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“Guidebook/Map Available, Photos Prohibited in Visitor Center Exhibits, Tour by Car During Hot Weather, Take Socks”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa
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$59.00*
and up
Private Half Day Tour: Polonnaruwa Gal Vihara and Ruins City
Ranked #2 of 38 things to do in Polonnaruwa
Certificate of Excellence
Jomtien Beach, Thailand
Level Contributor
24 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Guidebook/Map Available, Photos Prohibited in Visitor Center Exhibits, Tour by Car During Hot Weather, Take Socks”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 14, 2013

Guidebook/Map Available, Photos Prohibited in Visitor Center Exhibits, Tour by Car During Hot Weather, Take socks

Polonnaruwa is a huge archeological site rich in cultural history of Sri Lanka dating from 900 years ago. I toured the grounds with my driver in early May and spent about four hours at the many, many different sites starting from the Visitor’s Center (then to the Palace ruins, Sacred Quadrangle, Golden Pinnacle Stupa, etc., all listed in the guidebook – see attached photo).

Having toured the grounds during the hot season, I could not imagine taking a bicycle or walking around the grounds with the pervasive heat. Having a car and driver allowed me to spend more time studying the sites, taking photos and less time travelling from one point to the other. Distances between major sites seemed large. From the southernmost point (the king’s statue) to the northernmost point (the Tivanka image house) is about four kilometers. While touring the grounds, I reminded myself that Polonnaruwa was once a thriving capital city and can only imagine it’s former grandeur. The visitor’s center/museum was extremely informative with the hypothetical architectural models of the palace, temples and audience hall, now only extant as ruins. I would recommend tourists to not miss studying these models before seeing the ruins (see attached photo).

Other tips:
--Take socks. When entering some of the temples (e.g. Vatage), visitors are expected to take off their shoes observing respect to the hallowed grounds. During hot weather, the stone tiles are like surface of a grill. Wearing sock could definitely mitigate the discomfort.
--Purchase the guidebook published by the Central Cultural Fund. The pictures suggest that the book was written probably two decades ago, but the information (and map of each important site) is still highly relevant. I purchased a copy at the small bookshop at the back of the visitor’s center/museum, near the toilets. I’ve also seen the guidebook for sale at the Sigiriya museum bookshop.
--Photography is prohibited at the exhibits in the visitor’s center.
--Watch out for packs of simians at the palace ruins. Some can be quite aggressive. One tried to snatch my camera from my hands.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank cjkfung
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Peterborough, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
94 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Impressive. You need a day to see it all.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 12, 2013

The ruins are spread over a vast area so I only did the main ruins. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1982 and I can see why as the site is full of stupas, temples, Buddha statues and historic ruins.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank Chris W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
75 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“A nice historical place”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 8, 2013

A place to visit to see these nice ruins, you need to spend couple of hours up to half day in that area at least.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank Anis H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Switzerland
Level Contributor
129 reviews
107 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Extensive area - to explore by bike or car”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 24, 2013

Former king's city, lots of huge dagobas (stupas), temples, palaces, ruins....and of course the highlight: the (roof-covered) rock-buddahs. If you leave the tourist-beaten tracks within the area, you may encounter small charming places and ruins. Enjoy the silence in the shadow of a tree, observe local small wildlife.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank Adrian B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
69 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“A map and some info, perhaps?”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 24, 2013

Paid 3150 rupees which gets you entry to:-

1. A museum
2. The archaeological site
3. Gal Viyora ( 3 buddha's located at end of archaeological site)

The museum was informative and had a little shop at the end. I was then left confused as to where the archaeological site was. As the reviews told me that you can get around the ruins by tuktuk, walking or bike it sounded like the ruins were just sprinkled around town. Asked shop staff how to get to ruins and was told they could sell me a map or a guidebook. Complained that for 3150 rupees the museum was rather expensive on it's own, so staff member told me the site was left out of the exit from the museum. Turned left and started looking for a bike. Couldn't find one. Kept walking and getting hassled by tuktuk drivers. It was extremely hot, so after about 1/4 mile gave up on bike idea and got Mr tuktuk for 1200 rupees who took me around stopping at each ruin. The site is enclosed, by the way, which explains why you have to pay, but they let Mr tuktuk or any Sri Lankan as far as I could tell in for free. Once inside, saw lots of ruins, most of which weren't well preserved but some were good. There's just wooden signs indicating what you are meant to be seeing so unless you bought a guidebook, hired a guide, can surf the web whilst you're going around or have a photographic memory, it's not a particularly meaningful experience. With them, it becomes overpriced for what it is £25 which is a lot of money. In London, museums are free and another old ruin which is considered a ripoff in the Uk is Stonehenge and that's just £8. Tower of London is £21.45 but you can get 2 for 1 tickets for that attraction.
Entry fee 3150 rupees plus tuktuk 1200 rupees plus guide 500 rupees is 4850 rupees,

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank macehill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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