November’s Charity: Olanka Travels’ Journey of Heartfelt Giving

You are not poor, but you are rich in your heart. Consider this as a support from us at Olanka Travels

With these inspiring words, Olanka Travels, in collaboration with the Yunitha Denawaka Foundation, marked a day of giving and remembrance on the 23rd of November, 2023. This significant date not only commemorates the late Yunitha Denawaka, but also celebrates the birthday of the revered Hon. Sai Baba.

The CSR initiative was a heartfelt tribute to a legacy of kindness and a beacon of hope for families facing hardship. One hundred families in need received food ration bags, each valued at LKR 2,000, packed with essentials like rice, sugar, tea, and more—staples to ease their daily toil.

The event stood as a shining example of community and giving. Spearheaded by Donald Denawaka, a founding member of the Yunitha Denawaka Foundation, the initiative was brought to life. Ravi Denawaka and Pramudi Karunarathne, the Founder/CEO and General Operations Manager of Olanka Travels respectively, alongside their dedicated team, worked relentlessly to ensure the day was a success. Their commitment, coupled with the generous financial aid from private donors, encapsulated the true spirit of generosity.

We pay tribute to late Yunitha Denawaka, whose vision has been a profound drive for charity for over two decades. With every success, the partnership between Olanka Travels and the Yunitha Denawaka Foundation has afforded multiple opportunities to undertake charitable projects, continuing a cycle of prosperity and generosity.   

Olanka Travels stands firm in its commitment to society; fueled by the belief that true wealth lies within the heart. As we forge ahead, we carry the torch of compassion, illuminating the path to a sustainable world, one act of kindness at a time.

07 Best things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya is a famous tourist destination in Sri Lanka. This is about 7 best things to do in Nuwara Eliya.

If you are making plans for a holiday in Sri Lanka, it will be a great loss to have missed Nuwara Eliya. Blessed with misty mountains, infinite tea plantations and lush greenery Nuwara Eliya, brags a scenery more melodramatic than Britain’s.  It’s widely popular as Little England, because of the colonial style British holiday bungalows and the weather similar to Britain. This cozy little paradise offers plenty to do for pleasure seekers, intrepid adventurers and all sorts of other travelers who visit Nuwara Eliya. 

Let’s unwrap 07 best things to do in Nuwara Eliya

Tea Plantations

Nuwara Eliya is the best tea growing area of Sri Lanka which has massive tea plantations all over the area. Sri Lankan tea is believed as the finest tea in the world and if you plan to visit Nuwara Eliya exploring these incredible lush green tea plantations is a must. Out of many tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya we strongly recommend Pedro Tea Estate and Bluefield tea gardens which will offer you guided tours to learn the particulars of tea processing, of course a few cups of the world’s best tea to enjoy too. You can roam around the lush green tea plantations exploring by yourself as well.

Tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya by Olanka Travels

Visit tea factories.

Sri Lanka is one of the largest tea exporters in the world and a visit to a tea factory has become a fundamental of every Sri Lanka tour itinerary. Tea tours don’t take too long, Pedro Estate tea factory, Heritance tea factory and Nuwara Eliya Estate tea factory are few among the best. Once inside the factory you will see ancient machines in action. Tea production involves a tedious procedure of plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing, and drying which requires ample manpower on regular basis. Tea factories are normally open from 10 am to 5pm and entrance free or at a nominal cost most of the time.

Hike in the Horton Plains

Hike in the Horton plains ends at the World’s End. This trek is more accessible and achievable comparing to other hikes of the sort due to the well-preserved paths and the less strenuous climb. The greatest time to start the trek is early morning when the dawn is cracked, and the sun rays are getting ready to embrace the misty plains.  The plains are home to vast variety of wildlife, containing samba deer, many birds and even leopards. Sunrise from the Horton Plains is absolutely spectacular and there are numerous places to get great photos but be careful near the edge.

Best things to do in Nuwara Eliya Horton Plains by Olanka Travels

Take train ride to Ella

The train ride from Ella to Kandy or vice versa is believed to be one of the most stunning train rides in the world and of course the ride will treat yourself to a view so sublime which will make you feel like you are dreaming. The journey will take more than 6-7 hrs. and will take you through splendid sceneries of tea plantations and mountain views. There will be so many sellers offering you freshly cut pineapples and mangoes, crispy fritters, and so on which are lip-smacking and value for money so there’s no need to worry about bringing food and snacks.

Visit wonderful Lover’s leap

Lover’s Leap Waterfall should be one of the must visits on your tour to Nuwara Eliya. The story behind this elegant waterfall is obviously tragic as village folks believe that it got its name due to two lovers who committed suicide by leaping over this beautiful cascade. You can easily hike to the top or rent some bicycles to ride too. There is a wonderful view from the top of the fall where you will see Nuwara Eliya town bordered by green foliage. This hike is perfect for an afternoon’s explore as an escape from rest of the world.

Tour to the Moon Plains

Moon Plains, locally known as “Sandathenne” is comparatively new tourist attraction in Nuwara Eliya. Surprisingly this was a garbage dump area in the past which has now been converted to a park with many biodiversity spots to see. You can get a splendid 360-degree view of the nine peaks including Piduruthalagala, Kirigalpoththa, The great Western Mountain and Single Tree Mountain from here.  This is alternatively referred as Mini World’s End and the magnificent view of the mountain peaks flora and fauna; nonstop tweeting of the lovely little birds is few of the highlights of visiting Moon Plains in Sri Lanka.


Last but not least, another famous attraction in Nuwara Eliya is Hakgala Botanical Garden. It’s one of Sri Lanka’s five main botanical gardens and is popular for being the most scenic out of all of them.  The garden resembles a true paradise with its exotic flora and fauna who displays their beauty throughout the year. There are over 1000 different species on parade here at the garden. Rare orchids and roses get the biggest attraction from the foreign and local travelers alike. The best time to visit the Hakgala Botanical Gardens is in April when almost all the plants are in full bloom.

Have we inspired you with enough reasons to plan your next holiday in Sri Lanka? If you plan to visit Nuwara Eliya for the tea plantations and tea factories two days will be sufficient yet your plan is to visit and engage in all the other activities, we suggested above spending 03-04 days is ideal.

