Explore the world with tourHQ


12 Days Culture tour itinerary for sri-lanka: Whirlwind Tour Of Southern Sri Lanka

Bandarawela, Colombo, Ella, Kandy, Negombo, Nuwara Eliya, Udawalawe National Park, Yala National Park, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Galle, Dambulla

Trekking Tour
Culture Tour
Wildlife Tour

Join us on this whirlwind tour of the southern half of Sri Lanka. Discover beautiful ruins, hike through tea plantations, tour a spice garden, and relax at Hikkaduwa Beach. Additionally, enjoy riding trains, tuk tuks, and a private car through the abundant natural beauty of Sri Lanka. 

DAY 01


  • Arrive in Negombo & meet the tour representative.

  • Check-in at the hotel. Relax and enjoy some beach time. Negombo – A characteristic fishing town is 6 Kms from the International airport. Negombo has a fascinating and picturesque beachfront. The town has several buildings dating back to the Dutch & Portuguese Colonial days. Also client may enjoy some nice sea foods lobsters, crabs, prawns and etc. 

  • Attend an evening welcome meeting with the Chief Experience Local Guide. 

  • Enjoy the welcome dinner. 

DAY 02

Negombo / Habarana (Polonnaruwa)

  • Explore Negombo in the morning before leaving for Dambulla.

  • Settle in and scan the scenery from your private vehicle. 

DAY 03


  • Meet locals and share a meal with them in their village. Enjoy free time to go on safari or explore nearby ruins. 

  • Begin the village tour by traveling on a bullock cart through typical dry Zone village. 

  • Get on to traditional village boat for a boat ride in the lake that runs through the village. Reach the paddy fields & cultivation lands and experience how farmers work.

  • Have an authentic Sri Lankan village lunch served on a Banana or Nelum leaf beside a mud house.

  • Take a walking tour around the village. Experience the raw life led by locals around here. 

  • You may opt to visit to go on Sigiriya Rock Fortress (30 USD/person). Sigiriya was built by parricidal King Kasyapa who reigned from 477-495 AD. The rock was transformed into a recumbent lion, which dominates the jungle from all sides. A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site. Be mesmerized by this rock fortress, which captivates every visitor with its well-laid out gardens, caves, monasteries, and palaces adorned with beautiful wall motifs. Start at the water gardens and climb more than 1,200 steps to reach the top. Pass caves with frescoes and boulders to find the ruins of a palace on the flat surface of the old volcanic magma rock. The rock rests 370m (1,213 ft) above sea level with a sheer drop on all sides.

  • You may also visit Minneriya National Park for 45 USD (entrance , jeep and government taxes) . The 8890 hectares of this park is an ideal ecotourism location in Sri Lanka. The park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas.

DAY 04


  • Enjoy a free day to explore more of the region. Choose to visit Sigiriya Fortress, Polonnaruwa heritage site, or Dambulla Caves. 
    Polonnaruwa / 25 USD per person. Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. In its time, a 6 km rampart protected the city. It was an important city because it strategically commanded all the crossings overMahaveli River and acted as a buffer against the invading armies. It consists of, besides the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.

  • Dambulla cave temple / 10 USD per person . Dating back to the 1st Century BC, this is the most impressive cave temple in Sri Lanka. The cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religious images, following the contours of the rock. There are images of  Lord Buddha, bodhisattvas and others. 

DAY 05

Habarana / Kandy

  • Visit a spice garden en-route to Kandy.

  •  Visit Nalanda Gedige Temple. Nalanda Gedige is an ancient stone building near Matale, Sri Lanka. This building was an ancient Hindu Temple constructed in between 8th to 10th century with Dravidian architecture. It was later used by Buddhists. 

  • See the town of Kandy. Visit Arts & Crafts center and Gem Bureau. See a documentary on how Sri Lankan Gem mining is traditionally done.

  • Visit the The Holy Temple of the Tooth of Buddha. This temple, the most important one for the Sri Lankan Buddhists was built in the 16th Century A.D. solely for the purpose of housing the tooth relic. Enjoy a typical Sri Lankan Cultural Show of Drumming, Dancing & music. 

  • Optional Activities:  
    Temple of tooth- 10 USD per person. Peradeniya Botanical Garden- 10 USD per person. The Kandy Dance cultural show- 10 USD per person. 

DAY 06

Kandy / Nuwara Eliya

  • Take a train and then a tuk tuk to reach the stunning Nuwara Eliya. Visit a tea plantation and also explore hills on foot. Discover how the freshly picked leaves from the field are dried and ground into black tea that clients drink. Hatale Tea Factory provides an informative tour of their factory. 

  • Be welcomed into the homes of local plantation families. The town of Nuwara Eliya produces finest Orange Pekoe Ceylon tea, and is inhabited mainly by tea planters and plantation workers.

DAY 07

Nuwara Eliya / Bandarawela

  • Go on an optional trek to the trails of Horton Plains NP in the early morning. 25 USD per person 35 USD per group for this activity.

  • The Horton Plains National Park is situated some 200 km away from Colombo, amidst hills in Nuwara Eliya district. The most amazing feature of the park is the `World's End' where the southern part of the plains comes to a sudden end and drops almost straight down for 700 m. The park contains a rich variety of birds and animals. 

  • Travel to Bandarawela. 

DAY 08


  • Set out on a hike through the cooler hills cloaked in tea bushes.

  • Take an optional cooking class or visit the local market during free time. 

