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Castellanese Sep 6th, 2009 03:40 AM

10 nights in Sri Lanka in December
Hello everybody,

I'm planning to visit Sri Lanka for 10 nights in December. I've been reading a few trip reports and, while I'm waiting for my Sri Lanka bookguide, I've gotten a good idea of what I'd like to visit. So far, I'm interested in Galle (or a beach break somewhere nearby: Mirissa or Unawatuna), Colombo and the cities from the ancient triangle. I was hoping that I could rely on public transportation to do this trip, although I've read on a few trip reports that people have used vans with a driver.

Any tips?

Kathie Sep 6th, 2009 07:15 AM

If you set the drop down menu (above) for Sri Lanka you'll get all of the posts tagged Sri Lanka. There are a goodly number of trip reports, as well as a question similar to yours from Baby Bear about 10 days in Sri Lanka in December.

Most of us have used a car and driver in Sri Lanka. While the distances in Sri Lanka aren't large, the travel is slow - even with your own car and driver. In public transport it will take even longer. You are trying to cover a lot of territory in a short amount of time. You might want a beach break closer to Colombo rather than such a long drive away.

Posters on the Thorntree can give you advice about public transport.

Mohammed Sep 6th, 2009 09:05 AM

Public transport in Sri Lanka works and is cheap consisting mainly buses and some trains too, however it is quite rough/basic and not advised unless you are a student or similar on a shoestring budget.

The "Observation Deck" train that takes you from Colombo to kandy and on to Nuwaraeliya is not bad bt a long slow journey.

The train ride down south along the coastal line to Galle is picturesque too.

Please do let me know your budget and I will let you know of some places. I found a little gem in Unnawatuna some months back, ideal for very low budget/student type traveller.

Castellanese Sep 6th, 2009 02:57 PM


I really would've liked to visit a beach city in the south, but I guess it's not reasonable to fit it along with the ancient cities in 10 nights. Any recommendation on a beach city near Colombo? Is Colombo worth visiting? What if I visited the ancient cities and then move northwards up to Trincomalee? I guess I could afford hiring a driver in order to visit the ancient cities, any tips on where to base and for how long?

Thanks, again.

Castellanese Sep 6th, 2009 05:04 PM

Hey again,

Do you consider this itinerary feasible?

02 nights in Colombo
04 nights in Dambulla (visit Dambulla Golden Temple, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya & Polonaruwa with a driver)
03 nights Trincomalee for a beach break
01 night in Colombo

Does Negombo make more sense for a beach break? However, I've looked up pictures of it and the beach doesn't seem as beautiful as those in Trincomalee or Galle (where I initially wanted to go =S).

Suppose I leave out Colombo (since for some reason I can't seem to find people who consider it a must), I've also thought of this:

03 nights in Negombo
04 nights in Dambulla
02 nights in Kandy
01 nights in Negombo or Colombo (whichever is closer to Kandy in order to leave for Chennai the following day)


02 nights in Negombo
03 nights in Sigiriya
03 nights in Kandy
02 nights in Colombo

I also like a bit of trekking and I've read that there're trekking possibilities in Kandy. If I did this one, I'd even spend a day in Colombo to see what's like.

Any of these itineraries would total 12 nights counting the 02 nights that I must spend in Chennai, India, on my way in and out Sri Lanka. I guess that I could afford a driver in order to visit Anuredhapura, Sirigiya & Polonaruwa considering that have little time for this trip.

Any thoughts?


Kathie Sep 6th, 2009 05:18 PM

Damulla and Sigiriya are right next to each other, so it doesn't matter where you stay for the ancient cities area.

I think Kandy is worthwhile, though I don't know about trekking in the area. I loved the tea country. The beach at Negombo is merely ok. If you really want a beach, I'd do more research.

Do you have a good guidebook yet? I like the Lonely Planet guide.

Have you read my trip report? Just click on my name and at the bottom of my profile page you'll see a list of trip reports. Photos at

Castellanese Sep 6th, 2009 05:39 PM

Hey Kathie,

I got the idea of basing in Dambulla and visiting Sigiriya and Polonaruwa with a driver from there from your trip report. However, I read a few trip reports and I don't recall whether it was you or somebody else who couldn't visit Anuradhapura. From what I've read, the beaches in southern and eastern Sri Lanka are the best. That's why I thought of the beaches around Trincomalee as an option instead of the beaches around Galle. However, those of Trincomalee are also a bit apart and, from the pictures that I've seen, Negombo doesn't seem like a big deal. From what I've read, the trekking options in Kandy consist of a few temples outlying the city that are connected by paths. However, I'm not really that interested in Kandy so I don't know whether to keep it or not. So far, the itinerary that I like the most is Colombo-Sigiriya-Trincomalee-Colombo. I've ordered the Footprint bookguide of Sri Lanka, but I haven't received it yet. I've never liked the Lonely Planet bookguides.

Thanks again.

Castellanese Sep 7th, 2009 01:54 AM

Hey again Kathie,

I've just seen your pictures of Sri Lanka and they're fascinating!

Thanks for sharing!

Castellanese Sep 7th, 2009 02:26 AM

By the way, is it possible to visit Aukana, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa with a driver based in Kandy?

Castellanese Sep 7th, 2009 03:33 AM

Hello again everybody!

This is another itinerary I came up with (while I'm waiting for my bookguide and realize whether or not it's feasible)

Kandy (visit Aukana and Sigiriya with a driver)

I realize that the trip from Kandy to Galle must be a long one, but I went from Fez to Marrakesh on train in 2007 and I was able to put up with the 8 hour train ride, so I guess that I'd be able to handle another long journey like that. However, I still don't know how to split my 10 nights among these three cities.

Thanks again!

Kathie Sep 7th, 2009 08:03 AM

To visit Sigiriya, Polonaruwa and the Dambulla cave temples, you'll want to be based in Dambulla or Sigiriya. It makes no sense to be based in Kandy. If you aren't interested in Kandy, don't go, it will just be out of the way for the places you want to visit.

We were not able to visit Anuradhapura because of the fighting.

I'd suggest you skip Colombo on your way in and go directly to Dambulla or Sigiriya. Base yourself there for several days to see the sights you are interested in. From there you can go to the beach of your choice. I'd say wait for your guidebook to decide which neach. You can then spend a day or so in Columbo before catching your flight out.

I'm glad you enjoyed our photos. It was a fabulous trip!

Mohammed Sep 7th, 2009 09:38 AM


You can most definitely fit in anceint cities and the beach in a 10 day itinerary.

Trincomalee is fabulous/beautiful but totally off season in December. In December you must go to a south/west coast beach such as Galle/Unnawatuna/Weligama/Bentota etc.

Suggest as follows

3 nights Sigiriya/Dambulla/Habarana (Cultural Triangle)

1 night Kandy

2 Nights Yala if you like wildlife (this is optional)

4 nights beach in Unnawatuna or similar.

Do you really want to stay in Colombo? If you really must make it your last night.

Unnawatuna is a nice beach more for young folk, a bit grimy and rough, cheap but nice.

Weligama is also vety nice.

If you want something a bit more upmarket/semi luxury with a little buzz in the vicinity try Heritance Kandalama - my wife and i love this place for weekends and you can always hop over for dinner or luch etc to Hikkaduwa's beach strip about 20 minites away.

Are you looking for anything particualr at the beach? Scuba/surfing etc?

nishantha Oct 13th, 2009 02:07 AM


Just to add an idea. Whale watching in Mirissa is a fantastic during December. May be you can do that as well.


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