Savour Sri Lanka Food Tour – a 14 day Tailormade Tour from £1995 per person based on 2 people travelling sharing a room excluding international flights.
This extraordinary island set in the Indian Ocean, off the south-eastern tip of India, boasts thousands of years of diverse culture. Still a predominantly Buddhist country, it also has strong Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities. Incredibly fertile and a great producer of exotic fruits, it was for centuries the main spice producer of the world.
With a strong cultural past that now offers 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sri Lanka was once one of the richest countries in Asia. In recent times it has not developed at the dramatic pace of its neighbours in the region, which only adds to its charm and character. The relative lack of development and gentle island pace make Sri Lanka the perfect destination for those looking for a varied and stimulating holiday.
Sri Lanka offers a huge range of opportunities from beautiful beaches, unbelievable flora and fauna (much of it endemic) and amazing architecture. There are a vast amount of historical and religious sites and beautiful walking opportunities in the hills.
This idiosyncratic and friendliest of nations is best characterised by its people who carry infectious smiles with them every day!
On this Sri Lanka food tour, leave moderation at home and fully immerse yourself in the magnificent food (and drink) of Sri Lanka. From the warm zephyr of the tropical coast to the misty tea clad slopes of the hill country, indulge in the freshest seafood, discover delicious desserts, and uncover flavoursome and fiery curries.
You will have the chance to get hands-on experience with Sri Lankan cuisine under the knowledgeable tutelage of locals passionate about their produce. In addition to the culinary experience, explore some of Sri Lanka’s iconic sights such as the imposing rock fortress of Sigiriya, the city of Kandy, Yala National Park and historic Galle.
Day 1 – Arrive – Negombo
(Approx. overall driving time is 30 mins)
Start your Sri Lanka Food Tour when on arrival you transfer to your hotel to relax after your journey. Your accommodation this evening is perfect for familiarising yourself with excellent Sri Lankan food and your first evening meal is included. Overnight Villa Hundhira (D)
Day 2 – Lagoon and Canals of Negombo – Sigiriya
(Approx. overall driving time today is 4 hours)
Visit the atmospheric fish market (closed on Sundays) and weave through the stalls packed with all manner of seafood to get a good initial feel for local produce on the coast. Following this, take a boat trip around the Negombo lagoon and the old Dutch-built canals. The narrow waterways of the canals allow fascinating glimpses of local life. Upon entering the vast lagoon, your vessel gently cruises through the plentiful mangrove swamps, on the lookout for bird life – you can expect to spot species such as White-throated kingfishers and Pheasant-tailed jaçanas to White-breasted water hens. Water monitor and crocodile sightings as well as the endemic Toque monkey are also common. At a suitable point, you will be able to paddle in the shallows and enjoy fresh tropical fruits. On the return voyage, the dazzling kaleidoscope of colourful fishing boats of Negombo’s fleet provides wonderful photo opportunities. This afternoon, head away from the coast to Sigiriya. En route we stop to explore a busy wholesale market, and dodge the trucks and people, piled-high with every type of produce imaginable. Boasting an incredible array of fresh food, much of which is subsequently transported to Colombo for sale, this is the perfect place to get a sense of Sri Lanka’s agricultural diversity. Overnight Kumbukgaha Villa (B)
Day 3 – Sigiriya Rock Fortress (UNESCO)
After an early breakfast, drive the short distance to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, referred to by Sri Lankan’s as the 8th wonder of the world. This breathtakingly beautiful and dramatic site is a rare jewel among the many treasures in Sri Lanka. Here you will have the opportunity to ascend the rock to witness its elaborate ancient fortress complex (approximately 2.5 hours round-trip on foot, including stairs) and marvel at the 360 degree panorama. The 200 metre high ancient remains of a defensive capital built by a fearful king, ‘Lion’s Rock’ house dynamic 5th century frescoes, terraced gardens and splashing fountains On your ascent of the rock fortress, take time to linger at the wonderfully preserved frescoes, depicting buxom, wasp-waisted maidens bearing flowers. Time ekes rapidly away in this incredible place and all too soon it will be time to descend. For lunch, feast on local vegetables, curry made with tapioca and fried fish caught in the nearby lake for lunch. Later this afternoon return to the hotel for some time relaxing at leisure after the exertions of the Sigiriya ascent. Overnight Kumbukgaha Villa (BL)
