Bus from the airport
The 187 bus is now running via the new motorway to the airport, taking 40 minutes (but can take to the airport in the 6 pm rush hour 1.5 hours, the 3 km before the motorway are the problem) and 110 Rupies.
If you come out of the airport go left past all the taxies and minibuses,
- Budget Travel
Train is another one of the best mode of transport in Sri Lanka. There are trains that runs in Colombo as well as to destinations around the country. The short distance run trains in and out of Colombo city limits can get very very crowded at times. There are luxury trains to few destinations out of Colombo from the Fort Railway Station. These trains are extremely comfortable and nice.
- Budget Travel
Buses in Colombo are also good to travel around Colombo and also for long distances. Long distances usage of buses can be very economical and you can find AC buses also for some destinations. Sometimes they can get very crowded and also never on time. This is a cheap way of transportation. There are two types of buses in Sri Lanka which are manned by the government and also the private sector. There are separate buses that runs on the new expressways in Sri Lanka which are luxury coaches with AC
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Tuk Tuk, the best way to travel around Colombo
Tuk Tuks, more often called as three wheelers in Colombo is a great way to travel around the city and short distances. Always ensure to take a metered tuk tuk in order to avoid any presidencies with price
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
“A wonderful trip - all due to the taxi-n-guide”
The trip to Sri Lanka was a big success due to the wonderful trips arranged by our Taxi-Driver cum Guide Mr. Saman Jayamaha. A thorough Gentlemen - A retired Banker who has started his own enterprise as he loves travelling ! He is charging reasonably and takes deep interest in his guests and takes excellent care of them. The car he uses is New and he is full of advice for the guests and takes interest in whatever the individual has interest in.
We were a bit apprehensive in the beginning about how this trip would turnout to be, but all thanks to Mr. Samman, the trip turned out to be a beautiful experience. At the end of the trip he was kind enough to take us to his house for dinner before dropping us at the airport ! He owns and stays in a beautiful villa and is part of a well mannered and highly educated family !!
Thank you Samman for making our trip a big success - we feel we have left behind a dear friend and family behind in Sri Lanka.
All you dear friends who want to contact Mr. Saman Jayamaha can do so on email@example.com or you can contact me for his phone numbers.
Visited September 2014
- Family Travel
Taxi to Bandaranaike Airport
Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport is located some distance north of the city centre.
We needed to get from our hotel, Casa Colombo in the city's Bambalapitiya district, to the airport on a Saturday evening at the end of our stay in March 2014.
According to Google Maps, the journey that we undertook is just short of 40km. We knew that this might turn out to be a lengthy journey with Colombo's notoriously heavy traffic.
Our flight was due to depart at 8:45pm, so we booked a taxi to pick us up at the hotel at 5:10pm. This would give us plenty of time.
The journey through the northern suburbs of Colombo was a slow one. We were stuck in standing traffic on more than one occasion. Thankfully, the speed picked up considerably once we got onto the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway. This modern highway (which we had to pay a small toll of 300 Rs / £1.50 to use) was almost devoid of traffic, so we made very quick progress towards the airport.
Our total journey time was 50 minutes and the metered fare was 3,900 Rs (a little under £20).
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.
reliable driver in Sri Lanka
If you need a reliable and trustworthy driver in Sri Lanka to take you around this beautiful country, I recommend Jayasena Rasika (firstname.lastname@example.org)from Kandy. We did 1500km with him and were very satisfied with his services!
Trains between Colombo and Mount Lavinia
During our visit to Colombo in March 2014 we were keen to make a visit to the beach suburb of Mount Lavinia.
We were also keen to take a ride on the local trains – the journey would surely be a memorable experience!
The staff at our hotel (Casa Colombo) recommended that we catch a train from the local station, Bambalapitiya, to Mount Lavinia. It would be a fairly short trip (around 20 minutes) and would cost next to nothing. We'd get to mix with the locals and experience the thrills of a train journey down the scenic coastal line.
Unfortunately, the timetable didn't fit in with our plans. We arrived at Bambalapitiya station at around 1:00pm and there was no train to Mount Lavinia until 2:20pm. We therefore travelled to Mount Lavinia by tuk tuk instead....but we made sure that we undertook the return journey to Colombo by train.
As soon as we arrived at Mount Lavinia station we purchased tickets for a ride to Colombo Fort station. The tickets cost a mere 15 Rs (£0.07) each.
The train would leave Mount Lavinia at 2:58pm, giving us enough time for a walk along the beach and a cool drink at the impressive Mount Lavinia Hotel.
The train departed from platform 4 at Mount Lavinia station. It was very punctual – leaving bang on time.
As we had expected, the train was extremely crowded and we found ourselves standing up for the duration of the journey. The doors of the train were wide open, some people were sitting with their legs hanging out of the train. The open doors gave us a much needed breeze on the stiflingly hot train and also allowed us to soak in the wonderful views of the coast as we made our way, fairly slowly, towards Colombo Fort.
