during the dry months, from July to October, when hundreds of elephants make their way to the watering hole at Minneriya. This spectacular sight is called the annual elephant gathering.
Wake early this morning to visit Sigiriya. This ancient fortress built in the 5th century, yet another UNESCO site, is perched at the very top of a remarkable monolithic rock pillar that juts dramatically over the forests. After scaling the rock pillar - and admiring the 21 colorful frescoes along the way - make your final ascent to the top through a gate carved into the rock to look like lion paws. In fact, the entire palace was carved in the shape of a lion, earning this site the colloquial name, 'Lion Rock.' Afterwards, journey onward to Kandy, two hours away. Enroute, stop for a curry lunch at a local restaurant and a tour through a spice and herb garden to learn about their culinary and indigenous medicinal uses, also known as ayurveda. After arriving in Kandy, visit the Temple of Tooth, said to be home to the relic of the tooth of Buddha. A puja ritual is performed three times a day, involving drummers and dancers.
Embark on one of, if not the most beautiful railway journeys in the world as you depart from Kandy for Sri Lanka's tea country. Sit back and enjoy stunning scenes of tea plantations, waterfalls, rolling mountains, clouds and mist roll by your window. Snack hawkers are commonly seen on the trains offering hot snacks such as samosas and chai tea, a perfect accompaniment to your journey. Alternatively, if you prefer, take a private car directly to your hotel. After two hours, disembark at Hatton and transfer to your the all-inclusive Ceylon Tea Trails hotel nestled in the tea hills. Settle into your luxury bungalow, a restored historic tea planter residence. Stretch your legs post-journey by taking the Ceylon Tea Trail working plantation hike. Watch the tea pickers at work and observe life on a working tea estate before returning to your bungalow for a fresh cup of tea with hot scones and clotted cream.
The day is yours to enjoy however you wish. The area is ideal for trekking and biking along the mountains, lakes, winding roads, and waterfalls. You can also unwind and enjoy a spa treatment, croquet on the lawn, or sunbathe alongside the pool. A butler and personal chef will ensure the utmost care and attention to your stay.
Today, leave the cool climes of lush green tea hills behind for the warm beaches of the southern coast. Take a quick and scenic seaplane south to Hambantota, then a short drive along the coast to your hotel in Tangalle. This palm-fringed fishing port is all about the slow-life. You are free to enjoy the sandy white beaches and fresh seafood on your own for the rest of the day.
This morning you will visit a turtle conservation. Five of seven types of sea turtle species can be found on Sri Lanka's shores and these local conservations play a role in protecting these animals and promoting education and preservation efforts. Then, head to the bustling local market to see fresh produce and seafood sold by local farmers and fishermen. If you wish, take a cooking lesson and learn how these ingredients are used in Sri Lanka's flavorful cuisine. Spend the rest of the day relaxing at the beach or pool as you wish.
A lovely two-hour drive along the coast takes you to UNESCO-protected Galle, your final stop. Go on a tour of the ancient fort and walk along the centuries-old Dutch ramparts with a local expert. Explore the narrow alleyways lined with chic boutiques, cafes, and hotels housed in restored whitewashed Dutch colonial buildings. Wrap up the day by paying the Yatagala and Rhumasala temples a visit. Your hotel tonight is Amangalla, a charming boutique sanctuary in the heart of the fort. This night, on your last evening, have dinner at one of the restaurants within the fort and enjoy your final taste of Sri Lanka.
After breakfast, and perhaps one last walk along the ramparts, you will be privately transferred back to Colombo airport for your flight onward.
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.
In prime position next to the lake and nearby Buddhist shrine, Uga Residence screams old-world elegance in modern Colombo. Nestled on a verdant avenue, this perfectly-appointed Victorian mansion offers an escape and some peace and quiet within the bustle of the city. Guests can relax in their luxurious suites, bedecked in rich materials and textures, or on their private terraces; alternatively, they may enjoy tranquil walks in the shady gardens. Relaxation and reinvigoration are close at hand with massages available on request and the hotel pool awaiting with cooling waters in a sunny courtyard. A la carte dining is a sumptuous affair at the poolside restaurant, where guests may begin with a cocktail from the adjacent bar and continue with wine from the cellar to accompany the gourmet delights on offer.
