The Sri Lanka Guesthouse Explorer allows you to experience the many attractions of Sri Lanka on a tight budget. We’ve selected some of our favourite small properties - charming guesthouses in scenic locations, with friendly and helpful staff. We might be clamping down on costs in keeping with our conviction that tailor-made holidays can also be designed for travellers on lower budgets, but the tour itself is packed with variety, encompassing the Cultural Triangle, majestic mountain peaks, game parks, tropical beaches and cramming in a brief visit to the genial capital Colombo at the end of the tour.
An old favourite that emphasises Red Dot's commitment to unearthing the best affordable, smaller accommodation on the island
- Experience one of the world’s great train journeys
- Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the cultural triangle
- Take in the breathtaking views at Horton Plains
- Walk amid the Sri Lanka hill country
- Watch herds of wild elephants roaming freely at Uda Walawe
- Learn to surf in Weligama
- Explore Galle’s 17C Dutch Fort
- Accommodation in a shared double / twin room
- Chauffeur-guide and vehicle for the duration of the tour (including leisure days)
- Both airport transfers
- Expert advice and support prior to and during the tour
TERMS & CONDITIONS
- Price shown is a starting price and is subject to change, depending on travel dates / the number of people travelling etc.
- Price shown is based on two people sharing a double / twin room
- See our Booking Conditions for more details
Day 1 Katunayake, North-West Coast
Arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport and take a short transfer to your initial accommodation to rest up after the flight. The beach resort of Negombo is a short distance away and, if you are in the mood for some activity, offers an immediate chance to adjust to the time difference and warmer temperatures in a beach bar or restaurant. Get a taste of Sri Lankan life by visiting the Negombo fish market or the local churches in a town which have a strong Catholic influence.
Accommodation: Randoni Villa
Day 2 & 3 Sigiriya, Cultural Triangle
Today you head north-east to Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle where you have a host of activities to choose from. It is amid the ruins of ancient cities, rock fortresses and cave temples where Sri Lanka’s history comes alive. Choose from our wide range of activities in the Cultural Triangle so we can tailor your itinerary exactly to your liking and you can make the best use of your time. If you are particularly intrigued by the history of this evocative region we strongly recommend you add a third night here.
Accommodation: Elephas Resort
Recommended Activities: Minneriya National Park , Sigiriya Rock Fortress , Polonnaruwa , Dambulla Cave Temple
Day 4 & 5 Kandy
The journey from the Cultural Triangle to Sri Lanka's hill capital – the small lakeside city of Kandy – will occupy most of the morning. On the way, visit the ancient Aluvihara Rock Temple, located in Matale, or have a guided tour of a spice farm. Explore the city of Kandy, steeped in history and culture. Walk around the tranquil Kandy Lake and visit the Temple of the Tooth which has a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha enshrined here since 4th Century A.D. During August, Kandy dazzles with the sounds and lights of the Kandy Perehara.
Accommodation: Hanthana House
Recommended Activities: Kandy Temple and City Walk , Aluvihara Cave Temple , Kandy Restaurant Guide , Royal Botanical Gardens
Day 6 & 7 Bandarawala, Hill Country
Today you journey to the southern highlands, a stirring land of lush tea plantations, majestic peaks and rushing waterfalls. We recommend you jump aboard the train – one of the great rail journeys in the world. Your driver will transport your luggage by car. Several treks are possible, to Little Adam’s Peak, the ancient Dhowa Rock Temple, Ravana caves and several of Sri Lanka’s finest waterfalls. Visit a nearby tea factory. Explore the towns of Bandarawala and Haputale.
