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Circle Sri Lanka

Trip type: 
Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
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Awaiting reviews
Asia, Sri Lanka | 16 days
Trip code: 
What's included: 

Transport - Auto rickshaw, Train, Bus, Private Bus, Bicycle

Accommodation - Guesthouse (9 nts), Hotel (5 nts)

Meals - 7 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 5 Dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Elephants bathing in the river
Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
Local cooking experience
Tropical beaches
see full itinerary >>

Sri Lankan Holidays
You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
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Itinerary for Circle Sri Lanka

(Departures in 2014-15)
  • Day 1-2 - Negombo
  • Day 3-4 - Anuradhapura
  • Day 5 - Polonnaruwa
  • Day 6 - Dambulla Caves/Sigiriya
  • Day 7-8 - Kandy
  • Day 9 - Bandarawela/Haputale
  • Day 10 - Tea Plantation
  • Day 11 - Haputale
  • Day 12-13 - Mirissa
  • Day 14 - Galle
  • Day 15 - Colombo
  • Day 16 - Tour ends
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »


Take an overnight flight - on arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka.

You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5.30PM. If your flight arrives after this time we recommend that you consider booking a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you can ensure you are able to attend this meeting. We will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader. Your group leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. Your leader will leave details for your late arrival on where and when to meet.

Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 12 pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.

Those who arrive early can get into the spirit of the seaside of Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and feasting on fresh seafood. Negombo town is a historically interesting and busy commercial centre. The surrounding countryside with its network of canals is a fascinating slice of Sri Lankan rural life and is best explored by bicycle - the hotel can help you arrange the hire of a bike.


Hotel (1 nt)



A private vehicle takes you to Anuradhapura, via Chilaw a small town with fantastic local fish markets (approx. 7hrs).

Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka's most extensive and important ancient city. Ruled by Sinhalese kings for over 2,500 years as the country's first capital, the city rose to its glittering greatness over 2,200 years ago and fell to invading southern Indians several times over the next 1,000 years. The set of ruins is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Start a guided bicycle tour of the ancient city at the central and sacred old Bo Tree, a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and the inspiration for Anuradhapura's great buildings. The Bo tree was grown from a cutting of the original tree in Bodhgaya under which Buddha gained enlightenment. The ruins themselves are spread over quite an area, some in woodland settings and others appearing park-like with columns and old ponds dotted about.

There are several museums with a range of interesting and amusing exhibits and there is the possibility of an optional visit to Mihintale, the sacred birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism.

Included Activities

  • Anuradhapura - ancient site guided bicycle tour

Optional Activities

  • Mihintale visit - LKR500


Guesthouse (2 nts)




Travel to Polonnaruwa by local bus (approx. 4.5hrs), which was the capital of the Indian Chola Dynasty after Anuradhapura was conquered in the late 10th Century. The ruins are close together and are generally in much better repair than those at Anuradhapura.

Cycling amid the remains of 1000-year-old Polonnaruwa is the best way to get around. You cycle and visit more beautiful palaces, temples and stupas, but the highlights have to be the massive stone Buddhas - the 14m high graceful granite carved reclining Buddha is a famous Sri Lankan image and represents the zenith of Sinhalese rock carving. Visit the well laid-out museum, which has scale models of many of the buildings to show how they would have existed in their time.

Included Activities

  • Polonnaruwa - ancient site guided bicycle tour


Guesthouse (1 nt)



Dambulla Caves/Sigiriya

From Polonnaruwa you travel to Dambulla by local bus (approx. 2.5hrs). On the way visit the Dambulla Cave Temple. Located high up in a stone cliff face, these temples house some 150 Buddha images in the five caves.

In the afternoon there is an option to visit to a nearby wildlife reserve and with some luck spot wild elephants.

Sigiriya (approx. 20mins drive from Dambulla) is an impressive fortress built as a royal citadel on top of a 200m high rock mass, and early on the morning of day 6 you take the steep climb to the top for fantastic views. The water gardens have been restored to their former 5th century glory and we will follow a spiral staircase to see the famous 5th century frescoes.

Included Activities

  • Dambulla - Cave temples guided visit
  • Sigiriya - Rock Fortress guided visit

Optional Activities

  • Miniraya Wildlife Reserve Entry - LKR3250
  • Minieraya Wildlife Reserve Jeep Safari - LKR6000


Hotel (1 nt)




On the way to Kandy (approx. 4hrs) you stop at one of the region's spice and herb gardens to see how they're grown. Situated among the hills, Kandy is Sri Lanka's culture capital and the country's second-largest city. At 500m high, the city has a pleasant climate and is surrounded by lush green countryside.

The city has a wonderful atmosphere with a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants. Here you see an evening performance of the famed Kandyan dancers and fire-walkers, before a evening visit to the octagonal Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic) where you may also experience drumming and chanting rituals of the white-clad pilgrims who come to worship at Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist site. In Kandy there is also a National Museum, monasteries, scenic walks around town and the botanical gardens are among the best in Asia.

