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Sri Lanka and Maldives
twin centre holidays


See of the best attractions in Sri Lanka plus the white sandy beaches of the Maldives on one incredible twin centre holiday

  3 ways to enjoy Sri Lanka and Maldives on 1 amazing holiday

OPTION 1
Sri Lanka Beach Hotel + Maldives

The advantages of simple Sri Lanka and Maldives packages are that with a week on a Sri Lanka beach and a week in the Maldives, you get a change of scenery for much less than the cost of two weeks in the Maldives. The disadvantage is that most of the sightseeing, including the elephant orphanage at Pinnawela is several hours away.

If you stay at the Fortress, a luxury hotel in the South of Sri Lanka, then you are very close to the interesting city of Galle, with its fort, a UNESCO world heritage site. Jetwing Sea in Negombo is another great choice because there are lots of decent restaurants within walking distance from the hotel, and it is just a short 20 minutes transfer from the airport.

Guide Prices for simple Sri Lanka and Maldives packages
 
1. Based on 7 nights at Mount Lavinia, Colombo (B&B),
+ 7 nights at Kuredu Maldives (All Inclusive).

February 2014 - £2117 per person
May 2014 - £1770 per person
August 2014 - £2205 per person
All transfers included.
 
2. Based on 7 nights at Jetwing Sea, Negombo (B&B),
+ 7 nights at Kuramathi, Maldives (All Inclusive).

March 2014 - £2770 per person
May 2014 - £1950 per person
August 2014 - £2700 per person
All transfers included.

Many more combinations available - please ask.

OPTION 2
Sri Lanka Tailor Made Holiday + Maldives

This option is best if your main reason for visiting Sri Lanka is to see the main sights, some wildlife, and experience the culture, rather than just being a simple beach holiday. It is done with your own car and driver, who will take you to all the best places.

The main places to go are Habarana, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Yala National Park, although Yala is a very long journey so is often missed out.

When you are in Habarana, you're close to Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla Caves, Minneriya Wildlife Park, and the old capital of Polonnaruwa. There are lots of nature activities such as boat safaris and trips to see wildlife.

When you are in Kandy, visit the Temple of the Tooth, drive around the lake, see the Botanical Gardens, and enjoy the relaxed ambience of the town.

And when you are in Nuwara Eliya, the scenery is wonderful and there are tea plantations to visit.

So with this option, you stay in 3 or more places, with a car and driver to take you around, doing the transfers between the hotels and taking you to see the sites. A night in the seaside town of Negombo is also usually required before and/or after your tour due to flight schedules.

A detailed example is shown in the next section.

Guide Price: anywhere from around £2400 per person upwards depending on hotels, time of year, duration etc.


OPTION 3
Sri Lanka Group Tour + Maldives

There is a great 6 night tour of Sri Lanka where you stay by the coast for 1 night, Habarana for 2 nights, Kandy for 2 nights, Nuwara Eliya for 1 night, and then back to the coast for 1 or more nights before your flight to either London or the Maldives. It is an escorted group tour that takes in all the main sights. The disadvantages are that you get less freedom on where you go (unlike in option 2 when you have your own car and driver) but the advantages are that all the sightseeing is arranged for you, and you can just sit back and enjoy without having to worry about missing anything. As well as this tour, we also have longer tours, family tours and luxury tours staying in boutique hotels.
For details of the tour, please see The Sri Lanka Tour + Beach + Maldives holiday .

Guide Price: As an example, a 6 night escorted Sri Lanka tour plus 1 night in Negombo, and then 6 nights at Kuramathi Island, in a Beach Villa, on an All Inclusive meal plan, with boat transfers, costs approximately £2700 per person in March 2014 and approximately £2400 per person in May 2014.




  A typical Sri Lanka and Maldives holiday - (option 2 above)

Here is our recommended itinerary for a 15 night twin centre Sri Lanka and Maldives holiday. As always, we get you in the right places for you 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.

  • 1 night in Negombo
  • 3 nights in Habarana
  • 3 nights in Kandy
  • 1 night at Nuwara Eliya
  • 1 night on the beach in Sri Lanka
  • 6 nights in the Maldives

Total: 15 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.

Travelling Time: 20 minutes

Meal Plan: Bed & Breakfast (can be upgraded)

What to do

  • Freshen up, and chill out for the afternoon then have a good meal in the evening!


Your transfer to Jetwing Sea is included - the next morning you will start your tour proper.


Where to Stay?

Jetwing Sea

Sri Lanka and Maldives holidays
Just 20 minutes from the airport is the wonderful little resort of Negombo with a good choice of restaurants and a sandy beach. The hotel I recommend is Jetwing Sea as one of the nicest hotels in the resort. It has just 83 rooms, and facilities include a rooftop spa, two infinity edged pools, two restaurants and three bars.
Hotel website


 

 

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.

