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Discovering the Ancient Wonders of Cultural Heritage in Sri Lanka

Beyond its remarkable natural beauty and cultural heritage, Sri Lanka holds a significant place in the history and development of Buddhism, as it is the oldest continually Buddhist country in the world. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Ashoka the Great of India in the 3rd century BCE, and since then, it has played a central role in the country’s culture, traditions, and way of life.  It is national pride that Sri Lanka has been the guardian of Buddhism after its decline in India for the past two millenniums.

During this trip, we will visit six World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, as well as seven out of sixteen most sacred Buddhist sites (Solosmasthana) according to the Mahavamsa, the great chronicle of Sri Lanka. We will also visit the place where the Tripitaka, hitherto preserved through oral tradition since the decease of the Buddha, was put into writing for the first time at the Fourth Buddhist Council in the 1st century BCE, henceforth preserving the Buddha’s teachings for later generations.

One highlight of the trip is the chance to visit inside the Chamber where the Buddha’s relics excavated in 1897 from Piprahwa, a village in Uttar Pradesh, India, have been enshrined.  The excavation at Piprahwa has drawn considerable attention from scholars and archaeologists since the outset due to its potential connection with the life of the Buddha, and some scholars consider the Piprahwa relics to be genuine Buddha relics.

Furthermore, highlights of the trip to Kandy, the last capital of ancient Sri Lanka, are the visit to the Temple of the Tooth, the most revered temple in Sri Lanka, and the chance to witness Kandy Esala Perahera, the annual grand procession featuring beautifully adorned elephants, traditional dancers and drummers, undoubtedly the most spectacular cultural event in this country.

This trip also pays tribute to the strong brotherly bonds between Thailand and Sri Lanka, by following the footsteps of Venerable Upali Thero, the highly respected monk from Ayudhya who revived higher ordination tradition (upasampada) in Sri Lanka in 1753 and hence gave birth to Siam Nikaya, the biggest and most prestigious monastic sect. We will also join a lecture organised by the Royal Thai Embassy in Colombo to celebrate the 270th anniversary of the arrival of Venerable Upali Thero. Apart from that, we will also visit the temples visited by the Kings and Royal Family of Thailand, as well as see the printing machine donated by King Mongkut (King Rama IV) to a Chief Prelate to support the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka during the height of colonialism in mid 19th century.

We will stay in 2 most beautiful hotels designed by Geoffrey Bawa (1919 – 2003), a legendary Sri Lankan architect often hailed as the pioneer of tropical modernism, as well as visit his house at Lunuganga Estate, which now serves as a centre for architectural research and a tribute to his vision.


Thursday, 17 to Friday, 25 August 2023


Mrs Chulamanee Chartsuwan

Council Member of The Siam Society


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Thursday, 17 August: Bangkok – Colombo – Negombo – Peliyagoda – Colombo
06:20 Meet at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, check in at the SriLankan Airlines counter.
08:50 Depart Bangkok to Colombo by flight UL403
10:40 Arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport, then proceed to Negomno Beach.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant





Visit Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya in Peliyagoda, which is one of the 16 most sacred Buddhist sites (Solosmasthana), where, according to local legend, the Buddha paid his third and last visit to Sri Lanka.

Then proceed to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Visit the National Museum to get a glimpse into Sri Lankan history. Afterward, visit Dippaduttha Thai Raja Maha Vihara, where Prince Prisdang Jumsai from Thailand stayed during his monkhood in the late 19th century, hence the name of the temple. King Rama VIII and King Rama IX, as well as numerous Thai Royal Family members, visited this temple afterward. This temple was the first temple that hoisted a 6-coloured Buddhist flag in 1885 before it’s spreading as a unifying symbol for Buddhists throughout the world.

Check in at the Movenpick Hotel in Colombo

Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Day 2: Friday, 18 August: Colombo – Anuradhapura – Dambulla
Breakfast at the hotel
Early morning:


All day:





Check out of the hotel and depart to Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located about 200 kilometres north of Colombo. Anuradhapura is the first documented capital from the 4th century BCE to the 11th century CE.

We will spend the whole day exploring Anuradhapura’s ancient monuments and ruins, monastic complexes, old town, and palaces, including the 6 most sacred Buddhist sites (Solosmasthana). The highlight includes the Sri Maha Bodhi Temple, home to the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree, which is said to be a scion of the original Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India, a gift from King Ashoka of India to King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura in the 3rd century BCE.  At the age of over 2,200 years, the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is one of the oldest historically authenticated trees in the world.

Another site worth mentioning is Jetavanaramaya Temple, the massive stupa (dagoba) of which was said to be the third highest structure in the ancient world two millenniums ago, after only the two Great Pyramids of Giza.