Worlds end and things to do in Nuwara Eliya by Olanka Travels

Best Sri Lanka Tour Operator Olanka Travels flawless Sri Lanka Tour Packages to choose from according to your unique travel preferences. Olanka agrees to provide you with 100% tailor made tours with guaranteed satisfaction. Travelling with Olanka will create an experience which you treasure, a service with unmatched quality and a journey worth your money.

If you have been planning to visit Nuwara Eliya and think we have provided you valuable insight, please let us know in the comments below. And make sure to follow us on social media for more Sri Lanka travel content.

Exceptional Beaches for your Sri Lanka Holiday Package

The beaming sun; a sparkling sandy shore; with your loved ones; in an island to explore! Ideal Sri Lanka holiday packages do NOT miss a fine Sri Lankan cocktail overlooking the marine life this tropical island is surrounded with. 

By the end of this guide, you will know 10 best beaches on the Southern coastline of Sri Lanka that 90% of travelers visit when on a Sri Lanka tour.

I’m going to reveal why you should include them when you are planning your Sri Lanka Holiday Package with your family, friends, or with your significant other.

Let’s begin!

Best beaches in Galle city

Imagine trekking through a jungle and discovering a foamy sea of turquoise waters at the end. Remove your flip flops and feel the golden sand beneath your feet as the salty sea breeze tickles you – that’s Jungle beach at Unawatuna for you.

If you are like me, a Sri Lanka holiday package with Unawatuna is what you need right now to detox your soul from everyday chaos. 

Remember that iconic beach photo on a swing? That is from Dalawella beach. One of the best things to do in Unawatuna is to go on this swing which is absolutely thrilling to do! You cannot add Unawatuna to your Sri Lanka holiday package and leave without a picture here.

Rope swinging at Dalawella beach.

Remember that iconic beach photo on a swing? That is from Dalawella beach. One of the best things to do in Unawatuna is to go on this swing which is absolutely thrilling to do! You cannot add Unawatuna to your Sri Lanka holiday package and leave without a picture here.

Watch the spectacular sunset at Unawatuna beach

Enjoy your Sri Lanka holiday with a Sri Lankan lion beer while watching the sunset color you in orange hues. As this is the main beach in Galle, it will be slightly more crowded than others though the views are once-in-a-lifetime.

Learn surfing at Sahana beach and Dewata beach

Up for a little adventure? The perfect tides at Sahana beach and Dewata beach are ideal to spice up your calm Sri Lanka holiday package at the beach. 

Dive into the marine life at Jungle beach

Jungle beach mothers some of the best coral reefs in this paradise island. Engage in snorkeling, canoeing, scuba diving, jet-skiing, and other thrilling water activities with your loved ones, and have an awesome Sri Lanka Travel Package.

If you walk further to a secluded area, you will be able to enjoy a heart-filling picnic by the beach alongside the swaying palm trees around you.

Take a tour around the Galle city

While you are sunbathing and enjoying the pristine beaches at Galle, there are plenty of other things to add to your Sri Lanka holiday package. Visit turtle hatcheries, the maritime archeology museum, the astonishing Galle Fort, and the lighthouse and cycle through the beautiful town.

Best beaches in Matara city

mirissa coconut beach

Slightly south to Galle, there are a few spectacular beaches worth a place in your Sri Lanka travel package. Whether it’s a romantic honeymoon, a Sri Lanka Tour Package for family, or an adventurous holiday package in Sri Lanka with friends, these beaches offer something to keep your desire going!

Dolphin and Whale watching at Mirissa beach 

One of the best things to do in Matara is head to Mirissa beach and join a tour to watch whales and dolphins in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. When planning your Sri Lanka holiday package, please make sure to contact an agency that follows the international whale watching rules to protect marine life. 

Get an Insta-worthy photo at the Coconut tree-hill

You have seen this viral travel photo on Instagram. Add this destination to your Sri Lanka holiday package right now to not miss this natural masterpiece!

A romantic gateway at the Secret beach

Although hard to reach, it is the very reason why it is a secluded little paradise around the corner of Mirissa beach. Slide into one of its rock pools with the love of your life or enjoy a glass of fine wine with your family gazing at the bright blue waters – a merry little picnic for your Sri Lanka holiday package!

Have a relaxing picnic at Polhena beach

An alternative for Secret beach is the Polhena beach which is similarly secluded, unlike the Mirissa beach. While Mirissa beach is ideal for an adventurous beach hour including water activities not limited to snorkeling, scuba diving, and canoeing, Polhena beach is ideal for your Sri Lanka holiday package to wind down with some authentic Sri Lankan seafood with your loved ones. Breathe in the beautiful sunset and maybe learn stilt-fishing! 

Best beaches in Kalutara city

Beach Tour

About 65km from Colombo lies Kalutara awaiting a ton of exciting water activities. A tip to have a thrilling Sri Lanka Holiday Package is to travel to Kalutara from Colombo by train. You are in for a picturesque journey and some memorable photos! 

Sunbathe at Kalutara beach as the tropical beauty surrounds you

Another resort to relax with your loved ones is the Kalutara beach because it is barely crowded. Make your Sri Lanka holiday package a relaxing one with a spa treatment in a nearby hotel and relax with a glass of Sri Lankan cocktail when the sunsets.

Rejuvenate yourself with the cosmic beauty of the sunset as the sea waves gently ripple in front of you. That folks, is an authentic Sri Lanka holiday package.

Best beaches in Colombo city

Ride in the beach

As the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo will be the city you will first visit in your Sri Lanka holiday package. The nightlife is full-on in Colombo, and therefore, as you find some of the best beaches on this paradise island, you will also enjoy at your hearts’ content with some exciting activities on board for you!

Enjoy the life of a party animal at Negombo beach

A beach full of life is Negombo beach. Jump right into the playful sea and take part in fun water activities like snorkeling, surfing, fishing, kite surfing et etcetera with your family and friends! When your energy is low, relax on the sandy shore and enjoy a heart-warming picnic tasting some authentic Sri Lankan seafood. Now that’s a Sri Lanka Holiday Package we all deserve. Seriously!

