Tailormade Tours - Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Specialist operator who can create customised itineraries to cater to your personal travel dreams
Sri Lanka is known for its warm hospitality, fabulous food, vibrant culture and ancient history; its unspoilt beaches and its verdant forests. It's teeming with birdlife and exotic animals, from elephants to the elusive leopard, and for those who want to beat the heat, the hill country's tea plantations and waterfalls offer a cool respite.

However, the prospect of getting around this fascinating island on your own can be daunting: roads are chaotic, journeys slow, road signs rare. So for those who of you who prefer to have everything arranged for you but don't want to feel part of a package tour, we've teamed up with Columbus Travel, a Colombo-based operator who have been operating bespoke tours in Sri Lanka for the past 23 years, and whom we have used for our own trips there. They are a niche market operator with excellent consultants and English-speaking staff.

Besides suggesting the best itineraries to cover the country's many highlights, and selecting the most charming and stylish accommodation (including those featured on i-escape), they can arrange private transfers and book specialist guided tours. These range from providing a glimpse into 2,000 year old Buddhist culture, to sampling a drink of broken orange pekkoe in a hilltop tea planter's bungalow, or viewing ruined ancient cities by hot air balloon at sunrise.

Why we chose this partner

  • They are on-the-ground operators so can provide up-to-the-minute advice
  • Breadth of local knowledge and honest, professional answers to all enquiries
  • They work with Sri Lanka's best hotels and can offer a cool range of accommodation: designer boutique hotels, colonial mansions, beach properties and treehouses
  • They can arrange unusual activities; including festivities of Kandy, swimming with dolphins and white-water rafting
  • They've arranged trips for people in-house, and we've always been very pleased with them
  • They can also book flights from Sri Lanka to the Maldives (just 1 hour away) and offer a choice of accommodation, from budget resorts up to once-in-a-lifetime indulgences. a few nights could be the perfect end to your trip, or treat yourself to a week there if you can afford it

Please be aware

  • i-escape can only vouch for those properties which are featured and reviewed on our website. For other areas and accommodations, while we do trust our operator to provide the best options for your needs, you should make sure that you are happy with their suggestions before confirming

Best time to go

The peak seasons in Sri Lanka are from December to March for the west coast, the south coast and the Hill Country, and from April to September for the ancient cities and the east coast.

Our top tips

Don't leave without sampling fish curry. Insanely delicious, we ate it for almost every meal during our trip (including a few breakfasts) - and each was subtly different. Go on a spice tour and buy everything you need to try and recreate it at home. Rick Stein's recipe is excellent.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Room: Tented safari

Lodging

Sri Lankan accommodation is some of the loveliest we've seen - everything from chic city hotels to architect-designed villas to simple beach retreats. Decor is unfailingly gorgeous (teak-wood beds, billowing white curtains, jewel-bright cushions), staff are wonderfully kind and there's a serene peace to everywhere we've visited.

Read our detailed reviews of the best boutique hotels, B&Bs and rentals, and ask Columbus Travel to include any you love in your itinerary. Or ask for their recommendations to suit your budget and preferences (note, the images displayed in the slideshow here are all i-escape hotels).

We've also reviewed the food at each hotel and locally, and you're in for a treat: mellow but intense curries with notes of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic. Seafood. Dhals. Street stalls peddling roti (a stir-fry wrap) and egg hoppers (pancakes). We ate like kings.

Activities

Things we loved...

  • Watching elephants bathe at Pinnawela orphanage
  • Visiting tea plantations and spice farms
  • The ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya and the Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Kandy, with its beautiful lake
  • Staying in the rainforest, surrounded by exotic wildlife
  • Watching surfers on the golden beaches

    Activities include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Cooking classes
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Rafting
    • Safaris
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Surfing
    • Swimming
    • Traditional cultures
    • Well being
    • Wildlife
    • Yoga
  • Activity:
    Kid Friendly:

    With Kids

    Children are warmly welcomed at most hotels; Sri Lankans are incredibly kind, friendly people. Columbus Travel can help you devise an itinerary that will perfectly suit your family, whether you want adventure, culture or just relaxation.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

    Transport

    Columbus Tours can arrange international flights, internal flights, private cars with drivers, train journeys... whatever you want. We'd recommend having a car with a driver for your entire trip; it is such a lovely, easy way to get about and they'll help you get under the skin of the country.

