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The Colonial Trail in Sri Lanka

Witness the rich colour blended into the tapestry of Sri Lanka’s culture as you embark on The Colonial Trail. Visit sites of prominence and charm that exude the aura of long-forgotten days and treat yourself to a truly delightful experience on this unique heritage tour in Sri Lanka.

day Location/Route duration Overnight
Day 01 Arrival and transfer to hotel Two nights in Kandy Mountbatten Bungalow
Day 02 Lunch at Millennium Elephant Foundation and city tour Last night in Kandy Mountbatten Bungalow
Day 03 Drive to Nuwara Eliya and stroll through the city One night in Nuwara Eliya Hill Club
Day 04 Drive / board the train to Hatton & visit a tea factory One night in Hatton The Governor’s Mansion
Day 05 Drive to Colombo Two nights in Colombo Galle Face Hotel
Day 06 Sightseeing in Colombo city Last night in Colombo Galle Face Hotel
Day 07 Departure
Kandy Esala Perahera "Procession"

The Kandy Esela Perahera, which is also known as The Festival of the Tooth is a unique religious and cultural event that takes place every year in July. The procession features many dancers, drummers and elephants, who parade through the streets paying homage to the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha which is housed in the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Tooth Relic, which is known as the Sri Dalada Maligawa is in the sacred city of Kandy. It houses the tooth relic of Lord Buddha and is an important shrine of Buddhist worship. The annual procession known as the Kandy Esala Perahera marks an important day in the Sri Lankan calendar.

Tea Plantation and Train Journey

Hop aboard a vintage steam train in Kandy, and enjoy a picturesque ride into the heart of Sri Lanka’s charming hill country. The winding railway tracks chart a scenic course through the rolling hillsides of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. Unwind in your air conditioned compartment, as you take in the majesty of the verdant landscape unfolding before your eyes.

Observe the shades of emerald that blanket the horizon, brimming with precious tea crops that are the nation’s pride. Envision the splendour of the island’s colonial heyday, as you tuck into a delicious four-course lunch accompanied by sparkling silverware and fine china. This journey is best begun in the late morning hours and lasts four to five hours.

Wander Through History in Kandy

Visit the Suriyakantha Centre for Art and Culture, and delve deep into the fascinating annals of European and Sri Lankan history. Housed in the Naranwala Walawwa, an 18th century Dutch-style colonial manor house, the centre represents a unique effort between a Frenchman and Sri Lankan, to showcase talent from eras past.

Explore the vast repository of local and European works over the course of two to three hours and understand the richness of Kandyan culture. Observe the various manuscripts, furniture, handicrafts, artworks and photographs on display. Located near the town of Kandy in Sri Lanka’s Central Province, Suriyakantha is open to visits between 08:00am and 04:00pm, throughout the year.

Architectural Tour of Kandy

Discover the rich architectural heritage of Kandy, the last Sri Lankan Kingdom to fall to the invading British. Today, it is one of the island’s major cities and home to an array of renowned attractions such as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Royal Palace and National Museum.

Begin your tour at the lively town centre, and observe the diverse mix of neo-colonial and colonial-style buildings. Enjoy quality time with celebrated architect Ruchira Wickremasinghe, a recipient of the Geoffrey Bawa Travel Award, as she walks you through the intricacies of Kandy’s architectural landscape. The 2.5 hour tour can begin at any time; however, the late hours of the afternoon are ideal.

Kandy Four Temple Loop Tour

Spend half a day exploring four of Kandy’s famed medieval temples. Join your personal archaeologist on an informative, 3.5 hour coach tour of the Degaldoruwa, Embekka, Lankatilaka and Gadaladeniya Buddhist temples. Feast your eyes on the magnificent Kandyan murals on the ceiling of Degaldoruwa Temple. Witness the wonderful fusion of Buddhist and Hindu culture at Gadaladeniya Temple.

Take in the exquisite craftsmanship of the woodwork at Embekka Temple. Observe the traditional Sinhalese design of the Lankatilaka Temple, and discover the inscriptions carved into the rocks. Setting off in the morning is ideal, as the tour involves approximately 1.5 hours of travel to / from your hotel.

Tea Experience at Ceylon Tea Trails

Observe the century-old tea manufacturing process at Ceylon Tea Trails. Meet up with your guide at 09:00am and set off into the estate. Walk in the footsteps of the tea planters of Ceylon’s heyday, as they traversed the leafy inclines in search of ideal pastures for tea cultivation. Understand the challenges involved in the skilled art of tea plucking and learn the secret behind the aromatic black tea blend; only two tender leaves and the bud, are harvested from each plant, by hand.

