Taxi from Hikkaduwa to Colombo
At the end of our stay in Hikkaduwa in March 2014, we needed to travel north to a hotel in Colombo's Bambalapitiya district.
We ruled out public transport on the basis that the trains were too infrequent (and very slow) and the thought of taking our luggage on an overcrowded (and also slow) bus wasn't very appealing.
It would have to be a taxi.
We had travelled to Hikkaduwa by taxi from Colombo airport, so we had a rough idea of what price to expect. The journey from the airport to Hikkaduwa had cost us 8,500 Rs (+ 650 Rs in road tolls) and had taken us 2 hours and 15 minutes in the very early hours of the morning.
The journey to the centre of Colombo would be a shorter one than the journey from the airport (which is located some way north of the city), so we expected to pay less than the 8,500 Rs (£42) that we had paid for that journey. We knew that the journey wouldn't necessarily be quicker; we would be travelling north at around 9:00am, when the traffic would be heavier than it was at 4:00am when we travelled south and we would also have to negotiate the heavy traffic in the centre of Colombo itself.
We visited several travel agents and tour operators on Galle Road as we weighed up our options. Most places quoted us a fare of between 8,000 and 8,500 Rs, some even more. Some places suggested that the journey might be done in as little as 1 hour and 30 minutes, while others indicated that we would be lucky to get there in under 3 hours. Some places suggested that we should travel on the Expressway (and pay the small tolls), while other places suggested that we'd be better off avoiding the toll road altogether. It was all very confusing.
Eventually, we found a place called Paradise Tours on Galle Road (about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, Appolo Hotel) who quoted us 7,000 Rs (£35) for the journey. They recommended taking the Southern Expressway (and we would pay the requisite toll on top of the agreed fare). We paid a deposit of 1,000 Rs and arranged for the driver to pick us up at our hotel at 9:00am on Friday.
The driver turned up at our hotel a little earlier than arranged and we were still having breakfast. He told us to take our time, it didn't matter if we didn't depart bang on 9:00am. We eventually left at around 9:10am.
The taxi was a spacious, albeit rather dated, Toyota Townace GL. The air-conditioning system gave out a pathetic and rather tepid stream of air. We were soon to learn that the vehicle had a tendency to overheat.
We gave the driver the name and address of our destination (Casa Colombo Hotel) and he asked for a contact number. He called ahead to get precise directions from the hotel.
We headed north and entered the Southern Expressway at Kurundugahetekma Interchange. The vehicle wasn't running particularly smoothly and we found ourselves struggling along at 60km/h in a 100km/h speed zone despite the lack of traffic on the expressway. It became apparent that the driver wasn't happy with the way his vehicle was running. He pulled off the expressway and into a service station. We waited for 10 minutes or so as he looked at the engine and put some water in it. He seemed happier (and started to drive a little quicker) as we got back on the expressway.
We exited the Southern Expressway at Kottawa, paid a 300 Rs (£1.50) toll and received a very detailed receipt from the toll booth. It told us that we had entered the expressway at Kurundugahetekma, had spent 1 hour and 7 minutes on it (including our maintenance stop!) and had exited at Kottawa at 11:00am.
From there it took us around 45 minutes to complete our journey into Colombo. We crawled through traffic in Kottawa, Maharagama and Nugegoda (in an increasingly hot taxi!), eventually arriving at our destination around 2 hours and 30 minutes after we had set off from Hikkaduwa.
Buses between Hikkaduwa and Galle
During our visit to Sri Lanka in March 2014, we stayed in the beach resort of Hikkaduwa on the island's south-west coast, about 2 hours south of Colombo. Whilst there, we were keen to visit the nearby town of Galle, famous for its fort walls and international cricket ground, located about 20km away.
We could have hired a tuk tuk to take us there (there was no shortage of willing drivers on Galle Road!), but decided instead to take a ride on the local bus – not only would it be cheaper, but it would also be an interesting experience.
The following details are meant to provide an overview of our journey to and from Galle by bus and are not intended to be a definitive guide to the regions buses.
Hikkaduwa to Galle
We caught a bus on Galle Road, the main road running through Hikkaduwa, at around 3:15pm on a Monday afternoon.
We didn't worry about timetables as buses were seemingly passing by every 5 minutes or so during the day. There are bus stops at regular intervals along Galle Road.
The bus that we caught was a number 388/1 which travelled between the towns of Ambalangoda and Galle, via Hikkaduwa and several other villages. We discovered that we could also have caught the number 388/3 bus, which just travels between Hikkaduwa and Galle. There may well be other buses plying this route too.
The bus that we boarded was relatively quiet and we had no problem getting a seat. We had seen overfilled buses passing by at busier times of the day, but in the mid-afternoon it was fine. The bus was a fairly dated Lanka Ashok Leyland bus, but it looked to be in decent enough condition, but for a few worn and torn seats.
After we had taken our seats, a conductor came around the bus collecting fares. We paid 30 Rs / £0.15 each for our tickets to Galle.
The journey from Hikkaduwa to Galle took around 30 minutes and was an exciting mix of gorgeous coastal scenery, lively villages and lots of near-misses! Our bus (and lots of other vehicles too) seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time on the wrong side of the road, undertaking ill-advised overtaking manoeuvres and loudly sounding its horn. It was pretty frightening at times; I was certainly glad that we were in a bus and not in one of the flimsy little tuk tuks that were taking their chances weaving in and out of the buses on this busy stretch of road.
