FROM: AUD $2,545

See the best of central Sri Lanka on this all-encompassing tour and join in the festivities of the exhilarating Kandy Festival aka Esala Perahera or The Festival of the Sacred Tooth. Spanning ten days, the annual Buddhist celebration sees the easy-going hill city burst into a vibrant display of dance, music and colourful costumes.

Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Kandy Festival - vibrant Buddhist celebration with a one hundred strong parade of ornately decorated elephants and traditional dancers
Polonnaruwa - the ancient capital city of Ceylon
Kayanwala village visit & cookery demonstration
Matale - spice gardens
Giragama Tea Factory - a working tea factory with a long history
Udawalawe National Park - home to the nation's largest herd of Asian Elephants
Colombo - The Fort area, Galle Face Green and Gangaramaya Temple
Sigiriya - 5th century fortress ruins
Dambulla - Rock Temple
Kandy - city tour including Tuk Tuk ride, Temple of the Tooth and cultural performance
Scenic train ride through waterfalls and tea plantations from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and drive though Nuwara Eliya's 'Little England'
Ratnapura - home to the nation gem mining industry


7 breakfasts and 1 lunch
Touring of Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Nuwara Eliya, Udawalawe, Gem Mine and Colombo
Scenic train trip Kandy - Nuwara Eliya, canoe and Tuk Tuk trips
All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles
Kandy Festival parade including entrance fee
7 nights 4 - 5 star and heritage properties
Jeep safari/ game drive in Udawalawe National park
Escorted by an English speaking national guide for group 6 or more (professional chauffeur guide for groups of 5 or less)
Airport arrival and departure transfers on day 1 and day 8

Not Included

Please note: Whilst the Kandy Festival allows you to immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s culture and rituals, using captive elephants as part of the celebrations is a complex issue. Their participation is a tradition that has passed down through the generations, with it being a matter of great prestige and honour for the elephant owners asked to take part. However, the welfare of captive elephants has been seriously called into question in recent years. Therefore it’s important for travellers to Kandy to be aware of the issues and make an informed decision about whether they wish to attend.
International flights and visas
Tipping Kitty: USD$50-$60pp, paid in local currency
Tip for your tour guide. We recommend you allow $3 - 6 USD per day per traveller. Tipping your guide is an entirely personal gesture
Entrance Fees: USD$120-$140pp, paid in local currency


Day 1

Colombo - Your Way

Saturday 10th August 2019. Welcome to Sri Lanka! You will be met at Colombo airport and transferred to our centrally located hotel which has stunning Indian Ocean views. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight: Colombo

Day 2

Dambulla Rock Temple & Polonnaruwa

Colombo - Dambulla - Polonnaruwa - Dambulla. Bidding farewell to Colombo this morning we drive inland to Dambulla, stopping en route at a fruit and vegetable market in Naramwela Town. Dambulla Rock Temple is an incredible ancient complex of caves which date back to the 1st Century BC. The five caves contain over 150 images of Buddha including an impressive 14 metre carved statue.

After exploring this ancient site we continue to Polonnaruwa. This fascinating 11th century city is home to many interesting ruins and famous monuments including the Royal Palace and the Gal Vihara. Polonnaruwa was once the capital and is also the second most ancient city in Sri Lanka. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This evening return to Dambulla for an evening at leisure.
Overnight: Dambulla  |  Breakfast

Day 3

The Kandy Festival

Dambulla - Sigiriya - Kandy. This morning we explore Sigiriya and the famous ‘Lion Rock’ fortress. Built over 1500 years ago, this beautiful citadel stands 200 meters high in the middle of verdant jungle and was an important stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. It can be viewed from miles around and is definitely one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic and famous sites. You’ll be able to view the world famous paintings of the Heavenly Maidens which stand in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. From Sigiriya we take a bullock cart ride and short canoe trip to the village of Kayanwala. Here, at Kayanwala village we take part in a cookery demonstration in the mud brick home of a local woman and enjoy a freshly prepared lunch of curry, dahl, spiced rice, pickle and more. En route to Kandy we stop off a spice garden in Matale, to see the different herbs and spices, which Sri Lanka is famous for. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of these spices are grown and processed.

