Also known as the ‘island of serendipity’, Sri Lanka is a tapestry of contrasts offering a gentle introduction to Asia. We have experts in botany, photography and art in the cultural triangle, leopard trackers in the National Parks, resident tea planters in the hill country and food connoisseurs scattered all over the country to bring the old Ceylon to life.
Although Sri Lanka is a small island, it can take a long time to navigate the poorly kept roads and hence the road journeys, although dramatic, are often in excess of 5 hours. Scheduled seaplanes that can land in the Ocean or on reservoirs and lakes throughout the country can dramatically cut these times and offer a different perspective.
The northern cultural sites of Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura need at least 3 days to do them justice with one of our excellent accompanying guides. Then work off those egg hoppers with a stroll or bike ride in the hill country, before relaxing on one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches.
The main highlights will leave you wanting more and following the end of the civil war, the untrodden paths in the north and east are now fully open to tourism. A visit to Jaffna or perhaps the eastern province will really take you off the beaten track, where mass tourism has yet to bring about any significant cultural change.
Wix Squared has some exceptional guides to get you under the skin of the country including:
- A Jaffna resident and keen cyclist in the north
- A local surf champion and teacher in Hikkaduwa
- A professor of botany to bring Kandy’s Botanical Gardens to life
- A local artist who will invite you to his studio in Kandy to discuss philosophy, music and art
- An eccentric British novelist, travel writer and poet, resident in Bentota
- A 4th generation fort resident in Galle
- A gemologist – come – philosopher – come – philanthropist in Galle
- The owner of a tea plantation and tea factory
- A war photographer in Kandy
- The ‘leopard man’ – an experienced naturalist in Yala and Wilpattu National Parks
Itinerary Starting Price
From £2,000 per person, for 10 days including accommodation, private guiding, entrance fees and private transfers (not including flights).
Although cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka, the national sport of the country is, in fact, volleyball.
Perahera (July/August) is celebrated in Kandy with the exact dates being based on the lunar calendar. The city comes to life at night with musicians, acrobats and bejewelled elephants.
What to Eat
Hoppers are made from rice flour, coconut milk and spices. Either steamed or fried, they come in various forms such as egg hoppers, string hoppers or milk hoppers.
What to Read
‘A History of Sri Lanka’ by K.M. de Silva. Written by a Sri Lankan historian, this book uncovers the ancient and modern traditions of religion, culture and politics.
What to buy
Ceylon sapphires have an unusual blue colour and the largest sapphire in the world was discovered in a Sri Lankan mine.
Dozens of old plantation bungalows have been converted into guesthouses throughout the tea growing areas, offering tea focused experiences or just a place to relax in truly stunning locations. Some of our favourites include Tea Trails, Kahanda Kanda, Rosyth Estate and Camellia Hills.
Until recently the level of accommodation in the National Parks was very basic, however we can now offer luxury lodges, like Chena Huts, Gal Oya Lodge and glamping experiences like Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris, from which to base yourself and go in search of the elusive leopard.
There are 8 UNESCO sites in Sri Lanka and in order to gain access to be best of these, we suggest spending 3-4 days in the Cultural Triangle as well as visiting Kandy and Galle Fort where there are many boutique hotels with plenty of character, such as Ulagalla, Kandy House, Fort Bazaar and Amangalla.
It is difficult to know where to start when selecting a beach hotel, as there are so many to choose from. There are luxurious options like Amanwella and Cape Weligama or boutique hotels such as The Last House, KK Beach and Aditya as well as a plethora of private villas.
Cycling is a wonderful way to explore Sri Lanka and our favourite places to do so are in Galle’s surrounding countryside where you can navigate a paddy trail of 12km from Wijaya Beach, discover Anuradhapura’s ancient temple ruins or peddle through the tea plantations in the hill country with incredible lush green scenery. We can tailor the rides for all levels of fitness and provide delicious picnics along the way to break the journey.
Delve into the colonial backstreets of Colombo and Galle with a resident guide who can show you the way on foot and point out some of Geoffrey Bawa’s famous architecture. Whilst in the tea plantations accompany one of our trekking guides through Horton Plains National Park or join a sunrise pilgrimage up Adam’s Peak (2,243m). We can also arrange walks around tea plantations and tea factories to help you understand the process.
Sri Lanka is a great soft introduction to Asia and Wix Squared has developed many activities to keep the little ones occupied. Enrol them in a junior ranger course in Yala National Park so they can learn to track animals, identify star constellations and learn bush survival techniques. We can also arrange art and craft classes on the ramparts of Galle Fort or learn to make a Kolam mask with a local artist. Teenagers might enjoy Segway rides through Colombo, surfing in Hikkaduwa and kayaking on Lake Koggala.
