Culture & Cuisine in Sri Lanka

Experience the ultimate custom tour of Sri Lanka! What better way to celebrate and create happy memories, than exploring the great outdoors, traversing the landscapes, encountering exotic wildlife and immersing yourselves in the local culture. On this adventure you'll have the opportunity to delve into the diverse culinary scene of Sri Lanka. Experience the unique flavors through unique foodie experiences from fine dining to local home cooked meals. Aside from filling your belly, you'll also have the chance to learn how to create these amazing dishes as well as connect with the locals and learn about the history of their food and tea culture.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Colombo Arrival

Colombo Arrival
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Tour: Colombo Nightlife & Street Food
  • Accommodation: Galle Face Hotel
  • Meals: D

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at the airport in Colombo, clear immigration and customs before proceeding to the arrivals lobby area. You will be met by your private chauffeur guide and transferred to your hotel in Colombo.

Colombo Nightlife & Street Food

After checking in, you can take the evening to relax with Rashan, a young local. Rashan can show you the best places to go for music and bars! Rashan is a from the town of Moratuwa, known for their love of arrack and music. He will show you how locals have fun. Afterward, take a walk with him through the Galle Face and into the inner roads of Slave Island. The place is continuously going modernization and ever-changing. Walkthrough the streets and meet the locals and their ways of experiencing daily life. Before the night is over, you will go to a street food joint and eat Kottu Rotti, a nightly meal in Sri Lanka. (This service is on a private basis.)

Colombo

Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has a long history as a port on ancient east-west trade routes, ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. That heritage is reflected in its its architecture, mixing colonial buildings with high-rises and shopping malls. The imposing Colombo National Museum, dedicated to Sri Lankan history, borders sprawling Viharamahadevi Park and its giant Buddha.

Day 2: Colombo

Colombo
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Gallery Tour with a Local Artist
  • Tour: Culinary Ceylon
  • Accommodation: Galle Face Hotel
  • Meals: B, D

Gallery Tour with a Local Artist

Discover this city, the origin of an influential contemporary art movement, through connections with local people, their traditions, passions, and art.

You might not associate Colombo, the commercial center of Sri Lanka, with art. However, one of the most influential contemporary art movements, the 43 Group, started in Colombo with the works of Harry Pieris, George Keyt, and Ivan Pieris, among others. Colombo is the kind of place that gets under your skin. Like many big cities, the way to unravel its hidden secrets is with the help and companionship of a local. Today you will embark on a wonderful gallery tour guided by an artist, Mr. Michael Anthonisz.

He will go beyond the surface and provide and explain the story behind each unique piece of art. During the tour, you'll also have the opportunity to witness the amazing cultural murals which depict the rich history of the little island formerly known as Ceylon. The paintings you will see today have their own expressions and offer a window to another world!

This tour is all about people, not just art appreciation. When we travel, we make connections with the people we meet, and in time, they become the fabric of good travel memories. Meeting a local artist puts the whole experience into perspective. It is more than an art tour, this exploration is a window into life in Colombo and what makes the city alive – an amalgam of different people, traditions and cultures. (This service is on a private basis.)

Culinary Ceylon

This evening unravel Sri Lanka’s culinary history and its unique flavors, through a hosted food experience at Culinary Ceylon. Sri Lankan cuisine combines flavors from around the globe and yet, has a taste that is all it's own. With influences from Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern India, North Africa, Portugal, England, and the Netherlands, it’s a mixed bag of flavors and an explosion of colors, which remains a constant reminder of the country's colonial past. But you would be mistaken for thinking it cannot be defined as it's own. It’s heavily influenced by its geography, sitting in the Indian Ocean between east and west, meaning lots of delicious seafood. And the tropical climate also accounts for a plethora of coconuts. Curries and rice are staples and are often eaten with roti style bread, while chilies, curry leaves, onions, cinnamon, and garlic are also featured heavily.

The menu is comprised of 7 local culinary hits, broadly based on taking diners on a journey across the island’s multi-ethnic, multicultural and diverse range of dishes that come together to create the foundation of present-day Sri Lankan cuisine. Expect to taste dishes such as an original burgher luminary; a local twist on Indonesian lamprais introduced by Dutch colonizers, the island’s favorite street food Kottu roti that originated on the east coast and distinctively flavored northern country-style favorites such as thosai, idly and vadai, prepared using family recipes.

