We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Heemstede, The...
5 posts
Save Topic
Round trip Sri Lanka: transport


From 1 till the 17th of July I will go on vacation to Sri Lanka with my girlfriend. I’m looking forward to it, but I expect some troubles with the transport. I read that most people don’t advise to rent a car and drive by yourself, am I right?

I planned my roundtrip as follow:

After arriving in Sri Lanka one night in Colombo or Negombo. What do you advise (I read that most people advise Negombo)?

Therafter the following sequence: Colombo/Negombo--->Anaradaphura;

Anaradaphura--->Polonnaruwa; Polonnaruwa-->Sigirya; Sigiriya--->Kandy (including Elephant orphanage); Kandy--->Nuwara Eliya; Nuwara Eliya--->Yala NP, and than going back to Colombo.

Do you advice this trip, or are there other/more interesting places to visit? I’m thinking of visiting a 2nd national park.

My main concern is how to reach these locations (and especially the cultural triangle). Off course I did some research as well, but you might have some advice of how to reach these places? Maybe a good combination of trains/busses and caps or cars with private chauffeur? It should not be too costly, but on the other hand I don’t prefer an average trip of 8 hours per day.

I want to do this trip in around 10-12 days. The last 3 days are for relaxation ;)

Hoping to hear from you!

Regards Olav

London, United...
Level Contributor
330 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

I returned on Friday night from a very similar trip done over 8 nights/9 days. It was all organised by a private tour company in Sri Lanka who also booked all our hotels for us.

After arriving at the airport at 1pm, we were collected by our driver and driven to our hotel in Dambulla where we stayed for 2 nights and visited Polonnaruwa, climbed Sigiriya and also visited the Dambulla cave temples.

We then went to Pinnawala elephant orphanage en route to Kandy where we stayed one night before travelling to Nuwara Eliya for a further night.

We got the scenic train to Ella and climbed Little Adams peak before staying the night in Ella.

The next day we travelled to Tissa and took an afternoon safari in Yala National Park.

Finally we travelled to Bentota and stayed there for two nights taking a river boat cruise there.

Our driver took us back to the airport in time to check in at 11am for our flights.

All in all, none of the distances travelled each day were too long, and we did not feel to be rushed at any of the places we visited,

The price of our tour included hotels on half board and all entrance fees and costs apart from lunch and drinks and our driver was excellent.

I'm sure what you are planning is easily achievable in 10-12 nights.

I will be happy to provide his details to you by private message.

Heemstede, The...
5 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Sounds great. Was it a group tour or just by yourself (with guide/chauffeur)?

Normally I don't prefer group travelling, but if you did that maybe you can convince me...

My email: olavlowinsky@hotmail.com

London, United...
Level Contributor
330 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

It was just myself and my Indian friend. We travelled in an air conditioned Toyota car with our driver. Everything was just for the two of us, including our jeep in Yala and the river boat cruise in Bentota, no sharing at all. This gave us the flexibility to spend as much, or as little time as we wanted at each place we visited.

Level Contributor
2,164 posts
104 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Hello Olav

As you are looking at a tour of 10-12 days I suggest that hiring a driver/guide would be a good way to go. You would then have the vehicle available when you want it instead of waiting for buses or trains once you have found where exactly they leave from. This will save you heaps of time, your bags won't be a problem, your itinerary can be as flexible as you want with changes made if you aren't as interested in a place as you thought you would be etc.. . The driver can arrange accommodation for you once you give him information about your expectations and so on.

Depending on where you decide to spend your last 3 days relaxing you could end with the driver on reaching that destination and hire a car to get to the airport. Negombo is a popular last night stay spot as it is only 20 minutes from the airport and has a variety of accommodation.

Hiring a driver means that he is yours exclusively for the duration of your contract - no other clients.

As for another National Park while in the CT you also have the choice of the Habarana-Giritale parks as well as Wilpattu which would be a bit of an adventure.

Unless you have a specific reason already for staying in Colombo I suggest that you do some research to see if it actually appeals to you or if you would rather spend more time elsewhere. There is no need to go into Colombo on arrival - it saves time and hassles to begin your tour from the airport.

If you decide not to go with a driver you could get a taxi from the airport to Gampaha railway station and the train from there to Keikarawa which is not that far from Anuradhapura. It would depend on your arrival time though - need to check the train timetables.



Edited: 08 April 2013, 11:07
London, United...
Level Contributor
809 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Hi Olav,

IMO yes, your trip itinerary seems to be fine , If you wish to visit second Park then you should consider Minneriya National Park and Yala, consider your last three day relaxing around Bentota/Beruwa/Wadduwa area hotel. As you don't want to come back to Negambo and Colombo is waste of time. There are few places near Bentota to visit depends on the weather and approximately 3-3.5hrs drive to airport.


Heemstede, The...
5 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Hi Sue,

Thanks for the info. Sounds good. Can you mail me (including the prices) this?

Because Im a student I want to combine travelling by bus/train and car.

Probably travelling by car between Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Kandy. And maybe from kandy to Yala, because that's hard to reach by public transport right?

Heemstede, The...
5 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Hi Archi,

Thanks, can you suggest me some companies where to arrange this (a car with driver)?

Can you make an indication what it costs (for example from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, than to Sigiriya, than to Kandy. And maybe from kandy to Yala NP. in a couple of days, just to see the most spectaculair highlight).

@Carol P: A relaxation spot in Sri Lanka isn't necessary. I booked the Maledives from the 13th till the 16th ;), but thanks for the advise!

Edited: 08 April 2013, 22:24
Terrigal, Australia
Level Contributor
2 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Hi Everyone, I've just read these posts and it is also what we are looking for for 10-14 days in October.

Is it possible to provide a link to where you hire a driver/chauffeur.

Many thanks, Robby

Heemstede, The...
5 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Hi Robby,

I'm also searching for a car with driver.

When I know more I'll let you know, ok?

I've already been on contact with some.

Edited: 15 April 2013, 09:26
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
58,214 posts
200 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Round trip Sri Lanka: transport

Just to repeat the benchmark costs for transport; use a distance finder site for doing the maths.

One-way taxi transfers: Rs 70-75/km

Driver for roundtrips (or day trips coming back to same base): Rs 45/km.

BUT, assuming a minimum daily mileage of around 100-150 km, a full roundtrip (hence paying any possible empty ride back to starting point) and assuming accomodation with a free driver's quarter if it's a multi-day trip.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Follow this conversation!
Get notified when a new reply comes in.
Follow now