An all-inclusive guide to Whale Watching in Sri Lanka

Among the other excruciating journeys, you’ll take in Sri Lanka, Whale Watching in Mirissa is the best part of your Sri Lankan Tour. Mirissa is a small finishing town in southern Sri Lanka, that holds the best geographical location for whale watching. The golden beach and the turquoise sea will sprinkle you with that beach holiday vibe which is the best therapy for you if you are a true ocean lover. What can be more rewarding than sighting magnificent whales during your beach holiday for you?

Mirissa in Sri Lanka

Where is Mirissa and how to get there?

Mirissa is a small town in the Galle district of southern Sri Lanka. You can take the scenic route by the sea, the highway, or the famous train route to come to Mirissa. Getting to Mirissa does not take that much time if you are staying in Colombo. If you take the highway, it will take only an hour for you to get to Galle. But the scenic route by the sea and the railway to Galle too is highly recommended for you will certainly appreciate the picturesque view.

Mirissa is the perfect destination for a beach lover. Southern Sri Lanka gives you access to experience the Asian wildlife excursion you always desired. But you surely have added a relaxing evening by the beach watching the sunset to your Sri Lankan tour.  Your destination Mirissa will give you all these without a fail. This is arguably the most famous destination for whale watching in Sri Lanka. The geographical position makes Mirissa the finest destination for whale watching as it has the narrowest continental shelf with ocean depths reaching from 1Km to a few kilometres offshore.

Mirissa beach Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka itinerary

What to expect during your excursion? 

You already know that Sri Lanka is a haven for wildlife. Freely roaming elephants in the Yala and the Udawalawa national park, Sri Lankan leopard spotted majestic in Yala, a multitude of birds in different shades, giant crocodiles, leatherback turtles and how can you not go and see the whales? Whale watching at Mirissa is a must-do in your Sri Lankan itinerary. You are guaranteed that you will reward your eyes with a magnificent view of these amazing whales. That is because Sri Lanka is at the top few countries in the world to watch whales. Seeing these magnificent creatures float freely in the ocean is an exhilarating sight. Undoubtedly this is one of the best experiences you will get during your Sri Lankan tour Itinerary and that one excursion you will never regret.  

Different species of whales can be seen on the Sri Lankan coast. Before you take the tour know what you are expected to witness. A variety of whale species can be seen throughout your whale watching tour. This includes Fin, the second largest whale species on earth; Bryde’s whale, a baleen whale also known as the tropical whale; Minke, a member of the ‘great whale’ family; Humpback whales who live in oceans all around the world and travel great distances; Sperm whales, the largest toothed whale and, the largest of them all the blue whale. If you see dolphins during your whale watching excursion, do not be surprised as the Sri Lankan coast is constantly visited by a plethora of dolphins. The best time to see the whales and dolphins are between late November to mid-April. However, the spectacular sight of blue whales is guaranteed to be seen between February and Mid-March. This is the time of the year when a smaller fish called Krill groups around the coastline of Sri Lanka who whales love to consume. Apart from the Krill feast for the whales, there’s an annual whale migration of blue and sperm whales between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian seas through the coast of Sri Lanka. This migration is now celebrated as of the greatest migratory routes of the world. During your trip to Sri Lanka from November to April, you won’t miss the sight of these colossal creatures.

Whale watching in Mirissa sri lanka

Best time for whale watching

You can find plenty of tour operators who offer you whale and dolphin watching expeditions. Most of these set off from Weligama bay. There will be some tour operators who offer you cheaper tickets. But remember your safety comes first. Ethical whale watching is another aspect you need to think about when you choose your tour operator. Whale watching is a relatively new tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Therefore, make sure that you choose a reliable operator who will not disturb the wellbeing of the whales, or any other marine life sighted during your excursion. Taking an ethical tour is important for your safety as well as for the safety of the whales because experienced reliable tour operators follow the proper and necessary practices. Such operators will always keep a safe distance from the whales and dolphins that you encounter while guaranteeing a breathtaking view of these truly magnificent creatures that you don’t see every day. These whale watching tours of Mirissa usually depart around 6.30 am, and last for nearly five hours. If the whales are not sighted the tour might extend from six to eight hours as per your suggestion.

Where to stay in Mirissa? 

If your Sri Lankan itinerary includes whale watching, you must stay near Mirissa. Plenty of star grade hotels and cosy motels are available near the beach and even in Galle, from where you can easily travel to Mirissa. Most of these luxury hotels, villas, guest houses and even budget hotels in Mirissa are within walking distance to the beach. Most of the best star grade hotels and resorts are further along the coast. If you intend to you can find cheaper accommodation easily in this area. Yet all these hospitable places assure you comfort and most importantly mouth-watering seafood dishes of all sorts. Most of the restaurants of the area have excellent seafood menus and they are a few minutes away from the beach. So, you can enjoy your meals as you watch the sea waves touch the soft beach. All these hotels and villas provide you with delicious cuisine in their specific restaurants. Many of them have restaurants on Mirissa beach that offer you seafood menus, both local and international, and beverages in the evenings. 

Mirissa Villa and resort for stay

Hot Air Balloon Ride in the magical island of Sri Lanka

Hot Air Balloon Adventure is one of the best activities you can indulge in during your visit to Sri Lanka. You can experience this one of a lifetime venture in a few of the most scenic places in the island paradise. These places include: Sigirya, Habarana, Kandlama, and Dambulla. The climate in Dambulla to Kandalama is remarkable for flying balloons. The weather is always calm and predictable. The balloon rides usually take place in the morning and cover ten miles. The height at which you want to fly varies from treetop level to thousand feet up. Your safety is assured with excellent pilots and ground staff who are highly qualified and experienced. Remember that only fewer passengers can fly at a time as your safety comes first.

What is it all about?

Treat your eyes to the breathtaking views of beautiful Sri Lankan landscapes as you choose to ride through the sky. Hot Air Balloon tours are commonly popular among tourists for the adventure they offer for an affordable price. You can drift over the scenic tropical paradise witnessing historical and cultural monuments below along with never-ending greenery as the morning sun warms the island. You will be marvelled at the panoramic view of the Sri Lankan countryside and the many man-made lakes glittering below. A Hot Air Balloon tour is your best opportunity to witness the true magic of ancient Sri Lankan architecture, as you drift through the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.