Travelling Time: 4 hours

Meal Plan: Half Board

What to do

  • Visit and/or climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress - it is a bit of a climb but the views from the top are amazing, and you will see the remains of the Royal Palace at the top. About half way up is a sheltered gallery containing a series of paintings. Back at the bottom are the landscaped Royal Gardens. The best times to visit are early morning and late afternoon when it is a bit cooler and the light is fantastic.
  • Dambulla Cave Temple - a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has 5 caves housing Buddhist statues and paintings, and dates to 100 years BC - this is a MUST SEE, and just 20 minutes from the hotel. In the largest cave is a gigantic 150 ft long reclining Buddha. There is a smell of incense in the air as people place offerings to the Buddhas.
  • Elephant safaris - these can be done around the hotel and by the lake
  • Minneriya National Park - enjoy a Jeep Safari and see a wide variety of wildlife especially elephants - it is also a fantastic location for bird watching. If you are travelling to Sri Lanka between June and September then we would definitely recommend you include a day at Minneriya National Park because during this time herds of up to 150 elephants are more easily spotted. The park is also home to sambar deer, macaques and leopards although to be honest these are hard to spot.
  • Kaudulla National Park - if you are travelling to Sri Lanka later in the year, especially around October, then there is a gathering of up to 250 elephants in the park as well as sambar deer, leopards (hard to spot), fishing cats and sloth bears.
  • Lake activities - include bird watching, elephant rides, horse rides, sunset boat rides (there is a 'Bird Island' in the centre of the lake where you can watch the birds settle down on tree tops for the night)
  • Jungle treks and Mountain bike hire - there is a 9 mile cycle route from the hotel, or a longer 18 mile route.
  • Puranagama Ancient Village - a rare opportunity to see traditional Sri Lankan village life, Puranagama is located at 25 minutesí walk from the hotel.
  • Visit the sacred city of Polonnaruwa with spectacular shrines, Buddhist statues, and the ruins of the Royal Palace. It is actually 1000 years old and probably better than Anuradhapura from a tourist point of view because the monuments are in an excellent state and it's easy to get around and see them. One way of doing so is by bicycle which are easy to rent.


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.


Where to Stay?

Cinnamon Lodge

Sri Lanka and Maldives Holidays
One of our favourite hotels in the whole of Sri Lanka is the Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana set in a lush forest in a stunning position by a lake. It is located very conveniently for trips to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Dambulla Caves and the Minneriya National park, but there is also plenty to do around the hotel such as a swimming pool, a spa, jogging track, tennis and cycle trails. From the lodge you can go on elephant safaris, bird-watching, boating, and hot air ballooning (November to April).
Hotel website

 

 

Kandy (3 nights)

Kandy is the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, and it is here that you can do one of the many cultural evenings. But it is also the nearest place in which to visit the world famous Pinnawala Elephant Sanctuary.

Travelling Time: 2.5 hours

Meal Plan: Half Board

What to do

  • Visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to see the group of about 60 elephants come down to the river to bathe and play - apart from being led to the river twice a day - 10am and 2pm, the elephants are pretty much free to wander around
  • Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens which include a spice garden and hundreds of exotic tropical plants
  • See the Temple of the Tooth on Kandy Lake - this is one of the most sacred temples in Sri Lanka and all Buddhists in Sri Lanka aim to make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
  • Enjoy an evening Cultural Show with food and dancing



Where to Stay?

The Earls Regency

Sri Lanka and Maldives Holidays
The Earls Regency is one of the most comfortable hotels in Kandy and overlooks the Mahaweli River and mountains. There is a good choice of facilities such as outdoor swimming pool, health centre, sauna, as well as outdoor activities including hiking, trekking, and cycling.
Hotel website


 

 

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

What to do

  • Watch the tea making process - you can do this at the hotel itself
  • Waterfalls - the best is St. Clair's
  • The Hakgala Botanical Gardens
  • Bike rides - hire mountain bikes from the hotel and ride on beautiful traffic free routes



Where to Stay?

The Tea Factory

Sri Lanka and Maldives Holidays
The famous Tea Factory is a unique hotel which has been restored from an old tea plantation factory with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Inside the lobby you'll see the original working machinery of the old Tea Factory. Special features include the fine dining restaurant which is actually a restored train carriage, a spa specialising in tea treatments, and a miniature tea factory.
Hotel website


 

 

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 we 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.

Travelling Time: 5 hours (but varies depending on which resort)

Meal Plan: Bed & Breakfast or Half Board if staying at the Fortress



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 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 breathtaking.

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.


Where to Stay?

The Fortress

Sri Lanka and Maldives Holidays
N.B. This assumes you will stay for longer than one night - otherwise we recommend going back to Jetwing Sea in Negombo.

The Fortress near Galle is our 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.
Hotel website


 

 

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 snorkeling 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. We have featured the all inclusive Kuramathi island opposite because it is our best selling island, but others we 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 us about the different Maldives islands.