Day 4 – Dambulla Cave Temples (UNESCO) – Spice Garden – Kandy
(Approx. overall driving time today is 3.5 hours)
This morning visit the Dambulla Cave temples, located high on a cliff face. You will have time to explore these this morning and admire the many Buddha images, frescoes and paintings. On the way to the physical and spiritual heart of the country and the former home of the last Sri Lankan king, stop for lunch at a spice garden in the renowned spice-growing region of Matale. Sri Lankans are the masters of spice production and here you can learn how spices aren’t simply utilised for food, but also cosmetics and ayurvedic medicine. Imbibe the fragrant odours of cumin, cinnamon and curry leaves before savouring pumpkin curry flavoured with aromatic fenugreek, with a side of dry chilli sambol and the uniquely Sri Lankan coconut roti. As the spice gardens here are popular with tourists, you may find the prices relatively higher than those outside, but it is the ideal place to learn about the best Sri Lankan spices. Continue on to the city of Kandy and arrive by late afternoon. On arrival explore the spice markets before a short walk to the Royal Bar to taste a shot of arrack, the drink of the masses. The Royal Bar is almost a Kandy institution. If you love traditional bars then don’t miss out on this classic! Locals come here in the evenings after a tiring day at work to have a couple of shots with a light bite before heading home for the evening. To accompany the arrack, we recommend trying the tempered chick peas, just like the locals do. Overnight Hotel Suisse (BL)
Day 5 – Kandyan cooking experience and the Temple of the Tooth
This morning visit a local Kandyan home for an authentic culinary experience, a highlight of the Sri Lanka Food Tour. You will be welcomed with a warm smiles and a glass of fresh tropical fruit juice at the home, before taking a visit to the local vegetable market where you will be invited to choose from an array of fresh ingredients. You then return to the home of your host to prepare the meal. The kitchen is equipped with an impressive traditional firewood stove and a miris gala, a flat granite slab used for grinding chillies and other spices, very traditional in Sri Lanka. You will also be cooking in traditional clay pots which really encapsulates the delicious flavours. After an eventful couple of hours in the kitchen, sit down for a well-deserved, mouth-watering lunch in the company of your hosts. Be sure to try the jackfruit sambol! Later, join the throng of pilgrims at the revered Temple of the Tooth and if time allows ask your guide to take you to the quite exquisite Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of town. This evening will be at your leisure to perhaps take a pleasant lakeside stroll. Overnight Hotel Suisse (BL)
Day 6 – Kandy to Bandarawela
(Train journey – Approx. journey time 5 hours)
Today enjoy surely one of the most spectacular rail journeys from Kandy into the heart of the verdant tea clad hills. There are insufficient superlatives to describe the inexhaustible flood of fabulous vistas around every twist and turn, through each tunnel, from the vertiginous spectacular viaducts and bridges. Be sure to try out some of the tasty platform-sellers’ snacks – the spicy peanuts and caramelised curry-leaf packets are a revelation. Alternatively ask your guide to take you to buy some local snacks in the town to eat on the train journey. On arrival in Bandarawela, transfer to your striking accommodation. Overnight Villa Perpetua (B)
Kindly note, train tickets are in high demand in Sri Lanka and can only be reserved a few weeks before travel. We will do our best to secure you tickets which is nearly always possible, but in the event they cannot be acquired then private transportation will take you to Bandarawela. Also, note that if you prefer a shorter train ride then we can travel by road to Nanu Oya via the hill station town of Nuwara Eliya and then complete just the last 2 hours by rail.