Note: Please inform us of any dietary restrictions in advance so that the menu can be adjusted accordingly. (This service is on a group basis.)

Day 3: Colombo - Sigiriya

Colombo - Sigiriya
Daily Summary
  • Tour: En Route to Sigiriya via Ritigala
  • Transportation: Internal Transfer
  • Accommodation: Seerock The King’s Domain Hotel
  • Meals: B, D

En Route to Sigiriya via Ritigala

Today you'll bid farewell to Colombo and proceed towards Sri Lanka's cultural triangle.

After approximately 5.5 hours drive, you'll stop to visit and explore the Ritigala Archeological Monastery. Think of Indiana Jones – well that is a bit exaggerated - but Ritigala in a way has that undiscovered feeling, a world away from the most famous sights in Sri Lanka. Take the time to fully explore this incredible site and be sure to walk all the way to the highest area of the complex. The archeological site bears a certain mysterious nature owing to the long meditational pathways that open into the thick jungle and large stone-lined reservoirs. Take a moment to sit down and connect with nature in these ancient sacred meditation grounds.

You'll then continue the 1-hour journey to Sigirya. Check in to your hotel and settle into your new surroundings! (This service is on a private basis.)

This evening you will enjoy a special culinary treat! The chef will show you how this simple yet highly coveted dish called "Hoppers" is prepared. Enjoy this delicious and popular Sri Lankan specialty!

Sigirya

Centered on a massive rock rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, Sigiriya’s location is one of considerable natural beauty and historical interest. An area of ancient settlement lying between the historic capitals of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the Sigiriya plain still retains much of its forest cover, and many of its present village settlements and man-made village reservoirs date back to the first millennium B.C. In its present form, Sigiriya itself is essentially a walled-and-moated royal capital of the fifth century A.D. It has a palace complex on top of the rock, elaborate pleasure gardens, extensive moats and ramparts, and well-known paintings on the western face of the rock.

Day 4: Sigiriya

Sigiriya
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Polonnaruwa
  • Accommodation: Seerock The King’s Domain Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Polonnaruwa

Rise and shine! Early this morning, you will have a chance to climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Sigiriya, the marvelous rock fortress also known as Lion Rock, is a rare jewel among the many treasures in Sri Lanka. The site was the domain of King Kashyapa whose aim was to build an impregnable fortress, and within it, a heavenly abode. Rising over the dry plains of the Sigiriya District, the climb of 1,200 steps up this plateau ends with the most scenic bird’s-eye view of the emerald plains and leafy villages beneath. The skeletal layout of the ancient city within the fortress marvels its observers with the grandeur and complexity of Sri Lanka's 5th-century urban-planning.

On the way to the top one can observe the famous Sigiriya frescoes of the buxom, wasp-waisted maidens bearing flowers, amidst the wilderness and ancient ruins. The smoothly glazed ‘Mirror Wall’ located a few steps away has sealed the expressions of ancient visitors, inspired by the vibrant frescoes. The Sigiriya experience takes approximately 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the pace at which you wish to ascend.

Next, enjoy a feast of rice and ten varieties of curry at a local restaurant bordering the scenic rice fields, away from the main roads. The Sri Lankan version of 'Rice & Curry' is something not to miss while visiting the country.

This afternoon, you'll continue on to Polonnaruwa, the Second ancient Kingdom of Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa showcases the divine right of the King and his ardent devotion to the philosophy of Buddhism. This includes the colossal remnants of King Parakramabahu’s palace, which was equal in splendor to the palace of Kubera, the Hindu god of wealth. The influence of the Chola invasion is clearly visible in the mastery of the surviving Shiva Temples, their structure and finish. The court of King Nissankamalla does not disappoint with its swaying pillars of rock reminiscent of lotus stems. Polonnaruwa is truly a sight to behold. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 5: Sigiriya - Kandy

Sigiriya - Kandy
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Dambulla Cave Temple Visit Enroute to Kandy
  • Transportation: Internal Transfer
  • Tour: Memorable Moments with a Kandyan Family
  • Accommodation: The Kandy House
  • Meals: B

Dambulla Cave Temple Visit Enroute to Kandy

After breakfast, you will start your journey to Kandy! En-route, visit the Dambulla Cave temple. This incredible cave temple complex was hewn out of an enormous rock with such intricate beauty and workmanship. It is adorned with murals that depict the life and times of Lord Buddha, and gives a sense of calmness.

