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1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Singapore
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1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Hello,

I'll be spending 5 full days in Sri Lanka in mid-October and would like to try to see as much as possible.

I'm traveling alone and on somewhat of a budget. I want to try to see some history, culture and nature.

I land in Colombo around 1am Friday morning. I'd like to see Kandy (temple), Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Horton Park or Yala park, tea plantation, and Galle.

Is this remotely possible in 5 days? Flight leaves at 1am Wednesday morning.

If it is possible, any suggestions for routes? Seems like I'll be able to do some by train, but would need to hire a driver for the rest. I've read that if I hire a driver they will book accommodations as well so I'm waiting to book hotels until I get a route/itinerary sorted out.

Appreciate any suggestions for routes, transportation, drivers, hotels...

Many thanks!

Fredericia, Denmark
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1. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Quite packed.

You could go from airport to Nuwara Eliya (for Horton Plains) - Kandy - Dambulla (for Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa) - airport.

Hans

2. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

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Kandy
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3. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Yes using a vehicle with driver would be better, but not essential.

Doing Horton Plains first is also possible. Given that you arrive at 1am you can travel from airport to railway station and catch the train that leaves Colombo to Badulla at 5.55am. It is better to stay in Ohiya first day given that it is really close to Horton plains and the views. The train comes to Ohiya around 1 and 2 pm.

Second day early morning get a tuk-tuk and visit Horton plains. You can tell you tuk-tuk to drop you off at Ohiya railway station. There two trains between 11am and 12.30 pm from Ohiya. You can take that train to travel to Kandy. Certain trains don’t travel to Kandy. So you will have to get off at Peradeniya (which is also very close to Kandy). Second and third night you can stay in Kandy and visit places of interest around Kandy.

Fourth and fifth night you can stay in Dambulla or Sigiriya and visit the sites at cultural Triangle. For this part you will need a vehicle for sure I think. That is to travel from Kandy to Dambulla or Sigiriya, to visit attraction around cultural triangle and then to drop you to the airport.

If you want to reduce cost then maybe you can post in the forum and check whether any other tourist would like to share a vehicle with you from Kandy onwards or atleast for a part of it (for example to share a cab from Dambulla/Sigiriya to airport).

Singapore
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4. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your inputs! I received the following suggested itinerary from a tour/driver agency. For those who have been there, does this sound realistic? And would you say this covers the highlights of the island? The agency gave a rough estimate of $360 USD not including accommodations/entrance fees. Does that sound about right?

Day 1- Airport to Polonnaruwa (4.5 Hours for transport and 3 hours to visit) - Polonnaruwa to Dambulla / Sigiriya (1. hour )

Day 2- Sigiriya (2 hours to visit ), Dambulla (1 hour to visit ) & Kandy Cultural Show (1 hour to visit )- Overnight at Kandy.( 2.5 Hours )

Day 3- Temple of The Tooth (1.5 hour to visit ) & train trip to Nuwara Eliya (3 hours ) - Overnight at Nuwara Eliya. (3 Hours for transport)

Day 4- Horton Plains (1.5 Hours for transport one way and 3 hours to visit), Ella, Buduruwagala (1 hour to visit )- Overnight at Yala.

Day 5 - Yala national park (Jeep Safari in the morning) (1 Hour for transport one way and 3 hours to visit ), visit Galle (1 - 2 hours to visit ) for the lunch time & take the express way to Colombo (1.5 hours ).

Thanks again for your assistance!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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5. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Hi again,

Well optimistic again.

Day2: Climb and enjoying the views takes 2:30-3 hours.

Day3: Car or bus would be 3 hours yes. Train is FIVE hours, it takes quite a detour to avoid the steepest route. I'm afraid would have to stick to the car then unless your timing would just allow a train ride Ohiya (Horton Plains) to Ella for next day. Which is far superior in vistas to Kandy-Eliya anyhow.

Day5: You'd be out of Yala 9 AM, in Galle 1 PM, and then to airport takes 3 hours. 1:30 hours is solely to Kottawa, then you first have 1:30 hours of slow city traffic and at the end the second Expressway to airport. Hope it fits with your flight time.

Yes 360 dollar is about right, 1000 km at least @ Rs 45...

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Singapore
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6. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Thanks <Erik> and [Sandya]! Really helpful.

Couple more questions.

I get in to the airport on Friday morning at 1am. I'd planned to just stay near the airport and get up early but do you know if there is a late night train to Polonnaruwa so I could get started earlier in the morning that day? (Could just sleep on the train).

Also, would it be better to take a train from Galle to the airport the last day to avoid the traffic? My flight leaves at 1:30 am on Wednesday (6th day of trip). If the train and car are about the same in terms of time, is one route easier than the other or have better views?

Also, I've read some places I can get my visa on arrival at the airport and others say I need to get it online ahead of time. Do you know which is better? (I'm a US citizen).

I'll be there in about a week. How is the weather right now?

Huge thanks for your help!

Fredericia, Denmark
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7. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

There are no trains departing to Polonnaruwa during the night.

You can take a train from Galle to Colombo Fort and then a taxi to the airport.

You can apply for ETA either online at http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ (USD 30 per adult) or on arrival at Colombo Airport (USD 35 per adult). I would apply online as it saves you a bit of money and an extra queue.

Hans

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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8. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Weather right now is okay for the season. Nice and sunny between 8 AM and 3 PM on most days, and some brief or longer showers for the rest of the time. Bound to detoriate however after mid Oct.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Fredericia, Denmark
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9. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

For the past 10 days the sun has been shining from a blue/partly clouded sky from sunrise to sunset.

Hans

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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10. Re: 1/2 country tour in 5 days?

Okay thanks. It always varies a bit per town, my info comes from Colombo and Unuwatuna and yours from Aluthgama/Bentota ;-)

Tnx,

<Erik> & [Sandya]