Stunning Sri Lanka is open for business after months of restrictions – here’s where to go


Stunning Sri Lanka is open for business after months of restrictions – so book a trip and enter a world of rock fortresses, rainforests and palm-fringed beaches

  • Sri Lanka was on the UK Government’s ‘don’t visit’ list as a result of the pandemic and political unrest
  • Now it has been removed – and its history, culture, wildlife and scenery beckon once more
  • Go on thrilling game drives in search of elephants on Abercrombie & Kent’s private tour 
  • Cox & Kings offers a tour that allows you to climb the rock fortress of Sigiriya – ‘the eighth wonder of the world’

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Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Holidays return to Sri Lanka.

It’s the dream destination promising the ‘fabulous four’ of history, culture, wildlife and scenery. And Sri Lanka has now been taken off the UK Government’s ‘don’t visit’ list after months of restrictions due to the pandemic and, latterly, political unrest.

Book a trip and enter a world of historic tea plantations, ancient rock fortresses, rainforests, rice fields, elephants, leopards and perfect palm-fringed beaches.

Wonders: Climb Sri Lanka’s Sigiriya rock fortress (pictured) on Cox & Kings’ 12-night Enchanted Island tour

‘We’re thrilled to offer Sri Lanka to clients again and I can’t wait to revisit as I’ve loved my previous holidays there,’ says Kerry Golds of luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent.

Just one of the holidays to consider is the firm’s 15-night ‘Luxury Sri Lanka’ private tour. Flights, hotels, internal travel and guides are all included so guests don’t miss a single sight.

The itinerary sees guests stay in venues such as Uga Ulagalla resort, one of the many five-star hotels on the island, where eco-friendly chalets have private plunge pools and overlook paddy fields.

Itineraries include a botanist guide at Sri Lanka’s Royal Botanical Gardens and a stay in the home of tea-maker Sir Thomas Lipton.

There’s an invitation to a Buddhist Pooja ceremony in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy plus game drives in search of elephants and leopards.

Abercrombie & Kent's 15-night tour of Sri Lanka takes in attractions such as the Royal Botanical Gardens (pictured)

Abercrombie & Kent’s 15-night tour of Sri Lanka takes in attractions such as the Royal Botanical Gardens (pictured) 

The Abercrombie & Kent tour includes the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy plus game drives in search of Sri Lanka's elephants and leopards

The Abercrombie & Kent tour includes the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy plus game drives in search of Sri Lanka’s elephants and leopards

It costs from £5,510pp including flights (abercrombiekent.co.uk).

Taking afternoon tea in your hotel (brewed with local leaves) marks a stylish start to a shorter, 12-night Enchanted Island tour with Cox & Kings. Travel as part of a small group or book the trip as a private getaway for family or friends. The tour crosses the country so you’ll see shrines such as the colourful Reclining Buddha statue, climb the rock fortress of Sigiriya (dubbed the eighth wonder of the world) step inside cave temples and visit British-built hill stations, tea plantations and more.

The holiday includes a stay at the mountainside Heritance Tea Factory where an original train carriage houses a swish restaurant. Tours end by the beach at the five-star Heritage Ahungalla hotel. From £1,895pp including flights (coxandkings.co.uk).

The Cox & Kings itinerary features a visit to the reclining Buddha statue, above, in Anuradhapura's Isurumuniya Temple

The Cox & Kings itinerary features a visit to the reclining Buddha statue, above, in Anuradhapura’s Isurumuniya Temple 

A host of other travel firms also offer small group tours and bespoke Sri Lanka holidays. A top holiday template from Kuoni is the Hill County, Yala & Beach tour taking in the island’s cooler mountains, the wildlife-laden National Parks and sunny coast. That’s where fishermen on stilts display their balance and patience as they wait for a catch – and where evenings can end with seared tuna served at a chic beachside restaurant.

Transfers are arranged in private cars with English-speaking drivers. All holidays are independently priced (kuoni.co.uk).

With Trailfinders, Sri Lanka holidays on offer for winter and beyond include small group tours for solo travellers, yoga and wellness retreats plus holidays to suit cyclists, watersports and scuba enthusiasts. Week-long holidays cost from £1,166pp plus flights (trailfinders.com).

If you prefer to stay in a single resort then look to Tui, which offers seven-night breaks at hotels including family-friendly Rui Sri Lanka or low-rise Ekho Surf Bentota.

Both flank sandy beaches and offer plenty of excursions to the island’s big sights. It costs from £1,253pp (tui.co.uk).

For the latest UK Government advice on travelling to Sri Lanka – or anywhere else in the world – visit gov.uk and click on Foreign Travel Advice.

Tui offers a seven-night stay at the Ekho Surf Bentota hotel, which flanks a sandy beach in the resort town of Bentota (pictured)

Tui offers a seven-night stay at the Ekho Surf Bentota hotel, which flanks a sandy beach in the resort town of Bentota (pictured)

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