Sri Lanka on a Shoestring
About Sri Lanka
Get yourself to a destination that’s long been a culture-loving backpacker’s dream, on this affordable 12-day whirlwind tour of central and southern Sri Lanka. Discover beautiful ruins, hike through tea plantations, tour a spice garden, and then chill out on Hikkaduwa Beach. Explore Sri Lanka with a group of new friends and you’ll never want to travel solo again.
Your G for Good Moment: Tamarind Gardens Farm, Digana
Your G for Good Moment: Breakfast at Sthree Craft Shop and Café, Kandy. Sri Lankan lunch at a local village. Spice garden visit. Tea plantation tour. Little Adam’s Peak Tour. Galle Fort tour. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Trek through luscious green hills, journey amongst Sri Lanka’s most breath-taking scenery, sample local cuisine at a village meal, inhale local flavours at a spice garden, explore southern Sri Lankan beaches
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
1. Displaying body art or wearing clothing that includes an image of the Buddha is illegal; please be culturally sensitive and respect the law and should you have any such tattoos, keep them covered at all times.
2. Traveling by road in Sri Lanka is certainly not what people are use to in Western countries. Many road ways are single lane, rules are not always followed, drivers appear to speed, do not stay in their lanes, and overtake in seemingly dangerous situations. Although their are some improvements in the works to the road infrastructure, there is a lot more to be done. As a result, some of the roads are poorly maintained, and this gets even more pronounced during and after the monsoon. As a result, travel time covering relatively short distances is very long in comparison to Western countries.
Group Leader Description
All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of our Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Group Size Notes
Max 18, avg 12.
2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. The above information applies to G Adventures group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.
Private vehicle, walking.
We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels/guest houses (10 nts), homestay (1 nt).
My Own Room Exceptions
For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
The airport in Colombo (Katunayake) is around 32km north of Colombo center. Taking a cab is the most convenient way to get to your hotel in Negombo. Taxi drivers are famous to overcharge, so we recommend to use the prepaid taxi service offered at the airport – you can make the arrangements at designated counters outside the baggage-claim area after passing through several Bank Counters.
You will be able to change money into the local currency (Sri Lanka Rupee) at exchange counters open 24 hours at the airport. The Airport Taxi service, supervised by the Airport & Aviation Services, operates a counter in the arrival lobby and accept Sri Lanka Rupees. Please hire the vehicle from this counter & make the full payment. They will provide you an official receipt. Unfortunately scammers have set up similar services, so make sure the counter is operated by The Airport & Aviation Services. Your destination, the time of your arrival and the amount of luggage determine the rate, which you pay in advance at the counter, but should be between SLRS 2000 to 3000 to Negombo. A person will escort you to the designated taxi. If the driver demands more rupees, politely refuse, if they have driven safely you may like to tip him around SLRS 100.
If you have paid in advance for an arrival transfer, a G Adventures representative will be at the airport to meet you. If for any reason you are not met at the airport, please call our local support line. If you are unable to make contact for whatever reason, please make your way to the joining point hotel via taxi.
Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other then your welcome meeting in the evening, so you can arrive at any time. Similarly the last day is a departure day during which no activities have been planned.
A G Adventures Representative will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Representative (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures please note that:
Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.
If your call is specifically concerning Airport Transfer complications please call our local G Adventures Transfer providers directly at:
Tel.: (94)77 5222 800
Aitken Spence Travels
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Office (Delhi)
G Adventures South Asia Manager, Rishab (Delhi, India)
>From outside of India: +91 99 7179 5447
>From within Delhi: 99 7179 5447
>From within India, but outside Delhi: 099 7179 5447
G Adventures Office Bangkok, Thailand
During Office hours (Weekdays, 9am-5pm Local Time): +66-02-3815574
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
We recommend using a backpack for your convenience, or a medium-sized suitcase if you prefer. A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person. You will be responsible for carrying your own luggage.
• Modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders (Long pants, long skirts, shirts that cover shoulders)
• Shawl or scarf (for temple visits)
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
• Smart outfit (For evenings out)
Train Travel (Optional):
• Slip-on shoes
• Small container with lid
• Travel cutlery
• Travel or camp cup
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
Note: During the months of May-Jul is the rainy season, so please make sure to pack waterproof clothes.
Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge. There will be times when you may want to or have to do your own laundry so we suggest you bring non-polluting/biodegradable soap.
Visas and Entry Requirements
Most nationalities will require a visa to visit Sri Lanka. The fee is approximately $35 USD and an E-Visa can be obtained at the following website:
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
As currency exchange rates in Asia fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
There are many ATM machines that accept both Visa and Mastercard but these are limited to major cities. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops but they may charge a 2-4% transaction fee.
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ‘emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
It is customary in Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is expected – though not compulsory – and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your CEO will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from USD1-2 per person per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD20-30 per person, per week can be used.
