Reach Polonnaruwa by Road: Polonnaruwa is 216 kilometers from Colombo via the lovely rock-cut caves of Dambulla. Habarana is 45 kilometers from Polonnaruwa and is convenient halfway place for travellers to stay. Most common way to reach Polonnaruwa is to come to Habarana and then turning off along A11 Road [Maradankadawala-Tikkandimadu] and to proceed about 45 km to come to Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa town is not a big place and it is more suitable for tourists to stay in Kaduruwela which is big town few kilometers away from Polonnaruwa.
Polonnaruwa’s main bus station is located about 3 km east of the old town on Batticaloa Rd at Kaduruwela. Buses to and from the west pass through the old-town centre, but to make sure of a seat from Polonnaruwa, it’s best for tourists to start off at Kaduruwela.
Central Transport Board (CTB) buses (AC/Non AC) run regularly to Kandy until 4pm via Dambulla and Habarana (fare about Rs.150/-and 78/-resp.). CTB buses for Anuradhapura (Non AC, fare-about Rs 60/-) leave regularly from 5.15am to 4.15pm; AC buses aren’t available on this route for travellers. Alternatively, bus can also be picked up from Habarna, but seats are rare. There are regular CTB buses (AC /non AC) to Colombo every 30 minutes until 7.15pm (fare about Rs.230/-& 170/-resp.).
Tourists can also hire Taxi or car from Colombo. Sungawilla junction to Palliyagodalla road is a gravel one and bit bumpy. It’ll be not safe for cars to travel after heavy rains. It’s ok to travel in the night through Minneriya and Habarana despite presence of elephants. Only problem occurs if they cover entire road. In such case follow a bigger vehicle like a bus or lorry because elephants tend to clear out after seeing big vehicles.
Best Time to Visit Polonnaruwa: The best time to visit is from October to April.
Reach Polonnaruwa by Train: Polonnaruwa is on the Colombo–Batticaloa railway line, and is about 30 km southeast of Gal Oya, where the line splits from the Colombo–Trincomalee line. The train station is located at Kaduruwela, near the bus station.
Trains to Colombo (six to seven hours) depart at 8.13am, 8.40pm and 11.27pm. Tickets cost about Rs 335 (2nd-class sleeper), Rs 560 (1st class). For Trincomalee, there is a direct train at 3.15pm or travellers can catch the 8.13am Colombo train and change at Gal Oya for a 12.30pm Trincomalee-bound train.
Travellers can also take buses that run frequently (Fare about Rs 8) between the Old Town and Kaduruwela. A three-wheeler will cost Rs 100-200 for same. Bicycles are the ideal transport for tourists to tour around Polonnaruwa’s monuments, which can be hired for about Rs 200-400 a day (with gears) from the town’s main street. Some guesthouses also let tourists hire bicycles (usually gearless) with similar charges. A car (with driver) or three-wheeler can be hired for three hours trip for about Rs.500 that is long enough to have a quick look around the ruins. Travellers are recommended to use the morning and late afternoons time to visit attractions in Polonnaruwa, as afternoon Sun can be very harsh.
Shopping in Polonnaruwa - Polonnaruwa is a small town and tourists won’t find here anything special to buy except wooden items. To take a rough idea about cost, there is a ‘fixed prices’ shop located on the Habarana road in Polonnaruwa-Wood Carving Shop, who sells a wide variety of wood products of various sizes from any type of wood in the island, form teak to ebony. Accordingly you can negotiate elsewhere.