When and where?

Nothing beats an unforgettable hot air balloon excursion across the plains of Sri Lanka Trip. A silent ride through the blue skies over a heritage site or a wildlife part is simply magnificent. Make your vacation in Sri Lanka memorable by choosing a ride to the sky. You can celebrate your anniversary, propose to your beloved or even celebrate your kids’ birthday on a Hot Air Balloon. The diverse ecosystem of Sri Lanka allows you to enjoy this magnificent ride. December to March contains a rainless season for the tropical island making this hot air balloon ride the most affordable, luxurious and the most entertaining encounter. These extravagant rides function from Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandalama and Habarana.


Hot Air Balloon tours are available from the north-central plains of the country. This covers Dambulla, the best terrain you can find to experience the excursion of rural Sri Lanka. As you float through the cloudless skies you will see the wonders of the ancient irrigation system of the country along with the lush paddy fields and verdant untouched forests. The cave temple of Dambulla is a popular tourist destination. Complimenting the caves are the enormous golden Buddha statue of Dambulla. As you float through the sky, you are privileged to examine the amazing ancient architecture. The service from Dambulla is available from December to March.

Your safety is assured with our well-trained pilots who will brief you on everything you need to know.


When You begin your Hot Air Balloon adventure from Sigiriya, you must start your journey around 4.45 am. You can catch the first rays of the sun and the morning breeze. Ideally, you should stay in a hotel near Sigiriya, so your tour organizers will provide you with transportation. Witnessing the Lion Rock from above will indeed marvel you as this is the only possible method for you to appreciate the true architectural marvel of ancient Sri Lanka. Not only the Lion rock, but the surrounding ancient water park and its significance will make you question the ancient irrigation technology of the Sri Lankan people.


Your ride will be waiting in the place where you stay to pick you up for the Hot Air Balloon ride. It is recommended that you commence your journey at 5.15 am. As the sun rises, you will find the breathtaking view and the vibrant colours of the Kandalama Lake and the surrounding natural sanctuary. Your ride will be complemented with the majestic view of the golden Buddha statue and with glimpses of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Your ride will take one hour or an hour and a half, depending on the wind directions and where you will land.

What would the experience be like?

hot air balloon ride in sri lanka


If you are staying in Habarana, enjoying the sight of wild elephants, booking your Hot Air Balloon ride from Habarana is the best option for you. You can start your journey at 4.30 am and your ride will end probably at 6.00 am. You will be picked up by the tour organizers from your hotel. Ride from Habarana is best suited for you if you want to witness the herds of wild elephants coming out from forests in search of water during the mornings. This marvellous sight together will lush green wilderness is a sight worth seeing. The surrounding terrain homes the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya and the cave temples of Dambulla. Your ride accompanied by experienced pilots will be filled with awe and marvel.

What to wear and bring for your adventure

  • Dress casually and comfortably. The air gets warmer as the sun comes out. 
  • Choose comfortable shoes of your choice. 
  • Bringing A hat, cap or a Scaff is recommended. 
  • You are expected to allocate at least three and a half hours for your entire journey. 
  • Please note that if you are pregnant or if you have children under 7 years of age, the ride isn’t ideal for you. 
  • If the flight is cancelled due to bad weather or any other unavoidable circumstance, your payment will be refunded in full. 
  • You can throw candy at local village children if you wish to. So bring some candy if you are interested in doing so. Local children love this. 
  • Your pickup time will depend on the location you are staying. The time will be between 4.45 am to 5.30 am.  
  • You can propose to your loved one, or celebrate any other special occasion on a hot air balloon. Make sure that you make the necessary arrangements and inform your tour company about this. 

A list of essential items to pack for your next Sri Lanka trip

We understand that you are super thrilled about your next Trip to Sri Lanka. It’s important to know what to pack for Sri Lanka so that you have an enjoyable and relaxing experience.

We are experts in tour planning, but we know that the planning stage is not exciting to everybody, yet there’s a lot to be planned like getting visas, vaccination cards, and packing most essential stuff. It can be stressful and time-consuming to get these sorted.  

To relieve your stress, we have listed below essentials to bring when you visit Sri Lanka.

Entry Documents 

Before you hop on the plane, please make sure you have all the important documents you need to enter Sri Lanka. 

Passport (Obvious right?)

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) – If you applied online, please keep your electronic visa application printed which will be handy when needed. 

Your flight tickets and the booking confirmations of the particular hotels you chose to stay at. 

Your travel cards – Bring your travel cards and travel insurance.  

Medical reports – These will be helpful if you get sick and happen to consult a doctor while on vacation.  

Other relevant documents 

  • Money 

It’s important you have sufficient money with you to fund your entire trip. You can ask help from your tour agent for currency exchange needs or you can exchange from the airport itself too. Make sure you have your ATM/Credit cards with you for extra money needs. 

  • Comfy clothes

Sri Lanka is a tropical country located close to the equator. It’s always sunny here, so pack comfy clothing.  If you plan to visit Nuwara Eliya which has a colder climate, warm clothing is needed. 

Smart casual will come in handy for dining at luxury hotels and partying or clubbing. 

One or two pieces of modest clothing that cover the entire body as you will be asked to cover up when visiting religious places. (Yes, for men too) 

  • Swimwear 

Sri Lanka boasts about its beautiful beaches. If you wish to take a dip, sunbathe, or snorkel and dive, bring your swimming suits, a quick-dry towel, and snorkelling and swimming gear. Alternatively, gear can be hired along the coast. Almost all the hotels provide complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, yet you can bring your regular toiletries. 

  • Hiking shoes & Flip Flops 

Flip Flops are ideal to walk in Sri Lanka. You can bring a pair of nice shoes for dining or partying and clubbing.  However, if you wish to hike, don’t forget to bring your hiking shoes.  

  • Umbrella/Raincoats 

Due to Sri Lanka’s equatorial position, the temperatures don’t fluctuate too much year around. October and November are the wettest months in Sri Lanka when you surely need umbrellas or raincoats, perhaps both. We suggest that you bring an umbrella, a cap or a hat anyway as it’s too sunny most of the time.

  • Sun cream

You know you are going to visit a warm and sunny country. So, sunscreen is a must even if you are dreaming about getting a nice suntan.  Don’t forget your sunglasses. 

