Polonnaruwa is a city in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka and is around 216 km from Colombo.
The second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I in the 11th century AD and maintained its status until the 13th century. In 1982 the ancient city of Polonnaruwa was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
What’s nice about Polonnaruwa is that the ruins are in one compact area so you can visit them quite easily. Just one three wheeler ride from where you’re staying to the entrance and you can walk about them all day long.
Car is the easiest and however most expensive to get to Polonnaruwa from Colombo. Most cab services will charge you around LKR30 per km (approx LKR 14,000 / USD $100 roundtrip). The advantage is that you will sit in air conditioned vehicle all the way to Polonnaruwa and the road is quite nice with plenty of greenery along the way. Trip is five to six hours inclusive of stops for food, drink and fruit.
Bus is always the cheapest option. Buses leave from Colombo Fort and its recommended to take the intercity to Polonnaruwa. With some luck you should arrive in Polonnaruwa in six to eight hours. The December 2015 Price is LKR 250 from Colombo to Polonnaruwa.
Moon Stone at the entrance of the Sacred Quadrant
Entrance fee for Foreigner is 3900 LKR (or 30 USD). Ticket is available at the Museum. Make sure to purchase ticket before heading towards the ruins, else you need to go back to the museum as tickets are not available at the entrance. The main reason for recommending Polonnaruwa despite the extortionate entry fee is that the ruins are generally more complete (but then they’re not as old as those at Anuradhapura).
If you are reasonably fit and can tolerate the heat and humidity, then I would recommend using a bike to see the remains of Polonnaruwa. I would also recommend carrying a spare pair of socks to protect your feet from the scorching ground. Please be careful when leaving your sandals / shoes when visiting sacred areas as unfortunately I has my sandals stolen on one trip.
I visited Polonnaruwa in December 2015.