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We are a licensed tour operator in Sri Lanka, committed to creating an unforgettable and memorable experience for those who wish to visit our island nation, an awesome location with tropical beaches, picture perfect tea gardens, amazing cuisine and sacred sights.
A family vacation, a celebration – birthday, anniversary, wedding or honeymoon, a holiday on the beach, a journey into our past with a heritage extending over 2500 years, wildlife and photography; take your pick from a range of holidays we can arrange for you.
Holidays by Design is a subsidiary of the United Ventures Group
As the military historian Geoffrey Powell wrote “ A country doesn’t have to be rich to invite invasions, but Ceylon was always wealthy; a treasure house of spices and gems, elephants and rice.” When Marco Polo called by, he spotted gems the thickness of a man’s arm and to the Arabs; this was Jazirat Al-Yakut, ‘the Isle of Rubies’.
Legislative Capital : Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo
Commercial Capital : Colombo Time Zone : UTC+5.30
Population : 20.48 million (2013) World Bank
Area : 65,525 square kilometers (25,299 square miles)
Language Spoken : Sinhala, Tamil, English
Religion : Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim
What to Wear -
Volts : 220V-240V
Electricity Phase : Single / Three | Round / Square Pin (Type D or M)
Average Temperature : Between 27C-32C Across the Country. Hill Country average 15C
Visa : Required for all Nationalities. Exemption for citizens of Singapore, The Maldives & Seychelles Online Visa Service : Electronic Travel Authorization
Tipping : Standard 10% is usual
Telephone : Area Code + 94
Our History & Culture
“It may well be that each of Ceylon’s attractions is surpassed somewhere on earth; Cambodia may have more impressive ruins, Tahiti livelier beaches, Bali more beautiful landscapes (though I doubt it), Thailand more charming people (ditto) but I find it hard to believe that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments” Arthur C. Clarke 1970.
Sri Lanka has a documented history of over 2000 years. There is archeological evidence that the island was inhabited as early as 10,000 B.C. The present day Vaddas who live in the remote areas are apparently descended from these early inhabitants mixed with the later arriving Tamils and Sinhalese, who were both well established in the island by the third century BC. Legend and history are deeply intertwined in the early accounts of Sri Lanka. The Sinhalas, Tamils and various south Indian invaders built powerful kingdoms that periodically brought the island under the authority of a single regime.
SRI LANKA is a mini-miracle among the countries of the world. A tiny and yet an ancient island, it sits just south of its big neighbour India. From time immemorial, it has had the good fortune to be touched by the hundreds of trade routes in its way from afar as Arabia in the Middle East, China, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia in the Far East. Within a span of just 125,000 square kilometers, it is ringed by a wonderful seacoast and has for its interior, a varied topography with flat lowlands, which can be hot and humid. Moving to the centre, there is a transformation into a panorama of hills and immaculately tended tea country, with bracingly cool weather.
With trade, first in the coastal areas and filtering interior, came the settlers. Notably the Arabs, who settled on the East Coast of the island, intermarried with the local Sinhalese lasses, thus bringing into the island a new religion, Islam. The Portuguese who came long after, in the 16th Century, followed by the Dutch and finally the British, made converts to Christianity under different denominations - the Catholics, the Dutch Reformed Church and Anglican denominations. Hindu influences prominent in the North and the Jaffna Peninsula came from South India from ancient times. The British in the 19th Century imported hundreds of thousands of Indian labourers mainly south Indian, to work on the newly opened tea estates in the hill country. So what the island has seen over the centuries is a potpourri of visitors - immigrants, invaders, governors, missionaries, traders and travellers who still keep coming to this day, lured by the attractions of this diverse land like no other.
Sri Lanka has a long and prolific history of written as well as oral literature. Religious topics and institutions heavily influence Sri Lanka’s statutory and pictorial art. Traditional handicraft such as pottery and basket weaving are caste-based activities. Others include woodcarving, batik, handloom and lacemaking.
Though Sri Lankan food has parallels to South Indian cuisine, it distinctly retains its own form of authentic flavours.