    Transport:

    Location

    By Air
    To fly to Sri Lanka, please see our detailed getting to Sri Lanka section shown in our full on-line destination guide for Sri Lanka.

    Transfers
    The vast majority of visitors fly in to Colombo and head inland and south after a day or so exploring Colombo. The tour operator can meet you at any port of entry.

    A driver from the tour operator will meet you at the place of your choosing, and take to your first hotel or on your first trip. He will be your main point of contact for the rest of your tour. You will also have direct access to the local tour operator office, which can deal with any further requirements you may have.

    The company uses its own fleet of saloon cars and micro vans for transfers and tours, depending upon the terrain to be covered, with their own carefully selected skilled chauffeur guides. You could also take a seaplane between certain destinations - a lovely way to see the country. Prices on application. The drivers and pilots are fully trained and experienced in all possible terrains, with client safety their ultimate concern. The tour operator is very particular about its drivers and ensures that they are all calm and well-humoured with excellent manners. Drivers are responsible, friendly, helpful and most importantly, they all speak excellent English.

    Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

    More on getting to Sri Lanka and getting around

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 15 independent reviews from i-escape guests

    9/10
    Room
    9/10
    Food
    10/10
    Service
    10/10
    Value
    9/10
    Overall

    We had the most fantastic time in Sri Lanka staying in some wonderful i-escape properties and organised by Colombus Tours. Our driver Anil was brilliant. We could not recommend this more highly.

    10/10,

    Tailor-made Tours were excellent on all fronts. They paid such close attention to us and ensuring we had a great time. It was the holiday of a lifetime! We felt very safe with our driver, who was charming, totally reliable and very well informed about everything Sri Lankan. Overall we just loved Sri Lanka. It is the people that make it special, but it helps to have the most beautiful birds, the most extraordinary landscape, some superb food, world class hotels and a truly unspoiled and fascinating country. The service was so good.

    10/10,

    Our itinerary was slightly ambitious given the poor state of the roads in Sri Lanka. We were grateful to have chosen extended stays at several properties and to cut out a couple of suggested sightseeing visits.

    9/10,

    We particuarly enjoyed our stay at Taru Villas in Galle.

    10/10,

    Really pleased we engaged the services of Tailormade Tours - they were so helpful and efficient. Nothing was too much trouble for them. We also had a driver, Kumara, for all our transfers. He was excellent - friendly, knowledgeable and a really good driver, made our trip so much smoother and easier. All in all 10/10.

    10/10,

    An excellent first trip to Sri Lanka. Good itinerary planning, excellent informative professional driver that made our trip seamless. Hotels excellent and varied in style.

    10/10,

    I cannot recommend this company enough! All went absolutely smoothly and our driver Priyal was more than competent, fluent in English and a very good driver. We felt absolutely comfortable with him and after 2 weeks it was hard to say good bye. He made our trip perfect! The back up service in Colombo was also very efficient and booked all my preferred hotels. We will definitely come back and travel with them again.

    10/10,

    Our guide was fantastic, a very experienced driver in Sri Lanka's crazy traffic, knowledgeable and flexible, trying always to make the trip enjoyable for the whole family. The hotel selection was also very good, and the food (except for one of the hotels) of good quality. We would love to go back to Sri Lanka as there is much more to see and we would certainly use Tailormade Tours again.

    10/10,

    We would certainly recommend Tailormade Tours highly. Our driver was wonderful, always happy & kind and very knowledgeable and organised. Our trip was amazing.

    10/10,

    Our guide, Mr. Romal was fabulous. We discussed the next day's itinerary and he made some really good suggestions. The restaurants he took us to for lunch were great too. I think it would be great if you let people know the approx. cost of the various activities. That way people are prepared.

    10/10,

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    Itineraries

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