where to go
Where to Go
what to Do
What To Do
- where to stay & dine
how to travel
How To Travel
There are many ways to get around Sri Lanka, whether it’s by taxi, plane, rail, bus or car. Sri Lanka has a better transport system operated by public and private sectors and payment method is most often cash.
Sri Lanka has two international airports, 13 domestic airports and about 20 waterdromes (open water aerodrome facilities for seaplanes) across the island. The Bandaranaike International Airport located at Katunayake 32 km north of Colombo is the main international airport of Sri Lanka and the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport located 264 km southeast of Colombo serves as the second international airport. Located 16 km south of Colombo City, the Ratmalana Airport serves as Sri Lanka's main domestic airport.
There are a number of airlines currently operating domestic flights within Sri Lanka offering scheduled flights, scenery flights as well as charter flights. In Sri Lanka are about 13 domestic airports covering the whole island, most of which operate from the Ratmalana airport. A number of seaplanes are also operated from Colombo to many cities across the island.
Sri Lanka's rail network is operated by Sri Lanka Railways, linking Colombo with almost all the popular tourist destinations and the other populous cities across the island.
A number of train services are available: Inter-City Trains with unreserved 3rd Class, reserved 2nd Class and Observation Saloon seats, offer express service between main cities such as Colombo-Kandy, Colombo-Batticaloa; Fast Passenger Trains with unreserved 2nd and 3rd Class seats, reserved 2nd and 3rd Class seats, reserved 1st Class Observation Saloon, and reserved 1st Class Sleeping Berths, offer semi-express service between Colombo and other major outstations. Reserved 1st Class Airconditioned service is offered only on some routes. A Deluxe Coach with TV, Wi-Fi, catering etc. is available for groups of 20 - 35.
Sri Lanka has a well-connected national network of roads consisting over 12,000 kms, out of which about 4200 kms of “A” class roads and about 7800 kms of “B” class roads. Almost all the roads are metalled or asphalted and they cover all the cities and places of tourist interest. Therefore, any part of the island can be reached within a few hours. Driving in Sri Lanka is on the left.
Two expressways have newly been constructed in the island; one from Colombo to the Bandaranaike International Airport, another from Colombo to Matara known as Southern Expressway. In addition, an expressway known as Outer Circular Highway that runs 20 km away from the Colombo city centre is being built linking the above two expressways.
With 10 interchanges, the Southern Expressway runs from Kottawa to Matara (126 km) while the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (25.8 km) with 3 interchanges runs from Peliyagoda to the Bandaranaike International Airport. The Outer Circular Highway (29.2 km) will link the Southern Expressway at Kottawa with the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway at Kerawalapitiya. All these user-fee levying expressways with a designed speed of 100kmph contain four lanes and have been constructed according to the international standards to ensure the safety of all road users and emphasis has been given to increase the mental and physical comfort of passengers and drivers.
A variety of bus services are readily available in Sri Lanka: normal, intercity, semi-luxury and luxury buses in which you can travel to any part of Sri Lanka.
Luxury buses operate from the Central Bus Stand in Colombo to selected destinations such as Galle, Kandy, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Jaffna and Trincomalee. The Expressway buses to Galle and Matara start from Maharagama as well as from Kaduwela and it is from the Colombo Central Bus Station where the expressway buses to Katunayake start.
These buses are air-conditioned with comfortable seats and provide entertainment to the passengers. They could also accommodate a fair amount of luggage.
Air-conditioned intercity buses travel from one city to another with limited stopovers to make the journey fast and comfortable to the passenger. In these buses only a limited space is available for luggage.
Operated by both public and private sector, normal buses that are non A/C with fewer facilities stopping over at every halt to pick and drop passengers, have an island-wide coverage. Most of the Sri Lankan people use these buses for daily travelling from one city to another. They are operated from morning to late night.
Your travel agent/tour operator would provide chauffeur-driven or self-driven cars/vans or else coaches according to your preference.
The rates for A/C coaches depend on the capacity, make and condition of the coach. Mini- coaches have a 26-seat capacity and larger coaches have a 40-seat capacity. Non A/C coaches are cheaper.
Radio-controlled taxi services (Call-up cabs) that are safe and provide value for money are available in Colombo and the suburbs. The prices are metered. There is no call-up charge. These cabs could be hired for long distance travels too.
Most suited for short distance journeys, these taxis are readily available anywhere in the island and a tuk tuk can accommodate only three persons. Most of them are metered. If not metered, it is recommended that a fare be negotiated before starting the journey.
Self-drive A/C cars could be hired at rates ranging from Rs 2,500/- to Rs 5,000/- per day depending on the make of the car and the number of days required. A refundable deposit ranges from Rs 20,000/- to Rs 35,000/-. Some rent-a-car companies do not charge a deposit.