Just come across this interesting site when I am planning my next trip to Sri Lanka:
It worths a visit whether you want an escape of city life or not.
It may be interesting to share with you my tentative itinerary here. Suggestions are welcome:
Day 1 Fly from Hong Kong
Day 2 Arrive at midnight. Stay at Negombo
* Negombo – a famous little fishery town close to the airport; sad to miss the seashore scenery; just passes by to prepare for the morning trip.
Day 2 Visit Dambulla, Sigiriya. Stay near Dambulla (Kandalama Hotel, expensive?)
* Dambulla – where you can find a really exotic cave temple to visit.
* Sigiriya – also known as “the Mount of Remembrance (天空之城)”; it is believed to be a palace for King Kassapa I built on top of a flat rock (200m height) in the 5th century; interesting to know that some identified it as the Mount Potala referenced by Xuanzang (玄奘).
* Kandalama Hotel is a newly built around the rock, facing a lake; supposed to be an expensive one; see it for yourself.
Day 3 Visit Avukana, Anuradhapura. Stay near Anuradhapura
* Avukana Buddha statue – possibly the tallest rock Buddha statue ever been carved.
* Anuradhapura – a city founded in the 5th century BCE and a heritage of Buddhist temples; ancient capital of Sri Lanka; famous for having the Bodhi tree, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, from India transplanted here some 2,000 years ago (in 3rd century BCE); also a site of great ancient water-work that has ever taken place on earth.
Day 4 Visit Mihintale, Polonnaruva. Stay near Polonnaruva
* Mihintale – historical site where a son of King Asoka, prince Mahinda headed a mission to transmit Buddha’s teachings in the South.
* Polonnaruva – succeeded Anuradhapura as capital in the 10th century; another heritage of Buddhist temples; a great outdoor reclining Buddha statue is housed at the Gal Vihara.
Day 5 Visit Kandy, and the botanical garden. Either stay near Kandy or go to Sri Pada in the evening
* Kandy – where we can find the Temple of the Tooth.
* In the botanical garden, it is said that we can find over 4,000 species of plants.
Day 6 Visit Sri Pada, Nurawa Eliya. Stay at Grand Hotel
* Sri Pada – better known as Adam’s Peak to foreigners; it is believed that during the third visit of Lord Buddha, he first set his foot at the top of this mountain and thereby had his footprint imprinted on the rock surface; it must be forewarned that this will not be an easy journey; scene at sunrise is marvelous.
* Nurawa Eliya – also known as little England; you’ll wonder you’ll need a sweater in this tropical island; good natural scenery; Grand Hotel is gorgeous
Day 7 Visit tea factory, Colombo. Stay at Galle Face Hotel
* Tea factory – hey, here is where the Ceylon tea (西冷紅茶) is made.
* Galle Face Hotel is said to be the first Western hotel in Asia; you’ll never want to miss the sunset, watching the sun goes down below the sea-level
Day 8 Walk in the city or other suggestion
* A visit to Kelaniya Temple, where Lord Buddha gave his teachings during his third visit, is suggested; this temple is also the school where Faxian (法顯) has spent some of his time; nevertheless, it may also be a good time for shopping or enjoying the city life in a different country.
* It is also suggested to visit one of the NGO (for children education) to build up a future collaboration link.
Day 9 Go to airport
* end of the trip.
P. S.: A reference to all sites to visit can be found here. But do mind about the differences between legends and history.