Sri Lanka Long Awaited Presidents Pick

President's Picks | Big Five Tours



Ashish Sanghrajka
President of Big Five Tours & Expeditions

Find A Travel Advisor

President’s Picks


Sri Lanka


Price starts at 14,810.00 Land per person, per day, double occupancy.



Tour Highlights/Full Description

Call for Rates

Not found.
It seems that there is no information for this tour.
go back

Ayubowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka!

On arrival to Colombo, clear immigration, an airport representative will guide you to the Silk Route Lounge, where you will meet your Guide with whom you will spend most of your Sri Lankan travels. After meeting your Guide, proceed to your hotel in Colombo.


Colombo is Sri Lanka’s biggest city and its capital – for years’ visitors have avoided it, and there were reasons behind it – it had a reputation for being drab and boring. We think Colombo, unlike Bangkok or Jakarta, is easy to explore. True, you must prepare for some traffic, but once you look past the busy avenues, there is a rich world to discover.


Then there is the Galle Face Green – every afternoon, families come here to watch the sunset, play a little cricket, and just hang around this large esplanade – it is one of the legacies of British rule, and it is used as much today as it was 100 years back. Try to visit around sunset when there is a cooling breeze from the Indian Ocean and bask in the convivial family atmosphere.


Enjoy a relaxed breakfast at the hotel before embarking on an afternoon exploration of Colombo. Join one of our insiders, for a walking tour through the city’s rich history, from the Portuguese and Dutch Fort to the British period.
There are monumental buildings like the GOH hotel or the Cargills department store. Come and see it before it all changes, as Colombo is undergoing modernization, and many architectural gems will be gone in a couple of years. Our favorite part of the program is walking through the bustling streets of Pettah Colombo’s central market hub. A modern open-air bazaar of sorts where the smells of dried chilies and fish can mix with trucks delivering Indian saris all happening in a small alleyway. It is an experience in itself, and even well-seasoned travelers will get a kick out of it.


DAY 3: POLONNARUWA / SIGIRIYA (Approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes’ drive)
In the morning, meet your guide, after which you are taken on a visit to the sites in Polonnaruwa.

Grand Palaces? Check! Monumental Stupas? Check! Life carved into harsh granite. Check! These are the to look for things at Polonnaruwa, which showcases the divine right of the King and his ardent devotion to the philosophy of Buddhism ranging from the colossal remnants of King Parakramabahu’s palace, which was equal in splendor to the palace of Kubera, the Hindu God of wealth to the place where the stonemasons of yore showcased their greatest work in the mystical yet serene Image House at the Gal Vihara showcasing the infinite wisdom and overflowing kindness of Lord Buddha etched from the bedrock. The prowess of the stonemasons is celebrated in the popular song lyric, which roughly translates to “How soft can granite be, which defies belief in me.” Something close tomy  heart would be the 1982 Synth-Pop perfection by Duran Duran, “Save a Prayer” where the video gives a very avant-garde scope of the images at Gal Vihara. Something to save it till the morning after…


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 fall short of grace with its swaying pillars of rock reminiscent of lotus stems. Polonnaruwa is a sight to behold, and after an eventful day, let the relaxing swaying waves of the Parakrama Samudra (literally translates to the “Sea of Parakrama”) take you down a lane of reverie.


During the tour, you’ll be chauffeured back to Sigiriya and check into the luxurious Jetwing Vil Uyana. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy at your leisure.


DAY 4: SIGIRIYA – PIDURANGALA (Approx 15-minute drive) –RITIGALA (Approx 1 hour and 30-minute drive)- SIGIYA (Approx 1 hour and 30-minute drive).

In the early morning, embark on a hike to Pidurangala to witness the breathtaking sunrise.