We disembarked at Galle Central bus station. From here it was just a short walk (a little over 5 minutes), across a busy road, around the side of the cricket ground and through the main gate leading into Galle Fort.
Galle to Hikkaduwa
We arrived back at Galle Central bus station at around 8:20pm after an afternoon exploring the town.
We made our way to the bay where the Hikkaduwa buses departed from (we had scoped this out upon our arrival earlier in the day) and figured that a bus would be along within a matter of minutes.
However, it soon became apparent that it wouldn't be as easy as we thought. Amid confusion, locals were attempting to tell us that we were in the wrong place and needed to go back out of the station to find a bus heading towards Hikkaduwa. The 388 numbered buses had apparently finished operating for the day. Instead, we would have to go back across the busy road that we had just crossed and wait for bus # 2 which was heading for Colombo but would stop at Hikkaduwa en-route.
We did as we were told and the bus arrived within 5 minutes. It was much busier than the bus we came on. We managed to squeeze (quite literally!) into a couple of vacant seats, although this meant an uneasy climb over an elderly gentleman who was sitting in the aisle seat. It was a very uncomfortable ride. Not only was the bus busy, but it was also loud. Very loud. Sri Lankan/Indian pop music (which was very Bollywood-esque) blared out of the bus' speakers at a cacophonous level. The interior of the bus was decorated with Buddhist icons, many of which were lit up with flashing LED fairy lights.
The conductor came around to collect our fares. It was slightly more expensive than the outbound journey; 50 Rs / £0.25 each.
The journey again took around 30 minutes and was characterised by some manic driving. At least it was dark on the way back so we couldn't see the near-misses quite so clearly!
The bus didn't stop as often on the way back. We pressed the bell when we were on a stretch of Galle Road that we recognised, but the bus carried on for several more minutes before eventually letting us off just before Hikkaduwa bus station. The 388 buses would have stopped several times along Galle Road to let passengers alight.
Taxi from Colombo Airport to Hikkaduwa
During our visit to Sri Lanka in March 2014, we landed at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport and needed to make our way to our hotel in the south-west beach resort town of Hikkaduwa, some 140km away.
We knew from our pre-trip research that we could easily hire a taxi at the airport from one of several companies. We also knew, thanks to the useful price list on the airport's website, how much we should expect to pay:
An air-conditioned taxi would cost us around 9,438 Rs (£47) and a non-air-conditioned taxi around 8,580 Rs (£42).
Armed with this information, we felt confident that we didn't need to pre-book our transfer; we would simply arrange it on arrival.
Sure enough, in the arrivals hall we found a row of desks offering taxi services and standard lists of fares for any given destination in the whole country. We were tempted just to book at the "Airport Taxi" desk, which looked to be the most official, but decided to browse the other desks first. At the "Lanka Travel Agents Association" desk, the gentleman behind the counter offered us an air-conditioned taxi at the non-air-conditioned rate. He quoted us 8,500 Rs (£42) for an air-conditioned taxi and told us that it was a better rate (and a better vehicle....according to him!) than the "Airport Taxi" desk would offer us. We went to the "Airport Taxi" desk and they couldn't match the quote that we had, so we agreed to go with LTAA.
It was clearly explained to us that if we wished to go via the Expressway (which would make the journey significantly quicker), we would have to pay the road tolls on top of the agreed fare. This was no problem at all; the two tolls that we paid were 300 Rs (£1.50) and 350 Rs (£1.75).
We had read that the journey (via the Southern Expressway) could take up to 3 hours but, as we were travelling in the early hours of the morning, we hoped that it would be a little less. So it proved to be; we left the airport at 5:15am and arrived at our hotel 2 hours and 15 minutes later at 7:30am.
After leaving the airport at 5:15am, we paid the first of two tolls (300 Rs) at about 5:30am, somewhere between the airport and the northern fringes of Colombo. After a brief stop for petrol in the suburbs of Colombo we continued our journey. Our driver spoke English very well and was happy to point out sights en route. At one point he wound down the back windows (which were tinted) to give us a better view of an impressive Parliament building sitting on an island in the middle of a lake. Only later did I realise that we had been travelling through Sri Lanka's administrative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
At around 6:05am we arrived at the Kottawa entrance to the Southern Expressway. No toll was payable at this point. Instead, we paid the second toll (350 Rs) when we exited the Expressway at around 7:00am. Looking at Google Maps, I think we must have exited the toll road at Kurundugahetekma Interchange. There was very little traffic on the Expressway, so we made quick progress on the smooth tarmac.
The final 30 minutes of our journey was along bumpy local roads, many of which were in the process of being repaired. As we hurtled along, often at break-neck speed, we somehow managed to avoid the numerous dogs in the road and, at one point, even a monkey in the road. We arrived (slightly shaken!) at our hotel around 7:30am.
By train to Hikkaduwa
You can reach Hikkaduwa from Galle by means of train and buses apart from private vehicle. Trains are very cheap in Sri Lanka though slow and poorly maintained. Nevertheless it's the best option to witness a bit of everyday life being among local passengers.
The trip from Galle to Hikkaduwa was a rather short ride. Bare though in mind that train stations can be very crowded as train is one of the most popular ways of locals to travel around as well.
Travelling to Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa Bus Station is the entrance point for most of the travellers to Hikkaduwa. There are good bus connection to Colombo, Galle & all other cities in on the way to Colombo. The Bus takes 90 to 100 Srilankan Rs. and 4 hours to reach Colombo. I would suggest you to take a Bus instead of a Train. Train was so slow and not comfortable at all.
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