Located just six kilometers away from the historic Sigiriya Rock, Water Garden Sigiriya resort provides visitors to Sri Lanka with world-class comfort and second to none service. With one and two bedroom options, the resort's 30 villas are chicly designed, spacious, and imbued with an air of mystique thanks to their secret gardens and private plunge pools. Havens of relaxation and excellently positioned to observe the lush outdoors and roaming wildlife, the villas are also equipped with such modern comforts as flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi, and coffeemakers. The expansive resort property can be traversed via a traditional buggy, swimming across the outdoor pool, or aboard a helicopter from the resort’s helipad that provides aerial tours of the adjacent countryside. Master chefs cater to diverse appetites with dishes from around the world at the outdoor dining sites and traditional indoor venue. Quality is ensured with an emphasis on organic produce and imports from top quality suppliers. At the resort's spa, various treatments can be enjoyed including renowned Balinese massages. On-site, there is plenty to keep guests entertained with activities as diverse as billiards, biking, and archery while travel off the premises to explore such nearby attractions as the ancient cities of Dambulla, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa is easy and convenient.
Nestled amongst reed beds and paddy fields on top of a man-made lake lies Jetwing Vil Uyana, a premier luxury eco resort in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka. Hailed by Harper's Bazaar as the "best eco luxury hotel in Sri Lanka," this one-of-a-kind resort comprises 36 dwellings that merge sophisticated modern comforts with ecological rural simplicity. Located on a property that spans 28 acres, the resort's structures have been carefully placed to best allow the surrounding nature to thrive, inducing 36 species of butterfly, 120 species of bird, and 20 species of mammal that regard the resortas home. Guests can attempt to identify all the species from the comfort of their dwellings or participate in any of the various wildlife observation tours organized by the resort’s staff. Magnificent views of Sigiriya rock are also offered from the resort's fine dining restaurant serving Eastern and Western dishes alike. There is also a café for light bites and a fully stocked bar. Strategically located, getaways to elephant gatherings at Minneriya National Park, a wildlife safari at Wilpattu National Park, and other tours of nearby natural wonders and cultural relics are easily accessible. The resort itself is equipped with a spa, yoga treatments, gymnasium, coffee makers, Wi-Fi, and more.
Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon, is one of the world's historic centers of tea production, replete with rolling green hills and genteel plantation homes. Ceylon Tea Trails, run by the Dilmah Tea Company, has restored four classic colonial bungalows built for British tea estate managers in the days of the Raj. These historic houses offer guests the unique experience of life on a working tea estate in the highlands (elevation here is over 4,000 feet). The bungalows range in size from four to six rooms and two have their own pools. Summerville and Castlereagh are situated opposite each other on the shores of the Castlereagh Lake, Norwood is at the other end of the valley about 15 minutes away by car and Tientsin is about 30 minutes away in the next valley. Maintained trails with beautiful views run between all the bungalows, and through the surrounding hillsides and plantations. Each house comes with its own manager, chef, butler and houseboys; in-house massage appointments can be arranged. Meals and afternoon tea are prepared by your private chef using gourmet ingredients and produce grown right on the property, and can be served indoors or on the lawn.
Situated in the midst of a coconut grove on a secluded bay, the Amanwella resort is one of the world's most exclusive beach retreats. The resort sits on a perfect crescent of white-sand beach and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, national parks and exotic wildlife and a 5 and 1/2 hour drive from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). There are 30 suites, each equipped with a plunge pool, terrace, and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. A number of ocean suites are located further down the hill and have uninterrupted views of the coconut palms and the beach. The Amanwella restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, and uses its location next to the ocean to cook up fresh Asian- and Mediterranean-style seafood. The Pool Terrace also serves meals in a more laid-back setting. When not enjoying a safari, snorkeling, or swimming in the pool, there is a library with Internet access and reference books on Sri Lanka. The spa offers massages and traditional therapies using local, natural ingredients, which can be given either in the spa's suite or in selected garden locations. There is no fitness center.
Located in the center of a preserved 17th-century Dutch Fort, the sumptuous Amangalla resort is also a beautifully restored UNESCO World Heritage site that perfectly captures the charm of the historic trading port of Galle. Amangalla has 17 rooms, eight suites and the Garden House, a two-story house with treetop views. Rooms are decorated in a style that blends luxurious contemporary amenities with a perfectly rendered colonial-era aesthetic. Sri Lankan curry and other traditional dishes are served in the dining room, and the Veranda is a cool spot to have a drink during the day; the fort's Zaal (Dutch for Great Hall) serves light meals and a classic afternoon tea. The pool is located in the resort's gardens and has five shaded pavilions where you can relax post-swim. A library with Internet access houses information on Sri Lanka and the history of the Fort. The Baths, Amangalla's spa, offers Ayurvedic massage, hydrotherapy pools, and a steam room and sauna, among other treatments. There is also a garden pavilion for yoga practice or meditation. There is no fitness center. The resort is roughly a four-hour drive from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB).
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Shared seaplane flight Castlereagh-Hambantota is included. First-class train tickets Kandy-Hatton is included. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands – a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
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