Discover the ancient rock formation known as Piduragala, believed to be the royal temple during King Kashyapa’s reign at Sigiriya fortress. Prepare for a one-hour climb, with the last part being slightly challenging over rocks. However, the effort is well worth it as you reach the summit and are greeted with panoramic views of lush forests with the Sigiriya rock in the distance. Take a moment to immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere and escape the crowds of tour buses.
Later in the afternoon, explore the Ritigala Archeological Monastery.
Think of Indiana Jones – well, that is a bit exaggerated, but Ritigala, in a way, has that feel of being undiscovered, a world away from the most famous sights in Sri Lanka. Explore in-depth and walk to the higher part of the complex. The archeological site is mysterious due to the long meditational pathways that open into the thick jungle and large stone-lined reservoirs. Sit down and connect with nature in this ancient meditation sacred ground.


DAY 5: SIGIRIYA – JAFFNA (Approx 5-hour drive)
After indulging in another delicious breakfast, you are driven on a scenic road to Jaffna. Upon arrival, take some time to freshen and get some rest after the long drive.


Later, we will be off for a bit of exercise, and since most people move around in Jaffna on bicycles, we will do the same! Our cycle ride will cover most of Jaffna city, including the fort, library, Supramaniyam Park, old park, coastal villages, Rio ice cream, the biggest church in Jaffna, Buddhist dagoba, a statue of the last king of Jaffna kingdom, the arc of last kingdom’s palace, last king’s minister house.


Dinner will be arranged at a traditional Jaffna home, and an opportunity to exchange cultural values and understand the lifestyle of an ordinary family. Our local Tamil guide will assist, translate, and provide details. The main course, “Pittu” (made from rice flour and coconut scrap), will be served with crab curry, fried prawns, cuttlefish, mashed omelets mixed with dry fish, dhal curry with fish, and plain gravy. This is the real deal, a true Jaffna feast. Mangoes and jackfruits can be available during the season and other periods, and papaya and Jaffna’s special bananas will fill that gap. Sounds delicious – wait till you try it!


After an action-packed day, it is time to head back to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.


Today begins with a visit to the Nallur Temple in the morning. Traditional “shalve / Veddi” will be provided to wear when you enter the temple. Nallur temple’s history and importance will be explained, and the basic principles of worshipping at a Hindu temple will be demonstrated. If you are keen to learn how to reach enlightenment and “Hatha Yoga” basics can be explained while traveling – you won’t attain enlightenment in half an hour but it is worth a shot. We will delve into Jaffna’s culture, similarities and differences of South Indian culture, the scar of war, and the effects migration and exile have had on the region.


Later, we will explore Karainagar Kasurina beach, Kayts jetty, Hanuman temple, Kantharodai Buddhist miniature pagodas, deep well, Keerimalai pond, Naguleswaram temple. Lunch will be provided at a village home with fried cuttlefish, Jaffna prawn curry, toasted crab, fish masala, mashed brinjal, drumstick curry, fish gravy, etc. Meals will be served on a banana leaf like a traditional Jaffna-style lunch.


The rest of the afternoon is yours to unwind and enjoy the serene ambiance of Casuarina Beach. Take in the tranquility and perhaps indulge in sampling the fruit of the Palmyra tree if it’s in season. It is like nothing you have ever had before a combination of coconut and jelly.

Then, it’s time for dinner at the hotel in the evening.


DAY 7: JAFFNA – DELFT (Approx. 1 hour journey by local boat) – JAFFNA 
Few places in the world capture the imagination of travelers, like Delft Island. Think of a small island lined with small walls made of coral, with no cars, the ruins of a Fort, and feral horses left by the Arabs and the Portuguese over 400 years ago. Then there are the beaches…


In the morning, a driver will escort guests to Kurikadduvan jetty to embark on a local ferry to Delft Island. During the one-hour boat trip to Delft, our local personality will provide stories and explanations about the Jaffna Islands, the lifestyle, wartime memories, difficulties of the public, resources, and Hindu lore. Upon arrival, a special vehicle will be waiting to showcase the island’s highlights, such as the wild horses, the towering Baobab Tree, the historic Dutch Fort, the iconic Pigeon Cage, the Coral Fences, and more. The atmosphere of Delft Island is beyond words – it must be experienced firsthand to be fully appreciated.