In the temple, you can see around 153 Buddha statues along with other gods, goddesses, and kings who used their wealth for the temple. The five caves are adorned and make up this unique temple. Witness the different architectural patterns throughout the temple and beautiful panoramic views at an 1118 ft altitude. The views will show you a bordering Ritigala to the North and the Kurunegala Plains to the South East.

After the visit, you will head on over to Kandy, the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings (total driving duration: approximately 3 hours). (This service is on a private basis.)

Memorable Moments with a Kandyan Family

Today you will meet Bandula, who will warmly welcome you into his humble home for a cup of tea and some delicious local snacks prepared by his wife Ganga. You'll have the opportunity to try the following dishes: Konda Kavum (oil cakes), batter-coated Kokis (rice cookies which are plunged deep into smoking oil), Unduwal (bangles of black gram flour mixture deep fried and dripping with honey). It should be noted that not all Unduwal are created equal: if the batter is too thick, the rings can be heavy and unappetizing; if too soft, the bangle is crumbly. It takes skill and practice to get it exactly right, which happens to be Ganga’s forte.

Since now your part of the family, you'll head off together to visit the city's most famous relic - the Temple of the Tooth. If you want to blend in with the locals, we suggest you dress in white or light-covered overalls, buy some flowers from outside the temple, and follow Bandula who will guide you on the methods of adoration of the Sacred Relic of Lord Buddha.

With the sweets soothing your belly and a tranquil mind from the visit to the temple, bid farewell to your hosts Bandula and Ganga. (This service is on a private basis.)

Kandy

Kandy is a large city in central Sri Lanka. It's set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforest. The city's heart is scenic Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake), which is popular for strolling. Kandy is famed for sacred Buddhist sites, including the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) shrine, celebrated with the grand Esala Perahera annual procession.

Day 6: Kandy

Kandy
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Curries, Clay Pots, & Kandyan Flavors
  • Accommodation: The Kandy House
  • Meals: B, L

Curries, Clay Pots, & Kandyan Flavors

You are in for a yummy treat today! You will visit a local home not too far from the city of Kandy and enjoy a home-cooked meal soaked in tropical spices and rich Kandyan flavors. Krishanthi, the lady of the house, is an amazing host and more than happy to welcome you and share her age-old secret recipes as she takes you on a culinary journey. You will be welcomed with warm Kandyan smiles and a glass of fresh tropical fruit juice. Begin with a quick visit to the local vegetable stall where you can pick any vegetables you like and return with a bag full of goodies needed for your meal. Krishanthi's kitchen is equipped with a traditional firewood stove and a 'miris gala' which is an ancient stone grinder. These are rather rare to come by in an ordinary home in this modern day. You will be cooking in clay pots as there is no better way to cook a nice curry! After an eventful few hours in the kitchen, sit down for a mouthwatering lunch. Not only will you learn about the local cuisine today but you will also get a glimpse into the life and home of a local family. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 7: Kandy - Haputale

Kandy - Haputale
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Train Station Transfers
  • Transportation (Train): Train
  • Accommodation: Thotalagala Plantation House
  • Meals: B, L, D
Train
Kandy - Nanu Oya
Train: TBA
Departs: TBA
Arrives: TBA

After a wonderful time in Kandy, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the railway station to embark on a 3.5 hour train journey to Nanu Oya through Sri Lanka’s stunning hill country. Take in the captivating views along the way - lush tea plantations, mist-covered mountains, and smiling locals!

Upon arrival at the railway station, you will be met by your chauffeur guide for your transfer to your accommodations in Haputale (drive duration: approx. 2 hours). Check-in and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. If you’d like to just chill out, there is a cigar room where the time stands still. This is not just another cigar room, it’s a piece of history, preserved, for you to cherish.

Haputale

Haputale is located on the trail between Sri Lanka’s lush mountains and the descent towards the south coast and the jungles of Yala and Udawalawe, which are a two-hour drive away. Across the hills, the ancient capital of Kandy lies within a two and a half-hour radius. The Southern Wildlife parks and beaches make Haputale an ideal place to sample the best of Sri Lanka’s tea country.