  • Camera equipment & other tech gadgets 

On your Sri Lanka Trips, there will be countless moments to capture and document. Make sure you are fully equipped with your camera gear.  Your laptop or iPad, DSLR and lenses, drone, action/underwater camera, memory cards, external hard drive, power bank, tripod, and all the chargers are some items you probably shouldn’t miss. 

  • Medicine & First aid kit

If you suffer from a pre-diagnosed illness, please remember to bring all the medication. It could be difficult to find the same medicine in Sri Lanka and you don’t want to take that kind of a risk with your life. 

  • First Aid Kit

It is useful to carry a small first aid kit all the time wherever you travel. Most of the time you won’t even need it, but you never know when the need will arise and at that time it will come in handy.  Travel sickness pills, paracetamol, plasters, bandages, tape, mosquito, and bug repellents, are some of the essentials you should keep in your first aid kit.

  • Entertainment 

Sri Lanka is a small country, but you will have to spend quite a lot of time in your hired vehicle, on a train or bus when you are moving from one location to another. To avoid being bored while commuting, bring along your books, kindle, iPod, headphones, gaming gear, and other entertainment items. 

When deciding what to pack for Sri Lanka, your ultimate picks will rely on a lot of things. 

It will be easier if you consider the religious customs of Sri Lanka, geography as well as the climate in Sri Lanka when picking what to pack. 

It’s always a great idea to ask your Sri Lanka Tour Operator about what to pack based on the nature of your Sri Lanka trip. Your travel agent will provide you with the necessary details and they should be able to suggest the best getaway after considering your travel requirements and interests. We at Olanka Travels offer versatile Sri Lanka Tour Packages for you to select, including Sri Lanka leisure travel and Sri Lanka adventure travel.  

Welcome to Sri Lanka. 

Sigiriya the guide for awesome Sri Lanka Holiday Packages

So you are planning your Sri Lanka holiday package and wondering what sites are worth a visit. You can never say you experienced a killer Sri Lanka tour package if you didn’t visit this one place. I’m going to unravel all the important titbits so that you, my friend, will know everything you need before visiting this world-famous historical city in Sri Lanka: Sigiriya.

You will know why you MUST include Sigiriya in your Sri Lanka Holiday Package, its history in brief, how to get there, and the best things to do in Sigiriya while on a Sri Lanka tour- all in one quick read.

The dramatic history of Sigiriya

About 2500 years ago, when Sri Lanka was a land of Kings, two royal brothers fought for the throne. Prince Kasyapa illegally took the throne from his half-brother Prince Moggallana, who was the rightful heir to the throne. 

As Prince Moggallana fled to India, King Kasyapa moved the then capital city Anuradhapura to Sigiriya. To keep safe from an invasion from Prince Moggallana, King Kasyapa built a fortress in Sigiriya on a humungous rock that used to be a monastery for monks.

Later, Prince Moggallana defeated King Kasyapa in war and made Anuradhapura the capital city again. The royal palace in Sigiriya became a Buddhist monastery again but later was abandoned. Decades later, the Sigiriya rock fortress became a known secret among Sri Lankans until Europeans discovered it in 1831.

Why Sigiriya rock fortress should be in your Sri Lanka tour package

It proudly rests in the middle of the Central forest of Sri Lanka. What was once a powerful fortress in Sri Lanka, today is a UNESCO world heritage worthy of your Sri Lanka holiday packages. Did you know that it is literally a shame for a local to say they have never visited this aesthetic historical site?

Sigiriya (Sinhagiri) which is translated as ‘lion’s paw’ has the carving of a rock in the shape of a lion’s paw as its entrance in its mid-terrace which includes the famous mirror wall and the frescoes of the King’s damsels. Its upper terrace is where you would discover the upper palace.

You are extremely lucky if you include this site in your Sri Lanka Holiday Package. Why? Ever seen a 5th-century pleasure garden with water-retaining structures that still work? Exactly. It’s the sophisticated first-millennium technology for me! You will also have a romantic walk along through the many royal gardens in Sigiriya.

How to get to Sigiriya

Colombo to Sigiriya

The ancient city of Sigiriya is located near Dambulla town in the Central province of Sri Lanka. The distance from Colombo to Sigiriya is 150km. I guarantee that your Sri Lanka holiday package will be exceptional if you go on a train ride to Sigiriya passing picturesque views. – Oooo that insta-worthy photo you’d take!

Dambulla to Sigiriya

You might also be in an awesome Sri Lanka holiday tour package traveling from Dambulla to Sigiriya. For you, it will only be around 17km to reach Sigiriya. You guessed it right; there is a scenic route to arrive Sigiriya from Dambulla too.

Pass golden paddy fields, the breezy village, and even stop by at a local kiosk to have an evening cup of tea. This option will be quite expensive for your Sri Lanka holiday package if you are traveling alone. With a local travel agency, this route is a free add-on. 

To reach the Sigiriya rock fortress, you will climb about 1200 steps starting from the base: the lion’s paw. This is where you will thank yourself for following your heart and adding this historical site to your Sri Lanka holiday package. Along the way to the top, you will encounter the ancient royal gardens and pools to stop by and admire. 

Once you get to the top of the Sigiriya rock fortress, you will be rewarded with a mind-blowing view of the emerald greenery and a 360-degree view of the entire royal terrace around you! It’s unbelievable how ancient architecture and technology were so sophisticated! 

Pidurangala rock

From your Sri Lanka holiday package, you might get to see the breathtaking view of the Sigiriya ruins and the surrounding from Sigiriya, and what’s similarly awesome? Sightseeing Sigiriya from an incredible viewpoint! 

An extra flavor for your Sri Lanka holiday package is a hike to the Pidurangala rock. This is possible if you allow your Sri Lanka Tour Package to be open for another exciting hike! 

As your Sri Lanka holiday package unravels you to this amazing hike, you will sightsee its own cave complex. Be sure to climb in the sunrise or the sunset because the views are too unearthly to miss! 

For those who are on a tight budget, adding a hike at Pidurangala rock for your Sri Lanka tour package would give similar awe-striking views of the forest as one who would experience at the top of Sigiriya.

