Sri Lanka simply has it all: an amazing history and culture, dramatic views, national parks teeming with
leopards and elephants and palm-fringed beaches. With a range of luxury boutique hotels throughout the island, it
is one of Scott Dunn’s favourite destinations. Here is our little guide to the island to help you plan your luxury
holiday to Sri Lanka. Everything we do is totally tailor-made, so do call us and we can plan an itinerary totally
around you, but we hope this guide will help you in the initial stages of your planning.
It is fairly difficult to accurately predict the weather patterns in Sri Lanka given it is an island that
receives a range of weather fronts moving in from the Indian Ocean throughout the year. However, here is the general
rule of thumb! There are two monsoons which affect Sri Lanka, the South-West Monsoon, or Yala Monsoon affects the
south and west coasts from May to September, whilst the Maha, or North-East Monsoon affects the Cultural Triangle
and East Coasts from October to January. That said, August is a little sunny sandwich for the south coast, so
perfect for a beach break. For the summer, you can easily combine the Cultural Triangle with the East Coast
beaches, or even the Maldives.
There are many airlines that fly to Sri Lanka. Many Middle Eastern carriers fly to Colombo such as Emirates, Oman Air, Etihad, Qatar & Turkish and provide good connections around the globe. For the UK and Europe, Sri Lankan Airlines either fly direct from London or allow good connections from a number of European hubs. From North America, on the west coast it is best to connect through Asia while it makes most sense to connect through the Middle East or India if you are coming from the east coast. Asia provides many routings into Sri Lanka and is served by many major carriers (Singapore, Thai, Cathay and Malaysia) in the region.
Whilst in Sri Lanka, Scott Dunn only uses private driver/guides using luxury air conditioned vehicles. They drive you from A to B but also bring the destination to life. Things are really flexible, and often they will uncover the
sort of the experiences you like the most and ensure your expectations are exceeded.
Should you want to travel around Sri Lanka in style, we can arrange private helicopters or seaplanes to avoid the
driving. Cinnamon Air provides domestic seaplane flights mostly from Colombo to all
parts of Sri Lanka, as well as Sri Lankan Airtaxi run by Sri Lankan Airways. There are some great connections such
as Kandy to Bentota, Koggala or Dickwella on the south coast – this links the Hill Country to beach destinations
and saves you a great deal of driving.
Sri Lanka brings together so many diverse experiences from history, stunning landscapes, local culture, tea
plantations and palm-fringed beaches. Here are our tops picks:
Sri Lanka is a truly fantastic destination to take the family, whether you want a simple beach holiday, a soft
adventure, or something that will fully entertain your teenager’s sense of exploration. Children will love the opportunity to spot elephants and leopards in the national parks, learn about exotic spices, clamber over ancient ruins, cycle
through local villages, learn to pick tea and then end on the south coast for some beach time. For teenagers, you
can head to Kitugala for some excellent white water rafting and trek to remote waterfalls. If you just want to kick
back on the beach, then the Fortress and Cape Weligama are wonderful family hotels with kids clubs and connecting
Do however note that interconnecting rooms whilst touring the more cultural aspects of Sri Lanka are fairly hard
to come by (the hotels are fairly small and boutique so many of our families who travel with Scott Dunn have found
it to be absolutely fine).
Sri Lanka is impossibly romantic, and so laid-back making it an ideal destination for a honeymoon, and perfect
to combine with the Maldives for the ultimate combination of adventure and beach. Maybe tie together a little time
in the Cultural Triangle with a stop in a colonial tea bungalow where you can have al fresco dinners overlooking
amazing scenery. End on the south coast of Sri Lanka for some R&R or head off the Maldives to kick back in a villa
perched on stilts in a turquoise blue lagoon.
Sri Lanka’s Tea Country is strikingly beautiful, and a wonderful way to access it is via the train from Kandy to
Hatton in the observation car as the train snakes it make through the vibrant green plantations dotted with bright
sari-clad ladies going about their daily tea leaf collection. Many of the old colonial bungalows have been
One thing guests aren’t usually aware of is that all beaches in Sri Lanka are public, and as such you won’t find
too many beaches where you have them to yourself. Also be aware that the sea can be fairly choppy, especially in
the summer months on the south coast. Don’t expect amazing snorkelling, or even diving and see the beaches more as
picturesque places to sit back and relax and possibly spend more time in the main pool than the sea. The further
down the coast from Colombo you get, the less touristy the beach destinations become.
There are a range of luxury beach hotels in Sri Lanka. Let’s start with Amanwella, located in Tangalle on the
south coast – they have a range of amazing pool villas and a wonderful beach. Cape Weligama is located just down
from the town of Galle and has amazing views and two quiet beaches. The Fortress is well known for families, and
again just outside of Galle. Our favourite boutique beach hotels include Frangipani Tree, Villa Bentota and Rock
Sri Lanka can of course be seen time and time again, but if you want a classic first time trip to Sri Lanka then
consider looking at our Highlights of Sri Lanka itinerary which combines the Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Hill Country and the southern beaches. You can then decide to maybe add on some wildlife (maybe Uda Walawe or
Sri Lanka has a range of unique experiences that simply make your trip and create fantastic memories. Here are
With a little thought, you can certainly do Sri Lanka in style. By using private helicopters and chartered
seaplanes, you can take out all the travelling so you can access remote corners of the island. Take a helicopter to
a remote hillside location for a champagne breakfast, take a luxury plantation house exclusively or have the best
wildlife naturalist in Sri Lanka at your disposal. We have the creativity to think outside the box and come up with
something utterly spell-binding and designed completely around you.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is superb. There are a range of national parks that can be incorporated into a journey, or
combined to create an ultimate wildlife itinerary through Sri Lanka:
Yala National Park – located on the south-east corner of Sri Lanka and ideal from December to May, it offers the
best chance of seeing leopard, but you can also see wild elephants, boar, deer and buffalo.
Wilpattu National Park – Located close to the Cultural Triangle, and good to visit from May to December, you can
see leopard, spotted deer, bears, boar and crocodiles.
Uda Walawe National Park – located mid-way between the Hill Country and the southern coast, it acts as the
perfect place to break the journey, and very scenic. There are fewer leopards here, but the park is really well
known for its 500 wild elephants, water buffalo, langur monkeys, deer and bird life.
For those who enjoy getting into the great outdoors, then Sri Lanka is a perfect adventure playground
Sri Lanka combines well with a multitude of destinations. The Maldives is the most popular twin-centre, where you can spend a week seeing the more cultural side of Sri Lanka before ending up on the beach at one of the luxury resorts in the Maldives.
India is another popular combination, with flights to a great deal of destinations. Kerala or Tamil Nadu work well together given the proximity, but you can also fly direct to Delhi to access Rajasthan or Mumbai to explore the Tiger parks.
The Middle East also works well and often breaks the journey, so consider a stop in Dubai or Abu Dhabi on the
way to Sri Lanka, or maybe think about Oman for an ultimate combination of deserts, culture, mountains and beaches!
Tailor-made culture & beach itineraries
Whitewater rafting to whale watching
The Independent, November 2016
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