Study the traditional English machinery used at the Norwood Tea Factory, which dates back to colonial times.

As your 2.5 hours draw to an end, sit back and sample fragrant brews from the factory’s many grades of tea.

Day 01


A warm welcome to Sri Lanka! Your chauffeur from Holidays by Design will be present at the arrivals hall to greet and assist you to your vehicle.

You could change your currency before departing the airport as this may come in handy during your holiday.

You will be driving to Mountbatten Bungalow in Kandy (three and a half hours).

A century-old colonial bungalow surrounded by stunning mountain vistas, Mountbatten Bungalow offers both old world charm and luxurious comforts. This Victorian style boutique villa with its traditional design makes a perfect base from which to enjoy Kandy’s rich heritage.

Settle into the bungalow and unwind after your journey. Dinner will be served in the bungalow.

Mountbatten Bungalow | Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Local attractions: Esala Perahera (17 to 27 August 2018, tickets should be booked in advance) / cookery lesson with a visit to the local market / tea at Helga’s Folly / local spirits and beer at the Royal Bar, mojitos & margaritas at the Bamboo Garden Restaurant and cocktails at the Empire Café.

Day 02
Kandy (UNESCO World Heritage Site) x
The Hill Capital of Sri Lanka (the last Kingdom of the Sri Lankan Kings) nestled in a valley in the Highlands and locally referred to, as "Nuwara" meaning The Great City. A picturesque town by the side of a miniature lake, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Visit one of the only natural reserves within city limits, the beautiful Udawatta Kele famous for its avifauna and the sacred Sri Dalada Maligawa.
This evening we recommend dining at the Empire Café.
Experience a taste of colonial Ceylon at this wonderful cafe that can be found in the Old Empire Hotel which has been declared a Conserved Building by the United Nations. The building dates back to the 1890s and was originally a coffee house before becoming a pub and then a guesthouse and restaurant. Visitors to the cafe can expect to enjoy a delectable selection of local, western and fusion cuisine.

This morning you may choose to have breakfast out on the lawn.

You will make your first stop at the Millennium Elephant Foundation in Kegalle. Your host will take you around the property. You may choose to participate in bathing the elephants, walking alongside them or feeding these majestic animals. An authentic Sri Lankan lunch will be served at the end of this experience.

In the evening you will set off to explore the bustling city of Kandy, strolling through the lively market engaging with locals and seeing and tasting local produce.

Mountbatten Bungalow | Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 03
Nuwara Eliya x
Perched high up in the hills, Nuwara Eliya sits like a sentinel overlooking tea country on all sides. Piduruthalagala, Sri Lanka's tallest peak is only a short while away. A replica of English country towns with their lush greenery and a profusion of gorgeous flora, Nuwara Eliya is touted as "Little England" with its Victorian houses, a golf course, Lake Gregory, a racecourse and Hakgala Gardens. The average temperature is around 15.9 °C.
Settle into The Hill Club – a beautiful colonial building and rest and relax in the afternoon.
Dating back to 1876 when British planters used it as a gentlemen’s club, The Hill Club, a two-storey grey stone building, has a rich history which is very much linked with the town’s own. The current structure while originating in 1930 still preserves this heritage and features colonial architecture and design including high roofs, wooden stairways and antique furnishings, not forgetting the fireplaces.
Stroll around the city with your chauffeur guide in the evening and do not miss on trying a refreshing cup of tea at a local shop along with dinner.

An early start this morning to make the most of your day after breakfast; alternatively, the hotel will be delighted to arrange a picnic breakfast.

You will continue on your drive into the tea highlands heading towards Nuwara Eliya (three and a half hours).

The Hill Club | Meals: Breakfast

Day 04

This morning after breakfast you will be heading further into the tea country. You have two options for travelling to your next destination:

Take a scenic train ride, which departs at noon from the Nanu Oya Station (one hour and twenty minutes).


Drive leisurely through the tea country with your chauffeur guide (two hours).

Settle into the Governor’s Mansion and rest and relax in the afternoon.

Offering a stay at an English mansion-style abode, the Governor’s Mansion features exclusive suites that come with original antiques and traditional décor. Besides the elegant interiors, the mansion also has beautifully kept gardens with views of the surrounding mountains and tea estate; the perfect spot to read your favourite book or enjoy a refreshing cup of Ceylon tea.

This afternoon you will visit a working tea factory and tea plantation.

If time permits, you could visit a strawberry farm!

Proceed to your hotel for the evening to rest and relax.

Governor’s Mansion | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 05

Breakfast will be served on the veranda this morning.

You will be heading to Colombo this day (four hours). Do feel free to speak to the chauffeur if you wish to make a pit stop en route.