Sigiriya archeological museum

There’s so much more than what meets the eye in the ancient ruins of the Sigiriya rock fortress. If you are visiting Sigiriya, you must include the Sigiriya museum in your Sri Lanka holiday package. Enter into the world of Sri Lanka’s archeological treasures. Jewels, sculptures, ancient art, photographs, tools used by ancestors, and even skeletons found from excavations are preserved for you to explore! 

Visiting Sigiriya itself would take about two days from your Sri Lanka holiday package and I tell you; follow your heart.

The takeaway

If you ever visit Sri Lanka, you should know that to discover the whole of this enchanting pearl of an island, you need the perfect Sri Lanka itinerary of at least 8 days. 

You still can experience an amazing vacation from a Sri Lanka Holiday Package of less than a week. But I’m talking to the daring adventurers, nature lovers, soul searchers, and all the travelholics who have the habit of exploring with a passion! While you are on the hunt for picturesque views and the rustic ancient ambiance from your Sri Lanka holiday package, don’t miss Sigiriya!

The historical twist for a wonderful Sri Lanka Vacation

The island of Sri Lanka is full of ruins and remnants of its prestigious history. Discover the story that the Kings left behind during your Sri Lanka vacations. Let me guide you through the beauty of history that silently rests in a promised land.

The story of the Kingdom of Anuradhapura

A Sri Lanka vacation without a visit to Anuradhapura means you are missing out a lot! Did you know that Anuradhapura was the first kingdom of Sri Lanka? And believe me, the ruins are still ready to be explored. In your Sri Lanka vacation tours pay a visit to Anuradhapura to sightsee some of Sri Lanka’s first stupas and statues.

The religious significance of Mihintale mountain peak 

Buddhists believe that it was on this rock, that Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka. King Asoka, emperor of India sent his ordained son, Mahinda Thera to Sri Lanka to spread the peaceful Buddhist doctrine. King Dutugemunu who was a friend of King Asoka encountered Mahinda Thero on this rock, embraced Buddhism, and established this new doctrine as the national religion in Sri Lanka.The cave on the mountain peak is said to have been the residence of Arahant Mahinda and his missionary troop that was sent from India. On your Sri Lanka Vacations , visit this sacred rocky mountain surrounded by a dense forest.

Ruins of Mihintale

At the bottom of Mihintale rock is the remnants of a hospital. Between the steps leading to the peak of the rock and the hospital, you will encounter the famous Kantaka Chetiya. This circular stupa has some fascinating frontispieces called vaahalkada which you must witness in your Sri Lanka vacation tour. 

Along with these monuments, there is a refectory, slab inscriptions, a Dagoba, a giant statue of the Buddha, and ponds named Kaludiya Pokuna (Black pond) and Naga Pokuna (Serpent pond) which makes Mihintale a historical destination that you are ought to explore in your Sri Lanka vacation tour.

  • Ritigala forest monastery
  • Sandakadapahana – One of the finest and well-preserved moonstones in Sri Lanka
  • Lovamahapaya brazen palace
  • Isurumuniya temple
  • Ranmasu Garden

Walk into the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa

If you thought that Sigiriya is the only World Heritage that you would witness during your Sri Lanka vacation, you are wrong. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is another UNESCO World Heritage in Sri Lanka which is absolutely worthy of your Sri Lanka Vacation Tours

Being the second Kingdom of this island, it is also one of the untouched ancient cities where urbanization is given a separate part of the Polonnaruwa district. On your next Sri Lanka vacation, get ready to time travel back to the era of brick and stone!

Vatadage (Stupa house)

Although there are many stupa houses around the world, the Polonnaruwa Vatadage is known as the best to date for many reasons: the stupa in the middle, one of the famous moonstones and the two damsels carved on the guard stones at the entrance, the state-of-the-art carvings on the moonstones and guard stones, 4 Buddha statues and the alluring pillars around the stupa to protect it.

In your Sri Lanka vacations, wandering around places like these in Polonnaruwa will be like entering into a different dimension of paradise Sri Lanka.

The royal palace of King Parakramabahu

Another interesting site for your Sri Lanka vacation is the royal palace. Believed to have had 7 stories and around 1000 chambers, this palace is an indication of how grand the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa must have been. 

Although destroyed by Cholas during their invasions, the ruins of this glorious palace reveal the true craftsmanship of the artists of Sri Lanka.

As the entrance pillars on the ground level are still visible, through this Sri Lanka vacation tour you will be astonished to explore the essence of the monumental art, culture, and engineering of ancient Sri Lanka.

Other top attractions of Polonnaruwa 

  • The kings’ audience hall
  • The king’s swimming pool
  • Gal Vihara (Rock temple)
  • Thivanka image house
  • Shiva Devale
  • Buddha statue at Lankathilaka

Sigiriya; the must-visit for your Sri Lanka vacation tours

The well-known UNESCO World Heritage situated near the city of Dambulla is a must-visit for your Sri Lanka vacations. It’s a shame for locals to admit it if they have never visited this masterpiece.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

The city of Sigiriya cries out a conspicuous history dating back to the 5th century. This rock fortress is going to be one of the sensational historical sites you will visit in your Sri Lanka Vacation Tours

Sigiriya (The lion’s paw) is a humungous rock in the middle of a dense forest in the center of Sri Lanka. King Kasyapa built a fortress in this high rock to prevent invasions from his step-brother Prince Moggallana, who was resentful towards him for stealing his rightful thrown.

The journey of exploring Sigiriya in your Sri Lanka vacations begins from a stroll through the city that King Kasyapa constructed. You will walk through the King’s pleasure gardens until you meet the famous giant paws carved in stone which is the entrance to the fortress. The rest of the stone lion was destroyed by the invasion of Prince Moggallana and what remains is the lion’s paws.

In this Sri Lanka vacation tour, the sight of the beautiful Sri Lankan damsels painted on the walls, the mirror wall, and the breathtaking views when you climb to the top of the rock would hang your jaw open. This would be an unforgettable part of your Sri Lanka Vacations as you wander through a land full of history!