Sri Lankan food is authentically its own from flavours to ingredients and methods of preparation, even though it may appear to mimic South Indian cuisine. Clay pots have been used for centuries, which give Sri Lankan cuisine, its curries especially, their distinctive flavours. Rice and curry is the Sri Lankan staple, but through years of colonisation, influences have come in from other countries - breads in a variety of forms including English, French and Dutch breads, the popular Dutch lamprais, a specialty of the Dutch Burghers, Rotis perhaps from the Middle East, Dossa, Idli, Hoppers and what not from South India, the Arabian buriyani and the Malay Pittus and String Hoppers.
Sri Lankan's thoroughly love their spices; they love foods that explode with flavour. Coconut grown in abundance along the coast and everywhere in the interior and fish in plenty, in the surrounding seas, form two of the most often used in Sri Lankan cuisine. Fish is prepared into curries and the milk extracted from the coconut, gives the curries a special flavour. A multitude of vegetables are grown both in the fertile lowlands and upcountry regions of the island, and are turned into curries and sambols in a vast variety.
In recent years MacDonald’s, KFC, Burgher King, Pizza Hut and Chinese fried rice have proliferated but rice and curry will always continue to be the chosen food of the majority of Sri Lankans, both in the urban areas and its countryside.
This jewel of the East, the pendant hanging below the chain that is India, is poised above the equator on the map and is seen washed by the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean. Its natural beauty and richness of vegetation, has been known far and wide and written about by world travellers in times long ago, like the Chinese Fa-tsien and the Arab traveller Ibn Battuta. No wonder it has attracted travellers like D.H.Lawrence, Leonard Woolf, Somerset Maugham and many others. It still holds sway as a not-to-be-missed destination for travellers to the East.
Small in size, yet beautiful, its variety of habitats and the extensive range of wildlife found here cannot merely surprise but overawe the casual visitor. Great herds of elephants seen both in jungles and game reserves, the elusive leopards and the rich bird life are all there for the viewing within hours of the Capital, Colombo. The surrounding seas are home to whales including the famed blue whale, the largest of the species and the sperm whales. Keeping company with these behemoths of the blue waters, are schools of dolphins and rainbow coloured fish teeming usually among the enchanting coral reefs, only fathoms away from the shores along the coast. Any and every visitor, the casual tourist or perhaps the dedicated naturalist can have access to all these wondrous sights at the various national parks in the island. One does not have to go far to reach them, it can be a matter of hours, or only a few days and it will be worth it all.
- Spotlights are additional excursions that can be arranged on request basis. - Not included on standard tour.
Meetings | Incentives | Conferences | Exhibitions
Great Holiday made even better by the choice of Guide. Guide was attentive and took us to places outside of the suggested program. Always accomodating. This trip to Sri Lanka has been magnficent. The tour that was planned between the company and us has been so special. We saw such amazing places and really got to know undertood various districts in the this country. Would surely use Holiday by Design again with the same guide:)Jerome Joseph & Family – Australia
It is such a good thing to know that we can rely on you and the team of HBD for organizing our holiday. Really appreciate all the efforts and the extra care of my mothers’ holiday details. Thank you for your advice for both the functions and the personal support fixing the smaller details, it was a pleasure seeing Sri Lanka through your love and passion of this amazing island.Ms.Amal Al Sada – Qatar
Khozeaim and I are writing to thank you and your team at HBD very very much for the the well organised tour to Galle, Yala and Unawatuna. The hotels were comfortable and the ambience was good. A special mention about the Chauffeur cum Guide ...Mr. Kirti whole drove us around. As a Diver: Very Punctual, Clean, Courteous and soft spoken, Safe driving. As a Guide: Very knowledgeable re the country as also general information. Worth recommending him for other tours. Thanking you and wishing all of you All The Very Best AlwaysFreida n Khozeaim - India
We had a fantastic time and had the most wonderful guide. So friendly and knew so much about all the places we visited.Serena & Kurt – Australia
Thank you for a wonderful time. We loved Sri Lanka.