I hope you are planning to visit Polonnaruwa next weekend. If your budget is a bit tight, you might be thinking of a way to overcome the situation. Don't worry. I too faced the same difficulties, but managed to balance everything successfully. Read this, and decide for yourself:
1.Do not hire vehicles. You can rely on public transportation. There is a good traffic of private and SLTB buses to the ancient city now. Catch one of them. If you start off from Colombo, Kandy, or a main city as such, you would certainly get a seat until you get to Polonnaruwa. That's comfortable enough.
When you reach Polonnaruwa, get down at the Bandaranaike Circus (Pola Junction). This is where you get tourist accommodations. Here you can choose from a cheaper ‘Pilgrims Rest’ to a hotel room which is more expensive, according to your budget.
The road deviates to two directions from Pola Junction; one towards Polonnaruwa New Town, and the other (road to Batticaloa) runs towards Kaduruwela where the hospital, Railway Station and the Main Bus Stand is situated.
3.Visiting the historical sites too can be enjoyable, time-saving, and money-saving, if you manage the task carefully. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa spreads over 16 to 20 square kilometers, and that makes it impossible to walk and see everything there. The high temperature in Polonnaruwa would dehydrate you easily. If you are traveling alone, the best option is to hire a bicycle and ride all over the ancient city at your own pace. If you have a small family (you, your spouse and a small child) best thing is to hire a motorcycle (Scooty-Peps are there for hire at the entrance to the historical site).
I always prefer a motorcycle to a Three-wheeler because, a Three-wheeler would charge the same or more than the amount charged for a motorcycle; but on the motorcycle you are the rider and that gives you freedom of traveling and choosing where you need to stop and spend time. They would charge about 1500 for a Scooty-Pep from a local tourist. This amount can be a little more from a foreigner. Remember to take a bottle of water one-and-half litre size, especially when you choose to ride a bicycle. Enjoy a few drinks of freshly made orange-juice from the village ‘Cool Spots’ along the roads within the ancient city. Orange juice helps keep you re-hydrated.