Day 7 – Bandarawela
Enjoy a superb breakfast from your accommodation (choose from either a local style breakfast or western style) from an attractive vantage point with atmospheric views across the verdant misty slopes. The rest of the morning is devoted to the Sri Lankan religion that is tea! You will meet Salinda Madugalle, a retired and passionate Tea Planter who will be sharing his intriguing stories about the time-honoured tale of tea. Salinda began his planter’s career as long ago as in 1977, carrying with him a huge amount of experience in the tea fields as a planter for over 30 years and also developing experience as a consultant at sundry tea estates in the hill country. Now retired, yet with the desire for keeping his planting memories alive, Salinda will take you on a delightful trip down his own memory lane offering an insight into his life as a tea planter, regaling you with compelling details as to how tea estates have slowly evolved. With Salinda, stroll the serpentine trails amongst the bountiful tea bushes and perhaps meet some of the groups of local Tamil women plucking tea-leaves. As you will learn, conditions have improved considerably for workers since the brutality of 19th century labour experiences, but it is still amply evident that this is a particularly tough job. Salinda’s Tamil is very fluent, following his extensive experience amongst the estate workers, so you may be able to strike up engaging conversations with the locals about their occupations and the tea itself. Later, enjoy an absorbing tea tasting experience, examining the characteristics, idiosyncrasies and qualities of different tea varieties which will far surpass anything you have hitherto enjoyed at home. The rest of the day today will be at your leisure to relax. Overnight Villa Perpetua (B)
Day 8 – Bandarawela – Yala National Park
(Approx. overall driving time today is 3.5)
If you feel inclined to stretch your legs this morning, an early breakfast can be taken and then take the short journey to Ella for a highly recommended 1½ hour easy grade walk to Little Adams Peak, to enjoy fabulous views if conditions are clear. Afterwards, follow the meanderingly mesmeric road down towards the coast and towards Yala National Park. The park is internationally acclaimed as the jewel in Sri Lanka’s wildlife viewing crown. After check in, you will take a late afternoon safari exploring the depths of the little visited Block 5, also referred to as Lunagamhavera National Park. This stunningly idyllic escape into the wilds of the wider Yala Park offers a real sense of seclusion and adventure – few tourists stray this far, adding greatly to its appeal. Accordingly, wildlife is abundant but much shyer here: viewing can be challenging, but offers some highly rewarding surprises and lends the whole experience an air of pioneering and discovery. We prefer to visit this area as some sections of Yala National Park have become sadly overcrowded with safari vehicles. One never knows what you will see on safari, but enjoy the beguiling scenery and the possibility of observing a wonderful array of species here: from Leopard and Elephant to Crocodile and many species of birds. Overnight Kithala Resort (B)
Day 9 – Yala National Park – Galle
(Approx. overall driving time is 3 hours)
If much of the wildlife eluded you yesterday afternoon, then you can decide to take an early morning safari today to once more try your luck. Otherwise enjoy a relaxing morning. If you went out on safari, return to your hotel for a late breakfast and some leisure time, before the afternoon drive along the tropical palm fringed roads of the south coast to Galle. If you are doing well for time, ask your guide to stop at one of the bewitching stretches of sand such as breathtaking Herakitiya Beach to stretch your legs or have a swim before arriving in historic Galle. Overnight Fort Printers (B)
Day 10 – Galle Fort (UNESCO) and a special seafood dinner
This morning, in the company of your guide explore the atmospheric old streets of historic Galle and the well preserved fort ramparts and soak up the history that exudes from every street corner. You will then have some time this afternoon at leisure for your own exploration, before enjoying a culinary treat this evening, with a visit to a friendly local home for a sumptuous seafood supper. The setup is quite relaxed, served by a beaming Natasha who is the lady of the house and her husband. Apart from Fish (baked or curried) and the Kadey Paan (Bread), coconut tends to be the star with Coconut Roti and Sambol, two staples of Sri Lankan cuisine. Finish with delights such as stuffed crepes with Pani Pol (a mixture of Coconut & Treacle). Overnight Fort Printers (BD)
Day 11 – Galle at leisure or optional activities
