THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

Experience

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

NEGOMBO I ANURADHAPURA I DAMBULLA I JAFFNA I TRINCOMALEE I KANDY I NUWARA ELIYA I ELLA I YALA I GALLE I BENTOTA I COLOMBO

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

21 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

12


The Greatest Show on Earth tour explores this bountiful and spirited nation based on Active Asia’s in house Sri Lankan enthusiast and Creative Director. A one-off journey covering all the must-see spots, Valentina shares with you the places,experiences and people she fell in love with. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

WILDLIFE & HISTORY

Begin your journey in Negombo,a fishing village with old-world charm before heading to Anaradhapura. Once serving as Sri Lanka’s capital, the city is home to a large collection of well-preserved architectural achievements. Next turn your focus to wildlife, with jeep safaris in both Wilpattu and Minneriya National Parks. Boasting a treasure trove of historical monuments, continue on to Dambulla. Visit the famed Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the ruins of Polonnaruwa. Once a medieval capital, this amazing citadel boasts historic archaeological relics. 

TEA PLANTATIONS

Travel north to Jaffna. Lying close to India, the city presents a largely Indian influence and offers a different perspective from the rest of the country. Then head east to Trincomalee, recognised for its natural harbour and an abundance of water related activities. Offering an urban buzz, head inland to Kandy. Bordered by beautiful hills and countryside, explore the city before travelling to Nuwara Eliya, a quaint town with colonial English charm. Surrounded by tea plantations, with tea pluckers working the slopes,the area affords a delightful landscape, as does a trek through the Horton Plains National Park where high-altitude grasslands border dramatically plunging cliffs

THE EPIC TRAIN RIDE

Take to the train as you journey into Ella – the track snakes along the edge of the mountains overlooking breath-taking valleys of rolling tea plantations and small villages. Considered the most famous national park in Sri Lanka, head to Yala National Park for a jeep safari in search of leopards, elephants, sloth bears plus more. Continuing along the southern coastline, a stay in Galle rewards you with a unique fusion of European and Arabic charm. Nearing the end of your journey, Bentota offers a relaxing beach stay. Small and buzzing with a friendly local atmosphere, one can spend the days languidly walking the streets,partaking in water adventures or merely enjoying the sunshine. Colombo is your final stop. This vibrant capital city offers a whirl of commotion and the perfect spot to reflect on your adventures.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

NEGOMBO LOCAL MARKET I RUINS OF ANURADHAPURA I JEEP SAFARIS IN WILPATTU, MINNERIYA, YALA AND UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARKS SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS EXPLORATION I POLONNARUWA CITADEL I JAFFNA CITY TOUR I DELFT ISLAND VISIT I TRINCOMALEE CITY TOUR WALKING TOUR OF KANDY I TEA PLANTATION VISIT I SCENIC TRAIN JOURNEY TO ELLA I GUIDED TOUR OF GALLE FORT RELAXATION IN BENTOTA I COLOMBO STREET FOOD TOUR


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SRI LANK’S SECRET SIDE

Experience

SRI LANK’S SECRET SIDE

NEGOMBO I ANURADHAPURA I TRINCOMALEE I PASIKUDA I GAL OYA I KANDY I COLOMBO

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

15 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

7


Offering the perfect mix of culture and relaxation, Sri Lanka’s Secret Side explores not only historical cities but also the lesser visited east coast of Sri Lanka. Still a little raw around the edges, the east coast is one of Sri Lanka’s upcoming areas with beautiful beaches and warm waters. It is only fair to dedicate some of your time to experiencing these caramel coloured sands,swaying palms and have the sea breeze in your hair as you watch the sun set behind the horizon.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

NATURE

Journey from Negombo to Anuradhapura and travel around the ancient citadel by bike to discover the ruins of its monastic complex all whilst learning about the lives of its inhabitants. Climb the famed Sigiriya Rock Fortress ahead of a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park which allows you to observe nature and its diversity from the comfort of your seat.

BEACH

As you head east to Trincomalee and Pasikuda, the days and nights are spent at leisure for you to take in the tranquil atmosphere and relax. The beaches of Trincomalee –mainly Nilaveli and Marble Bay offer white soft sandy beaches that stretch for miles whilst Pasikuda is known to have one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline in the world. At select times its possible for people to walk at least half a kilometre into the sea at certain points due to the water being only a few inches deep, with the current relatively weak compared to the rest of Sri Lanka’s coastline. 