Included Activities

  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Kandy - Cultural dance performance
  • Kandy - Spice & Herb Garden Visit

Optional Activities

  • Botanical Gardens - LKR1230
  • National Museum - LKR250


Hotel (2 nts)



Make a stunning train journey into the highlands disembarking at Bandarawela (approx. 7hrs), where you are invited into a local home for a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets of traditional Sri Lankan food before enjoying the delicious meal.

In Bandarawela you stay in a simple but pleasant guesthouse located in a quiet part of town.

From here you begin your 2 day guided trekking tomorrow. The walks on the next days require good walking shoes as the 'track' is often just rocks under shrubs and if there has been rain it can get muddy. You do need to be fit because although the walk is not too demanding, it can be difficult walking on rough and unsteady ground. If you do not feel that you are able to complete these walks you will be able to take an option to either stay in Bandarawela for an extra night, or if you dont wish to complete the second days walk to Haputale your group leader will be able to organise a transport alternative. These options would be at your own cost.

Included Activities

  • Bandarawela - Cooking demonstration
  • Hill-country - 2 days guided trek


Guesthouse (1 nt)



Tea Plantation

Set off by local bus (approx. 45mins) to the starting point for your walk through picturesque tea plantations and small Tamil villages (approx 6.5hrs).

Tonight you stay in a local tea plantations managers bungalow, of which we have a multi share sleeping arrangement between 3 rooms and shared bathroom facility. All bedding and meals are provided and although conditions are basic this accommodation often proves to be one of the highlights.


Guesthouse (1 nt)



Set off for some more walking (approx. 4.5hrs) to explore more of the beautiful surrounds of Sri Lanka's Hill Country, enjoying the chance to meet the curious friendly children and tea pickers alike.

Overnight tonight is in Haputale in a guesthouse. On a clear day you can see the ocean from here!


Guesthouse (1 nt)




This morning visit a Tea Factory and take a guided tour to learn about the industry, manufacture and finally some tea tasting.  You have a unique chance to visit a Hindu Temple and observe a morning prayer.

Set off south bound for the coast but en route stop at the Uda Walawe National Park to experience feeding time for baby orphaned elephants. The aim of the organisation is to rehabilitate and protect both injured and orphaned elephants until they are fit and strong enough to be released to the wild - a very special stop and a worthy organisation to support.

Driving further along the beautiful Sri Lankan South Coast by private bus brings you to the beautiful beach of Mirissa (approx 7hrs).  You are based here for two days of serious relaxation, with comfortable accommodation just meters from the water. The beach is a long curve of sand and has lovely calm clear waters for swimming - the sunsets are great too. This is a paradise that you won't want to leave!

Please note that our hotel in Mirissa is currently carrying out some renovation, affecting the restaurant and swimming pool. The renovations are scheduled to be finished by November.

Consider taking a bicycle ride or tuk tuk to nearby Weligama where colourful fishing boats should have just brought back their loads of fresh fish to sell along the shore of the sandy bay. You may also come across the local cottage industry of ladies making gorgeous lace products.

Included Activities

  • Haputale - Tea factory tour
  • Uda Walawe - Elephant Orphanage

Optional Activities

  • Bike hire (per day) - LKR300


Guesthouse (2 nts)




Set off again by private bus further along the south coast, and on the way you may be able to stop for a photo opportunity of the famous stilt fishermen casting their lines from their traditional poles. 

Come to the colonial port town of Galle (approx. 1hr), home to an impressive World Heritage-listed Dutch fort with extensive walls containing many interesting old buildings. In the evening take a walk around the historical fort and watch the sunset from the ramparts.

The Portuguese, the Dutch and the British have all used the natural harbour as their port. Galle is now going through a major rejuvenation with many old properties being renovated and converted to boutique hotels and restaurants.

Please note: Galle and Mirissa were severely damaged by the December 2004 Tsunami. Project work still continues to repair the lives and homes of thousands of people in the area.

In Galle you stay inside the fort itself, in a 250 year old Dutch Villa that even has a courtyard garden, which has been converted into a guesthouse. Although facilities are basic the atmosphere is warm with great hospitality offered by the local family who will prepare dinner tonight.

Included Activities

  • Gale - Walking tour


Guesthouse (1 nt)




Leaving Galle, you take a famous train ride catching your final glimpses of the beautiful Sri Lankan coastline before you roll into Colombo (approx. 3hrs).

Upon arrival set off for a walk via the bustling Petta bazaar, independence square, parliament, past the national museum, before finishing at a shopping opportunity for a good cause at the Barefoot fair trade store where you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the area supporting small cottage industries.

Included Activities

  • Colombo - Walking tour


Hotel (1 nt)



Tour ends

Your adventure ends today and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.