The golden sand windswept coastline of Sri Lanka encircles the entire island. The east coast is more remote whilst the west coast is more developed. Each beach has its own draw, be it home to a turtle sanctuary, the launching point for boats to take you whale watching or deep sea fishing, or from where to try kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling. That said, many beaches are not swimmable from, due to the strong currents, so ensure you speak to a Wix Squared expert to find the right location for your holiday.
Wildlife is abundant in Sri Lanka, particularly in the National Parks. Yala has one of the highest leopard densities in the world and here you can also find wild boar, sloth bear, elephant and crocodiles. The parks are not as well run as in Africa and can get very overcrowded. Wilpattu National Park is more remote with simple tented accommodation, whilst Minneriya National Park is easily accessible from Pollonaruwa where you can spot large elephant herds. It is also possible to go whale watching from Trincomalee or Mirissa in a private boat to find blue and sperm whales.
Sri Lankan food is full of fresh spices grown locally and incorporated into various cooking techniques. Wix Squared can arrange home cooking classes, authentic village lunches and fine-dining degustation dinners in secret locations. We can also organise street food tasting tours in Galle, Sinhalese cooking demonstrations in the highlands, tea-tasting sessions on a tea plantation and a 4-course cinnamon infused meal on a cinnamon plantation.
The white sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Maldives are easily accessible with a direct flight from Colombo to Male or Gan to access some incredible dive sites which Sri Lanka lacks.
Spend a week in India uncovering the Hindu culture in the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) and then fly direct to Colombo to unveil a Buddhist outlook on life with affordable beach options.
Break the journey with a stopover in Abu Dhabi or Dubai for a city break in either direction. We work with some wonderful shopping guides in these cities and some engaging nomads in the Arabian Desert.
Numerous boutique hotels and private villas can be booked for exclusive use, creating wonderful event venues or a base for touring. We have some excellent specialists to accompany our guests around the country to experience Sri Lanka from a different perspective.
A scenic and cost effective way for large groups to travel around the country is by chartering seaplanes and we can tailor the routes to circle around Adam’s Peak or take a day trip to the Cultural Triangle, for example.
Find out more about Events by Wix Squared
Sri Lanka is a year round destination when you can usually find sunshine in one part of the country, however we suggest avoiding October/November when it tends to rain over the entire island.
The south-west is best December-April. The north-east is best May-September.
- January is a great time to visit Sri Lanka with glorious weather in the south and the annual Galle Literary Festival lasts for 4 days with workshops, lectures and famous authors gathering in Galle Fort.
- For high chances of leopard sightings, head to Yala National Park or go whale and dolphin watching off the coast of Mirissa. This is one of the most popular months to travel to Sri Lanka.
- Although there are sometimes short rain showers in the cultural triangle and in the tea plantations, the rest of the country is at its best with golden sand beaches sparkling in the south.
- Sri Lanka is a great option for a family holiday and an introduction to Asia over the Easter holidays. There are plenty of wildlife experiences possible from elephant orphanages to turtle sanctuaries and jeep safaris in the national parks.
- Get really off the beaten track and head to Jaffna, breaking your journey in Trincomalee to look for whales. The accommodation is less sophisticated here and on the east coast, but it is the best area for sunshine in May.
- The Cultural Triangle and tea plantations are lovely and lush at this time of year. For the best beach head to the east coast or hop on a direct flight to the Maldives.
- July often sees a lull in the monsoon which means Sri Lanka is a fitting destination for summer holidays to cycle through the highlands, raft through the tea plantations, bathe elephant calves, learn to cook Sri Lankan hoppers or relax on the beaches.
- Sri Lanka’s most famous festival, Perahera, occurs in Kandy with bejeweled elephants, musicians, acrobats and extravagant nightly parades. Over this period book with plenty of notice as the good hotels in Kandy have a limited number of rooms
- Elephants scatter the entire country and in September/October you can see hundreds of elephants gathering in Minneriya National Park, in the Cultural Triangle. The southern beaches can be quite rough at this time of year so stick to the east coast.
- October is one of the wettest months of the year when you might want to avoid the coastline and head to the Maldives for more guaranteed weather.
- The monsoon rains can make road conditions more challenging, hence we suggest taking seaplanes or helicopters between destinations to shorten journey times and get a unique bird’s eye view of the country.
- December is a popular time to visit Sri Lanka with the start of the pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak which continues until May and sunny weather can be found across the country, particularly in the south-west.