Other top attractions near Sigiriya

  • Dambulla cave temple complex – The largest and the best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage.
  • Pidurangala rock
  • Pethikada ancient art gallery
  • Ibbankatuwa megalithic tombs
  • Dambulla Buddhist museum

This amazing journey of your Sri Lanka vacations will feel like walking in and out through the doors of history. Whether you are visiting with your family and friends or even alone, reserve a Sri Lanka itinerary of 2 weeks and spend an incredible few days exploring the mysteries left behind these prestigious ruins of a rich culture. Make your Sri Lanka Vacations histobulous!

Why you should visit Kitulgala during your Sri Lanka itinerary

Do not ever be fooled by Sri Lanka’s calm and serene natural beauty. And don’t tell me that your Sri Lanka itinerary is filled with opportunities for sightseeing and relaxation only. If you are an adventure-seeker plus a nature-lover like me, read on to find out how to make your Sri Lanka trip an adventurous one. 

A place that you should be included in your Sri Lanka travel itinerary is the infamous Kitulgala town. The distance from Colombo to Kitulgala can be covered by a 2-hour drive. Kitulgala is an adventure destination popular among tourists and locals alike for adrenaline-kicking white-water rafting, rainforest trekking, stream slides, bird watching, and more!

These are the best things to do in Kitulgala on your Sri Lanka trip.

What is cooler than entering Kitulgala, trekking through its rainforest?

The path leading to the Kelani River where you wade into the white water for rafting is surrounded by a luscious rainforest. This rainforest is one of the wettest in the world, and you will thank the lord above and the experts that included Kitulgala in your Sri Lanka itinerary.

Mountain biking is also a loved activity in the rainforest. As you trek the wilderness, be on alert for the chirping birds hovering over you or hiding behind leaves. If you are a passionate bird-watcher, you won’t regret this part of your Sri Lanka trip. You will spot endemic birds like Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, etc.

In short, if your Sri Lanka itinerary doesn’t include the Sinharaja rainforest which is a UNESCO world heritage site, the Kitulgala Forest Reserve can bring you a similar experience.

You can also join a river expedition in the Mahaweli, Kelani, or Kalu Rivers of Sri Lanka. This activity in your Sri Lanka itinerary would let you sightsee the beauty of what nature in this tropical island holds so dearly. You will paddle through river crossings, elephant corridors, and ancient bridges that bear historical value.

Water abseiling – an adrenaline-pumping sight-seeing experience

How about gripping onto a rope against a waterfall and getting a birds-eye view of the emerald mountains and the jungle around you? Water abseiling is a daring, yet rewarding activity that not only gives you a high dose of adrenaline but also lets you enjoy the beauty of nature. This is an adventure that travelers love in their Sri Lanka itinerary when they are on a Sri Lanka trip.

Water abseiling is conducted under the careful supervision of the experts who will guide you to have a thrilling experience in the middle of the Kitulgala jungle. Test your courage with your family and friends after watching a demonstration by experienced instructors. 

If you include water abseiling to your Sri Lanka itinerary, you are in for a treat!

The bumpy ride that is white water rafting in Kitulgala

At the heart of the rainforest, you will reach the Kelani River with white water daring you to raft! If you are adventurous and are a superhero like me, it’s best to visit Kitulgala during the months between May to December when the water is more volatile than during the dry season.

Now don’t get all excited thinking that it’s the perfect opportunity to spice up your Sri Lanka itinerary– you.could.die during the rainy reason. I mean it. Therefore, the instructors decide whether rafting is safe or not.

That being said, only those 13 years and above are allowed to engage in this extreme sport of white water rafting at Kitulgala. Be prepared to get a killer experience of a lifetime while seeing flashes of natural beauty passing by as you battle in the stubborn waters. What other way to challenge yourself on your Sri Lanka trip?

Heal your soul in a natural pool 

After a daring day full of fun and challenging activities, slide through natural streams and jump into a natural pool in the jungle. If you visit Kitulgala, you don’t want to miss these natural pools surrounded by nothing but the luscious greenery, teasing you with a cold and calming breeze. 

A Kitulgala adventure is both the storm and the calm that makes a Sri Lanka trip awesome – don’t you agree?

Camping too? 

You are wrong if you thought that the Kitulgala adventure of your Sri Lanka itinerary is over after that daring water rafting experience. How does camping in the middle of the jungle sound? I hope you feel me on this because I absolutely loved it!

A Sri Lanka itinerary would disappoint me if camping was not included. Sitting around the campfire under the starry night with loved ones while drinking a cold can of Sri Lankan Lion beer makes for a night to remember. The smell of the BBQ, the scent of the forest, the soothing breeze, and the songs we would sing throughout the night is not only Sri Lankan, it’s universal!

Things to carry with you

  • An extra pair of clothes
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimwear
  • A towel
  • Shoes that won’t slip off
  • A pack of toiletries (if you are camping)

The best things to do in Kitulgala in a nutshell

  • White water rafting
  • Rainforest trekking
  • Mountain biking
  • Bird watching
  • Stream sliding
  • River expeditions
  • Waterfall abseiling
  • Relaxing in natural pools
  • Camping
Low section shot of man and woman crossing the stream barefooted. Couple walking by the creek in forest with their shoes in hand. Hikers hiking in forest.

Things you should know before your Kitulgala adventure begins

  • Children of age 0-17 should be accompanied by a guardian or parent to be allowed for water rafting.
  • Littering in the rainforest or the Kitulgala premises is prohibited. Let’s make this Sri Lanka trip wholesome and eco-friendly.
  • Travelers are advised to wear masks and adhere to covid-19 guidelines.

My last thoughts for you

Spending a day or two in Kitulgala would be one of the best choices you would make for your Sri Lanka itinerary. You could be an adventure seeker or a nature lover, either way, the experience would be one to cherish. If you feel me, plan your Sri Lanka trip with local experts who know the wonders of Sri Lanka!

Discover The Various Handy Crafts Unique To Sri Lanka.

Arts and crafts are an inherent part of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and historic heritage. Popular handicrafts include gem works, mask making, pottery, sculpting, intricate lace crafting, lacquer work, and batik. These handiworks are also ideal souvenirs to take home as mementos and to share as gifts with friends and family. 

A wide range of handicrafts are available in the shops and stores in and around Colombo, but no vacation in Sri Lanka is complete without seeing the hard work that goes into creating these iconic masterpieces, first-hand. Include an Arts & Crafts tour to your Sri Lanka itinerary for a comprehensive Sri Lankan experience. 