Onward to Kandy for the spectacular Kandy Festival. For ten consecutive days every year this laid back Sri Lankan hill city erupts into a whirlwind of colour and activity. Dancers in colourful silk costumes parade through the streets backed by the rhythm of beating drums. There is also fire twirling, cracking of whips, cane dancing, fire walking and other cultural dances. The pageant commences at the golden Temple of the Tooth, alleged to house a tooth of Buddha, and in a public display that dates back to 310 AD a replica of the revered relic is paraded through the city. Spend the evening joining in the revelry of this exhilarating Buddhist festival.
Overnight: Kandy  |  Breakfast

Day 4

Kandy Festival By Night

This morning we stop at a working tea factory at Geragama. Geragama Tea Factory is located in close proximity to the city of Kandy was established in the year 1903, manufacturing 'Low Grown' and 'Long Leaf' tea.

Once back in Kandy we take a Tuk Tuk ride and visit the city's highlights. Later on this evening we visit the world famous Temple of the Tooth, which plays an important role in the Kandy Festival that will be continuing its celebrations this evening.
Overnight: Kandy  |  Breakfast

Day 5

Scenic Train Trip & Tea Plantations

Kandy - Nuwara Eliya. This morning offers free time, before transfering to the railway station for a scenic train trip. Passing kilometre upon kilometre of verdant tea plantations that hug the winding mountain passes, we'll see waterfalls, suspension bridges and tea pickers on our journey to Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka’s most popular hill resort. Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country producing a significant share of the world’s best tea.

This afternoon we take a sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya on a beautiful drive through 'Little England'.
Overnight: Nuwara Eliya  |  Breakfast

Day 6

Udawalawe National Park

Nuwara Eliya - Udawalawe National Park. Today we head south to Embilipitiya, our base for exploring Udawalawe National Park. This national park is probably one of the best places to spot the famous Sri Lankan Elephant, the biggest of all the Asian Elephants. It is thought that there are around 400 elephants here. The park is also home to the elusive leopard, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear and lots of types of deer. We take an afternoon game drive here before returning to the hotel for the night.
Overnight: Udawalawe National Park  |  Breakfast

Day 7

Colombo City Tour

Udawalawe National Park - Colombo. This morning with a visit to the Gem Mine at Ratnapura. Sri Lanka is famous for its gem industry and is home to 40 out of the 85 types of gems in the world.

Arriving to Colombo, we commence a city tour seeing the Fort area in the north of the city, famous for its government buildings and interesting shops. We'll see the stunning Gangarama Temple and take a stroll along Galle Face Green, a popular spot for kite flying and games of cricket.
Overnight: Colombo  |  Breakfast

Day 8

Colombo - Free Time

Saturday 17th August 2019. Today offers free time for you to independently explore, before your included departure transfer to the airport.

Kandy Festival Images courtesy of Sri Lanka Tourism

Footage of this tour

Andy Lye recently travelled with us on our Colombo Caves and Kandy Festival tour and through his video you too can discover the sights of the Tear Drop Isle and the colourful processions of the annual Esala Perahera. You can watch more of Andy's worldwide adventures via his YouTube channel.

Prices & Dates

Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person when there are 2 persons sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the per person price.

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Extra Prices

Price /
Private Tour Supplement
AUD $720
Pre-Tour Accommodation - Colombo
AUD $150
AUD $130
Post-Tour Accommodation - Colombo
AUD $150
AUD $130


The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.

OZO Colombo, Colombo

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

OZO Colombo is a modern and stylish hotel, with sweeping Indian Ocean views from its rooftop infinity pool and many of its rooms. There's free WIFI access throughout the hotel and the guestrooms are bright and airy with all modern amenities. To top it off, there's also a fantastic fitness center and a restaurant serving delicious, authentic Sri Lankan cusine. OZO is centrally located on Marine Drive, near Galle Road and just a 10 minute drive from the city centre.