- Welcome Dinner
- Dambulla Cave Temple Visit (12USD per person)
- Sigiriya Rock Fortress Visit (30USD per person)
- Polonnaruwa Ancient Capital Visit (25USD per person)
- Temple of the Sacred Tooth Tour (10USD per person)
- Kandyan Cultural Dance (3-5USD per person)
- Royal Botanical Gardens Visit (10USD per person)
- Tamarind Farm Duties
Horton Plains Nature Reserve
- Horton Plains Trek (25USD per person, 35USD per group)
- Spice Garden Cooking Class (2500LKR per person)
- Trek to Ella Rock
- Dolphin Watching Tour
Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that sometimes we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our CEO are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. In Asia, pharmacies tend to stock the same western drugs as you get at home but they are usually produced locally so please bring the full drug name with you when trying to purchase a prescription drug. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical ratings for trip specific information. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our group CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some tours include adventure activities that require extra coverage (e.g. crampon use); please review your itinerary and make sure that you are covered for all included activities. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
The Planeterra Foundation planeterra.org is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their cultures, and create humane and supportive systems for their endeavours. Planeterra provides capacity building and catalyst grants to get community social enterprises off the ground. These businesses address local challenges by providing benefits for indigenous people, empowering marginalized women, and granting disadvantaged youth access to education, employment, and brighter futures. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating programs into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures’ Dollar-a-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar for every day you are on trip. 100% of these donations go directly to support community development projects worldwide that are implemented by Planeterra.
In Asia the dress standard is more conservative than it is back home. When packing try to pick loose, lightweight, long clothing that will keep you cool in the usually hot and humid climate of Asian summers. In predominately Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim countries we ask that you dress respectfully and avoid very short shorts/skirts and singlets/tanktops when visiting small rural communities or visiting temples or mosques or other holy sites as this may restrict your entry.
Sri Lanka is conservative and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline shoulders and knees should be covered at all times. The wearing of shorts is not allowed as it will restrict your entry into buildings of a religious nature and family homes. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.
Beach attire is appropriate when on the beach.
NB: During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos/postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we’ll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at email@example.com and we will send it on to you.
Our adventure travel e-newsletter is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories and contests. To avoid missing out on special offers and updates from G Adventures, subscribe at www.gadventures.com/newsletters/
Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation – Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra’s monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.
Minimum age of 18 years for this trip.
Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.
PRODUCT_LINE: ASNC, ID: 23669
Day 1 Negombo
There are no activities planned until an evening welcome meeting.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Negombo/Sigiriya
Transfer to UNESCO World Heritage City, Sigiriya. Opt to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple or the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
Private Vehicle (4.50 hour(s), 156km)
Day 3 Sigiriya
Enjoy a free day to explore more of the region. Opt to visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Polonnaruwa Temple, Minneriya National Park or Anurhadhapura historical site.
Day 4 Sigiriya/Digana (1L, 1D)
Accommodations at Tamarind Gardens Farm homestay are simple and authentic. Rooming will be in twin and triple-share rooms.
Spice Garden Visit
Digana Guided Village Walk
Tamarind Gardens Farm
Day 5 Digana/Kandy (1B)
Early birds can opt to get a productive start to the day and join their Tamarind hosts for their morning routines. Join Ayesha and Nalin at 6:00 am for first-hand experience with farm life. Get up close with the farm animals, feeding the cows and chickens.
Enjoy breakfast at Tamarind Gardens and soak in the views of the Victoria Reservoir over tea before departing for Kandy.
Have an afternoon of free time to explore the stunning city that is Kandy, opting to visit a cultural dance, the Temple of the Tooth, or a cricket match.
Day 6 Kandy/Nuwara Eliya (1B)
Stop for breakfast at G Adventures-supported Sthree Craft Shop and Café. Travel to stunning Nuwara Eliya. Visit a tea plantation and opt to explore the nearby hills on foot.
Tea Plantation Visit
Breakfast at Sthree Craft Shop and Café
Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s), 80km)
Day 7 Nuwara Eliya/Ella
Opt to trek the trails of Horton Plains National Park in the early morning. In the afternoon, travel to Ella and enjoy a free evening. Choose to relax and explore Ella or participate in a traditional cooking class.
Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours)
Day 8 Ella
Spend the morning trekking Little Adam’s Peak. Later, enjoy some free time in scenic Ella. Opt to trek to Ella Rock or take a local cooking class.
Little Adam’s Peak Trek
Day 9 Ella/Hikkaduwa
Set off towards the southern coast stopping en route for a walking tour of Galle Fort. Finish the day’s journey oceanside on the beaches of Hikkaduwa.
Galle Fort Tour
Private Vehicle (4.50-5.00 hours)
Private Vehicle (0.50 hour(s))
Day 10 Hikkaduwa
Enjoy a free day to bliss out on the beach or go on a whale or dolphin watching tour.
Day 11 Hikkaduwa
Opt to relax on the beach or enjoy exploring this bustling beach town.
Day 12 Hikkaduwa
Depart at any time.
The Colombo airport can be reached by private taxi or bus. Your CEO can help you arrange a transfer.