CULTURE

Soak yourself in local culture as you visit Gal Oya, one of Sri Lanka’s most remote and least visited wilderness areas – here a walk in the forest with the ‘Veddas’, the forest dwelling indigenous community of Gal Oya, offers an insight as to how they live off the land and be at one with nature.Travel inland to Kandy and discover sacred spaces and listen to intriguing tales of the city before heading to Colombo for your last night.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

BIKE RIDE IN ANURADHAPURA I SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS EXPLORATION I JEEP SAFARI I A WALK WITH AN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITYBOAT RIDE I KANDY CITY TOUR I CULTURAL COLOMBO TOUR


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THE GRANDEUR OF CAMBODIA

Experience

THE GRANDEUR OF CAMBODIA

PHNOM PENH I BATTAMBANG I SIEM REAP I KOH RONG ISLAND

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – APRIL

IDEAL LENGTH

14 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

13 HOURS 15 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

4


When one conjures up images of Cambodia, most tend to think solely of the renowned temples in Siem Reap – whilst we definitely can’t deny its Angkor Wat ‘wow’ factor, we do feel that you may be pleasantly surprised by the country if you were to explore further afield. This two week long itinerary allows you to discover more and offers the perfect mix of culture, local life, temples and relaxation.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

ON THE ROAD

Having emerged from decades of civil war and unrest, touchdown in Phnom Penh, a now transformed vibrant and bustling capital city. With its walkable riverfront boulevard along with the numerous restaurants and bars, you’ll find your stay in Phnom Penh is incredibly welcoming. As you head north west to Battambang, make stops in Oudong, the former royal capital of Cambodia after the fall of Angkor. The drive passes through many rural village sand pagodas until you see the temple mountain with its dozens of stupas from afar. As Cambodia’s second largest city, Battambang, not so long ago, was within target range of the Khmer Rouge and was therefore off-limits to most travellers.Upon reopening to the outside world, one fortuitous result of its isolation and lack of development is that Battambang has some of the most well preserved colonial French buildings in the country.

ARCHITECTURE

Next, make your way to Siem Reap but not before stopping at Banteay Chhmar – the main temple here is on the list of possible, future UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Feel like a temple discoverer as you clamber amongst the ruins that are still being reconstructed today. Almost every step within this vast ruin gives another fabulous picture of stone being consumed by nature. It is a spectacular sight with its Bayon-style towers and walls cloaked with vegetation. More stunning Khmer architecture awaits in Siem Reap exploring the Angkor Temple Comple.

BEYOND

Beyond the temples, head out to Kampong Khleang floating village, which is in fact, a stilt house settlement of over 20,000 people where structures can tower up to ten metres above the water. For the final part of your journey, spend three nights of relaxation on Koh Rong Island, known for its sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

PHNOM PENH CITY TOUR I OUDONG MOUNTAIN I POTTERY VILLAGE I BAMBOO TRAIN I VILLAGE VISITS I BICYCLE RIDE I COOKING LESSON I TEMPLES EXPLORATION SPHARE CAMBODIAN CIRCUS I TONLE SAP LAKE VISIT I RELAXATION ON KOH RONG ISLAND


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THE KHMER EMPIRE & THE FAR EAST

Experience

THE KHMER EMPIRE & THE FAR EAST

SIEM REAP I KAMPONG THOM I KRATIE I KOH TRONG I RATANAKIRI I MONDULKIRI I PHNOM PENH

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – APRIL

IDEAL LENGTH

9 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

13 HOURS 15 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

7


As one of the smaller countries of Indochina, Cambodia has a tendency to charm all those that visit – this gem of a country definitely offers more than meets the eye. For a slightly different taste of what this country has to offer, travel with us as we not only explore Siem Reap, but also the remote eastern highland areas of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. Offering authentic settings away from the heavily trodden path, appreciate the tourism infancy – great for any intrepid traveller.From temples, home stay experiences, rural Khmer life to remote jungles and mountain ranges, this 8 night journey will leave you with many highlights and memories to cherish.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

VILLAGE

Retaining its small-town charm, begin your adventure in Siem Reap which bustles with travellers from afar. Enjoy a lovely village atmosphere and inspirational days discovering the temples, taking in the nightlife and exploring the communities on the great Tonle Sap Lake. From Siem Reap,head to Kampong Thom where you’ll experience an overnight homestay in the Isanborei Community – a simple yet rewarding encounter.

EXPERIENCES

Continue to Kratie, a small colonial style town located on the banks of the Mekong River, popular from which to catch a glimpse of the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins. Overnight on Koh Trong Island – car free, it offers an authentic example of rural life. Travel onto Ratanakiri where the pace slows right down. Living by simple means, the area is home to many different minority groups. With its characteristic red earthen roads, jungles and lakes, the province also borders Laos and Vietnam.

WILD LIFE

Next, head to the mountainous countryside of Mondulkiri – where it’s estimated that 250 wild elephants reside in the vast protected areas of the province. Enjoying a cooler temperature, tranquil waterfalls and plentiful nature, Mondulkiri is one of the least visited areas of the country. As your adventure slowly draws to an end, travel back inland to Phnom Penh, but not before one last stop – the famous Spider Market in Skun. Regularly visited by foreigners, the market is best known for its fried spiders and tarantulas however an assortment of trays with different types of fried bugs and insects can also be found – try if you dare!