Day 8: Haputale

Haputale
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Tale of Tea
  • Accommodation: Thotalagala Plantation House
  • Meals: B, L, D

Tale of Tea

Rise and shine! Start your day by hearing the birds singing, beautiful views, and a warm cup of coffee. After breakfast, you will head over to Bandarawela to meet your host for the day. Meet Salinda Madugalle, a retired tea planter who will be sharing his stories about working on Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, where he spent decades gaining his experience.

Salinda began his planter’s career back in 1977, when tea exports from Sri Lanka really began to take off. With over 30 years’ experience in the tea fields as a planter, Salinda became one of the most respected consultants for tea estates in Sri Lanka’s hill country. Now retired, but still with a burning passion for the tea business, Salinda keeps his memories alive with this fascinating tour that will take you on a plantation walk, punctuated with anecdotes and captivating stories of his life as a tea planter.

Walking through the stunning mist-covered mountains with stupendous views and hillsides carpeted with tea, you will learn from Salinda about the changes in the tea business and how the tea estates have evolved since his time. Wandering along small trails among the tea bushes, you are also likely to meet some of the friendly local ladies plucking tea. Most of the workforce is still made up of Tamil women who live a hard life doing back-breaking work, though conditions have improved dramatically since the 19th century. With so much experience working on the tea estates, Salinda is fluent in Tamil and will quickly strike up a conversation with locals and workers you meet along the way – recounting to you some of their stories about life on the tea estates.

Join your host for a private tea-tasting experience and learn how to determine the qualities of different teas, before sitting back and savoring some of the freshest most flavorful tea on the planet. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 9: Haputale - Galle

Haputale - Galle
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Internal Transfer
  • Accommodation: The Fort Printers
  • Meals: B

This morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Haputale and transferred to your accommodations in Galle. Sit back and enjoy the ride to the heart of the South Coast!

Journey time: 5hrs

Galle

Galle attracts many travelers due to its location in the Southern part of the island. Therefore, most who come to Galle never miss enjoying the beauty of the sea and sand. Galle Dutch Fort is among the more popular sights for those who value archaeological reserves and heritage. It is known as the oldest fort in Asia, name as a world heritage city by UNESCO. Inside the fort, travelers can find other attractions such as the Dutch Museum, which contains paintings, pictures, and furniture of the Dutch Reformed Church. The fort is built on a small peninsula that can be easily accessed from the Galle town center. It is the best place to visit during an evening when the picturesque scenery of the sunset can be enjoyed.

Day 10: Galle

Galle
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Yatagala Temple Spiritual Journey
  • Tour: Local Family Dinner
  • Accommodation: The Fort Printers
  • Meals: B, D

Spend the morning at leisure.

Yatagala Temple Spiritual Journey

Today, Galle Fort is a major tourist attraction where you will find large crowds of tourists duly following their guides. Of course, the Fort is a highlight of Galle city, situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, and yet there is so much more to explore in this beautiful coastal region, if you are willing to dig a little deeper.

On this afternoon tour, you will venture away from the crowds for a spiritual journey into Galle’s rural countryside to visit Yatagala Temple. The short tuk-tuk ride is already something everybody should experience – riding down little back roads surrounded by lush green paddy fields. Here there are no tourists to be found, only a few villagers harvesting their crops, or chatting with neighbors and drinking toddy palm wine.

Once you arrive, you ascend a number of steps to get to the temple. Its name means “under the rocks” because the temple’s Buddhist statues lay under huge boulders. As soon as you remove your flip flops and enter, you will feel the peaceful, mystical atmosphere of the temple rising up through your toes – a calming feeling!

Your Buddhist guide will then take you through the temple on a spiritual journey to purge your body and mind of negative thoughts and to pay tribute to Buddha. This symbolic ritual practiced by every Sri Lankan Buddhist, provides devotees with a sense of happiness, peace, and relief.

You will feel humbled standing in front of the large Buddha statue, while you offer up the traditional pichcha flowers in worship. Other rituals you will participate in include burning incense, lighting votive lamps and offering water to the sacred Bodhi tree. As you carry out these rituals, known as pujas, your guide will tell you more about their meaning and significance.