Accommodation: Roseland Cottages
Recommended Activities: Dhowa Rock Temple , Sri Lanka Waterfalls , Little Adam's Peak , Kandy to the Hill Country by train
Day 8 & 9 Tissamaharama, Tissa & Kataragama
Journey on to the south east of Sri Lanka. Visit Buduruwagala to see Sri Lanka's tallest rock-cut Buddha statue before reaching the southern town of Tissamaharama, the capital of the ancient Ruhunu Kingdom in the 2C B.C. Tissa, named after King Kavantissa, is dominated by lakes and gigantic semi-circle shaped Buddhist Dagobas. The sprawling Tissa Wewa was built by King Kavantissa 2,300 years ago. The sacred jungle shrine of Kataragama is located nearby. Explore the jungle of Yala – one of the best National Parks to see a wide variety of Sri Lankan wildlife because of its scrub plains, lagoons and rocky sections. Yala is home to herds of wild elephants, leopard, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, wild boar, crocodiles, monkeys and numerous species of birds.
Accommodation: Hibiscus Garden
Recommended Activities: Buduruwagala , Kataragama , Yala National Park , Tissamaharama
Day 10, 11 & 12 Mirissa, South Coast
Journey along the south coast towards the historic city of Galle for some well-deserved beach days. Water-sports and whale spotting expeditions depart from Mirissa from December to April when the seas are calm. The south of Sri Lanka beyond Dondra is considered one of the best locations in the world for spotting blue whales, sperm whales and spinner dolphins. We also recommend a visit to Galle’s 17C Dutch Fort, with its sturdy ramparts looking out to sea, a lighthouse and narrow streets lined with colonial-era buildings which now house a collection of art galleries, shops, cafes and boutique hotels and villas.
Accommodation: Villa Oceane
Recommended Activities: 6 Best Water-Sport Activities in Sri Lanka , Whale Watching in Mirissa , Galle Dutch Fort
Day 13 Colombo
Still time for a quick visit to the genial capital of Colombo, a convenient stopover en route to the airport the following day. Colombo might not be the most famous capital in this part of the world, but it is definitely one of the most manageable and it is easy to fall in love with its relaxed atmosphere, secret hideaways and collection of bars and restaurants. We also have a selection of tours of the capital for your delectation.
Accommodation: Dolce Casa
Recommended Activities: Colombo Restaurant Guide , Colombo Guided Walk - Religion and Culture
Randoni Villa is a peaceful two-bedroom holiday retreat set by a river in the village of Radoluwa just 20 minutes away from Colombo’s international airport in Katunayake. This simple and laidback setting is perfect for recuperating after a long flight.
Sigiriya, Cultural Triangle
Elephas Resort is a small, eco-friendly hotel surrounded by wilderness and paddy fields which offers laid-back, chalet-style accommodation close to Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
Hanthana House is a four-bedroom homestay set high in the hills of Hanthana, 30 minutes from Kandy town. A winding uphill roadway leads you to this welcoming private home set amidst a peaceful and scenic setting.
Bandarawela, Hill Country
With picturesque views of the hill country, this simple yet inviting property near Bandarawela is a treat for families and couples alike. With two well-designed individual chalets and ample space to relax, Roseland Cottages is a quieter alternative to the bustle of Ella.
Tissamaharama, Tissa & Kataragama
Hibiscus Garden is a homely guesthouse with 20 well-appointed rooms housed in four separate chalets. The chalets are located surrounding the swimming pool. A convenient money-saving option for Yala game park, about 40 minutes away, and the other attractions of the deep south.
Matara, South Coast
Villa Oceane is a charming five-bedroom property hidden away by the Madiha surf point, between Matara and Mirissa on Sri Lanka’s South Coast. This is a convivial, well-run place with the extra attraction of possessing a secluded spot a short distance away from the coastal road.
Dolce Casa is a bright and comfortable guesthouse in a quiet area of Colombo just a short drive from the city centre, ideal for those seeking affordable accommodation in a great location. Its restaurant, Dolce Italia, serves up sumptuous Western cuisine and fantastic coffee.
Following are recommended optional activities
Dambulla Cave Temple
Dambulla, Cultural Triangle
The most famous cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, the ancient Dambulla Cave Temple boasts the largest number of Buddha statues to be housed in one place, as well as stunning ceiling paintings.