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

CAMBODIAN CULTURAL EXPERIENCE I PHARE CIRCUS PERFORMANCE I ANGKOR TEMPLES EXPLORATION I TONLE SAP LAKE VISIT I OVERNIGHT HOMESTAYS I OPPORTUNITY TO VIEW IRRAWADY DOLPHINS I BICYCLE TOUR I ETHNIC VILLAGE VISITS I LAKES AND WATERFALLS I MARKET VISITS I SPIDER MARKET IN SKUN


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PEACE AND HARMONY IN BHUTAN

Experience

PEACE AND HARMONY IN BHUTAN

THIMPU I PUNAKA I PARO

WHEN TO GO

OCTOBER – DECEMBER

IDEAL LENGTH

7 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

22 HOURS 17 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

3


Experience Bhutan’s west side on this exclusive 6-night trip. Enjoy a plethora of pleasant hikes and a completely different way of experiencing this wonderful Himalayan kingdom, exploring the two very different valleys of Paro and Punakha; one alpine, one tropical. Your guide will take you on hikes to see an amazing selection of historic and stunning monasteries and dzongs, as well as famous sites such as the Dochula Pass which offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range. This trip culminates in the picturesque town of Paro, where you can visit the National Museum and even more striking dzongs. And of course, no trip would be complete without a visit to one of Bhutan’s most valued attractions, the spectacular Tiger’s Nest monastery.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

CAPITAL

Starting in the capital, Thimphu, you will visit ancient dzongs, temples, museums and experience authentic Bhutanese life on your privately guided tour. Spend your time exploring handcrafted markets and small buzzing shops. A wander around this relaxed and friendly showcases a more urban side of Bhutan which accompanies a wide display of traditional art, architecture and Buddhist sights steeped in ritual.

DRIVE

Taking a drive to the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, you will be greeted by one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world – made of bronze glided in gold and sitting on top of the world overlooking the southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. It is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world. Next, you can go by car or on an easy hike to the oldest temple in Thimphu Valley, constructed in the 15th century.

Stop en-route for a glimpse into traditional Bhutanese life, a visit to the Textile and Folk Heritage Museum. This restored three-storey building has been constructed using rammed-earth and timber to replicate a traditional farmhouse and inside its furnished as it would have been 100 years ago. After the tour you will stop for a refreshing lunch. 

After lunch, visit Tashichhou Dzong and Memorial Chorten, two places not to be missed. This is a true feast for the senses. Enjoy the evening strolling Thimphu, a bustling city without any traffic lights.

FOLLOW THE ROAD TO PUNAKHA

An early start with a drive to Punakha via the Dochula Pass, offering spectacular 360-degree views of the Himalayan mountain range, especially on a clear winter day. There are 108 chortens that adorn this area, some of which were commissioned by the Queen Mother to commemorate the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed while fighting the Indian rebels in 2003. You might like to hang a prayer flay at the monastery. Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, rather it is believed that the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion.

Arriving for two nights in Punakha, one of our favourite spots in this magical kingdom. A stay in this little town can be as adventurous or as laid back as you’d like. Think rafting adventures down the Mo Chhu River, picture-perfect moments at Punakha Dzong fortress or a behind -the-scenes visit to the fertility temple. At Chimi Lhakhang Monastery you’ll gather ingredients with a local incense maker for a one to one lesson in aromatherapy. Then step into the area’s history with a visit to the town’s show-stopping Punakha Dzong.

MYSTIC SILENCE

Begin today with a hike up through fields along the banks of the Mo Chhu River to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument recently built by the one of the Fourth Kings’ Queens with spectacular views down the valley. The deities represented here belong to a teaching cycle of Dudjom Rinpoche, a great Nyingmapa master, the functions of which are to subjugate enemies and harmful influences and to spread peace and harmony. Hiking through rice fields before you start climbing a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees, enjoy the magnificent view of the Mo-Chhu valley below.

TIME OUT AT TIGERS NEST

Starting the day bright and early en-route to Paro, with a stop if possible, to attend the Rhododendron Festival. The three-day festival at the Royal Botanical Park is truly an experience for nature lovers to engage in the beauty of wild rhododendron that grows in abundance.

The pretty valley of Paro is one of the kingdom’s widest and is covered in fertile rice fields crisscrossed by a beautiful meandering river. The main street of Paro was only built in 1985 but it is lined with cheerfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants in a classic Bhutanese style. Facing up the mountain, you’ll be awed by the sight of the 8th century Taktsang or “Tiger’s Nest “Monastery, perched high on the sheer cliff face. Just outside of the town, lie both the dominating Paro Dzong – a prime example of Bhutanese architecture, and the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang which was one of the first Buddhist temples built in the country.

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

And finally, but not least your final day exploring. Visit Bhutan’s most valued attraction and one of the main reasons people come to Bhutan, the famous Taktshang monastery or to most of us “Tiger’s Nest”. This spectacular temple clings to a 1000-foot-high cliff and was built in 1692 by a prominent historical figure named Gyaltse Tenzing Rabgye. We will hike for about three hours to reach the Tiger’s Nest, climbing steeply uphill from the valley floor with a break at a tea house along the way. The Tiger’s Nest is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists. It’s said that in the 8th century, Guru Padma meditated here for three months. Guru Padma, also known as the 2nd Buddha, first initiated Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong and built this temple as a result. For Buddhists, the story of the temple is an important lesson about taming the inherent forces of Anger, Ignorance and Greed.


OTHER EXPERIENCES YOU MAY LIKE


Didn’t see anything for you? No worries. Let us know what your dream trip is and we’ll help you create it.