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First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

Glasgow
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45 posts
308 reviews
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First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

I have been reading the forum for a few weeks and planning our two week trip to Sri Lanka in March 2014. My wife and I want to see the history, culture and wildlife of Sri Lanka in the first week and then spend a week relaxing at the beach.

So far I have come up with this Itinerary and would welcome any thoughts you all have.

Day 1: We arrive at CMB at 6:20 pm. We intend to hire a car and driver for 5 or 6 days and would like to be driven direct to the Habarana region and stay there for three nights perhaps at The Other Corner hotel.

Day 2: Visit Ritigala National Park, Kaludiya Pokuna, Mihintale and Anuradhapura.

Day 3: Visit Minneriya with a jeep safari in the early morning then Polonnaruwa.

Day 4: Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, then Dambulla Cave and then drive to Kandy. Stay in Kandy two nights. Any ideas for where to stay for such a short time visiting Kandy. Perhaps somewhere central to main sites?

Day 5: Full day site seeing in Kandy. Not interested in nearby Elephant sanctuary.

Day 6: We plan to part company with our driver at this point in the trip and travel by train to Ella. We are really interested in travelling the most scenic part of the railway and would like an Observation carriage. However we would not like to be on a train all day so would welcome suggestions for best way to plan this day. Perhaps our driver should take us to Nanu Oya to start the train journey.

We plan to stay in Ella for two nights and like the look of Mountain Heavens.

Day 7: walking/trekking and sightseeing in the Ella region. Welcome any ideas for this day. Not looking for anything to exertive but would like to be active and see the area.

Day 8: Travel to the beach for a week. We are not sure which to choose. We like the sound of Bentota but also like the idea of being near Galle in order to have a day visiting the city. We would really like to be right on the beach and maybe even small bungalow style accommodation. However, I am not sure if we could afford a place like this for a week.

Day 15: Travel to Colombo for a quick tour of the city and some final shopping. Stay overnight in Colombo.

Day 16: Fly home from CMB at 9:50 am.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how manageable this itinerary is and any tips for a great trip.

Thanks

Mark

Brisbane
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1,898 posts
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11. Re: First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

Hello Mark

On Day 2 Yes. It would be more enjoyable to cut down your program for this day. I would go to Ritigala early and then to Mihintale, including Kalu diya Pokuna. If there was time after that a quick visit to Anuradhapura could be done. Have a look at both sites for yourself but my reason is that Mihintale is really the birth place of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in that king Devanampiyatissa met Mahinda there, had his intelligence verified as being of a standard to understand Buddhism which he then embraced for the whole of the nation forever. [ My take!] As well as that it is a lovely area with lots of historic ruins [ Good for you to see as you are missing the jewel in the area, Polonnaruwa]. If you are younger [ than me] fit and brave you can even climb up to Invitation Rock. If otherwise, there is a gentle climb to the Dagaba on the other side for views . . .

At Anuradhapura, for a quick visit, I suggest the Mahavihara and the Bodhi tree. Unfortunately this area needs several visits to see all of the interesting sites and sights - still uncovering more myself!

Regarding Hotel Suisse in Kandy - I have stayed there several times over the decades and been quite happy there. I do prefer the older rooms on the second floor as they are big and more importantly quieter than the newer ones around the courtyard type are where the weddings are held. They also seem more secure to me. The location is great. Half Board is not necessary in Kandy. Breakfasts are way better when the hotel is full otherwise it is a la carte and limited choices.

Another hotel is Serene Gardens. It's fine, [especially if you are a foreigner for service] but not walkable distance from the town. There are a plethora of guest houses too.

Archi

Glasgow
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45 posts
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12. Re: First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

Thanks again everyone for the great info.

Archi, I expect I will not get to Kandy until late afternoon and then only have the full following day to see Kandy so I did think I should be central. However, I am now wondering if that really matters if I have a driver?

Thanks

Mark

10 posts
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13. Re: First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

Hi,

You arrive at 1820 and when you come out it'll be 1920, will reach Habarana around +2230 on Day 1.

Day 2 - is packed with Ritigala / Mihinthale / Anuradhapura (specially paying 25$ and will have a short time to see all sites in Anu). It will be rushing through. Return to Habarana would be around 1930-2000.

Day 3 - Do Polonnaruwa in the morning and opt for evening Safari.

Day 8 - Ella - Bentota there is no direct bus.

If you wish for a little bit more comfort keep the vehicle with you until Bentota. Its just a fraction you pay for the train ride. At Ella you could use for a trip to Diyaluma and even upto Bambarakanda water fall as well could use for a visit to Little Adams Peak and Ravana Caves.

Doha
4 posts
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14. Re: First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

Hi Mark,

I believe you might need to drop one of Ritigala or Mihinthale on 2nd day. Specially after a flight and a long 5-6 hour drive on previous night. Then up to Kandy it would be great.

Be aware about the train schedule as only 5 trains available per day on the route. Where to pick the train depends.

www.gic.gov.lk/gic/index.php…

Keep in mind Kandy to Nanuoya by road is also take 4-5 hours on a rapidly climbing road, whereas Kandy-Nawalapitiya only little more than 1 hr.

Benthota is a great place for beaches and still you can go to Galle form there for a visit by Bus or Train if you want.

Happy Journey.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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49,600 posts
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15. Re: First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

Did Kandy to Eliya last year, it's now only 2.5 hours on the renovated road. Eliya to Nanu Oya is another 30 mins so overall it's normally 3 hours, not 4-5 anymore as it used to take...

Tnx,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Brisbane
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1,898 posts
90 reviews
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16. Re: First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

Hi Mark

If you climb Sigiriya early morning and the also Dambulla you will probably arrive in Kandy mid afternoon. That's with a driver which would also make staying a bit out of town OK. Traffic in Kandy can often (always when I'm there) be terrible adding to time travelling.

Which hotel are you thinking of? You might think taking traffic as it comes worth it if you want a more rural ie different experience for your stay.

Regards

Archi

17. Re: First Time Sri Lanka Itinerary

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