Travel Guide to Ratnapura

The complete tour guide to Ratnapura, find information about the city's famous attractions, a list of things to do and much more. Book hotels at the best price and reserve your table at the top restaurants.

Ratnapura Overview

Images of Ratnapura

About Ratnapura

Snuggly settled in the sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka is a quiet little town called Ratnapura which is also popularly known as the City of Gems. Its mountainous terrains, lined with beautiful forests hides within it not only precious gems but also food treasures such as palm candy. According to stories told the name Ratnapura is directly derived from the Sanskrit language. It’s believed that over 2000 years ago when the Buddhists monks came from India to spread Buddhism most of their teachings were done in Sanskrit and Pali. These languages influenced the local tongue of Sri Lanka. Hence in the Sinhalese and Sanskrit languages "ratna" means gems and "pura" means city.

The town is considered as the centre of a long-established industry of precious stone mining activities including rubies, sapphires, and other gems. The city is also known for its rice and fruit cultivations, especially tea. You’ll find surrounding the city, huge plantations of tea and rubber. The tea grown in this part of the country is known as low-country tea and has a unique taste that is quite different from the hill-country tea. The town population has a mixture of Buddhist, Hindus,Christians and Muslims and most of them are gem merchants.


Getting into Ratnapura

The easiest way to get to Ratnapura is either by bus or a private vehicle. The drive to Ratnpura will take you around an hour and a half. There are also several busses that leave the Colombo Pettah Bus stand (close to the Colombo Fort Railway station) every day. If you are going to Ratnapura directly from the airport then it's easier to hire a taxi from the airport itself. Check more information on rates.


Getting around Ratnapura

Most travellers state that the best way to see Ratnapura is by bicycle however you can travel by tuk tuk aka three wheelers. Note that it's a rule of thumb to fix the price before getting into a tuk tuk to avoid paying more than required unless of course the tuk has a meter. It will also help if you can ask locals how much it’s to get to your destination just to be sure you are paying the right amount. Having said that you can also travel by bus which is the most affordable way and you can ask locals to help you. The bus conductors will also be able to help you in any way that they can. Make sure you have small change in the form of coins and notes when going by bus instead of large notes. For example Rs.50, 20, 10 and a few coins.


Where to go and things to do in Ratnapura

Although Ratnapura town is small there are a handful of interesting places to see and experience. There are humble yet refreshing waterfalls such as the Katugas Ella and Kirinda Ella. For a change of scenery you can also visit the Uda Walawa National Park and Sinharaja Forest. Scroll above and click on our 'What to see' section to discover and explore more of Ratnapura.