Settle into the Galle Face Hotel and rest and relax this afternoon.

Located in the heart of Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, the iconic Galle Face Hotel adjoins the famed Galle Face Green by the seafront. Constructed in 1864, this historic hotel has a rich heritage that can be seen in its architecture and design and experienced when one walks through its doors into a world of luxurious refinement.

Afternoon - you can stroll along the Galle Face Green to enjoy some local street food – an experience you are sure to enjoy.

Galle Face Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Local attractions: the Navam Perahera (1 March 2018 – tickets should be pre-booked) / Street Food Festival – Hotel Fairway (first weekend of every month) / Nelum Pokuna Art Street / shopping at Barefoot Gallery & jazz brunch every Sunday / seafood dinner at the Ministry of Crab / street food at Galle Face Green / authentic Sri Lankan meal in the beautiful setting of ‘Thunapaha on the Edge’- Waters Edge Hotel / Japanese cuisine at Nihonbashi or at the Dutch Hospital.

Day 06
Colombo x
Colombo is the commercial hub of the island connecting several parts of the country, such as the north, south, east and hill country by a fine system of roads and railways. The heady mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern progress defines its impressive character. Towering skyscrapers, retail stores, parks, restaurants and bars coupled with sacred shrines of the major faiths and religions can be found in this vibrant city.
You may choose to dine in-house or opt to try out something different in town.

Breakfast will be served at the main restaurant.

This morning we recommend a massage; either ayurvedic or spa – a perfect experience as your holiday draws to an end.

Explore the busy town and visit some of its iconic colonial buildings in the evening with your chauffeur.

Galle Face Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Day 07

We will take you to the airport, to arrive two to three hours before your flight home.


A list of a few activities you may want to add to your experience.
In and around Kandy – Visit a spice garden / visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens / a hike in the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary / visit the Garrison Cemetery / Knuckles Mountain trek / experience the three-temple loop.

In and around Nuwara Eliya - Hike up Adam’s Peak / visit Horton Plains / picnic at the Hakgala Botanical Gardens / participate in the rituals at the Seetha Amman Temple.

In and around Colombo - visit the fish market / tea tasting in Colombo / night cycling tour of the city with a street food dinner.

Cost:  Transportation: private air-conditioned vehicle.

Cost per person starting from Accommodation
Occupying a single room $ 2100
Sharing a double room $ 1525

The above rate is nett and based on two guests.


Supplement for Entrance fees:


Entrance Fees & Miscellaneous Cost per person
Kandyan cultural performance $10.00
Millennium Elephant Foundation (walk & lunch) $45.00
Millennium Elephant Foundation (ride) $20.00
Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic $11.00
Kanneliya trek with lunch $50.00
Visit a tea factory $5.00
Whale watching $40.00
Train ride to Hatton $17.00
Galle cycling with evening snacks & refreshments $45.00

What to Pack!

  • Socks – as footwear have to be removed when visiting places of worship. You could be walking on heated paving, gravel or cement. Also, shoulders and knees should be covered.
  • Footwear – choose comfy shoes - sneakers, sandals or similar
  • Shawl – to cover your shoulders or dress up!
  • A sweater or light jacket if you plan to visit the hill country
  • Sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, travel umbrella or lightweight raincoat

Cancellation & payment policy:

  • 100% cancellation
  • 50% payment upon tour confirmation
  • Balance payment prior to arrival


  • The quote is subject to room availability and price fluctuations prior to booking.
  • The quote is based on settlement by cash. If the settlement is by credit card, a bank service fee of 2 – 2.5% applies.
  • All drive times are approximate and subject to road conditions.
  • Alcohol is not served on “poya days” (full moon) and other days prohibited by the government.
  • The standard check-in time is 02:00pm at hotels.
  • The standard check-out time is 11:00am from hotels.
  • Gratuity: tour guides & drivers are tipped at the end of the tour.
  • Online visa application link:
  • Purposeful Tourism: Your support: one USD from every booking supports a cause.
  • Holidays by Design terms and conditions. (
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  • price includes
  • CIP fast track silk route arrival
  • Accommodation at hotels
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle
  • English speaking chauffeur guide
  • In-vehicle experience; travel kit / Wi-Fi / cool box
  • Local government taxes
  • Meals: bed and breakfast during your stay
  • price excludes
  • Visas, insurance, flights & airport taxes
  • Camera and video permits at the cultural sites
  • Entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Supplement for Christmas and New Year’s Eve
  • Any expenses of a personal nature
  • Tips and porterage
  • Entrance fees for optional and add-on sightseeing
  • Bank / remittance charges
Catch a glimpse of our rich colonial past!