Visitors will also have the opportunity to sample some Palmyrah toddy – please enjoy responsibly, as it is alcoholic and availability may vary depending on the season. Palmyrah toddy is lighter than arrack but can still provide a buzz.


Lunch will be served at a local homestay, where you can savor the Mutton curry, a dish that promises to delight your taste buds. In the late afternoon, we will return to Jaffna by boat, where you can unwind and relax at your hotel.

Tips and Notes: We always strive to provide the experience of how locals would do it, as it’s the best way to acclimatize to the surroundings easily.


The best example would be the boat ride to Delft Island. The boats being used will be very basic and only be used to ferry people and their effects. So, we advise visiting as early as possible because priority when boarding the ferry is given to the Delft locals. This is all about traveling with the locals, which is amazing, and you will get a chance to have a nice chat with them where you can share your experiences easily. If you have any communication problems regarding language while talking with the locals, our guides are there to help you. Just sit back and enjoy the experience.


It is also better to take some seasick pills even though you are a seasoned traveler because prevention is always better. Regarding traveling inside the Island, please note that the modified pick-up trucks resemble basic safari rides, and the roads are not that paved, so be prepared for a bumpy and dusty ride. But at the end of the day, it is all about the experience you get there, and visiting Delft is a chance you get once in a blue moon.


Then, it is time for dinner at the hotel in the evening.



DAY 8: JAFFNA – ANURADHAPURA (Approx 3 hours and 30 minutes) – SIGIRIYA (Approx 1 hour and 30 minutes)

Today, after breakfast, you are driven to Anuradhapura, where you will visit the Ancient City of Anuradhapura.


There are not many places in the world that can claim to have been continuously inhabited for over two millennia. Anuradhapura is one of them. The seat of power in Sri Lanka till constant invasions forced a move further South. What makes Anuradhapura stand out is that it is not just an archeological site; pilgrims still visit the sacred Bo tree, and the dagobas stand as majestic as they did during the reign of King Tissa. Take time to wander around and find a quiet spot to reflect on the passage of time and humanity.


When Leonard Wolff visited in the 1920’s, he wrote

“I once, in Anuradhapura, saw a man sweeping the courtyard around a dagoba. He was dressed like a sweeper, but there was something rather strange about him. I got into conversation with him and found that he had been a wealthy businessman in Colombo; he was highly educated and spoke perfect English. Suddenly at the age of about fifty he had felt an irresistible need to throw it all up and follow the path of Buddha which led him, not to penance or mortification of fakirs, sannyasins, dervishes, or monks, but to the life of gentle contemplation sweeping the dagoba. It is not a withdrawal and occupation which would ever appeal to me personally, but I respect the man to whom they appealed and the religion which inspired him.”

The Sri Maha Bodhi at Anurdharapura is thought to have been brought to Lanka by Sangamitta, the daughter of the emperor Asoka, sometime around the third century BC. According to tradition, it is a sampling of the Bodh Gaya under which Buddha attained enlightenment.

 At the time when Anurdharapura was abandoned in search of a new capital further South, a group of monks stood behind to protect it – especially from elephants looking to feast on its young leaves. People have been coming here and paying respect for a whooping two thousand years, making it the oldest living tree of which there is a record. Today, it is still a place of veneration as it was back in the days of King Devanampiyatissa.

Then, after that, it’s time to visit Kalu Diya Pokuna.

When we hear about Sri Lanka’s great archeological sites, the name Kaludiya Pokuna does not come up very often; in fact, you won’t find it in guidebooks, which is a lucky thing. As the great Paul Theroux once said, “Buy a guidebook, identify where the tourists are going, and head the other way.” It is kind of a secret, and we hope that it stays that way.