Jetwing Lake, Dambulla

Our Category: Deluxe   |   Regional Category: 5 Star Hotel

The Jetwing Lake hotel is a brand new property with spacious and comfortable rooms that enjoy a contemporary design blended with splashes of Eastern influenced decor. The ensuite facilities are magnificent and in keeping with the luxurious feel of the property as a whole. Each room also comes with a balcony, from which guests can get some fresh air and enjoy the spectacular views. Within the complex there is a pool, spa and fitness centre, where guests can while away their free time. There is also a restaurant, which serves sumptuous meals.

OZO Kandy Hotel, Kandy

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The stylish OZO Kandy prides itself on its smart facilities and stunning mountain surrounds. Its highlight being the rooftop pool and BOMMU Bar where you can soak up panoramic views over Kandy whilst enjoying a cocktail or two. The hotel’s all-day dining restaurant serves a tasty array of Asian and international cuisine using only fresh and handpicked produce. Other amenities include a fitness centre and complimentary WiFi, with guestrooms boasting signature soft beds and rain showers.

Jetwing St Andrew's, Nuwara Eliya

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Jetwing St. Andrew's is a unique colonial retreat set in a former country house and surrounded by landscaped gardens. All the spacious rooms are classically furnished with elegant wood and offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs. The grounds of the hotel give a great feel of colonial splendour and guests can wake up to a typical English breakfast and enjoy a stiff brandy at the bar later in the day. Fine dining is offered at the Old Course Restaurant and the hotel also boasts an antique snooker table, which is the oldest in Sri Lanka.

Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort, Udawalawe National Park

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Situated on 7 acres of land, the Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort is the only hotel of its class in the area. Rooms are spacious with beautiful hard wood flooring and artwork depicting the wildlife of Udawalawe. Food here is delicious and plentiful with an extensive breakfast menu. The outdoor pool is a great place to relax by and enjoy a refreshing splash in after a good day on safari. Well located just a few minutes drive from Udawalawe National Park.


Travellers have rated this tour as 5 out of 5 based on 4 recent reviews

This tour was very good, the hotels were all good the bus was very good and our tour guide Aktar was 1st class, very knowledgeable and helpful. He was well organised nothing was a problem. The tour schedule was a little rushed with no free time but because it all went smooth the slight bad points were irrelevant as the whole group had a good time. we can recommend this tour in confidence.

• Submitted 21 Aug 2016

Overall the trip was great and well rounded and I have thoroughly enjoyed and loved the country. Aktar is very diligent and a credit to On The Go.

Suggested improvements: The Nuwara Eliya day needs activities added. Perhaps we should squeeze in a trip to the National Railway Museum to learn more about the rail. Eating at more local restaurants would be good too.

Loved all the elephants and monkeys and I will be booking another On The Go tour ASAP so I hope you offer a discount for subsequent bookings.

• Submitted 05 Sep 2015

Had an excellent time Akthar was very helpful and informative. This was a very fast paced tour and feel that it should be lengthened a day or two just to give some people breathing space

• Submitted 02 Sep 2015

Aktar is a brilliant guide. We have experienced many over the years and this enhanced the experience for us. His organisational skills and sense of humour was invaluable. Thank you

• Submitted 01 Sep 2015

In Brief

Trip Type
Sat 10 Aug 2019
Group Size
Min 2 / Max 24
Hotel Rating
4 - 5 star & heritage hotels
Tour Guide
Yes - escorted by a tour guide
Breakfast: 7

Tour Add-ons

Enhance your trip with these amazing added extras and add-ons

AUD $845 / 4 days

Extra Tour Info

The Cultural Triangle
Our guide to visiting Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle
22nd January 2018

This tour was very good, the hotels were all good the bus was very good and our tour guide Aktar was 1st class, very knowledgeable and helpful. He was well organised nothing was a problem. The tour schedule was a little rushed with no free time but because it all went smooth the slight bad points were irrelevant as the whole group had a good time. we can recommend this tour in confidence.

Anthony Shaw
OTG001263Colombo Caves & Kandy Festival - 8 daysIndian SubcontinentSignature2545 AUDfalse0Sri Lanka