Sri Lanka 9 Day Itinerary (May – September)

This itinerary is focusing on first-time travelers to Sri Lanka to make the most of a 9-day visit. Due to the different monsoon seasons, suitable beaches differ depending on the month you travel. This is for travelers who plan to visit between May and September. During this period western and southern beaches are not safe because of rough seas and heavy rains due to Monsoon. So the best option for beaches is the east coast. If you plan to visit Sri Lanka between October and April please look here.

This itinerary starts from visiting Sigiriya and then an elephant safari in Habarana. Then continuing to Pasikuda, visiting the ancient city of Polonnaruwa on the way. After enjoying the beach in Pasikuda, stay a day in Kandy before leaving for Negombo.

This itinerary starts from visiting Sigiriya and then continues to Kandy after an elephant safari in Habarana. Then train from Kandy to Ella. After spending some time enjoying the mountain scenery trip continues to Arugam Bay before traveling back to Negombo to end the journey. Scroll down to see travel tips and information about public transport.

Day 1
Negombo Beach, Sri LankaArrive at Colombo International Airport, Katunayake.
Drive from Katunayake to Negombo (13 Km, 30 min).
Visit Negombo Beach if time permits.
Stay in Negombo
If you use public transport book a hotel in Colombo. Negombo is the best for those who use private transport.
Take an airport taxi from Airport to your hotel in Colombo.
Taxi from Airport to Colombo cost about LKR 2500 (1 hour).
Walk outside the terminal to find the bus to Colombo Fort. (Route No. 187. AC bus cost less than LKR 200)
If you arrive at night it is recommended to take an airport taxi to the hotel instead of public transport because can be difficult to get from Colombo Fort to the hotel.
There is no dedicated railway station in Airport. So the train is not recommended.
Day 2
SigiriyaDrive from Negombo to Sigiriya (150km, 4h).
Visit Sigiriya, the most popular world heritage site in Sri Lanka. Arguably the 8th wonder of the world.
Drive from Sigiriya to Habarana (17km, 30 min).
Elephant Safari in Habarana. (Evening safari could start from 3pm). Costs about LKR 5000 for a 3 hour safari. But please be aware that there is no standard rate and most of the times it is up to the bargaining power of the customer. Safari will take you to either Hurulu Eco Park, Minneriya National Park or Kaudulla National Park, depending on where the herds are. Stay in Habarana
Arrive at Colombo Private Bus Terminal as early as possible in the morning. Buses run approximately every 1 hour. Take a bus going to Trincomalee or Kaduruwela (Polonnaruwa). You need to get off at Inamaluwa Junction and then take a tuk-tuk to Sigiriya. Tell the bus conductor that you are going to Sigiriya and ask him to remind you to get off. (They are happy to help). The bus will take about 5 hours. (Non AC about LKR 200) From Inamaluwa Junction to Sigiriya it will cost about LKR 500 for a tuk-tuk. The train is not recommended for this journey.
It will take about 1 hour to reach the top of Sigiriya which is about 200m above sea level. The iron steps are steep in some places but the magnificent scenery from the top is well worth the effort.
There are a lot of safari jeeps available for hire near Sigiriya. You can arrange the same jeep to drop you at your hotel.
Day 3
Front view of Temple of the Tooth, KandyVisit Dambulla Cave Temple a world heritage site.
Drive from Dambulla to Kandy (70km, 2h).
Visit Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a world heritage site.
Stay in Kandy
Take a tuk-tuk (hotel can help to arrange a one) from the hotel to Dambulla cave temple.
From Dambulla take a bus to Kandy. (3 hours, Cost about LKR 100).
You can use tuk-tuks to travel around Kandy.
Day 4
Tea plantation HaputaleTake the train from Kandy to Ella to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery (Highly recommended, 7h) or drive (140km, 4h).
If you drive to Ella visit famous Dunhinda Falls on the way. Stay in Ella
Take a train from Kandy to Ella. There are two trains, at 08:47 and 11:10 respectively. Click here for more details.
Day 5
Day 5
Lipton's seatVisit Dambethenna Tea Estate and Lipton Seat. (30km, 1h 30m)
Stay in Ella
Hire a taxi to travel to Dambethenna Tea Estate and Lipton Seat. Take the help from the hotel to arrange one.
Day 6
Diyaluma Falls (Koslanda, Sri Lanka)Drive from Ella to Arugam Bay (135km, 3h).
Ravana Ella is beside the road on the way from Ella to Wellawaya.
Diyaluma Falls is a 15km detour from Wellawaya. It is the 2nd tallest and arguably the most beautiful waterfall in Sri Lanka.
Stay in Arugam bay
Take an Ampara or Monaragala bus from Ella and get off at Monaragala. (3h, Cost less than LKR 200)
Take a bus to Pottuvil from Monaragala. (2h, Cost less than LKR 200)
Take a tuk-tuk to your hotel. (Pottuvil is the closest town to Arugam Bay. Most hotels are less than few kilometers from Potuvil town).
Day 7
Arugam bay beachEnjoy the beach.
Most popular beach for surfing in Sri Lanka. Best time for Surfing is from May to November.
Eastern beaches such as Pasikuda, Nilaveli, Uppuveli and Marble Beach in Trincomalee are also suitable during these months.
Stay in Arugam Bay
Day 8
Galle ExpresswayDrive from Arugam Bay to Negombo (350km, 8h).
Stay in Negombo
Arugam Bay to Colombo by bus can take about 12 hours. This journey can be very exhausting. The bus only stops at certain places for eating, so it will be difficult to find good foods and toilets. Because of these reasons taking a taxi to Colombo / Negombo will be the best option for most tourists. The cost will be about LKR 20000 for the 340km (10h) journey.
If you are fine with the long bus ride, take a bus from Potuvil to Monaragala (2h, Cost less than LKR 200) and then from Monaragala to Colombo (8h, Cost less than LKR 1000 for AC bus.)
Taking a bus or taxi to Ella (Around 6h by bus, 4h by taxi) and then the train to Colombo is also an option. There are 4 trains leaving from Ella to Colombo Fort at 06:40, 09:24, 10:57 and night mail at 18:55. The train takes about 9 - 10 hours. Click here for more details.
To get to Negombo, take a bus from Colombo Central Bus Terminal. (AC less than LKR200, 1h).
Day 9
Srilankan Airlines, Airbus A330-300 4R-ALM NRT (25270830011)Leave for the next destination from Colombo International Airport, Katunayake.
Take a taxi from your hotel to Airpot. (Cost about LKR 1500).

Travel Tips

Public Trasport Information.

  • Cost is very low compared to private transport.
  • Public buses will charge extra for big luggage.
  • On some routes no AC or Semi Luxury Buses are available.
  • Seat reservation is not possible on almost all bus services. Normal buses can get very crowded.
  • Those who travel with children are recommended to use private transport.
  • The approximate costs given are for normal buses if not stated otherwise. (Non AC)
  • Tuk-tuk is the best option to travel short distances within the city. But be cautious when using especially at night.