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Sri Lanka Heritage area questions

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Just doing a bit of planning and as usual, would love to have more time than we have. However, this question is more logistical -

Would you recommend trips out to places such as Sigiriya, Pollonuwara and Dambulla as well as Kandy as day trips from a central location? Or moving around and staying near the sites?

Also, would the inclusion of Anuradhapura change that answer? Strong desire to see but it seems considerably further. Then again, my knees may dictate picking either Dambulla or Sigiriya but not both. Not sure yet.

If it helps: We really do find that we end up enjoying urban (well, in-town) experiences in the evening as much as we have visiting those "don't miss" attractions. Just the chance to walk around, hunt down something to eat, watch people doing stuff (and usually ending up chatting somewhere).


Side question - I really would like to take a train into the highlands. What would you recommend for an area to stay after a late plane arrival that wouldn't be too difficult the next morning to organize the train? Does that sound like a major hassle? (we'll be coming back from the south coast, so inbound seems to be the only opportunity)

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