Sri Lanka and Maldives holidays with your own car & driver in Sri Lanka
Split your holiday between touring around Sri Lanka with your own private car & driver, and then flying to the Maldives for idyllic relaxation
This is the holiday that has everything - amazing scenery, fantastic wildlife, culture and exotic beaches, but the best way of seeing everything is with your own car and English speaking driver for full flexibility. You get to see only what YOU want to see, and can spend however long you like at each attraction.
Info / Booking:   01462 677111
A typical Sri Lanka and Maldives holiday
Here is my recommended itinerary for a 14 night twin centre Sri Lanka and Maldives holiday. As always, you'll be in the right places to see the most, while keeping travelling times and hotel changes to a minimum. This is entirely flexible of course, and you can change any of the durations, or even miss out the Sri Lanka beach hotel altogether.
- Negombo - 1 night at Jetwing Sea (bed & breakfast)
- Habarana - 3 nights at Cinnamon Lodge (half board)
- Kandy - 2 nights at the Earls Regency Hotel (half board)
- Nuwara Eliya - 1 night at the Tea Factory Hotel (half board)
- Negombo - 1 night back at Jetwing Sea - necessary before a flight to the Maldives (bed & breakfast)
- Maldives - 6 nights at Kuramathi Island - all inclusive
Total: 14 nights
The Sri Lankan part of the trip is best done with a private car and driver. He will be at your disposal for the whole of the touring part of your holiday, while normal transfers are included to and from the airport.
At the end I give a few ways to extend your trip - for example the old town of Galle is delightful with its famous fort and lighthouse, and Yala is one if the best places in the world to see elephants and leopards.
The itinerary in more detail is shown below...
Negombo (1 night)
Most flights arrive in to Colombo early to mid afternoon, and so I always prefer to have a short transfer time to a nice hotel for the night - in fact because of the transfer times to other parts of Sri Lanka, often you have no choice.
Many tours use a hotel in Colombo such as Mount Lavinia, which is admittedly a great value 3.5* hotel, but it takes about 90 minutes to get there. Instead, I suggest the resort of Negombo, a fishing village only 20 minutes from the airport, with a golden beach and several restaurants within walking distance of the hotels.
Your transfer to Jetwing Sea is included - the next morning you will start your tour proper.
Travelling Time:   20 minutes
Meal Plan:   Bed & Breakfast (can be upgraded)
Habarana (3 nights)
Most tours include 1 or 2 nights here, but some of the very best parts of Sri Lanka are in this area that you really need more time. Not only are the 'iconic sights' of Sri Lanka such as Sigiriya Rock Fortress close by, but there are some fabulous things to do around the hotel.
A 3 night duration gives you two full days. I would spend one full day at both Sigiriya and Dambulla, and the second full day either on a safari at Minneriya National park or in the old city of Polonnaruwa. You will also have the first afternoon (the day of arrival) and the last morning (the day of departure), when you could do some of the excursions around the hotel such as the elephant rides.
Travelling Time:   4 hours
Meal Plan:   Half Board
Kandy (2 nights)
Kandy is the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, and it is here that you can do one of the many cultural evenings. It is also a very pleasant town to have a wander around.
Please note that I am no longer recommending a stop at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. There are a number of alternative places to see elephants in Sri Lanka which I think you will gain far more enjoyment from. Please feel free to call me.
Travelling Time:   2.5 hours
Meal Plan:   Half Board
Nuwara Eliya (1 night)
Nuwara Eliya is a beautiful hilltop town in Sri Lanka where you'll find the tea plantations. At 6,000 feet above sea level, it is cooler than other parts such as Kandy and the coast, but the scenery is spectacular. It is also home to a famous hotel called the Tea Factory which sits at the top of a hill with stunning views across eastern Sri Lanka.
There is a much more colonial atmosphere in Nuwara Eliya than in most other parts of Sri Lanka. English country clubs, rose gardens and even the place names will make you feel quite at home. But it is cooler here than the rest of Sri Lanka because of the elevation - at over 6,000 ft above sea level, you'll need warm clothes especially during the winter.
Travelling Time:   2 hours
Meal Plan:   Half Board
Sri Lanka Beach (1 night or more)
Because of the practicalities of getting from Nuwara Eliya back to the airport and on to the Maldives, you will need at least 1 night by the coast. Then the next day you fly to the Maldives.
If you wish, you can extend the beach stay in Sri Lanka to as long as you wish - there are several excellent hotels and I will be happy to recommend a suitable one for you.
If you only have 1 night, then Jetwing Sea is your best option - it's a very good 4 star plus hotel in the seaside town of Negombo, just 20 minutes from the airport.
But if you are staying for longer then consider others - Mount Lavinia is 3.5* but has a friendly, colonial style to it. The Fortress near Galle is a favourite boutique hotel with wonderful buffets, while the Jetwing Lighthouse also near Galle is another top quality hotel.
Please note that it can take longer to get around in Sri Lanka than it looks on a map. When you leave Nuwara Eliya, it can be up to 6.5 hours to reach the coast. You will of course stop along the way, but please bear this in mind. Unfortunately there is no easy alternative other to enjoy the scenery which at times is breath taking.
