Sri Lanka - Itinerary Ideas?

Oct 19th, 2014, 04:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 13
Sri Lanka - Itinerary Ideas?

Hi, can anyone suggest an Itinerary for a 9 day trip to Sri Lanka in February? We are only in the early planning stages as not sure whether it's worth the long trip for only 9 days there. We want to try and see a lot but still have time to relax and enjoy the beaches and weather. This is what I have so far

Day 1 - Flight arrives 14.50. Stay in Kandy
Day 2 - 4 Stay somewhere near Kandy (3nights). Go to Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, Temple of the Tooth, Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Tea plantations.
Day 5 - 7 - Travel to Beach, maybe Unawatuna or Thalpe area (3nights). Beaches and see Galle.
Day 8 - Travel to Colombo. Stay overnight.
Day 9 - Flight leaves 17.20.

Would this trip be possible on public transport, or end up taking far too long? I am quite keen to fit a train ride in somewhere but would not mind having a driver for part of the trip if it made it a bit quicker/wasn't too expensive.

Is Colombo worth a visit? Or purely as somewhere to stay before the flight home?

Any thoughts would be great!
CarlyQ is offline  
Oct 19th, 2014, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,021
Sorry, this itinerary makes no sense. You think you are going to stay in Kandy and visit the tea plantations? Sri Lanka may look small on the map, but the drives are very long as most roads are narrow and winding. If you look at google, multiply their drive estimates by two or three - and that is with a private car and driver.

Do you have no interest in the cultural triangle area? I'd suggest you start first with a guidebook then with the websites of some local tour operators, like Boutique Sri Lanka or Red Dot and look at sample itineraries.

Read some of the many Sri Lanka trip reports here - go to view by country at the top of the page and choose Sri Lanka.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 19th, 2014, 11:07 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 13
So one point in my suggested itinerary doesn't make sense so you redirect me to a guidebook? Very helpful.

Rough Guide to Sri Lanka tells me that Nuwara Eliya is 2hr30 from Kandy by bus, which to me seems quite reasonable for a day trip. This is why I have asked advice on a forum.

With my limited time frame, I assumed I would not have enough time for a few days in the cultural triangle and also see elephants, tea plantations, temple of the tooth, etc.

Does anyone have any other thoughts? It seems that a lot of people hire a driver, is this completely necessary?

Any thoughts on Colombo?
CarlyQ is offline  
Oct 19th, 2014, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,021
Carly, I gave you one example of what doesn't work. It seemed mean to pull apart your whole itinerary. And referring you to guidebooks, web sites of local agents and trip reports was also meant to be helpful.

A car and driver is the most efficient way to see Sri Lanka. That said, some people do opt to take a scenic train ride - not to get from place to place, but just for the experience. A car and driver isn't expensive, maybe $50 a day. Certainly you can use mostly public transport, but it takes more time than I think you have.

I found Kandy disappointing.

Colombo I would skip. Stay the night at Negombo if you want a place close to the airport.

Give us a better idea of your priorities, that would help us give you better info. What are the two or three most important things for you to do/see/experience?
Kathie is offline  
Oct 19th, 2014, 12:49 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,666
With just 9 our best bet would be to head straight for the cultural triangle - Sirigiya, Dambulla etc. And use that as a base for 3-4 days. Maybe then spend a night or two in Kandy - the temple of the tooth ceremony is amazing, before heading for the Coast for a few days, or forget the beach and head to the tea country.

Columbo is my least favourite capital in Asia, personally I would avoid it in favour of returning to spend a night in Negombo which is close to the airport.

We spent a month in SL a few years ago. Two weeks was with a car and driver, two weeks on our own. With just nine days, to fit anything worthwhile in you really need to hire a car and driver. boutiques Sril Lanka and Reddot are two of the better known operators ( although we had a not terribly good experience with Reddot!)

I researched the DIY option versu s using the above operators and the cost worked out the same for a car, driver and accomodation. Accomodation can be hard to find. It would be worth your while to contact a couple of operators to come up with quotes for a nine day trip

It is possible to get from place to place by bus but they are not in great condition and not especially comfortable. It also take much longer that one would think to get from place to place by taxi, let alone by bus.

I highly recommend a train ride if you can fit it in. With a car and driver it is dead easy, they will drop you off at one station and pick you up the other end.

Having said that, there is no getting away from the fact that with just 9 days it will be rushed.
crellston is offline  
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