Noon: Lunch at the hotel
Late afternoon:

Depart eastward to Dambulla

Check in at Heritance Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla

Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Day 3: Saturday, 19 August: Dambulla – Polonnaruwa
Breakfast at the hotel
Morning: Depart to Polonnaruwa, the capital after Anuradhapura during the 11th – 13th century CE, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Polonnaruwa is renowned for its well-preserved ruins, showcasing the grandeur and architectural brilliance of the past. Some scholars believe that the city layout of Polonnaruwa provided inspiration for the layout of Sukhothai.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant




Visit Sigiriya, one of the country’s most iconic landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  At the heart of Sigiriya is a massive rock column rising approximately 200 metres above the surrounding plains, on top of which was the rock fortress and palace complex built in the 5th century CE. Those who are not keen to climb to the top of Sigiriya via approximately 1,200 steps could wait in beautifully landscaped gardens with water gardens, fountains, and terraces, which showcase the ingenuity and advanced engineering of ancient Sri Lankan civilisation.
Dinner and overnight at Heritance Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla
Day 4: Sunday, 20 August: Dambulla – Matale – Peradeniya – Kandy
Breakfast at the hotel.







Check out of the hotel

Visit the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, the most impressive and best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka and a UNESCO World Heritage. The temple consists of a series of five caves that are intricately adorned with vibrant murals, statues, and carvings. The cave complex is believed to date back to the 1st century BCE and has been continuously maintained and expanded over the centuries. Visitors must climb up a large granite outcrop approximately 160 metres above the surrounding plains.

Visit Aluvihara Temple in Matale. This less-visited cave temple holds great significance to the history of Buddhism as in the 1st century BCE a council of monks gathered here to commit the oral teachings of the Buddha, the Tripitaka, to writing, which has served the preservation and propagation of Buddhism worldwide since then.

Noon: Lunch at the hotel


Visit the Botanical Garden in Peradeniya. This renowned botanical garden is one of the island’s largest and oldest botanical gardens, spanning an area of around 147 acres (59.5 hectares). Established in 1821, the garden is celebrated for its collection of over 4,000 species of plants, exquisite landscapes, and historical significance.

Check in at Jetwing Kandy Gallery Hotel in Kandy.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Day 5: Monday, 21 August: Kandy
Breakfast at the hotel.
Early morning:








Depart to the Temple of the Tooth and attend the morning round of daily ritual to offer food and drinks to the Buddha. This temple is one of the most sacred places of worship for Buddhists around the world and houses a relic believed to be a tooth of the Buddha. The tooth is stored in a golden casket adorned with precious gems and is believed to have significant spiritual and religious power. The temple itself is an architectural masterpiece that showcases traditional Sri Lankan design, craftsmanship, and intricate woodwork.

After that, we will visit International Buddhist Museum located inside the temple. All Buddhist countries send their artifacts and artworks related to Buddhism to display in this Museum, hence providing the visitors an insight into the evolution of Buddhism worldwide.

Afterward, we will follow Venerable Upali Thero’s footsteps at Malwatta and Asgiriya Temples, the two main monastic complexes of the Siam Nikaya sect of Buddhism, which normally not allowed tourists to visit inside. These two temples serve as the residences of the two Mahanayaka Thero, the Chief Prelates of the Malwatta and Asgiriya Chapter of the Siam Nikaya. A monument of Venerable Upali Thero, and a small museum with artifacts from Ayudhya, can be found in these temples.

Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant


At leisure, we will attend the Esala Perahera Festival in reserved seats with packed dinner at night. While a few temples in Sri Lanka organise perahera or elephant processions throughout the year, the one in Kandy is the grandest, most spectacular, and most popular among locals and visitors. This Festival is regarded as a cultural icon of Sri Lanka.
Overnight at Jetwing Kandy Gallery Hotel in Kandy.
Day 6: Tuesday, 22 August: Kandy – Colombo
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Check out of the hotel and depart back to Colombo   
Noon: Lunch at the hotel

At leisure

Check in at Movenpick Hotel in Colombo

Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Day 7: Wednesday, 23 August: Colombo – Panadura – Waskaduwa – Lunuganga – Galle  
Breakfast at the hotel.







Check out of the hotel and depart southward to Galle.

Our first stop will be at Panadura, a small town where the acclaimed debate on Buddhism between British missionaries and Sinhalese monks took place in 1873. That debate sparked greater confidence in their faith among Buddhist Sinhalese and led to the movement to reclaim the proper place for Buddhism in Sri Lankan society.

The next stop will be at the less-visited Rajaguru Sri Subhuti Temple in Waskaduwa. In the late 19th century Prince Prisdang Jumsai from Thailand got ordained at this temple with Venerable Sri Subhuti as his preceptor, hence the name “Rajaguru” of the temple. More importantly, we will visit the inner chamber which houses the relics excavated from Piprahwa, and which is not normally open to visitors. As a well-respected scholar of ancient scriptures, Venerable Sri Subhuti rendered his advice to the excavation team led by the British archaeologist, Sir Alexander Cunningham, who in turn donated some relics to the Venerable in gratitude. The inscription on the casket found at Piprahwa, in which the relics were kept, was written in the Brahmi script in use during the Buddha’s time and identified the relic inside as belonging to the Buddha.

Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant




Visit Lunuganga Estate, Lunuganga, covering around 25 acres (10 hectares), was the former country home of Geoffrey Bawa who spent nearly five decades transforming an old rubber plantation into a masterpiece of landscape architecture.

Proceed to admire the sunset from the Galle Dutch Fort. Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later expanded by the Dutch and the British during their colonial rule, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most well-preserved colonial-era forts in the region. The fort is characterised by its sturdy ramparts, bastions, well-preserved colonial-era houses, and narrow cobblestone streets within its walls.

Check in at Jetwing Light House in Galle

Dinner and overnight at the hotel

Day 8: Thursday, 24 August: Galle – Kathaluwa – Colombo
Breakfast at the hotel
Morning: Check out of the hotel




Visit Sri Paramananda Raja Maha Vihara in Galle, which King Chulalongkorn visited during his stopover in Sri Lanka en route to Europe. King Chulalongkorn’s donation to the temple was used to build a beautiful building named Chulalongkorn Dhammasala, and later Thai devotees donated a statue of King Chulalongkorn which is now located in front of this building. King Rama IX and King Rama X also visited this temple. A small museum in this temple displays correspondences between the Chief Prelate and King Rama IV.

Then, visit a lesser-known Ranwella Purana Maha Vihara at Kathaluwa, a town about 20 kilometres away.  This temple houses the printing machine donated by King Rama IV to the Chief Prelate of Sri Paramananda. This printing machine produced the first printed journal on Buddhism in the Sinhalese language, as an effort to counter the active propagation of Christianity missionaries in Sri Lanka in the mid-19th century.

Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant

Depart back to Colombo

Check in at Movenpick Hotel in Colombo for rest and dinner before going to the airport.

Depart to the Airport, Check in at SriLankan Airlines counter
Day 9: Friday, 25 August: Colombo – Bangkok
01:00 Depart Colombo for Bangkok by SriLankan Airlines flight UL402
06:15 Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.


Contribution of THB 85,000 (THB 89,000 for non-member). Single room surcharge of THB 21,000. A deposit of THB 40,000 and a photocopy of the identification page on your passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. Payment in full will be required 30 days before the start of the trip (i.e. by Tuesday, 18 July 2023). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Transfer can also be made to The Siam Society travel account at TMBThanachart Bank (ttb), saving account no. 053-2-18000-7 or by scanning the QR code on your right. Once payment has been made, please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

We kindly ask that you confirm your reservation by Tuesday, 4 July 2023


  • The contribution includes accommodation (twin sharing basis), meals as mentioned in programme, transfer & sightseeing coaches, entrance fees, gratuities, and other costs incurred to make this trip possible.


  • All airfares are not included in the price,but for those who would like us to book their tickets, it can be arranged at the time of booking.
  • Visa fees (if any), personal expenses, personal food and beverage consumptions, etc.

Please note that the flight itinerary between Bangkok-Colombo-Bangkok as mentioned in the programme only serves as a suggestion. Trip participants can travel with their preferred airline of choice throughout the above sequence of the itinerary.

To comply with payment and cancellation policies set forth by tour agencies and to facilitate smooth working conditions between The Siam Society and the tour agencies, please carefully read the cancellation policies stated below:

Cancellation charges:

40 days before the start of the trip: Deposit forfeited
39-30 days before the start of the trip: 50% of the tour cost
Less than 30 days or cancellation without notice: No refund

Covid-19 policy

Due to a lower number of worldwide infections, many countries have relaxed their travel restrictions and quarantine requirements regarding Covid-19.

Nevertheless, when traveling as a group, The Siam Society would like to remind you of the following measures that we have put in place:

– We kindly ask that our trip participants perform a self-administered ATK test prior to the commencement of the trip. Participants are also asked to carry with them multiple sets of ATK test kits, along with their preferred set of medicines (for consumption if infected with Covid-19.)

– In the event that trip participants are tested positive during the trip, the group will continue to follow the planned itinerary. To ensure the health and safety of all trip participants, those who tested positive shall adhere to appropriate self-isolation measures as directed by the trip leader.

– Those tested positive with severe symptoms shall be treated in accordance with the health measures stipulated by the local government. Medical costs in excess of the insurance coverage shall be at the expense of the trip participant(s).

– The Siam Society will provide health insurance for all trip participants. Medical costs in excess of the insurance coverage shall be at the expense of the trip participant.

– Our staff and local tour operators will constantly provide you with the latest updates on local health and safety regulations.

Tourist Visa Policy

Thai passport holders and foreign nationals will require a visa for entering Sri Lanka. However, visitors can apply for an online application, which is the most convenient option and can be completed from their home.

For more information, please follow the link:

If you have any questions regarding the circumstances of your visa requirements, please do not hesitate to reach out to The Siam Society.

Please note that your passport must be valid for at least six months longer than your intended stay in a visiting country.

For further information and bookings, please contact Khun Thun at 02-661-6470-3 ext 205, or The Society’s office is open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

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