In addition, many beach hotels are also quite a distance from the airport, and if you have an early onward flight then it is usually necessary to stay in Negombo which is 20 minutes away from the airport.
Travelling Time:   4.5 - 6.5 hours (varies depending on which resort)
The Fortress near Galle is my favourite beach hotel in Sri Lanka and has tremendous reviews and feedback from customers. It is a boutique style hotel with just 53 rooms, and a swimming pool, wine cellar, tea tasting bar, spa, gym, two wonderful restaurants and some shops.
As it is just 20 minutes by taxi from Galle, you can easily visit the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Dutch Fort and wander through the old streets of the city soaking up the atmosphere. Also nearby is Mirissa which is a top spot for whale and dolphin watching - blue whales and sperm whales especially - December to April are the best months.
Meal Plan:   Bed & Breakfast or Half Board if staying at the Fortress
Maldives (6 nights- flexible)
After your stay in Sri Lanka, it's just a short flight to the paradise islands of the Maldives. You will find tiny islands of pure white sandy beaches, amazing snorkelling and clear turquoise water.
You can visit local deserted islands, or just spend your days sunbathing - it is a constant 30C all year round. Most islands have a spa and diving school.
There is though a huge choice of islands, and it can be difficult to know where to start. I have featured the all inclusive Kuramathi island opposite because it is my best selling island, but others I can recommend are Meeru (slightly cheaper but fewer dining options), Baros (small, luxurious and very peaceful), Athuruga (exceptional snorkelling), Bandos (very good for families), Biyadhoo (cheap and cheerful), and more. Please feel free to contact me about the different Maldives islands.
Travelling Time:   20 minutes sea plane or 90 minutes boat transfer (if staying at Kuramathi Island)
In the evening there is a choice of bars; some are very quiet and chilled while others are livelier, and a choice of restaurants. The best meal plan is A-La-Carte All Inclusive - this allows you to dine in any restaurant on the island for both lunch and dinner, as well as including a fine selection of wines, a sunset cruise and a local island visit.
The choice of room types can be daunting, but I have found that by far the most popular are 1) Jacuzzi Water Villas (top price but amazing!), 2) Beach Villas (cheaper but still very nice villas by the beach), and 3) Deluxe Beach Villas (a bit more expensive but in a lovely quiet part of the island).
Meal Plan:   All Inclusive or A-La-Carte All Inclusive if staying at Kuramathi Island
Sri Lanka and Maldives Holidays - What else?
Of course if you have a special interest, for example walking or wildlife then you might want to consider other parts of Sri Lanka, and I can tweak the itinerary accordingly.
Things to be aware of
Sri Lanka and Maldives Holidays - Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is the holiday ATOL protected?
A. Yes. You are 100% financially protected, and will receive your ATOL certificate by 1st class post once the booking has been confirmed.
Q. Am I buying a package?
A. Yes - this means that you have 100% financial protection.
Q. What type of transport will it be in Sri Lanka on a tailor made holiday?
A. For a couple or small family, you will travel around in a standard car. However if there are more of you, lets say 5, then a bigger vehicle is used. Cars are always big enough to accommodate all your luggage.
Q. Are entrance fees included on tailor made holidays in Sri Lanka?
A. No - entrance fees to the sites are not included, although the transport to get there is. This is because you may not decide where to go until the day itself.
Q. Are entrance fees included on escorted tours in Sri Lanka?
A. Yes - this is because escorted tours follow a fixed itinerary.
Q. How long is the flight?
A. The direct Heathrow to Colombo service takes 10.5 hours, and back from the Maldives also takes around 10.5 hours.
Q. What airports can I travel from in the UK?
A. Sri Lankan Airlines fly direct to Colombo from Heathrow, and coming home from the Maldives you would need to change in Colombo. British Airways fly from Gatwick, but the stop is in Male on the way out to Colombo. Emirates fly from several UK airports via Dubai. The cheapest option is almost always Sri Lankan Airlines from Heathrow.
Q. What other countries can I combine it with?
A. If you travel with Emirates then you can also include a stop in Dubai to make a triple centre holiday - Dubai, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Q. When do I have to pay the balance?
A. 10 weeks before departure.
Q. Do you have a credit card surcharge?
A. Yes it is 2.5%. But I don't charge this if you are just paying a deposit.
Q. What is the currency used?
A. In Sri Lanka it is the Sri Lankan Rupee. Credit cards are widely accepted, especially to pay any hotel extras. In the Maldives I recommend US dollars.
Q. Do I need a visa for either Sri Lanka or the Maldives?
A. You do now for Sri Lanka. It is US30 - you just enter your passport details in to www.eta.gov.lk
Q. Is alcohol freely available?
A. Yes except on one day every month in Sri Lanka called a Poya day. You can only get alcohol on that day via room service or the mini bar.
Q. I am confused about travelling distances in Sri Lanka. Some websites say that it takes 4.5 hours to get back from the airport from Galle, while you say just over 2 hours.
A. It used to be 4.5 hours but a new road has now been opened (at last!) which means MUCH quicker journeys down to the beach resorts of the South West.
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