Leave your Colombo hotel early for the approximately 2-hour drive by private vehicle to Dambadeniya. If you wish, bring a packed breakfast for your journey.
On arrival, enter Dambadeniya (own expense) to explore what was the epicenter of a 13th-century kingdom ruled by Parakramabahu II. View the ruined palace and Temple of the Buddha Tooth, hearing how Parakramabahu presided over a flowering of poetry with his Kavisilumina and Visuddi Marga Sannasa masterpieces.
Next, make the 1.5-hour journey to Yapahuwa: a crumbled rock fortress of staircases and carvings that was the capital after Dambadeniya. Head inside (own expense) and climb to the remnants to admire the main staircase with its stone lions and the hilltop Buddha stupa, famous for its with statues and Kandyan-era imagery.
After lunch (own expense) at a local restaurant of your choice, continue for approximately 90 minutes to Panduwasnuwara, the island’s capital during the 5th century BC and inhabited again from around the 12th century.
Enter the site (own expense) to explore the museum and sprawling ruins, seeing the excavated treasures, palace, restored 2-story temple that housed Buddha’s tooth, and Panda Wewa irrigation reservoir — thought to be the world’s first.
Your tour finishes with a hotel drop-off in Colombo.