Now, picture this beautiful man-made lake surrounded by big boulders and small archeological sites that go back 1500 years in time. What is remarkable about Kaludiya Pokuna is that there are still monks living on the upper slopes of the hill. Ask your Guide to take you there; please be mindful, remove your shoes, and be respectful; this is a place of Silence. Most monks living there have taken a vow of silence and minimum interaction with people. Take time to explore at leisure and sit on one of the rocks. You will not get enlightened in 20 minutes, but take a deep breath and soak in the beauty of it – it is one of those memorable places that stick to the memory.


After the tour, you are driven back to Sigiriya, where you check into your hotel for your overnight stay.



DAY 9: SIGIRIYA – HABARANA (Approx 45-minute drive) – SIGIRIYA 

Today, after a relaxed breakfast, it is time for Hues of Habarana, a cycling experience.

This morning, you will set out on a village cycling tour that explores the lifestyle of the local villagers. This experience is all about the People because, after all, it’s people that make places beautiful.

Begin by cycling along the inner village roads, where it’s good to watch for birdlife, and visiting different houses where specific cottage industries take place. The experience is unscripted nor stagged and unique to each quest.

Some of the stops include a place where they make bricks out of clay, a house where coir brooms are produced, a quick stop at the house of the village dancing teacher to observe some of the traditional dancing steps, and also a stop at a house where a grandma produces a traditional ayurvedic oil. You will also stop for a local snack with Tea served in a coconut shell along the way. These are all local experiences that you probably won’t experience back at home.

The final stop will be at a village house where you get to taste a mouth-watering traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch prepared by Dilini, a lady from the village.


Notes: Your cycling guide for the trail will be a villager from the area itself, and fluent English doesn’t come to them naturally. But he will make up for it with his typical Sri Lankan hospitality and in-depth knowledge of the area. The trail is approximately 12 km in distance, and anyone with decent fitness and cycling balance can manage it since it’s mostly flat terrain.


After the tour, spend the afternoon at leisure.



DAY 10: SIGIRIYA – DAMBULLA (Approx. 30 minutes) – ARATANNA (Approx. 3 hours)

After another breakfast, proceed to Aratanna and on the way, visit Dambulla Cave Temple.

What can be gauged from a place that has been and still is a point of reverence for over 22 centuries? A place hewn out of a gargantuan rock converted into a cave temple complex of such intricate beauty and workmanship that defies belief, adorned with murals that depict the life and times of Lord Buddha, which gives the observer a feeling of immeasurable awe and a fleeting sense of calmness. This is what to expect when you visit the Cave Temple Complex of Dambulla.


153 Buddha Statues, along with statues of Gods and Goddesses and Kings who sourced their wealth and time for the betterment of the Temple so that it may remain a beacon of Buddhist Philosophy, adorn the five caves that the temple of which the temple comprises. Several distinct and different architectural patterns can be discerned throughout, and with an altitude close to 1118 ft, it gives an unparalleled panoramic view bordering Ritigala to the North and the Kurunegala Plains to the Southeast. If you are willing to brave the climb, a wondrous experience awaits you while giving the photographer within you a chance to take home memories to last a long time.


Tip: There are two significant things to look out for here. Firstly, watch out for the noonday sun, so an early start is encouraged, as in Sigiriya, which means fewer crowds and a comparatively easy climbing experience. Secondly, do not try to feed the macaques that roam abundantly. It may be a fun activity, but once the entire Simian neighborhood starts targeting you for food, it will be your wrongdoing. So please refrain from taking food items and be aware of personal belongings as we as humans get our curiosity from them.


Then continue your journey to Aratanna – Santani, a world of its own better experienced than put into words. Santani, which means ‘in harmony with’, is nestled in the hills and rainforests in the heart of Sri Lanka. It exists solely to sustain you, restore your balance, reconnect you with your inner soul and with all the things that make you YOU.


To be sustained is to be balanced with your natural rhythms, in harmony with nature, other people, physical activity, diet and nutrition, and, ultimately, with yourself. Illness occurs when you are not in harmony – when you are not sustained. 


The spartanly appointed rooms afford no distractions other than the soothing views of the Sri Lankan hills. It is a setting you will never encounter in the world’s busy cities. Simply being here will calm your mind and rejuvenate your body.