A blind busker walked up and down the carriage singing and banging a drum. At one stop a man got on with a tray of fresh pineapple that he was trying to sell to passengers. We were attracting some curious stares from our fellow passengers. It was an exhilarating ride!
The journey from Mount Lavinia to Colombo Fort took around 25 minutes and included stops at various other stations en route, including Dehiwala, Wellawatta, Bambalapitiya and Kollupitiya.
When we disembarked at Colombo Fort it was busy and chaotic; we expected no less from Colombo's main railway hub. We battled our way through the crowds to the exit where a ticket inspector took our, hitherto unrequired, tickets from us and allowed us to exit the station.
An exciting and scenic train ride along the coast between Mount Lavinia and Colombo...and it only costs 15 Rupees per person!
Tuk tuk from Colombo to Mount Lavinia
During our short stay in Colombo in March 2014 we were keen to pay a visit to the beach suburb of Mount Lavinia.
We had intended to make this short journey by train. The staff at our hotel had indicated that there were regular trains from Bambalapitiya railway station, making the journey to Mount Lavinia in a little over 20 minutes.
We walked to Bambalapitiya station and found it largely deserted. A quick scan of the timetable showed that no train was departing for over an hour. It was around 1:00pm and the next train to Mount Lavinia was scheduled to depart at 2:20pm.
We decided to travel there by tuk tuk instead. We had no trouble finding a tuk tuk driver to take us to Mount Lavinia – there were several parked up outside the railway station.
Being careful to choose a tuk tuk that had a working meter, we jumped in and began the journey south.
Despite the heavy traffic in Colombo, the tuk tuk journey took a similar amount of time to that of the expected train journey. It took 22 minutes to travel from Bambalapitiya station to Mount Lavinia train station.
The tuk tuk fare was 542 Rs (£2.70).
Central Bus Station.
Rather confusingly, there are three main bus stations in central Colombo, all within close proximity at the edge of the Pettah (market area) just East of Fort train station. This tip deals with central Station which is the arrival and departure point for most suburban buses although the airport bus did also deposit me here.
It is situated to the Northwest of the junction of Olcott Mawatha and Saunders Place and is a typically South Asian bus station with all the attendant noise and fumes. The best thing about it is the Information Office (shown) where English is spoken and they are extremely helpful. Realistically, it would be very difficult to find the correct stand unless you have been using the place for a long time. Be aware that some buses (including the 100) actually leave from the broad outside the station proper.
- Budget Travel
Let the train take the strain.
If you are making any sort of train journey to or from Colombo, you will inevitably end up in Fort Station which is the hub of the entire system. The fabled hill line trains complete with observation cars depart here as do all the overnight sleepers. I am writing this tip during my trip to Sri Lanka and have been through here several times. I have no doubt I shall be through it many more times and so I shall amend the tip as necessary.
The station stands on Olcott Mawatha which is unsurprisingly in the Fort area of the city. Construction was begun in 1917 as part of an ongoing re-organisation of the railway system in Colombo. It replaced an earlier Fort station in a different location which dated from 1877 and replaced the now disused Terminus Station which now houses the Railway Museum (see separate tip).
It is a typically Asian main railway station with a lot of bustling activity and noise and is the kind of place I love. It has ten platforms and apparently serves 200,000 passengers a day although sometimes it feels like they are all in there at once!
The website states that there are cafeterias inside the station although I have yet to find them, or at least any that are open. It also states that there are facilities for disabled travellers but I really cannot see how a wheelchair user could negotiate this place. At time of writing (January 2014) the problems are exacerbated by construction work taking place on some of the platforms which makes it difficult enough for the able-bodied traveller. Hopefully, the images give some idea.
The ticketing system here differs from UK in that there is a different ticket window for each line and even different destinations on the one line and yet other windows for different classes of tickets. Your best bet is to always go first to the Information Office to the front of the main entrance as you look. The English speaking staff there are very helpful and will assist you as to departure times and which ticket window to go to.
The toilets are adjacent to platform one and are not as gruesome as some others I have seen in Asian stations. One thing to beware of is touts and scammers who appear to operate occasionally inside the station itself despite the large numbers of Railway Police who are always about.
If, like me, you love rail travel you will probably love this place and if not you will probably find it appalling.
- Budget Travel
This is only half a tip!
I am writing this tip whilst in Sri Lanka and so have only experienced the arrivals part of the airport. I shall complete the information whenever I sadly have to depart from this lovely country.
Unless you are arriving in Sri Lanka by cargo vessel or in the fortunate position of sailing in on your own yacht, you will have to go through Bandaranaike International Airport. The ferry service that briefly plied between the island and India has been discontinued due to lack of passengers.
Like many international airports, although it is called Colombo, it is actually some distance out of town to the North near the town of Negombo. It is the only international airport in the country and appears to serve both civil and military purposes. In the brief time I was standing outside, I saw three fighter planes flying overhead. In the interests of not duplicating effort, I shall cut and paste an edit from my blog here which is slightly more narrative than my normal tips but I hope will be of value.