Travelling Time: 20 minutes sea plane or 90 minutes boat transfer (if staying at Kuramathi Island)

Meal Plan: All Inclusive or A-La-Carte All Inclusive if staying at Kuramathi Island



Where to Stay?

Kuramathi island

Sri Lanka and Maldives Holidays
Our recommended island in the Maldives is Kuramathi due to the choice of accommodation, value for money and excellent facilities. On one side of the island is a long stretch of white sandy beach, while on the other is a series of little coves with excellent snorkeling off the beach. There are trips to a deserted island, as well as diving and snorkeling excursions.

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 we 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).
Hotel website


 

 

  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 we can tweak the itinerary accordingly.

  • The lighthouse at the Dutch Fort at Galle, Sri Lanka. It The Dutch Fort at Galle plus watching fishermen working on stilts at Koggala. If you would like to visit Galle, then this is usually best done either en-route to your beach hotel, or as a day trip from your beach hotel. One of the best ways to see Galle is to head to old Galle where the fort is located, and just wander around the old streets taking in the interesting architecture and the great views. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The national parks for a wildlife safari - Udawalawe and Yala. Please note that sometimes only one is open at a time. Yala has a slightly higher standard of accommodation but Udawalawe involves less travelling to get to. Yala is one of the best places in the world to see leopard but even so you are not guaranteed to see them. Wild elephants are abundant, and you will also hopefully see spotted deer, jackal, and sloth bears. The best times to see elephants and leopards is from February to July, while the best time to see birds, deer and crocodiles is between October and December. Please note that Yala especially can take several hours to reach from Nuwara Eliya, and you have just as much travelling the next day to get to the beach. Or if you are going all the way back to Colombo it can be as much as 9 hours. We would therefore suggest that you spend 2 nights in Yala - our customers give us excellent feedback about Yala, and so it is worth going to, but if you can spare the time, consider 2 nights rather than 1 just to make the travelling seem less of a pain.
  • Only a couple of hours from Nuwara Eliya is Horton Plains National Park, for spectacular walks and bird watching. The highlight is 'Worlds End' where the plateau drops over 2000 ft to the plain below.
  • Jetwing Vil Uyana - why not make your Sri Lanka tailor made holiday extra special by staying here If you want something truly special, then we can recommend a couple of outstanding hotels close to Sigiriya. There is the Elephant Corridor hotel (www.elephantcorridor.com) and Jetwing Vil Uyana (www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwingviluyana). In Nuwara Eliya, Tea Trails is a unique and very personalised cluster of bungalows (www.teatrails.com). Please ask us if you would like us to substitute any of the hotels in the itinerary for these.
  • And of course you can choose to just have a couple of nights in one of these really special hotels - this makes for a unique tailor made holiday whilst keeping the costs down!
  • Some escorted tours include a trip to the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura which has immense Buddhist shrines dating back to 400 years BC. However because it is quite a long journey from Habarana (almost 4 hours each way) and because less is preserved than at Polonnaruwa, I have omitted it from the itinerary.
  • The North East of Sri Lanka has now opened up to tourists, with hotels centred around the resort of Trincomalee. It is further from the airport than the resorts on the South West coast, being about 4.5 hours, but the main draw are the beaches and coral reefs. Quite simply, you get the white sandy beaches and good quality snorkeling and diving that you simply don't get on the South West coast. Having said that, there are very few hotels - the one we use is the Chaaya Blu (http://www.chaayahotels.com/ChaayaBlu.htm) where I would recommend upgrading to a beach chalet, from which you can walk straight onto the beach! Whale watching is also popular, as is a boat ride to Pigeon Island, the best place fro snorkeling in Sri Lanka.
  • The best place for whale and dolphin watching in Sri Lanka is from Mirissa on the South coast near Galle. It is possible to view them between December and April. If you would like to go whale or dolphin watching, then I would recommend staying near Galle, somewhere like the Fortress Hotel.
  • And further round the coast (eastwards) is Rekawa where hawksbill and leatherback turtles lay their eggs on the beach between April and September. You can go and watch, but again I would recommend staying near Galle, for example the Fortress Hotel.





  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 - we only Sri Lanka and Maldives Packages. 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 we 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 we 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.



"

  What to do Next?

  1. Call us on 01462 677 111 with your initial ideas about your Sri Lanka and Maldives holiday - we will ask a few questions such as when you want to go, any thoughts you already have and any budget you are trying to stick to.
  2. If you are undecided, we will advise which might be the best option i.e. a simple Sri Lanka and Maldives package, or a tailor made holiday, or an escorted tour.
  3. Please tell us if this is your honeymoon as some hotels will offer little extras such as room upgrades.
  4. You will receive a full costed itinerary going to all the places in Sri Lanka you want to see, including any extra nights at one of the beach hotels.
  5. Make as many changes as you need before booking.
  6. If you decide to book, pay a deposit and get your written itinerary, receipt and ATOL receipt sent by 1st class post.



 



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