Spend your day at leisure in the historic confines of Galle. There are many cafes, restaurants and boutiques to explore. If you prefer to venture out of the city then consider a trip to nearby Unawatuna Beach for some relaxation and swimming amongst a classic tropical scene. Alternatively, wildlife enthusiasts take a whale watching trip from the town of Mirissa (optional extra cost). During the right season, when the waters are warm and the seas calm, a rich abundance of sea-life can be seen, from Bottlenose and Spinner dolphins to Sperm, Fin, Bryde’s and short finned whales. Turtles, Orca, Whale shark are also often present. However, the world’s largest mammal, the magnificent Blue whale is a very regular sighting. It’s worth noting that it can take some hours to locate whales and obviously, nature being nature, sightings are not guaranteed and seas can be rough; the probability is high of some encounters, with most boats claiming a 90% success rate in locating Blue whales. Overnight Fort Printers (B)
Day 12 - Galle - Colombo
(Approx. overall driving time is 3 hours)
After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to the capital Colombo. On arrival check in to the hotel and spend some time walking the Galle Face Green to see the locals indulge in a spot of kite flying or one of the myriad of impromptu games of cricket beside the ocean. Later this afternoon, meet Rashan, an interesting local personality for a behind the scenes look at Colombo. Travelling local style in tuk tuks, Rashan will first take you to a street food joint at the Galle Face where you can sample an authentic Kottu Rotti whilst watching locals enjoy the green space and the balmy sea air. Continue to the vibrant evening market at Pettah and perhaps taste some seasonal fruits and take in the atmosphere. It is them time to join Rashan to sample some local arrack at a back street bar and if you are lucky listen to some live music. Arrack is synonymous with Sri Lanka, a liquor produced from the flower of the coconut tree. Overnight Galle Face Hotel (B)
Day 13 - Colombo
Explore Colombo this morning on a city tour. The sightseeing can be personalised to your preferences but some highlights can include, Old Parliament House, The Dutch Museum and Independence Square to name but a few. This morning we explore the city of Colombo together with your chauffeur guide. Lunch will be taken at the city oasis of the Barefoot Café, a nice place to relax and enjoy some fusion cuisine. Then enjoy some time at leisure back at the Galle Face this afternoon to reflect on the journey until this evening heading out to enjoy a last memorable meal at a local restaurant famous for its crab curry served with roti, dhal and sambol. Surely a fitting culinary conclusion to the trip. Overnight Galle Face Hotel (BLD)
Day 14 - Departure
Enjoy a leisurely al fresco breakfast, overlooking the glittering Indian Ocean, before transferring to the airport for your onward flight and the end of your Sri Lanka Food Tour. (B)
Dates & Price.
We offer this Sri Lanka holiday for private departures only.
Prices start from £1995 per person based on 2 people travelling sharing a room.
We can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please contact us to discuss your travel plans.
This Sri Lanka Food Tour is a private and tailor-made Sri Lanka holiday so there is no minimum or maximum group size.
Solo occupancy room supplement from £650.
Return flights from London to Colombo start from a very lowest base price (not direct) from around £450 per person, but there are many seasonal variations. More typically on a direct flight from London to Colombo, expect to pay upwards of £650 per person. Please contact us for a quotation.
Airport transfers are included on arrival and departure on the Sri Lanka Food Tour.
This is a recommended sample Sri Lanka Food Tour staying in good comfortable standards of accommodation, but please contact us if you wish to upgrade your accommodation or indeed to design your own perfectly customised tailormade tour to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean – Sri Lanka.
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+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
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1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA
- Arrival and departure transfers
- All accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary (we can book a range of accommodation)
- Transportation throughout in a private air-conditioned vehicle
- Services of an English-speaking driver / guide
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
- Bottled drinking water in the vehicles
- International flights
- Travel Insurance
- Visa (if applicable)
- Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Items of a personal nature
- Optional activities (such as extra safaris or whale watching)
- Tips (Discretionary)