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Renzo from London asked

Cultural Triangle and Hill Country

Does anyone have any suggestions for a 4 day itinerary and selection of hotels?

Sri Lanka

3 Answers
top answer by
Supun from Carson (California)

The best advice to start with is to find a good driver that  enjoys driving tourists around and telling them about the country. A lot of times they can also step in as the tour guides for a lot of the places. Negotiate a price for everything beforehand. I would suggest staying at some of the guest houses or bed and breakfast type places rather than the big hotels. Your driver will have connections to good ones and if you can create a good rapport with them, they'll hook you up with deals. You can use the driver for most of the cultural triangle and then take the train at the end. To see the most, I'd start at the top and work my way down. Driving from place to place will take lots of time, so make sure you go with the mindset of enjoying the time on the road with your camera ready.

In my opinion Anuradhapura and Polonuwara are almost the same experience. I would start at Anuradapura and then decide if you want to see more temple and palace ruins in PolonnaruwaJethawanaramaya Dagobawas one of the tallest man made structures built at the time. Some of engineering and human resource planning to build Annuradhapura is very interesting to read about. At one point it was one of the first cities in Asia to have a population of a million people. It was a cosmopolitan Mecca for people searching for enlightenment, and people came from Rome, the Middle East kingdoms, and all over Asia.  But by the time the British explorers "discovered" it again, it was empty. Sri Lankans are very proud especially of their irrigation marvels and your driver will no doubt tell you how we made a canal that flows up.

Since you only have 4 days, you should do Sigiriya and Dambulla on the same day probably on day 2 and skip Polonuwara. I would do Sigiriya in the morning and Dambulla in the afternoon. Besides the obvious Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Dambulla temple there are wild Elephant safaris near by, it'll be easy see lots of elephant families in the wild at minneriya wildlife park--I was there in Dec 2009 and we saw a lot of them from pretty close. There is also Nalanda Gedige on the way to Kandy which has some links to tantric Buddhism which has almost disappeared from Lanka.

Kandy is a good place to end day 3. I'd try to get there in the late afternoon for tea time. It's a place of great cultural pride because it was the last kingdom to fall to colonialists. But, Kandy is a bit sleepy when it isn't the time of the Esala Perahera. During the cultural festival time, it's overrun with tourists.

If you're coming from Colombo, it might also be a nice place for day #1 since you can make a morning at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

and then get to Kandy around lunch time and then head to Annuradhapura on the next day. But then you'd have to come back to Kandy if you want to take the train towards Nuwara Eliya. 

The train ride from Peradeniya Railway Station to Nanuoya Railway Station is well worth the time and nice way to spend the next morning slowly seeing the landscape going up to Nuwara Eliya or Hatton. So get a comfortable touring cabin. The train ride will take the whole morning. At the train station you won't have any trouble finding tourist friendly taxis. You'll find a lot of beautiful places in these hills. A nice traveler friendly hike is the popular Adam's Peak. Or you can find a waterfall to relax at.  Once you figure out what you want to see on day 4, a fun lodging option a little bit further is to find a tree house, something like Ella Jungle Inn. From here you can either make your way south to the beaches or head for more jungle in Yala National Park.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Anuradhapura (city)
  2. Polonnaruwa (city)
  3. Jethawanaramaya Dagoba (attraction)
  4. Sigiriya (city)
  5. Dambulla (attraction)
  6. Sigiriya Rock Fortress (attraction)
  7. Dambulla temple (attraction)
  8. minneriya wildlife park (attraction)
  9. Nalanda Gedige (attraction)
  10. Kandy (city)
  11. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (attraction)
  12. Peradeniya Railway Station (attraction)
  13. Nanuoya Railway Station (attraction)
  14. Nuwara Eliya (city)
  15. Hatton (city)
  16. Adam's Peak (attraction)
  17. Ella Jungle Inn (hotel)
  18. Yala National Park (attraction)
likes (6) thanks
answered first by
Nalin from Cypress

When it comes to cultural sites you don't wanna miss Sigiriya Rock Fortress. This is probably the most visited place in Sri Lanka. It's bit of a hike, but well worth it. I'd recommend start climbing early (around 9 am).

I'm sure there are many hotels in that area, but if you like to stay in a place that reminds you of the nature, then you should check out Heritance Kandalama. The food is exceptional.

Some of the other places in this part of the country includes:

Anuradhapura: The ancient city of Anuradhapura was first settled in around 900 B.C., and served off and on as the capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom until 1100 A.D.

Hill country

Kandy: It's the second largest city in the island, and it was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka.

Nuwara Eliya

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sigiriya Rock Fortress (attraction)
  2. Heritance Kandalama (hotel)
  3. Anuradhapura (city)
  4. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (attraction)
  5. Ruwanwelisaya Stupa (attraction)
  6. Thuparama Dagoba (attraction)
  7. Jethawanaramaya Dagoba (attraction)
  8. Abayagiri Dagoba (attraction)
  9. Mihintale Temple (attraction)
  10. Kuttam Pokuna (attraction)
  11. Wilpattu National Park (attraction)
  12. Kandy (city)
  13. Temple Of The Sacred Tooth Relic (attraction)
  14. Kandy Lake (attraction)
  15. Nuwara Eliya (city)
likes (3) thanks
answered by
Pinay Flying from Maryland

I did a lot of packages to Sri Lanka when I was a travel agent and I also did quite an extensive tour of the country.

In Dambulla, I'd definitely recommend a stay in Heritance Kandalama which is just a few minutes away from Sigiriya Rock Fortress. In Kandy, a stay at Amaya Hills Resort Kandy is a must! In Nuwara Eliya, I loved Heritance Tea Factory. :)

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