Central Province, Sri Lanka Culture & history

Our most recommended Central Province, Sri Lanka Culture & history

Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

1. Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

Depart Colombo and travel by a shared vehicle, in a small group, to the city of Sigiriya, and head directly to Sigiriya Rock on arrival. Gaze in awe at the massive column of rock that, according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle The Culavamsa, was selected by King Kasyapa as the site of his new capital. Admire numerous paintings of historic queens, princesses, and maids inside the rock fortress before getting a break for lunch at your own expense. Then, explore some of the traditional crafts of the region, such as wood carving and batik textiles, with time to purchase souvenirs before departing. Start the journey back towards Colombo via Dambulla to explore the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Discover the magnificent Buddha images and rock paintings of vivid colors and different shapes, painted from around the 2nd century B.C. up to the 18th-century Kandyan era.

From Colombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Full-Day Private Tour

2. From Colombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Full-Day Private Tour

Explore two of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO-listed highlights on a privately guided day trip to Dambulla and the Sigiriya Rock from Colombo. Start with an early morning pickup from your hotel in Colombo. Make your first stop at the Dambulla Cave Temple. View Sri Lanka’s countryside and villages as you journey to the atmospheric Dambulla Cave Temple, a Cliffside cave complex packed with Buddha images and frescoes. Enter the historic caves of the Golden Temple of Dambulla, dating back to the 1st century BC. View the ancient murals depicting the life story of Lord Gautama Buddha. Look at the hundreds of figurines of Buddha and other deities scattered throughout the five main caves. Visit the Cave of the Divine King, Cave of the Great King, and the Great New Monastery. See the giant golden Buddha Statue just a little distance outside the cave complex. Go to Sigiriya to visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Climb the 5th century AD rock fortress, Sigiriya, where King Kassapa ruled. Walk through the entrance framed by the paws of a lion that is quite appropriate for its name, the Lion Rock. View the beautiful unfading murals that brought Sigiriya its fame. Climb the steep staircase to see the terraced gardens and still-working cisterns. Go through the tunnels leading to the palace as you get a feel for times long past.

Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

3. Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

Explore the best of Sri Lanka with this tour to the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, rolling tea tea plantations in Ella, the chance to see wild elephants in the Udawalawa National park. Have your hotels, dinners, and breakfasts arranged for you in this fantastic tour package. Day 1 - Be welcomed by your guide at the Colombo International Airport where your guide will take you to your hotel in Colombo. Day 2 - Journey from Colombo to Sigiriya after eating a filling breakfast. Visit the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Relax before heading to the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya before having dinner and staying at a 4star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 3 - Travel to Kandy after a hearty breakfast to visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic which holds the most important Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka. Take some time to unwind in your hotel before proceeding to see the amazing flora at the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens. Eat dinner and stay overnight at a four star hotel in Kandy. Day 4 - Next, have a full breakfast before heading to Ella to walk among the lush tea plantations. Learn more about the colonial history of Sri Lanka and take in the stunning landscape views. Return to your hotel in Ella for dinner and to rest. Day 5 - After breakfast, drive to Udawalawa National park where you can spot elephants in their natural habitat.

From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

4. From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

Start your journey at 0600 hrs from Colombo and proceed to Kandy, pausing at Pinnawala for a visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. This is the home for young elephants who have been displaced from their natural habitat at Pinnawala village in the Sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka. Now housing 70 elephants, Pinnawala is home to the largest group of captive elephants in the world. Next, visit Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, renowned for its variety of ornamental, decorative & medicinal plants, more than 4000 species. This garden is best known for its collection of orchids, the largest in Asia. Thereafter, visit the Temple of the Tooth, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the 16th century as the place of veneration and protection for Lord Buddha’s sacred tooth. Walk through the beautifully embellished passageways and elaborately painted halls. Lounge among delicately carved pillars and be amazed by the beautiful golden statues. Followed by a lunch break at a location of your choice. Cultural Dance Show - Be escorted to a performance of the traditional Kandyan dance, accompanied by tumultuous drumming. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance, the Ginisisila, showing power over fire. This entire frenetic and colorful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act. Finally, you will begin your journey back to your hotel in Colombo at approximately 1930 hrs. En-route, you will stop at Ambepussa (restaurant of your choice) and have dinner.

Kandy: All Inclusive City Tour

5. Kandy: All Inclusive City Tour

Be picked up from your accommodation at 8:00 AM. Your first stop will be the Giragama Tea Factory. Here, you will see the sorting, grinding, and drying tools and then the packaging machines. Learn how tea is processed from shiny green leaves to the contents of your tea bag. After enjoying a cup of high grown processed tea, set out to explore the plantation.  Continue your tour and head to the Botanical Garden of Peradeniya, which is renowned for bundles of varieties of plants including orchids, spices, medicinal plants, and palm trees. Then, visit the Bahirawakanda Buddha statue known as big Buddha, which is one of the most scenic places in the city. At 1:00 PM, take a break to enjoy lunch at Oak Ray restaurant. After Lunch, visit the wood carving factory and gem lapidary. Then, be driven to Kandy Lake, which was built by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807. It is one of the major highlights in the city and the drive is a scenic and memorable ride.  At 4:00 PM, witness a cultural show in one of the many theaters available in the Kandy city. Then, visit the Temple of the Tooth. To the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and around the world, Kandy is one of the most sacred sites as it is the home of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. You will be returned to your hotel for 7:00 PM.

From Negombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip

6. From Negombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip

After being transported in private car with local English speaking tour guide from Negombo, you will reach your first destination: Sri Lanka's largest rock, Dambulla Cave Temple, which is built on a 600-foot high rock at an elevation of 1118 feet from sea level. It is home to the worlds most acclaimed cave complex of magnificent Buddha images and rock paintings of vivid colors and shapes from the 2nd-century BC to the Kandyan era of the 18th-century.  Your second visit is to Sigiriya Rock, a site of historical and archaeological significance dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters (660 feet) high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa for his new capital. Finish your day with a tour to see the crafts of the traditional artisans in Sigiriya, including wood carvers and batik makers. Learn about the process of their work and purchase some great souvenirs.  At the end of the trip, your guide will take you back to your hotel in Negombo.

Kandy: Historical Three Temples All-Inclusive Tour

7. Kandy: Historical Three Temples All-Inclusive Tour

Visiting three of the most ancient and historically important temples that are within an easy walking distance to one another is a memorable expedition for a heritage lover. The three temples (Embekke, Lankathilaka, Gadaladeniya) have been built in the 14th century before the Kandyan Kingdom was fully established. This tour finished at approximately 12:30 PM, when you are returned to your hotel.  Be picked up at 8:00 AM from your hotel lobby in Kandy. Arrive at your first temple by 9:00 AM. Embekke is a crafted work of wooden dedication. Look at the pillars or drum hall with unique designs on each side. Appreciate the care and effort in shapping swans, peakcocks, wrestlers, dragons and more. Hear about the history of this temple, and the importance it has represented for the culture. Visit Lankatilake Temple by 9:45 AM. Lankatilake is perhaps the finest temple in the district. An impressively solid-looking structure built on a huge rock outcrop and painted a pale blue rather than the usual white.  Then next visit Gadaladeniya Temple, built on a rocky outcrop and covered with small pools, the temple is reached by a series of steps cut into the rock. This Buddhist temple with a Hindu extension is a similar age to the Lankatilake Temple and the Embekka Devale.

From Kandy: The Temple Run Tour

8. From Kandy: The Temple Run Tour

Spend a day immersed in Sri Lankan history: see a series of very different temples in the morning, followed by a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth. After pickup from your hotel at 8:00 AM, head to your first stop: Embekke Temple. Admire the exquisitely-carved wood panels that cover the pillars, walls, and roof of this unique temple. Then, leave for Gadaladeniya Vihara, a temple built just before Embekke in the early 14th century. Feast your eyes on the magnificent giant golden Buddha statue. Your next stop will be Lankatilaka Temple, built in the same period as the Gadaladeniya Temple by the same king. Admire the temple's palace-like architecture; the image house is especially beautiful.   Next, head to Degaldoruwa Cave Temple, a temple built into a cave in a large rock. See the colorful Buddhist paintings from the Kandyan era which entirely cover the inside of the temple. After soaking in these fascinating and beautiful temples, head back to Kandy City at around 1:00 PM. Back in Kandy, break for lunch at the restaurant of your choice. Afterward, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Temple of the Tooth. This temple was once a royal palace complex and houses what is said to be a tooth of Buddha. Discover the complex's royal roots with white, gold, and wooden architecture. Get dropped off back at your hotel at 5:00 PM, just in time for dinner.

Sigiriya: Rock Fortress Guided Walking Tour

9. Sigiriya: Rock Fortress Guided Walking Tour

Enjoy a guided walking tour of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of the most important attractions on Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. In the company of an experienced guide, explore the fort and its important historical monuments. During the tour, discover the most important areas in the fort complex and enjoy a detailed and informative commentary about each area from your guide. Start your walking tour at a picturesque miniature water garden and finish at the eastern gate of the Sigiriya archaeological site. Along the way, visit miniature water gardens, swimming pools, and boulder gardens. You will also have the opportunity to admire fresco paintings, the 'Lion's Paw' and other ruins at the summit of the rock.

From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

10. From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

After pickup from your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, drive to Dambulla. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site then spend overnight in Sigiriya. On day two get an early start and drive to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Polonnaruwa. Take a cycling tour through the well-preserved ancient city to see the beautiful stupas or dagobas, moonstones, parks, buildings and stunning statues. In the afternoon, you will be taken to the 5th-century rock fortress of Sigiriya, regarded as one of the Wonders of World and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend overnight in Sigiriya.   On day three after leisurely breakfast, visit an archetypal Sri Lankan village. Experience a bullock cart ride, see traditional cultivation methods, enjoy a boat ride and an authentic Sri Lankan lunch at a village house. After lunch, continue to Kandy, stopping at a wood carving center and a spice garden in Matale. Upon arrival, take a city tour of Kandy including a visit to the temple of the sacred tooth relic, upper lake drive, the market square, and more. Spend overnight in Kandy.     After breakfast on the fourth day, you will depart from Kandy and be driven back to your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, or dropped off at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

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What people are saying about Central Province, Sri Lanka

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 48 reviews

Really good experience! At one of the attractions we should have visited, there was a really long queue and too many people, so our guide was good at coming up with a lot of other options we could see if we wanted. All the experiences were quite exciting! Our guide also found some great eateries along the way with really nice views each time. He was good at assessing when he was needed as a guide and when it was better for us to be alone and she stayed close by (eg at the restaurants). On the slightly long drive, he was also good at explaining what we saw when we looked out the windows and in general what Sri Lanka was like.

The driver (Kenneth) was very accommodative and managed our tight schedule very well. He even went the extra mile and helped us to see more than what we had initially agreed — with his help we were able to visit the Ranweli spice garden, which was the cherry on top.

Thoroughly enjoyed this day trip to Kandy! CJ was an excellent guide, fantastic driver, and extremely knowledgeable. He went out of the way to make the day the most plesant and timeworthly experience possible. I highly recommend taking this trip.

Lalli (German speaking guide) and Jayasuriya (driver) did a super job. We got to see many places and were able to experience Sri Lankan culture. It was fun, thanks for that.

Very pleasant sunny day, with superb explanations. Lunch in a great spot, perfect day, thank you!