Minneriya National Park
Habarana, Cultural Triangle
Minneriya National Park is a small but popular wildlife park home to a wide range of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. It is also the site of the world-renowned wildlife event ‘The Elephant Gathering’.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya, Cultural Triangle
Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most majestic, awe-inspiring and stunning historical locations in the world, built in the 5th century AD by ‘mad’ King Kasyapa.
Polonnaruwa, Cultural Triangle
Sri Lanka’s medieval capital from 1073 until the late 1200s, the ruins of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa are incredibly well-preserved and include magnificant granite sculptures of Lord Buddha.
Kandy Temple and City Walk
Delve into the most revered temple in the island as your host takes you through the Kandy city and the Temple of the Tooth, then head to the local market for a final feast for your senses.
Aluvihara Cave Temple
Matale, Cultural Triangle
Aluvihara Cave Temple, which can be visited easily from Kandy and the Cultural Triangle, is where the oral teachings of Lord Buddha were first put into writing in the 3rd century AD.
Kandy Restaurant Guide
Kandyan cuisine has a distinct flavour. Ambul Thiyal, for example, is a popular sour fish curry. Kandyan sweet meats including Kavum, Kokis, and Pani Walalu are delicious treats not to be missed.
Royal Botanical Gardens
The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens is the largest of its kind in Sri Lanka and the finest in Asia. Explore the beautiful surroundings with an expert, or simple enjoy a relaxed stroll in the sun.
Little Adam's Peak
Ella, Hill Country
Although this climb is relatively easy, the views from the top of Little Adam’s Peak are sensational. Begin the climb with a gentle stroll through a sloping tea field, passing endless neat rows of terraced tea plants.
Kandy to the Hill Country by train
Praised as one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world, the train ride winds out of Kandy and up through the Hill Country, providing panoramic views of the spectacular tea-covered hills.
Dhowa Rock Temple
Ella, Hill Country
Believed to have been the refuge for King Walagama in the 1st century BC, Dhowa Rock Temple is a lesser-known hill country attraction which boasts a stupendous, albeit incomplete, statue of Buddha.
Sri Lanka Waterfalls
More than a hundred waterfalls are scattered across Sri Lanka’s verdant central hills, and whilst some are fairly small or inaccessible, many are worth hiking to. We've highlighted our top five.
Koslanda, Hill Country
The ancient rock carvings at Buduruwagala date back to the 8th century. Seven gigantic Buddhist figures are sculpted into a 70ft cliff, including a colossal image of Lord Buddha spanning over 50ft.
Kataragama, Tissa & Kataragama
An ancient pilgrimage site visited by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians. It is believed that King Dutugemunu built a shrine here for the worship of the Kataragama God in the 2nd century BC.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park, Yala
Yala National Park, situated in the south-east corner of the island, is home to the greatest variety of Sri Lanka’s wildlife including the island’s big game – elephants, leopards and sloth bears.
Tissamaharama, Tissa & Kataragama
Tissamaharama is a sacred town scattered with lakes and Buddhist temples that was the capital of the ancient Ruhunu Kingdom in the 2nd century BC.
Galle Dutch Fort
Galle Fort, Galle Coast
Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site originally built by the Portuguese before it was further developed by the Dutch and British, covers nearly 4sqkm and houses a range of old colonial buildings.
6 Best Water-Sport Activities in Sri Lanka
Discover the 6 best water-sport activities in Sri Lanka, from athletic surfing, kite-surfing and windsurfing to laidback snorkelling and sailing trips.
Whale Watching in Mirissa
Mirissa, South Coast
This modern catamaran complete with professional crew sets out from Mirissa Harbour at 6:30am, beating the other boats in order to have the best dolphin and whale sightings.
Colombo Restaurant Guide
Explore Colombo’s wide range of restaurants, cafés and street food options, which offer a wide range of traditional local dishes as well as cuisine from around the world.
Colombo Guided Walk - Religion and Culture
Explore Colombo’s fascinating religious and cultural diversity on this dynamic guided walking tour, which takes you to iconic religious buildings and through the lively streets of Pettah.