Sri Lankan Masks

Sri Lankan devil masks are deeply connected to Sri Lankan folklore, and take on a functional role when they are used in rituals and ceremonies. The popular devil dances, which are dance-drama performances that convey elaborate stories, are enacted by experienced dancers and holy men while wearing these masks. The prominent categories of masks are the Raksha Masks used to perform Raksha dances, the Sanni masks used in healing rituals, and the Kolam masks which are used mainly in dramas.

Today, they are more of a symbol of Sri Lankan culture and adorn the walls of local houses. These masks with their colourful facades, odd shapes, and intriguing histories are ideal souvenirs loved by tourists.

Ambalangoda is the heart of the mask industry in Sri Lanka. The coastal town features mask shops by the side of the road. Pop into one of these stores to get a glimpse of how these masks are carved and painted with brilliant colours.

sri lanka traditional masks by olanka travels

Sri Lankan Laksha (Lacquer work)

Lacquer work in Sri Lanka is a well-known, intricate craft that has been in practice for centuries. These handicrafts reflect the country’s rich tradition and are a must-see for all travellers and tourists longing for a collection of Sri Lankan souvenirs. Lacquer production originated in central Sri Lanka and has since expanded throughout the island. Reflecting local culture, the Laksha design is carried out in two splendid techniques which are nail work and lathe work. 

Laksha is a wax derived from the larvae of an insect species and is manufactured with much hard effort by local craftsmen. While some choose to employ age-old processes, others prefer to use new tools and procedures created over time in the crafting of these exquisite patterns.

Colourful and vibrant walking sticks, flag and hand-fan handles, bowls, vases, containers, and ornamental objects crafted with lacquer work can be found all around the island.

Sri Lankan Drums

Music is at the very heart of the Sri Lankan culture; the famous local drums offer a glance into the country’s vibrant traditions when it comes to rhythm and dance. Traditional drums or ‘Bera’ play a distinct role in Sri Lankan history and culture, and can be heard at any occasion or event throughout the nation. Only a few villages in Kurunegala, Hodiyadeniya in the Kandy district, and Hikkaduwa have artisans with the specific ability and craftsmanship necessary to make these drums.

The drum’s body is generally constructed of Jack tree while the skin is made of animal hide. The attentive and detail-oriented drum builders provide attractively constructed drums with the right sound after many hours of arduous effort.

sri lanka traditional drums by olanka travels


Batik is yet another exquisite tradition in Sri Lanka that brings to life the diverse arts of the island. The creation of Batik has become firmly established in Sri Lankan handicrafts since its inception many years ago. Batik workers incorporate many intriguing motifs and combinations of hues, some traditional, others contemporary and distinct.  The designs offer a glance into the picturesque landscapes, flora, and Kandyan era designs from which most batiks are inspired.

Each stage of the production process of the Sri Lankan Batik is done by hand and is crafted entirely on pure cotton or silk fabric. The material made by batik makers is used to produce chic dresses, shirts, sarongs, and beachwear that are sure to turn heads. 

batik industry in sri lanka

Stone and wood carving/statues

The traditional craft of stone and wood carving has been around in Sri Lanka for centuries and is impossible not to notice when traveling across the island. The exquisite and intricate designs produced by expert craftsmen convey the passion and dedication to the Sri Lankan heritage.

The extensive array of stone and wood carved products sold in Sri Lanka include ornaments and jewellery, figurines, sculptures, statues, lacquer products, vases, boxes, and toys. Carved furniture, household items and ornaments are also popular among locals and foreigners alike. 

sri lanka wood carvings exploring sri lanka tour itinerary


In ancient times, handloom was reserved exclusively for royalty and gentry of higher castes and special villages were designated to practice the craft. However, now handloom fashion can be found anywhere in Sri Lanka with the skill being passed down from generation to generation – conserving and practicing this art form.

Hand-woven fabrics, with their vibrant colours have become a favourite among shoppers. From curtains, cushion covers, and other household decorative items, to saris and garments as well as everyday items such as books and bags can be found among a wide array of other handlooms products in Sri Lanka.

handloom industry in SriLanka


The production of coir rope and related merchandise has been practiced for countless years in Sri Lanka. Traditionally, coir rope is spun entirely by hand before it is woven into intricate designs to make products. This process is 100% natural and biodegradable.

Popular coir products include carpets, mats, brooms, and brushes.

Beeralu Lace 

Beeralu lace making can be considered one of the important aspects of Sri Lankan  heritage. The use of bobbins is what gives it its name. The lace has a charm of its own with its intricate detailing and is a highly coveted material, as it is purely handmade. This process involves a traditional method of weaving.

Lace making is popular in the southern region of the country and is quite fascinating to see how hands dexterously handle the tools to create eye-catching patterns. Stop by lace weavers when travelling down south and perhaps, have a go at it if permitted. 

Clay pottery

One of the oldest lines of craftwork in Sri Lanka, pottery is still popular in this modern day of steel and plastic. Clay lamps can be found at almost all religious shrines in Sri Lanka. Clay pots are popular utensils to cook food. Their rustic look, solid texture, and ability to enhance flavour add to the charm. In addition to pots, terracotta figures, vases, and other utensils are made from clay as well. 

One of the most famous areas for clay pottery is Molagoda. Be spoilt for choice when you shop for pottery or even create your own masterpiece in a traditional clay workshop.

Sri lanka clay pottery in sri lanaka itinerary by olanka travels

Jewellery making

The gem industry in Sri Lanka has been in existence for over 2500 years, and is world-renowned for excavating some of the most magnificent gems in the world. Jewellery has always been a part of the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka. In ancient times, they were considered a mark of royalty and privilege, whereas today, it is available for purchase for any who fancy a piece of perfectly crafted jewellery. 

You can go directly to the source in Rathnapura and around Sigiriya and experience gem mining in its rawest form and purchase some gorgeous pieces of art for yourself. At present, jewellery made in Sri Lanka; either traditional in design or modern, is up to international standards, and is very well reputed and highly coveted worldwide. 

Sri Lanka gem industry in tour itinerary by olanka travels