After a relaxed breakfast, spend the day leisurely at the property, enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.

The vehicle and the Guide will be at the client’s disposal for 80 km per day.



DAY 12: ARATANNA – KANDY (Approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes)

After another delicious breakfast, proceed to Kandy and check in at W15 Hanthana Estate.


W15 Hanthana Estate is probably one of the best boutique hotels in the country, not just a hotel but an experience itself. A beautifully restored bungalow dating back to the days of the British Empire, recreating a world of colonial charm that blends perfectly with its sublime surroundings of rolling tea plantations and emerald green forests. On arrival, you will be greeted with stunning views of the vistas from the verandah while sipping a cup of tea or a glass of champagne. The property has a large garden area, which provides plenty of chill-out spots for you to relax, read a book, or enjoy a Gin &amp Tonic. An inviting swimming pool is there to dip in while enjoying the views.


Mealtimes are a highly personalized affair, with authentic Sri Lankan and Western cuisine on offer. For lunch, we highly recommend their fragrant yellow rice accompanied by a delectable rainbow of flavorful curries, and for dinner, something with a Western touch, perhaps a roasted rack of lamb cooked to perfection or a steak done to your preference.


In Kandy, it’s time to experience the historical value with our insider – Donald.

Explore the timeless streets of Kandy on foot with a resident host. Learn about the evolution of this sacred city that was once Sri Lanka’s last Kingdom before it fell to the hands of the Colonists. Live through stories of how Kandy became the most conservative state on the Island and the pivotal part it still plays in being the country’s spiritual capital. Walk through the nooks and crannies of the city, learning the history of a few heritage buildings and some ancient stories about the city.


One of our insider guides has an interesting personality who was born and raised in Kandy, and after trying out 12 jobs, including being a cook, garment factories, construction, hairdresser, jeweler, and even a brief stint as a coconut tree climber, he discovered his love for Sri Lanka’s people, his Island, and the outdoors translated perfectly into a career in tourism. Now, he can’t wait to showcase the wonderful story of his hometown, Kandy, to our clients, and I’m sure the clients will have a lovely time with him.

Later in the afternoon, visit the Kandy Temple.

Today, Kandy is a big city that still retains touches of its colonial history in buildings such as the Queen’s Hotel, a beautiful 19th-century neoclassical beauty. The temple of the Tooth is no doubt the city’s biggest pride as Bella Woolf described in her 1927 guide How to see Ceylon.

“The courtyard is crammed with worshipers of all ages, bearing offerings in their hands, leaves of young coconut, scent, flowers, fruit. As the door opens, they surge up in the dark and narrow stairway to the silver and ivory doors behind which lies the tooth. 

The doors are opened, and a flood of hot heavy scented air pours out. The golden karandua, or outer casket of the tooth, stands revealed dimly behind gilded bars. In the weird, uncertain light of candles in golden candelabra, the yellow-robbed priests move to and from. The tooth is enclosed in five karanduas, and slowly and solemnly, each is removed in turn; some of them are encrusted with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. 

At last, the great moment approaches. The last karandua is removed – in folds of red silk lies the wondrous relic – the center point of faith”.

Overnight at W15 Hanthana Estate, Kandy – Bungalow Suite (B,L,D)



Early morning, it’s time for a bird-watching experience with the Naturalist at W15 Hanthana Estate.

The Hanthana Mountain Range is perfect for bird watching because it is home to numerous bird species. You might even observe a few raptor species and several endemic bird species. Engage in a walk around the property with your naturalist to learn more about some exciting birds you can find around the property.

Then, after breakfast, you can discuss with your naturalist about the trekking options available around the property, and you can proceed for a trek ranging from 2 to 4 hours with the Naturalist to enjoy some of the magnificent views of the mountains.



DAY 14: KANDY – TANGALLE (Approx. 5 hours and 30 minutes)

Today, after a delicious breakfast, you will be transferred to one of the most beautiful hotels in Tangalle –Taru Villa’s Mawella.

Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Relax at your own pace while enjoying the beauty of the down south beach.




After a relaxed breakfast, explore Tangalle with your Guide.

Tangalle is located a few minutes drive east of Mawella Beach and is a typically modern, bustling Sri Lankan town. Its large fishing fleet and busy Harbor make for an interesting experience. The daily fish, fruit, and vegetable markets provide a colorful insight into real Sri Lankan life, and it is recommended that guests head down to the markets early in the morning for the freshest produce.


Tangalle is also host to a colorful market on Wednesdays and Sundays where villagers come from all over the region to sell their wares. The market is also held on Saturdays in Dickwella, a twenty-minute drive west of Mawella. Though these are not the sort of markets that visitors will return from laden with handicrafts to take home, they afford a genuine Sri Lankan experience and the opportunity to spot a variety of unusual and beautiful wares.

Then, spend the afternoon at leisure.



DAY 16: TANGALLE – GALLE (Approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes)

After a relaxed breakfast, proceed to Galle – the heart of the Down South Beach.


Later this morning, you will depart for Galle, where, on arrival, you will check into 42 Lighthouse Street and spend the afternoon at leisure.


There are places in the world that speak of another era of times gone by; the Galle Fort is one of them. Imagine cobbled streets that have seen four hundred years of history from Arab merchants to the adventurous Portuguese and the industrious Dutch, with colonial homes complete with their red-tiled roofs, an impressive rampart surrounding a small peninsula jutting out to the Indian Ocean, and you begin to get an idea of the Fort in Galle.


Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about the Fort is that it is a living monument, families that have lived for generations continue to inhabit the fortified streets. The Fort is alive, yet the development of the tourist industry means that many families are choosing to sell their homes to be turned into a new boutique hotel. If you visit Galle today, you will still get a chance to see it as a small Sri Lankan microcosmos where Buddhists and Muslims live together, yet in a couple of years, this might change, and it will become a place full of hotels and tourist restaurants. So, our advice is to come and see it now before it changes forever.




After another breakfast, spend the morning session on leisure.


Then, in the afternoon, it is the Faces of Galle – Galle fort walk with our insider Shanjei.

We travel to seek experiences, create memories, and learn from the people and places we visit; this sounds simple but can sometimes be difficult if we don’t open our minds and let the destination in. The port city of Galle in Southern Sri Lanka is one of the must-see on the Island; join us in finding a way to look beyond the touristy facade and find the Fort’s true nature.


Some places capture travelers’ imagination and Galle is one of them. The walls that enclose the fort have kept the inner city intact from years of turmoil and conquest. Galle is a synthesis of the history of Sri Lanka. In a way, the walls have also kept the city protected from the outside and from the inside, creating a unique atmosphere of a place lost in time.


From Muslim gem traders, Portuguese adventurers, savvy Dutch privateers, and, let’s not forget, the English, they all made Galle their home at some point in history. With cute shops, restored colonial mansions, and an upcoming food scene, the city has a hip vibe to it. But how about looking beyond the glitzy magazine articles and boutique hotels and experiencing Galle through its people, who are none other than the repository of hundreds of years of living history.


Galle reveals itself in its full depth once you pull the veil and find its true treasure, which will be incommensurably more rewarding than the restored hotel you will be staying at: its people.



DAY 18: GALLE – AIRPORT / COLOMBO / DEPARTURE (Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes)

Sadly, it’s time to depart from our lovely little Island.

Stop for your last Tambili on the way to the Colombo airport, where on arrival, you bid goodbye to your Guide and proceed to check in for your international flight to your onward destination.

Please call for rates: All are priced Per Person / Per day and up.  The cost for the internal flights inside Indonesia is separate.

Optional Tour and customization are available

Please contact us for full details of Inclusions & VIP services of this tour



Request more information now! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our tours. ***Checked boxes mean "yes" and an unchecked box means "no".

First Steps

Request your book now! This book will guide you through our process and how to inquire about this tour. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our tours.

  • Book


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.