"We arrived pretty well on time in Colombo and the deplaning was relatively easy. They rather cleverly funnel you through an arrivals duty free area, at least 90% of which appeared to be electrical and even white goods. Who in Heavens name buys a washing machine in the airport? Somebody must although the place looked generally fairly quiet. Still, it was early in the morning. I went to the appropriate baggage carousel and waited in the scrum, for such it was. Apparently, Sri Lankans don't have any social taboo against elbowing you in the ribs, dropping suitcases on your feet and so on. Well, I am used to that kind of thing in Asia so it doesn't bother me overly.
I waited and waited and then I waited some more. When I had finished doing that, I waited. The crowd began to thin a bit, although it did take an age for the baggage to arrive but it was not good. I got bored and went back upstairs to take a few photos of the scene and found myself engaged in conversation with a couple of young salesmen from the duty free shops who were obviously as bored as I was. I had a wander around, looking for a bar or coffee place to pass the time but there did not appear to be any (the website confirms that there are no refreshment facilities in arrivals). I watched the same few forlorn bags going round and round, evidently in totally the wrong airport and I knew instinctively what had happened. An overly-optimistic 55 minute connection in Doha had stranded my bag there.
After about 90 minutes or so, I was approached (along with the other half dozen or so bereft travellers) by a very personable young man with good English, winkle picker shoes and a totally improbable hairstyle who asked me a couple of questions and then directed me to the baggage handling desk which was run by Air Sri Lanka on behalf of all visiting airlines. A very pleasant young lady asked me some more questions, filled out a load of forms and checked her computer which singularly failed to locate the missing item. I thought these things were meant to be damn near infallible. Yes, I was totally hacked off. I was tired, feeling slightly grubby as I always do after two long flights despite a brief feshen up on the plane, and I literally had the clothes I stood up in which were getting a bit ripe. I was going to let rip at the young lady but what was the point? It's not her fault and she must have one of the worst jobs in the world listening to people like me screaming at her all day. Thankfully, I had all my important stuff in my carry-on and I knew I could buy whatever I needed locally if the worst happened." I was re-united with the baggage later that evening.
A few other things to note. There is no alcohol sold in the airport except in the transit lounge and there is no place to buy tobacco or alcohol on arrival although foreigners are allowed to do so. Should you need the information desk, exit the arrivals door and turn left, it is about 50 yards on the left with helpful staff who speak good English.
I shall finish this tip in a couple of months.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
From the airport to Colombo.
I always try to avoid airport taxis as even the official ones always seem to be a rip-off. I suppose they work on the principle that they have a more or less captive audience. As there is no train connection I had decided to take the bus. My guidebook (published late 2012) indicated that I would have to get a free shuttle bus to a nearby bus station and then a bus to Colombo. This is inevitably the problem with guidebooks, they are out of date before they even go to press. Such is the nature of travel writing. I should point out that the official website is similarly out of date and does not appear to have been amended since 2009. I found an information booth where a very helpful lady, resplendent in a sari informed me that there was now a direct bus to Colombo and pointed out the relevant spot across the road where it departed.
To find it, exit the arrivals area and turn left, walking to the end of the terminal building. Cross the road and you will see an area at the side of the road where the buses reverse in. If there is not one present, you will know the place by the people standing around. Again, a cut and paste from my blog will prevent duplication of effort.
"The bus backed into the appointed spot and then the scrum began again as it had at the baggage carousel. For people who are so incredibly polite and friendly the concept of the queue seems to be totally alien and it was made all the more unbelievable by the fact that there were clearly not enough people there to half fill the bus. I stood well back and then got on and easily found a seat. Compared to some of the old rust buckets that ply the Galle Road, this one was pretty modern with air blowers to keep you cool but it had the usual Asian problem of not being designed for a 6'5" Briton. Still, not too bad and a fairly uneventful run along the newly opened expressway deposited me in one of the three bus stations in the Pettah which is a typically manic market area in the old part of town."
The journey took slightly less than an hour and I do not remember the exact fare but it was very cheap as I remember thinking it was much less than £1 Sterling. This is definitely the option for those on a budget.
- Budget Travel
RELIABLE TRANSPORT & FRIENDLY GUIDE
Once you are in COLOMBO or if you want to make any round trips or day excursions to the vast variety of attractions SRI LANKA offers, you need a experienced and trustworthy GUIDE & Transport. LAKSIRI FERNANDO is a well experienced TOUR GUIDE LECTURER approved and Licensed by the SRI LANKA TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY and greatly recommended by the Guests who have visited through many leading Travel Agents time & again. He has a very reliable and very comfortable NEW TOYOTA HIACE KDH 200 VAN with dual Air-conditioner and very comfortable seatinf for 5 - 6 passengers. The charges are very Economical when you contact him direct and has many packages. He could recommend very good hotels at reasonable rates.
- Family Travel