  • Discover the local cuisine and markets. 

DAY 09

Bandarawela / Hikkaduwa

  • Set off towards the southern coast stopping en-route for a walking tour of Galle Fort.

  • Finish the day's journey by the ocean side in Hikkaduwa. 

DAY 10


  • Enjoy a free day to bliss out on the beach or go on a whale or dolphin watching tour (35 USD per person).Blue Whales - in concentrations not seen elsewhere in the world would be the highlight. During the migration, Blue whales are seen relatively close to shore as the continental shelf is narrow to the South of Dondra. After seeing the blue whales, your naturalist will take you further out to the sea to look for sperm whales. 

DAY 11

Hikkaduwa / Colombo

  • Travel to the capital, Colombo.

  • Enjoy an orientation walk of the fort area and Pettah Bazaar. 

  • Have dinner and stay overnight. 

DAY 12


  • Get breakfast and depart for the airport. 

  • 839 USD Per Adult
  • Local Lunch and Village visit, Habarana Hiriwadunna.

  • Catamaran ride at Habarana Hiruwadunna. 

  • Spice garden visit. 

  • Tea plantation tour. 

  • Trekking through Bandarawela or Ella region. 

  • Galle Fort tour. 

  • Orientation walk in Colombo. 

  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities. 

  • Accommodations. 

  • Hotels/guest houses (11 nights). 

  • Meals. 

  • 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch. 

  • Allow USD 175-230 for meals not included. 

  • Transportation. 

  • Private vehicle, train, tuk tuk, walking. 

  • Staff & experts. 

  • Chief Experience Local Guide (CELG).

  • When arranging your transportation, please take into consideration the below time restrictions for joining, and departing from your group. 

  • Your flight must arrive by or before: 11:59 p.m. on Day 1 
    Your flight must depart no earlier than: 12:00 a.m. on Day 12

  • Get yourself to a destination that's long been a culture-loving backpacker's dream, on this affordable 12-day whirlwind tour of the southern half of 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. 

  • 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. 

  • Group Leader Description: 
    NIO Adventure group trips are accompanied by one of our Chief Experience Local Guides (CELG). The aim of the CELG is to take hassle out of your travel, 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 places 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- 14 (Maximum), 6 (Average).

  • Meals Included 
    11 breakfasts, 1 lunch

  • Transport: Private vehicle, train, tuk tuk, walking.

  • Youth Travellers 
    We believe youth 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.

  • The airport in Colombo (Katunayake) is around 32 kms north of Colombo center. Taking a cab is the most convenient way to get to your hotel in Negombo. Taxi drivers are famous for overcharging, 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.

  • You can 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 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 LKR 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 LKR 250. 
    If you have paid in advance for an arrival transfer, I 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 NIO Adventure 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.

  • Arrival Complications 
    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 of the tour. 

  • Emergency Contact 
    Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our NIO Adventure 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.

Airport transfer
If you have purchased an arrival through NIO Adventure 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 Nuwan Athapattu 

Conservative Dress
• Modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders (Long pants, long skirts, shirts that cover shoulders) 
• Shawl or scarf (for temple visits) 

Documents to be prepared:

• 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 
• Footwear 
• Hat 
• Locks for bags 
• Long pants/jeans 
• Money belt 
• Outlet adapter 
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.) 
• Reusable water bottle 
• Shirts/t-shirts 
• Sleepwear 
• Small travel towel 
• Sunglasses 
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable) 
• Watch and alarm clock 
• Waterproof backpack cover 
• Windproof rain jacket 
Smart Dress: 
• Smart outfit (For evenings out) 
Train Travel: 
• Slip-on shoes 
• Small container with lid 
• Travel cutlery 
• Travel or camp cup 
Warm Weather: 
• Sandals/flip-flops 
• 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.

Emergency Fund 
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 CELG will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from USD 1-2 per person per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CELG for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your CELG did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD 30-40 per person, per week can be used.

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 CELG 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. We reserve the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our group CELG 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 Local Guide (CELG) 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 CELG 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 judgment 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 CELGs 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.

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated. 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 by everyone. 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. 

Travel Insurance 
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 USD 200,000 is required. 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.

Bandarawela, Colombo, Ella, Kandy, Negombo, Nuwara Eliya, Udawalawe National Park, Yala National Park, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Galle, Dambulla

Trekking Tour
Culture Tour
Wildlife Tour

Contributed By

Nuwan Athapattu

starting from


USD 839
Other Tours by this guide
  • tourHQ

    From USD


    Discover the enchanting ...

    12 Days

    This comprehensive tour of Sri Lanka starts at busy Colombo, and takes you through exotic locales; historical places ...

  • tourHQ

    From USD


    Revel in the ...

    14 Days

    Discover emerald-green tea plantations, vast forest reserves, and tropical coastline. Explore the cave temples of Dambulla, drive ...

  • tourHQ

    From USD


    14-Day Trip to ...

    14 Days

    Sign up for this exciting vacation to the highlights of Sri Lanka, where you will be taken to ancient city ruins, national parks, ...

  • tourHQ

    From USD


    8-Day Tour of Sri ...

    8 Days

    Embark on a tour of Sri Lanka from Negombo and make your first stop at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic to enjoy a cultural ...

  • tourHQ

    From USD


    Make the Most of Sri ...

    8 Days

    See the most prominent sights of Sri Lanka. Begin from Colombo to visit natural sights of waterfalls, beaches ...