After presenting your offerings you will be ready to receive a blessing from the devoted monks, but before you do this, don’t forget to have a look inside the room carved into the rocks where Buddha supposedly resides – a stunning display of Buddha murals that have been hidden away for centuries. Finally, kneel down facing Buddha and gently hold the pirith noolaand threads, before closing your eyes and allowing your spirit to be lulled by the sound of the chanting monks. (This service is on a private basis.)

Local Family Dinner

This evening, visit the local home of a southern family who is eager to host you for dinner! Their food is made with love, care, and hospitality. Natasha, the lady of the house, and her husband (who is a chef!) will prepare and serve you a fantastic home-made meal. The Dutch Fort area may be home to a lot of lovely restaurants, but nothing compares to a delicious home-cooked meal and friendly company. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 11: Galle - Colombo Departure

Galle - Colombo Departure
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Meals: B

Although your adventure must come to an end today, you will be leaving with new friends, amazing experiences, and memories to cherish for the rest of your life. Once you have checked out of your hotel in Galle, you will be met by your driver and transferred to the airport in good time to board your international departure flight (drive duration: approx. 2.5 hrs). (This service is on a private basis.)

We wish you safe and happy travels home!

Accommodation

Galle Face Hotel

Galle Face Hotel

Sri Lanka’s iconic landmark, the Galle Face Hotel, is situated in the heart of Colombo, along the seafront and facing the famous Galle Face Green. As one of the oldest hotels east of the Suez, the Galle Face Hotel embraces it's rich history and legendary traditions, utilizing them to create engaging, immersive experiences, that resonate with old and new generations of travelers alike. No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without staying at this majestic hotel, built in 1864 and recently restored back to its former glory.

Seerock The King’s Domain Hotel

Seerock The King’s Domain Hotel

Seerock ”The King’s Domain” Boutique Hotel is a place where your genuine care, comfort, and satisfaction is the highest priority. Seerock ”The King’s Domain” Boutique Hotel pledges to provide the finest personal service and facilities for you to enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance. The experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even your unexpressed wishes and needs.

The Kandy House

The Kandy House

Seductive boutique hotel The Kandy House, in Kandy’s leafy outskirts, effortlessly purveys intimate luxury. A 200-year-old aristo palazzo gone 21st-century, it blends minimalist lines, atypical antiques and quirky strokes of colour around a central courtyard, with just eight romantic individually designed rooms, named after indigenous butterflies. If you can bear to leave the genial grub and your chaise longue on the veranda, enticing hammocks beckon for relaxing around the infinity pool.

Thotalagala Plantation House

Thotalagala Plantation House

Welcome to Thotalagala, a remarkable feat of restoration. The planters bungalow has been revived to its former glory, with seven themed suites based on personalities that shaped the history of the province of Uva, one of the foremost tea growing regions in Sri Lanka, the most beautiful tea growing region in the world. Thotalagala is steeped in history; it is located on Pitaratmalie Estate, which is part of Agarapatana Plantations, a collection of estates that totals almost 8000 hectares of the most beautiful high grown tea that Sri Lanka produces. Adjoining the estate is Dambatenne, possibly the most famous estate in all of Sri Lanka. Dambatenne is one of the only estates in the world that Sir Thomas Lipton planted himself. The term “Ceylon Tea” was coined here, and Lipton’s Tea was founded and sold its first pound of tea from the precincts of the factory, which still stands today. Guests of Thotalagala will be granted exclusive access to the factory and the bungalow, which was Sir Thomas Lipton’s residence from 1890 to 1910.

The Fort Printers

The Fort Printers

The Fort Printers is located in the historic Galle Fort, a 16th century Dutch colonial Fort and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mansion traces its origin to the Dutch period, but substantial additions were made in the English era after 1796, including high ceilings and large windows. Over the last two centuries, the property has been home to Mahinda College, a successor to the Galle Buddhist Theosophical Society and a famous institution of higher Buddhist learning, The Bank of Ceylon and Fort Printers. Fort Printers was once a famous functioning printing company, and now provides elegant and exclusive accommodation.

Pricing and Details

Starting from $ 3,288 per person

*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.

Price Includes

  • Full support before, during & after your trip
  • Meals as mentioned
  • Accommodation as mentioned
  • Tours/activities as mentioned
  • Transport as mentioned

Price Excludes

  • International & domestic flights
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Entrance visas when applicable
  • Other services not mentioned
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers
  • Taxes and fees

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